Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Book review “Angels in the Sky” by Robert Gandt

October 16th, 2020 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Angels in the Sky

“How a band of volunteer Airmen saved the new state of Israel” by Robert Gandt

Over the years, I get asked to review books and movies.  This book I regret was lost in an office move only to resurface far later then the publishers would have preferred to review. I mean so long ago that I can’t even thank the publishing house who sent this to me.  Never the less, I had time to read this book last weekend and fell in love with it right away.  As a writer, Robert was able to truly capture the feelings of the young men, fresh back from WW2 and missing the camaraderie of their war time experiences.

This opportunity to participate in the building of the young Israeli Air Force formed one of the most ferocious fighting units, staffed with battle hardened vets ever assembled.  I know it was politics, but what really upset me was the lack of help the U.S. provided at the start of the State of Israel.  The Jews had to figure out ways to purchase surplus war planes (there were plenty) and then get them over to fight in the Middle East without violating the neutrality act the U.S was in with the United Nations. 

Somehow, they missed out on the surplus P-51’s sitting down in Mexico because they signed a contract to buy all the used Czech licensed and built German Messerschmitt’s.  These were dogs! No way around it, lets call them what they were, pieces of crap.  The Irony was not lost on the pilots that they would be fighting the Egyptian British made Spitfires in German designed planes flown by Jewish pilots.  This was to be a crazy war.  They acquired many different types of planes and through sheer will, made them perform against a better equipped force.  The losses were daily mainly through the attrition of crashes from the “Czech Mule” which was a beast to put down. 

The research Robert did for this book was incredible.  You really developed a sense of each person and bond that made your heart break when they died.  This was a war of wars in terms of 100 to 1 in the numbers and what they had to put up with along the way.  I’m ashamed of the British and American diplomacy back then and could feel the stress as they were forced to dogfight against the British Spitfires stationed near Egypt.  A lot of these pilots knew and flew with the Brits in WW2 and it wasn’t a proud day when they shot down 3 out of four British pilots who ventured over into Israel’s airspace to “see what was going on”, the 4th shot down by ground gunners.  It was a bad day of being in the wrong place at the wrong time but I think the IAF proved they were a match for the world, not just the pilots of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. 

As a pilot, I would highly recommend buying this book as it takes you into the incredible bravery of these volunteers (many not Jewish) who were part of the greatest trained pilots in WW2 and assembled for one last great adventure.  This will put you into the cockpit of the Red Sqd as they fought daily in crap airplanes but survived on their skill that the other side just didn’t have.  If you are into and interested in Israel and how these Angels saved the country during it’s time of need, then you will enjoy this book too!!

Hope this helps,

Semper Fi, Taco

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