Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

S. P. MacKenzie

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pp. vii-viii

This book would not have been completed without access to the holdings of many important libraries and archives. In particular I sincerely thank the staff members at the Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB; the Australian War Memorial, Canberra; the Research...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-4

That fliers can be superstitious has long been acknowledged within the aviation community.1 Especially in reference to the Allies in World War II, furthermore, the subject has been touched on repeatedly by popular writers; but, with very few exceptions, academic historians have tended...

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1. Men against Odds

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pp. 5-19

That some of those who volunteered for aircrew duties on either side of the Atlantic in World War II brought supernatural beliefs with them into the air should come as no surprise. Mass-Observation surveys in Britain indicated that about half of adult males accepted at least one...

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2. Asking for Miracles

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pp. 20-27

In the context of considerable danger, it was natural that aircrew should turn to God as a means of saving body as well as soul. This might involve talismanic or ritualistic elements, to be discussed in the chapters ahead. The most widespread form of entreaty, though, came in the form of...

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3. Talismans and Mascots

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pp. 28-42

The veneration of objects with sacred associations has long been a feature of organized religion, notably within the Catholic Church. In the context of the perilous air war, various personal items would take on added importance as individual protective devices both among those who...

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4. Incantations and Rituals

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pp. 43-53

In the struggle to improve the odds over enemy skies, saying and doing the right thing might extend well beyond the proficient exercise of military aviation skills, or, indeed, either silent prayer or faith in magical objects. Certain repeated words and deeds could take on an incantational...

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5. Jinxes and Jonahs

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pp. 54-66

In the minds of many fliers, bad luck needed to be avoided just as assiduously as good fortune needed to be cultivated.1 Through a combination of fears about tempting fate, post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning, limited understanding of the laws of probability, along with traditional superstitions...

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6. Numbers and Symbols

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pp. 67-77

Given the stresses they were under, it is not surprising that fliers succumbed to numerological and other symbolic superstitions already fairly common in the English-speaking world. In the United States, where transatlantic visitors thought the population more superstitious than in...

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7. Premonitions of Disaster

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pp. 78-90

Doctors and others might dismiss resorting to charms, rituals, or even entreaties to an omniscient and omnipotent deity, along with belief in jinxes and hoodoos, as a return to the magical thinking of childhood. But for those who experienced them, premonitions were somehow...

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Conclusion

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pp. 91-104

In light of widespread references to charms, rituals, and other forms of magical thinking in memoirs, diaries, and interviews, it is all too easy to assume that superstition among wartime fliers was pretty much universal.1 However, assessing the relative extent and degree of superstitious thought...

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Appendix I: Tour Length

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pp. 105-106

How long pilots and other aircrew should have to fly against the enemy, either in terms of hours or operational sorties, was a subject that occupied a good deal of attention in the RAF, USAAF, and also the USN, though less so in the RN. The resulting official decisions, designed to maximize...

Appendix II: Aircraft Types

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pp. 107-110

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Appendix III: Air Organization

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pp. 111-112

The relative significance of Allied air units during World War II for aircrew could vary according to nation and service. For readers unfamiliar with the relevant structural models adopted, a brief outline in relation to the USAAF, USN, and USMC, the RAF plus the air forces of the dominions...

Notes

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pp. 113-198

Bibliography

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pp. 199-244

Index

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pp. 245-256

Back Cover

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