The Story of Jet Combat from World War II to the Gulf War
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A highly detailed report of the rapid development of jet aircraft, which became the heart of US global power just as Britain’s sea power was in the 19th century and before. Rendall, an ex-RAF flier and television producer, shows that modern warfare has changed drastically with constant improvements in technology and the training of the highly specialized pilots. The only jets to see action near the end of WWII were the German ME 262 and the British Meteor. It was the US and the Soviets who perfected the most advanced jet fighters, the F-86 Sabre and the MiG-15, which faced each other during the Cold War. Rendall believes that UN air power stopped the attacking North Korean and Chinese armies in the Korean War. Rockets and space exploration intensified competition between the West and communist countries; the arms race became the space race and created improved nuclear weapons. In Vietnam the US Air Force, trained for long-range strategic nuclear bombing, was at a disadvantage against the tactical Soviet MiG fighters manned by WWII—veteran Soviet pilots. Avoiding the bombing of enemy airfields for fear of killing Soviet ground crews impeded US war efforts despite the heavy bombing of North Vietnam. Rendall argues that when you fight a war, you have to fight to win and not pull your punches. Air superiority requires the finest aircraft and pilots, as illustrated in the Mideast wars, when outnumbered Israelis defeated Arab countries. Learning from the mistakes of Vietnam, according to the author, the US-led Gulf War air offensive, with skilled pilots and top technology, destroyed Saddam Hussein’s large army and Soviet equipment while avoiding high casualties. A well-researched warning that the US and the West must have the best technology and trained personnel to survive in a partially hostile and competitive world in which US air power is once again being tested.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-85780-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1999


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