By Derek N. James. 446pp. 8 3/4 in. x. 5 1/2 in. (Putnam & Co. Ltd., 9, Bow Street, London, WC2E 7AL. £5.50.)
Another volume in their prolific, packed-with-information, copiously-illustrated one-make aeroplane histories, this one about the Gloucestershire/Gloster Aircraft Company is more than usually nostalgic to those whose schooldays were spent, as some of mine were, hanging about near hangars hoping to see Gloster Gamecocks and Grebes emerge and take-off.
Surely the Gamecocks, Siskins and Bulldogs were the essence of peace-time RAF and Auxiliary Air Force excitement, accompanied, of course, by their pilots’ Bentleys, 30/98s and Alvis sports cars? This book puts Gloster’s contribution to aviation in those, and earlier and later eras, in technical perspective, from Mars I to Javelin. Gloster did much racing, so the Bamel and those Schneider Trophy seaplanes enliven the account, with the Gannet “motor glider” to provide contrast. The author has enlarged the normal Putnam format to include a section on Gloster’s test pilots and details of surviving aeroplanes. Motoring references are confined to the Unibus scooter, which the Company made for a time, and the lorry (a Model-T Ford, I think) which carried or towed aeroplanes from Sunningend to Hucclecote aerodrome. One wonders, incidentally, what make of lorry took the Gloster II to Felixstowe in 1924?
A wooden Gloster IV racing seaplane cost £8,250, so the team would have absorbed some £450,000 in 1971 currency, and the Gloster VIs £25,000 the pair; some of the profits made on one-model contracts by Gloster pre-war are impressively large. Incidentally, Amherst-Villiers bought a Gloster IV seaplane in 1930. The pictures, as usual, are a fantastic collection.—W.B.