Thursday, September 29, 2016

Knights of the Air

(Source)
(Amazon)
I can hardly believe the emotional effect this book is having on me. No, I haven't finished it yet, but so far it is a superb tale of World War II. This is one of those stories that reminds me that not everyone on the other side is evil or a monster. They might serve a monstrous cause but when you get right down to it, what choice did they have?

Franz Stigler had the opportunity to make a choice, and he made the right one, though it was a choice that could have seen him stood up against a wall and shot. In war, not all choices are clear, not all courses of action will have a good result. Sometimes though, things work out.

Sadly, neither of these two warriors is still with us, both passed in 2008. The following video clip remembers them. I would point you to an account of what happened, but really, you need to read the book. It is, in a word, superb.



The following clip came out after the book was published, tells more of the story.



You really need to read this book.

Update
For those of you who notice such things, the painting at the top is not the same one on the cover of the book. The Me-109 is very different between the two paintings. Hhmm...



38 comments:

  1. I agree, it's an excellent book. I can only hope that given similar circumstances, I'd have made the same decision.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One never knows. I would hope I'd do the same.

      Delete
  2. I also agree that the book tells an impressive story indeed and is really worth reading. It could be quite a great movie if done right (if). The book tells how Stigler not only performed that act of chivalry but had fought well in the Afrika Korps and then went on to fly the ME-262 through the end of the war. Quite an impressive fellow, as was Charlie Brown, and Makos tells the story very well indeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. I really enjoyed seeing those two men in that first video clip. Gave even more perspective on the deeds they performed during the war.

      Mr. Makos did a superb job.

      Delete
  3. Generally not a war book or movie guy, but I will get this if it is Nook-able.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I checked for ya Joe, it is indeed available for Nook. ($10.99 at Barnes & Noble.)

      I like to think that we're a full service blog...

      Delete
  4. Not sure I'll get to that book anytime soon, as my stack of books and things I want to read, which includes probably 6 months of recent back issues of Car and Driver. But it looks like a good story. By the way, the guy on the right side of that book cover (Franz Stigler?) looks kinda like Ben Affleck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Herr Stigler does bear a passing resemblance to Ben Affleck in that picture.

      Delete
    2. When I first saw the photo, I thought he could pass for Humphrey Bogart. When I got another look on a different monitor, he does seem to resemble Affleck more.

      Bruce Jones

      Delete
  5. I'd heard the story and seen the video before. It is a stirring and remarkable story. But just now, the OCD in me notices that the painting above the book jacket has at least seven differences in the two planes between them.
    Just in case you had nothing better to do!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, you're absolutely right. When I went hunting for the painting, that was the clearest I could find.

      Then I added the book cover.

      This morning I started seeing the little differences.

      Oh dear!

      Delete
    2. Let me know when you're done finding those differences Mike.

      I've already seen a few of them. I'm keen to find them all, but not without knowing how many there might be.

      I do get the OCD thing. I have a little of that myself.

      Delete
    3. I may have spotted a ninth, but that might be a quibble because of the angle the 109 is taking on the book cover. .

      Delete
    4. Here goes: For brevity's sake I'll call them P (painting) & BC (book cover)

      1. Nacelle missing from nose of 17 (probably to accomode text on BC)
      2. BC 109 is larger/greater distance from P 109/closer to artist's POV
      (note wing tip of 109 with respect to gun turret 17)
      3. Guns (cowl mounted MG 17 machine guns & 20mm nose cannon) more prominent in BC
      4. Prop at a slightly different position between P & BC
      5. Pilot saluting in BC 109
      6. Small additional circular antenna behind cockpit on BC
      7. Air intake scoop below cowling different
      8. Dimples on wings (to accomodate landing gear?) smooth bumps on P, Frisbee-like on BC
      9. Four dots visible on P between cowling & cockpit, obscured by cowling on BC. Might be the angle, but also the cowling looks more like flaps/saddlebags on BC compared to P

      If you see anything else, let us know!

      Delete
    5. Man but you have a good eye Mike!

      Delete
    6. I've gotta do some digging and figure out why the two paintings are so similar, yet so different.

      At first I thought the P was just darker.

      This is fun. I love those "can you find the difference" puzzles.

      Delete
    7. The strangest part seems to be that the B-17 (minus the nacelle) is a bullethole by bullethole representation of the painting. It's the 109 that's changed in size, style & aspect. Who knows?

      Delete
    8. I'm going to venture a guess...the 109 on the book cover was painted by a different artist, over the old one, so they could get the salute on the cover, to increase interest and sales. Let the conspiracies begin!

      Delete
    9. Yes on the B-17. Other than the P being a little darker than the BC, the only thing missing is that bit under the nose.

      Delete
    10. And I like your theory on the repositioning and repainting of the 109.

      Delete
    11. Camouflage is different on the wings of the Gustav.

      Delete
  6. A delightful story in a very well written book. I have shared my copy quite a bit. Everyone who has read it has been amazed.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Are most of them on the 109? I didn't see too many differences on the 17.

    Paul L. Quandt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what I'm thinking too Paul.

      Delete
    2. I only saw one on the 17. Unless you count the distance between the two planes.

      Delete
    3. Yup, soon as you mentioned it, I checked. I see the difference on the -17, didn't notice that before.

      Delete
  8. No small number of Germans got the blindfold and 8mm salute for being humane. It's interesting to ponder the morals and ethics of such men and of the nation as a whole. In 1942 hitler let it be known that he desired that no enemy seamen would survive sinking, strongly implying that U-Boats destroy lifeboats and their crews. Doenitz promulgated a strong message outlining the reasoning behind sinking lifeboats -- that seamen were in fact enemy combatants and would man other ships if they survived and were therefore legitimate targets even in lifeboats. So far as we know, however, neither hitler nor Doenitz actually made it an order. Even though they could read between the lines and understand command's intent, most Captains and crews found an endless list of reasons why they couldn't comply. In a kill or be killed situation it's personal survival and somebody's gonna get croaked. It's different when one guy/side is helpless and/or submits. Is that a genetic thing or learned behavior? I'd guess both. Either way, intentionally killing the helpless would be an impossible burden to bear, I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only a monster would intentionally kill the helpless. Nearly all Nazis were monsters, most regular Germans were not and still are not. War and stressful times do odd things to people, we can see that in our own streets now.

      Having read many a nautical tale, it seemed to me that sailors, regardless of what flag they sailed under, regarded their primary enemy as the sea itself. The sea has no mercy, that's a very human quality.

      Delete
  9. Sarge: I decided to use the painting for one of my headers and decided it might be fun to have my readers see if they could spot the differences. Low and behold, I spotted another one or two (depending on how you count them)!

    If you look behind the prop, under the nose of the BC 109, the air scoop is more prominent, plus there are dark rectangles under the wings that suggest some feature on the underside of the wing, approximately in line with the landing gear.

    If you want to see how well my readers did, it's over at http://proof-proofpositive.blogspot.com/2016/10/can-you-spot-differences.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Saw that today. Am tickled that you published that, can't wait to see the readers responses!

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)