Saturday, October 3, 2015

Book Review: IAI Kfir in IAF Service

Ra'anan Weiss Shlomo Aloni
IAI Kfir in IAF Service
Bat-Hefer, Israel: IsraDecal Publications, 2007
Category: Israel Air Force - History / Photo Gallery

Rating: 4-Stars

This book falls into that distinct category of publications aimed primarily at aircraft scale modelers.  Of the 82 pages that make up this book, all but the first 15 are dedicated to color photographs of the subject airplane, detailing different models and different angles of photography - providing every nuance that a scale modeler might need to replicate a particular airplane in fine detail.  This includes images from the Kfir C1, C2 and C7 models - including the C1 aircraft that were leased to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to serve as adversary aircraft in the 1980s, as well as from the pre-production aircraft (modified Mirage airframes) that were used in the development program.

What makes this particular book unique, is that it is one of the very few such books to focus on the Israeli-built Kfir.  Bearing in mind that only 212 Kfir fighters were ever produced, the story of this aircraft had been largely neglected up until the publication of this slim volume.  The Kfir, of course, was an evolved version of the French Mirage fighter, updated and by Israel Aircraft Industries to incorporate a more powerful American engine (the J79 turbojet) and outfitted with new avionics and a more robust airframe for the stike role.

In addition to the many photographs, the text of the book provides a comprehensive picture of the Kfir's development, initial service entry, and evolution - from the original model that entered production in 1975 to the Kfir C2 and C7 canard-equipped models that came out in the 1980s.  The only thing missing is the post-retirement story - for how the airframes retired from Israeli service were later overhauled and updated with a new avionics suite, and which are now being delivered to customers in Latin America.

So while this book does not represent the same type of longer-term, in-depth history that some of Shlomo Aloni's other publications have provided, it does shed some much needed light onto the last Israeli-produced jet fighter to reach production.

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