Helion's Silver Birds Over the Estuary

Author/Artists: Bojan Dmitrijevic & Milan Micevski


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 72 pages, softcover, over 100 images
ISBN 978-1-913998-69-3

The MiG-21 was designed, like the F-104, as a short range interceptor, whose prime purpose was to get off the ground in a short time and up to altitude at an equally short time. As such, the aircraft was designed around the best engine of the time and carried minimum fuel. Initially armed with a cannon and two missiles (like the F-104), the aircraft evolved. Eventually it was able to carry a fair weapons load, while adding fuel tanks enabled its fairly short range to be extended to some extent.

The early MiG-21F-13 was, by all accounts the best as it was the lightest and most maneuverable. The Soviets were quite protective of the type and it took a while before they allowed it to be exported. Even then, it went to Warsaw Pact nations first and those who were friendly with the Soviet Union.

Yugoslavia was a special case. It was led by a communist dictator, but it wasn't part of the Soviet bloc of nations. In the 1950s, the majority of its air force was filled with US aircraft types. But it was realized that more modery types were required. As relations with the Soviet Union warmed, so did the desire to obtain Soviet equipment. Among that equipment was the MiG-21. At the time it was still a closely guarded type so initial access was restricted. Eventually a deal was made for the first true production version, the MiG-21F-13 and from there, Yugoslavia became a rather steady buyer of the type.

In this book, the author covers not only a bit of MiG-21 development history, but also the procedures that the Yugoslav Air Force had to go through to obtain the aircraft. It then goes into the operational history of the type including when it was introduced, the units that flew it and any special events in which the aircraft partook. It also includes a war history of the aircraft as it was very much involved in the events of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. It was during the latter part of these wars that half the fleet was lost due to bombing of their bases. The narrative continues until the final retirement of the aircraft.

All through this are superlative photos and full color profiles of the aircraft. It makes it not only a great read but also a book that modelers will find useful. I liked it a great deal and highly recommend it to those of you who find this period of time and area of conflict to be of interest.

December 2020

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