The Hunter Killers: The Extraordinary Story of the First Wild Weasels, the Band of Maverick Aviators Who Flew the Most Dangerous Missions of the Vietnam War

Morrow. Jun. 2015. 352p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062375131. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062375148. HIST
By the time of the Vietnam War, countermeasures to aerial warfare had become considerably more sophisticated owing to improved radar systems and more effective surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). This was tragically apparent on July 24, 1965, when a U.S. Air Force F-4 was shot down by the North Vietnamese Army with a Soviet-made SAM. In response, the Air Force developed the Wild Weasels program. Each Wild Weasel fighter jet contained a pilot and an Electronic Warfare Officer, and relied on experimental equipment and tactics. Aiming to provoke enemy radar in order to precisely locate and destroy SAM nests, their missions proved to be the most dangerous of the war as many Weasels were killed or captured. Hampton (The Viper Pilot) uses first-hand accounts from surviving Wild Weasels to tell their stories, including intense narratives from Operation Rolling Thunder and Operation Linebacker. The author also provides insight into the fateful political decisions that prolonged the Vietnam War, making it clear that it took an exceptional person to be a Wild Weasel.
VERDICT Hampton uses a lot of military terminology, some of which might be difficult for the lay reader to understand, but his overall writing style is excellent; in particular, his vivid, fast-paced combat narratives. His latest work will appeal to military history fans or anyone looking for an absorbing read.

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