Reading and learning are two of my passions and it is my pleasure to share these books with you.I have read them all and have found them to be both insightful and engaging. I encourage your feedback and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.
Maj Chris Buckham
Monday, 16 March 2015
Red Devils Over the Yalu - Igor Seidov, Translated by Stuart Britton
Red Devils Over the Yalu
Igor Seidov, Translated by Stuart Britton
Korean War by October, 1950, was all but won by the UN and American forces; the
North Koreans were pushed into pockets deep in the north of the country and the
Allies ruled the skies and oceans. Everything changed however with the entrance
of Chinese forces into the war on October 17th, 1950. What occurred immediately
afterwards is very well known and chronicled in the histories of the Korean
War, what has not been well remembered however, was the key role that the
Soviet Union played not only in training and equipping the North Korean and
Chinese Air Forces, but also in the direct provision of air force personnel
into the fighting.
the first time, Seidov has chronicled in detail the exploits of Soviet aerial
operations throughout the Korean War. Fighting wearing Chinese uniforms,
utilizing Chinese phraseology while flying and operating in aircraft of Soviet
make but bearing Chinese markings, these forces directly engaged Allied air
forces and wrested control of the skies over the northern part of the Korean
peninsula away from the West.
in their operational range due to restrictions imposed by the Soviet
Government, these forces nevertheless had an immediate and dramatic effect upon
the allied air campaign once they commenced operations on November 1st, 1950.
The Mig 15 dominated the skies over the F-51's, F-80's, F9F's and F-84 of the
West and heralded the demise of operational bombing with the heavy losses they
inflicted upon the B-29 formations of the Far East Air Force. It was not, in fact,
until the introduction of the F-86 Sabre of the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Group
on the 15th of December, 1950, that the Allies were able to engage the Russians
again on a level playing field.
draws upon the declassified archives of both Russian and American combat
records to verify or repudiate many of the long standing claims and beliefs
associated with the Korean air war. For example, conventional wisdom has the
American's destroying Migs at a rate of 8:1 and, while in absolute terms this
is true, it is based primarily on the fact that the US attributed a majority of
their losses to non-air combat related causes. Seidov goes on to show that many
of the losses were in fact shoot-downs as opposed to mechanical or ground fire
reasons. I found his evaluations to be very balanced and equally critical of
Seidov looks into the strategic engagement plan of the Soviets and analyzes it
for strengths and weaknesses. He is very critical of the Russian practice to
rotate units in their entirety due to the loss of operational experience and
the necessity to relearn lessons and goes into great detail regarding the
training and practices that US fighter pilot replacements went through before
they were considered capable for full frontline duties. One area that would
have been beneficial for Seidov to have investigated more was the reason why
the Soviet High Command followed the rotation practice that they did. They were
aware of the losses and the changes in the dynamic of the air war but Seidov
only skirts the surface.
author has obviously interviewed numerous Russian, Chinese and North Korean
veterans as he has incorporated hundreds of first hand accounts into the books
narrative. These were fascinating as they discussed challenges, tactics and
experiences of the other side that have heretofore never been related.
book is very detailed in its accounts of the engagements of the different
Russian units throughout the period of the war. The degree of detail is a two
edged sword in my opinion as it provides the reader a deep appreciation of the
nature of Korean War air combat, while, concurrently, blending the individual
stories thereby tending to blunt the tight narrative.
has published an excellent quality book and Stuart Britton's translation is
outstanding. The book would have benefited from maps detailing the area of
operations of the Russians and a regional map to facilitate an appreciation of
the distances flown by the US and Russian aircraft. Overall, a very meaty book
full of incredible detail that provides deep insight into the nature of air
combat in Korea from the Russian perspective. For those fans and historians of
the Korean War looking for new material, I would strongly recommend this book.