The author served as a navigator in the RAF and flew with the Phantom from Germany, also serving in Conversion training units, and commanded the Falklands Phantom detachment. The text provides a detailed view of Phantom operations during the Cold War and is supported by a great many photographs through the body of the book, including some stunning full colour images – Most Highly Recommended.
The Phantom was the outstanding fighter aircraft for the US and its Allies through much of the Cold War. It was a large, powerful machine that concentrated on carrying missiles, rockets and bombs, able to operate from aircraft carriers and land bases. In Vietnam, the large and often smoky Phantom was at a disadvantage against the small MiG-21 used by North Vietnam and led to the US Navy setting up its famous Top Gun school to train fighter pilots in dog fighting and operating against dissimilar fighters. It also highlighted the need to continue to equip fighters with cannon as well as bombs and missiles. The British decided to adopt the Phantom but this was not without difficulty. The FAA needed a long nose wheel leg to provide the angle of attack required when catapult launching from HMS Ark Royal. The politicians decided they needed some British component and this resulted in a demand to replace the engines with Rolls Royce engines that required changes to the Phantom's rear contours and presented airflow challenges, adding cost and delay without providing any real benefit. When it became necessary to augment Phantom numbers MoD ended up buying additional machines to straight USN specifications. The author has provided an excellent account of RAF Phantom operations from RAF Wildenrath, Germany, between 1977 and 1992, which was a very important stage of the Cold War, leading into the period of Glasnost and the break up of the Soviet Union.