Pen & Sword's Early Jet Fighters 1944-1954

Author/Artists: Leo Marriott


Pen & Sword


$26.95 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 144 pages, softcover, 7.5 x 9.5 inches
ISBN: 978-1-52-675393-6

Pen & Sword have chosen an interesting title for one of their latest books. The early days of jet propulsion  brought a great deal of promise to aircraft designers. It also brought new challenges. Early jets were fast, but they were also fairly fragile and consumed fuel at a fairly high rate when compared to piston engine aircraft. This high fuel consumption plagued designers for years and it was not surprising that so many early jets were so large, or had such short range due to this feature.

Early jets also suffered from a lack of power. In order to get the sort of performance wanted, the aircraft either had to be small and therefore short ranged, be large to carry fuel, which added weight and degraded performance, or had to have at least a pair of engines. Designers were always looking for the best trade-off to provide an aircraft that would provide the needs of the military and to provide sales. Fortunately for most nations, either serendipity (at least for the Russians) or improved engine design allowed early fighters to have fairly decent performance.

Though the book only covers the first ten years, it included a lot of aircraft that were in prototype development in 1953 and 1954. It also includes a lot of aircraft that never really made the cut for various reasons. The book also only covers the Soviet Union and Europe, leaving the US and UK for other editions. A probably unrelated observation is that aside from the Germans, all these early jets were without any sort of camouflage.

The author has divided the book into sections. After a nice introduction, these sections are by country starting with Germany, then the Soviet Union, France, Sweden, and finally other European nations like Italy and Switzerland. This latter section even includes Argentina as it was Kurt Tank who took his design worth there after the war. In each section we are provided with a bevy of excellent photos of both prototype and production types with the majority of the information provided in the photo captions. Again, there are photos with which some of us are familiar as well as those that are new to us. I personally liked the French section as they seemed to be the most willing to experiment with things that other nations would not. If you find the subject as fascinating as do I, you will certainly want to pick this one up.

May 2020

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