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Against All Odds: The Pakistan Air Force in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War

Against All Odds: The Pakistan Air Force in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan WarBook Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review January 2021 Title Against All Odds: The Pakistan Air Force in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War
Author Kaiser Tufail Publisher Helion
Published 2020 ISBN 9781913118648
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95

Review

A brief, bitter 1971 conflict birthed the modern state of Bangladesh.

Now Against All Odds – 12th in Helion’s growing “Asia@War” range – recaps “The Pakistan Air Force in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War”.

Adeptly authored by PAF Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail, text nicely falls into “Backdrop”, “Operations”, “Review”, and “Appendices” sections. And eight, picture-packed chapters further focus Helion’s chronologically coordinated contents:

  • Backdrop
  • Baring the Fangs
  • Stemming the Tide
  • Ineffectual Effort
  • Tactical Air Support
  • Helpless at Sea
  • Fearless Last Stand
  • The War Assessed

Don’t skip introductory material. Tufail illumines the intricate interplay of crisis factors facing both West and East Pakistan: history, politics, religion, economics, ethnicities, geography, equipment, strategy, and tactics – among others.

Combat accounts naturally dominate coverage. Air-to-air engagements. Close-support missions. Interdiction efforts. Night sorties. ELINT/reconnaissance activities. Even naval operations.

And the author liberally seasons narratives with dates and details, anecdotes and assessments.

Don’t miss the remarkable “An Incredible Kill” claim. And learn the “Soviet AWACS” truth a few pages later.

The lavishly illustrated effort sports dozens of period photos. Twenty-one color profiles offer aircraft modelers potent project potential. And tactical maps put commentary into geographic perspective.

Camouflage & markings notes, land warfare remarks, tables, references, and a “military terms” glossary also augment the account. Read carefully, though: many acronyms fail to make the list. For clarity, initial commentary could also use dramatis personae of key political personalities and glossaries of factions.

Moreover, origins of some critical and contentious quotations do not appear in endnotes. What’s the source, for instance, of Major General Fazam Muqeem Khan’s controversial comment on page 74?

Finally, Tufail’s businesslike post-mortem dispassionately dissects the fighting. But despite the author’s admirable attempts at balance there and elsewhere, astute readers will easily – and understandably – spot his stands on issues and events.

None of this distracts from Tufail’s splendid summary. It expertly illumines 1971 air actions over the subcontinent. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Recommended.

With thanks to Casemate Publishing for the review copy!