— A Helicopter Legend by Salvador Mafe Huertas; Osprey Military Aircraft, 128pp, colour, £10.99, hardback.

THOUGH IT HAS since found other applications, the UH-1 helicopter will forever be linked with the Vietnam war. Affectionately known by GIs as the Huey, it is entirely fitting that the crucial cover picture and extensive opening section are devoted to this tragic chapter in American and Asian history. The renowned war photographer Tim Page has supplied the pictures for these introductory aspects, producing a powerful start to Huertas’ book and almost deserving a cover credit.

What’s pleasing about the remainder of this Osprey title is that the image quality and interest remains high. The tone is lightened when helicopters are shown taking part in gymkhanas or ferrying businessmen out of New York, while the details of the cockpits and controls are equally fascinating. Extensive captions make up the bulk of the words, but these play second fiddle to the sumptuous photographs on view.

Bell, the manufacturers, have built over 10,000 variants of the UH-1 family, with the result that this chopper has, over the last three decades, served more time in the heat of battle than any similar military machine. Its vital roles around the world have included air assault, transport, anti-submarine and medevac duties, and these are documented with some authority.

Huertas draws the conclusion that the UH-1 was simply the right helicopter at the right time, and sufficiently versatile to accept a longer fuselage, more powerful engines and a host of weapons as they became needed. Bell’s long-standing, classic design has been honoured in fine fashion.

Malcolm Birkitt

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