Saturday, January 16, 2016

Book Review: Brassey's Modern Fighters

Mike Spick
Brassey's Modern Fighters
Washington, DC: Brassey's Inc., 2000
Category: Aviation History

Rating: 4-Stars

Mike Spick has been among the most prolific aviation authors from the 1980s through the turn of the century, publishing a variety of books on individual aviation topics or on combat aircraft in general.  This particular volumes stands out among his later works as one of his more refined publications.

What makes Modern Fighters a worthwhile addition to the aviation literature is not its coverage of individual aircraft - although it does have a series of chapters dealing with a number of them - but rather its illustrated explanations for fighter aircraft technology.  Everything from the workings of radar guided missiles to the application of stealth coatings and radar absorbing materials are discussed in turn.  Cockpit arrangements, radar display symbology, weapons selection - in all, a fairly complete overview of the technology that goes into making these machines function.  The illustrations for each of these technical elements are colorful and well executed, supplemented by a variety of color photographs for each aircraft type.

The amount of detail provided for each individual aircraft surveyed is, in contrast, only cursory.  Not nearly as complete, for example, as what could be found in an edition of Jane's All the World's Aircraft.  The chapter on the F-16, for example, fails to explain how this aircraft has evolved through its different block builds, as avionics systems and payload capability were gradually added.  The Block 52+ F-16 models delivered today have capabilities unimagined for the little aircraft when the first Block 10 F-16s rolled out in the 1970s.  But the explanations for the technologies employed by these and other aircraft largely makes up for these deficiencies, making this book worthwhile despite its shortcomings elsewhere.

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