Early Jet Fighters...


...British & American 1944-1954, more Images of War from Pen and Sword


Title: Early Jet Fighters

Author: Leo Marriott

Publisher: Pen and Sword

ISBN: 978-1-52672-777-0

This new addition to the ever popular Images of War series is a really good one.  As it tells us on the cover, it tackles the story of jet fighter development from when they first came into use in 1944, through to the mid-1950s.  It is a story of both the development of the jet engine power units as well as the designs of the airframes they were used with.  It looks at British development for both the RAF and the Royal Navy, just as it does for American development for both the USAF and the US Navy.  It is a period of rapid development and great changes in aircraft design, as by the end of the period, we are getting to the first truly supersonic machines.  It also started with something of a lead resting with British jets, but by the end, the US industrial might had pushed them some way ahead, thanks in part to the designs captured from the Germans at the end of WW2.

The 134 page book is just slightly different to most others in the series as the text for each chapter is spread evenly throughout the pages, accompanying the 200 or so archive photos, each of which is also well captioned.  Following an introduction which sets the scene for the book, there are 5 chapters.  These feature Jet Engine Development; British and Commonwealth Jet Fighters; US Air Force Jet Fighters; US Navy Jet Fighters; and rounded off with A Good Idea at the Time.  The text is packed with the details of the development story, while the photos hold some real gems, photos I have never seen before.  Not just the aircraft that got into service, but many of the experimental machines that were tried, some more successfully than others.  From the early Gloster Whittle and Meteor, Venom and Attacker and the other straight wing jets, to the more streamlined, swept wing designs such as the Swift, Sea Vixen and Javelin.  For the US, from straight winged Shooting Star, Banshee and Panther, to the Sabre, Voodoo and Dagger and at the end of the period of the book, the prototypes for designs such as the Starfighter, Dagger and Crusader.

The final chapter looks at some of the designs that flew as prototypes but never got much further.  For the Brits this includes things like the Saunders Roe SR.A/1 and the Sea Dart; mixed power units of a radial engine along with a jet in the Ryan FR-1 Fireball; and the elaborate mechanisms of 'parasite' fighters carried on a trapeze beneath a B-29 bomber.

I think the aviation historians along with modellers will enjoy this one, telling the story of such an important period in the history of jet aircraft development and with some rare photos which provide some great detail.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.