The Aces of Fighting 17: VF-17’s Top Guns in World War II

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9780764339479: The Aces of Fighting 17: VF-17’s Top Guns in World War II

They were called the deadliest fighter squadron in action in the South Pacific; U.S. Navy Fighting Squadron Seventeen, famous with their Skull and Crossbones insignia, became one of the most successful squadrons of WWII. Flying the new Chance Vought F4U Corsair, which at the time of its introduction into service, was the most powerful fighter in the U.S Navy in World War II.Flying missions to one of the Japanese strongholds in the South Pacific, Fighting 17 shot down 152 Japanese aircraft in aerial combat in only 76 days. The squadron had more aces (thirteen) than any other squadron at that time with Ira "Ike" Kepford the leading Navy ace at the end of his tour with sixteen aerial victories. Two more went on to reach ace status with Fighting 84, and at the end of the war Fighting 17 had the top four Navy Corsair aces. "Ike" Kepford, Roger Hedrick, Tom Blackburn, and John M. Smith were respectively the Navy's first, second, third, and fourth leading Corsair Aces.One of the outstanding contributions made by Fighting 17 was providing proof under battle conditions of the suitability of the F4U Corsair for carrier operations as they were the first into combat flying off a carrier with the F4U.Lee Cook, author of The Skull and Crossbones Squadron - VF-17 in World War II, and Fighting 17 - A Photographic History of VF-17 in World War II and leading authority on Tom Blackburn's Fighting 17, after seventeen years of meticulous original research presents this new book. The book was greatly enhanced by considerable Fighting 17 family member involvement. They have supplied original material and photographs that have not previously appeared in published works. The Aces of Fighting 17 has a detailed biography of each ace that served with Fighting 17 and has a host of hitherto unpublished photographs covering the squadron's aces. This is the story of the best of the best, the elite, the aces of Fighting 17.

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About the Author:

Although Lee Cook is English. He is the foremost authority on the illustrious United States Navy Corsair fighter unit, VF-17 "the Skull and Crossbones Squadron."Initial contact with Skipper, Lieutenant Commander Tom Blackburn in 1993, led Lee to an unending journey of discovery about the squadron's record breaking achievements in the Solomon Islands in World War II. Although Tom Blackburn died prior to the next reunion, the seed was planted, and Lee was invited to the VF-17 reunion at Oshkosh in 1994. There he met the surviving members of "Fighting 17." It was at this reunion that Lee was challenged to write a book about the squadron's phenomenal success in the Pacific Area of operations where they excelled in shooting down the much vaunted Japanese Zero.In the subsequent five years despite working full time, and in addition to being a Professional Boxing Referee, Lee dedicated himself and meticulously researched primarily by letter, tape and phone, along with further trips to reunions in the United States. All this without the benefit of the internet.The challenge to write the book was finally met in 1998 with the publication of the definitive history of the escadrille, "The Skull and Crossbones Squadron-VF-17 in World War II." Lee's research has continued over many years and his perseverance has been rewarded with two further books, "Fighting 17 a Photographic History of VF-17 in World War II" and "The Aces of Fighting 17-VF-17's Top Guns in World War II," both published 2011. Lee has also written articles and lectured on Fighting 17 and his writing and research on this record breaking and exceptional squadron is now in its twenty first year and still continues.He lives with his partner Michele in Cambridgeshire, England.


The Aces of Fighting 17 has just arrived and I have only had a few moments to look it over, but long enough to marvel at its excellence and to be grateful for your gracious allotment of space to Harry. I look forward to many hours of getting to know the men of this excellent squadron better. I will also check again with Amazon and Schiffer to see if I can order more copies for family right away. Thank you, thank you!Dora Taylor

It was a pleasure and an honor to work with you and make whatever small contribution I made. I just wish my Dad were alive to see your books. He never talked much about the war but I do believe that it was one of the best (if not the best) time in his life. I was truly amazed by all the information you had collected and the great way you put it all together. Thank you for an extraordinary tribute.Toni Sennott

It is FABULOUS!!  The bios I have read are just terrific!!! What a special tribute to so many special men. Thank you for keeping these people alive in our memories. I was excited to see the memory box of Dad's medals included in the photos. Alida Christinaz

The book is great and we've enjoyed reading it. Congratulations!! Also our kids have enjoyed looking over all of your books and especially reading about their Uncle Earl and his VF-17buddies. Thanks again.Del and Pat May

It is fantastic! Of course, I especially loved the page you did re: my dad and his accomplishments as an "Ace" in the US Navy during WWII and Korea. I am very grateful and happy that you were able to include him in this tome, albeit at the last minute! You did an excellent job with all of the Aces, but being prejudiced, my favorite chapter is the one all about my dad. Thanks for including him in your book as I'll have it to treasure long after he's passed on into the wild blue yonder!! Thank you so much for everything.Sharon Novak

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