Tuesday, March 12

Read n' reviewed: Viper, Under The Skin – Special Edition from Eagle Aviation.

Eagle aviation has released a special edition book in their great "Under The Skin" series of walk around and in-depth studies of the most popular of fighters. This time it is the mighty F-16 Fighting Falcon examined in an updated close detail book in "Viper Under The Skin – Special Edition" which is available now. We have read it, see what we think in our review...

Read n' reviewed: "Viper Under The Skin – Special Edition"
From Eagle Aviation
Written by Ioannis Lekkas & Ilia Gkonis
Book size: 285mm x 205mm
Number of pages: 144 Number of photos: 600 in full-colour 
Price: 35€ 

Sometimes I think I just don't get it, aircraft like the Spitfire, Mustang, Eurofighter, B-17 bomber, the F-15 Eagle  - some of the prettiest aircraft in the world - I am not really moved by any of them...

What I mean is aircraft like the Hurricane, Thunderbolt, B-24, and the A-10 Warthog has SO much more interest for me because they ARENT pretty - so surely I might find it hard to get interested in a book featuring one of the best-looking aircraft of the last 40 years (or ever) the F-16 Fighting Falcon (or "Viper" for all of those closet Battlestar Galactica fans out there). The book is called Viper Under The Skin – Special Edition and it is from Eagle aviation out of Greece.
Before we start, the new book from Eagle Aviation Publishing is not really that "new": "Viper Under The Skin" is an updated "Special Edition" that has been redesigned with over 75% of new photographs (over 600 in total) and offering an extra 44 pages in a thicker book now totalling 144 pages in a softcover A4 landscape format. The book's pages are printed in high-quality glossy three-layered 135gr paper with what we have been told are the best quality inks in the market.
Only just released to the public, the book is mostly a large picture format walkthrough of not only the F-16 and variants of the nations that use the "Viper" but, for the most part, a very well shot pictorial of all of the parts of these aircraft and most of what they carry for defence and offence in several short sections that group together the aircraft walkaround from nose to tail.

The first part of the book features the countries that use the Viper and their different types/ "Blocks" in service. The Hellenic Airforce with its weathered aircraft are in contrast with other countries and how they seem to keep thier F-16's, with the USAF, Israel with their colourful "Baraks" and "Sufas", The attractive Tiger-striped and grey F-16's of Poland, the UAE's Block 60's and the Republic of Singapore's Falcons they bought through the "Peace Carvin III & IV programs.
Chile's blue camouflaged and Soth Korea's grey Falcons are a contrast with the more colourful desert Vipers of Morocco and Egypt's versions. Colours and markings of the F-16's from all of these countries are a nice introduction.

From the nose back now the book's format is set, with the tabs on the outside of the edge of the page stating which part of the aircraft you are looking at for quick reference when searching the edges of the pages. The nose of the aircraft is first as I mentioned, and each picture as you can see below are titled what part they are looking at with the Block number also denoting the differences between these variants - excellent for modeller's references.
Gun parts, canopies of all types and then the cockpit of the aircraft are presented, with the F-16C and D rear cockpit, the ACES II ejector seat featured from it seems like every angle. 
The  fuselage details are next, with the dorsal and conformal fairing and Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFT) that sit in the shoulders and back of the viper shot from various angles, the closeup pictures of the edges of the tanks are important, as are the mesh cooling vents, inlets and exhausts.
The difference in the "mouth" of the F-16 are shown, with the air intakes of various types and pictures of the underneath of the fuselage next. I can do without the one or two adverts in the book which pop up a few times, I just do not think the book warrants it - no matter how much I like the shop.
One of the more important parts of the aircraft for modellers is the landing gear. Usually, because these are either wrong on the kit, fiddly to paint or in need of more detail and so pictures of these in detail are gold to us. We see the block numbers mentioned in each of these large and smaller photos, helping you through the myriad of small changes and to avoid your own errors in your own kit. The nose and rear gear and the gear bays with all of their plumbing (and there is a lot of it) are shown. Also, the angles of the gear are represented so you can see how the gear sits on the aircraft also.
The upper fuselage and wings are showcased next, the many panels on the spine and the weathering over the weathering on the screw fixings are interesting, event the differences in condition of the aircraft from country to country is seen here (it is fun guessing which is which) but the text to support the pictures and the clarity of the pictures is such you can 
The underside of each wing of several types is documented in photographs, along with the multiple rails on the pylons right back to the rear lower fuselage with the trademark ventral fins and speedbrakes (deployed) are great to see here. Of great use to modellers again are the vertical and horizontal tail photos showing the aerial, lumps and bumps of each block as the pages progress...
Another mysterious part of any jet to the model making companies are the engines and exhaust nozzles, and that is why modellers need good references for and these often need to be fixed.  The General Electric F110-GE-129 and Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 nozzles are pictured in close up with views "right up the tailpipe!!"
 An open for inspection aircraft need references of the internal exposed, and again we go "under the skin" (as the title suggests) in not only the exposed nose cone with radar, the fire control, several processors, avionics compartments, the lower strake & ACS equipment bays, Ammo loading bay, make way into the green undercoated ECS maintenance hatches, flight control accumulator, as well as several pictures of the hydrazine tank and hydraulic systems and reservoir are here in detail so you could almost scratch build these items if you wanted to.
 The large ammo drum bay in white, with the internal space and detailed look at the M61A1 rotary cannon and its drum are another important area for modellers, with not only the ammunition feed displayed but every pipe and wire shown in good detail.
The large interior green engine compartment is cavernous, and we see it completely empty here looking forward to the intake and aft to the rear of the jet. We also see both engines inside the jet, with the compartments to access the engine open. We also see the engine types F100-PW-229, F110-GE-100 & F110-GE-129 & JFS loaded on trolleys from every angle. If you want to show your engine of your kit out, then this is a brilliant refference.
The last eighteen pages of this book feature the stores and ordinance of the F-16 Viper. The authors have taken care to choose carefully what to show, with older and more modern stores and weapons included. Sensors like the LITENING, SNIPER & DB-110 Recce Pod are shown from many angles. The weapons are here too, with AIM 9M Sidewinders, AIM-2000 IRIS-T, AIM120C AMRAAM, AGM-88B HARM, AGM-154C JSOW, GBU-24/B Mk 84 & Penetrator heads, GBU-31, GBU-54 JDAM, GBU-50 Paveway weapons and their pylons captured in pictures as if you were looking at them yourself from every angle.
...And that is where the book ends - 144 pages of some of the most in-depth reference you will ever find on modern F-16's.  The only thing that is missing are older pictures of earlier block aircraft, but that would be another volume all together and where would you end? The only thing missing really are the QF-16 drones being used for testing in the US in the "Boneyard" right now.

this book covers all of the Vipers in the air today, with pictures from an assortment of variants from every angle and nook and cranny. These perfectly lit and in focus shots are one of, if not the best reference of this aircraft anywhere around.

What a great book, it sure does make me a little more interested in this aircraft after all...

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the people at Eagle Aviation for sending this book to us to read n' review for you. It is available to buy directly at this link.