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Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer

Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2005 Title Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer
Author Yefim Gordon Publisher Aerofax
Published 2005 ISBN 1-85780-202-0
Format 160 pages, softbound MSRP (CDN) $36.95

Review

When the General Dynamics F-111 swing-wing fighter-bomber emerged in the mid-1960s, the Soviet Air Force was using the Yak-28 as its principal fighter-bomber and the Su-7 was entering service. The Yak didn't have the payload or performance needed to meet Air Force requirements, and while the Su-7 did have the performance, it lacked payload and its take-off and landing speeds meant longer runways or additional support in terms of RATO and braking parachutes.

The Mikoyan and Sukhoi OKBs started working on ways to get more payload into the air while still operating on shorter or unprepared airfields. Both groups built designs that used lift engines to augment the normal engine's take-off power as well as lifting the airframe into the air. Research into this area was promising in terms of achieving short take-off runs with heavy combat loads (as later shown with the Harrier) but the weight and space penalty from the extra lift engine(s) more than offset these advantages. A significant development came from the Soviet Central Design Bureau (TsAGI) which paved the way for swing-wing designs.

Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer One of Sukhoi's lift-engine concept aircraft was the T-6. This aircraft had the side-by-side seating similar to the F-111 that would carry over into the Su-24. Its wings were similar in planform to the late Su-15 Flagon's clipped double delta, but were so small in size that the take-off and landing speeds on the prototype were quite high. Once the aircraft was in the air, the high wing-loading on the small wing area made for an excellent low-level ride, ideal for a modern strike aircraft. With the clearance to move into swing-wing technologies, the Sukhoi design bureau transformed the T-6 into the Su-24 while Mikoyan's designe bureau transformed its lift-engine aircraft into the MiG-23/27 family.

The resulting Su-24 entered service in the early 1970s and as a result of the Iron Curtain, western analysts believed this new aircraft NATO Codenamed FENCER was called the Su-19. This mistaken identity would continue for about 10 more years.

Today the Su-24 is the principal fighter bomber within the Soviet Air Force with the Su-25 serving as the main close air support aircraft.

This title by Yefim Gordon walks the reader through the development process in great detail, discussing each of the major models and subvariants of the Fencer family from prototype T-6 to the latest Su-24M2. The book goes into great detail on avionics fit, weapons carriage and unique features for each of the aircraft. The title contains a good mix of color and black & white photographs from a variety of dates and sources to illustrate the story.

The book continues with a look into the operational history of the aircraft, complete with Soviet combat experiences from Afghanistan and operations within many of the air arms around the former Soviet Union as well as Iran and Iraq. The title is rounded out with a nice selection of color profiles illustrating the various color and camouflage schemes that have been or are currently carried by the Su-24.

This is an excellent title to add to your collection, especially if you follow Soviet aviation.

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