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Book Review
AV-8B Harrier II
Osprey Combat Aircraft #104, AV-8B Harrier II units of Operation Enduring Freedom
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by: Brian Culbertson [ BIGFOOTV ]

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Introduction
Osprey Publishing has over the years has provided the general public, model makers, history buffs with a number of military reference materials ranging from Armored vehicles, weapons, aviation subjects to books giving readers insight to famous historical events through re-analyzation of documented facts, first person accounts (when available), and other research materials available to the authors.

Author background
According to information on the inside cover of this book, “Mr. Lon Nordeen has more than 35 years of Aerospace and editorial experience. He has been employed on the staff of the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics, McDonnell Douglas and Boeing, where he worked in the market research, communications and field marketing. He is also the author of nine books and has written more than 150 articles and has been highlighted as a historian on multiple History Channel television programs covering air warfare such as the “Dogfight” series.”

Illustrator’s background
As per text on inside cover, “Mr. Jim Laurier is a native of New England and lives in New Hampshire. He attended Paier School of Art in Hamden, Connecticut, from 1974-78, and since graduating with Honours he has been working professionally in the field of fine arts and illustration. He has been commissioned to paint for the U.S. Air Force and has aviation painting on permanent display in the Pentagon.”

Book contents
The book itself is 96 pages in length and is done in semi-glossy heavy paper with varies illustrations and photos. The cover art done by Gareth Hector, shows an AV-8B Harrier II in flight firing upon varies targets in the town of Marja, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on Feb. 13, 2010 during Operation Moshtarak.

The chapters listed in the book are as follows and are done in a timeline format:

Introduction: This starts on page 6. This gives the reader a brief description of the AV-8B Harrier II development, engine upgrades, night attack upgrades, and missions undertaken by the AV-8B Harrier II during operation in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corp.

Chapter 1: “USMC and AV-8B air support.” This chapter covers the role this important aircraft has played within the Marine Corp and the support it has provided since the 1970’s when it was purchased from the U.K. for its unique VSTOL (vertical/short take-off and landing) capabilities. It also covers some of the upgrade the AV-8B has gone over during its service life and future planned upgrades so this aircraft can remain in the inventory until a replacement is developed. This chapter starts on page 7 and ends on page 12.

Chapter 2: “OEF 2001-02.” This chapter is 8 pages in length and starts on pg. 13 ending on pg. 21. This section explains in some detail to the reader how the AV-8B Harrier II was deployed at the start of Operation Enduring Freedom which involved mainly Carrier borne operation at that time against Al-Qaeda and Taliban known targets and which units were deployed during this time.

Chapter 3: “OEF 2002-03.” This chapter starts on pg. 22 and ends on pg. 30 and is 8 pages in length also. This section is continuing what was started in Chapter 1 with a few added details, operation undertaken, and the start of deployment of the AV-8B Harrier II onto Forward operational bases (FOB’s) in Afghanistan. Unit rotation and the first deployment of the Litening II pod is mentioned.

Chapter 4: “OEF 2004-06.” This chapter starts on pg. 31 and ends on pg. 52 and explains more of what went on during that time period with equipment upgrades, unit rotations, and maintenance issues encountered in country mentioned. In this chapter we find an illustration section, starting on pg. 34 ending on pg. 41, of colour plates of a total of 24 AV-8B’s used throughout the conflict by the varies squadrons that were stationed in Afghanistan and on carriers.

Chapter 5: “OEF 2007-10.” This chapter starts on pg. 53 and ends on pg. 68 and lists the operations during this time period. Further discussion of the aircraft deployment and weapons systems are explained.

Chapter 6: “The Surge.” This chapter starts on pg. 69 and ends on pg. 90 and explains the troop surge that occurred to provide, maintain in theater security and to expand training of the ANA and police force, along with the number of missions that were flown by USMC units in Afghanistan. There is mention of the use of F/A-18 Hornets in conjunction with the AV-8B’s during this period.

Appendices: Pg. 91, this lists AV-8B Harrier II unit deployments to OEF. This also lists AV-8B Harrier II involved in OEF which contains aircraft numbers, unit names, squadron numbers, dates deployed, and planes lost or replaced do to enemy contact. Pg. 92 in this section is the color plates mentioned in Chapter 4 illustrations on pages 34-41, which explains in further detail the aircraft's color scheme, weapons carried, unit makings, and some history of the aircraft, a total of 24 in all.

Acknowledgements/Index: This is on page 95/96 and is self-explanatory. The last page has related titles listed from the Osprey Combat Aircraft series. The back cover shows an AV-8B Harrier II from pg. 36 in the illustration section of Chapter 4 along with text and a photo of Capt. Aaron Fry signaling his ground crew that he and his jet are “good to go”. This photo is taken from pg. 74, lower right corner.

Review
This is my first review for Aeroscale. First thing I’d like to say, without having read the other two AV-8B Harrier II books that Mr. Nordeen has done for Osprey in the past, I did find this book a very interesting read, and yet was somewhat confusing in that the abbreviations and or acronyms used in this book were not listed anywhere in the book for readers without military backgrounds to follow. For those that have a military background these abbreviations and acronyms used should be easy to follow in understanding the context of this book.

There are many first person accounts of combat actions by pilots, commanders, ground crews that were part of Operation Enduring Freedom flying or came in contact with the AV-8B Harrier II’s in Afghanistan in one form or another. These account put the reader into minds of those who were there and had to deal with the adverse conditions in Afghanistan. I did get lost in a few areas where it felt to me like there was some wandering of subject matter. These were mainly in the technical equipment explanations of the upgrade done to the AV-8B over the 40 years for the aircraft's service life and deployment during Operation Enduring Freedom.

When I do a book review I try to look at the follow areas:
    1. How easy is the subject matter to follow?
    2. Is the subject matter something that would keep me interested for more than one hour?
    3. Is the book worth the publisher’s asking price?
    4. Is the information contain in the book current and references easy to confirm through reader research?
    5. Lastly, would I recommend this to somebody?

This book hits 4 of the 5 with yes answers.

conclusion
Is it worth $22.95? Yes.

Did it keep me interested for more than one hour? Yes.
Would I recommend this book? Yes.

Current information and easy to confirm through reader research? Yes.

Subject matter easy to follow? See first paragraph above.

Thanks to Osprey for providing this book for review here at Aeroscale! Please tell vendors and retailers that you saw it here.
SUMMARY
Highs: Pros: Excellent material of reference on the AV-8B Harrier II. Give insight to operation and roles incurred by the AV-8B Harrier II during OEF. Excellent illustrations of colour plates used during the OEF timeline.
Lows: Cons: Without having read the other AV-8B Harrier II book, a reader may get lost with the abbreviation/acronyms used by the author.
Verdict: This is an excellent reference book to have in one’s book collection. The illustration are top notch with excellent detail. Aircraft modelers will find the colour plates in this book to be of excellent quality and match up with the real deal.
Percentage Rating
95%
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 987-1-78200-344-1
  Suggested Retail: $22.95 U.S.
  PUBLISHED: Nov 03, 2014
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 84.13%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 90.22%

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Brian Culbertson (BigfootV)
FROM: COLORADO, UNITED STATES

Retried Long Haul Truck Driver, currently attending Culinary school in Denver. Construction for 15 yrs., Drummer for 10 yrs. away from work. Married, one child, 20 yr old with Autism. Model builder since 1977. Started with 1/48 aircraft, WW2, lost interest. Toyed around with other scales, then fou...

Copyright ©2018 text by Brian Culbertson [ BIGFOOTV ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.



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