- 27 December 2005
- Reaction score
Due for release in May:
The book is 276 pages, 10x10-inches, and covers all of the XP/XF and YP/YF jet fighters from XP-59A to X-35 (yeah, we know X-32 and X-35 did not have an "F" in their designations, but ...). It does not, for the most part, cover any of the "paper airplanes" but only those that actually got built (or at least made it to the full-scale mockup stage). Most of the early stuff is based on USAF reports that have been declassified over the years but languished in various archives; later stuff is based on the best sources we could find. Here is the Preface, where we tried to explain:
The title of the book says it covers “Experimental and Prototype U.S. Air Force Jet Fighters,” and this is mostly true. A few of the final piston-engine prototypes are also covered, partly as an introduction to the jets that followed, but mostly because we think they are interesting and had a good selection of photographs to show. In any case, the selection of aircraft was somewhat arbitrary. Although the first criteria was that the aircraft should have an “XF” or “YF” (or “XP/YP”) designation, a few aircraft are included that did not carry the desired designation, but should have. There are also probably a few aircraft that are missing – particularly prototype production variants (an example would include the YF-94C – we included that one, but probably missed others). The process became a little harder for later designs, since the Air Force frequently did not label the first aircraft as “XF” or “YF” (for example, there was no XF-15 or YF-15) for political reasons. We included some that interested us; we skipped others that have been well covered elsewhere.
This is not intended to be the ultimate or final history of experimental and prototype Air Force jet fighters. The project actually began as a photo scrapbook, intended to show seldom-seen photographs of these aircraft. While searching for photos in various archives, new data was uncovered about many of the designs, so we decided to expand the project and provide a limited narrative on each type, as well as some explanation about why the Air Force believed it needed the aircraft to begin with, and the ultimate outcome of each program. In some cases, we are able to correct discrepancies in previous published reports (for instance, the XP-79 was never intended to ram enemy aircraft, and the XRF-87A would not have been powered by four J47 engines). Other times, we may have erred, since our research was not exhaustive. We therefore caution the reader to use this book as a source, not necessarily the source.
The reader will also notice that the individual sections are somewhat uneven in their level of detail. In cases that we believed we had new information, we wrote a lot; in areas where we used already published sources, we were less verbose since we had nothing new to add to the discussion. Despite its limitations, we hope you enjoy the book.
Like most of our books, it is heavy on photos (almost 600 of them, about a third in color). And naturally, there will be a follow-up "photo scrapbook" (with another 300+ photos) a few months after the big book.