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U.S. Guided Missiles: An Illustrated History from the Cold War to the Present [Hardcover]

Bill Yenne

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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than most, but no cigar 5 Feb 2013
By C. A. Stidsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Several years ago, I tried to do what Yenne has attempted, to gather up information on missiles and cross-references of designation systems from various disparate sources but eventually gave up in frustration when I found that Blaugher and Parsch had already done it. So, as a former Missileer, I was quite excited when "U.S. Guided Missiles" was announced last March (2012) as a pre-order. That it took nine months from announcement to delivery (in mid-December), and included one cancellation (by Amazon) of my order along the way is an indication of the literature swamp that Mr. Yenne found himself swimming through in to deliver a readable product on time and within a reasonable cost.

Missiles are funny things. Most have a shelf life of years but a service /flight life measured in minutes or seconds. By and large ( except for some target or Recon drones) they fly one sortie and that's it. Likewise , their "neither fish nor fowl" status has dogged and obscured how the services have viewed them and designated them. not counting WWII designations , there have been four or so attempts to categorize them, in 1947,1951,1955 and 1963. The alphabet soup of letters ( XSSAM-A-1, RTV-N-7, CIM-10,etc.) and the multiple designations early missiles had during their service life ( ex: ,B-75,XSM-75A, PGM-17A Thor ) just added to the general confusion.

Mr Yenne's text deals primarily with those 174 airframes and devices that have had the "M for Missile" designation applied to them in the 1963 revision, and only references the birds of the 1947, 1951 and 1955 designations (that didn't make the 1963 cut) in separate Appendices and Addenda. While this gives a definite structure to the text , it also imposes a limitation that removes any claim to a "definitive reference guide" as the title suggests. Several (20 - 30) of the Missiles reviewed are not provided with any picture, all have only brief specifications , while even the most thorough type review ( the B-65/SM-65/CGM-16/HGM-16 Atlas) only get six pages which includes 10 pictures (including 3 full page pictures) . With three exceptions ( in a separate "Selected Classic Guided Missiles" chapter) ,the earliest US Missiles ( those that did not recieve an "M" designation in 1963) -are only mentioned by name in three appendices or mentioned in passing in chapter One. If you are looking for a more in-depth history of the Atlas, Thor, Nike, Viking, Navajo, Titan, U.S. V-2 trials, or others you would be better served by finding the fine individual published monographs or histories elsewhere ( but since they are not listed in the bibliography , you are on your own to find them).

Being familiar with the Titan II (B-68B/SM-68B/LGM-25C) system I checked the entry for Missile designation 25. I was disappointed to see that the short-lived Titan I (B-68A/SM-68A/HGM-25A) got short shrift (4 paragraphs) , the much longer-lived Titan II even less (two paragraphs) ,that all photos were of the Titan II, and that he mentioned SAC having "56 LGM-25As and 59 CGM-25Cs" ! No and No! He even got the peak number of Titan IIs on Alert wrong ( he claims "63 in 1967" , which is tough to do with only 54 operational sites and one test Site, each with one silo and one bird. While it sounds like nit-picking , finding these clangers makes me wonder what else he got wrong in systems that I didn't know that much about. In another chapter ,on the XSSM-A-1/B-61/TM-61/MGM-1 Matador) the three photos show three totally different versions (Wing placement & tail design), calls two of them YQB-61, and offers no explanation of the changes made or why.

Mr. Yenne's Bibliography was disappointingly brief, with only 29 text entries, 12 of them authored by Yenne, and mentions a number of Industry periodicals without giving specifics as to why they were included . He does provide a list of 26 websites, (including Parsh's very inclusive designation guide) but since print volumes have a much longer working life than websites ,I wonder how long those sites will be up and/or accessible.

That having been said, this text is the best attempt of several in recent memory to put one's arms around the subject of U.S. Missiles, guided and otherwise. It's not definitive, has a lot of gaps, and some incorrect information; but the list and review of the more recent M-designated missiles is the best that I have yet found. I would regard this text as printed as more of a work in progress than a definitive reference. Still, at $34.95 , it is relatively good value for money, and better than any earlier attempts. But the "Definitive Reference " I was hoping for is still to be written
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If it had an M in its designation... 26 Dec 2012
By Circuitdude - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's in this book! BGM-109? MGM-51? AIM-9 (of course)? Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines: it's all in this book. Now don't expect to get huge amounts of detail on every guided missile. Maybe a page or half page (including pics) for most missiles. It is very concise in the descriptions. I guess a line drawing for all of them would be asking too much. However, the photos, which there are at least one for most, are quite nice. Major statistics are included in a shaded box for very quick reference (dimensions, weight, etc.) All and all, I am very pleased with this book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The definitive reference guide" is too generous a subtitle... 15 July 2013
By Jim Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
...but the book offers considerable value.

This book is a mile wide and an inch deep. On the the one hand the book tries to be comprehensive and to a large extent succeeds. The cornerstone of the book are the 175 missiles that were designated in the 1963 joint missile "M" series. In addition the book covers important missiles that were out of service by 1963 and some important undesignated missiles. A series of appendices lists missiles in the pre-1963 Army, Navy, and Air Force series.

On the other hand this is a very wide array of missiles to do justice to in the few paragraphs available and the author does not always succeed. For example the author appears to be under the impression that Atlases were launched from Point Loma, CA. He makes overt blunders like "In the 1980s, General Dynamics developed a solid-fuel launch vehicle called the Atlas II, but which had little in common with the original Atlas." He repeats the now hoary mistake of confusing the Jupiter C launcher with the Jupiter missile when the former was actually a Redstone derivative. Missile designations are commonly butchered throughout the text, i. e. "YAGM-132A". Many entries are duplicated word for word. The whole book gives the impression of little original research. It seems a compilation of published sources.

All that said, I still recommend the book. A comprehensive book on American missiles was badly needed and the book does have considerable merit as a first (but only the first) stop for readers wanting to know more about a particular missile. It does provide information on many obscure missiles. By no stretch of the imagination definitive but a first step towards that ideal.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting book 24 Jun 2013
By Haubrechts Patrick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found this book very interesting. The presentation is good, they are many color pictures illustrating most of the models described. As the author says, it is a compendium, not an encyclopedia.

The first thing to realize is the emphasis made by the author to the naming convention and other naming issues. This is key, but it has an effect on the general layout of the book, by using the official naming prefix 'M', this number being the sort key of the text. The result is some strange placement of different models because of their consecutive numbering.

A very good point, they are appendixes to clarify some other naming issues, such as 'R' , 'B', etc. Followed by a good index and a small acronym dictionary.

For each item described, there is a small highlighted recap table containing the main characteristics of the missile. This is very consistent throughout the book, allowing an easy comparison. A special note, important for people not using imperial units, every single figure has his metric equivalent, a good plus, very appreciated. ( thanks a lot )

The book start at the end of WWII, which makes a lot of sense, and the proper tribute is given to some outstanding contributors, such as Von Braun.

Conclusion, a book worth having for people interested in missiles not looking for an ultimate encyclopedia..
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars U.S. Guided Missiles by Bill Yenne 26 Jan 2014
By Paul A. DeLong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Useful compendium of American guided missiles. Good information on past and current US programs. Occasional typos, and the picture of the MGM-168 on page 218 is most assuredly incorrect. But I would recommend this book, as it is unique in the coverage of its topic.
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