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Jet Fighters of the US Navy and Marine Corps Part 1

Jet Fighters of the US Navy and Marine Corps Part 1 Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2019 Title Jet Fighters of the US Navy and Marine Corps Part 1
Author Bert Kinzey, Rock Roszak Publisher Detail and Scale Aviation Publications
Published 2019 ISBN N/A
Format 234 pages, electronic (iBook and Kindle)
113 pages, softbound
MSRP (USD) $12.99 electronic
$21.99 hardcopy

Review

The world of aviation changed before the start of World War II when an aircraft flew under the power of an axial-flow engine - the Heinkel He 178. Germany would be the first to field the first jet-powered combat aircraft - the Messerschmitt Me 262. A few years after the He 178's flight, Britain's Frank Whittle finally had his centrifugal-flow engine take its first flight inside a Gloster E.28/39. His engine might have flown much earlier, but the RAF had much bigger problems at the time - the fall of Europe and the Battle of Britain. Nonetheless, Whittle's engine design would later power Britain's first jet-powered combat aircraft - the Gloster Meteor. Late to the party, the United States was able to acquire examples of the British centrifugal-flow engine and develop several aircraft designs. The first was Bell's P-59 Airacomet and like the Meteor and Me 262, was a twin-engine design, but unlike those two, it had serious performance issues. Kelly Johnson of Lockheed stood up the Skunkworks to develop an effective aircraft using the available engines and the P-80 Shooting Star emerged, giving the USAAF its first viable jet-powered combat aircraft. The US Navy followed the development of P-59 and the performance capabilities/limitations of these early engines. While the early jet engines could get a suitable fighter off of a carrier deck and out on its mission, you could measure the throttle response of these engines with a calendar, spool up took too long to adjust the aircraft's glidepath onto a pitching carrier deck, and landing with higher power settings wouldn't work either. The Navy entered the jet age with a compromise.

While all of the major aircraft companies were busy building aircraft for the war effort, the Navy tapped Ryan Aeronautical Company to build a twin-engined fighter for carrier operations. The FR-1 Fireball was powered by a J31 turbojet engine in its mid-fuselage and an R-1820 Cyclone radial engine on its nose. This design would provide reliable power for take-off and landing using the radial engine, and high-performance flight using its jet engine. VF-66 would receive the Fireball before war's end, the aircraft revealed a number of issues that would help with the development of pure-jet-powered fighters, one of which was the use of a nose-wheel and the structural loads experienced landing aboard an aircraft carrier. In the end the Fireball was too fragile for carrier operations and were withdrawn from service after two years of service. Nevertheless, jet power was still new to Naval aviation, and it would have been awesome to see those pilots' reactions when a lone Fireball cruised up to a flight of Corsairs, feathered its radial engine, and accelerated away.

Detail and Scale Aviation Publications picks up the story as the Navy tapped a newcomer to the aircraft design and manufacturing world - McDonnell Aircraft. After developing usable prototypes, the company produced the first jet-powered carrier aircraft using a pair of J30 axial-flow engines - the FH-1 Phantom. This aircraft had a number of firsts to its credit, but like the Fireball, its service life was short-lived as lessons learned and rapid engine development led to newer designs. Many of the problems that were uncovered with the Fireball, Phantom, and other early aircraft also required updates to the Essex-class aircraft carriers to make them more suitable, a process continues today as new technologies and aircraft come online.

This title looks at the first ten years of pure-jet-powered naval aviation and includes a good look at the development and operational histories of those aircraft that came online in that first decade:

  • FH-1 Phantom
  • FJ-1 Fury
  • F6U -1 Pirate
  • F2H Banshee
  • F9F Panther
  • TO-1/TV-1 Shooting Star
  • F3D Skyknight
  • F7U Cutlass
  • F4D-1 Skyray
  • F3H Demon
  • F9F Cougar
  • FJ-2/-3/-4 Fury
  • XF10F-1 Jaguar
  • XF2Y/YF2Y Sea Dart
  • F11F-1 Tiger

When you look at this list of aircraft, it is hard to believe that the Navy went through so many designs in one decade when today, you're lucky to get one new jet fighter in a given decade. That is why this title is a useful reference for your library, it puts into context the high-paced evolution of technology as well as the effects of war have on that evolution since this decade overlays the Korean War. This title is available in print as well as in electronic form. Some of the advantages of the electronic version includes:

  • You can use menu hyperlinks to jump straight to a section of interest
  • You can expand photos and drawings to full-screen
  • You can zoom in on details in photos and drawings for a closer look
  • You can search for specific text within the title
  • You can bookmark items of interest
  • You can highlight and annotate the book with your own notes

You'll see many excellent photos of the aircraft from period imagery as well as a nice array of color profiles which show the various color schemes of these aircraft. The coverage of each aircraft is not intended to be as in-depth as their Detail and Scale tites but provide a good side-by-side look at early jet-powered naval aviation.

Head over to Amazon or the iTunes Store and order a copy. This technology is also truly instant gratification as the title will download to your tablet on completion of your purchase.

For more information about this and other titles, visit their website.

Definitely recommended!

My sincere thanks to Detail & Scale for this review copy.