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Top Gun: The Navy's Fighter Weapons School (The Power Series) Paperback – June, 1991

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Product Details

  • Series: The Power Series
  • Paperback: 125 pages
  • Publisher: Motorbooks Intl (June 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879385200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879385200
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 8.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,411,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Civilian photographer George Hall takes you on a guided tour of USN Fighter Weapons School (AKA "Top Gun"), the Navy's post-grad school for fighter pilots. In Top Gun, the top pilots from fighter squadrons thruought the fleet come, not to compete against each other as depicted in the movie, but to learn from each other and to bring their new found expertise back to their units. Rather than flying against each other (they do plenty of that while at sea) they spar against "agressor units" trained adversary pilots steeped in pseudo-communist bombast and flying old but mrderously agile and hard-to-spot jets like the A-4 Skywhak and the F-5 Tiger II. (The F-16N, though slated to equip agressor units hadn't begun to enter service by the time the book was published.) Victory against these agressors, despite the age of their aircraft, is impossible - at the outset. But Top Gun is also about education, and the agressors work their charges well, until the tide of battle begins to turn, and the students begin besting their teachers.
More than just a picture book about Top Gun, Hall tells the story of air combat in general - tracing its roots in the flimsy planes and low-tech tactics of WWI to the failure of our all-missile interceptors in the Vietnam war, and the return of modern fighter pilots to the simple section and dogfight tactics of WWII. Hall's pictures compliment the story - when telling of the F-14's disadvantes in terms of its mammoth size, he cuts to a shot of the plane flanked by much smaller Skyhawks, showing how the F-14's tailplane is wider than the Skyhawk's entire wingspan.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This small, thin book was the book I couldn't stop coming back to in the late 1980's along with Heatley's "The Cutting Edge". George Hall, a civilian photog, gets an inside look at the men and machines of the Navy's Fighter Weapons School. With the notoriety bred of the movie (which had just been released), Hall was likely one of many looking to get an inside look. Unlike Heatley, Hall is not a fighter pilot (or any kind). However, "Top Gun" manages to imbue his pictures and words with a sense of what it feels like to ride a rollercoaster, and presumably what it's like to fly in a high performance airplane. Rather than a book with some nice pictures and a few spare words, Hall locks on to what an incredibly challenging yet irresistible job being a fighter driver must be. While software makers had begun publishing the first generation of flight simulator games, convincing everybody with an AppleII, Macintosh or "IBM compatible" computer that they too can be a "Top Gun", Hall's perspective reminds us that those who fly fighter aircraft are dedicated professionals who worked hard to achieve their positions and remain tireless in their efforts to keep themselves and their fellow drivers on top. In short order, Hall covers the history of air combat - from the days of the "Red Baron" until modern times (okay - 1987). In between, we have German pilots inventing Blitzkrieg, the heroism of the RAF in the battle of Britain, early bouts of transonic warfare in the Korean skies and the heartbreaking disappointment of the first generation BVR (beyond visual range) missiles of the Vietnam era.
Hall's no pilot - a point that he never lets us forget. However, Hall exploits what others would be a weakness, giving his story a rare objectivity.
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