Typhoon Wings of 2nd Tactical Air Force Book Review

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Typhoon Wings of 2nd Tactical Air Force 1943–45

Osprey Combat Aircraft Series 86

By Chris Thomas

Softcover, 96 pages, 40 color profiles

Published by Osprey Publishing, September 2010

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1846039738

ISBN-13: 978-1846039737

Dimensions:  7.3 x 0.3 x 9.9 inches

The Typhoon was designed as a fighter but was mainly used as a ground attack aircraft.  It enjoyed great success in that role, the Royal Air Force fielding twenty wings of the type at the time of the Normandy invasion.  The type had a troubled development history which only got sorted out with great difficulty, and even then with some compromise.

The first chapter deals with the technical and production issues which plagued the introduction of the Typhoon into service.  There were substantial issues with the type’s Napier engine from both the reliability and availability perspectives, the issue got so bad at one point that there were several hundred Typhoon fuselages in depots without engines, as these had been cannibalized to keep the operational squadrons going.  Another more famous issue was a series of structural failures which resulted in Typhoons disintegrating in flight.  The fault was eventually traced to elevator flutter which caused the tail assembly to fail.

The remaining chapters describe the exploits of the men and units which flew the Typhoon in combat.  This is standard fare for the Osprey aviation books but the anecdotes are impressive nonetheless.  There is also the expected color profile section which is a highlight of the series, in this volume there are a total of forty profiles, all in the Dark Green and Ocean Grey over Medium Sea Grey scheme.

Author Chris Thomas mentions three bits of information which I found particularly interesting from a modeling perspective.  First, Typhoon units carried underwing markings in 1943 which were similar to the Normandy “invasion stripes”.  Second, Typhoons were configured with either bombs or Rocket Projectiles, and these versions were usually concentrated together in squadrons of the same type.  And third, a note at the beginning of the Colour Plates description section designates the tailplane and propeller configurations by serial number.

This is a typical Osprey Combat Aircraft series volume and delivers all the goodies readers have come to expect.  I found the chapter on the design and production problems and their solutions particularly interesting.  Overall a nice package and a welcome addition to the series.

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USN McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II Book Review

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USN McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II

By Peter E. Davies, illustrated by Adam Tooby and Henry Morshead

Series: Osprey Air Vanguard Book 22

Paperback, 64 pages, heavily illustrated

Published by Osprey Publishing March 2016

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472804953

ISBN-13: 978-1472804952

Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.1 x 9.9 inches

This is the first book in the Osprey Air Vanguard Series which I have read.  Like most Osprey books, it covers a lot of ground in a small number of pages, so it is best thought of as a primer or an introduction rather than a comprehensive history.  The story of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom could easily (and does!) fill several volumes so it is wise that Osprey have focused on USN F-4s in this work while issuing a separate book on Phantoms operated by the USAF.  Having said that, this volume also covers Phantoms in US Marine, Royal Air Force, and Royal Navy service, so the USN in the title is a bit of a misnomer.

The first chapters are devoted to the developmental history and technical description of the Phantom.  This is well known among aviation enthusiasts but is useful for being concise – an example where the brevity of the format is a strength.  There is a description of all the major sub-types operated by the naval services, and then a history of the type in service.

Like most Osprey books, this one is profusely illustrated, mostly in color.  There are several pages of artwork including portraits of two aircraft and profiles of nine.  The profiles are reproduced to a much smaller format than either those in the Aircraft of the Aces or Combat Aircraft series and there is much less information presented in the captions.  One of the nicer presentations is one which I almost overlooked – the back cover is actually a gatefold which contains an annotated cut-away illustration of the Phantom.

Overall a nice package, the contents and quality of which would not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with this publisher.

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