The MB-339 is a trainer/light-attack aircraft designed for the Italian Air Force by Aermacchi. The reliability, simplicity and capabilities of the airframe meant that it was successfully exported to 8 other countries.
The author of the book (a pilot himself) clearly tells the history and characteristics of this airplane, with the detail and insights that only someone that has flown the aircraft could tell. The relationship between author and machine runs deep and it shows in his writing.
Through the book, the author describes the evolution of the aircraft in its main versions (A/PAN, CD, MLU). The first version was a basically an analog trainer, later the CD version was a digital electronics trainer where Tornado crews got their first lessons and finally the MLU (Mid-Life-Upgrade) which was an overhaul of the A version to extend its life into the 2000s, when it became capable of carrying anti-ship and ground-attack missiles.
One interesting aspect of this aircraft is well described in the book. Due to the capability to carry air-to-air missiles, long range fuel tanks plus air-refuelling capabilities, and low-fuel consumption, it has been adapted into the SMI (slow moving interceptor) role focused against air-borne terrorist threats, like light aircraft, helicopters and drones. It has provided an air umbrella for public events (like the Pope funeral or other political high-profile events, like Inauguration Day, etc).
In addition, there is a section of the MB-339 PAN (PAN was basically the A version, adapted for aerobatics display) in service with the “Frecce Tricolori” (the Italian aerobatic squadron), including a brief reference to the Ramstein Air Disaster.
This book is profusely illustrated with color pictures of the MB-339, virtually all of them in Italian Service, although there is a small section of images for foreign users. The book also includes a section of prototypes and demonstrators, and a small appendix with details on the 1/72 scale MB-339 from Italeri.
I would say that one of the most inspiring sections of the book is the “Special Colors”, with pictures of one-off or commemorative camo schemes.
If you want to learn about the varied capabilities of this airplane, and great air-to-air pictures plus walk-around style images, this book will be your “go-to” book
I would like to thank Casemate Publishers and IPMS/USA for the review sample.