From difficult weather conditions to unreliable missile armament to unequal rules of engagement, this book tells the story of the challenges faced by the F-4 and MiG-21 pilots. Using first-hand accounts wherever possible the author draws us into the dangerous world experienced by American and North Vietnamese pilots. Influential leaders and tacticians will be profiled to provide a comparative evaluation of their contrasting skills. This book will also reveal the technical specifications of each jet with an analysis of the weaponry, avionics and survival devices of the Phantom and MiG-21. The fighters' strengths and weaknesses will be compared also, including turn radius, performance at altitude, range and structural integrity. This was an intense and deadly duel between vastly different rivals. In the Phantom, a second crewmember and good radar compensated for the difficulty of providing command and control at long distances from the targets. However, the F-4's smoky engines and considerable bulk made it visible at much further distances than the small, clean MiG-21 and Phantoms were often hit by unseen MiG attacks. On the other hand, the F-4s eight-missile armament compared favorably with the two-missile provision of the MiG. Often pilot skill, if not luck, would be the determining factor between the smaller, faster MiG and bigger, better-gunned Phantom. First-person extracts will reflect on the dangers of these aerial duels while graphics based on records of engagement and technical manuals will illustrate the experience of air combat as they struggled to overcome their shortcomings and survive their deadly duels.
"Davies writes in a very clear, straightforward style that makes certain complex technical info- about radar and electronic warfare- very easy to follow. The most important aspect of the book is the large amount of data about the VPAF, which is missing from the vast majority of works out there. He goes into detail about capabilities of the MiG-21’s radar and weapon systems (again almost always missing) and the effectiveness of Vietnamese Ground Intercept Radar, which is often misunderstood and biased by cold war propaganda... This is by far one of the best books on the subject and is more than worth the $17.95 list price. Also included are brief yet thorough biographies on two famous pilots from each side for your comparison... If you want to learn how a small third world air force could hold its own against the most advanced aerial armada in the world, this is the book for you." -Brett Allen, Review Fix - reviewfix.com (July 2009)
"The format of this 'Duel' series differs somewhat from the familiar Osprey presentation. There are the expected photos and knowledgable text, but there is a very limited number of profiles. Instead, artwork includes several illustrations showing various engagements, as well as cockpit layouts and armament packages. All are highly interesting and enhance the well-versed reader's understanding, while educating the neophyte." -Naval Aviation News (June 2009)