Helion's King of Fighters vol 2


Mikhail Maslov




$49.95 from Casemate Publishers


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 260 pages, softcover, lots of photos and drawings, ISBN 978-1-913336-19-6

This volume covers the monoplane era of Nikolay Polikarpov. When the book opens, he is the premire fighter designer in the Soviet Union. Following his success with the I-15 biplane he designed the monoplane I-16. This was, at the time, the best fighter of the day and quite a symbol of prestige by the Soviets. Of course it had its issues, as does every aircraft, but was put into service and constantly upgraded as time went on.

It proved to be quite successful when used in the Spanish Civil War until the Germans brought in the early Bf-109. Even then, it was on a par with the German fighter. It also was successful when operating against the Japanese in China and in a later conflict in Mongolia. By the time of the start of WWII, it was becoming obsolescent and by the time of the German Invasion was no longer all that effective. Still the Soviets had thousands of them and continued to operate them until late in the war, especially in the training role.

This aircraft was also the pinnacle of Polikarpov's success. Later designs like the I-17 and I-180 never made it out of the design stage and tarnished Polikarpov's reputation. While on a trip outside the country the usual political machinations caused him to lose control of his current production facilities and his later design of what was probably his best fighter, the I-185. Unfortunately, his falling star meant delays in getting equipment and by the time the fighter was ready for production, it was cancelled entirely. Not surprising is that if you look at aircraft such as the Lagg-3/5 or the MiG-5 you will see Polikarpov's design. This is especially true of the MiG-5 as Mikoyan was one of the designers working under Polikarpov that was instrumental in taking over his design group.

In addition to fighters, the book covers his twin engine designs along with several other paper projects and even a transport glider. Not surprising is that a fairly large part of the book covers the I-16 and its many variants. Chock full of great photos and drawings, the book has obviously been well researched and was a delight to read. It is one that I can most easily recommend to you.

June 2022

Thanks to Casemate Publishers for the review book. You can get this one today at this link.  

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