Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 8.15.22 AM

In 2013, Warbird Digest Associate Editor & WarbirdsNews contributor Stephen Chapis interviewed World War II fighter pilots who had shot down Luftwaffe jets over Europe. These interviews were for a simple magazine article, but after hearing the stories from Dr. Roscoe Brown (332nd FG: 1 Me 262), Wayne Coleman (78th FG: 1 Me 262), and Huie Lamb (78th FG: 1 Me 262 plus 0.5 Ar 234), he decided to write a book focused solely on American fighter pilots who had downed Luftwaffe jet and rocket-powered aircraft. Stephen is a fan of the “Combat Aircraft” and “Aircraft of the Aces” series of books from Osprey Publishing, and after two years of research he felt his manuscript was finally ready for submission to the publisher. He did so with the gracious assistance of established Osprey author Mark Stille.

Maj. Donald Bochkay, one of only 14 Allied pilots to score multiple jet victories. His first kill came on February 9th, 1945 and his second on April 18th, 1945. Both were Me 262s. Bochkay finished the war with 13.83 aerial victories. (Photo via the 357th FG Association)

Maj. Donald Bochkay, one of only 14 Allied pilots to score multiple jet victories. His first kill came on February 9th, 1945 and his second on April 18th, 1945. Both were Me 262s. Bochkay finished the war with 13.83 aerial victories. (Photo via the 357th FG Association)

Osprey considered the book for quite some time, so long in fact that Chapis thought they were going to turn him down. Happily, on June 1st, 2016, while on vacation in Tennessee, Chapis received an email from Osprey editor Tony Holmes that they had commissioned his book and would publish it in November 2017. However, Osprey wanted him to include British and Soviet pilots who had scored jet victories as well! Luckily, Andy Thomas was going to handle the chapter on the British side.

Capt. Urban "Ben" Drew, who scored six aerial victories, including two Me 262s that he shot down in a single engagement on October 7, 1944. Drew was the first of only two Allied pilots to achieve this extraordinary feat. (photo Stephen Chapis collection)

Capt. Urban “Ben” Drew, who scored six aerial victories, including two Me 262s that he shot down in a single engagement on October 7, 1944. Drew was the first of only two Allied pilots to achieve this extraordinary feat. (photo Stephen Chapis collection)

The deadline for having all material turned in was May 31st, 2017. Eleven months is plenty of time right? Not really…. Now that he had a contract with Osprey the work really began. Chapis had to locate additional photos, secure permission to use them, and then select 50 images for final submission… plus write the captions for each of them, which is no small task. Chapis also had to select 22 aircraft to feature in the color profile section, gather references on each aircraft and send them to artist Jim Laurier, so he could create the artwork. In his two years of work, Chapis had written nearly 100,000 words, but Osprey only needed 30,000 so he got to work cutting and honing the text, while also adding information about the handful of Soviet pilots who had shot down jets in the waning months of the war.

On August 16, 1944, Col. John B. Murphy of the 370th FS/359th FG observed an Me 163 Komet setting up an attack on a B-17 straggler. Col. Murphy dove on the rocket fighter, which broke off its attack, and sent it down in flames after a few well-aimed bursts. This was the second Me 163 to fall to Allied guns and Col Murphy was awarded his fifth Distinguished Flying Cross. (photo via Janet Fogg- 359th FG Association)

On August 16, 1944, Col. John B. Murphy of the 370th FS/359th FG observed an Me 163 Komet setting up an attack on a B-17 straggler. Col. Murphy dove on the rocket fighter, which broke off its attack, and sent it down in flames after a few well-aimed bursts. This was the second Me 163 to fall to Allied guns and Col Murphy was awarded his fifth Distinguished Flying Cross. (photo via Janet Fogg: 359th FG Association)

Now that Chapis’s work is complete, what can we expect from the book? Between July 29th, 1944 and April 30th, 1945, over 200 Allied pilots shot down German jet and rocket aircraft with many more claimed as probable or damaged. Of these pilots, nearly 50 were aces, but due to the relatively low number of Allied victories over Me 262s, Me 163s and Ar 234s when compared with victories over German piston-engine fighters, many of the engagements with the Luftwaffe’s jets have never been detailed in print until now. Although the main focus of the book is on well-known aces like Dick Audet, Urban Drew, Tony Gaze, Freddie Glover, and Ivan Kozhedub, we’ll also read about lesser known aces and near-aces like Wayne Blickenstaff, John Mackay, Hilton Thompson, and Arsenii Vorozheikin, who all pushed their Thunderbolts, Mustangs, Spitfires, Tempests, Lavochkins, and Yakovlevs to the limits of their performance in order to down the Luftwaffe’s ‘wonder weapons’.

 

To pre-order Stephen Chapis‘s book please visit www.amazon.com.

2 Comments

  1. will get the local library to order this beauty asap. its great to see they were still knocking them down even at the death!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*