The World's Worst Aircraft

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“The World’s Worst Aircraft” by James Gilbert. 192 pp. 10 1/4. in. x 8 3/4 in. (Michael Joseph Ltd., 52, Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3EF £4.95.)

A curious title for a book, which is one that, while it may be ignored by the more intense students of aeronautical history, contains much easy and entertaining reading, with a technical approach guaranteed by the fact that the author is art active aviator and the Editor of Pilot. The Contents are far-ranging, running from the very early days, of balloons and Lilian Bland’s primitive aeroplane, etc., to such monstrosities as the Forssman designs, the Christmas Bullet, Tarrant’s enormous Tabor in which six Napier Lion engines were dwarfed by the huge triplane structure that never rose farther than onto its nose, and the Caproni multiplanes, etc.

By way of contrast we have a chapter on the American Gee Bee racers that killed so many who flew them, and all of which crashed, the Barling bomber, the ill-fated R101 airship, that flaming monument to ill-advised Nationalisation, those Maxim Gorky giants, and big flying boats, not all of which were failures, to the diminutive Flying Fleas. The last is the occasion of an interesting discourse about the inventor, Henri Mignet, and, in passing, it may be said that I know of some fearful inaccuracies about a friend’s Flying Flea, perpetuated in a work that claims to be far more of a reference book than this one.

Other flying machines, ancient and modern, complete Gilbert’s saga and there are some good pictures. (One notices a Beardmore London taxi under the R101’s mast and wonders how it got there ?) Not everyone will agree with Gilbert’s choice, or even, maybe, with his criticisms, hut this should make the studying. of him all the more entertaining.—W.B.

The 1976 edition of “The Showman’s Director” has been published by Stephen and Jean Lance, Brook House, Mint Street, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 1HE. It. is their 8th edition, costs 75p, and provides a wealth of information about what to drive-to this year, and, for the organisers of such shows and exhibitions, where to obtain supplies of all kinds. This time the principal European Agricultural Shows are listed.