Hawker Hunters at War: Iraq and Jordan, 1958-1967
Middle East @ War No 7
Authors: Tom Cooper & Patricia Salti
Publisher: Helion & Company
The Hawker Hunter is one of those iconic aircraft of the Cold War, with its attractive lines, impressive maneuverability, and a longevity that set it apart from other aircraft from the same era. The first jet manufactured by Hawker for the Royal Air Force, the Hunter quickly set several aviation records and became the mainstay of air forces around the world, in addition to RAF units throughout Europe and abroad. When the Hunter was surpassed as an interceptor, the aircraft was reimagined as a ground attack aircraft, a role in which it continued to soldier on for many years in both the RAF and in foreign air forces. This latest title in Helion's Middle East @ War series takes a look at two of those foreign nations, Iraq and Jordan, in the years leading up to the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six Day War.
While many are familiar with the 1967 Six Day War, the number of interactions between Israel and other Arab nations between the Suez Crisis and 1967 were plentiful. This book tells that story through the eyes of Hawker Hunter pilots, providing a very personal connection to the events of that decade. The rapid evolution of aircraft during that time is also apparent, as the Hunter quickly became outclassed by the Dassault Mirage purchased by Israel. Relying on official documents of the Iraqi and Jordanian air forces, as well as archives of those nations and Britain, the authors are able to provide a comprehensive overview of the various events taking place leading up to, and including, the Six Day War, as it related to the Hawker Hunter.
Complementing the interesting history of the type, the book contains an impressive number of photos showing the aircraft and operators, both in action and in daily operations. These include gun camera footage from both the Hunter's perspective and the perspective of Israeli aircraft, again highlighting the rapid change in aircraft performance and capabilities during those ten years. For those interested in colors and markings, there are a handful of color profile illustrations that show the individual markings of several Iraqi and Jordanian Hunters. Personally, what I find most fascinating about these is the fact that the Hunters retained the RAF camouflage of dark gray and green, a camouflage designed for the more temperate European environment rather than that of a Middle Eastern desert region.
Other useful additions in this book include comprehensive tables that detail orders of battle throughout the period, individual aircraft purchased by both Iraq and Jordan, and the attrition of those aircraft. Also included is a comprehensive bibliography, a feature that I particularly like as it opens up some additional material should I wish to read further on this subject. Finally, there is also a series of end notes that add additional information to specific situations that would not have fit with the narrative, yet is useful information nonetheless.
For those who have not experienced the Middle East @ War series, I highly recommend checking it out, as it offers some valuable insight to events in the Middle East from a perspective that has not often been presented. My thanks to Casemate for the review copy.