Book Review & Giveaway: Sit in the Pilot's Seat in 'Fighting Cockpits'

8:32 PM

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor

In another of this long and very popular book review and giveaway series brought to you by the good people at Zenith Press Motorbooks, this time around I'm offering a look at "Fighting Cockpits: In the Pilot's Seat of Great Military Aircraft From World War 1 to Today." This continuing series is being made possible through a collaboration with Nichole Schiele, Senior Marketing Manager of Zenith Press Motorbooks. She's been sending out the winners of these giveaways brand new copies of all the books I've reviewed so far, and to get in on this drawing, fill out the very simple form at the end of this post.

First of all, when you look at this book's sheer size at 10" x 12", it is visually impressive, and will look great on anyone's coffee table. It is made with the finest quality found in books today, with very solid printing on extremely heavy stock. Like all of the books I've reviewed from Zenith Press, it's clear that someone in the production department really knows how to optimize images to look perfect when spit out of the business end of a Heidelberg eight-color offset press. This is a point you should not take lightly. I do that sort of work for a living, and trust me, there is a LOT that goes into correct RGB-to-CMYK conversions.

The foreword is by Eric Brown, CBE, DSC, AFC, Hon FRAeS, RN, former Chief Naval Test Pilot, RAE Farnborough. With that kind of title, you can expect a very clear explanation of what's coming the following pages, and Brown delivers. During his three-plus decades, he flew 490 different types of aircraft, and holds the world record for carrier landings at 2,407.

Split into four chapters determined by wars, you quickly get into the first chapter, "World War 1: Wind in the Wires." Each chapter is introduced in exquisite story form by author Donald Nijboer, and illustrated splendidly with photography by Dan Patterson. After a lengthy set up in the chapter introduction, Nijboer describes in infinite detail airplanes like the Nieuport 28, Sopwith Camel and Sopwith Triplane, and Spad VII. Each section includes a perfectly-shot image of that airplane's cockpit, with Patterson using just enough flash to illuminate each image. This is studio-quality photography of the highest quality possible, with sharpness of detail that makes this photographer think he Patterson must have used large format digital cameras in this work.

Chapter two is as cool as the first, covering the "Between the Wars" years in a chapter called "The Rise of the Monoplane." Interesting airplanes such as the Boeing P-26 Peashooter and Vought SB2U Vindicator are presented before moving on to chapter three, "World War II: Death at 30,000 Feet." Here you'll read about many of that conflict's most historic airplanes such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109, the North American P-51 Mustang, and of course, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

The book concludes with the final chapter, "Cold War to Present: Mutually Assured Destruction." From the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, this chapter covers all the hottest fighter jets you've every heard of, again, all with great shots of their...Fighting Cockpits. Some of these images - such as the cockpit shot of the General Dynamics F111 Aardvark on page 176 - will blow your mind, they provide such detail. It makes you wonder how any human could know what all this stuff actually does.

If you'd like a brand new copy of this beautiful book, fill out the form below by answering the question, and I will pick the winner on Friday, July 22 right before I leave for Oshkosh. Provide your most eloquent answer and I will judge them blind without looking at the emails. This way, a great answer will jump out as the winner, and I will then look to see who it is from.

And if you want to skip the drama and just buy a copy, Amazon has the best prices around.

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