Check Six: A Thunderbolt Pilot’s War Across the Pacific

The Book


“Makes you proud to be an American . . . a wonderful, fast-paced read, and I highly recommend it for any World War II aviation enthusiast” (Military Review).

There were no mission limits for a pilot in the Pacific during World War II; unlike in Europe, you flew until it was time to go home. So it was for James “Jug” Curran, all the way from New Guinea to the Philippines with the 348th Fighter Group, the first P-47 Thunderbolt outfit in the Pacific.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Curran volunteered to try flying in the blue yonder and trained as an Army fighter pilot. He got his wish to fly the P-47 in the Pacific, going into combat in August 1943, in New Guinea, and later helping start the “Black Rams” fighter squadron. The heavy US Thunderbolts were at first curious to encounter the nimble, battle-hardened Japanese in aerial combat, but soon, the American pilots gained skill of their own and their planes proved superior. Bombers on both sides could fall to fighters, but the fighters themselves were eyeball to eyeball, best man win.

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P-47 Thunderbolt. USAAF photo (cropped) via the National Archives.

Check Six! is an aviation chronicle that brings the reader into flight, then into the fight, throughout the Pacific War and back. This work, from someone who was there, captures the combat experience of our aviators in the Pacific, aided by pertinent excerpts from the official histories of units that “Jug” Curran flew with.

“Jim Curran is not afraid to share his moments of fear and emotions during the air battles with his readers which gives the book an extra dimension.” —

The Authors

James C. Curran, born in Chicago, joined the Army Air Corps in 1942. He became a fighter pilot and flew the P-47 Thunderbolt in the Pacific between 1943 and 1945. After the war, he worked in sales, then as a pipefitter in the Chicago area, retiring in 1987.

Terrance G. Popravak, Jr., also born in Chicago, served in the U.S. Air Force for nearly 24 years, retiring in 2010. He is a volunteer historian with the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Fighter Wing and frequently writes on the unit’s history, in addition to writing several aviation/military history blogs.

LinkedIn for Popravak.

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Terry Popravak

My Thoughts

Combining the combat veteran James Curran’s memoirs with missions reports and other research, Terrence Popravak has written a very thorough book about what it was like to be a fighter pilot in the Pacific between 1943 in New Guinea to 1945 in the Philippines. Mr. Curran logged an amazing 221 missions flying the P-47 Thunderbolt with the 348th Fighter Group.

The detailed chronicle includes several pages of photos, extensive footnotes, and several appendices.

James Curran still owned the chair he was sitting in when he heard the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. He joined the Army Air Force right away.

These young pilots lived in all sorts of conditions and sometimes ate what they could, all the while flying missions. One amazing episode in New Guinea told about a couple of very nervous pet dogs at night, leading to the discovery of a huge python which was 30 feet long and a foot wide, and whose meal (300 pounds of it) it became the next day.


    • I know! Terry Paprovak had contacted me about the older Wilson brothers being on the crew of the USS Chicago (CA-29) in the 1930s. He’s started a history of the ship. That’s how I learned about his book about this amazing WWII pilot. Watching for news about Terry’s USS Chicago book!

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