The Extraordinary Story of the First Wild Weasels, the Band of Maverick Aviators Who Flew the Most Dangerous Missions of the Vietnam War
A gripping chronicle of the band of maverick aviators who signed on for the suicidal, dangerous top-secret "Wild Weasel" missions during the Vietnam War - which used controversial and revolutionary tactics to combat Soviet missile technology - from New York Times best-selling author Dan Hampton.
On July 24, 1965, Soviet advisors to North Vietnam launched an SA-2 surface-to-air missile (SAM), blowing an American F-4 Phantom out of the sky - the first of several kills using this menacing system. To counter this new weaponry, stunned Pentagon officials created a classified program - "Wild Weasel I" - pairing experimental equipment with a highly select group of electronic warfare officers and fighter pilots to combat this deadly threat. The men who did this became the "Hunter Killers" - and it is time to know their names.
Fifty years later, Dan Hampton provides a cockpit view of this highly classified military program that was a radical departure from conventional fighter jet tactics. These courageous, daring, and skilled warriors risked their lives to fight the SAMs and save their brother aviators.
Using first-hand accounts and declassified documents from both sides of the conflict, The Hunter Killers takes listeners into the skies, and up close to the bloody duels that left half the Weasels dead or captured. At its center are the men who risked everything to fight the most dangerous anti-aircraft weapons the world had seen.
Acclaimed Texas historian Stephen L. Moore's Texas Rising, the official companion to the epic History series of the same name, brings to life the violent Texas frontier and the Rangers' heroic deeds during the Texas Revolution. Texas Rising is an unforgettable history of this iconic band of fighters.
©2015 Ascalon, LLC (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers
I purchased this book to understand more about what it was like to be an American "Wild Weasel" pilot during the Vietnam war. I got that but what I also got was Dan Hampton's history of the Vietnam war which broke up the pace of the book with long descriptive chapters on the background to American involvement. Fine, yes, but I didn't buy the book for this. When Hampton keeps to the stories of the pilots and their combat with the SAM missile systems the pace is fast and exciting with great narration but when he breaks from that and starts another oh-so-long history lesson my mind began to wonder and I felt the urge to fast forward.
When the story stays with the pilot's and the EWO's the story is fast paced and frenetic.
John Pruden's pilot conversations were very well drawn out. He has a great voice and one can imagine the American pilots talking to each other but what stood out and was really exciting was his depiction of the warning siren that sounds in a pilot's cockpit when an unfortunate fellow pilot has had to eject "BEER!BEER!BEER!"
Yes. Just fast forward the VERY long chapters on the history of the war.
This isn't just a history of the Wild Weasels, but includes wider explanation of the overall conflict and aspects of the air campaign. I had expected it to cover pretty much the Wild Weasel project only so while the information added context and the changes to the political environment in the US, it felt like the extra is there to pad out the Wild Weasel history.
Most of the information is useful (especially about the air war) and it doesn't shy from criticising poor political and military decision making in the US. And it will help remind even those with a broader understanding of what was occurring when. However some of it is patchy, can lack specific sources and makes sweeping statements about complex issues; describing the motivations of Churchill during WW2 as only focused on preserving the British empire or using the term 'rabble' to describe the Black Panthers are gross over simplifications and really jar compared to the thoroughness elsewhere.
Where it sticks to its subject it's a compassionate examination of the very brave and driven aviators who flew these missions. It doesn't present much from a Vietnamese perspective and there are very few Vietnamese sources, which is where the book could have done more.
It also includes a useful appendix which gives a concise history of the French and US involvement, as well as the Chinese and Russian influences between the end of the Second World War and the US escalation in Indochina.
The narrator misses some pronunciations, but otherwise does a creditable job with the text. Overall it's an interesting book, but not quite what it looks like from the blurb.
A fantastic book with plenty of detail to draw you into the story. I didn't have much knowledge of Vietnam but this book draws you into the story.
I enjoy history and particularly books on the First and Second World Wars. I also enjoy novels based on the period and modern day combat.
A good book detailing the sheer guts and determination required to develop and fly this type of mission.
American accent of reader a bit heavy going at times
Alan Jenkins "Designer"
An overview of the "WIld Weasel" history of the US Forces in Vietnam, its beginnings, its developments and pilots recollections. Detail is quite specific, and the narration helps visualise the difficulties and dangers associated with the Surface Air Missile destroyer role, while keeping events of US and Vietnam war history as a backdrop.
The excellent narration of operational sorties from take-off to landing (or loss, as success was not always guaranteed) brings the book to come alive.
Excellent, with good content to support his style.
It does not make you laugh or cry, but certainly provides you with an insight to how the people behind the dangerous role of flying Anti-SAM missions had operated under extreme conditions.
Excellent book, and audio book, with huge amounts of technical information while explaining clearly the complex subject in audible/readable formats.
I was looking forward to a history of the wild weasels, and instead I got a "fighter pilots" history of the Vietnam War with only brief stories from the weasels interspersed. Johnson, and McNamara bad, general's bad, some fighter pilots good.
Vietnam was a complicated war, and the treatment it was given in this books was cursory at best. Even more disappointing was the very brief story of the weasels. These were brave men who were struggling the technologies cutting edge. I wanted to see their story fleshed out more. For example, he retells the story of the first SAM kill by a weasel, and then as an after thought it was mentioned that only a few pilots from the first group of weasels in Vietnam successfully completed their tour. The story gives the impression that they've got the problem solved, and then afterwards you find out that there was a very low survival rate.
In summary, I wanted a history of the Wild Weasels, and not a history of the Vietnam War with some Weasel stories.
"A Wild Weasel Primer"
This is an excellent book for someone who has little or no previous knowledge of the Vietnam War in general or the Wild Weasel mission in particular. If you are well versed on those topics, you might be a bit let down. Easily half the book is devoted to historical background and explaining technical topics.The remainder are the 'war stories' (which is what I wanted to hear). I'm not at all saying that this is a bad book, it was just hamstrung a bit by all the background information, which may be helpful for most listeners--just not this one..
"Great listen and masterfully read."
I love the narrator, he really sucks you into the action. Great listen and recommend to anyone that enjoys listening to combat missions and war time stories.
"History lesson on electronic countermeasures."
If you want a history lesson on the evolution of air warfare over Vietnam utilizing electronic countermeasures this book is for you. If you are wanting to listen to adrenaline pumping stories of air combat by those who fought, this book will leave you dissapointed. Having a background in Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) I was easily able to follow the history lesson. If you have no background in ECM, radar, or avionics you might find this book overwhelming with details.
"Too much political lectures and descriptions. Not enough description of the actual combat and survival of aircraft ."
Needed a little less talk about politics, and a lot more talk about combat and survival from pilots viewpoints .
"Half aviation, half Vietnam Era politics"
Overall a good book on wild weasel operations in Vietnam. The author opens the book explaining the necessity of delving into Vietnam Era politics to properly frame the wild weasel operations. I personally found the extensive political information tiring and excessive. The aviation related parts were interesting and well written. An informative and interesting book overall but not one I'd listen to again.
"Great follow up to Viper Pilot"
Great book, well researched and dialogue takes you inside the cockpit for multiple frenetic flights over the Vietnamese countryside. Hampton is effective in relaying an intricate story.
"Interesting and exciting read"
I believe the narrator, combined with the story is a perfect mix. I appreciate that in situations where pilots were mentioned whether they were just participants in a mission or had to bail out, there's an "aside" where the book tells you what eventually happened to that person...
This sounds crazy but, theres's one part where the flying was extremely low to the ground - and fast. The description had me there, and I realized I was experiencing a physiological response in that my hands started sweating and my pulse picked up. I was like wow, that's some good writing and narration.
Gives excellent run down on Vietnam War, and how the Wild Weasels were mingled in with that history. Well done.
"A nail biter!"
Half history lesson, half personal accounts. Dan Hampton has this masterful ability to go into technical details to satisfy the tech savvy, yet making it understandable and interesting for everyone. This, combined with John Pruden's narration is a must have. He is the best narrator out there, hands down bar none!
"Good book if you are interested in the topic"
If you are not specifically interested in the technological and tactical development of the Air War over Vietnam this book is probably not for you. I enjoyed the book very much, but it is full of details and information that the casual reader might find dry. This is not one of those "war stories" where we read a lot of the "hero's" personal angst, loves and adventures. I enjoyed it, and found it interesting.
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