Being there . . . flying with “high-air heroes” in “bent-wings birds”, the F4U Corsairs to rescue from the sea and return to base America’s most precious treasures, her young 22-year-olds

Reviewed and highly recommended by Don DeNevi


“CORSAIR DOWN! Tales of Rescue and Survival During World War II” by Martin Irons. Schiffer Military: 304 pages, $29.99.

     At long last a wonderful book has arrived that truly tells the full story of the Vought F4U Corsair (a few of the irreverent referring to it as the “The Big Windmill”), others the greatest fighter plane of the Pacific-Asia theaters of operations. In performing its always hectic, often dangerous responsibilities during the great naval and air battles, as well as countless minor missions, survival was never guaranteed. Whether American, British, Australian or New Zealand, pilots often suffered aerial mishaps, unexpected bad weather, mechanical failures, to say nothing of accurate enemy fire. Some pilots were killed, others lost at sea, or taken prisoner. Those who crashed on land or dropped safely into the sea were usually rescued.

     In his near-perfect Foreword, Warrant Officer Bryant Cox, RNZAE, NZA 37270, 1943-1946, writes from Lauranga, New Zealand, “The gull-winged bird was flown by boys whose age averaged 22 years. And, with their amazing attributes aviating a magnificent aircraft with immense power, its 2,200 hp, and a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine, the young men were very able to maneuver and fly their Corsair, if they treated her with respect. The beautifully laid-out cockpit had everything where a pilot would expect it to be. It was a privilege to fly ‘The Windmill’, the first single-engine fighter to exceed 400 mph. Yet, many of my friends were lost during combat. Sadly, there was usually no corpse to bury, or time for reflection. Survival and rescue were essential to us, and we relied on a variety of methods to achieve them. I highly commend Martin Irons in his endeavor to preserve the events and personal rescue stories of those fateful days, as well as the history of such a magnificent air machine as the Corsair.”

     No better recommendation, approbation, or commendation can be written to welcome “Corsair Down! – – Tales of Rescue and Survival During World War II”. Thank you, Bryant Cox, and, especially you, Martin Irons for so many heartwarming, and often heart rendering do-or-die heroic tales of deliveries of our most sacred, precious treasures, our young fighting men.

“SPITFIRE, Vol. 1 – – Supermarine’s Spitfire Marques 1 to VII and Spitfire Marques 1 to III”, by Ron Mackay. Schiffer Military, Legends of Warfare, Publishing: 112 pages; hc, $19.99.

Early on Hitler knew that if he were to capture the British, he would have to invade the Channel coastal counties first. If not, Operation Sea Lion would fail, costing Germany hundreds of thousands of soldiers, and countless weapons, ships, and aircraft. The airplane that owned the skies over the invasion’s landing areas would sooner or later win World War II in Europe.

     As far as the Fuhrer was concerned, only the Hawker Hurricane, or “Hurri”, and Supermarine Spitfire, or “Spits”, stood in the way of his. After all, he was the one who had the massive, inexorable forces that could crush anything in its path.

     Fortunately, the surprising production of the well-designed Messerschmitt ME109 in 1935 catapulted British designers and manufactures to design and produce a better aircraft, the thin, slim, more abstemious Spitfire. In short, two major incidents, one a “battle” and the other “an ordinary bombing run”, caused Hitler to utter, “To hell with England for the time being. I’ll go East and stomp Russia, then return to enslave those snooty Brits.”

     The incidents that “temporarily” stopped the Luftwaffe were the “Battle of Britain”, thank you, Spits and Hurri, and the two of them protecting, and supporting the Lancasters and Wellingtons as they headed for the ports assembling hundreds of empty invasion barges in France’s northern coastal ports to destroy them all.

     “Spitfire, Vol. 1 – Supermarine’s Spitfire Marques 1 to V11 and Spitfire Marques 1 to III” is unquestionably the best book ever assembled and narrated on the aircrafts. The photos, sharp and crystal clear, number close to a hundred, most unpublished. The designing, testing and. combat services, over land and at sea, are well documented in easy to absorb technical language. Fourteen chapters carry us from background of the aircrafts analyzed through strong construction service, and the 1939 to 1945 combat years. Pilots and their commanders are introduced, allowing the reader to feel an integral, intrinsic part of the Spitfire family, a rarity in military literature.

     Holiday gift-givers, you need look no further then these two titles for World War II buffs who enjoy one-of–a-kind two aviation experiences, again a rarity.

     To order directly, phone, (610) 593-1777; fax, (610) 593-2002; or, e-mail, The website is: