Magnum! The Wild Weasels in Desert Storm...
... new from Pen and Sword
Title: Magnum! The Wild Weasels in Desert Storm
Author: Brick Eisel and Jim Schreiner
Publisher: Pen and Sword
First published back in 2009, this new softback edition from Pen and Sword is a very interesting story on various counts. The key I think is that it is written with a core of the journal that pilot Jim Schreiner kept during his deployment to the Persian Gulf area for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Jim flew the Phantom F-4G Wild Weasel throughout the conflict. As there are many fans of the long serving Phantom, I'm sure they will enjoy this one as I think will many veterans. It is also the Phantom in a very particular role, beng used to conduct missions targeting the radar emissions of the guidance systems of enemy SAM (Surface to Air Missile)systems.
The book starts with a nice, clear description of the threat of the SAM, and how Russian defence systems were integrated. If an aircraft was not hit it may be forced into lower altitudes to avoid them, where it came in range of more conventional AAA (anti-aircraft artillery). How the SAM guidance radars differed from one system to another and how the equipment in the Wild Weasels would identify the signal and therefore the type of SAM associated with it. Chapter 2 adds the history of the Wild Weasel aircraft types going from the early F-100, then the F-105 before it was fitted to the F-4G and using a couple of diagrams, show where the various receivers and aerials were fitted into the F-4G airframe, and armed with Shrike or in the Gulf War period, HARM (High speed Anti Radiation Missile).
It goes on to give us the background of how the pilot, Jim Schreiner, came to be posted to a Wild Weasel unit. With the stage set, the chapters move on to his deployment to the Gulf. It goes on to follow his time on the transit flight to the region, arrival at a crowded flightline at Sheik Isa airbase. Copies of mission documents give an interesting indication of some of the complexities of flying in a combat zone. As it goes one, the missions make for an interesting mix, from supporting B-52 raids, Recce aircraft and attack aircraft that included Buccaneers and Tornadoes from the RAF. It is rounded off with two appendices. One details each of the different Wild Weasel Platforms over the years while the second is the detailed log of every HARM missile that was fired during the conflict, which includes whether or not it was successful and thus maybe a repeat mission was required.
This is an interesting read all round, about the operational experiences of one pilot in particular, undertaking a very specialist role in a long serving aircraft. Well illustrated throughout with copies of documents, diagrams and archive photos, I am sure it will appeal to the many Phantom fans out there as well as the military aviation historian.
Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.