Book reviews, July 1962, July 1962

“The Mad Major,” by Major Christopher Draper, D.S.C. 231 pp. 8,3/4 in. x 5,3/5 in. (Air Review Ltd., Letchworth, Herts. 25s.)

Published to coincide with his 70th birthday, this autobiography of “The Mad Major,” who is notorious mainly for his flights under bridges—he began by flying a Sopwith 1,1/2-strutter under the Byfleet bridge at Brooklands in 1913, went beneath Tower Bridge in a D.H. Puss Moth in 1931, and finally, at the age of 61, flew an Auster under 15 bridges between Waterloo and Kew in 1953, to land himself in considerable trouble.

An account, first hand, of these low-flying adventures would alone be well worthwhile, but the “Mad Major’s” book contains many other good things as well. There are accounts of how Major Draper became a pilot, of his war service in the R.F.C. and R.A.F., and some very interesting items and illustrations, although not enough, of his between-wars flying activities, his total “bag” of different aeroplanes since July 1913 numbering 73.

This slightly unusual, outspoken, flippant and entertaining book is by no means confined to aviation, however. Major Draper has fascinating reminiscences of his appearances on the stage, of his essay into counter-espionage under instruction from M.I.5, of meetings with royalty, flying Sabrina from engagement to engagement, and so on. His early motorcycles are referred to, there are pictures of the Austin Seven the author used when he was an armament officer at Ford Air Station in Sussex, and historians will relish the picture of the Sopwith Snipe formation-acrobatics flight which performed at Hendon in 1921 (and in which Major Draper flew) drawn up with its solid-tyred Thornycroft(?) transport in attendance.

One hopes for more motoring and aviation books in this style. You should buy this one, if only to reward the “old scoundrel” who has entertained us so outrageously so often in the past. Recommended!—W.B.

“Air-Cooled Motor Engines,” by Julius Mackerle, M.E. 476 pp. 8,3/4 in. x 5,3/5 in. (Cleaver-Hume Press Ltd., 31, Wright’s Lane, Kensington, London, W.8. 55s.)

This is a comprehensive text-book on the theory, design and construction of i.e. engines cooled by air. Written by the former Chief Designer of Tatra, at the Research Institute for Motor Vehicles, Prague, there is very little left out, as a summary of some of the book’s 19 chapters indicates— “General Principles,” “Fundamentals of Heat Transmission,” “Heat Transfer from Hot Gases to Cylinder Walls,” “Heat Transfer through Cylinder Walls,” “Thermal Balance of the Engine,” “The Finned Surface,” ” Quantity of Cooling Air,” Control of the Cooling System,” Utilisation of Exhaust Gas Energy,” and so on.

Naturally, there are interesting details of many Tatra air-cooled engines, up to the 12-cylinder T111 engine, and there is an illustration of the Tatra racing car with air-cooled engine at the back.

This should be an invaluable work for all automobile, motorcycle and aero-engine designers who see no reason to burden their power units with weighty water jackets and radiators. The volume is copiously supplemented by graphs, charts and sectional drawings and there is a table of metric conversion factors.—W. B.

“1961/62 Autocourse Review of International Motor Sport.” 216 pp. 11,1/5 in. x 8,3/5 in. (Trafalgar Press Ltd., 9, Catherine Place, London, S. W./. 40s.)

This big volume full of facts and photographs, sets out to record, fully and effectively, the 1961/62 season of motor racing. Thus, it pictures the leading drivers of 1961, publishes long articles on Richie Ginther and the Ferguson P99 project, reports the Grandes Epreuves of last year, the Sports-Car Championship, the European Rally Championship and the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race of 1961.

In addition, the big art pages are filled with illustrated descriptions of Ferrari, Porsche, Lotus, Cooper and B.R.M. F1 cars, a discourse on racing oils, etc. The race reports include the Autocourse comprehensive lap charts, maps of the circuits, lists of previous winners (a droll error here is calling all Mercedes cars “Mercedes-Benz,” whether pre- or post-1926), practice times, starting-grid positions, retirements chart, weather notes, etc. Obviously, serious students of motor-racing history who obtain this volume annually will have it all at their finger-tips as each season’s racing moves towards its nitch in history. For the same reason a lot of readers have their Motor Sports bound.—W. B.

“Sports Cars in Colour,” by Ronald Barker. 71 pp. 8,3/4 in. x 7,1/2 in. (B. T. Batsford & Co., Ltd., 4, Fitzhardinge Street, London, W.I. 12s. 6d.)

This is another of Batsford’s colour books, not essential of course, but nice to have, for it puts 24 sports cars, from Aston Martin DB4 to Alfa Romeo Giulietta (the subject is not dealt with alphabetically) into colour. Motor Sport provided action photographs of the Maserati Tipo 61 and Austin-Healey 3000S.

Ronald Barker contributes a good introduction and describes each car on the page facing its portrait. It is exceedingly difficult to find anything new to say, but Barker contrives to be adequate without being elementary, and tells us how the Morgan Plus-Four got its type name. Some of the two-dozen cars chosen are somewhat from the past, such as the Cunningham C-4R, Facel Vega Facellia, Lancia D24 and Jaguar-D, so there is variety of period as well as picture in this little volume.—W. B.

“The Motor Book. An Anthology, 1895-1914.” Edited by T. R. Nicholson. 317 pp. 8,1/2 in. x 6,1/5 in. (Methuen & Co., Ltd., 36, Essex Street, Strand, London, W.G.2. 25s.)

T. R. Nicholson has in this motoring anthology collected together a great number of extracts out of history, both fact and fictional, text and verse, so as to compile a thick tome that enables readers to grasp the spirit of a past age. The 113 extracts are from books, not magazines, and the names of these authors of long, long ago, appearing below their quotations, endorse the distance in time to which this book takes us back—Rudyard Kipling, Alfred Harmsworth, Filson Young, Max Pemberton, Charles Jarrott, C. S. Rolls, Emily Post, etc., etc., etc.

“Vintage Cars,” by Phil Drackett. 92 pp. 7, 5/16 in. x 4,13/16 in. (W. & G. Foyle Ltd., 119-125, Charing Cross Road, London, W.C.2. 4s.)

Phil Drackett has followed up his excellent little book on Veteran Cars with a similar one on Vintage Cars. In its small and sparse pages Drackett writes stimulatingly about almost all the points on which newcomers to the vintage movement require enlightenment—dating by the V.S.C.C., one-make clubs, cost, brief histories of famous vintage makes, museums, models, etc. There are liberal references to news and prices culled from Motor Sport, the slim little volume is illustrated with well-picked photographs, and is indexed. Recommended! —W. B.

“Floyd Clymer’s 1961 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race Year Book.” 158 pp. 10,13/16 in. x 8,3/4 in. Soft covers. (Floyd Clymer Publications, 222 No. Virgil Avenue at Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles 4, California. 2 dollars.)

Clymer has come out with his usual comprehensive annual on the 1961 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, this one more interesting than usual to European readers as it contains material on the Brabham Cooper that was specially built for the race and on the parade of historic Indianapolis racing cars that preceded the start. Would that all important races were as fully documented, although rather more technical data on the competing cars would be appreciated—there seems less in this than in earlier editions.- W. B.

Batsford have re-issued “The Racing Car,” by C. Clutton, C. Posthumus and D. Jenkinson, as a paper-back, unabridged, indexed and with a very nice colour binding, at 5s.

L. Scott Bailey’s ” Automobile Quarterly ” is a lavish, solid-cover publication covering all aspects of American motorama. Popular writers and artists doing fairly general work are favoured. This 107-page publication sells for 5.95 dollars.

Cars in books

There is reference in Charles Lindbergh’s detailed account of the first solo Atlantic flight, “The Spirit of St. Louis” (John Murray, 1953), to the “half-owned, secondhand Ford coupe” he used before his take-off from New York in the Ryan monoplane which made him famous and the “rusting black Buick roadster” owned by Donald Hall, Ryan’s Chief Engineer (this is in 1927). And we learn that when the crowd engulfed Lindbergh after his landing at Le Bourget it was in the little Renault car (a 9.5 h.p.?) of the civil pilot Delage that he escaped from the surging wellwishers. . . .

Then there is the pre-1914 60-h.p. sports car of fiction, difficult to start, at the Yorkshire estate of the Crowthers, and their Rolls-Royce, in “The Crowthers of Bankdom,” by Thomas Armstrong (Collins, 1940).—W. B.