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Dumb but Lucky!: Confessions of a P-51 Fighter Pilot in World War II

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Format: Mass Market Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Second lieutenant Dick Curtis arrived in Italy in May 1944-twenty years old and part of a shipment of P-51 Mustang fighter pilots so desperately needed that they were rushed into combat with less than... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Great account from an ignored theater of operations.

I am a big fan of this book. The author was a human guinea pig who was sent to a front line fighter group with minimal training, as the government wanted to see how little training pilots could receive and still be effective and survive. This is not the usual account of a figher pilot, who normally tells you exactly how good he was. He candidly informs you how unprepared he was. The title says it all. I am also glad to hear about a unit and theater of war that is not often written about or published. The Eighth Airforce and the Fifteenth Airforce were partners that worked together to keep the enemy off balance. Together they did much to finish Nazi Germany. The Mighty Eighth is well covered in many books, especially a handful of groups. You could fit all that is written on the fifteenth on a short shelf. I found the author engaging and humorous. He also helps you see the ugly side of war, even though he flies the "glamorous" P-51 Mustang.

Humble hero of the "Greatest Generation"

The author served in the same fighter squadron as the man that I was later named after, who like many others gave the ultimate sacrifice. I found this book very enlightening, because it is not just a recount of the military strategy and the tactics of air battles, but a broad description of the culture, technology, training and hardships of a very young man doing his patriotic duty with honor. Mr Curtis reveals some of the reckless and foolish things that he and others did, and the lucky and un-lucky pilots that he served with. His colorful descriptions of the pilot's life in P-51 Mustangs and in Italy paint an vivid picture. The long-distance love story with his one-and-only Myrt adds another dimension.

Lucky I Read It !

Well I have read in excess of 20 world war 2 pilots books and I very much enjoyed this one! I was completely drawn in and read it straight through...I enjoyed reading about all Richards exploits and his ability to put you there with him during his time in the sky. If you are a fan of the Army Air Force during WW2 then I highly recommend ready "Dumb But Lucky" and see how a regular guy managed to be very clever and yes a bit lucky as well!

Thank goodness for those diaries and letters

Richard Curtis was an 18 year old who enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1942 because he wanted to be a pilot and not be drafted without a choice in his role in World War II. He was a wild man when he got at the controls of the fighter planes, but he was disciplined enough to write detailed diaries during training and in Italy. He kept his letters from his wartime girlfriend. From these diaries and letters we learn about the escapades of the flyboys, in the air, in the barracks, and with the girls. We see the suffering of the Italians who lived near the US airbase--the children who begged for food and ate from the Army's garbage cans, and the women and girls who turned to prostitution to survive. From Lt. Curtis' viewpoint in the sky, we see the US bombers down below which have been hit by German fire and realize that another 14 GI's have probably been killed. We learn of the rationing of fuel oil and how it affected those living through a New England winter. I was a child during World War II, and this book was a great education for me about what actually went on during that time.

Lucky enough to read this book

Here's a must read for anyone interested in the life of a combat pilot for any war, any nation. Lt. Curtis' story blends his training, combat, day to day activities, romance, and his own self-doubt with the major events of the WWII and the key decisions. It's facinating to read about how the decisions made by FDR and Churchill affected this man's life. I found myself pulling for Myrt to say yes, and feeling proud of the moral code Dick lived by. Here's a man I would have enjoyed meeting. My father flew B-17s out of England, but he would speak very little about his experinces. This books fills in many of the gaps in my father's story. As a book author myself, I highly recommend this book.
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