World War II aviation historian and collector Dr. William Wolf seems to never lack material for a book.
As a hobby over the past 35 years, the retired dentist has written 17 books about World War II aviation.
His most recently completed 16th and 17th books include the third volume in the trilogy of the 5th Fighter Command and the other about the B-26 Marauder: From Drawing Board to Widow Maker Vindicated.
The latter book of 640 pages and 900 photos and drawings weighs seven and a half pounds.
Schiffer Publishers (www. schifferbooks.com), the largest publisher of World War II and other military titles in the United States, publishes his writings.
Wolf’s books are massive, detailed and technical compilations of the flying machines, missions, pilots and squadrons.
His fascination with World War II is in part because the conflicts were the last of man-against-man fighting compared to today’s guided missile-against-guided missile electronic warfare.
The son of a civilian commercial pilot, Wolf said he could identity every plane by the time he was five years old.
“When the Second World War came along, he (his father) was 27 and had two kids so they would not let him join,” said Wolf.
He practiced dentistry in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before retiring at age 45 to pursue his aviation interests, He and his wife, Nancy, moved to Fountain Hills in 1998.
His extensive collection of research books, magazines, photographs and autographs prompted him to write. He estimates he spends 2,000 to 2,500 hours annually writing the books.
The first volume of the 5th Fighter Command covers from Pearl Harbor to the Reduction of Rabaul. Second volume continues through New Guinea and the Philippines to the end of the war.
Wolf said the unit did not receive much publicity because it was based in the Pacific.
“Reporters preferred to stay in England rather than Guadalcanal….even though they (the 5th Fighter Command) had the top two fighter aces in World War II,” he said.
In the final volume, Wolf personalizes the U.S. and Japanese fighters, training and their importance to the outcome of the war.
Details of the five groups and squadrons are revealed and he compares the aircraft of the two combatants. He also discusses the importance of logistics and the construction of airfields, maintenance and repair. Wolf also presents the Japanese viewpoint, including the causes for the defeat of its air forces.
Each volume consists of at least 450 pages and more than 600 photographs.
The Martin B-26 Marauder was a medium range bomber serving in every World War II Theater of operation and in post-war civilian operations.
The U.S. Army Air Force as well as the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, British Royal Air Force, South African Air Force and Free French Air Force employed the Martin B-26 Marauder.
Wolf was a guest of honor and speaker at the Marauder Historical Society’s national meeting in October in Canton, Ohio, where he introduced his book.
In the spring, he plans to release his 18th book about the Douglas A-20 Havoc, followed in the summer by one about the XB19 Bomber. Currently he is writing a two-volume set about the B24 Liberator. He envisions the two books will contain between 900 and 1,000 pages.
Wolf believes his collection of World War II material may be the largest in the world.
“I have stuff that nobody else has,” said Wolf.
A converted garage houses more than 24,000 books and magazines, 10,000-plus photographs, 2,000 reels of rare microfilm from original World War II sources, the equivalent to 2.5 million pages indexed and placed on microfiche.
He owns more than 800 videos and DVDs and more than 700 CDs of scanned manuals and books.
He claims to own nearly every book written about World War II aircraft and issues of every aviation magazine published since 1979.
Hundreds of model aircraft hang from the ceiling while lithographs and autographs of pilots and their aircraft cover the walls. He owns more than 500 signed and numbered lithographs and photographs of significant aviators, most of World War II but also other combat eras.
His 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 his prize possession, a piece of the Japanese bomber carrying Admiral Yamamoto, the Japanese military commander and architect of the Pearl Harbor attack.
The bomber was shot down in April 1943; Yamamoto’s death changed the course of the war for Japan, said Wolf.
His travels have allowed him to meet and share stories with fighter aces and aviation buffs.
Upon his death, Wolf said his archives and memorabilia will be given to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
If interested in knowing more about his writings, the historian can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Online book sites, such as Amazon.com, and Schiffer Publishers sell current and back copies of his books.