Red Eagles by Steve Davies

Troubled by its inability to combat North Vietnamese MiG aircraft throughout the Vietnam War, the United States Air Force launched a top-secret program after the war to train American fighter aircrews on how to do battle with the Russian-manufactured aircraft. This program, based at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada, is the subject of Steve Davies’ Red Eagles: America’s Secret MiGs (Osprey Publishing, 352 pp., $25.95).

This new edition of the book, which was first published in 2008, features recently declassified information. Davies, a military and commercial aviation photojournalist, chronicles the story of the Red Eagles, a unit of the Air Force that learned how to, without manuals or instructions, operate MiGs.

Basing much of his work on first-hand accounts, Davies’ book provides illuminating insight into the personalities behind the program and into the challenging, dangerous, and exhilarating work carried out by the members of this top-secret program.

— Dale Sprusansky

Vietnam Gun Trucks by Gordon L. Rottman

The newest entry–number 184–in Osprey Publishing’s New Vanguard series of concise, profusely illustrated books dealing with military machinery throughout the ages is Vietnam Gun Trucks (48 pp., $17.95, paper) with text by Gordon L. Rottman and illustrations by Peter Bull.

Rottman, a Vietnam veteran and prolific Osprey historian, sets out the details of the various U.S. military vehicles that protected convoys that shipped munitions and supplies overland in Vietnam. These are the “gun trucks” of the title, nearly all of which were improvised in country by the crews that manned them. As is the case with other Osprey titles, this book is filled with many technical details, photos, and illustrations.

“Gun trucks,” Rottman says, “proved to be extremely successful. Even though not officially authorized, their existence was known and their value recognized at all levels in the chain of command. They were considered essential for ensuring convoys made it to their destinations and for limiting losses.”

—Marc Leepson