I’ve been bad about my reading over this past year, getting rather behind, with books stacking up on my shelves to read but I’ve finally got back into the swing of things and have gotten a little bit of reading done. I just finished Jungle Ace and I have to say it’s just a great read. It’s all about John Gerald Johnson and his exploits as an ace pilot throughout the Pacific. He flew P-38’s with the likes of Dick Bong, Wally Jordan, and Tommy McGuire. He was more than a quadruple ace, he was a leader to his men. If you’re in need of a good read, you might want to check it out.
I just got done reading this book and I have to say it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It came out in 2003 so it has been around a while but it’s worth purchasing a copy of. It’s all about the history of the USA and Japan before and during WWII. The early history of our nations in the 1850’s is staggering and how the interactions affected our servicemen during WWII is kind of mind blowing. There are some parts that are unbelievable and then there are the parts that are just gut wrenching. I highly recommend this book for the aviation enthusiast or the general historian.
Technically this anniversary goes from May 11-30 seeing how the battle lasted that long for a very tiny island. Attu is one of the islands in the Aleutian Island Chain of Alaska. It’s a desolate place with lots of wilderness and very little civilization. In 1943 when the Battle was occurring supplies were incredibly hard to get as the nearest allied and axis bases were hundreds if not thousands of miles away. But the Aleutians were an important strategic island chain for further invasion of the United States. Due to the sensitive nature much of the battles were kept a secret from the public for fear of panic.
The battle of Attu was a bloody fight with almost all of the heavily fortified Japanese soldiers killed. Unlike the island of Kiska where the garrisons were able to evacuate. The fighting on Attu was tough as the island was made of mud, rock and permafrost. Vehicles sank and men wore out. It was three weeks of struggle but deemed necessary to secure the Aleutian Islands from further occupation.
I truly cannot explain in detail how much went on during this campaign or the struggles that happened on Attu for both sides. To really get into the history I recommend this book. It’s well worth the read.
If you thought flying by modern means was tough then you should really read this book. Not only is this a great read about American Aviation History but it will make you thankful for the conveniences we have today. Image flying coast to coast in a plane that wasn’t heated, no sound protection and taking two days to get to your destination. Hard to picture.
This book tells the story of the history leading up to and after the introduction of the Ford Tri-Motor and the impact it had on commercial aviation. The depth that goes into the various airlines is quite impressive and is quite fascinating. So if you need a good read this summer, this is one I recommend.
It’s been quite some time since I last recommended a book, partly because it has been while since I read one good enough to talk about. This one is worth it. The Thousand Mile War is all about the battle for the Aleutians during WWII. It was an unsung campaign in part because there was a media blackout during the early stages of the campaign for fear that once word had gotten out that Japanese troops had taken Kiska and Attu there would be panic. It was the only contingent land America lost during the war.
The Aleutian Islands were considered a stepping stone on both sides to either country. But the islands were desolate places covered in rock, mud, tundra, ice and snow. It was among the worst campaigns fought partly because no one was ready for it. The book talks all about the army, navy and air battles that went into the campaign and is the only book the goes into detail about them all. If you enjoy aviation and history then I strongly suggest you pick up a copy.
I have come to truly enjoy reading books about the many exploits of pilots throughout WWII. It is fascinating to read about what the pilots went through and accomplished all around the world during those painful years. The last one I read was about Lord Hamilton and his exploits as a Spitfire pilot on the small island of Malta in the Mediterranean Ocean.
This is actually a very short read, only 185pgs, but Hamilton did a great job keeping his diary accurate during the horrible fighting that was going on at Malta. After he left the island the story was picked up by several other pilots who kept records of what was going on. Malta was a tiny island in the Mediterranean, not far off from Sicily but was an important strategic point between Italy and Africa. The base was an ancient fortress that proved it could again be defended from outsiders. Between 1940 and 1943 the base and the people went through major attacks from Axis bombers and fighters and invasion seemed immanent at any point. They were constantly running low on supplies and airplanes but through lots of hard work, allied resupply missions and a bit of misdirection the island was able to hold and eventually fight back against Italy and the supply chains going to General Rommel in Africa. If you don’t know much about this theater of operations then I would say it’s worth the read or if you just like reading about Spitfires then it is also worth the read.
I normally blog about a good read after I have finished reading it but I could wait with this book. Fly For Your Life is about one of Britain’s greatest Aces Robert Stanford Tuck. Tuck flew Spitfires and Hurricanes during the Battle of Britain, among many other aircraft, and was one of the battle’s leading Aces, ending his career with 29 credited kills while unofficially he destroyed 35. The book goes through his life before the war, throughout the air campaign and more. It’s just an amazing read which I am greatly looking forward to finishing! But as I said I couldn’t wait and if you want your own copy you can find it used on Amazon. It’s worth picking up!
It’s been a while since I added a new book to my collection here on the blog and I just got finished reading The Few. Not a particularly long read at 237pgs but it’s an interesting read about the seven Americans that joined the RAF before the Battle of Britain. In 1940 America had strict neutrality laws and going overseas to join the British Army was against the law. Anyone doing this gave up their citizenship. Many Americans ended up flying with the RAF so much so that Churchill formed an all American squadron, 71 squadron or Eagle Squadron, in late September of 1940. This happened after the famed Eagle Day which was the largest German aerial assault against Britain up to that point. Before Eagle Day there was just the Seven Americans, not including one man who was actually an American citizen despite his Canadian passport. Now for those that have read a lot about the Battle of Britain, this book isn’t for you. For those that have not read a lot about the subject then this a good read.
It’s funny as you get older the things that start meaning more to you. When you’re a kid all you can think about is the next toy or the next game that will be more fun then the last. In some ways being a photographer is like being an adult kid. We travel a lot, we meet a lot of people, we get to play with really awesome toys and we decide when we want to share the results. One thing that I have truly come to enjoy and treasure are my books, which ironically, I never liked reading when I was a kid.
Books don’t just look good in a home or office they are a gateway to more knowledge. Knowledge is truly an important thing when it comes to each owns photography because the more you know about a subject the better your photographs will be. When it comes to Aviation or Wildlife photography, knowing your biology is key to getting that one great shot or knowing about where that particular plane flew and fought helps when planning an air to air. It’s simple to think about afterward but it’s so critical in the planning of any shoot is that knowledge. Sometimes it’s best when you can’t think of what to shoot next it’s best to put down the camera and pick up a book.
Inspiration can come from a lot of places, so many in fact that I couldn’t list them all in one blog post. Everyone has their own way of getting pumped about a project and that’s part of being human. Lately I’ve been working on an aviation project that I hope to accomplish later this summer and to get ready I’ve been going through historical records to know as much about my subject as possible. The problem is there ain’t much of a record about my future project. Oh well, guess I’ll have to make one.
A couple of months back I found this book at an antique store. I love going through antique and used book stores for Aviation books. There are so many out there and you never know which one while have tid bit that can spark an idea. The really interesting part or sad part in this case, is that most of these books come from veteran collections. This particular book came from a Colonel that lived up in Helena and who passed away last year.
What caught my attention most about his particular is in the tag line, “a pictorial history of World War II Air Forces in combat.” Since aviation photography is in part about recreating history, then the best place to study is the photographs from that time period. The formations, the angles, the planes and their backgrounds, it’s all important to know. Seeing images like this is no different then seeing a portrait that you like and wanting to duplicate the technique. Or seeing a beautiful animal and wanting to go photograph that critter. These are the photographs that we draw inspiration from and it’s how we strive for greater things.