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4.0 out of 5 stars Two part booklet on the Skyraider as an unlikely nuclear delivery platform - informative but short, 18 Dec. 2013
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AK (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Carrying a Nuke to Sevastopol: One Pilot, One Engine, and One Plutonium Bomb (Kindle Edition)
Daniel Ford - perhaps best known for his early Vietnam book Incident at Muc Wa (Go Tell the Spartans) A Story of the Vietnam War (subsequently turned into a successful movie (Go Tell The Spartans [DVD])) - has produced a handful of books on various military / history related subjects over the past handful of years, of which this is one. It covers the use of the USN carrier based Skyraiders in the nuclear deterrence role for a short time in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The piston engined Skyraider is certainly an unlikely platform for the nuclear delivery role and the survival rate of the aircraft in such missions would surely have been close to nil. Yet in the context of the Cold War turning into an all out nuclear holocaust, one can definitely understand the thinking behind using all options available.

The book is divided into two parts - the first one covering what a specific nuclear mission bombing the Sevastopol airport would look like, and the second one, which is a collection of e-mail exchanges the author had with the pilots actually having trained in the nuclear delivery role on the Skyraider.

This means a concise and structured first part, with descriptions of what the mission would look like, how the training for the low level lobbing delivery took place and on what the difficulties prior to delivering the payload and subsequent to the delivery would have been. This is then followed by a fairly unstructured but also unfiltered second part, with the individual responses of the former aviators tasked with preparing for those missions.

Arming highly vulnerable (in the context of an all out war) Skyraiders with nukes was certainly one of the more outrageous ideas of the Cold War, so getting some collected information on this is certainly highly interesting. The first (short) part of the book is also highly readable and well structured. The second one probably of higher value to former USMC / USN aviators, who flew the plane and would like to reminisce over times past. Overall an interesting piece on an unlikely Cold War aviation topic.
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