Angles of Attack: An A-6 Intruder Pilot's War.
This newest Gulf War memoir really puts the reader in the cockpit. Like the A-7 Corsair, its stable mate in the Navy's attack community, the A-6 Intruder, above, made its final combat cruise in the six-week action that ousted the invading Iraqis from Kuwait. Intruder squadrons flew from all six carriers deployed during Desert Storm (as well as with two Marine Corps shore-based squadrons), and the former A-6 aviator tells the story in a well-written narrative that covers the buildup of Desert Shield and the nightly launches that destroyed Iraqi naval and land assets with consistent precision.
Peter Hunt's account is one of the best of the type I have read in recent years. The only negative comment I can make is the annoying use of quotes from the National Anthem for chapter headings and the book's innocuous title, explained as coming from the A-6 Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization manual.
The focal point of the book is Hunt's experience flying 45 combat missions with Attack Squadron 145, and the close bond with his bombardier-navigator (BN), which reinforces the team effort involved in flying the Intruder. The description of the prewar activities as the squadron, air wing and carrier prepare to deploy give a fine insider's view of carrier aviation. Hunt tells what it was like flying combat from one of the Navy's oldest carriers, Ranger (CV 61).
Peripheral areas like a port call in the Philippines, the loneliness of Christmas Eve at sea and thoughts of faraway family are described in some of the best writing that I have seen in this type of book.
Peter Hunt and his BN participated in the Battle of Bubiyan, which saw the destruction of several Iraqi navy PT boats and eliminated that enemy arm as a threat. They also flew during the last major attack on Iraqi units, the so-called "highway of death," as the invaders torched the Kuwaiti capital and tried to flee along a road.
There's a lot in this rather large paperback, but the writing flows well. Unfortunately, the book ends on a sour note because of the author's dissatisfaction with the postwar Navy, Tailhook scandal and the resulting "rot from within." Family separation also played a hand in his decision to leave the Navy, as well as the demise of the A-6 community.
Nonetheless, Angles of Attack is a fine effort that tells the story of one of the Navy's stalwart aviation communities during its last combat deployment.
By Cdr. Peter B. Mersky, USNR (Ret.)
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|Title Annotation:||Professional Reading|
|Author:||Mersky, Peter B.|
|Publication:||Naval Aviation News|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||May 1, 2004|
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