Soviet X-Planes


Given the topic, the expectation for this book was much higher than it delivered. Pluses are it forms a useful reference book with everything in one place, if that is the purpose of having such a book on your shelf. It is also clearly well researched in terms of digging out some pretty obscure types and backgrounds. The downsides are the print and paper quality are nowhere near what you should expect these days, and the writing is a bit dry, so it is not an easy read and certainly not something I could read end-to-end in a sitting.


Firstly, this is a properly put together book. After discarding the cheapening effect of the glossy cover sleeve, within is a real cloth hard-bound book, full of shiny pages. There are no artful empty spaces, nearly all of the pages are full to the brim with photos, text and line profiles of the many experimental ‘planes that the Soviets created over the last century, and a lot of them are eye-openers. Invention! The only drawback to a lot of the photos is the fact that,unlike today, the Russians appear never to have possessed a decent optical industry, and there are comparatively few of the bitingly sharp and crisp B/W pictures, going back to the first world war, that we have come to expect when reviewing our own history of flight. Most of the post WWII pic’s, though, are quite good. There is a good jets-era colour photo section at the back of the book captioned only for reference.
The text is by the tireless Bill Gunston, detailed, and as usual by this most gifted of writers on aviation, to lift the relentlessness of technical detail, anecdotal. This means that ‘Soviet X-Planes’ is not only readable but is enjoyable to read.

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Yefim Gordon
Bill Guntson

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