Patton's Eyes in the Sky
by Tom Ivie
Published by Classic Publications
Book review by Steve Jantscher
I love books, and especially well written, researched and printed books. This is one such book, as most are that have been published by Classic Publications. many of their early titles are now out of print, and likely to stay that way for some time. Just as a book, this is a fine example of what is best in todays publications.
This book represents the exploits of the 10th Photo Reconnaissance Group from their humble origins as the 73rd Tactical Reconnaissance Group. Assigned to the Ninth Air Force, they became operational in February 1944 with the 30th Photo Squadron as its first assigned unit. The boo then covers the unit as it puts into practice the tactics developed in the states, over the skies of France in preparation for operation Overlord. Recounting the aircraft and men that were assigned to the group for the rest of the war, the author has interviewed over many years veterans of those days flying F3A Havocs, F-5 Lightnings and F-6 Mustangs. This unit had more aces than any other similar unit throughout the war. The pilots were told that they were "fighter trained" and were to remember that they were expected to "switch hit" both as a fighter pilot, as well as a photo reconnaissance mission specialist. I especially liked reading about those encounters when a photo mission turned into some air to air action, or when some pilots "captured" surrendering enemy aircraft. These are the types of stories that make this a more interesting history of the unit.
While there are 30 excellent full color profile views (by Thomas Tullis) of the aircraft flown by the 10th PRG, this really isn't a book about the planes that flew, as much as a unit history told in a personal way through remembrances and stories from the men who were there. This is a unit history in the best sense of the word, and the reader follows along on those dangerous "dicing" missions with the pilots and aircrew, or follows the steep learning curve that came with the direct reconnaissance efforts that supplied US Army units with battlefield intelligence in a timely manner. It is here that the book earns the title of "Patton's Eyes in the Sky". One never forgets, that the Ninth Air Force took the fight to the German Army through direct close combat support, with either bombs or in this case, battlefield intelligence. While the massive bomber formations and air to air battles of the Eighth Air Force whittled away at the German home front, and earned air superiority, the Ninth actually put bombs on enemy soldiers in a day in and day out campaign.
With over 250 black and white photographs, four color photos and 170 pages, this is physically a very nicely produced book, on par with other Classic Publications or Monogram books, and much better than most Schiffer unit histories I've seen.
Example of one of thirty profiles
Let me end by saying that I purchased this book as soon as I saw it. I'm reviewing my copy of the book, not one supplied to me by Roll Models. Needless to say, I'd heartily recommend this book to any that might find reconnaissance operations during WWII interesting.
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