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Soviet Naval Aviation 1946-1991

Soviet Naval Aviation 1946-1991 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review February 2014 Title Soviet Naval Aviation 1946-1991
Author Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov Publisher Hikoki Publications
Published 2013 ISBN 9781902109312
Format 368 pages, hardcover MSRP (USD) $56.95

Review

Naval airpower decisively matured during World War II.  And in the Great Patriotic War, Soviet Naval Aviation (AVMF) "flew more than 350,000 sorties, in the course of which more than 5,000 enemy aircraft were shot down or destroy on the ground."

That's where Hikoki's terrific tome begins.  And Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov's Soviet Naval Aviation 1946-1991 – available in North America from Specialty Press – runs from the nation's greatest triumph through ascent and atrophy to its precipitous demise.

A précis of AVMF operations from World War II's end to Communism's collapse commences coverage.  Types and deployments of aerial assets then dominate several subsequent sections:

  • maritime reconnaissance
  • strike
  • anti-submarine
  • fighter & attack
  • auxiliary & special mission

Along the way, a wide range of Soviet naval aircraft, common and rare, appear.  Il-28s, Tu-16s, Tu-95s, Il-38s and Yak-38s rank among the customary cast.  Many others – Tu-14T Bosuns, Be-10 Mallows, Tu-4K Bulls, Il-4T Bobs, A-20G Bostons ("Boxes" to NATO) and dozens more – play surprising supporting roles.  And Air Force hand-me-downs – like MiG-15s, MiG-21s and Su-17s – snag guest spots.

Individual chapters course chronologically, type-by-type – and include official and anecdotal accounts.

We learn, for instance, that the Soviets once scrambled Tu-16Ks to sink their mutinous ASW cruiser, SNS Storozhevoy.  High "noise and vibration levels" made Be-12s uncomfortable amphibians to fly.   And compared to jet pilots, helicopter aircrew endured fewer food rations.  Revealing!

Contents then cruise through a few dozen "Cold War Clashes", before sideslipping to histories of Soviet carriers – and their largely stillborn shipboard aircraft assets.  Want capsule coverage of the amazing Yak-38 saga?  Look here.

Narrative subsequently descends to "The End of the Soviet Era" before reaching details of "Principal Aircraft and Weapons".  Modelers will find the latter especially useful.

A few gripes.  The chapter on "Cold War Clashes" ends ca. 1962 – missing three more decades of East-West incidents.  British forces in the 1982 South Atlantic War transited RAF Ascension Island – not a "US Air Force base" there.  Distinguished historians like Gordon and Komissarov should also avoid slang like "gonna".  And they should minimize mind-numbing clichés.

None of this, though, devalues Hikoki's informative effort.  Hundreds color and B&W photos illustrate text.  Dozens of color profiles and inset art – perfect modeling inspiration – season the splendid study.  And multiple tables and indices neatly tie things together.

Anyone interested in Soviet Cold War naval aviation should grab this book.  No other English-language compendium comes close.

Robustly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Specialty Press for this review sample!

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