I have read your review of “Airships” by Robert Jackson. In this you refer to a book about airships, which you once read, “by a writer known as Spanner”. I do feel that the late E. F. Spanner, whom I knew well, deserves better than this and I am sure that you would be interested in some of his achievements.
E. F. Spanner was a Naval architect, inventor and author. His inventions included the duct keel system of ship construction and the “Swirlyflo” boiler and heat exchanger tube which is in use to this day and which, but for the electrification of the British railway system, would almost certainly have been used in steam-driven locomotives.
In addition to his many technical papers he wrote, between 1927 and 1929, several books about airships such as “This Airship Business”, “About Airships” and “Gentlemen Prefer Aeroplanes”. [The one I read as a boy.—Ed.] These all mounted, on technical grounds, highly outspoken attacks on the Government of the day for its policy in pushing ahead with the construction of the R100 and R101.
Spanner stated, both in those books and in papers to learned societies, exactly why he considered the design of these airships to be absolutely unsound and how and why they would inevitably crash. He seems to have spared no effort to prevent what he was convinced would be certain disaster and one cannot help wondering what the result of the public enquiry would have been if those concerned had not been killed at Beauvais.
The R101 disaster proved Spanner to have been completely right in his technical views, although, from my knowledge of him, this gave him no satisfaction whatever.
A. B. Innes Dick.