Famous Russian Aircraft: Mikoyan MiG-17, Tactical Fighter.
Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov, Crecy Publications, UK, and Specialty Press. Forest Lake, Mn. 2016.480 pp. III. $64.95
Anyone familiar with mid-to-late 20th century military aviation should be well-acquainted with the long line of Russian fighters, the premier series being that fostered by the MiG design bureau. "MiG" is, of course, a colorful acronym created by joining the last initials of designers Artyom L. Mikoyan and Michail I. Gurevich. The warning cry of "MiGs! MiGs!" was as much a part of early jet warfare as was "Achtung, Spitfires!" in European skies during World War II, and with just as much reason and fear.
Although MiG fighters did not play a major role in WWII--the only truly operational MiG was the early, rather elegant little MiG-3 that had largely been replaced by 1943--the MiG bureau quickly took its place after the war as the Soviet Union entered the jet age with the MiG-9 as well as designs from other bureaus. The world-beater MiG-15 followed and proved itself the equal of most of the West's fighters, including the American F-86 Sabre, which formed the major opposition the high-tailed MiG faced during the three-year Korean War. Flown by a competent pilot, the MiG-15 could take the measure of the Sabre, its speed and heavy three-cannon armament, giving it advantages that U.S. Air Force pilots definitely had to respect.
It was only natural that the MiG-15 would be improved on and give way to its near-big brother, the MiG-17, mid-way through the war, although the MiG-17 did not enter large-scale service until after the 1953 armistice agreement.
With that introduction, we consider this latest offering from Crecy and Specialty Press. At 8 Vi X 11 lA inches, this is not a small book, and with nearly 500 coated-stock pages, it is particularly weighty. Nevertheless, it contains everything you ever wanted to know about the MiG-17. There is an all-encompassing collection of black-and-white and color photos, performance charts, pages of comparison tables discussing every MiG-17 produced, and every country for which it served. There is also a great number of color profiles that show every color scheme and marking the fighter ever carried as well as a brief but informative synopsis of whatever combat missions each country's MiG-17s might have seen. Those who flew against the MiG in Vietnam will find this section of special interest.
I don't know how many scale models of the MiG are available. Even those of its predecessor, the MiG-15, are rather small in number. But if you can find a model of the MiG-17, this veritable encyclopedia will show you all the interior and exterior detail you need to make it one of a kind.
There are a few errors, typos and missing letters, probably because of the need to produce the book in English, but these are quickly negotiated. One that really sticks is the constant reference to American back-seaters as "WSOs" or weapons-systems officers. While this term is correct for the back-seat position of a Boeing F/A-18D or F/A-18F, as well as USAF F-4s, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps used the term Radar Interception Officers, or RIOs, for the men in the rear cockpits of the F-4 Phantom and the F-14 Tomcat.
In general, however, the text is well and enthusiastically written. If you can get past the price, I highly recommend this unusually well-done book.
Caption: Cmdr. Robert F. Dunn's assigned A-4C aboard USS Constellation (CV 64), July 1967.
Caption: Then-Cmdr. Dunn after returning from a combat mission in 1967.