Tuesday, March 7

Read n' Reviewed: 70 years: Commemorating Seven Decades of 338 Squadron Operations from Eagle Aviation

Eagle Aviation's "70 years: Commemorating Seven Decades of 338 Squadron Operations"  features the people and machines of this unit throughout the last seventy years. Starring the F-4 Phantom in a leading role & presenting amazing photos of these machines in detail. It would be crazy not to show you the contents...

Read n' Reviewed: 70 years: Commemorating Seven Decades of 338 Squadron Operations.
From Eagle Aviation
Written by Ioannis Lekkas
120 pages
Hardcover, A4 format
ISBN 978-618-85165-1-9
Prices: 32€  - Regular Edition (reviewed here)
          / 42€ - Limited Edition
Product Link
Eagle Aviation's book "70 years: Commemorating Seven Decades of  338 Squadron Operations" is with us today for review. The book comes is a special celebration of sorts, commemorating 70 years of 338 Squadron in the Hellenic Air Force's operations. This is an official anniversary Squadron book, penned by Ioannis Lekkas.
We have read the book already, so we thought a few pictures and hopefully not too many words to show you what the book is made of, and our opinion on how it is sewn together would be proper!

A note to readers. Two editions of this book are available - A standard and limited edition version. The limited edition differing by adding numbered and signed books by the flight crews of the 338th. We are reviewing the standard edition today...

First, the physical attributes, then the contents of the book...
The book comes in a matte-finish A4 hard cover, with glossy colour and black and white photos inside. The text is in both Englis & Greek, and cations, along with small chapter-ettes of block text accompany the mostly large format pictures. Special access has been given to the publishers for these images, you can tell this, as there are great shots of personnel here that really do add to the book. The feel that the people AND the machines are just as important in this 70th anniversary publication.
We begin with a lovely little foreward by the author, laying out a little of what is ahead int he book, and the meaning of the squadron's motto ("with it or on it") and its origins in the Spartan legend that the unit embodies. The history of the unit is first, the author explaining (in dual Greek/English text as is common throughout the book) the 338 Squadron's founding in 1952, with the F-84G being the focus of the flying operations. We see some images of the cockpit and the initial pilots of the group along with some period pamphlets about the Thunderjet. 

The F-84G Thunderjet is featured in the historical record part of the book...

The book goes on to show us the transition to the F-84F in the mid-1960s, with the type sure had its own quirks which were interesting to learn here. Some black and white photos swap into colour now, as we go closer to the present day in the squadron's journey. One thing I could have liked to have seen in these two small sections are the pilot's names with the photos showing them posing together for photographs.
The real star of this book, however, is the F-4E, which was received for the unit in 1974. We see the evolution of not only the machines, but the crews also. As time passes throughout the passage of pages in here, the look at the men and women who keep and fly these machines changes quite a lot. Notably, the inclusion more of women into the service is notable. We see more of the names of notable pilots int he squadron as initial training & familiarization on the F-4E is undertaken. Instructors & cres are noted, which is good for a history of the squadron book. 
The accounts of the crews are included, for example, notes about the considerations and ready state of the unit at the time of the invasion of by Turkey of Cyprus is shown in an excerpt. I love reading first-hand accounts from the people that were there. (It also shows the author has been doing the proper research). Photos of the Phantoms in the 70s, with that darker patina we are used to from cameras of that age, mix in well with the coloured profiles of Georgios Psarras, and the images of the Greek machines in St Louis in the production line. 
The next real milestone in the aircraft used by 338 Squadron was in 1991, when the author explains the updated (in a way) Phantoms of the ex-National Guard airframes in 1991. We learn how these aircraft improved on the original birds in the squadron; we learn a lot about the weapons systems of these birds, the crew responsibilities & duties in large sections of interesting text. The aircraft colours chained to grey/grey at this time, and we see through more aircraft profiles & more contemporary photographs that fill the pages in ever-larger sizes in this section.
The book then covers the next step in the evolution of the Phantom in Hellenic Air Force service, the EADS upgrade, which transformed these jets into fourth generation aircraft. The author discusses the changes, the role of the back seater, and shows the new cockpit with additional avionics from his own photo-stash. 
We see several more photos of these now aged, but ever-more capable Phantoms in flight in their now blue/ grey/grey striking colour-schemes, and then over several pages, not only great photos of the pilots, but of the ground crews who support and keep these aircraft flying. Excellent character studies for modellers wanting to improve their accuracy in kit, colours and mannerisms of the people that make these kites live, and an excellent tribute to those serving in the HAF today.
The images of the aircraft in flight and in detail, under the skin, showing the engines, guns, sensors (and their targets) are all very interesting, especially to Phantom fans. We get more text explaining the upgrades of every part of the aircraft, and this illustrates neatly how these very old looking aircraft, especially in the tonality of the paint surfaces, keep up to date and on the front line in the 338th.
Of note in the book are several passages written by servicemen in the unit. It is great to see them recording their remembrances and thoughts about the 338th in print here for the reader to absorb. Most of the second half of the book is image heavy, with not a lot of text, but these images do speak a thousand words, with the people and machine of the unit shown in excellent photography, the feel and atmosphere of the units is captured in these shots very neatly. I would think the unit would be proud of the work on show here.
The book is topped off with notes from the combat commanders, before a raft of new shots of the phantom, each of them desktop worthy, and some of them being the better images of Phantoms I have seen.
This, after one hundred and twenty pages, brings us to the end of the book. I feel that the book captures really well the story of 338 Squadron's men and women and their aircraft, notably the Phantom, which stars in 8/10ths of the book. 

What a great star it is, always lovely to look at, the historical notes about the aircraft and the systems, the shorter parts of the histories provided and the quality of the finish and look at this book make it a worthy credit to not only the 338th, but the author.

A great book.

Adam Norenberg

This book is available in a standard and a limited edition version. The limited edition differing by adding numbered and signed books by the flight crews of the 338th.  Both are available to buy directly at this link.