Books for the New Year
"Conquerors Of The Air"", by Heiner Emde. 204 pp. 12 in. x 10¼ in. (Patrick Stephens Ltd., 9, Ely Place, London, E.C.1. 190s.)
This is a lavishly produced history of aeroplane evolution from 1903 to 1945, published by Edita, of Lausanne, who are responsible for "Automobile Year". It is a book which contains fine colour plans and action drawings; the illustrations are by Carlo Demand. The chapters cover various aspects of aeronautical history, but the approach is a trifle truncated and written in an over-dramatised, popular style. Santos-Dumont, World War I flying, the trans-Atlantic Vickers Vimy, the trans-Atlantic East-West Junkers Ju W-33, Byrd's South Pole Ford tri-motor, the giant Dornier Do X flying boat, Fokker's early passenger machines, the Sikorski S-42B flying laboratory, the Russian Polikarpov of World War II, the Messerschmitt Me 323 giant transporter, the Boeing B-17s, the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M6c fighter, and rocket and jet engines, form the subjects covered in hotpotch fashion. There is a chapter on the Schneider Trophy races with especial reference to Italy's Macchi-Castoldi MC-72 racing seaplane, which should be of more than passing interest to our readers, this chapter being embellished by fine colour plans, of value to model-makers, of six of the competing machines, together with technical data by Hans Redemann.
This is a magnificently produced book, but one which presents its material in perhaps rather too general and superficial a style for recommendation to serious aviation students.—W. B.
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"The Vintage Years At Brooklands", by Doctor Joseph Bayley. 131 pp. 7¾ in. x 10 in. (Goose & Son Ltd., Davey Place, Norwich. 75s.)
What a nostalgic piece of work this picture-book is! Dr. Bayley has admirably recaptured the spirit of motorcycle racing at Brooklands between 1920 and 1930 by having his publishers reproduce, in a sensible size, 130 photographs from his collection. There is a big picture of each motorcycle. Usually the rider is astride it, but the machine is at rest, so plenty of detail can be seen. In the background of most of the pictures other machines, vintage cars, many of them astonishingly pedestrian, personalities, the crowd, glimpses of Brooklands from odd standpoints, etc., can be seen, so that the fascination and thrill of it all is admirably recaptured. Moreover, the text supporting each splendid picture is quite minimal, being just a caption to the illustration, as if Bayley is telling you about his personal album around the fireside. He manages to put in a table of the outright motorcycle lap record in the vintage years, but does not otherwise offer any more than these chatty captions—a true history of B.M.C.R.C. racing at the Track has not yet been written, if you except my humble serial in the pages of Lord Montagu's magazine.
Where he thinks it desirable the author includes more than one—sometimes several—pictures of the same rider, even on the same make of motorcycle. All but five of the 130 pictures have these nostalgic backgrounds, collectively depicting the incredible caps, trilbys, leather coats and plus-fours of the crowds, and a fine variety of silencers, riders' kit and stripped racing machinery, etc. There are reminders of forgotten items, if you look carefully, like the numbered skull-caps worn by a rider's crew. And see if you can identify all the cars seen in the pictures! A few of the photographs are of speed-trials, but the majority are of Brooklands and all are of riders who competed at the Track. Otherwise, this is a book about the magic vintage years at the Track and nothing else I have seen captures better the spirit of those times.
How did Bayley get these pictures? A few are his own, or were taken by a fellow enthusiast. But 123 of them are from The Motor Cycle, which he has generously been permitted to use; Iliffe's are kind to serious historians. This is fair, because Bayley has arranged for any royalties his book earns to be paid to the A.C.U. Benevolent Fund. So it behoves you to order your copy at once. Apart from the fine pictures, there is a magnificent colour plate of the author's 1927 596 c.c. Brooklands Douglas on the dust jacket and names like O. M. Baldwin, E. C. E. Baragwanath, G. Dance, A. Denly, F. W. Dixon, Kaye Don, L. P. Driscoll, E. C. Fernihough, V. Horsman, R. N. Judd, H. le Vack, W. D. Marchant, O'Donovan, I. P. Riddoch, C. S. Staniland, C. F. Temple, G. E. Tottey, H. M. Walters, J. S. Worters, J. S. Wright, and many, many more, are mustered in these delightful pages, together with all manner of motorcycles, ranging from A.J.S. to Zenith-J.A.P. It really is thoroughly enjoyable, unless you have most of the shots in back numbers of The Motor Cycle, or expected a full history of the B.M.C.R.C. for your money. I have but two very minor quibbles—there is a line of type reversed in a heading on the last page and when referring to two-stroke exponents at Brooklands (illustrated by Norris' 1921 500-Mile Race 346 c.c. Ivy and C. P. Wood's 1921 Scott) Bayley mentions a number of them, but omits to include that very keen chap, the late Cliff Lewis, who rode small two-strokes, ran the B.M.C.R.C. for a time after the war, and so nearly wrote the still-awaited motorcycle history of the Track.
I suspect that this unique book will be in short supply and should be ordered quickly by all true lovers of racing down at Weybridge.—W. B.
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"Blackburn Aircraft Since 1909", by A. J. Jackson. 555 pp. 8¾ in. x 5½ in. (Putnam & Co. Ltd., 9, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, W.C.2. 105s.)
Another beautifully produced reference work in Putnam's famous aeronautical series, this book follows the pattern of this publishing house's Avro, De Havilland, Hawker, Bristol, Shorts, Boeing, Fokker and other histories. That is to say, that it is packed with pictures, scale drawings, historical and technical facts and performance data.
The name of the author is a guarantee of accuracy and his Foreword is particularly nostalgic. He refers to Blackburn's brief entry into the Motor Car Industry but does not illustrate the Blackburn car, as he did Avro's motoring products in his other volume. But all the famous Blackburn aeroplanes, flying boats, their tiny Sidecar light 'plane, the transport Kangaroos, the enormous Cubaroo with its 1,000 h.p. X16-cylinder Napier engine, the Bluebird, in one of which racing motorist the Hon. Mrs. Victor Bruce flew round the World after only 40 hours in her log-book—they are all described, recalled, dissected and discussed in a most scholarly manner, down to war-time and modern Blackburn products, like the Beverley and Buccaneer. There are many intriguing items in this book, such as a picture showing the traction engine which officiated at the launching and the recovery of all the early Blackburn flying boats at Brough, pictures of the various test pilots, including the late R. W. Kenworthy, whom I met during the last war and who had such narrow escapes when trying out Blackburn's only entry in the Schneider Trophy races, details of a 1911 Antoinette with Levavasseur V8 engine which Robert Blackburn bought from a Colwyn Bay garage for £60 in 1916 and which is now in the South Kensington Museum, and a great deal about the advanced Blackburn Segrave monoplanes designed by the late Sir Henry Segrave just before he was killed in Miss England II while attacking the World's water speed record. The Blackburn Lincocks naturally get their share of space; these intrigue me for a more personal reason. When I was going through the Civil Register at the Air Ministry a few years prior to the war, searching out old aeroplanes still in existence, I was allowed to copy from it freely, except for one entry. This the gentleman in charge covered discreetly with a sheet of paper; but not before I realised that it concerned the Lincock, although as this never saw service with the R.A.F. I have never understood the need for this secrecy.
As I have remarked previously, these Putnam aviation books shame motor historians and our comparatively lukewarm enthusiasm for such works. At a time when several worthwhile motoring books have been abandoned as unlikely to earn sufficient money for their publishers, Putnam continue to publish these fine aeronautical histories. So they presumably find customers for these comparatively expensive aeroplane books in which the data and the wealth of illustration put most motor-car histories on a par with kindergarten scribbling.—W. B.
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"Lord Austin—The Man", by Z. E. Lambert and R. J. Wyatt. 187 pp. 9 3/8 in. x 6 in. (Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd., 1, Tavistock Chambers, Bloomsbury Way, London, W.C.1. 50s.)
Bob Wyatt has already written a successful history of the Austin 7 and is engaged on a full story of the Austin Motor Company. This is a sort of interim work, written in collaboration with Lord Austin's daughter, Mrs. Lambert. It gives a readable account of the life and work of the famous motor manufacturer and contains much of interest about the early days of the Wolseley Company, Austin's racing endeavours with Wolseley cars, the introduction of the Austin 7 and the progress made by the Austin Motor Company until the Nuffield take-over.
Inevitably, much of the material has appeared previously, because Austin's life has been dealt with before, notably in the pages of The Autocar, and St. John Nixon has given us a Foulis history of Wolseley, while Wyatt is fresh from his excellent Austin 7 monograph. The personal reminiscences about Austin himself make interesting reading, but perhaps the best part of the book is the 8½-page Foreword by Sir Miles Thomas, D.F.C., C.ENG. Most book-buyers, however, may prefer to miss this one and wait for Wyatt's keenly-anticipated history of the entire Austin empire.—W. B.
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"A Century Of Service", by R. A. Whitehead, F.R.I.C.S., A.1.ARB. (Eddison Plant Ltd., Harlexton Road, Grantham. 21s.)
This book is published by Eddison Plant Ltd. to commemorate their Centenary, for whilst this firm has had a long and interesting history, its thinking is geared to present-day hired-plant needs and its plant is to be seen on most major contract jobs in Great Britain. Thus the closing pages refer to modern equipment, with colour illustrations of it.
The rest of the book is about the beginnings and development of the Company and the ploughing engines, steam rollers and traction engines it has employed. Ranging from 1868 to the present, the subject is treated technically, there are many interesting (if rather small) illustrations, and plenty of reminiscences of the past, including details of conditions under which steam roller men worked and some of the accidents they were involved in. The full-page photograph of Eddison's Dorchester yard in 1885 and other informal pictures of rollers and tractions at work and, occasionally, capsised, should alone justify the cost of the book in the eyes of rabid steam enthusiasts.—W. B.
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"The Men", by Barrie Gill. 224 pp. 9¼ in. x 5 7/8 in. (Leslie Frewin Ltd., 15, Hay's Mews, London, W.1. 35s.)
Here is a book about modern Grand Prix drivers as they look to Barrie Gill, ex-newspaper journalist, now working for Ford. Dramatised, intimate, up-to-date, except that it was published before the Mexican G.P., this book is bound to appeal to those who enjoy reading about the drivers rather than about technicalities, and who lap up details of the more gory accidents.
It does not have the clinical expertise of "The Grand Prix Driver". It is not written with the prose of a Court or a Pomeroy. Gill tells of the drivers, in clipped, crisp sentences, whom he met daily and whom he worked alongside until they went out on to the circuit. He is not against using such expressions as "smashing off the track" in this personal appraisal of modern G.P. drivers. The book is illustrated with the usual pictures of drivers with their wives, women and children, on the track off duty. It will appeal to those who want to know more about the men they see in action from the public enclosures and grandstands. There is a drivers' potted biography, going from Amon to Surtees, tables giving World Drivers Championship race results from 1961 to 1967, with blank tables for you to complete up to 1972, and a tribute to Jim Clark.
The titles of other chapters may or may not appeal to serious followers of motor racing—"Boy Wonders and Late Starters", "What Makes Them Tick", "You Don't Talk About Fear", "Kiwi Courageous", "The Man Who Made John Cooper Run", "Grocery's Gift To Grand Prix", "The Etonian They Expelled Too Soon", "The Boy Who Picked Flowers", "Don't Knock the 'ell Out of Hulme", and "The 'Whoosh Bonk' Man", are some of them!—W. B.
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"Porsche Story", by Julius Weitmann. 256 pp. 10 in. x 7½ in. (Patrick Stephens Ltd., 9, Ely Place. London, E.G.1. 60s.)
There has been a previous Porsche history, which is perhaps why this one is concerned mainly with photographic coverage of Porsche cars in competitions, between the years 1951 and 1968. The English version has a text translation by Charles Meisl, but tells its story mainly through the medium of a great many black-and-white pictures, some of them rather small, but all of great interest and pleasure-promotion to Porsche followers and owners.
Apart from these excellent, high-quality pictures, which number more than 430, of personalities and technicalities as well as of cars, there is a table listing all the production Porsche models from 1950 to 1968, and a list of the major Porsche victories from 1953 to 1968.—W. B.
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"The Golden Age of the American Racing Car", by Griffith Borgeson. 288 pp. 11¼ in. x 7 7/8 in. (Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd., 1, Tavisrock Chambers, Bloomsbury Way, London, W.C.1. 84s.)
There is much of interest in this book and some interesting pictures, although many of the illustrations have been published elsewhere in earlier times. The sub-title is misleading, saying as it does that this is "The complete story of the men, the machines, the tracks, the engineering and the feats of the great years between the wars . . ." It is far from complete; it would be expecting a lot of any book to cover so much in one volume. Nor does it really take in American racing cars between the wars, but rather between 1915 to the end of 1929, which is the vintage period minus a year and does not include the post-vintage era at all.
Then, on his acknowledgement page, Borgeson says that the only books which "touch on the main subject" and were useful in preparation of his own work were the two about Indianapolis by Al Bloemket and Wilbur Shaw, the Floyd Clymer Indianapolis history books, and a list of American race results from 1899 to 1941 by Charles L. Betts, Jr. This misses out an excellent racing-car history, "The Indianapolis 500", by Jack C. Fox, which illustrates almost every runner in every 500-Mile Race (we never received this one for review, unfortunately). This omission seems to stem from the fact that Borgeson's book was published in the U.S.A. in 1966 and that it was unloaded on the British market last year by pasting stickers over the name of the New York publisher and over its dollar price!
So it is already out of date. It contains, nevertheless, a great deal about typical American racing ears of 40 and 50 years ago—the Millers, the Frontenacs, Duesenbergs, Packard Cables, and so on, and covers technical aspects such as supercharging, front-wheel-drive, the Lockhart sagas and the like. But not much is new and what there is comes in too popular a style for this to be regarded as a serious engineering treatise—"Louis was hurtling down the concrete pavement flat-out at what seemed like at least 100 m.p.h. in the high, tottering T, when suddenly the pavement ended without visible warning. The left front wheel dug into the loose rubble in the centre of the toad and, in a flash, the black, boxy sedan was skating upside down at a furious speed", for instance . . .
There are good personal anecdotes throughout the book and we see the author, as a child, in his Mother's HCS Duesenberg tourer, so he had a damn good start in life! There is a certain amount of good technical meat in his text and a table of racing-engine specifications up to 1927. The Appendices are rather brief, but what I did find interesting was the list of 24 American board tracks, with lap-distances of from half a mile to two miles, which were in use from 1910 to 1931. Does anything remain of any of them?
This book adds something to one's knowledge of American racing cars and constitutes a useful reference work if time does not permit research elsewhere. It is also quite a nice picture book; but an expensive one.—W. B.
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An album of 32 colour plates depicting different coachwork styles of horseless carriages of the 19th century has been published in an edition limited to 3,000 copies by Edita Lausanne. The brief introduction by D. B. Tubbs is rather hackneyed, but there are subsequent explanations for each illustration. Naturally, the quality of production is very high. The book (84 pp. 9¾ in. x 6¾ in.) is available from Patrick Stephens Ltd. for 100s.
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"Rallying", by Stuart Turner (120 pp. 8¾ in. x 5½ in.--G. T. Foldis & Co. Ltd., 50a, Bell Street, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon., 21s.), has gone into a third, revised edition.
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Those who want an accurate, well-illustrated introduction to the vintage-car movement are advised to obtain a copy of "Your Book of Vintage Cars", by John Coleman (61pp. 8½ in. x 6 in.—Faber & Faber, 24, Russell Square, London, W.C.2, 15s.). It contains much of interest to newcomers and a few not very significant errors.