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New Review: IMAGES OF WAR: EARLY JET FIGHTERS, 1944-1954

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Review Author: 
Brian R. Baker
Pen and Sword Books Ltd

History

This book is the second in a series on jet fighter development.  Their first book dealt with jet fighter development in the U.S., Britain, Germany, and Italy through the end of World War II.  The text explained the backgrounds and conditions resulting in the emerging of the various designs, and the subsequent postwar developments of these aircraft.

This second volume deals with the aircraft not covered in depth in Volume 1, including Germany, the Soviet Union, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Argentina, and Japan.  Of course, much of the jet development in Eastern Europe came about as a result of German engineering progress, while many German designers left Germany after the war to work in other countries, including the U.S., the Soviet Union, and Argentina. It is interesting to note that the French designer Dewoitine, due to his work with German controlled firms in France during the war, had to escape to South America where he continued in aviation long after the end of the war. Kurt Tank also worked in Argentina.

Before I started reading this book, I thought I knew a lot about wartime and early postwar jet fighters. Wrong!  The author not only describes and discusses the better known production models, but all of the prototypes developed by various companies either for production aircraft or aerodynamic research vehicles, and provides good pictures of them.   Another factor is the coverage of European types that used British jet engines, especially the Russians, who started out using German engines but wound up buying engines from the British, probably due to kinship felt between the British Socialist Labour (sic) Party, which was then in control after VE Day, and the Russian Communists.  Of course, the British later woke up, and allied themselves with NATO against the Russians.  But that is another story.

One particularly important feature of this book is the large number of good photographs included in the book. At least one, and usually two or more, good photos are provided for each aircraft, most of which would be useful for anyone wishing to build a model of any of these aircraft.  There is no color included, but the black and white photos are very impressive. Even the photos of the Russian planes are reproduced well, even though the author quotes one historian as stating that, according to the photos,  the Russians only built "blurry" airplanes.

The author goes into a lot of detail showing the development of the various nations' fighter development, devoting no less than 48 pages to Soviet aircraft and 31 pages to French types. Even neutral countries, like Sweden and Switzerland, are covered in detail.

Probably the most impressive thing about this book is the coverage of the large number of prototypes and "also rans" which are not included in most aviation history books.  When I received this book, I immediately began reading it, and couldn't put it down until I was finished.  It was great and informative reading, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in early jet fighter development.  Don't miss out on this one.

Thanks to Pen and sword and the IPMS gang for the review copy.  

 

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