"US Navy A-7 Corsair II Units of the Vietnam War" is 48th book in Osprey Combat Aircraft series describing combat carriers of various aircraft. The book is co-authored by Norman Birzer, retired US Navy A-7 pilot and Vietnam War veteran, and Peter Mersky, also retired Navy reserve officer and known author of naval aviation books. As the title of the book states it covers a combat record of LTV A-7 Corsair II airplane during the Vietnam War from the introduction of underpowered A-7A to sophisticated and very effective A-7E variant.
Format & contents
The 96 page paperback book contains more than 100 photographs (though only 12 color) and 36 color profile artworks.
The Preface which starts the book contains a transcript of recording made by one of the authors, Norman Birzer during a combat mission against Viet Cong in 1972. It shows the effectiveness of the A-7E in Close Air Support role and cooperation of US Navy pilots with US Air Force FAC (forward air controller) in this case flying OV-10A Bronco aircraft.
The Introduction which follows describes basic characteristics and short development and service introduction history of A-7A aircraft.
The first chapter "The First Combat Tours" covers early combat experiences with A-7A in South East Asia from December 1967 when the first fleet Corsair II squadron, VA-147, arrived in the Tonkin Gulf aboard USS Ranger.
Chapter Two "The Bravo and New Cruises" deals with introduction of A-7B aircraft with slightly uprated P&W engine into the Vietnam War. The aircraft, while still underpowered, offered a bit better performance than Alpha version.
Chapter Three "The Echo Checks In" covers the arrival and introduction to combat of the "ultimate" variant of Navy Corsair II: A-7E, with its new powerful Allison engine, M61A1 Vulcan cannon and computer based integrated weapons system. We can also read about the hybrid A-7C variant, which resulted from delays in delivery of new engine and was essentially A-7E with old P&W engine from A-7B.
Chapter Four "1972 - A-7 Comes Into Its Own" covers the period of intensified air operations over Vietnam, particularly the Linebacker campaign.
Chapter Five "Last Missions and the Cease-fire" closes the main section of the book. The last described combat missions over Vietnam are those during the Saigon evacuation in 1975.
On last pages of the book are appendices. Appendix A is a table with basic information about all deployments of Corsair II squadrons to South-East Asia from 1967 to 1975. Appendices B and C list all A-7 combat and operational losses respectively. On next few pages are complete 1/72 scale plans of A-7E with additional views of A-7A and B variants. And finally on last pages are captions for color plates and color photographs. For each aircraft shown on color plates we get short information about its whole career and description of the displayed configuration.
Throughout the book we find not only pure historical facts and data, but most importantly many actual combat stories told by Navy pilots themselves. These make the book a really fascinating read. Large number of photos (mostly black and white) show pilots, airplanes and also results of their actions, like destroyed North Vietnamese bridges. Important part of the book are photo captions, which unlike what can be found in so many other books, are not just repeated fragments of main text, but provide a lot of additional information.
The book does not provide many detail photos of Corsair II, but its value for a modeler lies primarily not in its technical reference value, but rather it's a great inspiration to build a model of the excellent LVT aircraft. Color plates and photos show how colorful these small jets were during the Vietnam Conflict and pilot stories should inspire any aircraft modeler to add a model of their machines to the collection. A lot of information about markings and ordnance carried by A-7 planes during Vietnam War can be found both on illustrations and in the text.
With very good Hasegawa 1/48 A-7E Corsair II models available (also reboxed by Revell) and Trumpeter 1/32 kit coming soon, a book like this one is certainly a very welcome addition to Combat Aircraft series. I'm sure there are also good models of this aircraft available in other scales and modelers building them can also benefit from the Osprey new book.
Highly recommended to both jet aircraft modelers and all other people interested in the history of Vietnam conflict.
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Many thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review sample!