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Osprey Combat Aircraft No. 44


Arab MiG-19 and MiG-21 Units in Combat



David Nicolle and Tom Cooper


S u m m a r y

Publisher and Catalogue Details: Osprey Combat Aircraft No. 44
Arab MiG-19 and MiG-21 Units in Combat
by David Nicolle and Tom Cooper
ISBN: 1841766550
Media and Contents: Soft cover, 96 pages
Price: GB£12.99 online from Osprey Publishing
Review Type: FirstRead
Advantages: Excellent coverage of subject matter from the perspective of those involved.
Recommendation: Recommended

Reviewed by Ken Bowes

 Osprey's "Arab MiG-19 and MiG-21 Units in Combat"
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Osprey Publications is soon to release their latest volume in the Combat Aircraft Series (which concentrates on one of the greatest aircraft in aviation history, the technology behind it and the men who flew it). Number 44 in the series focus’s on the use of the MiG-19 and MiG-21 by the air forces of Egypt, Syria and Iraq in conflicts from 1967 until Desert Storm. Author David Nicolle has previously written books for Osprey on such diverse subjects as Medieval and Islamic warfare, and is well qualified to write on the human aspects of the subject. Tom Cooper is a researcher who has published on several aspects of the air wars of the Middle East, most recently authoring Osprey’s Iranian F-4 Phantom II Units in Combat (No 37). Regular users of the net will also know of Tom’s website, the Air Combat Information Group.

This book covers all aspects of the Arab use of the Farmer and Fishbed, although the short-lived nature of the MiG-19 in service results in the bulk of the book dealing with the MiG-21. Starting with the acquisition of these advanced MiGs by Egypt and Syria to counter the Israeli acquisition of Mirage IIIs, Nicolle and Cooper then proceed to analyse the Six Day War of June 1967, bringing to light the stories of the brave pilots who attempted to fight back against the devastating assault launched by Israel to wipe out the Egyptian and Syrian Air Forces. The careful study of records and interviews with surviving crews highlight several cases where IDF aircraft fell to the guns and missiles of MiG-21s, the loss of which are attributed to AAA by Israel.

The book then proceeds to deal with the period known as the War of Attrition when the Egyptian and Israeli Air Forces regularly jousted over the Suez Canal Zone. A detailed look at the Yom Kippur War of October 1973 effectively ends the sections covering Egyptian and Syrian use. The final chapter then details the experiences of the Iraqi Air Force on the two types against both Iran and the US led Coalition in 1991. Tom Cooper’s detailed knowledge of the Iranian Air Force and the aerial aspects of the First Gulf War (1980-88) shows through in this section. Interestingly the narrative concludes in the late 1990s with the assertion that the MiG-21 was then virtually extinct in Iraqi Service. In reality MiG-21s and F-7Ms (Chinese MiG-21F-13 copies) served on right up until Iraqi Freedom in 2003, some 70 to 80 being in service at the outbreak of the Iraq War. As in now known, the Iraqi Air Force did not fight in 2003 so little more needs to be added (see reference photos at the end of this review).

This book will appeal to those with an interest in Middle East conflicts and small air force aviation. "Facts and figures" fans are well catered for with tables that cover all the Arab MiG units and their disposition including bases and sub-types operated. Two pages of side scale drawings round this section out. As usual for Osprey Publications, 35 colour profiles fill the centre pages, along with six good full colour photographs. The move away from paintings of different aircrew in uniforms and flying gear in this series is a bit of a shame as it proved useful to those who include pilot figures or build dioramas, but it does not detract from the overall effect of the book.

The Osprey Books in this series are not really for the modeller who is looking specifically for close-up photographs and detail. The majority of included photographs are small and mostly in black and white. Given the obscure nature of the subject the range of photographs is, however, impressive. Two interesting ones were of the Iraqi MiG-21F-13 delivered to Israel by an Iraqi defector in 1966, which later became the famous 007 when painted in Israeli markings. The saga of this defection is a story unto itself and proved a useful security lesson to the aircrew I briefed it to, but it is not dealt with in much detail in the book. The comment on the photographs should not put one off this book, as it is an excellent way to add a human dimension the scale models on the display shelves.

The book consists of 96 pages printed on glossy paper between cardboard covers.


Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review sample


As reference for a related but more recent subject, I have included two images F-7M Fishbeds captured at Al Assad Airfield in Iraq during Iraqi Freedom:




Arab MiG-19 and MiG-21 Units in Combat
(Combat Aircraft 44)
Visit Osprey Publishing
Author: David Nicolle and Tom Cooper
Illustrator: Mark Styling
US Price: $19.95
UK Price: £12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date: March 25, 2004
Details: 96 pages; ISBN: 1841766550
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Review Copyright © 2004 by Ken Bowes
Page Created 19 March, 2004
Last updated 25 May, 2004

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