THE WARBIRD'S FORUM
Not fair, not balanced, and not to be missed!
Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975
is longest and best-written history
of the Indochina wars, but oh! did I get sick of the author's contempt for
the devious French and the bumptious Americans! And "Sir Max" gets so much
wrong! Among the errors he tosses into the first hundred pages: the nickname
of Walter Bedell Smith; the American bomber flown by the French against the
Vietminh; the American aid mission in Saigon; and the first US combat
fatality in South Vietnam. Like most people who passed through Vietnam
without really seeing it, he thinks the rain forest is a "jungle" and that
a rice field is a "paddy." He thinks that "brigadier" is an officer grade
in the US and Vietnamese armies, and that the projectile fired by a mortar
is a "bomb." Perhaps there should be a rule that no one can write about
military service who hasn't at least been through basic training.
But still! The book should be read by every serious student of the
Indochina Wars. There's just too much good in it to be ignored. And the
tone does change for the better, not long after we pass the halfway mark.
Hastings's treatment of the Tet debacle in February 1968 -- a disaster for
both sides, though for different reasons -- does indeed strike me as fair
and balanced. For a thorough-going review, see the
Annals of Vietnam.
A P-40 in Shanghai waters
No, sorry, not the long-sought "Kittyhawk"
in Lake Danchi (aka Lake Kunming)! It seems that the Chinese are filming
a television series about local people helping Americna pilots after an
aborted bombing raid upon Japan. When I saw this sequence online, the modern
crane and the workers' hardhats really baffled me, but apparently its a
replay of the same notion that lay behind my own AVG novel,
, which opens
in the present day and then switches to a backstory in the desperate months
of the Pacific War. What we see here is a full-size P-40 replica being
lifted out of the salt sea near Shanghai in southern China. The time is the
present, and no doubt will soon switch back to the glory days of the
American Volunteer Group, the 14th Air Force, or the Chinese-American
Also worth noting: the University of Leiden has translated two volumes of
the Japanese histories of the Second World War. Reflecting the fact that
it was the colonial Dutch military that bore the main defense of the East
Indies, they are the ones that focus on the Japanese invasion of what is now
the Indonesian archipelago. Not only are the books in English, but they
are available for download as PDFs at no cost. For more, see
Japan at War.
Blue skies! — Daniel Ford
Welcome to the forum!
Here are a thousand or so files on airplanes, pilots, and the wars
of the past hundred years, grouped under these headings: