Tiger Check

By Nelson, Mike | Air Power History, Spring 2019 | Go to article overview

Tiger Check


Nelson, Mike, Air Power History


Tiger Check. By Steven A. Fino. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017. Maps. Tables. Diagrams. Illustrations. Photographs. Notes. Glossary. Bibliography. Index. Pp. x, 378. $50.00 ISBN: 978-142142327-2

Just about anything a reader could possibly want to know about the U.S. Air Force approach to air-to-air combat between 1950 and 1980 can be found in this book. The principal air-to-air fighters of that three-decade period--F-86 Sabre, F-4 Phantom II, and F-15 Eagle--are covered in lengthy detail, as are the tactics adopted (or not) in light of changing technology and previous habits.

Fino did not fly all three aircraft, but he did fly the Eagle (F-15). Plus, to add to his credentials, he is a graduate of the Air Force Academy--so no stranger to the subject--as well as the Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nevada, the badge of envy of most USAF fighter pilots.

The theme of this book and Fino's major point hinge on a phrase he uses throughout: myth of the fighter pilot. By this he refers to the image of aerial skill, aggressiveness, superiority (and, yes, confidence) that began in World War I. Fino would contend that, even then, the myth was more popular than real and has continued in more modest forms through the Eagle.

Fino argues that the inevitable progress in technology (e.g., weapons, radars, computers, and flight agility) often collided in this period with old thinking--often with unhappy outcomes. …

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