This is as close as you'll get to a World War II - era P-51 Mustang without flying one yourself. The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang first started appearing in real numbers in 1943, at the climax of the Allied campaign in World War II. Able to fly long ranges, it was the perfect escort, keeping bombers protected all the way from Allied bases in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific to a variety of Axis industrial targets and military installations and back. The Mustang would go on to provide pivotal air support on D-Day, and by the end of the war, the P-51 would be responsible for nearly half of all enemy aircraft shot down. In The Fight in the Clouds, aviation writer and EAA Warbirds of America editor James P. Busha narrates a spellbinding collection of tales of P-51 Mustang combat throughout the war. Drawing on interviews conducted with dozens of veteran P-51 pilots, the book traces the progress of war through the exciting, chronologically organized experiences of the men who actually flew the planes into war. You'll encounter Mustangs tangling with Soviet-built Yaks, a Mustang ace shooting down an Me 262 Stormbird, an epic long-range battle over the Pacific Ocean, and a score of other riveting accounts underscoring the P-51's versatility and its vital importance to the Allied victory. Bolstered by Busha's own commentary and historical analysis, along with a gallery of rare black-and-white period photographs, The Fight in the Cloudsoffers a cockpit-seat view of one of WWII's most celebrated aircraft and the men who bravely flew it into harm's way.
James P. Busha is the editor for the magazines of the EAA Warbirds of America (Warbirds) and the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association (Vintage Airplane) as well as a contributing editor for Flight Journal and EAA Sport Aviation. He has had numerous articles published in Flypast, Aircraft Illustrated, Classic Aircraft, and Air & Space/Smithsonian. His interviews with veterans have complemented numerous John Dibbs images in aviation journals over the years, and in 2006 Busha and Dibbs published their first book together, titled The High Battleground (Boston Mills Press). By day, Jim is a detective/lieutenant for the Oshkosh Police Department in Wisconsin, where he has been employed for the last twenty-seven years. He has had a pilot’s license since 1987 and owns and flies a restored 1943 Aeronca L-3, a single-engine U.S. Army Air Corps observation aircraft.
"Just when you think you have enough Mustang books in your library, Jim Busha comes along and makes buying another absolutely mandatory! His research and writing abilities shine in this very personalized tale of the famous P-51 and its heroic young pilots. The book begins with a moving tribute to those who gave their lives flying the fighter and then profiles the brilliant history of the aircraft throughout World War II. A great book from a master storyteller who loves and knows the subject!" - Walter J. Boyne, USAF (Ret.), former director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
"The variety of stories in The Fight in the Clouds is exceptinoal, covering units in the European, Mediterranean, and Pacific Theaters of World War II, with RAF pilots as well. Today, when WWII veterans are 'departing the pattern' in growing numbers, the remembrances in Jim Busha's book assume even greater importance for future readers. Well done!" - Barrett Tillman, author of Whirlwind: The War Against Japan, 1942-1945
"James Busha (editor for EAA's Warbirds of America as well as EAA's Vintage Airplane, to name only two of his literary accomplishments) has accomplished a wonderous job in the writing of, The Fight in the Clouds. Get this book to feel what it is like to fly a Mustang as well as what it felt like to be a World War II combatant in North American's defining aircraft." - Travel for Aircraft Blog, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Jim Busha has done literally hundreds of interviews with a generation of aviators that is disappearing before our very eyes. However, their experiences, thoughts, and contributions will live on indefinitely thanks to Busha. Busha doesn't write "about" pilots, but lets them talk through him, telling their stories as if we're just sitting around the hangar flying. It's an enjoyable approach. Okay, Jim: when is the next one due out?" - Flight Journal
"James Busha (editor for EAA's Warbirds of America as well as EAA's Vintage Airplane, to name only two of his literary accomplishments) has accomplished a wonderous job in the writing of, The Fight in the Clouds. Get this book to feel what it is like to fly a Mustang as well as what it felt like to be a World War II combatant in North American's defining aircraft." - Travel for Aircraft
"Let the subtitle of this very interesting book guide you if your first reaction was "not another P-51 book." The combat experience of the pilots, told largely in their own words, not in excerpts, is the heart of the book, and makes it compelling reading.
Author James Busha is very well known in the field, and his experience lends credibility to his work. Perhaps more important however, is the manner in which he crafts the book, linking the sequential chapters to the succession of Mustang developments and to the changes in their employment. Doing guides him to a series of pilots who had very different experiences flying the P-51 against a wide variety of opponents, ranging from Bf 109s and Fw 190s through Me 262s, Yaks and Zeros. The author discusses the performance capabilities of each type pertinently and with authority.
This combination of changing models, environments and opponents is enhanced by the manner in which Busha allows the pilots time to discuss their living conditions, their views on the war, their personal feelings about combat and the enemy and more. Doing so lifts the narrative from the quick snap-shot "here is a conversation" style of Stephen Ambrose, which has become way too popular, to in-depth accounts of life in a life-or-death environment. Reviews are not supposed to be all roses, and the one criticism I have of the book is that the publisher did not allow more than a single eight page portfolio of photo. Offsetting this however was the insertion of periodic accounts from the opposing pilots that add a welcome dimension to the work." - Walter J. Boyne, former director of the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution and current Chairman of the National Aeronautic Association
"The many tales give us insight into how these pilots fell in love with aviation, where their interest in the service came from, as well as their feelings on duty and sacrifice in combat. While Busha is a seasoned pilot himself and has been published in many aviation publications, this book is accessible to anyone with an interest in WWII history. Upon opening this book, the pages quickly reveal what true heroism looks like." - PJMedia.com
"What makes The Fight in the Clouds: The Extraordinary Combat Experience of P-51 Mustang Pilots During World War II invaluable is that taken together, each of the stories in this volume show a much more complex and nuanced picture than the facile, broad brush treatments in many "big picture" accounts of the air war. It is well to keep in mind that, while each of the people depicted in this book constitutes perhaps a single brushstroke in the gigantic canvas depicting the air war in World War II, without them and millions of others, that "big picture" would not exist." - Defense MEdia Network
"The author narrates a dramatic collection of tales of Mustang combat throughout the war. The book features interviews with dozens of veteran P-51 pilots. These first-person accounts vividly illuminate the Mustang story." - Wings of Gold
"...their (pilot) stories make a book that few others can top." - Air & Space Smithsonian