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F-100 Super Sabre At War

F-100 Super Sabre At War Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2007 Title F-100 Super Sabre At War
Author Thomas E. Gardner Publisher Zenith Press
Published 2007 ISBN 0-7603-2860-9
Format 128 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $19.95


In the latest installment from Zenith Books' "At War" series, author Thomas Gardner takes a look at the F-100 Super Sabre from the drawing board to its worldwide operations. This title takes a look at selected subjects within the history of the aircraft. Take a look at the table of contents:

  • Origin of the "Hun"
  • F-100 Features
  • Flight Test
  • F-100 Models
  • Weapons Systems
  • Operators Worldwide
  • F-100F Wild Weasel
  • F-100B/F-107A: The Other "Hun"

The first chapter is a thoughtful look at the state of the art in aerodynamics worldwide as well as the threat that the F-100 would initially be facing. This sets the stage for how the design of the aircraft would be laid out.

In the Features chapter, the author runs through the list of major aircraft subsystems with a run-down of the composition and function of each subsystem. Some of these descriptions are accompanied by small reproductions of design drawings.

The third chapter covers flight test and provides some interesting insight into some of the (then) new aerodynamic challenges that designers and test pilots faced with the aircraft and what design changes and/or procedure changes were made to make the aircraft safe and combat effective. Accompanying this chapter are reproductions of the flight envelopes for several models as well as reproductions of emergency procedure diagrams, all out of the pilot's flight manual.

By the time we get into the fourth and fifth chapters covering the F-100 variants and the weapons carried by the aircraft, it is clear that the author has far more quality material to use than the 128 page budget of this "At War" series will allow. The publisher should have considered releasing this title in several volumes rather than compress the subjects. While the author does provide a clear breakout of the different F-100 variants, the discussion of the weapons systems is an abbreviated discussion of the various avionics packages on the aircraft rather than the weapons employed by the aircraft.

The chapter about the worldwide operators of the aircraft is a very brief discussion of the air forces that operated the F-100 outside the US. If there was any discussion about USAF or ANG operations of the F-100, that was edited out of the title. In fact, the ONLY coverage of the F-100 in USAF flight or combat operations is the chapter about the Wild Weasel, a favorite topic of mine. The author was able to acquire the tail number of the F-models converted into the first Wild Weasels and provides some discussion about their early tactics. Oddly enough, the illustrations in this chapter have no Wild Weasels, though there are F-100D and F-100F images present. A couple of paragraphs at the end of this chapter acknowledges the Misty FAC missions as well.

The main coverage ends with the F-100B/F-107A that North American tried to pit against several competitors for the tactical strike fighter that was won by Republic with their F-105 Thunderchief.

Appendix A provides dimension data on all F-100 variants while Appendix B provides the production blocks and tail numbers assigned. Appendix C is called a 'Modeler's Section' and if you're using three-dimensional modeling tools to create CGI aircraft for gaming or whatever, the dimensional data here is very useful. To the scale modeler, the data contained in this chapter would only prove or disprove whether a given manufacturer got the scale dimensions and cross-sections correct. That too assumes that the data in this appendix is also correct. The final appendix provides a chronological look at the significant dates in the history of the F-100.

It is clear that the author had gathered some good information for this title and it is a shame it didn't make it into print. What is here isn't bad, but for a title that is supposed to cover the aircraft 'At War', this title is way off target. There is little hint of the 20+ years of service provided by the aircraft or her crews in the defense of Europe through the early Cold War, the extensive combat operations in Vietnam during the first half of that war, nor the extensive service in the Air National Guard units around the US. Just a brief discussion of the Wild Weasel and an even briefer mention of the Misty FAC. Looking in the international section, you'd never know of the years of combat operations that the F-100 flew in French Air Force service.

This title does have some good information in it that you won't see in other titles published to date on the subject, but if you're looking for a more balanced look at the aircraft, including discussions of the aircraft 'at war', try Crowood's F-100 Super Sabre instead. At $19.95 USD, this is still a good title to have that will supplement the Crowood book as well as other titles out there on the subject.

My sincere thanks to Motorbooks International for this review sample!