Saturday, August 15, 2015
Book Review: Chinese Aircraft
Chinese Aircraft: China's Aviation Industry Since 1951
Manchester, UK: Hikoki Publications, 2008
Category: People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF)
Whereas Yefim Gordon's reviews of individual Russian aircraft are rich in details fueled by official, declassified documents and personal eyewitness interviews, China continues to be a relatively closed book with regard to its military aircraft experience. Consequently, Gordon's survey of the Chinese aircraft industry has had to rely on a more limited range of sources, leaving certain gaps in the tapestry of this story.
While it remains frustrating that so much of China's aviation history remains hidden from view (and potentially lost to succeeding generations), Gordon's book nonetheless brings together a survey of the available sources, including a wide assortment of photographs and striking artwork. This book therefore fills a void in the aviation literature, attempting to shine light on a subject that has historically been more shrouded than even Soviet fighter aviation once was during the latter part of the Cold War.
On balance, Gordon's survey of Chinese aviation will therefore remain an important part of the literature on this topic - at least until China becomes a little more open about its past and present experience.