Crowood Press | North American F-100 Super Sabre

Reviewed by Tony Oliver

The Crowood Press UK
North American F-100 Super Sabre
Peter E Davies with David W Menard
ISBN: 1 86126 577 8
175 Pages
8 colour
205 black and white photos/illustrations

The dust jacket preamble on this hardback title starts by stating that North American Aviation mass produced only three fighter designs but that all were absolute classics. In the context of the worlds' first truly supersonic interceptor, nuclear strike aircraft and ground attack weapon, the 'Hun' was indeed a classic.

The book is written in a lively style and chronicles the types troubled development dealing with the early production variants' propensity for killing test pilots (most notably George S. Welch, who arguably beat Yeager to the sound barrier by a matter of days in October 1947) through its first five years as nuclear Cold War guardian to the blooding in Vietnam and ultimately its twilight years with foreign air forces and ANG units. Interspersed throughout the book are text boxes with even more detailed information on such items as the M-39 gun.

An example : the Pontiac M-39 was developed from the German Mauser MG213C, a heavy calibre rotary chambered weapon that was being tested by the Luftwaffe at the wars end. The guns couldn't be ground fired for boresighting unless the gun bay doors were removed as the buildup of breech gasses would cause an explosion and indeed there were incidents of gun doors being blown out during live firing in the air!

Technically, the book is faultless in its detail of the F-100 and likewise the operation history is dealt with in great depth with anecdotal first had accounts of operations in SE Asia.

Whilst the unit history and the operational scenarios are well supported by many previously unpublished photos, unfortunately the technical detail in the text isn't, relying instead on NAA schematics and 'pilots notes' to illustrate areas such as the cockpit systems. Whilst there are many resources on the web to cover these areas, it would have been the icing on the cake to have reference detail images included that go a little further than the few images included of Huns undergoing engine maintainance.

Ideally I would have liked to have seen a detail section in a book which claims to be the last word on the Hun.

For an aircraft that carried some of the most colourful schemes of any post war fighter, the book has an eight page colour section with high quality images, included on page is a great shot of a DanishAF F-100D carrying the worn patchwork green and heat discolouring, a real challenge for the weathering guys!

The text runs to 173 pages and includes sections on the ZEL launcher trials, Skyblazers and Thunderbirds display teams, ANG and Vietnam, use by foreign air forces and finally a short section on the F-107 ( did you know it was proposed to install RR Speys for export variants, the F-100S?) Appendices cover all prototype pre/production serials, block numbers and AF serials. Also covered is Hun unit allocations with unit details of deployment, F-100 losses in SE Asia and finally a list of existing Hun airframes worldwide.


Whilst the book doesn't really get under the skin of the Hun in any great detail photographically, it more than makes up for this in the quality of images and in the meticulous research and minutae of the detail included in the text.

With the possibility that there could be a large scale F-100D from Trumpeter on the horizon, this book will be invaluable. For Hun fans this is quite possibly the definitive work on this seminal 60's aircraft. put The Doors' eponymous first album on the CD and indulge.

For anyone else with a passing interest in this superb aircraft, borrow a copy.


© Tony Oliver 2003

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016