On the blog today, William Wolf, author of the upcoming X-Planes title, World War II US Gunships, shares some of his WWII collection.
Over the past 45 years, my passion has been WWII history, particularly aerial combat. For the past 20 years I have utilized my extensive WWII library to author 28 books concerning WWII aviation history with five more pending publication including two for Osprey’s Experimental Aircraft series: World War II US Gunships (to be released in November 2020) and The Douglas XB-19 (for 2021 release).
I was a dentist for 22 years in Fort Lauderdale, FL before retiring at the age of 45 to pursue my aviation history research and writing interests and outdoor pastimes of hiking, mountain climbing, road and mountain biking, and sea kayaking. Over the past 45 years I have collected more than 25,000 hard copy books, copied material, and magazines; 10,000+ photographs, more than 800 videos and DVDs; 1,500+ CDs containing multiple scanned manuals, technical reports, and books. All are housed in my air-conditioned garage and study (while my wife's car sits in the hot Arizona sun!). I probably have nearly every significant book written on WWII aviation and complete collections of every aviation magazine published since 1939. Also included in my collection are thousands of hard and scanned copies of aviation unit and pilot’s histories, crew manuals, aircraft technical, structural and maintenance manuals. The crème de la crème of my library are the 2,000 reels of rare microfilm from original WWII sources (equivalent to 2.5 million pages, distilled, indexed, and placed on microfiche). My microfilm collection includes a multitude of USAAF, USN and USMC group and squadron histories, hundreds of aircraft manuals, complete Japanese Monograph series, complete US and British Strategic Bombing Surveys as well as complete USAF Historical Studies and many thousands of vintage Intelligence, Technical, and original Combat Reports. Over the years I have been fortunate to meet many fighter aces, other pilots, and fellow aviation buffs who have shared stories, material, and photographs with me (I have over 5,000 photos of fighter aces alone). I have made many multi-day expeditions to various military libraries, museums, and photo depositories with my copy machine and camera accumulating reams and reams of information and thousands of photographs. I also once had a photo darkroom where I developed thousands of rare photos from microfilm negatives and from other sources. I have utilized my collection to author 33 WWII aviation books.
Walking through my garage cum library and study is like visiting a WWII museum. On display are hundreds of model aircraft, hundreds of rare signed and numbered lithographs, thousands of aces autographs of all nations (1,000+ of the almost 1,400 US aces signatures). I also have the signatures of the top aces of all combatants of WWII and models of their aircraft including 500+ signed and numbered lithographs and personal photos of significant aviators, mostly of WWII, but also of other combat eras. My memorabilia collection includes a piece of the “Enola Gay” atomic bomber, a piece of a Zero fighter that was shot down during the Pearl Harbor attack and my prize possession, a piece of the Japanese bomber carrying Admiral Yamamoto, the commander of the Japanese military and architect of the Pearl Harbor attack. The bomber was shot down in April 1943, and Yamamoto’s death changed the course of the war for Japan. My collection also includes hundreds of model aircraft, tanks, and vehicles.
World War II US Gunships publishes 26 November. Preorder your copy now.