What was successively titled the 4th Bomb Wing, 3rd Bomb Division and finally 3rd Air Division entered combat with the VIII Bomber Command in May 1943. Under the charismatic leadership of Gen. Curtis LeMay, the Forces crews in their B-17s forged the concept of shuttle missions with a run to North Africa on 17 August 1943, followed during the summer of 1944 with several similar missions to and from Russia. Although comprising the third and final element of the Mighty Eighths heavy bomber force to be established in England,, the Divisions combat record was to prove in all respects the equal of its contemporaries during its two years of active operations.
Ron Mackays interest in military aviation began during WWII. The local Coastal Command airfield at his birthplace of Wick, in northern Scotland, provided a wealth of British and American designs with which to stimulate his interest; postwar National Service with the RAF sustained that interest. A working knowledge of German has further extended his field of study into the Luftwaffe. To date, he has produced 25 books covering the aforementioned Allied and Axis Air Forces that include several co-authored projects; a further number are in the process of completion.