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Soviet/Russian Aircraft Weapons Since World War II

Soviet/Russian Aircraft Weapons Since World War II Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2005 Title Soviet/Russian Aircraft Weapons Since World War II
Author Yefim Gordon Publisher Midland Publications
Published 2004 ISBN 1-85780-188-1
Format 208 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $44.95


Here's a nice reference I wish I had years ago. The author walks through the family of aircraft-launched/released weapons in their various categories. He starts off with the Soviets research of captured German technology and how to apply it to their aircraft. There are some VERY interesting photos of Soviet-made V-1 buzz bombs and the Pe-6 mothership. Two of the photos show twin-engined buzz bombs! Additional photos show these same buzz bombs under the Pe-2 and the Tu-4 (B-29). All of this is captured in just the introduction!

Coverage of this title includes:

  • Introduction
  • 'Shoot 'em Down' - The Air-to-Air Missiles
  • Guided Death From the Skies
  • Moving Mud - Unguided Rockets
  • Bombs Away
  • Soviet/Russian Aircraft Weapons in Color

In the air-to-air missile section, the author steps through the different missile families by manufacturer - some you've heard of, some you haven't. In any case, this title covers the development and versions of each missile quite nicely and is backed up by photos and diagrams. For example, under the R-3S missile family, the author explains where the Soviets obtained an AIM-9 Sidewinder to replicate into the R-3/K-13 Atoll missile. The quality of the coverage does not taper off as we approach the current generation of missiles. There is equally nice information, photos and diagrams of the R-77 'AMRAMMski" and R-33 (the AIM-54-like missile carried by the MiG-31 Foxhound).

Coverage in the 'Guided Death' (cruise missiles and tactical air-to-surface missiles) section is equally thorough. Another added bonus of this title coming from this author is that many of the nomenclatures are coming straight from Russian to English.

Some nomenclatures/titles have been obscured when published by sources within the former Warsaw Pact. Transliterating Russian-to-Polish-to-English or Russian-to-Czech-to-English can cause subtle but confusing transliteration issues. A good case in point is the family of rocket pods carried by virtually every Soviet tactical aircraft - the UB-16-57 or UB-32-57. The UB is the Russian acronym for the word that translates into 'pod'. The 16 or 32 indicates the number of rockets carried by the pod, and the 57 is the caliber, in this case 57mm rockets. The same nomenclature has shown up transliterated as UV-16-57. The same problem exists with certain other letters in the Cyrillic alphabet - Mi-24V get transliterated to Mi-24W in Polish. These are not earth-shattering issues, just something to be aware of when reading different texts. But I digress...

The remaining chapters are equally as thorough and the title is rounded out with a nice section of 72 full-color photos of these various weapons either on display or being carried in-flight.

This is a long overdue reference for Soviet and Russian aviation historians and modelers alike. This is definitely recommended!