Wildcats Over Casablanca


Wildcats Over Casablanca

U.S. Navy Fighters in Operation Torch

M. T. Wordell, and E. N. Seiler
As told to Keith Ayling

Aviation Classics Series

320 pages


January 2007


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eBook (PDF)
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July 2011


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About the Book

This sixtieth-anniversary edition of the 1943 classic returns to print the exciting story of a U.S. Navy fighter squadron during the invasion of French North Africa in World War II. Lieutenants Wordell and Seiler, with the help of journalist Keith Ayling, vividly recount the exploits of their fellow aviators, who flew the sturdy Grumman F4F “Wildcat” from the deck of the USS Ranger (censors would not allow the authors to use the ship’s name in the original edition), as well as the carrier’s bomber and scouting squadrons. They cover not only the aerial operations but also the myriad problems that confronted the Navy during its first wartime use of carriers to support an amphibious landing. Among these was the need to protect civilians and cultural sites, particularly mosques.“Mac” Wordell, who commanded the squadron—the “Red Rippers”— was shot down and taken prisoner by the Vichy French. His explanation of what went on in the minds of the amiable French officers and men who held him captive is still intriguing and at the time was revealing to Americans confused by the political-military events in North Africa after the surrender of France to Germany in 1940. Ed Seiler, one of Wordell’s top fliers, narrates the story from the attackers’ side. Together they provide a spectacular account of cooperation and aerial daring. Brassey’s reprint edition includes photographs of the main characters, their aircraft, their enemies, the American and French ships involved, and scenes from the North African theater of war.


“Originally published under the restrictions imposed by wartime security, 'Wildcats' Over Casablanca puts the reader in the ready room and in the cockpit in a vivid, fast-paced account of the Ranger’s squadrons in action against the Vichy French during Operation Torch in November 1942.”—Robert J. Cressman, author of USS Ranger: The Navy’s First Flattop from Keel to Mast, 1934–1946

‘Wildcats’ Over Casablanca offers a riveting account of Operation Torch, the November 1942 Anglo-American invasion of French North Africa, as viewed through the cockpit of U.S. naval aviators as they battled a surprisingly feisty Vichy French resistance. Just as Torch was a vital first stop in the liberation of North Africa and eventually Europe from Axis domination, so it constituted an exhilarating, and on occasion fatal, baptism of fire for a generation of Americans in the Mediterranean theater. This is a document of primary importance in understanding the face of battle in the air.”—Douglas Porch, author of Path to Victory, The Mediterranean Theater in WWII

‘Wildcats’ Over Casablanca by Lieutenants Wordell and Seiler became an almost immediate ‘classic’ when it was first published in 1943. It has lost none of its impact, providing intimate insights into the lives and combat experiences of fighter pilots aboard the USS Ranger during the 1942 invasion of North Africa.”—Norman Polmar, author of Aircraft Carriers: A History of Carrier Aviation and Its Influence on World Events