For many years, when it came to press time and media space, the F-84 Thunderjet was overshadowed by the Thunderstreak and Thunderflash, but even more so, by the F-86. Copyrighted in 1998, this book is a text and photo history of the Thunderjet, Thunderstreak, Thunderflash, Thundercepter, and test models.
This book is 8˝ x 11, vertical format, 208 pages plus color cover, and is authored by David R. McLaren, with cover illustration of FS-493-B depicted on 23 January, 1951, by Steve Ferguson.
Although the cover indicates the book is a "photo chronicle," the 398 b&w and 61 color photos along with one b&w line illustration, are complimented by an extensive "text" chronicle. The author generally hits all the important high points relevant to the F-84 series, starting with Development, and including Airframe and Construction, Air Defense Command, Tactical Air Command, Strategic Air Command, USAFE, Korea, ANG and AFRES, Air Training Command, Foreign Service, Aerobatic Teams, Flying and Maintaining, and Test Programs. Also included are tables for Bibliography, Specifics (specifications), Serial Numbers, and service Units. With the exception of the 16-page Color Gallery, text and photos are mixed together on the pages. Generally, the photos are very good to excellent; a few are of poor quality, but are relevant to the subject at hand, and are no doubt present for absence of better photos. NOTE: Subsequent to writting this review, the author contacted me. Among other discussion, he explained that one of his sources furnished photocopies of photographs from which the author was to chose photos, but before the photos could be obtained, the man passed away. Thus, the author was left with the alternative of using no photos or of using the photocopies. In this case, "poor quality" photos are better than none!
Because of the range of subjects covered, and given the size of the book, much of the text is a compromise between furnishing comprehensive information and limited space. What is present is good, and there are many interesting and revealing anecdotes such as the tail fire suffered by the XF-91 while Carl Bellinger was at the controls, and the subsequent safe landing directed by Charles Yeager accompanying as chase in an F-86. Nevertheless, for more complete coverage of some subjects, one must turn to other published information, such as that in Aerophile Vol. 2, No. 4, Aircraft Wingtip Coupling Experiments by C.E. Anderson who was one of the pilots active in the "Tip-Tow" experiment. This is not to say McLaren's text is insufficient; it is brief and to the point while providing necessary foundational information.
To date, this is the most comprehensive book I am aware of on the subject of Republic's F-84 series. My only criticism is that there are a number of grammatical, spelling, and typographic errors. Otherwise, it looks good, is an enjoyable read, and the photos provide a broad range of subjects to peruse.
A reasonably comprehensive text and photo history of the F-84 series and immediate derivatives. For modelers, this would be a companion book, as few detail photos are included. Aside from the minor typesetting and editing glitches, it is a good read, and worth the purchase price if your library needs the F-84 history.