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The Supersonic BONE (Hardback)

A Development and Operational History of the B-1 Bomber

Aviation Colour Books Military > Post-WWII Warfare > Afghanistan War Military > Post-WWII Warfare > Cold War Photographic Books

By Kenneth Katz
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 392
Illustrations: 300 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781399014717
Published: 8th February 2022
Last Released: 8th November 2022



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When the B-52 Stratofortress entered operational service with the US Air Force in 1955, work was already underway on defining its successor. The B-70 Valkyrie, a Mach 3 jet bomber, was one option. Although two XB-70A prototypes flew, the B-70 never went into production. Out of the subsequent Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft program came the B-1A bomber, which flew at high speed and low altitude to evade enemy air defenses. The B-1A was cancelled in favor of fitting the B-52 with cruise missiles. The B-1, known as the BONE, was revived in 1981 as the improved B-1B to boost American military power and be a symbol of American strength at the peak of Cold War tensions. The B-1B entered service in 1986 with several deficiencies. The resolution of most of these issues coincided with the end of the Cold War.

After the Cold War, the B-1B lost its primary nuclear mission but remained relevant by transforming into a high-speed, long-range, high-payload delivery platform for conventional precision-guided munitions. The first combat use of the B-1B was in 1998 in Iraq. The BONE has proved a highly effective combat aircraft in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and the former Yugoslavia.

This superbly researched and illustrated book traces the BONE’s long development and operational history in fascinating detail.

For anyone modelling the B-1 with any level of seriousness this is a go-to book, as while some books lean heavily on pictures, this one also has the background, and an understanding of the subject really does help to build a better model. With Modelcollect producing a new 1/72 kit, the Revell 1/72 and 1/48 kits, and finally the Academy 1/144 B 1B there is no excuse to not build a BONE, especially with a quality reference such as this available.

Scale Aircraft Modelling

This profusely illustrated and thoroughly researched book conveys a wealth of information and should be required reading for policymakers, contractors and crew.

Aviation History Magazine

"This is simply an incredibly detailed history of this US Air Forces supersonic bomber. Copiously illustrated and with remarkable coverage of not just the aircraft but also it's nuclear and conventional arsenal this book is an eye opener."

Helicopter International - January-February 2023

The operational history of use in the Middle East and Afghanistan proved interesting.

Read full review here

The Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

As Featured In.

Military Heritage Autumn 2022

"Every once in a while, we come across a must-read book. This is one of them. It is a great reference for historians, pilots, engineers, and even policy makers. Both the writing and photos are excellent."

Air & Space Power History, Autumn 2022

"The Author relates this complicated gestation process well, going on to cover the aircraft, its systems, its employment and its front-line use over Afghanistan and Iraq. The technical detail is all there but more importantly, he puts the B-1 into its proper perspective. Today, the USAF's B-1B fleet has begun to be drawn down, but the remaining examples still have some years to fly. Photo coverage is comprehensive with a good standard of reproduction."

Denis J. Calvert, Aeroplane Magazine June 2022

A stunning book and if you like the B-1, then I think this really should be on your bookcase, because I can't imagine it being bettered.

Read the Full Review here

Military Model Scene

Featured in

JP4 Aviation Monthly - July 2022

A fascinating account of the extraordinary suvccessor to the B-52 Stratofortress bomber, the B-1.

Books Monthly

As featured in

Aeroplane Monthly

This is a very intense publication which talks about, firstly, the rise of the American strategic bomber and obviously the subject of this book. Although it does not go into too much depth about the others it sets up the history and development of the B-1 from the start, mentioning B-58, B52 & the B-70. The book is set out in a standard manner, starting with an introduction – specifically a small combat story on the B-1B - and thus onto the Acknowledgements and Abbreviations. There are 16 chapters in total finishing with a bibliography. The first two chapters deal with the rise of the American strategic bomber mentioning the B-52 and B-70 and thence onto the B-1A in chapter 3. From here it talks – in chapter 4 - about the move and upgrade from the A to the B model. Chapter 5, titled ‘The Supersonic Cadillac’ of which this quote refers to its size and speed as a bomber, and not fighter, talks about the Design, analysis and aerodynamic configuration of the aircraft. Chapter 6 talks about the nuclear armament of the B-1B with chapter 7 carrying onto the development and testing of the same. Chapter 8 concerns itself with the building of the B-1 whilst chapter 9 deals with the aircraft’s Strategic Air Command service and thence with chapter 10 describing its role after the Cold War. Chapters 11 and 12 are about the combat debut of the aircraft following on in chapter 12 about the continuing global war on terror. Chapter 13 talks about maintaining the ‘bone’ with the final chapters i.e., 14, 15 & 16 mainly about the aircrafts presence and use globally and the final years. The book finishes with the bibliography as you might expect. All in all, an enjoyable and involved publication covering not only the subject aircraft but the history leading up to it along with many detailed colour and black and white photographs.

Andrew Thomson, IPMS Keighley

For the modeller specifically the high number of high quality images should allow the modeller to find good quality images of any specific detail being sought. At the same time increasing the pleasure that somebody wishing to read about the aircraft. Due to all of these features the result is a book that I believe will meet the expectations of both the person interested in the aircraft and the person who wants images of the aircraft.

Read the full review here


"This is a well-written, immaculately researched book. In hardback, it will grace military libraries for decades to come, and on Kindle, it will interest a wide range of aviation, capability development and US military enthusiasts."

Read the full review: here

The Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

"This superbly researched and illustrated book traces the BONE’s long development and operational history in fascinating detail."

Read the review here

Scale Modelling Now

The author is to be commended for the logical and detailed format of the book. The extent of his research is quite evident and it is simply a book you cannot put down. It has the perfect mix of technical descriptions with personal accounts that combine to make it an enjoyable read. I have no reservations recommending this book with the highest of recommendations to all readers both professional or enthusiast organisations and individuals. Honestly this is a great book about an impressive airplane and you won’t be disappointed!

Todd Shugart - The Aviation Enthusiast Book Club

About Kenneth Katz

Educated in aerospace engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan, KENNETH P. KATZ has over three decades of experience as an US Air Force officer, flight test engineer, and project manager. He is currently employed as a staff project engineer for a major aerospace contractor. Katz has a commercial pilot certificate with instrument rating, flight experience as an observer and crewmember in over 20 types of military aircraft and is a Senior Member of the Society of Flight Test Engineers.
He is the author of three patents, several conference papers, and two previous books about the subject of modern military aircraft.
Katz currently lives in Connecticut in the United States.

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