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Book Review – Hidden Warbirds II

More Epic Stories of Finding, Recovering, and Rebuilding WWII’s Lost Aircraft; By Nicholas A. Veronico; Zenith Press; Hardcover, 256 Pages; 111 color & 5 b/w photos

The days of World War II-surplus fighters and bombers being sold for a few hundred dollars or less are nearly seven decades past now. It’s painful to read those accounts and think, in retrospect, how many classic aircraft could have been saved, especially ones considered rarities today, which at the time were considered less appealing and often went untaken, even for the cheapest prices of all.

But what’s done is done.

Nicholas A. Veronico’s Hidden Warbirds II: More Epic Stories of Finding, Recovering, and Rebuilding WWII’s Lost Aircraft, concentrates on salvaging the warbirds being discovered today. The follow-up to the acclaimed Hidden Warbirds, Hidden Warbirds II delivers 14 more accounts of the adventures of warbird hunters and restorers searching out 20 more of the last salvageable warbirds on earth, and then bringing them back to life to be displayed or even flown again.

The sometimes lengthy trials, tribulations, and adventures involved with recovering various aircraft quickly pull the reader in, and the descriptions of the painstaking process of bringing the wrecks to life are likewise highly engaging.

Considering the balance of stories in the book, the last frontier of warbirds often seems to be the wilderness itself. In this volume, a German Dornier Do 17 is recovered from the English Channel, several aircraft are recovered from freshwater lakes, a few more from the sea, and others from bogs, swamps, and forests. On the other hand, one whole chapter is titled “Hidden in Plain Sight: Mustangs on Poles,” and is devoted to the recoveries of vintage aircraft that had become gate guards and roadside curiosities.

Hidden Warbirds II cover

Hidden Warbirds II:More Epic Stories of Finding, Recovering, and Rebuilding WWII’s Lost Aircraft; By Nicholas A. Veronico; Zenith Press; Hardcover, 256 Pages; 111 color & 5 b/w photos

Often, in Hidden Warbirds II, the story of how an aircraft ended up in the spot from which it was recovered is told, and sometimes the pilot or crewmembers involved are able to contribute their own stories. The sometimes lengthy trials, tribulations, and adventures involved with recovering various aircraft quickly pull the reader in, and the descriptions of the painstaking process of bringing the wrecks to life are likewise highly engaging. The author’s description of the evolution in thought about restoring and preserving warbirds over the “eras” of warbird recovery and restoration provides needed perspective as well.

The end of the Cold War opened up new territories to search for aircraft, and as the book explains, new technologies have made the job of restoration easier, or at least more feasible. A final chapter speculating on the future of warbird recovery and restoration paints a hopeful picture of many warbirds still out there to be discovered, including updates on a few formerly “extinct” warbirds on the verge of taking to the air again.

Hidden Warbirds II is a very high quality volume, printed on thick, glossy stock and generously illustrated with 150 photographs, in both black and white and color. This engaging and informative book provides in-depth insight into the warbird community, and is a must-have for warbird enthusiasts.