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Foundations of Russian Military Flight, 1885-1925 by James K. Libbey
Foundations of Russian Military Flight, 1885-1925 by James K. Libbey
Published by CjBobrow
18 March 2020
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Foundations of Russian Military Flight, 1885-1925 by James K. Libbey

Foundations of Russian Military Flight, 1885-1925
By James K. Libbey. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 2019. Photographs, Maps, Index, Notes, Bibliography. Pp.264. $38.00 ISBN: 9781682474235

English language books surveying the emergence of aviation and aircraft construction in Russia are few and far between. The reasons are intricate not the least of which is that the primary source material is, predictably, in Russian. Coupled with the difficulty of archival research, much of which is available only in Russia proper researching and writing on the subject is a decidedly complex effort. Nonetheless, over the past few decades more documents and material have become more available in the West. Granted, much of it has been written by Russian historians and researchers, who have provided a steady stream of published works, some of which is outstanding. This secondary source material has proved to be an option for scouring the State archives in Russia. This becomes problematic when relying on authors who wrote during the period of Soviet censorship, such as the two volumes Istoriya vozdukhoplavaniya i aviatsii v Rossii (History of Aeronautics and Aviation in Russia) by Peter Dmitrievich Duz. In such an instance the researcher needs to understand the nuances of Russian and Soviet history to ascertain the facts and separate them from the political diatribe. Much of what Libbey has presented in this concise volume is from secondary source publications. In many ways this work is similar to Robert A. Klimarxís 1960ís "A History of Soviet Air Power" from the perspective of aviationís beginnings in Imperial Russia to the State-run enterprise of the Soviet Union. The book examines the development of aviation from aerostatics (balloons) to the initial Soviet production of aircraft-built post WW1. The complex and ever-changing organization of the military air fleet is perhaps one of the least understood or appreciated aspects of the history of aviation in Russia. Libbey brings this to the forefront along the with various personalities who would bring it all to maturity in the 1920ís. The section on World War I through to the emergence of the Soviet Unionís ĎRed Air Fleetí is concise and the narrative is comprehensible. The volume has a series of well know photographs, the maps provide the reader with historical context of the massive geographical landscape that is Russia. As a concise review of the topic this book provides a valuable text on the subject.

Carl J. Bobrow/Museum Specialist/National Air and Space Museum
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