B-57 Canberra Units of the Vietnam War

Published: March 7th, 2011     
Book cover
Book cover
Author: T. E. Bell
Reviewed by: 
Bart Cusumano, IPMS# 31882
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 978-1-84603-971-3
Other Publication Information: See text
Price: $22.95
Product / Stock #: COM-85

Although not as 'famous' as other U.S. aircraft of the Vietnam war, the B-57 Canberra was the first jet-powered American attack aircraft committed to the conflict. It carried out daily interdiction missions against enemy activity on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and also participated in classified 'Black' missions into Laos and Cambodia. The aircraft and her crews performed gallantly during the  famous 'Rolling Thunder' missions. As well as being there at the beginning, the B-57 soldiered on for the duration of the Vietnam War from the basic B and C models (which did not even have control boosts or hydraulic aids to make maneuvering the aircraft easier or radar and advanced navigation systems for night bombing missions) all the way to the state-of-the-art G models.

As Osprey Combat Aircraft title number 85, this book is typical of previous titles in the series, published in a perfect-bound 7 1/4" X 9 1/2 " format with soft cover. Its 96 pages are printed on a high-quality paper stock. The printing itself is also high-quality with a generous sprinkling of period photos of the B-57 in Southeast Asia. The photos themselves are at times a bit small, but are clear and interesting, in a mix of black and white and color.

If you are looking for a book full of technical data and close-up walk-around type photos, then that is not what this book is about. Rather, as the title implies, it is an interesting tale of the B-57 Canberra and her crews from humble beginnings as a political pawn whose purpose was to demonstrate American military might in the region to that of a battle hardened warrior. Through the telling of this history, we also learn things about the aircraft throughout its service history in Southeast Asia, which are in fact useful to the modeler. Things like which models were equipped with .50 calibers vs. 20mm cannon; when the exterior aircraft finish went from natural metal to camo paint; the color of the bomb bay doors and weapons pylons; and how some of the rare nose art was actually applied to various aircraft. There is also a great deal of information on the various configurations of underwing and internal weapons loads.

The history itself is presented through first-hand accounts of the flight and maintenance crews, as well as research by the author. It is rich in events and anecdotes which take us not only through the history of the American experience with the B-57 but also through the Vietnam War itself. The book also fully documents the story of the Australian-crewed Canberra's as well as the brief but interesting use of the B-57 by the VNAF.

Of particular use to the modeler are the color plates. The middle of the book contains 10 high-quality pages of full-color B-57 aircraft profiles presented in the typical Osprey fashion. Thirty numbered profiles are presented representing all configurations of the Canberra. The back of the book contains details on each of the thirty pictured aircraft, listed by number.

I really enjoyed this book, having already started my second read of it. Whether or not you are a big fan of the B-57 or not, it still provides an entertaining and informative read and I highly recommend it.

Many thanks to Kerri Serini at Osprey Publishing for providing us a review copy of this book and to IPMS USA for allowing me the opportunity to present this review.

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