Book Review: “506th Fighter Group: The History of the 506th Fighter Group, Iwo Jima 1945” by Robert J. Grant

Released in 2011 by AJ Press as part of their Fighting Units in Color series, it is a pictoral history of the 506th Fighter Group while on Iwo Jima. Author, Robert J. Grant, includes a brief summary of each mission flown by the 506th, and in addition, describes life on Iwo Jima, the first VLR mission flown by the 506th on May 28, 1945, the June 1, 1945 “Black Friday” mission in which weather claimed 24 pilots of the 15th, 21st and 506th Fighter Groups, the Distinguished Unit Citation received by the 506th, 506th FG markings, and Captain Abner M. Aust, Jr.’s description of the July 16th and August 10th VLR missions in which he downed 5 Japanese fighters.

The artwork contained in the book is by Polish artist Zbigniew Kolacha, and includes 3 in-flight art like the picture below, 13 aircraft profiles, and nose art. The artwork is of the following aircraft:

542, “Fighting Lady/Broadway Gal”, 457th, FS P-51D-20-NA, 44-72570 (flown by 1st Lts. Ralph Gardner & Chester Jatczak)

616, “Shanghai Lil”, 462nd FS, P-51D-20-NA, 44-72588 (flown by 1st Lts. Darrell S. Bash & Edward Linfante) (decals included)

619, “Hon. Mistake”, 462nd FS, P-51D-20-NA, 44-72587 (flown by 1st Lts. James R. Bercaw & William G. Ebersole)

The 13 aircraft profiles cover all three squadrons, and include the following aircraft:

502, 457th FS, P-51D-20-NA 44-72599 (flown by 1st Lt. Larry Dolan)

527, “Hel-eter/Lil Toddie”, 457th FS, P-51D-20-NA, 44-72557 (flown by 1st Lts. John W. Winnen & Phillip S. Alston, and later, 1st Lts. Warren Clayton & Denny O’Hearn) (decals included)

528, “The Enchantress”, 457th FS, P-51D-25-NA, 44-72761 (flown by 2nd Lt. William Saks)

531, “Nip Nocker”, 457th FS, P-51D-20-NA, 44-63291 (flown by 1st Lt. Wesley A. Murphey)

538, 457th FS, P-51D-20-NA, 44–63983 (flown by Cap. John W.L. Benbow & 2nd Lt. Chester Jatczak)

540, “Kwitcherbitchin”, 457th FS, P-51D-25-NA, 44-72854 (flown by Cap. William B. Lawrence & Cap. Alan J. Kinvig) (decals included)

555, “The Olde Lady/Little Anne/My Darlin Betty Ann”, 458th FS, P-51D-25-NA, 44-72628 (flown by 2d Lts. James E. Coleman & Ralph R. Coltman, Jr.)

556, “The Boll Weevil/A Neat Package”, 458th FS, P-51D-20-NA, 44-72558 (flown by 2nd Lts. Bennett C. Commer & Harry C. Seegers, Jr.)

557, 458th FS, P-51D-20-NA, 44-63903 (flown by 2nd Lts. Raymond Feld & Robert E. Tatro)

576, “Little One/Jeannie”, 458th FS, P-51D-20-NA, 44-72612 (flown by 1st Lt. Max E. Ruble & 2nd Lt. Francis J. Pilecki) (decals included)

580, “Shirley III/Augusta Wind”, 458th FS, P-51D-25-NA, 44-72890 (flown by 1st Lt. Myndret S. Starin & 2nd Lt. Wilhelm H. Peterson)

582, 458th FS, P-51D-25-NA, 44-72672 (flown by 1st Lt. Robert “Andy” Anderstrom)

599, 458th FS, P-51D-25-NA, 44-72870 (flown by Cap. Peter Norwich)

602, “Meatball”, 462nd FS, P-51D-20-NA, 44-72505 (flown by 1st Lt. Edward Balhourn & 2nd Lt. Steve M. Treacy)

615, “My Bonnie”, 462nd FS, P-51D-20-NA, 44-72581 (flown by 1st Lts. John J. Grant & Francis L. Lee) (decals included)

638, “Corky/Belle of Auburn”, 462nd FS, P-51D-25-NA, 44-72667 (flown by 1st Lt. Bernard R. Comfort & 2nd Lt. John R. Kubis)

640, “The Shawnee Princess/Empire Commuter”, 462nd FS, P-51D-20-NA, 44-72620 (flown by Cap. Stanley C. Zagorsky & 1st Lt. Charles F. Seale)

As a bonus, decals are included in all three major scales: 1/72nd, 1/48th, and 1/32nd. The decals are printed by Techmod, so they are quality decals.

The book can be purchased on the 506th Fighter Group website (http://www.506thfightergroup.org), and is signed by Robert J. Grant and Zbigniew Kolacha. I believe Robert also has copies of the book which are signed by some of the pilots of 506th Fighter Group. If you are interested in purchasing the book with pilot signatures, please contact Robert at the following email address: webmaster@506thfightergroup.org. The book can also be purchased on Amazon and other on-line bookstores, but without any signatures.

This is the only book dedicated solely to the 506th Fighter Group, and is an excellent reference source for both the historian and the modeler. If you are a modeler interested in building a model of a 506th FG P-51D Mustang, this book is a must. Highly recommended.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: “506th Fighter Group: The History of the 506th Fighter Group, Iwo Jima 1945” by Robert J. Grant”

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