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TUAW's Daily iPad App - Warplanes: A History of Aerial Combat

Gameloft recently released a new iPad book-app, Warplanes: A History of Aerial Combat (US$6.99). This app is follow-up to Gameloft's earlier book-app, War in the Pacific. This latest offering includes detailed information on 43 historic war planes including popular bombers like the B-52, fighters like the F-15 and reconnaissance airplanes like the SR-71 Blackbird.

You can view a 3D model of the plane, browse vintage photographs, read detailed specs and even watch a video of the plane in action (though not all planes have a video). The app opens to a home screen with clickable images of all the planes and is organized as reference guide, not a chapter book that you read.

The content is organized nicely and there is a lot of information for users to comb through, especially if you are new to military aviation. Besides background information, there is an interactive cutaway diagram of each plane and a rotatable 3-D model. The 3D model is a bit disappointing as you can only move it left and right. You cannot spin it to see the top and bottom of the plane.

The photo gallery for each plane is also inconsistent. When you click on gallery, sometimes you get a nice slideshow of pictures for each plane. Other times, you open a grid of images for all the planes, not just the one that you are viewing. The latter is a tease as you see fifteen thumbnails on the screen, but only two or three are for your selected plane.

Overall, the app is geared towards the beginning aviation buff or the more experienced aviator who wants a quick reference guide. It's not for the seasoned aviation veteran looking for a lot of stellar pictures and heart-pounding video of the planes in action.

This media-rich content which would look great on the iPad is lacking. I would love to see more images and, especially more videos of the planes in various aerial maneuvers. More planes would also be a welcome addition as 43 entries only scratch the surface of historic military planes. It is also worthy to note that the book-app is heavily weighted towards US planes and jets. There's a rich history of early World War I and World War II propeller planes that's missing.

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