This book is an incredible reference for anyone who is interested in any American Combat Plane History. There are 758 pages and 1700 b/w photos in this substantial labor of love by Ray Wagner, who has been passionately researching and writing about aircraft for over 50 years. Whether you are already familiar with his past works, or just discovering this accomplished author for the first time... This is the book that you've been waiting for!
What makes this book different than any other? There are books about just fighters or just bombers, books about one particular military aircraft or another, but this is the only book to our knowledge that covers EVERY military aircraft used by the American military forces in the 20th century.
In addition, many books rely on data such as the publicity documents issued by the manufacturers at the time an aircraft was in production. Whether for purposes of military "misinformation" or simple "advertising hype", this data was often inaccurate. Similarly, information about how many units of a particular model of aircraft, or variations in its production features were often deliberately or erroneously recorded, or obscured in classified documents.
Ray Wagner's untiring research over 50 years of detailed investigation has drawn on sources such as original test-pilot logs, and de-classified documents from not only U.S. sources, but other government archives as well.
This is truly the definitive scholarly and profusely photographically illustrated work for anyone wishing to have the complete and thorough compilation of information and insights into the total history of American military aviation.
American Combat Planes of the 20th Century is the only complete reference to all the airplanes that created American air power. It tells the story of the marriage between aircraft and war. Every combat type built in the United States for the Air Force, Navy, and for foreign governments, is included, together with foreign aircraft brought for American fighting units.
All the planes designed to attack an enemy with guns, bombs, or rockets, are described, along with armed reconnaissance aircraft, and those derived from fighter designs, providing a quick reference for each type. Along with famous mass-production types, like the Liberator, Mustang, and Hellcat, with their major modifications, all the little-known experimental projects are included and compared.
Ray Wagner's definitive work arranges all those planes by their fighting purpose and appearance in history. Even by simply viewing their photographs page by page, the reader sees the story of combat plane design over the years. Below each picture are the vital facts of each type: the engines's name and power, how big and how heavy that plane is, as well as how fast, how high, and how far it can go.
As the reader follows the text, he learns who made these planes and when. What could each plane do, how many were made, and where were they used?
Why each combat plane was built is the most important question, and is best answered by placing each design in the historical context in which it was developed, from American's entrance into World War One in 1917 to Operation Allied Force in 1999. World War Two is the center focus, along with insights on aircraft involved with conflicts in Nicaragua, China, Spain, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.
The bibliography indicates this history's primary sources and is a readers' guide to the many books and publications to expand your interests.