Being there . . .Eye Witnessing American and Soviet Aviation History Unfold

Reviewed by Don DeNevi

Publisher’s Summary: “Topgun: The Legacy – – The Complete History of TOPGUN and Its Impact on Tactical Aviation”, by Brad Elward. Schiffer Military: 704 pages, $49.99. A unique, detailed, and never before told 50 year history of the Navy Fighter Weapons School established in 1968, Author Elward was granted unprecedented access to TOPGUN for his research. Based on over 450 interviews with graduates, instructors, and commanding officers, the definitive study covers the early history of air combat and tactical development, the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School’s founding, and its progression through the decades to the present day programs and significant events. Perusing, then carefully selecting, rarely accessed historical material, he shapes the school and culture into the center of excellence and reputation it is as the leading fighter weapons school in the world.

Meanwhile, from the Soviets,

“Tupolev TU-4: The First Soviet Strategic Bomber”, by Yefim Gordon, Dmitriy Komissarov. Schiffer Aviation Books: 520 color photos in 740 pages, $49.99. Brought out in the 1940s as a copy of the B-29 Superfortress, the TU-4 became the first Soviet nuclear capable bomber. This book provides coverage of the “Soviet Superfortress”, including experimental and projected versions, and the TU-4’s production and service history.

Note: For the very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about post-WWII and contemporary Russian aviation history, Gordon and Komissarov have also coauthored “Sukhoi Interceptors”, $65; “Myasishchev M-4 and 3M – – The First Soviet Strategic Jet Bomber”, $49.99; “Tupolev TU-16 – – Versatile Cold War Bomber”, $79.99, and a host of others, all Schiffer published and distribution titles.

DeNevi reviewed:

Seven decades ago when Schiffer Books was born, then grew and developed into a fledging publishing and foreign book distributorship, no one in his or her wildest imagination envisioned the tiny company evolving into the prestigious mammoth press it is today.

Since then, its contribution to the literature of World War II, nay, all aspects of America’s militaries and militaria has been incalculable. Ask any buff, devotee, war history aficionado, or, for that matter, professional soldier. Better yet, browse through the 116 page, 21 books per page, catalog of new releases commingling with front and back lists. Growing in worldwide admiration, respect, and appreciation, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., is acknowledged by many military writers today as one of the noble houses to be published by.

Drawing upon American and Soviet archival sources, official and private, coauthors Gordon and Komissarov have devoted years to accumulating excruciating detail for each aircraft studied and presented for the reader to be involved in design development, manufacturing, and operational achievements and failures. Before climbing aboard, the reader is introduced to the jet’s powerplant, armament, upgrades, and preparations for battle. In the event of such an encounter, the reader is left to determine for oneself whether the Soviet planes can equal the new generation of air-superiority fighter aircraft fielded by NATO.

Having written so many superlative aviation and aerospace “biographies” and aircraft histories, the coauthors’ extraordinary story of “Tupolev TU-4: The First Soviet Strategic Jet Bomber” is written with true consummate skill. Few writers today can match the Gordon – Komissarov team narration and storytelling. Few publishing companies, perhaps two at most, equal Schiffer.

Ratings for each volume:

Readability – – 5 stars
Historical accuracy – 5 stars
Details – – 5 stars
Overall ratings – – 5 stars
Overall % rating – – 5 stars

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