The Royal Air Force Eagle Squadrons
In 1987, Brig. Gen. Caine began his work with the three Royal Air Force (RAF) Eagle Squadrons. These units, nos. 71, 121, and 133 of RAF Fighter Command, made up of American volunteers, began their service in October 1940. On September 29, 1942, most members transferred to the U.S. Army Air Forces to become the nucleus of the Fourth Fighter Group of the Eighth Air Force, the highest scoring unit in the European Theatre during the war. Today the Eagle Squadrons are a legend in the history of World War II and military air power.
During the past twenty years, Gen. Caine has become the acknowledged authority on the Eagle Squadrons. In the process he has built an impressive collection of interviews, and other primary and secondary materials, which make his collection unique. When he began interviewing in 1987, there were seventy-four Eagle Squadron survivors. The Friends believe these interviews are of great importance. Since the cassettes on which they were recorded are so fragile, in 2006 General Caine authorized their transcription for preservation. He also agreed to put copies of the transcriptions in the Academy Library.
Since 1989, a large number of Eagles have placed papers, photographs, logbooks, letters, and other materials in the Clark Special Collections Branch of the McDermott Library. This resulted in a major Eagle archive. In September 2008, General Caine agreed to give his own Eagle collection to the Academy Library. This acquisition makes the Eagle Squadron archive at the Academy without parallel in the world.
In 1993, Brasseys, Inc., published Gen. Caine’s definitive history of the Eagle Squadrons, American Pilots in the RAF. Two more, well received books dealing with the Eagles followed: Spitfires, Thunderbolts and Warm Beer in 1995, and Aircraft Down! in 1997. Since that time a volume containing a biographical sketch and picture of each of the 245 members of the three renowned units, The RAF Eagle Squadrons, has been published by Fulcrum Publishing and is now available.