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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Early Jet Fighters 1944-1954

144 pages of some of the first (and some of the coolest) jet fighters ever. 

If you are looking for good images of the Third Reich´s jet fighters and are intrigued by how these  designs influenced the aviation industries of the Soviet Union, France, Sweden and other nations... well, then this is a book you will appreciate.

As a kid I remember seeing a model (Airfix?) of a Messerschmitt Me 262 and being quite astonished at learning that it was a WWII aircraft. Over the years I have of course learnt of the even more advanced German jet designs, e.g. from the Horten brothers (Reimar and Walter). But it was only through this book that I got the whole picture of German jet fighter development, and just how much it affected Soviet etc aircraft design. Even from a short distance you can mistake a Soviet Sukhoi Su-9/1946 for a Me 262. In fact, some early Soviet jet fighters not only looked rather German, their engines were actually BMW 003s and Jumo 004s - just one of many interesting facts that one learns from Leo Marriott´s book.

There are many astonishing designs in this book that I have seen nowhere else before. But as a Swede I am of course familiar with the planes of the Swedish chapter. Still, even there was a photo that surprised me - of a Lancaster in Swedish service with a jet engine under the belly, the STAL Dovern project. I learnt even more from Marriott´s text and captions about our early jet fighters. I had no idea that when the prototype for the Saab J 29 "Flying Barrel" (largest photo on the book cover) first flew on 1 September 1948 it was flown not by a Swede but by British test pilot Squadron Leader Bob Moore. Swedish pilots then just had no jet experience, of course. 

There is a also a German story behind the development of the J 29. Marriott explains how the plane´s swept wing design originated in the Third Reich and in 1945 reached Sweden via Switzerland. The new wing type was then tested for real with a strange looking Saab Safir trainer aircraft.
   
Leo Marriott has found wonderful images of many beautiful and "less beautiful" early jet fighters, and he rightly lets the photos dominate the book. But he also has provided the photos with some really interesting captions. 

Hm, should I now build a 1:72 scale Heinkel He 162, a Yak-25 or a Caproni-Campini N. I?

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