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The Jolly Rogers

The Story of Tom Blackburn and Navy Fighting Squadron VF-17

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


The Story of Tom Blackburn and Navy Fighting Squadron VF-17

Tom Blackburn with Eric Hammel

The Jolly Rogers is the story of one of the U.S. Navy’s foremost World War II fighter squadrons, VF-17, and its charismatic commander, Tom Blackburn. In his action-packed war memoir and unit history, Blackburn describes VF-17’s intense campaign against the Japanese over the northern Solomon Islands and Rabaul in late 1943 and early 1944.

Blackburn provides a rich account of how he shaped a crew of over-eager hotshots into one of the highest scoring fighter squadrons of World War II. In only seventy-six days of combat, Blackburn’s Jolly Rogers knocked down 154 enemy warplanes, and Blackburn himself emerged as one of VF-17’s leading aces with eleven kills to his credit.

Blackburn explains the methods he used and example he set to shape and wield VF-17 before and during its South Pacific combat tour. Not least of the challenges facing him and VF-17 was taming the hot new Vought F4U Corsair fighter. Slated to serve aboard a fleet aircraft carrier, VF-17 was transferred to land-based duty when the Corsair proved too hot to handle during carrier-deck landings. Though the Corsair’s teething problems were worked out by others, it was Blackburn and his Jolly Rogers who proved its full potential as a killer of enemy airplanes.

Both a war memoir and a caring tribute to the aggressive, hold-nothing-back young men he trained and led in combat, Blackburn’s story is an epic in World War II history annals.

Tom Blackburn, who was preparing to lead a carrier air group into combat when World War II ended, later commanded an aircraft carrier and retired as a captain in 1962. He passed away in 1994.

Eric Hammel is an acclaimed military historian with more than thirty-five books to his credit.

Critical Acclaim for The Jolly Rogers

Publishers Weekly says: “Blackburn was an exceptionally talented, resourceful, inspiring leader who imparted to his men a fierce warrior ethic . . . especially noteworthy is the author’s straightforward description of the methods he used organizing, training, leading his pilots in combat and developing air tactics.”

The Shipmate says: “Tom Blackburn [was] exceptional, and so is his book.”

The Hook says: “Tom Blackburn [was] one of the most successful fighter squadron commanders the U.S. Navy ever produced . . . not only a cracking good story, but a valuable primer on dealing with the rugged individualists who populate naval aviation, Highly recommended.”

The San Diego Union says: “[This] thrilling saga focuses on unsung heroes.”

Stars and Stripes says: “In a book generously laced with tales of air combat, Blackburn talks of the days spent building VF-17 into an outfit with its own identity and then leading his men into combat . . . ”

The Naval Institute Proceedings says: “Excellent . . . a well-rounded, coherent story that focuses on intense combat . . . As a professional’s account of his squadron’s . . . war, Blackburn’s has no peer.”

Kirkus Reviews says: “A macho, like-it-was memoir . . . a gritty, action-packed slice of WWII life.”

The Jolly Rogers
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Military
  • Published: Jul 18, 2009
  • Publisher: Pacifica Military History
  • Seller: Ingram DV LLC
  • Print Length: 426 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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