1956 - 2021, Celebrating  over 65 Years of Service

Doomed from the Start: American Pursuit Pilots in the Philippines, 1941-1942
by William H. Bartsch
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press

, College Station, TX

Web Site:
Binding:  Hardcover Height:




Pages:  503 No. Photos:

Although this book is dated, and may be known to some aviation history buffs, it is an accurate and detailed account of events that unfolded after the bombing and subsequent invasion of the Philippine Islands by Japanese forces. A pristine copy was recently found still wrapped in cellophane, in a local used book store and is considered a real gem. The vague title is a sentence lifted from a Philippines based Army Air Corp pursuit pilot writing to his family in November 1941, thus giving Mr. Bartsch a rather unusual title. The author has written a quite detailed account of the Philippine-based USAAC in combat during the initial months of WWII, thus making it an excellent companion to another less known writing - They Fought With What They Had, by Walter D Edmonds, Boston, Little Brown, 1951.

Mr. Bartsch describes daily life in the Philippines and in the USAAC, but also answers many questions concerning events occurring there prior to and the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked. The promise of ships carrying men, bombs, ammunition, aircraft and supplies that never arrived gradually caused the pilots and ground personnel to realize they were abandoned and forced to fight Japanese aircraft and ground forces with anything that was flyable or could be pieced together. There are gritty descriptions of the missions flown by low-time pilots fresh out of stateside flight schools in unfamiliar aircraft, with no combat experience, taking off from secret airstrips that were so dusty, pilots often ground-looped and crashed into other valuable aircraft parked nearby.

Their aircraft were obsolete Boeing P-26, Seversky P-35As, Curtiss P-40B, and E models, and NAA A-27 aircraft with a smattering of civilian aircraft pressed into service. Some Air Corps leaders quickly emerged from the nightmare of fighting the elements and enemy, including descriptions of selected officers who narrowly escaped aboard various aircraft that flew to Australia.

If a detailed and accurate history concerning the initial and daily events of the Philippine Islands in WW II interests you, this is the book to locate and read.

Dave Stern


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