Books on the Soviet Airforce of the Great Patriotic War

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Classic Colours "Soviet AF Fighter Colours"

Classic Colours "Soviet AF Fighter Colours"     The full title of Erik Pilawskii's masterpiece is "Soviet Air Force Fighter colours 1941 - 1945". ISBN 1 903223 30 X. Published in 2003 this book also boasts colour profiles by Chris Banyai-Riepl. I bought my copy online from Midland Counties. Anyone who knows Erik from his online work at http://vvs.hobbyvista.com will know that this is his life-long work and fascination. He has obviously spent many years ploughing through obscure and arcane archives through Europe and former Soviet Union to come up with his material. This is certainly THE definitive work on the topic. However, having read this book thoroughly it is quite clear that his work is littered with doubt. He repeatedly states his subjective opinion and then qualifies it with an equally subjective counter-point. I think he may be the first to admit that his work is extremely difficult due to the nature of his research material. Record keeping was not high on the list of Stalin's list of priorities during the Great Patriotic War. To be honest his combat aircraft could have been churned out painted in every possible variety of house paint that they had lying around! Much of his deductions are from interpretations of black and white photo's which are rendered into colours based upon quasi-science and guesswork. In its favour there are a few fundamental truths here that are partly of use to the model maker. I would recommend this for the main body of the book which deals with colour schemes aircraft by aircraft - but don't get too worked up by the doubts. This isn't gospel - just a work in progress, and you'll find little better on this topic. The 224 pages also feature numerous scale plans. Recommended for the model maker.

"Soviet Air Force Fighters" Part 1

"Soviet Air Force Fighters" Part 1     Published in 1977 by Pilot Press Limited. My copy is the hard back version and I bought it of EBay a couple of years ago. This was written by William Green and Gordon Swanborough. William was a leading writer in the 1970's and I recall he was behind compiling the Observer's Book of "Soviet Air Force Fighters" Part 1Aircraft. This volume covers manufacturers alphabetically from Bereznyak-Isaev's B1 Rocket Interceptor thru to Nikitin-Shevchenko's IS-4 unusual convertiplane. So this is pretty comprehensive stuff. You get 68 pages which includes line-drawn layout diagrams, cutaways and some colour artwork.  On the down side the photo's are a little small and there is too much text but this is not atypical for its era. Nice if you find a copy.

"Soviet Air Force Fighters" Part 2

"Soviet Air Force Fighters" Part 2     Published in 1978 by Pilot Press Limited. My copy is a soft cover version which was also purchased of EBay a couple of years ago. This was written by William Green and Gordon Swanborough. William was a leading writer in the 1970's and I recall he was behind compiling the Observer's Book of Aircraft. This volume "Soviet Air Force Fighters" Part 2covers manufacturers alphabetically from Petlyakov's Pe-3 through to Yakovlev's Yak-9P. So this is pretty comprehensive stuff. Similar to volume 1 above you get 80 pages which includes line-drawn layout diagrams, cutaways and some colour artwork.  On the down side the photo's are a little small and there is too much text but this is not atypical for its era. Nice if you find a copy.

Herbert Leonard "Encyclopaedia of Soviet Fighters"

Herbert Leonard "Encyclopaedia of Soviet Fighters"     Published by Histoire & Collections in France in 2005. Translated from the French by Alan McKay. Three view line drawings and the detailed cutaway are by the author Herbert Leonard. Colour Artworks are by Nicolas Gohin. A truly beautiful book and excellent value! This mighty volume is packed with colour from front to back and boasts 208 pages. You get a physically large book in a hardcover but no dust jacket (in my copy). It has a really unusual layout in that it works forward chronologically from 1939 to 1951 detailing Aircraft Developments in EACH year separately. Hence several long serving types appear several times through the book. The popular types are well covered in excellent detail whilst more obscure types crop up - some unseen in other, similar, works. Each type is labelled as "Preliminary Design or Study", "Flying Prototype", "Unfinished Prototype" or "Front Line Fighter". As such it represents a year by year snapshot of everything going on in Herbert Leonard "Encyclopaedia of Soviet Fighters"Soviet Fighter development for that period. Several types covered get close attention to various changing airframe details in line drawings which should be of value to the Modeller. Sadly, although the drawings look often like scale plans no scale is published. Picture coverage is ample and crisp but often on the small side. The pages or more dominated by the lush colour artworks and the line drawings. Text is authoritative but probably containing little not seen elsewhere. The translation into English is mostly excellent although there are some obviously tortuous sections! Thoroughly recommended and vastly superior to the regular coffee-table stocking fillers that vaguely resemble this book. All VVS fans should own this book!

"Colours of Falcons" Jiri Hornat/Bob Migliardi

"Colours of Falcons" Jiri Hornat/Bob Migliardi     ISBN 0 9739994 0 3. Published in 2006 by Iliad Design. Never has a book promised so much yet delivered so little. I waited well over a year to take delivery of this book and it cost over 13 from the Aviation Bookshop in the UK. The outer cover has "colour" spelt the American way, ie, "color" yet the inside cover has it in the English spelling "colour". This idiosyncrasy aside, the biggest disappointment is that, for a book that proclaims the it is about the "colour/color" of Stalin's Falcons, there is almost NO colour in the book! This is scandalous. The book is very bad value for money in being only 56 pages long. Of this you get just FOUR pages of single-side aspect colour artworks (one example shown here). Even worse, practically EVERY photo published here has been published before elsewhere over and over again. You get deja vu at almost every page turn. Where the book is useful is if you actually read the text. The detail of the "colours" is buried in the text. It is a mix of history and technical colour detail. This makes an interesting contrast to the authoritative "Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours" by Erik Pilawskii. I am no expert but I would guess that this will be of interest to those who are really interested in the minute details of VVS camouflage. It could be more or less accurate than Erik's work. "Colours of Falcons" Jiri Hornat/Bob MigliardiThis is largely subjective but it is nice to have two decent books on the topic. However, for a pleasurable read, the Pilawskii book would be top of the list. This version is rather more for the completist who wants and alternative point of view and something to cross-reference the other work against. Unlike Erik's work, this small book covers more than fighters so, unless Erik publishes a Vol II of his work for VVS Bombers, then this will be the only colour guide you will get for the heavy-weights and flying boats. Useful for that but otherwise not highly recommended for the casual reader.

Osprey "Soviet Aces of World War 2"

Osprey "Soviet Aces of World War 2"     Published by Osprey (Del Prado) in 1999. Text by Hugh Morgan with artwork and drawings by Iain Wyllie, John Weal, Mike Chappell and Mark Styling. The book is 64 pages long with two pages at the rear of random scale drawings. There are twelve pages ofOsprey "Soviet Aces of World War 2" colour artwork including two showing pilot uniforms. There are lots of interesting photos although many have been seen elsewhere. This is not really aimed at the modeller so there isn't the detail you would expect. This is a bit of light reading for the coffee table and an intro to the topic. Interesting little book but not of tremendous use. These books are not widely regarded as being authoritative.

Tietoteos "Red Stars in the Sky 1"

Tietoteos "Red Stars in the Sky 1"     Published by Tietoteos in 1979 this volume covers fighter aircraft both indigenous and foreign in the service of the VVS. There is very little text and, of that, half is in Finnish anyway. Large glossy black and white photographs dominate the slim Tietoteos "Red Stars in the Sky 1"tome. It only boasts 48 pages but it is in a large Letter format so a little goes a long way. At the back you get two pages of colour artwork (plus one at the front on the inside cover). You also get good scale drawings of the I-16 and its various subtypes. Other artworks are all rendered in black and white - how very annoying! Most of the photo's can be found elsewhere but they are presented well here and it is an enjoyable flick through.

Tietoteos "Red Stars in the Sky 2"

Tietoteos "Red Stars in the Sky 2"     Published by Tietoteos in 1981 this volume covers twin-engined fighter and multi-engined bomber aircraft both indigenous and foreign in the service of the VVS. There is very little text and, of that, half is in Finnish anyway. Large glossy Tietoteos "Red Stars in the Sky 2"black and white photographs dominate the slim tome. It only boasts 48 pages but it is in a large Letter format so a little goes a long way. At the back you get two pages of colour artwork (plus one at the front on the inside cover). There are no scale plans in this volume two. Other artworks are all rendered in black and white - how very annoying! Most of the photo's can be found elsewhere but they are presented well here and it is an enjoyable flick through.

"Soviet Combat Aircraft/Second World War" Vol 1

"Soviet Combat Aircraft of the Second World War" Vol 1     Volume One of a two-parter this was published by Midland Publishing Limited in 1998. Written by Yefim Gordon and Dmitri Khazanov. You get 184 pages with just four pages of colour artwork at the rear. Everything else is black and white photo's and fortunately these are reproduced crisply on glossy paper. Photo's dominate about 50%, text 40% with 10% given over to some basic three view layout drawings. There are no scale pl"Soviet Combat Aircraft of the Second World War" Vol 1ans. The text is authoritative although I know that errors have been pointed out with these two volumes. This work covers the single engined fighters and prototypes of Bereznyak-Isaev, Bisnovat, Borokvok-Frolov, Gudkov, Ilyushin, Kozlov, Lavochkin, MiG, Nikitin, Pashinin, Polikarpov, Silvanasky, Sukhoi, Tomashevich, Yakovlev and Yatsenko. A lot to take in and so few of them were successful. A nice piece of general resource for the model maker and historian alike.

"Soviet Combat Aircraft/Second World War" Vol 2

"Soviet Combat Aircraft of the Second World War" Vol 2     Published by Midland Publishing Limited in 1999. Written by Yefim Gordon and Dmitri Khazanov with Alexander Medved. This Volume Two covers "Twin-Engined Fighters, Attack Aircraft and Bombers". This great book has 176 pages and, for your money, you get a few layout diagrams and a few colour profiles. However black and white photo's dominate the book but this is inevitable given the subject matter. This book does not appear to be aimed specifically at model makers. It is a resource book and given its Authors this is a very creditable piece of w"Soviet Combat Aircraft of the Second World War" Vol 2ork. However, there are errors and if you look online at the VVS Forums you will see a published list of errors with these books. Putting that to one side you do get nice big glossy pictures and every possible technical detail you could imagine. Of the twin-engined fighter aircraft makers included you get to see the work of Grushin, MiG, Moskalev, Petlyakov, Polikarpov, Tairov and Tupolev. Bomber makes covered include Bartini/Yermolayev, Belyayev, Ilyushin, Myasishchev, Tupolev and Arkhangelsky. Others getting a look in include Bolkhovitinov, Kocherigin, Neman, Sukhoi, Tomashevich and Yakovlev. An extremely worthy and definitive guide to the topic.

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