By Donald Nijboer; photographs by Dan Patterson
(Zenith Press, 224 pages, $25.73)
Military cockpits have a different feel and smell than any other kind of cockpit in the air. Any pilot who climbs into that seat can be blindfolded and still know what kind of flying he’s going to be doing. The cockpits are singular experiences and have changed mightily through the years. This is evident in the Donald Nijboer’s book, Fighting
Cockpits. Nijboer’s incisive words work with Patterson’s well-known photography to produce a book that gives the reader access to the soul of every airplane they cover—and they’ve covered a lot.
More than 50 aircraft are featured, ranging from combat pioneers, like the Nieuport 28 and Fokker Dr.1, through the various stages of combat aircraft development to the very latest of today, such as the F-22.
The titles of the four main sections of the book pretty much tell the tale. “Wind in the Wires” focuses on the icons that came from the introduction of airplanes to warfare. In
“Rise of the Monoplane,” it’s fun to see the very latest of the biplane cockpits as they evolve into something like the Boeing P-26 “Peashooter.” In “Death at 30,000 Feet,” we find ourselves sitting in Messerschmitts, Mustangs, and Thunderbolts. And in the final chapter, “Mutually Assured Destruction,” we’re fighting our way through Korea in F-86s and wading through the Cold War in B-52s and F-15s, capping off the journey with the F-22 and F-35.
It is delicious reading, but the eye candy that Patterson’s photography provides makes for a tasty combination.