Title: MiG-21 Units of the Vietnam War (Osprey Combat Aircraft 29) by István Toperczer
I have always had a fascination with the Vietnam war, and never really knew much about the VPAF (Vietnamese Peoples Air Force). Except that it mainly used MiGs (17,19 and 21’s), plus SA2 SAMs. Plus, US airpower was so massive that it tends to dominate any accounts about the air war over Vietnam.
This book is an introduction into the MiG-21 units of the VPAF, how they were used, views from both the VPAF and USAF/USN on their effective ness, and the “back and forth” of tactics and counter tactics.
For a small book, it does pack in quite a lot of detail on how the VPAF used the MiG-21. It is also surprisingly easy read, as I sometimes find these types of books a bit monotonous, with the reciting of “on this day unit x did … “.
I particularly liked the experiences described by US pilots of going up against the MiG-21. It was interesting to read how some of the older versions of the F-4’s had a hard time tackling the MiG-21.
After finishing the book, you realise that the VPAF was really never going to be much more than an irritant to the might of US air power. And that the VPAF tactics were actually very similar to the Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAV), in using ambush and hit and run tactics, which is a sensible thing to do when out numbered and out gunned.
As with all Osprey books, it contains wonderful colour profiles of the MiG-21. Plus, my Kindle version, also included some colour photographs.
None really, it does read for a while as if the VPAF actually had the upper hand on the US, as it obviously concentrates on VPAF victories. But that really is only a minor gripe.
I found this to be a very interesting read, always good to hear both sides of historical conflicts. Will now look for the sister book, MiG-17 and MiG-19 Units of the Vietnam War. Would also be good if Osprey did a follow up book on how the VPAF used captured Western equipment after the fall of South Vietnam.
Overall, for the price, a book any person who is interested in the Vietnam War, should have in their collection.
Oh yeah, not sure I’d have wanted to be a ‘Thud’ pilot!