#GuestReview for Images of War: Early Jet Bombers 1944-1954 by Leo Marriott @PenSwordBooks #BookReview #ImagesofWar

In a companion volume to his Early Jet Fighters: British and American 1944-1954, Leo Marriott describes, using over 200 archive photographs, the first decade in the development of the jet bomber. This was a time of intense technical innovation which transformed the design and capabilities of the bomber and gave birth to a range of classic military aircraft in the USA, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. The photographs take the story from the earliest jet bombers constructed in Germany towards the end of the Second World War to the successful designs both sides depended on through the first phase of the Cold War.

The pace of development was rapid and remarkable, from initial prototypes built in Germany – the Arado 234 and the Junkers Ju. 287 – to the fleets of advanced jet bombers like the British Canberra and V-bombers, the American B-47 and B-52 and the Soviet Il-28 Beagle and Tu-16 Badger. The images of the prototypes give a fascinating insight into the extraordinary technical challenges and the ambition and inventiveness of the designers and manufacturers who overcame them.

Leo Marriott’s vivid selection of photographs and his lucid historical narrative offer the reader an overview of a dynamic stage in the evolution of the design of military aircraft.



Today I am delighted to hand my blog over to my husband Mark, so he can share with you his review of Early Jet Bombers 1944-1954!

“This book forms part of the successful “Images of War” series.  I own a number of these publications and I consider them to be invaluable when conducting preliminary research into a ‘new’, and /or specialised element of the broader Second World War narrative.

This title, “Early Jet Bombers” is a new and entirely welcome addition to the pre-existing series. In the context of this book, the Author charts the development and introduction of jet power in relation to the German; British, French, American, and the Soviet air forces both during, and after, the Second World War concluding with the Cold War.

The front cover depicts an Arado Ar 234 Jet Bomber, and after a short introduction covering the transition from piston to jet power, the book starts with a review of aircraft which were either introduced by, or being developed for, the Luftwaffe. The usual suspects are evident, with Arado Ar 234 and ME 262 both being subjected to review and analysis, accompanied by operational photographs of the types in service. However, within the chapter are some oddities such as the JU287 which simultaneously reflected both how advanced German designs were, and how the exigencies of a collapsing socio-economic system resulted in the cannibalisation of existing designs and their unanticipated marriage to nascent jet power.

The limitations of the early jet engines are set out within the main narrative. The JU287 benefitted from no less than six engines to keep it airborne for example!  Despite this, for such a large aircraft, a dive speed of 404 mph showed incredible potential which would ultimately be exploited by the Allied Powers at the conclusion of the war and the ushering in of a universal jet age.  A central theme within this chapter is that of timeframe. Had these German designs been embraced and implemented sooner, the course of history could have been altered significantly. Simply put, there was nothing within the Allied armoury at the time of development and operation which could have competed with them.

German innovation forms a central thread which runs through the book, and the imprint of those pioneering designs can be observed in the early designs of the Soviet Air force such as the EF-140. The weaknesses of the early jet engines were a burden shared by all of the air forces covered by this work.  Some of the ‘solutions’ covered by the book involved the marriage of piston and jet power to increase operational range as typified by the American B36D, or the mating of Rolls Royce Nene and Derwent engines to increase speed and operational  effectiveness as seen in the Soviet TU-73. In this sense, this book is as much a story of national trial and error as it is a chronology of design and implementation.

By far the largest chapter within the book is devoted to developments within the American sphere. Indeed, this chapter contains some of the most sumptuous photographs within the entire book.  However, from a personal perspective the most engaging chapter covers the endeavours made by British aircraft manufacturers to counter the threat posed by Soviet design within the broader context of the Cold War. Again, the theme of trial and error forms a central thread, and the steady march towards the stunning V-Bomber force, and the high-water mark of the Royal Air Force,  is accompanied by some of the most atmospheric, and impressive photographs within the entire book. The enclosed images of the Canberra; Sperrin, and Victor are particularly worthy of note.

In conclusion, this was an enjoyable and informative foray into the trials and tribulations of early jet bomber design and implementation. The standard of photography within the book is generally good, although the limitations of wartime operational conditions are evident in some. The narrative is succinct and provides a suitable platform for further study within the field of this fascinating and engaging subject.”