Osprey F-111 In Combat, Peter E. Davies, Osprey Combat Aircraft 102
Disclaimer: I worked for General Dynamics a few years after the F-111 ceased production. I did work on a couple of RAAF RF-111C projects, So, the ĎControversialĒ F-111 has a place close to my heart.
The book contains dozens of full color photos of F-111ís in action along with 30 color profiles of various airplanes in itís 96 pages.
As fitting for a combat history, the book tries to ignore the controversies surrounding the selection and development of the F-111 The story of the F-111ís service in Vietnam is told clearly and simply, focusing on the planes, the pilots and the missions. It starts with the F-111ís entry into combat with Operation Combat Lancer, long before the flight test program was complete. The Combat Lancer planes were eventually removed from Vietnam. F-111s returned late in the war and performed well. The F-111 was able to attack targets at low altitudes and high speeds almost undetected. Since the attacks were generally made under radar coverage, AA gunners frequently relied on firing at the noise of the approaching plane, not realizing that the noise trailed the plane by quite a distance. Combat losses and lessons are included. The F-111 was heavily dependent on electronics to perform its missions at high speeds and low altitudes. Unfortunately the testing and evaluation of those electronics was done in the hot dry California desert, the missions were over the hot wet jungles of Vietnam.
The 1980ís saw the center of action for the F-111 transfer to RAF Lakenheath. From there long range training missions to support NATO operations were routine. Until it was decided it was time to teach Muammar al Gaddafi a lesson. Operation El Dorado Canyon was set on to achieve such a goal. F-111 crews practiced longer range missions than normal and worked up their skills with Pave Tack, an early laser guided bomb. The planning, mission, pilots, planes and results are reviewed in detail. Amazingly enough the 48th TFW was awarded the Navy Meritorious Unit Citation for their efforts on this Operation.
In 1990, F-111ís moved farther south as part of Desert Storm to respond to Saddam Husseinís invasion of Kuwait. Other F-111 crews flew out of Turkey as part of Operation Proven Force (Desert Storm North). While the new and exotic F-117s received all of the news coverage for their nighttime missions, F-111 crews were flying round the clock on missions to destroy the Iraqi Air Forceís ability to interdict Coalition missions. As air superiority was achieved, F-111ís moved to tank busting with IR sighting and laser guided munitions. As the war spun down F-111 crews were tasked with the ĎBunker Busterí missions in an attempt to destroy Saddam's underground command and control system. Again the book reviews missions, crews and aircraft.
At the end of Desert Storm most of the older aircraft (F-4, RF-4, many A-10ís and A6) in the fleet were retired along with the F-111. In Austrailia, F-111Cís flew on for a few more years.
In 1999, Australia deployed both F-111Cís and RF-111Cís in support of INTERFET, the UNís response to Indonesiaís threatened takeover of East Timor. While the planes were prepared for 1000 mile missions carrying thousands of pounds of Laser Guided Bombs, Indonesia dropped it claim to East Timor. After tensions eased, RF-111Cís ran photographic missions over East Timor, providing vital information used to improve that countryís road network.
In 2010, the Australian government decided to withdraw the F-111 from service, ten years ahead of schedule. Closing the final chapter on an outstanding combat record.
I enjoyed reading this book, I knew quite a bit about the F-111, but this book filled in a number of gaps. Davies was able to dig behind the headlines and highlight the hard work of the F-111, her crews and the ground teams.
Highs: The book contains dozens of full color photos of F-111ís in action along with 30 color profiles of various airplanes in itís 96 pages.Lows:Verdict: I enjoyed reading this book, I knew quite a bit about the F-111, but this book filled in a number of gaps.
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