Imagine being a fighter or bomber pilot. You and your crew have been in the heat of battle when, suddenly, your plane catches fire or your engine conks out. You have to bail out or ditch in the water below. Who will save you? In World War II, survivors of Allied aircraft who found themselves in such straits, looked skyward in desperate hope, particularly those within range of Japanese shore guns, or adrift in enemy waters. Their prayers were answered when large, ungainly PBY Catalina or PBM Mariner seaplanes, whose engines thundered in noisy disproportion to the speed they generated, alighted on the water nearby. In the face of gunfire from enemy shore batteries, every second spent as a helpless, fixed target invited disaster for the pilots and aircrews of these plucky planes. Nevertheless, they willingly risked their lives to bring the survivors of downed aircraft, and sunken vessels, back from the shadow of death on slow, sure wings. Air-sea rescue operations were often hazardous, even in the absence of enemy threat. Seemingly calm whitecaps viewed from the air, might well be rolling swells twenty feet high, forcing pilots to put down on moving slopes of water. Gigantic bounces in heavy seas often resulted in damage that prevented their taking flight again. In this companion book to Eyes of the Fleet and Ingram’s Fourth Fleet, readers take flight with the heroic aircrews of rescue aircraft scouring ocean waters for their fellow Allied servicemen. Salvation from the Sky also visits four future American presidents-John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush-who were then serving in the Pacific Theater.
One hundred seventy-nine photographs; maps and diagrams; appendices; a bibliography; and an index to full-names, places, and subjects add value to this work.