By the end of the Second World War the USA and Great Britain had developed viable jet fighters, even if these aircraft came a bit too late to have a significant impact on the course of the conflict. Germany achieved greater success, using the Me 262 and He 162 jet fighters operationally in the closing stages of the war. In contrast, the Soviet Union lagged behind, even though research on turbojet engines had begun in the USSR in the late 1930s. This deficiency was recognised and at the end of the war, captured German jet aircraft and engines enabled the USSR to reverse-engineer the technology. Even so, the USSR struggled to catch up until in 1946, the British Labour government gifted the Soviets the latest in propulsion technology, the Rolls-Royce Nene and Derwent V engines. This inexplicable action allowed a much more capable generation of Soviet jet fighters to be born and by the end of the 1940s Soviet industry had caught up with, and in some respects surpassed the West, in jet aviation.
Because of the Stalinist era in which the first Soviet jets were developed, up until now little has been known about the early post-war designs from the design bureaus of Mikoyan, Yakovlev, Lavochkin, Sukhoi and Alekseyev and the background to even relatively well-known types such as the MiG-9, La-9 and YAK-15 is barely documented. Other early jet types, proposals and projects were virtually unknown in the West. This gap is now redressed by the famous Soviet aviation historian Yefim Gordon and in his latest work he draws on extensive research in design bureau files, official documents and military archives, many of which have only very recently become available, having been labelled 'Top Secret' for decades.
This volume presents in considerable detail the development, history and technical specifications of the earliest Soviet jet fighters and the extensive illustrations - around 750 photos, over 50 specially-commissioned colour drawings and a host of line drawings - are mostly from previously classified sources the majority of which are previously unseen. This is a book which is certain to be essential reading for aviation historians, enthusiasts and modellers.