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The New York Times bestselling author of Viper Pilot and retired USAF F 16 legend Dan Hampton offers the first comprehensive popular history of combat aviation—a uniue entertaining and action packed look at the aces of the air and their machines from the Red Baron and his triplane in World War I to today’s technologically expert flying warriors in supersonic jetsOne of the most decorated fighter pilots in history US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Ret Dan Hampton goes back 100 years to tell the extraordinary story of the most famous fighter planes and the brave and daring heroes who made them legendDrawing on his expertise Hampton shines a spotlight on the pioneers who have ruled the air from World War I through the Cold War to today He provides uniue insight into gutsy pioneers such as Manfred von Richthofen and his red triplane and the flyboys in the iconic P51 Mustang who faced the Nazi Lufwaffe Here too is a thoughtful look at modern air warriors including his own exploits in the high tech f 16 FalconInterwoven throughout this sweeping narrative history is Hampton’s personal account of traveling the world to find these storied aircraft Strapping himself into the cockpit of such planes he shares the thrill and experience of flying each Exhilarating told in his acclaimed high octane style Lords of the Sky is a fresh look at the development of aviation for history and military buffs alike


10 thoughts on “Lords of the Sky

  1. says:

    The cover of this book initially drew me in because the F4U Corsair is my favorite plane of World War II A book about the history of fighter pilots? Count me in Hoping for stories of fabled and maybe not so fabled air aces through the years I was greatly looking forward to reading this Unfortunately I didn't get what I hoped forThe author does a very good job of explaining the evolution of aerial combat and how both man and machine have changed from the early days of World War I to modern times Along the way he gives very clear examples of various elements of aerial combat aka dogfighting and the hows and whys of flight Being a former combat pilot Dan Hampton clearly knows his stuff when it comes to flyingHowever the book had way too much information which didn't relate to aerial combat or fighter pilots It seemed to me as if there was just as much information on various aspects of the different wars such as political negotiations and ground campaigns as there was about actual aerial combat Whole chunks of all the conflicts are missing with World War II in the Pacific being completely absent after the Battle of Midway As for the Lords of the Sky themselves well only a few are covered in any detail probably less than ten to any great degree Some are only shown in photographs and not mentioned in the text at all When the narrative switches to the Vietnam War Hampton ratchets up his expertise uite a bit and really lays it on thick with the fighter pilot jargon Having read many books on aerial combat over the years I was familiar with many of the terms but the average reader might have a hard time keeping track of the action I was lost a few times myself While there is a glossary of terms who wants to thumb back and forth when reading about a strike on a SAM site near Hanoi?I found this book to be interesting and I did learn a few things along the way However the narrative bounced around too much and got bogged down in all sorts of extraneous information Overall I'd say it was a good book that never really got off the ground


  2. says:

    Hampton set out to write a comprehensive history of the fighter pilot starting out strong with long detailed sections on WWI and WWII I didn't uestion anything he said in those sections but when I got to the Korean and Vietnam War sections eras about which I have some knowledge I began picking up on errors omissions and some oddly sloppy writing all of which have me uestioning what I read in the WWI and WWII sections By the time I got to the final chapters on the Gulf wars I felt Hampton was doing a slapdash rushed incomplete job and almost wish he'd stopped with WWIIAmong the errors calling the piston engined B 29 a big jet mislabeling A 26s as B 26s describing infrared heat seeking missiles as homing in on hot carbon dioxide saying the Navy initially called the F 4 Phantom II the F 110A Spectre that was the early USAF designation not the Navy's He doesn't talk about the Russian MiG 15 pilots in Korea a couple of whom scored kills than our own top F 86 aces He barely mentions the North Vietnamese MiG pilots Describing the first shoot down of a USAF fighter over North Vietnam he switches between first person and third person viewpoints one moment you're in the cockpit with the pilot and GIB as they ingress the target area; then a god like narrator using passive voice announces that one of the jets in the four ship has been hit; then you're back in the cockpit as the front seater pulls the ejection handlesHampton skips the eight year IraIran war which produced at least one Iranian F 14 ace He doesn't mention the air war in Kosovo or the years American and allied fighter pilots spent policing the no fly zone imposed on Ira after the first Gulf war While he goes into detail on some methods used to control airborne fighters he unaccountably ignores AWACS I expected him to at least mention some of the notorious blue on blue friendly fire shootdowns but he didn't He never brought up the battle between the strategic bombing and fighter factions for control of the USAF or anything at all about the F 15 and A 10 two key aircraft from his own time in the USAF he flew F 16s I took some personal offense at that since my own aircraft the F 15 Eagle is the top air superiority fighter ever produced In history And while he mentioned some of the Soviet women fighter pilots of WWII there's not one word about today's women who've been flying fighters in and out of combat since the mid 1990sThe errors and omissions in the second half are jarring The book seemed well researched until the Korean War and then felt rushed and incomplete I now think another book on fighter pilots The Unsubstantial Air American Fliers in the First World War by Samuel Hynes which I recently read and reviewed here on Goodreads does a better job conveying the fighter pilot experience and mentality and for two reasons One Hynes unlike Hampton spends time explaining what fighter pilots believe in and how they behave in the air and on the ground Two Hynes confines himself to a single era WWI now that may strike you as a limitation but as an experienced fighter pilot myself I was struck by how little fighter pilots have changed from 1917 to the present day and by keeping to one era Hynes wasn't forced to pick and choose what to include or exclude from his narrativeAgain I think Hampton should have stopped with the end of WWII To keep up with his book's strong start it should end there and perhaps continue into the jet age in another volume entirely Based on the strength of the first half of Hampton's history I'm giving his book an overall 3 star rating


  3. says:

    A good history book not limited to fighter aircraft It also records than any average person would need to know about fighter and other aircraft The author is very knowledgeable writes clear and concise prose and has a great sense of history himself You can sure hear the fighter pilot in him My grandkids picked out this book for me as a Christmas book It was a good read


  4. says:

    Dan Hampton is a F 16 pilot and author who offers an entertaining if flawed look at the elite brotherhood of fighter pilots starting from the First World War and moving through the 2003 Invasion of Ira The style intersperses novelist accounts of combat with historical sketches and analysis of changes in aircraft and tactics The book starts well enough with Roland Garros using an machine gun shooting through the ard propeller of his Morane Saulnier scout to destroy a German scout plane Soon famous aces like Boelcke and Lanoe Hawker were dueling over the trenches and planes began getting faster and heavily armed The first section on the Great War and aerial mercenaries in the interwar era is a delight joyfully written and comprehensive The basic ualities of the lords of the sky are laid out Excellent flying skills good gunnery confidence and aggressiveness and some ualities of leadership to train and command aerial armiesBut as Hampton gets closer to the present day the uality declines WW2 is the Battle of Britain Midway and the tales of Nazi super ace Hans Joachim Marseille and female Soviet ace Lilya Litvyak Post WW2 we have Korea Vietnam the Yom Kippur War and then Desert Storm and Ira II Hampton gets lost in jargon and doesn't clearly get across what air combat with guided missiles electronic warfare and a hostile integrated air defense environment is likeAnd then there are the errors The B 29 is not a large jet an elementary mistake In the description of the forces on an airplane in flight lift counteracts drag and thrust counteract weight which a basic force diagram shows is nonsense While it's impossible to give a complete history of air combat in a single volume at 623 pages this book feels both too long and also incomplete


  5. says:

    I wish I could give 3 12 stars I really wanted to love this book Certain parts of this book were great and others felt rushed and wanting The first part on WW1 air combat was excellent The chapters on WW2 the greatest air war of all time were in many cases well written but there were many grammatical and technical errors Ignoring the air war in the Pacific after the Battle of Midway was in my opinion a huge mistake The Korean War chapters were a fun read and very interesting The later part of the book felt rushed and the author a former combat pilot went real heavy on the technical and pilot jargon Overall it was a good read I wish the author would've broken the book into two or expanded it but if you enjoy reading about air combat it's worth a read


  6. says:

    This book covers a lot of territory from WW1 to Ira in 2003 Lots of interesting stories and facts of different planes their development and the pilots that flew them Hampton even includes a lot about the matching ground wars to keep all the fighting in context Not overly in depth because it covers so large a time span but a great primer to interest one one in depth books


  7. says:

    Engaging history of fighter pilots Interesting take on how wars are waged won and lost from the standpoint of fighter aircraft and pilots


  8. says:

    An acclaimed Viper Pilot himself Dan Hampton in this racy read provides a ringside view of the origin and continuing evolution of the Fighter Jet and the aviators handling them From an era of piston powered lumbering but able winged wonders to the current day sleek killer machines the Fighter has captured the imagination of both soldiers and scientists in eual measure The superiority of a tactical airspace advantage although evident by the end of the First World War was only accorded its rightful place of honour during World War II The formidable German Airforce the 'Luftwaffe' ran absolute riot against a hapless combat force strung forth by the Allies Innovative technology ingenious methods of manufacture and the inordinately fortunate participation of the United States of America in the bloody War ultimately tilted the scale of balance as the Luftwaffe was routed trumped and literally shot out of the English France and Russian skiesDan Hampton traces with wonderful elouence the advent and origin of the fighter beginning with the exploits of the French Ace Roland Garros flying a Morane Saulnier L In a systematic manner the author traces the development of the fighter aircraft in tandem with the emergence of aviation technology Fokker Eindeckers The Royal Aircraft Factory SE 5s; Sopwith Snipes; Polikarpov I 16s; Stukas; Messerschmidts; Spitfire MK 1s; MiGs; Mirages; and the F 16s all make resounding appearances For the entranced reader it is a virtual display of fly past by these powerful machines as they strafe the grounds of Berlin Tokyo Vietnam Basra and BaghdadThe highlight of the book however is the description of the unbelievable exploits of some of the grand aces flying their toys The merit of honour of the German Ace Hans Ulrich Rudel runs like a riotous imagination right out of an adventure epic Digest thisCombat Missions 2350;Kills 519 tanks; 4 trains; 1 battleship 2 cruisers; 1 destroyer 800 miscellaneous vehicles and 150 artillery piecesDecorations Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak LeavesHans Joachim Marseiller arguably the greatest combat pilot ever since the Red Baron was an incorrigible playboy who in addition to falling foul on a regular basis with his superiors shot down English planes for sheer fun A stupendous record of 18 downed fighters in a mere 10 minutes stands unbroken and unparalleled This Lord of the Sky was a mere 23 when a combat downed him and put him perennially to rest He lies interred in the soil of Libya at Tobruk with a single philosophical and apt word adorning his tombstone UndefeatedThis book by Hampton not only celebrates the lives of many an immortal soul that has sacrificed hisher the case of the famous women suadron of the Russian fighters life for the betterment of the world but also demonstrates in precise detail the utter futility and purposelessness that is freuently resorted to by man to annihilate his fellow speciesLords Of The Sky Soars high on elegant wings


  9. says:

    Dan Hampton takes on a big subject by authoring a one volume history of air fighters from WWI to the 2003 invasion of Ira He provides you were there descriptions of representative combat flying in all eras and the gives the history of aircraft development and how fighters played a role in the different wars Hampton provides some interesting details about the characteristics of the various best known planes without getting too technical for general readers He also explains the evolution of tactics as plane designs advanced The flying careers of many of the famous aces from the wars are included You can tell Hampton has a lot of passion for these planes and the men and in a few cases USSR women who flew themAlthough not a youth level book the topic may attract many teens with an interest in this subject Parents should be aware that the language can be rough in spots as the author realistically portrays the fighter pilot experience in combat


  10. says:

    A brilliant work with exhaustive research incredible insight representing a complete history of the greatest fighter pilots Clearly the author a fighter pilot himself had in mind a work to be studied in every flight school across the globe While the technical details airplane model specifications andor technological descriptions may be a bit lengthy in this volume I found the stories personal histories and battle details uite engrossing