During World War II the 8th Air Force was the sole USAAF organization to designate ground kills as being equivalent to air victories, therein creating a unique group of "strafer ace" pilots. Though purists would argue the ace designation was awarded only on the basis of air kills, no one would deny how dangerous strafing missions were over Europe in 1944 and 1945. Such attacks were so costly that in 1944 the command put together "Down to Earth," a how-to manual composed of comments from leading strafer aces, group COs, etc.
As they did with their treatment of the 5th Air Force "Twelve to One" volume, Osprey Publishing and noted author William Hess have resurrected the 8th AF study, added mini-biographies of strafer aces such as John Landers, Jim Goodson and Elwyn Righetti along with dozens of photos and nine pages of color profiles to produce a comprehensive tribute to those pilots.
Years ago the reviewer met Archie Tower, a 339th FG strafer ace with 18 ground kills to his credit. Despite endless cajoling, "Flak" Tower steadfastly declined to talk about his wartime missions. Now, in Osprey's book, the reader can revisit, if only briefly, those daring and deadly missions flown by 8th AF strafer aces against Luftwaffe airfields in the closing years of the war. Recommended!