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Book Review: The Red Falcons
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Author Topic: Book Review: The Red Falcons  (Read 3960 times)
Jr. Member
Posts: 65

« on: April 14, 2006, 02:36:33 AM »

As requested by Massimo and Co., and following on from the books topic, I'm submitting a review of the above for your reading pleasure. I enjoyed writing it, having not reviewed a book in many years -perhaps a new forum section for anyone who wants to do similar for other works? That'd be neat actually, chaps and I'd be keen to write some more on other works.

'Yer 'tis', as they say hereabouts.


The Red Falcons -the Soviet VVS in action 1919 -1969. Robert Jackson, Clifton Books, 1969.

Hardback, 235 pages with b&w illustrations.


Published in 1969, not so very long after the Cuban missile crisis of '62 and therefore at the height of the cold war, comes this attempt at the history of soviet air power from 1918 until the contemporary. Mr. Jackson's writing is very much 'of the times' when it comes to presenting supposedly hard-to-come-by information to the reading public, but it's done in a semi-sensationalist style nontheless. For example, he seems to know exactly what Kohzedub was thinking whilst seated in his La, as he does Captain Garcia Morato on a given morning at 10 a.m. before engaging the Republicans in the skies above Talavera. This is sometimes a cause for a laconic raising of the eyebrow in disbelief, but the peppering of anecdote adds a palatable seasoning to the pastry mix, to use a culinary metaphor.

Regardless, the base accuracy of the facts he has to hand is impressive, considering the time of writing, i.e. a relative paucity of facts about the subject despite his 'fictionalisation' of these. He starts his book with a fairly comprehensive recounting of the Russian civil war, giving a perfectly potted history of the ground campaign, but with the air war being somewhat tacked on as an afterthought in some cases. However, to my mind, all the important historical details are as they ought to be, from RCW to the Berlin airlift and so forth.

Mr. Jackson occasionally has problems with deciding when to end a chapter and when to begin one, which is understandable seeing as he decided to cram in fifty years of historical commentary into 216 tiny pages -and with such relish that he may be quite forgiven for his enthusiasm. Having started the book, I was happy to finish it in one sitting, with no objections as to content whatsoever. A few minor typos, a mis-placed name here and there, but all in all, well worth the paltry few pounds I paid for it.

That said, I have a problem with the cross-referencing here. Or, rather, a complete *lack* of referencing whatsoever. Not one work nor author is cited anywhere, which is infuriating on a number of levels, even considering that his facts are broadly correct throughout. It's always nice to know that authors of given subjects are able to tip their hats to their sources, in the true spirit of academic bonhomie, in the hope of a reciprocal act, but here we have nothing at all. Nothing altogether specific is mentioned about Mr. Jackson's freelance background, apart from mentions being made of similar works on the Israeli air force and the R.N.A.S.

The very welcomed addenda lists NATO codenames for every soviet type you can think of and then some more you haven't, and a presumably complete list of soviet aces during the GPW.

And we have black and white photographs. Eight of them, no less, adorn this book, these being:

1. Morane Saulnier N of the 19th Squadron, IRAS.
2. Nieuport 11 of the IRAS
3.Yak 3, eastern prussia 1945
4. A high shot of the Normandie-Niemen Yak 3s taken by a Fiesler (it says here).
5. A line up of early Yak 1s.
6. Mr Molotov's Pe-8 arriving at Dundee airport in 1942. (Hope the bagpipes didn't rupture anglo-soviet relations too much, but you never know.)
7. A random Mi-6 helo.
8. A similarly random Antonov An-22.

Recommended, if for the sole reason mentioned above --a reasonably firm grasp of the facts, (as far as I'm aware), interspersed with some seasoning for some light reading before bed-time, which I suppose, upon reflection, was the whole point of the work--this was probably not meant as an academic reference, merely an attempt at a workmanlike look at 'the other side' from the more comfortable pastures this side of the fence.


« Last Edit: April 14, 2006, 02:48:17 AM by Ioaea » Logged
Full Member
Posts: 235

« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2006, 09:54:15 PM »

hi Io!
thanks for the review! Nevertheless I have no this issue but it was nice to get acquainted with it via you.
Could you describe a bit more the pic of Yak-3 of N-N? Is it widely spreded.

But would be nice to post reviews on the site, moreover there is already a page for that. Just it should have more attractive view.

BR Audrius
Dark Green Man
Sr. Member
Posts: 416

« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2006, 10:56:20 PM »

I too would be interested in those Yak-3's

"when we lose the right to be different, we lose the priviledge to be free"--Charles Evans Hughes
Massimo Tessitori
Hero Member
Posts: 5971

« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2006, 07:10:47 AM »

Thanks Ioaea. Smiley
How are photos? Could you post someone, if you think that it's interesting, please?
Jr. Member
Posts: 65

« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2006, 12:58:20 PM »

Not owning a scanner, it's impossible to post up images for you, but as for our Yak 3 images, I can give a brief low-down.

1. The Prussian Yak. It's having an oil-change or something on a forward airstrip, cowlings removed. It wears a pronounced two-tone camouflage, and sports the number '21' in a darker than white (how's that for prevarication?) colour. No Guards badge or kill markings observable.

2. Regiment Normandie. 24 planes are to be seen in the overhead shot. It's taken in snowy Le Bourget, apparently, post-war. Identifiable numbers are (from left to right, up and down the rows: 24,26,29, 22 and 6. These are about all you can glean from the shot, I'm afraid. Looks like we have a GAZ refueller as well, oddly enough.
Massimo Tessitori
Hero Member
Posts: 5971

« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2006, 10:02:59 PM »

Thanks Ioaea
Massimo Smiley
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