Book reviews, December 1942, December 1942

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Elements of Automobile Engineering. By Maurice Platt. (Pitman’s.) 5/-.

Described on its title page as “a general introduction to automobile engineering for students,” this little book must certainly be classed as one of the best of its kind.

To many readers its great merit will lie in the fact that it is not entirely an introduction; rather does it assume a reasonable knowledge of the general principles of the subject, the result being that the essential matter is not hopelessly buried amidst masses of elementary theory. In particular, it is one of the few books on the subject. .which does not devote valuable space to explanation of the four-stroke cycle.

Despite its assumption that the reader has some knowledge of the fundamentals of automobile engineering the book is unusually comprehensive in scope.

Dealing with first things first, the author considers just what the basic requirements of a car are, in terms of space required for driver and passengers. An important matter, which is apt to be overlooked: streamlining would be far easier if all drivers were as tolerant in regard to driving positions as John Bolster seems to be!

The framework of the car is studied in some detail, modern stressed-body layouts receiving their full share of attention, then the necessary means for propelling and stopping the car. Finally, modern ideas on the refinements of steering and suspension, using these terms in their broadest senses, are summarised.

The book is generously illustrated, and, like the text, the illustrations are up to date. They deal in virtually every case with cars which were Oon the market at the outbreak of war and are fully representative of popular British practice.

In conclusion, I may say that, having borrowed the review copy, I read it from cover to cover at one sitting and have now ordered a copy to keep for myself.

J.L.

Sea Fliers. By C.G. Grey. (Faber and Faber.) 7/6.

If all books could be as interesting and easy to read as the one which Charles Grey, until recently Editor of The Aeroplane, has written and which Faber and Faber have just published, we would seriously contemplate going back to school when our war work is completed. Grey has given us those two most absorbing and instructive books “British Fighter Planes” and “Bombers,” and now he has written a similar work on the history and material of the Naval Air Service, Coastal Command and the Fleet Air Arm, as they developed from the old Royal Naval Air Service founded just before the last war. This book is rather more of a history and less of a text-book than the sister works, but there are plenty of technicalities for all that and data on our own sea-flying craft and those of America. Airship matters are also dealt with comprehensively and personalities are sketched fully and accurately as only C.G.G. can do it. Indeed, it is the C.G.G. approach and handling which makes “Sea Fliers” so entertaining to read. It is treated by the publishers rather as any other history book for the people, with frequent heading references and indexed chapters, but perhaps Faber and Faber are right, for at the end the author states that the purpose of the book is to tell people what they ought to know, so that they may have a solid background for their knowledge of, and interest in, air affairs. After all, bound volumes of The Aeroplane and All the World’s Aircraft exist for those seeking great detail or pure technicalities. We certainly hope that C.G. Grey will continue his instruction of the public in air affairs – we cannot imagine that he will write a book on civil transport or sporting flying while the war is happening, but there is still plenty for him to recall, describe, explain and comment upon in connection with military aviation, in spite of this additional, very welcome 256 pages. The latest book is well illustrated, although the photographs are not so well arranged as they are in the sister volumes.