Reviewer: NZ Crown Mines
Title: Combat Aircraft of the United States Air Force: Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives
Author: Michael Green
Total Number of Pages: 196
Total Number of Printed Pages: 72
Total Number of Photographic Pages: 124
Rating Scale (1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent) 3
The United States Air Force (USAF) is currently the world’s most powerful air arm and performs a wide variety of tasks in a variety of locations around the globe. It has a long and colourful history, and has operated many different types of aircraft since its inception. It has many admirers, amongst them the author of this volume.
This book is a soft-cover work of the ‘Aviation Monograph’ genre, and is essentially a ‘picture book’ of photographs, accompanied by a small amount of text. It is both a written and visual history of the USAF. The photographs it contains are from the author’s collection, although the majority are originally sourced from USAF archives, a fact that the author acknowledges. The volume is divided into six separate chapters, with each of these covering a specific time period. A well-researched and well-written section appears at the beginning of each chapter. Within this section the relevant information is presented under appropriately-worded subheadings. The written section is in turn followed by a photographic section showing aircraft of the era, the majority of these images being in colour. The photographs are clear and crisp, the colour images especially-so. The photographs appear to have been professionally-taken, and provide a level of detail and quality that few amateurs can match. If photographs (especially colour photographs) of USAF aeroplanes are what the purchaser requires, then this book will have few equals. The volume contains a Contents section together with a Dedication, Foreword, Acknowledgments and Notes to the Reader. There is however no Index, nor or a list of the aircraft-types that appear within its covers. For those interested in a once-over-lightly review of the USAF and pictures of its aircraft, it is unlikely that the lack of the latter will be of any consequence.
However, the serious aviation enthusiast may not find this volume especially useful. As this reviewer has a long-standing interest in the USAF, he was attracted to the work by its promise of ‘Rare Photographs From Wartime Archives’, and the expectation that he would see some previously-unknown World War II images.
While there certainly were images from WWII, to this reviewer they were neither rare nor new. In addition, although Chapter 3 is the section of this volume that specifically deals with USAF operations during WWII, of the 60 images it contains, only 24 were actually taken during that period; the remaining 36 being Twenty-first Century photographs of preserved aircraft. In the absence of the promised ‘Rare Photographs From Wartime Archives’ this reviewer felt that the title misrepresented its subject. In this specific case it promised much, but did not deliver.
In precis, this work is something of a mixed bag; it has beautiful photographs (especially colour ones) and a well-researched and well-written text. As such it would be useful as an introduction to its subject, although whether or not it would be useful to serious students of the USAF will depend on individual assessments of its content. However, it also promises what it does not deliver, namely ‘ Rare Photographs From Wartime Archives’, a situation which this reviewer finds unacceptable. Were that it were not so.
On a Rating Scale where 1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent, I would give it a 3.
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