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From F-4 Phantom to A-10 Warthog

...Memoirs of a Cold War Fighter Pilot, from Pen & Sword

Title: From F-4 Phantom to A-10 Warthog
Author: Colonel Steve Ladd USAF (Retired)
Publisher: Air World Books, Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-1-52676-124-8

This is the personal account of the author and his 28 year career in the USAF, from his first days learning to fly for the military, through to his final retirement in 1994 when he was a Colonel and Commander of the 549th Joint Training Division (Air Warrior), a division of the USAF Tactical Fighter Weapons Center based at Nellis AFB, which operated the A10 Warthog and specialising in Close Air Support.
There are 21 chapters that make up the 310 pages in the hardback edition and they make for excellent reading. It follows the authors career as a Fighter Pilot, joining up and going though flight training, going from a basic trainer, on to a primary jet trainer and then on through higher performance types before he qualified and was posted to an operational unit, which in his case meant an F-4 unit based in Thailand, he flew combat missions in the Vietnam War. He was posted to another F-4 unit based in the UK, but which was then re-equipped with the then new A-10 Warthog, a very different animal indeed. He takes us through that transition process and the Atlantic crossing that brought the first examples to their new home in the UK, at RAF Bentwaters, Suffolk. There is much more, with assignments in Europe with NATO, in Iran training their pilots in the pre-revolutionary times, and so much more. He was/iis so clearly a fighter pilot at heart, and dreaded the move that went with promotion to be confined behind a BGD (Big Grey Desk). He did have to do that, and discusses some of the difficult jobs that those roles involved, such as breaking bad news to a family and running an investigation into a fatal accident.
The thing about this is not just the story of a career, but it is written in a style which makes it so easy and enjoyable read. One of those books I didn't want to put down. A large part of his career was spent in the work of the Cold War (his description of a visit to Berlin with his wife is fascinating), but he was also fortunate enough to stay doing what he loved the most right through to the day of his retirement, flying combat aircraft. If you have an interest in aircraft such as the Phantom and the Warthog and the roles they carried out in war and peacetime preparations for war, I am confident you will like reading this one.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.


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