Monday, August 24, 2015

Book Review: Sukhoi Su-27

Yefim Gordon
Famous Russian Aircraft: Sukhoi Su-27
Hinckley, UK: Midland Publishing, 2007
Category: Aviation History

Rating: 5-Stars

Shortly after the end of the Cold War, I had the privelege to attend a series of guest lectures by Oleg Samoilovich, a former lead designer at the Sukhoi design bureau and one of the engineers behind the Su-27 Flanker.  His obscenity laced language (which our "official" translator only partially conveyed) was a frequent topic of conversation after each lecture.  He was also, however, one of the most naturally gifted aircraft designers that I ever met.  He could lay out design details by sight - correctly sizing every control surface and trim tab to within a few percent of the calculated value, just from wrote memory and decades of experience.  It was an intuitive understanding of stability and control that came from a career that spanned 28 years at the Sukhoi design bureau.  It was this kind of expertise that stood behind the Sukhoi Su-27.

Like the other books in this series, Yefim Gordon's tome on the Su-27 leverages years of declassified (some would say "leaked") Soviet documents to trace the history of the Su-27's development, from the earliest T10-1 prototype, to the redesigned T-10S configuration and the later production Su-27.  The Soviet Union's first fighter to be designed with relaxed static stability, the Su-27 set the standard for Soviet fighter design that lives on in the 21st century.  Gordon's book further extends this lineage to document the later Su-30 and Su-34 variants, and also provides background on the development of the Lyulka AL-31F engine that powers the Su-27.  At 591 pages in length, this is no light read, and the price of this large, heavily illustrated book reflects this.  Gordon's book will undoubtedly remain the landmark text on the Su-27 for many decades to come.

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