Defense Media Network

Book Review – Thunderbolts of the Hell Hawks, by Don Barnes, John Crump, and Roy Sutherland

Book Review

Once in a while, a book will capture your attention not because it’s educational, not because it’s entertaining, but because it’s just plain beautiful. This newly published volume is all three.

Thunderbolts of the Hell Hawks: 365th Fighter-Bomber Group in Words, Pictures and Illustrations is a sparkling new landscape-format, coffee table book with beautiful color profiles of the P-47 fighters of the 365th Fighter Group in World War II. It’s credited to three authors, Don Barnes, John Crump, and Roy Sutherland, but the driving force behind the spectacular color and the beautifully archived photography is Barnes, a pilot and graphic artist.

“A project like this finds you,” said Barnes in a May 19, 2012, telephone interview. “You don’t go looking for it.”

Capt. Arlo Henry's P-47D

An illustration by Don Barnes of 365th Fighter Group Capt. Arlo Henry’s P-47D, similar to the illustrations he made for the book of every single Hell Hawks Thunderbolt. Illustration courtesy of Don Barnes

Barnes has recreated in color a detailed image of every P-47 flown by the 365th group, unofficially dubbed the “Hell Hawks,” during its air campaign on the European continent as part of the 9th Air Force. He has collected 800 wartime photographs and believes he has a copy of every photo of the 365th group known to exist today. He used 500 in this book, which also has 98 of his color profiles on its 320 pages.

Barnes said he was inspired in part by Hell Hawks! by this writer and Thomas D. Jones, a 2008 history of the long-overlooked 365th group dive-bombing and strafing its way through Normandy, France, Belgium, and into the Battle of the Bulge – but had only a couple of dozen illustrations.

This one includes all the illustrations we couldn’t in Hell Hawks!.


Robert F. Dorr is an author, U.S. Air Force veteran, and retired American diplomat who...