Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units in Combat

Osprey Combat Aircraft 49
By Tom Cooper and Farzad Bishop
Osprey Publishing, ©2004
ISBN 1-84176-787-5
Softbound, 96 Pages

Reviewed by Chris Banyai-Riepl

The history of Iranian F-14s was long thought to have been a short one, with the United States officially stating that lack of spares and training effectively grounded the fleet. This book proves otherwise, and in fact shows that not only was the F-14 not grounded, but it actually performed as advertised, racking up an impressive tally of 159 kills during the Iran-Iraq war. Tom Cooper and Farzad Bishop got the true story from Iranian pilots themselves, and piece by piece managed to put together this fascinating book, one which was long overdue.

The Iranian Air Force received its F-14s back when the country was still run by the Shah. The sudden take-over of the country by the fundamentalist leader Ayatollah Khomeni in 1979 caused many of the Iranian F-14 pilots to flee the country, but several remained and withstood punishment and torture. It was only with the war with Iraq that these pilots were released, as the need for the country was greater. For the next eight years, the F-14 flew combat missions against Iraqi forces. The aircraft performed so well that parts and materials for the fleet was part of the Iranian arms deal in the mid-1980s that became the beginning of the Iran-Contra affair.

The careful research by the authors, coupled with lots of personal anecdotes, makes this book an interesting and exciting read. In addition to the text, there are many photos throughout the book, including some in color, showing the F-14 in service. Like other Osprey titles, this one has a color profile section. For those who thought Iranian F-14s were always finished in that Asia Minor camouflage of sand, brown, and green, there are photos and profiles of F-14s in a low-vis gray scheme that is very striking.

Osprey is to be commended with this book for breaking the myth of the Iranian F-14 fleet. The excellent presentation, great text, and wide variety of photos makes this a must-have book for anyone interested in Middle East aviation and history. My thanks to MBI for the review sample.

Roll Models

Sandle Hobbies

Profile Art EN Banyai-Riepl Illustrations