Forgotten Fifteenth: The Daring Airmen Who Crippled Hitler’s War Machine

Tillman (2)

About the Book

November 1943—May 1945—The U.S. Army Air Forces waged an unprecedentedly dogged and violent campaign against Hitler’s vital oil production and industrial plants on the Third Reich’s southern flank. Flying from southern Italy, far from the limelight enjoyed by the Eighth Air Force in England, the Fifteenth Air Force engaged in high-risk missions spanning most of the European continent. The story of the Fifteenth Air Force deserves a prideful place in the annals of American gallantry.

In his new book, Forgotten Fifteenth: The Daring Airmen Who Crippled Hitler’s War Machine, Tillman brings into focus a seldom-seen multinational cast of characters, including pilots from Axis nations Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria and many more remarkable individuals. They were the first generation of fliers—few of them professionals—to conduct a strategic bombing campaign against a major industrial nation. They suffered steady attrition and occasionally spectacular losses. In so doing, they contributed to the end of the most destructive war in history.

Forgotten Fifteenth is the first-ever detailed account of the Fifteenth Air Force in World War II and the brave men that the history books have abandoned until now. Tillman proves this book is a must-read for military history enthusiasts, veterans, and current servicemen.

The Author

Barrett Tillman (b. 1948) was born into a NE Oregon ranching family and developed an early interest in aviation history. He learned to fly as a teenager, was first published at age 15, and graduated from the University of Oregon with a journalism degree in 1971. He has worked as a newspaper reporter, book publisher, and magazine editor, but has been self employed all but seven years since graduating from college. Though best known for his histories of US naval aviation, he also has published six novels plus short stories, and has sold a screenplay.

Tillman continues writing nonfiction books and has written more than 550 articles in the US and abroad. He frequently appears as a commentator on TV documentaries in addition to his speaking appearances. The recipient of six writing awards, he lives with his wife in Arizona.

Tillman’s web site and blog are found at

My Thoughts

Lt. Daniel S. Wilson served in the 15th Army Air Force, 14th Fighter Group, 38th Fighter Squadron, based at Triolo in the Foggia complex, near the Adriatic coast of Italy, from late 1944 through early 1945. His brother, Lt. Dale R. Wilson, was Missing in Action in New Guinea, having flown several times over the treacherous Owen Stanley Mountains.

Dan Wilson also flew over mountains, the snowy Alps, on his missions. Established by Maj. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle (in November, 1943, before being transferred a few months later to command the 8th Air Force in England). Bomber and fighter groups of the 15th Air Force were based around the same area of Italy. Their missions were mostly in Austria, Yugoslavia, and eventually Germany.

The winter of 1944-45 was a miserable one, with heavy persistent rain and dense clouds, keeping operations from proceeding. Dan Wilson experienced that, but was also kept busy trying to scrape together materials with other pilots to build a shack for a decent shelter during the winter.

Forgotten Fifteenth takes the reader from Tunisia to the move to Italy and combat over occupied Europe, especially oil refineries, through heavy flak and anti-aircraft fire around these heavily guarded industrial sites.

An appendix lists all the units of the 15th Air Force and the name of their bases, bombing statistics, names of leading aces, sources, notes, and a bibliography. Very thorough.


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