Tempest Books | Half Century, Baby!

Reviewed by Kevin Williams

Publisher: Tempest Books
Author(s): David Parsons, Mads Bangsø
Publishing date: 2023
ISBN: 978-1-911658-92-4 (Hardcover)
Pages: 270

Tempest Books was previously an unknown entity to me, but my first impressions of this volume on the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, are very favorable indeed. Hardcover, good quality paper, excellent photos and illustrations. Horizontal format books are generally not to my liking, but that's what they chose, so that's what we get.

I've been a long-time fan of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, the first ever in-service swing wing (variable geometry) fighter/interceptor that the US Navy has ever flown, at least as far as I am aware, so this book seemed quite a natural for me to take a look-see. Used primarily for Fleet defense, the Tomcat served long and well, with quite a lengthy career. My first (and only) "up close and personal" experience with a real Tomcat, was when an F-14 declared an inflight emergency while traveling near St. Louis, and thereby landed at the MOANG (Missouri Air National Guard). A friend, who worked for the guard at the time, called me and asked to run right over with my camera. Naturally enough I did, and when I got there, was greeted by not just a beautiful F-14, but it was in fact the F-14B CAG aircraft (Commander of the Air Group ) of VF-11 "Red Rippers" based on the USS George Washington at the time! Needless to say, I was ecstatic, and took numerous photos, a memory that certainly lives on to the present day.

This book obviously places its entire emphasis on the F-14 Tomcat, and contains a pretty cool array of real world photos, artistic aircraft depictions, inflight illustrations and many, many color profiles. The Artist (Bangsø) has whipped together a number of interesting profile drawings, depicting the full range and evolution of Tomcat schemes, running from the original light gull grey over white factory scheme, through the overall light gull grey scheme, and then the final tactical scheme and variations thereof. Text is also generally informative and interesting.

Numerous publications have been produced over the years dealing with the excellent Grumman "Iron Works" designed and built F-14 Tomcat, and this volume adds quite nicely to that body of work.

Photo Samples

Lots of data is offered up here; from initial design concepts and philosophy through final manufacturing methods and derivatives. All in all, the Tomcats have served this nation well, being flown by the US Navy to great effect, fully prepared to deliver performance and firepower where and as needed. Some of the earlier photos of the Tomcats, as one might expect, are fully laden with AIM-54 "Phoenix" air-to-air missiles, but the Navy didn't take long to lose interest in that particular weapon, and other, more practical air-to-air options were sought, and found.

For those of us with a taste for larger scale aircraft models, currently the Tamiya and Trumpeter kits are pretty much all we have, and although none are perfect, each can, with a little help, be built into quite impressive replicas.

For those with a passion for the iconic and revered F-14, I can highly recommend this volume. Buy a copy, you will not be disappointed.


On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d rate this book as a solid 10, no question about it. Topping out at a very respectable 270 pages of fascinating F-14 data and photos, it is highly recommended.

Note: This is volume one of a two volume set. The second volume hasn't been released yet.

My review copy compliments of Casemate Publishers. Thanks a ton to Casemate, it's truly a great reference book on this outstanding aircraft, really top-notch stuff.

© Kevin Williams 2024

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This review was published on Tuesday, June 11 2024; Last modified on Sunday, June 16 2024