Soviet and Russian Military Aircraft in the Americas

Published: February 18th, 2017     
Product Image
Book cover
Author: Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov
Reviewed by: 
Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
Company: Specialty Press
ISBN #: 978-11902109546-902109-54-1
Other Publication Information: Language: English; Hard Bound, 8.5” x 11”, 272 pages; Publish Date: December 30, 2016
Price: $56.95

Yefim Gordon was born in 1950 in Vilnius, Lithuania (then part of the Soviet Union) and graduated from the Kaunas Polytechnic Institute in 1972. He has been researching Soviet and Russian aviation history for more than 40 years. A professional photographer, Yefim Gordon has published hundreds of features and photographs in Russian and foreign aviation magazines. He has authored and co-authored more than 120 books on Soviet and Russian aviation.

Dmitriy Komissarov was born in 1968 in Moscow and graduated from the Moscow State Linguistics University in 1992. He has worked as a translator ever since, with the most of his work associated with his interest in aviation. Dmitriy Komissarov has authored two books and translated or co-authored more than 50 others. He has also written numerous magazine features in two languages on Soviet and Russian aviation.

The Soviet Union, followed by Russia, has been prolific arms distributors. Early exports were focused in the Asian sub-continent, but the 1960s saw the USSR supplying Cuba, and it spread across Central and South America from there. Of course the US is heavily addressed in this book, but that effort wasn't necessarily through 'sales'. The US was keen on the 'know your enemy' philosophy and had a strong preference through flying examples of USSR technology for evaluation. The demise of USSR didn't end these exports, as Russia continued to look for ways to increase revenue. Unlike the earlier books, this one does not exclude non-Russian manufacturers as Chinese and Polish variants are included in the discussions. The book is split into parts: North America, Central America, and South America.

Canada leads off with its dabble into Soviet helicopters, primarily the Mil-17 (CH-178 in Canada), and assorted civilian owned An-2 Colts and Yak-18 trainers. The next 109 pages focus on the US, starting off with the North Korean Il-10 'Beast' and going up to the Su-27UB 'Flanker'. Part II featuring Central America kicks off with Costa Rica and its sole Soviet aircraft, a Mil M-17, before diving into a major user in Cuba. Cuba had a hankering for MiGs, as in 'Fishbeds'. Of course other MiGs are represented, MiG-15, MiG-17, MiG-19, MiG-23, and MiG-29s. That's not to discount the Antonov transports and Mil helicopters that also were plentiful.

Argentina starts off Part III for South America. Argentina's Russian aircraft were rather limited to a few civilian aircraft, the Su-29AR aerobatic aircraft for the Argentinean Air Force's aerobatic team, and two Mil-17 'Hip' helicopters for Antarctic research. Brazil follows with their fleet of Mil Mi-35 'Hind' gunships. Columbia, Ecuador, and Guyana are similar in that their Russian aircraft were primarily transports like the An-32 'Cline' and Mi-17 'Hip' helicopters. After a bloodless coup d'etat in1968 did Peru get involved with Russian aircraft. Interestingly, as opposed to Cuba, Peru had a healthy inventory of Sukhoi aircraft (Su-22, Su-25). MiG's did not make an appearance until 1996 when the Peruvian Air Force switched to MiG-29s for their primary Air Force fighter. Peru also operated transports like the An-26 'Curl' and An-32 'Cline' in addition to the Mi-8 'Hip', Mi-17 'Hip', and Mil-25 'Hind' helicopters. Venezuela is a rather recent convert to Russian aircraft as a result of the US-led embargo when Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias was installed as president in 1999. The switch from their Air Force's F-16 Falcons came in 2006 when then acquired the Sukhoi Su-30MKV Flanker-G.

This tome is the fourth book in the series by Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov that has been preceded by Soviet and Russian Military Aircraft in Africa: Air Arms, Equipment and Conflicts Since 1955 (2013) and Soviet and Russian Military Aircraft in the Middle East (2013), and Soviet and Russian Military Aircraft in Asia (2014). Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov have packed a ton amount of information into this 272 glossy page book. I counted 96 black and white photographs, 419 color photos, at least 196 color drawings (primarily profiles), and 20 tables. The tables are a nice bonus at the end of each section detailing the aircraft type, serial number, and notes regarding each aircraft. Viktor Mil'yachenko and Andrey Yurgenson have to be commended on all the color profiles and inset color details.

The Chapters include:

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Part I: North America
    • Canada [Page 9]
    • USA [Page 12, 35, 55, 107]
  • Part II: Central America & The Caribbean
    • Costa Rica
    • Cuba [Page 129]
    • Honduras
    • Mexico [Page 175]
    • Nicaragua [Page 187]
  • Part III: South America
    • Argentina [Page 204]
    • Brazil [Page 210]
    • Colombia [Page 221]
    • Ecuador
    • Guyana
    • Peru [Page 251, 279]
    • Venezuela [Page 292]
  • Map and Index

I found the section on project 'Have Doughnut' quite interesting. This project was to fully evaluate the Mig-21 'Fishbed-E' aircraft that were initially acquired from Israel during the Six-Day War. They were assigned a cover designation (YF-110), assigned fake serial numbers, and were operated out of
Groom Lake (Area 51). Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov include some great pictures of these aircraft, both in black and white and brilliant color.

I was impressed with the coverage and quality of this book. Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov are able to weave in a tremendous amount of data and still manage to provide a compelling and readable storyline. I will be looking for the previous books in this series after reviewing this example.

My thanks to Specialty Press and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

  • Front Cover
    Front Cover
  • Page 9: Canadian Forces CH-178
    Page 9: Canadian Forces CH-178
  • Page 12: IL-10 T2-3000 and Yak-9P T2-3002
    Page 12: IL-10 T2-3000 and Yak-9P T2-3002
  • Page 35: MiG-17F
    Page 35: MiG-17F
  • Page 55:
    Page 55:
  • Page 107: Known US Military aircraft of Soviet origin
    Page 107: Known US Military aircraft of Soviet origin
  • Page 129: Cuban MiG-21F
    Page 129: Cuban MiG-21F
  • Page 175: Mexican Mi-8MTV-1
    Page 175: Mexican Mi-8MTV-1
  • Page 187: Nicaraguan An-2TP
    Page 187: Nicaraguan An-2TP
  • Page 204: Mi-171E
    Page 204: Mi-171E
  • Page 210: Brazilian Mi-35M
    Page 210: Brazilian Mi-35M
  • Page 221: Columbian Mi-17
    Page 221: Columbian Mi-17
  • Page 251: Peruvian Su-25
    Page 251: Peruvian Su-25
  • Page 279: Peruvian Mi-35 Hind
    Page 279: Peruvian Mi-35 Hind
  • Page  292: Su-30MKV
    Page 292: Su-30MKV
  • Back Cover
    Back Cover

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