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With the Possum and the Eagle

The Memoir of a Navigator's War over Germany and Japan

Ralph H. Nutter

Publication Year: 2005

Ralph H. Nutter was the lead navigator for Eighth Air Force raids over Germany when he was assigned as Maj. Gen. Curtis “the Eagle” LeMay’s group navigator. Later, as the strategic air war over Europe was winding down, the ace navigator was transferred to B-29 Superfortress duty with the Twentieth Air Force in the Pacific, where he was picked by Brigadier Gen. Haywood "Possum" Hansell to be his bomber navigator. After LeMay succeeded Hansell as bomber commander, Nutter returned to navigation duty with LeMay. Hansell and LeMay were two of our country’s leading combat commanders in Europe and the Pacific. They pioneered the concepts of strategic airpower and high-altitude daylight precision bombing. With the Possum and the Eagle affords a rare insider’s perspective on aviation leadership and strategic issues, melded with extraordinary accounts of courage under fire.

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-

Dedication

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-

This book relates my recollection of events that happened more than fifty-five years ago. I have examined many of the official orders, memoranda, flight data, and log sheets prepared during the years 1942 to 1945. They have been an invaluable assistance in verifying many of the events I have described...

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Preface to the First Edition

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pp. ix-xii

I was a navigator on B-1 7 Flying Fortresses and B-29 Superfortresses for Generals Haywood Hansell and Curtis LeMay in the air war against Germany andJapan from 1942 to 1945. The title of this book is derived from the nicknames of those two general officers. Hansell was called "Possum" by...

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Preface to the Paperback Edition

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pp. xiii-

Mter publication of the original edition of this book, I received many letters and comments about Generals LeMay and Hansell, noting that General Hansell never received the recognition nor the notoriety of General LeMay. Mter Hansell retired, he spoke at many meetings and proceedings of air force groups, about air force history and his experiences as a staff...

Part I: The Air War against Germany

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1. A Second Lieutenant Meets Colonel LeMay

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pp. 3-16

I t was seven o'clock on Sunday evening, 7 December 1941. I was studying in the dormitory of Perkins Hall at Harvard Law School. I heard the sound of tramping feet in the hall and the voice of my classmate Sander Johnson, yelling in a military cadence, "hut, two, three, four; hut, two,..

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2. Across the North Atlantic

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pp. 17-22

For so many white men in the twentieth century, “the tyranny of the mirror” was memory. For a significant number of these twentieth-century southerners (most of them male), having been racist is a memory so anguished as to call for amnesia. Jimmy Carter, a good example of the wiles of amnesia and memory, remembers growing...

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3. Training for Combat

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pp. 23-27

Even by Walt’s own hand, a civil war did get into “the books,” a war to be sure of gruesomely maimed male bodies, but also one of “fascinating sights” of battlefield carnage (Whitman 577) and of warriors who glowed in the bardic poet’s imagination as “fine specimen[s] of youthful physical manliness” even as they...

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4. Group Navigator for Colonel LeMay

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pp. 28-37

In 1935, a year after the United States terminated its occupation of Haiti (1915–1934), Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced through a version of the sturdy “American in Paris” fable in the RKO movie version of the Broadway musical Roberta. One of the numbers has become a classic in the repertoire of the American popular...

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5. The Possum Becomes Our Commanding General

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pp. 38-51

The spring of 2001 seems like a barely rememberable past, almost a year of “magical thinking” pushed beyond recovery by the historytransforming events of the following September 11: the trauma that “changed everything.”1 In March of that obliterated...

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6. Casablanca - The Air Force Rejects Area Bombing

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pp. 52-54

Charlie is Charlie Croker, the Atlanta developer and “man in full” of Tom Wolfe’s brazenly satirical novel of the simulated post-South where nothing is genuine and everything can be bought. What takes Charlie’s breath away is the view of his plantation from his G-5 as his pilot brings it in for a landing on his private landing strip...

7. Our First Mission over Germany

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pp. 55-63

8. Prelude to a Bloody Summer

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pp. 64-87

9. The Politics of High Command

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pp. 88-97

10. Bloody Summer

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pp. 98-126

11. Munich by Night, Schweinfurt by Day

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pp. 127-143

12. Hansell and LeMay in Washington

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pp. 144-154

13. Reflections at Sea

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pp. 155-160

Part II: The Air War against Japan

14. General Arnold's $3 Billion Gamble

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pp. 163-169

15. Hansell and LeMay Lead the B-29s

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pp. 170-178

16. The Battle of Culver City

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pp. 179-186

17. A Different War, a Different Enemy

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pp. 187-201

18. The Divine Winds of Heaven

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pp. 202-207

19. The Beginning of the End for Hansell

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pp. 208-219

20. The Eagle Stretches His Wings

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pp. 220-232

21. LeMay Firebombs Japan

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pp. 233-248

22. The Aerial Mining of Japan

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pp. 249-261

23. Tinian and Muroc

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pp. 262-276

24. LeMay's Role in the Dropping of the Atomic Bombs

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pp. 277-285

25. A Postmortem

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pp. 286-291

Appendices

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pp. 292-312

Glossary of Aviation Terms

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pp. 313-316

Note on Sources

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pp. 317-320

Bibliography

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pp. 321-322

Index

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pp. 323-


E-ISBN-13: 9781574414639
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574411980

Page Count: 360
Illustrations: 24 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: North Texas Military Biography and Memoir Series