Harrier IIs, Hornets and Corsair lls
Joe Cupido & Tony Holmes, Osprey Military Aircraft, 128pp, colour, softback, £10.99.
EVEN THOUGH THE technique is semi-automated, I’ve always felt that landing a fighter safely onto an aircraft carrier demands the concentration and skill of a surgeon, together with the bravery of a bullfighter. Every time you see it performed you can’t help holding your breath. And take-off is just as awesome, as a stream of compact jets are catapulted off into instant airborne action.
The book Light Strike deals with those aircraft that have conducted these procedures for the US Navy and Marine Corps just about daily for the past 30 years. The current squadrons are equipped with either the Hornet or the Harrier II — both built by McDonnell Douglas. But their predecessors are given equal billing and rightly so, as the stubby-looking Corsair and the far sleeker Skyhawk gave absolutely Trojan service.
The hard lessons learned on these earlier compact bombers proved invaluable when it came to designing their replacements, and the text is strong on this thread. Actually the majority of the text is in the form of long, informative picture captions, but this is no handicap and the amount of information at hand will satisfy the most fact-hungry enthusiast. Four detailed cutaway drawings to the rear of the book assist in this regard too.
But Light Strike is more than just a mountain of facts, figures, and anecdotes, because visually it carries a welcome balance also. There are the usual bevy of ground-to-air or air-to-air photographs, all as sharp as a tack and beautifully exposed. My eve was equally attracted, however, by a series of detail studies, cockpit shots, and more prosaic views of pieces of flying hardware. The authors reveal a reluctance to cut corners and that’s most welcome at this price level.