Soviet Tactical Aviation

Published: March 20th, 2012     
Author: Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov
Reviewed by: Phil Pignataro - IPMS# 17254
Company: Hikoki Publications
ISBN #: 9-781902-109237
Other Publication Information: Color and b&w photos, tables, diagrams, profiles, unit insignia
Price: $56.95
Product provided by: Specialty Press

In many ways, the development of Soviet tactical aviation, or Frontovaya Aviahtisya (FA), went through similar developmental phases as the Tactical Air Command of the USAF. Evolving out of the combat experiences of World War II, it made do with aircraft left over from the war. As technology advanced, the FA had access to the early jet fighter and then to purpose built fight-bomber aircraft. During the Cold War, the Soviet's FA procured modern fighters and faced Western air forces in Europe and the Far East. As TAC learned lessons from fighting in Viet Nam, so did the FA learn from its combat in Afghanistan.

The chapter titles and some explanations are as follows:

  1. The FA in the Early Post-War Years - Applying combat experience learned in WW II with IL-10s and then early jets
  2. Korean War Involvement - Soviet units were much more involved in combat than I had naively thought before
  3. The 1950's - the Soviet Air Force's Golden Years - Follows the introduction of modern jets designed for close air support starting with the Su-7 series
  4. The Tactical Aviation in the 1960s/1980s - As the Cold War continues, the FA fields many new aircraft in its inventory: Su-17M3, Yak-28, Mig-23/27, Su-24, Mig-35R, Mig-29, Mi-8 and Mi-24
  5. Assistance to "Friendly Nations" - Relatively inexpensive military equipment was sold to willing countries - Egypt, Indonesia, and Cuba to name just a few
  6. The Soviet Air Force in Eastern Europe and Mongolia - Confronting NATO and the USAF in Europe and the Far East
  7. The Tactical Aviation and Army Aviation in the Afghan War - This was the longest chapter. It was interesting to read how the Soviets handled the problems of terrain and an elusive enemy. Starting with Mig-21s, they later deployed Su-25s, Mi-24s, and Mi-8s. About two decades later, the USAF would be facing the same challenges.
  8. The FA Before the Demise of the USSR - The introduction of the latest Russian fighters and fighter-bombers into the FA and then the chaos of a decision to remove all single engine fighters from the inventory for political reasons.

As in other books I've read by this author, there is a lot of detailed information about unit employments, equipment, their various locations, and timelines of engagement in the various conflicts. This detail provides a backdrop for the numerous personal accounts from the aircrews involved. I was intrigued by comments, both good and bad, from FA pilots about the various fighters they flew. Throughout the book, there are hundreds of photos, most in color, as well as full color profiles of all the aircraft employed by the FA. Though interesting to the historian in me, I really found the book helpful to my modeling side with lots of useful photographs. Also, the numerous color profiles provided inspiration for different camouflage schemes. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Russian aviation.

My thanks go to Hikoki Publishing Ltd and Specialty Press for providing IPMS/USA the review copy, and to IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review it.

  • Back cover
    Back cover
  • Sample pages
    Sample pages

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