Polish Wings 21...
... MiG-29 Commemorative Schemes, from MMP Books
Title: Polish Wings 21. MiG-29 Commemorative Schemes
Author: Robert Gretzyngier and Wojtek Matusiak
Publisher: Stratus Books/MMP
Another in the series of Polish Wings books from MMP Books, and one for the modern jet enthusiast. I have to admit that the MiG-29 is one of my favourite looking modern Russian jets, and which has remained in widespread service even after the end of the Cold War. One of my personal memories when I was fortunate to be a passenger in one of the 'Follow Me' cars at the RIAT air display a few years ago and we led a MiG-29 out to the runway for his display. Stopped in a line of aircraft queuing to take off there was an F-16 in front of us, a Spanish F-18 to our right but about 30 feet behind our car all that could be seen in the mirror was the MiG with the canopy cranked open to allow some fresh air in while we waited in hot summer sunshine. Bear in mind all these aircraft had their engines running it was a bit noisy but a very memorable experience. The Cold War itself is a part of the interesting elements in this book from MMP. It goes back to 1919, when Poland fought a war against Communist Russia and some US volunteer pilots went to help. They joined and largely took control of an existing Polish squadron and as part of that came up with a new badge. This had the background of the stars and stripes and on top a pair of crossed Scythes, a reference to a previous conflict in the 1790's. It was carried on and used as a badge by Polish pilots in the RAF during WW2. After WW2 the badge was not used while Poland was a part of the Warsaw Pact but once they had their independence back they chose not only to bring the badge back into use but also to add portraits of veteran Polish pilots on the inside surface of the twin tails. Very colourful at first but then done in a 'low-vis' grey version as well. The details of these developments are provided in the text of the early pages in this 80 page book.
As well as the background this will be enjoyed not only by modellers but also by aviation enthusiasts. The story of the commemorative schemes are told in a basically chronological order along with the information about the individual pilots who are remembered in the schemes on different aircraft. To accompany what I found to be an interesting story are a simply superb collection of photos of the MiG-29 in Polish service, both on the ground and in the air. Both single and twin seat examples are featured. To go with the photos, and their explanatory captions, there are an equally fine collection of colour profiles which the modeller will love and I am sure provide plenty of inspiration. The last thing to mention is the inclusion of a separate page tucked into the book which identifies the host of stencils found all over the airframe and with enlarged images of each so you can clearly see them all.
If you have any interest in the MiG-29 or the Polish air force you will enjoy this one, and if you are a modeller building one in one of these schemes then this will be an invaluable reference. Loved it.
Thanks to MMP Books, who kindly provided my review copy.