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MiGs Over North Vietnam

Hikoki Publications

 S u m m a r y

Title and Author:

MiGs Over North Vietnam by Roger Boniface
Hikoki Publications

Media:

Hard Cover, 176 pages

ISBN:

9781902109053

Price:

GBP 29.95 availabe from Midland Counties or US$54.95 from Specialty Press

Review Type:

First Read

Advantages:

Very detailed history of the VPAF in combat, including many first hand accounts by those involved

Disadvantages:

Some bias against the US does creep in at times

Conclusion:

Taking advantage of the willingness of some of the most successful veterans of the VPAF to finally give their side of the story, Boniface provides an interesting perspective on what has previously been a one sided history.

Reviewed by Ken Bowes


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FirstRead

 

Hikoki publications from the UK, which is now a part of the well known military history publishers Crecy, is well renowned for extremely high quality publications concerning a range of esoteric subjects. This book by Roger Boniface chronically the history of the Vietnamese People’s Air Force in their David and Goliath struggle against the US Air Force and Navy from 1965 to 1975 is no exception. Starting from a brief description of the origins of the VPAF in 1949 and background to the nationalist struggle which  became the Vietnam War, Boniface chronicles the tribulations of the VPAF from the Gulf of Tonkin Incident to the fall of Saigon over ten years later, a period when the VPAF would rarely be able to muster more than 50 serviceable fighters, many the dated MiG-17 and MiG-19 and sustain losses that saw units wiped out. In the end the VPAF would lose 262 aircrew whilst according to Vietnamese records scored between 261 to 319 kills shared between 105 to 126 pilots.

 

 

Boniface follows a conventional and systematic approach to this book, with the opening chapters examining the Vietnamese perspective of Rolling Thunder, the middle section covering activities in the lull between the bombing halt of 1968 and the resumption of air strikes in 1972 and final sections covering the intense air combat that erupted in that year as President Nixon sought to coerce the North Vietnamese to cease their aggression against the South whilst achieving peace with honour for the United States. Each section is a combination of researched accounts, first person experiences and analysis which is easy to read and comprehensive in its approach. Accompanying the text are many illustrations sourced from the VPAF museum including aircraft and pilots as well as maps and graphs to explain tactics and support the flow of the account. For the modellers there are some lovely colour profiles of all VPAF aircraft including camouflage notes, photographs and history of the airframe that will all help in constructing a model of any of the types from the AN-2 to MiG-21.

 

 

This book arrived at a time when I was researching a staff college paper on Operation Rolling Thunder and thus had read extensively from the US perspective only just before opening this volume. From that I was able to see that broadly speaking the narrative is consistent, differing in small areas. The one most obvious deviation was in the years of 1967 and 1972 when the USAF and USN claimed 74 and 73 kills versus 45 and 40 admitted losses from the VPAF, included here Boniface casts doubt of some of the most well known engagements of the war including some of the kills claimed by Steve Ritchie and Randall Cunningham. Despite this Boniface tries to maintain balance in competing accounts, and only drifts from this when quoting from diaries including descriptions of the Christmas Bombings of 1972. This aside, there is much to recommend this book to modellers and military history buffs as a high quality, well researched and beautifully presented book.

Review Copyright 2009 by Ken Bowes
This Page Created on 10 April, 2009
Last updated 10 April, 2009

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