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Publisher's Summary

John Comer kept a journal of the 25 missions he flew in 1943, when the casualty rate on his base was close to 80 percent. His book is handwritten history, recorded within hours after the battles occurred. Comer vividly creates his experiences as top-turret gunner/flight engineer in a B-17 squadron that was thrown against the best pilots the Luftwaffe could offer. In 1943 the army air force had no long-range fighters to protect the B-17s as they flew deep into enemy territory. Immediate, straightforward, and compelling, Combat Crew is a classic of aerial warfare.

©1988 John Comer (P)2015 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Great story of a B-17 crew.

Fantastic story, very interesting to understand the interactions and story of a B-17 crew in England during WWII

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  • Jean
  • 17-12-2015

Absorbing

I enjoy reading biographies of famous World War One and World War Two generals. I also enjoy reading the memoirs of the average soldier from these two Wars. These firsthand accounts by the ordinary soldier are great ways to understand these two Wars better.

Many of these memoirs are weak and fragmented trying to paste together memories from long ago. Therefore, I always am looking for those stores that are taken from a day to day diary. This is such a book; it provides us with the day to day viewpoint of a B-17 turret gunner/mechanic. Comer tells the story of his 25 mission in the early days of the American campaign against the Nazis. Comer tells us about his crew members and ground crews. I had the feeling that I was riding right beside Comer on his missions. Comer did a tour flying mission in Italy for a total of 80 combat missions. Comer died in 2005 in Texas.

I understand that with the help of his son he first self published the book in 1985. It was then bought by the William Morrow publishing company and was published internationally quite successfully. Recently it has been published as an e-book and an audiobook again with great success. Patrick Lawler did a good job narrating the story. The book is of average length of about eleven hours.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel
  • 08-01-2016

My favorite WW II book!

Would you listen to Combat Crew again? Why?

Yes, I love the book and the narrator did a fantastic job.

What did you like best about this story?

The story line is gripping from beginning to end.

Any additional comments?

I've read this book twice in book form and was so excited to see it on Audible. This is so well written from the perspective of the perfect position on the crew. The Flight Engineer had his hands in everything on the aircraft and it's nice to get the story from his point of view rather than the usual pilot point of view.

I don't write many reviews but I would highly recommend this book to anyone I know.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Rowerwet
  • 12-05-2015

great details behind the flying

being an air plane nut and an airplane mechanic by trade this book covers a part of the story that I had never read before. instead of following a pilot through the missions, you get to see it from the view of a crewman. and not just any crew, the guy who kept track of the mechanical details while also fighting off attacking fighters. the crew battles with oxygen systems, electrical failures, gun jams, hung up bombs and frostbite, bringing the incredible challenge each mission was, even if fighters and flack hadn't been there.
the odds these men faced are brought out in a easy to understand way, without being boring or repetitive.
other than some odd musing in the writers mind , the book has a good flow and story, bringing home exactly why 25 missions was such an almost impossible goal in the those days.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • 27-09-2015

Excellent Personal Diary

What did you love best about Combat Crew?

The first person narrative, based on Comer's diary and experiences. The story was therefore about a young man and the thrills, the shocks, the challenges, the pain and the memories. It was not about generals and strategy and logistics. As such it offered yet another valuable perspective on what war is really like.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeff
  • 17-01-2017

Enjoyed it

A really good first hand account of a bomber crew member in WWII. Will be likely to purchase more titles by the narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Christian
  • 08-12-2016

a wonderful first-hand account

I've read many books about World War II, including many books of first-hand experiences. I can easily say this is one of the most gut-wrenching yet enjoyable books I've read so far. Highly recommended reading, especially for Aviation enthusiasts

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Timothy
  • 20-03-2018

This story was personal to me...

My Dad flew with the 381st 1944/1945. As I listened to this audio book, my mind would picture him in each character's place. It gave me a clearer idea of what life was like for him during those days...what he did on a dailey basis. I am amazed at what he and all those young men went through!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-01-2018

fantastic , absolutely fantastic

this was my first audiobook from Audible. I've always had a fascination with the B-17 Crews and this book by John Colmer is probably the closest o the action you'll ever get. fantastic story, learned quite a few things about the struggles that the B-17 Crews went through.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-08-2017

If you love the B-17, you'll enjoy this story.

Another great story about those lived and those who gave their lives to protect this great country. EB from Colorado

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  • Chuck Hamilton
  • 24-07-2017

Great!

Absolutely great story, and well written and narrated. Would love to hear more on this subject.

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  • M. A. Burgess
  • 19-11-2016

possibly the best of the genre

A charismatic narration of an engineer/gunner's war. Probably what audio-books were made for. Buy it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mst007
  • 27-02-2018

Mission Accomplished!

Listened to this twice in a month, whoa, never done that before. John Comer's gripping story is a must-read for any history buffs with an interest in this period. Made my palms sweat and my heart race. Narration is superb, well-paced, expertly delivered.

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  • D. Williams
  • 30-01-2018

A very interesting possibly unique account

Tour starts Nov 42 and takes nearly 14 months to complete his 25. Over Schweinfurt twice - bloody lucky to survive! Saw introduction of first G models to ETO. Account of a foo fighter sighting. Only account I know of by a Flight Engineer/gunner. Good story well told.

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  • Mr Emmanuel F J Trainor
  • 25-01-2018

Felt like i was one of the crew!

A great book revealing the trials and tribulations, loves and laughs and fears of young airmen at war. Excellent narration. Recommended.

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  • D Roberts
  • 23-12-2017

Best Audiobook I've ever heard

What did you like most about Combat Crew?

The perfect storm of a 1st-hand, brilliantly told story, fascinating subject matter, and a masterclass in narration.

What did you like best about this story?

Everything.

Have you listened to any of Patrick Lawlor’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No, but only because the other books don't interest me. In this book he mediates the story such that the characters come alive and the reader forgets there is a narrator at all.. very impressive and skilful!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

If I were that way inclined, yes.

Any additional comments?

I was surprised I had never come across this book before, as an avid reader of biographies from all sides of the WW2 air war for thirty years. I'm really glad I did; for me it's right up there with the brilliant 'no moon tonight' by Don Charlwood... and that's saying something.

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  • TP
  • 07-01-2017

Gripping

I could not put this book down. What an insight. Fear, excitement, tragedy, desperation, exhilaration, relief all in one book. It took you into the middle of what must have been hell at 25,000 feet. 40 below, on oxygen with 109s coming out of the sun.

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  • David
  • 15-11-2016

good insight about the US airforce in Europe

a very good info on the US airforce in Europe during WW2 and there lives

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  • Jonathan
  • 28-06-2016

Wonderfully Written and Told.

These Veterans have always had a warm welcome back here in the East of England.

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  • D.
  • 29-05-2016

Facing death in a B17

Maybe a part of the Second World War not appreciated by us who know the RAF effort but where less aware of the sacrifice made by the USAAF.
The story conveys very clearly the fear and tension of daylight raids into the heart of Germany. The incredible odds of completing 25 missions and the tension as the milestone came closer.
The description of the air combat and the camaraderie of Comers crew as they looked out for one another during the long raids. The dangers both from the enemy and equipment failures are starkly described. I have learnt an enormous amount from this book and have tremendous gratitude and respect for these brave men's sacrifice.

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  • Luke DS
  • 25-05-2016

Simply amazing!!!

Hands down one of the best books I have read! Be ready for a roller coaster ride of emotions as you experience the life of a WW2 B17 bomber crew!