Ben Rich and Leo Janos have crafted a book that will interest any aeronautical enthusiast. With the right amount of science and technology the history of the stealth development unfolds. The politics of the 1970's sets the scene and the main players take you into the world of black operations at Skunk works, Groom Lake, better known as Area 51. The development of the Blackbird, U2, and F104 are thrown in for good measure along with tit-bits on the Hustler, F111 and much more. I should point out here that for anyone interested in back engineering and alien technology this is not the book for you.
The authors take you from the original idea of a Russian scientist, Pyotr Ufimtsev through its development by an American Denys Overholser at the Skunk works into a general idea for a radar invisible plane. This concept is then turned into a model and eventually a prototype that has a radar signal the size of a small ball bearing! The proof of the technology came with the use of stealth aircraft during the Gulf Wars.
The cut and thrust of the politics, bureaucracy, secrecy and day to day work at the skunk works complete with its own Lockhead characters keep you entertained. The development of major projects is described to you as though you were a prospective aircraft buyer about to place an order for a job lot of F117-s. The skunk works golden rules of manufacture are discussed with you, with examples and you feel you are on a joint venture. Snapshots of life at McDonald Douglas, General Dynamics, Northrop and Rockwell are woven in for good measure.
The book is focused on the development of American aircraft and this is reflected in the attitudes and language of the authors. I felt they were trying to sell me personally whatever was in the pipeline for the next generation of bombers. I would have appreciated more supporting photographs to show more of the development of the aircraft but I guess there is only so much you can give away. Unfortunately, once you have got into the book it is over all too quickly.
I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in aircraft, radar or an engineering background.