/ Published May 31, 2012
USAF Prototype Jet Fighters Photo Scrapbook compiled by Tony R. Landis and Dennis R. Jenkins. Specialty Press, 2009, 108 pp.
The USAF Prototype Jet Fighters Photo Scrapbook’s depiction of selected US Air Force aircraft offers a pictorial journey through time. The book’s numerous photographs (190 in black and white, 126 in color), which come from various national archives, airframe manufacturers, and aircraft companies, enable the reader to visually experience the evolution of airframes, engines, and design modifications for different aircraft manufactured before and after World War II. Although space constraints do not allow an exhaustive description of each aircraft, Tony Landis and Dennis Jenkins, who compiled this collection of high-quality photos, effectively address pertinent technological details such as twin fuselages, forward-swept wings, twin booms, ducted air intakes, angular airframes, and thrust vectoring. They also include representative images of crash sites and shattered airframes, indicative of the unavoidable risk associated with the testing of prototypes. Such photos, in addition to those of aerial refueling, cockpit views, and chasing aircraft, convey the subtleties of flight testing.
In the introduction, Landis and Jenkins describe the scrapbook as a compilation of images—not a study of experimental fighters. Further, they note that the book presents images seldom seen in other collections. Even the older black and white photographs are of exceptionally high quality. Captions accompany the photos, identifying the aircraft and including such information as technical specifications, date of the maiden flight or of prototype testing, and other matters of interest.
Landis and Jenkins offer a number of images for each prototype with the XF- and YF- designation as well as for those without, including the YF-12A, YF-16/17, YF-22, and YF-23, together with the F-4, F-5, F-15, and X-32/X-35 prototypes. All of these aircraft have been in the forefront of technical advancements and have served as paramount technology demonstrators. Surprisingly, though, the book makes no mention of prototypes for the F-14 aircraft.
Granted, the compilers successfully highlight advancements in aviation technology and design during the last 60 years; however, they do not include an index of the jets. Such a tool would give readers a more extensive overview of the prototype testing programs and substantially facilitate navigation through the volume.
I highly recommend the USAF Prototype Jet Fighters Photo Scrapbook for aviation enthusiasts or anyone interested in Air Force jet fighters. Readers will appreciate the book’s presentation of this collection of exceptional historic photos of numerous aircraft, many of them never before published. Individuals interested in the more technical aspects would enjoy it as well, especially for the historical information. For a more complete technical narrative of the aircraft and their prototype programs, readers should consult Experimental and Prototype U.S. Air Force Jet fighters (Specialty Press, 2008), also by Landis and Jenkins.
Dr. Omid Gohardani
London, United Kingdom
"The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense."