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Fall of the Flying Dragon

Fall of the Flying Dragon Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review September 2015 Title Fall of the Flying Dragon
Author Albert Grandolini Publisher Harpia Publishing, LLC
Published 2011 ISBN 9780982553978
Format 256 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $64.95


For a brief period in the early 1970s, the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) ranked as one of the world's largest – and most powerful.

By 30 April 1975, however, it ceased to exist.

Now Albert Grandolini recaps the tragic tale in Fall of the Flying Dragon: South Vietnamese Air Force 1973-75 from Harpia Publishing.

Available in North America from Casemate, Grandolini's superb study spans 256 lavishly illustrated pages across eleven chunky chapters.

Contents commence with a compact history of South Vietnamese air power, acquisitions and enemy assets. Coverage swiftly segues to the "decent interval" between the 1973 Paris Peace Accords and the 1975 collapse of the Saigon Regime.

Here, Grandolini deftly distills the feckless International Commission for Control and Supervision (ICCS), "blatant" North Vietnamese ceasefire violations, VNAF organizational and operational challenges, serious logistical shortcomings, and shameful US abandonment.

Everything began unraveling with the loss of Ban Me Thuot in March 1975. Saigon's rash, reckless redeployment of northern forces simply accelerated the South's collapse. And communist land and air forces – now openly on the offensive – captured Saigon in just six weeks. Heroic VNAF personnel fought to the very end.

Informative anecdotes augment the account. An introduction, abbreviations list, four appendices, selected bibliography and index bracket core contents. Over 400 color and B&W photos season Harpia's study. And 30 color profiles by the ever-excellent Tom Cooper splendidly sample the swath of VNAF heraldry.

If you missed this excellent effort the first time around, grab it now. It deserves pride-of-place in every Cold War reference library.

Robustly recommended!

With thanks to Harpia Publishing for the review copy.