Friday, May 4th, 2012 10:03 am GMT -7 Friday, May 4th, 2012 10:03 am GMT -7Friday, May 4th, 2012 10:03 am GMT -7
The Great Book of World War II Airplanes

Filled with amazing full-color illustrations. A must have massive volume.





I ordered a copy of this book without knowing how big it was. One day, a large and really heavy box showed up at my doorstep. The first thought that went through my head (honest!) was “gee, I don’t remember ordering any encyclopedias.” This book is just massive. It measures 11 by 13 inches, contains about 650 pages, and weighs in at about ten pounds. Even if you do not buy your books on a “pound for the buck” basis, this one is a clear winner.


This book is the compilation of twelve other books that were originally published separately. Each book covered a military airplane of major significance during World War II. They originally sold for a combined cover price of $190.

Each chapter stands on its own. A foreword at the front and a very well done index at the back tie the entire book together.


The twelve airplanes in the book are:

  • Avro 683 Lancaster
  • Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Chance-Vought F4U Corsair
  • de Havilland Mosquito
  • Focke-Wulf Fw190
  • Grumman F6F Hellcat
  • Junkers Stuka Ju87
  • Lockheed P-38 Lighting
  • Messerschmitt Bf109
  • Mitsubishi A6M Zero Fighter
  • North American P-51 Mustang
  • Supermarine Spitfire


Rikyu Watanabe created all the illustrations in the book. He has an amazing talent. Each illustration looks “right”, with incredible amounts of detail. The book includes over 400 full color illustrations, with 24 large fold out panels.

Besides the usual external views, many sub-assemblies are given special treatment. You can find illustrations showing cockpits, instrument panels, engines, guns, and specialized equipment such as bomb sights. There are even schematic drawings showing the internal structures of the airframes.

Sometimes a book will boast that its images are “suitable for framing”, but it is really just engaging in clever marketing. The fold out panels in this book really are huge and very good looking. I would not be ashamed to hang them on my walls.

Many have bought this book just for the illustrations, though there is much more to be found within its pages.

Great Writing

Eight authors divided the task of writing the narrative text for the twelve aircraft. The histories cover the creation of the airplane and a summary description of the large number of versions that were usually manufactured.

The writing is better than most books of this type. The authors did not assume that you were already a big fan of the airplane, but worked hard to tell you about what made them legends.


The illustrations are simply gorgeous. The book’s large format is really used to advantage. There is no shortage of full page drawings where even the tiniest detail can be examined. Too many books are filled with small, fuzzy historical pictures that are useless if you are trying to build a high quality scale model.

There are also many historical pictures included, but their role is clearly to support the illustrations with a different perspective on the airplanes covered.

I paid about $15 for my used copy of this book. It would have still been a solid value if I had paid $50 for it.

5 / 5 stars      

Click to buy Great Book of World War II Airplanes from Amazon.

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