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Valiant Units of the Cold War

Valiant Units of the Cold War Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review November 2012 Title Valiant Units of the Cold War
Author Andrew Brookes Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2012 ISBN 9781849087537
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $22.95


First of the legendary V-Bombers in RAF service, Vickers Valiant B1s laid the operational underpinnings of Britain's Cold War strategic strikers.

Now Andrew Brookes vividly illumines the aircraft's pioneering role in Valiant Units of the Cold War from Osprey Publishing.

The author skillfully recaps Valiant design and development in his introductory chapter.  Chief advocate and Vickers engineer George R Edwards successfully argued that the aircraft's putative "lack of sophistication" offered prudent protection against failure of more radical Handley Page and Avro concepts.  The RAF agreed.  And Valiants entered service on-schedule.

That's when Osprey's coverage turns hot.  Valiant crews quickly saw combat during the 1956 Suez crisis, preformed yeoman work in British nuclear weapons tests, forged operational links with USAF SAC counterparts, pursued strategic-reconnaissance duties and implemented air-refueling techniques.  Even anti-shipping and mine-laying missions were explored.

Later, as Victors and Vulcans entered operation, Valiants turned to tactical tasks.  But less than a decade after entering RAF service, metal fatigue forced the fleet's sudden demise.  Even "the only two spare, unused, Valiant spars in existence" suffered stress cracks – although "they had never flown"!  And Vickers' shapely warrior entered history.

Throughout his absorbing account, Andrew Brookes displays clear affection for his subject.  The author temptingly posits, with provocative hindsight, that the Valiant B2 "Pathfinder" might have been the only "V-Bomber" Britain really required.  He notes that the derivative boasted "low-level speeds far in excess of those sustained by low-level strike Vulcans and Victors".  And he even favorably compares B2 performance to that of later, more costly Rockwell B-1Bs.  Truly stimulating speculation!

Modeling AIRFIX's 1:72 kit?  Osprey's edition hasn't forgotten you, either.  Counting the B2 version, Valiants carried at least four different liveries.  And "traditional airbrush artist" Chris Davey provides plenty of project inspiration with 25 superb color profile and plan views.

I enjoyed Valiant Units of the Cold War.  It's a rapid read.  And enthusiasts of strategic bombing history will find it fascinating.  Only the irksome absence of annotations and a glossary spoiled this otherwise agreeable effort!


My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!