P-36 Hawk Aces of World War II

P-36 Hawk Aces of World War II by Lionel Persyn, Kari Stenman, and Andrew Thomas is another book in Osprey’s “Aircraft of the Aces” series which provides comprehensive histories of the elite fighter pilots and their aircraft.

The book generally covers the P-36’s role in the fight for France, in the North African skies, against the Soviets, and against the Japanese.  The plane fought in every theater of the war and on both sides of the fight – the Germans sold captured French planes to their Finnish allies in their fight against the Soviets.  More than 60 pilots from several countries became aces flying the P-36.   In fact, America’s first kills against the Japanese were in the P-36.

In the different chapters, the authors trace the fighting through the first hand accounts of the men who flew the P-36.  These accounts highlight the agility of the plane against more advanced planes (by the time World War II started, many European planes were more superior to the P-36 – it was first produced in 1937).  Many of the pilots who flew the P-36 outmaneuvered their foes for their first kills.

In addition to the excellent narrative on the planes and the pilots who flew them, the book includes an wide array of photographs of the planes in action and on the ground.  In addition, there are photographs of the many aces who flew the plane.  Finally, there are eight pages of illustrations showing the profiles of the many variations of the planes – the illustrations are divided by country that flew them.

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