Noted historian Theodore White called it the most dangerous, terrifying, barbarous aerial transport run in the world...the skyway to Hell. This is the story of the air war over the Himalaya Mountains, in World War II, when Japan and China were locked in a death struggle. China was completely cut off from the world, and the transport planes of the Allies flew day and night missions for three and one half years over the Himalayas to keep China supplied with the needs of war. This was called the Hump. Gen. Claire Chennault's Flying Tigers crossed the Hump to outgun the Japanese Zeros in some of the most spectacular air battles of World War II. More than one thousand airmen and six hundred transport planes were lost, flying air routes that were so dangerous they were called the aluminum trail. The B-29 Superfortress flew four-day missions across the Hump to bomb the Japanese mainland. The Hump was the epic of World War II in the air. This is a historical description of the development of air power in China, explaining the need for the Himalayan airlift and recording the important dates and events of the war over the Hump against Japan. Otha C. Spencer was a Hump pilot and recounts his own experiences and those of the men who flew the planes through the world's worst weather over the world's highest mountains. Dozens of photographs, most taken by Hump airmen, show the glory and tragedy of this great air war. This book will be an important addition to the libraries of the general reader as well as the military historian.
Otha C. Spencer was a U.S. Air Force pilot from 1941 to 1946; he was an instructor in B-25s, a hurricane reconnaissance pilot, and a Hump pilot in the China-Burma-India Theater in 1945. He is professor emeritus of journalism at East Texas State University in Commerce, Texas. He has written eight books and over one hundred illustrated articles for national magazines, and he continues free-lance writing, book editing and design, and commercial photography.