Due to Switzerland’s mountainous terrain with steep landing approaches at airfields such as Meiringen, the purchase of the F/A-18 Hornet in the mid-90s was against the trend of the ubiquitous F-16 used in the rest of Europe. This has proven to be a sound decision.
Now, in the second half of its service life, a successor is being considered by the Swiss Air Force, but we can expect to see Alpine Hornets until around 2030.
In the book
The book comes with a soft cover, and is in a A4 landscape format with 124 glossy pages and approx 120 colour photos.
The photos are the stars of this book with many great shots of the Hornet and the landscape of Switzerland.
Although its not what you would call an in-depth book on the history and use of the F/A-18 Hornet, it does give you a good overall balance of text and pictures.
The chapters cover the introduction, squadrons, training, bases and exercises.
The chapters and a brief description are as follows -
Choosing Hornet. Defending Neutral Airspace
An introduction into the history and procurement programme of the Swiss Air Force.
Introduction into service. A Modernised Force.
The squadrons operating the F/A-18 Hornets, with each squadron getting a brief history on its formation and previous aircraft.
Switzerland’s F/A-18 Fleet. The Single Seaters
Delivery dates, and serial numbers of all the single seater Hornets flying.
The biggest chapter in the book, with lots of great photos of the Hornet.
Wooden Hornets. X Planes
Chapter on the two wooden and plastic Hornets built as a training aid for ground crew. One mockup even has a real ejector seat, although it isn't primed.
Switzerland’s F/A-18 Fleet. The Twin-Seaters
The eight twin-seater aircraft the Swiss Air Force operate, along with delivery dates and serial numbers.
Development And Upgrades. Continuous Changes
The two phase upgrades to modernise the fleet, including new avionics and extending the airframes life.
Training With The Hornet. Only For The Elite
Hundreds of applicants a year wish to fly the Hornet with only around six make it too the frontline.
This chapter covers the training programmes the pilots go through to be proficient in the aircraft.
Payerne. Main Operating Base
This base is located in the lowlands of the canton of Vand and is the most important base the Hornet flies out of.
A short history on the base, which does make an interesting read.
Meiringen Magic. Surrounded By Mountians
Based in the Alpine region, this base was first built during the 1940's, and this chapter covers the history and running of the base.
Flugzeugkaverne. Mountainside Hangers
The hangers at Meiringen are built into the mountainside and before the Hornets arrived aircraft were craned over each other if needed. Now they have been rebuilt and this chapter tells the story of their use.
An Axalp Adventure. "What on earth am I doing here."
A live fire airshow by the Swiss Air Force held annully over two days in October.
A quite a long chapter on this interesting air show with some great pictures of the Hornets in flight.
Air Policing. World Economic Forum.
With the worlds leaders gathering at Davos, the Swiss military is on high alert, and along with Austria both air forces police the restricted zones around the event.
Night-flying Training. Away from Switzerland.
This chapter covers the training held in Norway for night-flying exercises.
The Future...and Beyond Hornet.
With the Hornet due to be retired in the 2020's, 5 types of combat aircraft are under consideration, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F-18 Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Lockheed Martin F-35A and Saab Gripen E, and are all under assessment to be the replacement for the Hornet and F5-E fleets.
Although I'm not a fan of the Hornet this book is an intriguing look at the use of the Hornet in Swiss service and does have a nice bit of information and facts in the book.
One fact is that two Swiss pilots worked up to the US navies proficiency, including carrier qualification landings, not bad for a landlocked country!
The pictures are beautifully photographed and reproduced with no signs of distortion in the pictures.
Although not aimed at modelers, there is enough pictures of the airframes to give you a good idea of the markings, colours and general look of the F/A-18 to help in your build.
This is a beautifully illustrated and interesting book, and I am becoming a big fan of Gary Parsons pictorial books.
As I am fascinated by jet aircraft, espaically those of the smaller nations then this book is a welcome addition to the library, and a book I will look at time and time again.
Mfg. ID - TPAV002
Suggested Retail - £21.50
Related Link - https://www.trackpadpublishing.com/alpine-hornets
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