Aces in Command: Fighter Pilots as Combat Leaders

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Potomac Books, Incorporated, Dec 1, 2001 - History - 249 pages
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*By a "New York Times" bestselling author of aviation history *About American aces from each major aerial conflict of this century: World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam *The aces' names --- Eddie Rickenbacker, Hub Zemke, Boots Blesse, and Robin Olds --- are familiar to many, but never has there been a book that examined their brilliant leadership ability as well as their aerial prowess ACES IN COMMAND reveals the qualities --- many but not all of them shared --- that permitted four famous American pilots to become aces. However, it goes beyond their personal combat records to a far more important subject. What enabled Eddie Rickenbacker, Hub Zemke, Boots Blesse, and Robin Olds --- men of widely different backgrounds --- to overcome not only the enemy but also the difficulty of whipping a combat unit into shape? Each of the four was given a daunting challenge: command of a fighting unit in no condition to fight. Each transformed his unit into an extraordinary successful fighting machine. And while some leadership techniques were common to all four (each took care of the enlisted men, for example), each man used special tools to elicit the performance he demanded of his unit. Rickenbacker, Zemke, Blesse, and Olds were all robust personalities difficult to discipline, and more often than not, thorns in the side of their headquarters. Each one of them burned to become the leading ace of their war. Nonetheless, they put the interest of their units ahead of every other goal. Had any one of them been selfish, seeking only personal victories, he probably would have doubled his score. Instead, they became that rarest and most valuable warrior: the effective combat leader. ACES INCOMMAND puts you into the cockpit in four wars, in fighter planes that varied vastly in technology, against enemies of ever increasing capability. It takes you in a SPAD XIII with Rickenbacker in fights with von Richthofen's Flying Circus. It puts you into a Thunderbolt with Zemke, deep over Germany, breaking all the rules, but shooting down Germans. Then you fly with Blesse in a Sabre, getting your victories deep inside North Korean lines --- and never losing a wingman. Finally, it tells you of the exploits of the maverick Robin Olds in two wars, learning the trade in a Lightning over Germany and using all he learned to whip a Phantom wing into shape in Vietnam.

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About the author (2001)

Walter J. Boyne is a retired U.S. Air Force pilot, the former director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, a best-selling author, and a world-renowned authority on aviation history. His thirty books include "The Smithsonian Book of Flight", "Eagles at War", and "Beyond the Wild Blue: A History of the United States Air Force, 1947-1997". He lives in Ashburn, Virginia.

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