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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Korean air war from the Soviet perspective, 30 July 2012
AK (London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: MiG Menace Over Korea: Nikolai Sutiagin, Top Ace Soviet of the Korean War (Hardcover)
The book largely follows the experience of Nikolai Sutiagin, the top scoring Soviet fighter ace in Korea (22 kills), and basically presents a Soviet perspective of their participation in that conflict. The account captures the aviators early career (from childhood), service in Korea and his post Korean assignments (including several in the Soviet Union, in Vietnam and in Germany).

In addition to the focus on Sutiagin, one gets a good feel for the air war in general, with comparisons of the fighter / fighter bomber types flown, the tactics, the self imposed rules of engagement of the Russians (largely to prevent their presence being known), the limitations of both sides, etc.

The book will include details such as the diet of the pilots, as well as day by day comparisons of kill claims against aircraft found crashed and US / Australian loss statistics of the day. The attention to detail is certainly laudable, and the comparisons of the kill / loss ratios from both sides quite enlightening.

Where the book works less well is in the writing style. The English translation is already an abridged version of the Russian original - here a rare occasion where all but the most avid of enthusiasts are likely to prefer it this way - but as much of the material comes from official reports, interviews with Sutiagin's wife and colleagues, it tends to be quite dry. Many a dogfight is described and while lots of detail is included, do not expect the accounts to be gripping in the way your typical writer of war fiction would manage.

Still, if you are willing to persevere through the drier sections, there is lots of excellent material there and the book will give you a unique insight into the conflict, as well as a better understanding of some serious mistakes of Soviet military thinking of the time (rotating whole units, leading to unnecessarily high losses, the high pressure for political observance and the consequences when it was not followed, etc.), and of their equipment (lack of G-suits, problems with Chinese manufactured fuel tanks, issues with the planes themselves...).

The book is certainly recommended but is probably more something for the more serious military aviation / history enthusiast, and more importantly, for one with a quie long attention span.
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MiG Menace Over Korea: Nikolai Sutiagin, Top Ace Soviet of the Korean War
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