Sunday, September 4, 2016

Book Review: MiG-29 Fulcrum Fighter Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions

MiG-29 Fulcrum Fighter Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions
Los Angeles, CA: Periscope Film, 2007
Category: Aviation History / Aerospace Engineering

Rating: 4-Stars

To understand the true value of this volume, and to place it into context, it is important to point out what this book is not.  This book is not a history book, making no attempt to describe the development history or deployment of the Mikoyan MiG-29, nor does it contain any pilot accounts from operational deployment of the MiG-29.  Further, there is no explanation provided for the technical diagrams that it does contain, most if not all of which will have little meaning or value for the unprepared.

What this volume is, on the other hand, is an English language flight manual for the operation of the MiG-29, as prepared from former East German Luftwaffe documents by the U.S. Air Force in coordination with the German Luftwaffe.  It contains a lot of mundane descriptions that were necessary for pilots and ground crew to service and operate the early-generation MiG-29 fighters that the newly reunited German Luftwaffe inherited from their Warsaw Pact counterparts.  Details like fuel tank arrangements, emergency procedures and the like that were part of routine training for the NATO pilots who flew and evaluated the last Frontal Aviation fighter produced by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

This volume also, however, contains a wealth of detail of interest to more technically inclined aircraft historians, or to aerospace engineers: descriptions of the cockpit arrangement; and performance data - everything from take-off distances, to climb rates, to flight envelope limits are all illustrated in detail.  These are the sort of performance parameters that would have been closely guarded during the Cold War, and which provide unique insight into both the capabilities and limitations of this warplane.

So for the casual reader of aircraft history, this book probably holds little of interest.  There are no explanations to accompany the text, and little means to interpret the significance of the contents.  For those with a more technical or engineering background, however, this volume contains a wealth of data available nowhere else.

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