Review by Martin Koenigsberg
In Images of War P-51 Mustang: Rare Photographs from Naval Archives, Martin W. Bowman, a noted aviation and military history author, takes us quickly through the history of the plane and some of its development quirks and anecdotes, a little combat history- and then steps back to let the pictures tell the story.
There are pictures of every sort of Mustang, from dive bombers to reconnaissance photo raiders to the F-82- the double Mustang designed as a long-distance fighter and eventually a successful night fighter. Every type, including the rare P-51Ks, just like the teardrop canopy P-51Ds but with a different propeller, on every possible front, including some Cold Warbirds.
There are British, South African, and Aussie Mustangs. A truly beautiful torrent of America’s most iconic WWII single-engine fighter, in black and white pics with some really informative captions. It’s a simple package, but in this case, the sizzle is the steak- just showing 140 pages of glorious images is enough for this reader/viewer.
OK- so it’s a grown-up picture book. Yep. But when an aircraft is as strikingly attractive, historically pivotal, and just plain sexy as the Mustang- a picture book is fine. Seeing Mustangs on every front and in every state of existence from factory fresh to strip side wreck is enthralling if you know its key role in the war providing escorts to Bombers going over Germany and Japan- as well as how good it was at doing so many other tasks. I found myself saying “Oh- Mustangs were THERE too?” quite a bit as I consumed this book. I think you can tell I really enjoyed it.
No adult themes and no graphic injury/casualty passages make this a fine book for a Junior Reader over 7/8 with an interest in aviation. For the Gamer/Modeler/Military Enthusiast- it’s a blast. Lots of ideas for Game piece schemes or builds and dioramas for Gamers and Modelers. Military Enthusiasts get a huge variety of images from so many fronts and campaigns that this is a great resource to tie in with more prose sources for more of each story. For the aviation reader- a no-brainer- but some novice readers may need more to fully catch the fever.