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Typical Gordon / Komissarov standard - the definitive overview of the Cold War Soviet Naval Aviation
on 12 October 2013
Gordon and Komissarov have developed into pretty much the authority on Soviet / Russian aviation matters and this book will only cement that status further. Dealing with the perhaps slightly less well known Soviet Naval Aviation, the book covers the period 1945 to 1991 (with some comments and content going slightly beyond the latter date).
After an introduction on the subject the authors proceed to give a general overview, including the development, Orders of Battle, the main personalities, etc. After that the book goes into the types of aircraft, namely:
- maritime reconnaissance
- strike force
- anti submarine force
- fighters and attack aircraft
- auxiliary and special mission aircraft.
Even though these sections are devoted to aircraft classes, the writing is not focusing on the aircraft alone; in a fashion typical for the authors no subject is too remote to be covered. This means that first hand mission accounts, deployments in the Soviet Union and abroad, training exercises, tactics, accidents, maintenance regimens, organizational strengths and weaknesses, ramp up of crew training, and many more aspects find themselves included (even trying to get readers to pronounce the Russian expressions correctly is not beyond the reach of the authors). For the aircraft themselves there is a separate section at the end, where more detail on the types is included.
The book also has a section on the Cold War clashes, on the end of the Soviet era and very interestingly, on the aircraft carriers of the Soviet Navy (including the aircraft carrying cruisers such as the Moskva class), and the types operating from them.
You will find the well known types such as the Tu-16s, Tu-95s, Tu-142s, Be-12s, An-12s, Il-28s, and the Il-38s in the book as well as the relatively rare ones, such as the Tu-14T, the Tu-4 in naval use, the jet powered Be-10 flying boat, the early Kamov helicopters (Ka-10 and Ka-15), all of which will be less well known to people not deeply interested in the subject.
On top of the encyclopedic content the book also comes with hundreds of photographs, colour drawings, unit badges and medals, tables and other elements trying to enrich the understanding. In fact the only criticism I haven't this respect is that for some reason there is only a single picture of the Tu-22 Blinder, even though these formed an important component of the force for some time - but then again one cannot have it all.
So overall a truly excellent book and one I can only recommend to aviation, Soviet military or Cold War enthusiasts more generally. It does demand concentration and is not a straightforward coverage of the types only but it really rewards the effort of those interested in all the possible detail.