Thunderbolt to War gives a remarkable personal insight into the structure and operations of a leading USAAF Fighter Squadron in Britain during the Second World War. This theme is explored through the recorded thoughts and feelings of Clint Sperry, a skilled fighter pilot who was seconded to England with the 353rd Fighter Group—the rarely celebrated workhorse of Eighth Fighter Command. Despite the relative anonymity of the Group, the names of its charismatic leaders still resonate today, including the eighteen-victory ace Walter Beckham and the aggressive Glenn E. Duncan.
Clint and his colleagues suffered many frustrating and perilous experiences during the war; they encountered enemy fighters, flak, treacherous weather, and mechanical problems throughout the bloody battles over Europe. To survive was a lottery, but Clint’s experience and aptitude served him well.
This account follows the soaring successes and devastating traumas that Clint experienced, culminating in a vivid picture of a fighter pilot’s war. He flew 106 missions in his favoured P47 Thunderbolt, and was credited with destroying or probably destroying five enemy aircraft—in addition to destroying many targets on the ground by strafing and bombing. Clint was awarded three DFCs for his courage, and gained the enduring respect of his son, Steve, and his friend, John Anderson. Their richly illustrated account of his life pays tribute to a true American hero.