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American Combat Planes of the 20th Century: A Comprehensive Reference Hardcover – August, 2004
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About the Author
Ray Wagner is a well-known expert in the field of aviation history, having spent over 50 years in firsthand research. His extensive publications include "German Combat Planes," "The Soviet Air Force in World War II," and "Mustang Designer," a revealing description of the life of Edgar Schmued, designer of the successful P-51.
Ray Wagner was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. His interest in aviation history began at a very young age, as demonstrated by his membership as a teenager in the Civil Air Patrol Cadets. He moved to San Diego and after a career teaching history, became the archivist at the San Diego Aerospace Museum.
Having completed this edition of American Combat Planes of the 20th Century, his research continues with the investigation of newly discovered Russian Air Force records.
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Top Customer Reviews
Indeed, the completeness of this catalog of American military aircraft is impossible to match in any other publication. There have been numerous attempts at complete lists (without any description), and countless books about many of the better known fighters and bombers. But with this volume, Wagner has pulled it all together in one place, melding concise descriptions and excellent contextual discussion of how and why different aircraft were developed. Just organizing this mass of information was a huge undertaking. Thanks especially to this work, he belongs in the pantheon of distinguished aviation writers such as Bill Gunston, Robin Higham, and the late William Green, among others, who have each authored definitive military aviation books.
This new edition is by far the most handsome of the lot. Bound in full cloth (a rarity these days), with a handsome two-column layout that varies picture sizes and placement (as earlier editions did not), it is printed on semi-coated paper for the best picture reproduction of the four editions. (Doubleday, publisher of the first three versions, insisted on flat book paper which didn't do justice to picture details.) Color photos (new to this edition) creep in toward the end, illustrating Wagner's detailed listing of the sources he used.
Summing up, there is no single volume offering as much information on American military (including naval) aircraft as is found here. Wagner's book will stand for years as the definitive reference source. Add it to your own collection and you will be continually pleased that you did.