Komissarov, D and Y Gordon, Russian Airliners outside Russia, 160 pages, ISBN 1-85780 252 7
Midland Publishing (Ian Allan), Hinckley, UK, 2007
The authors are well known to Western readers for their numerous and mostly very valuable volumes on Soviet and Russian topics, published individually or together. The publisher is also well known in aviation circles. Looking at the cover, one may conclude that the winning combination of writer and publisher has produced another winner. Sadly, on this occasion the mixture has simply failed to gel.
The book as a pictorial compilation which aims to present us with a photo of each Soviet or Russian aeroplane in the colours of each of its operators. It is collated by country, and by operator within each country. A short writeup heads each operator’s entry, while the rest of the text is in the form of captions under photos.
The first problem that crops up is that the book simply fails to cover all operators. This is unsurprising, considering that Peter Hillman’s serious volumes on Soviet airliners are many times the size of this book and contain few photos.
The second problem is that the photos are of a very poor quality. The best having been saved for the cover, those inside are pretty dire! Few would aspire to airliners.net, and absolutely none would make even a 1980s “pictorial book.” Wading through page after page of grainy and samey photos, many tinted with lilac, green or orange hues can be quite melancholia-inducing, as your reviewer discovered.
The third problem is that the captions beneath photos are long, hard to read, and not too informative. Mostly reiterating well-known and oft-repeated facts, they fail to add one iota to our knowledge of the matters they purport to cover.
Many operators of Soviet and Russian equipment only used a handful of machines on short-term leases. Since they are ranked alongside established names which one readily associates with Russian airliners, the book also suffers from jarring unevenness. Giving a CSA Il-62 equal time to a Libyan Government Il-62 is a travesty.
The book may hold some value for lukewarm fans of Russian airliners who may not want to delve deeper than the very shallow surface scratch it offers. All others are best advised to walk on by.