BOOK REVIEWS, May 1970, May 1970

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“Airspeed Aircraft Since 1931”, by H. A. Taylor. 206pp.
8 3/4 in. x 5 5/8 in. (Putnam & Company Ltd., 9, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2. 50s.)

We have reviewed many of the technical aviation books published by the house of Putnam and each one has been much appreciated for the vast amount of pictorial and textual information contained therein, and for the high quality of the paper, printing and block making.

This new volume in the series, the history of the small, brave and ambitious Airspeed Company, is especially readable because, perhaps on account of the author having been employed by Airspeed for a period of five years, it goes into much intimate detail about many of the aeroplanes and gliders for which they were responsible.

After a detailed history of the Company the standard Putnam treatment is followed, that of individual histories of each machine, from AS.1 Tern glider to AS.6.9, with copious pictures and 3-view scale drawings. Many uncompleted but highly interesting Airspeed projects are included, and appendices cover Type Summaries, Individual Aircraft Histories, RAF Serials by Manufacturers and Marks Of Oxfords and Horsas, and Aircraft Resulting from Recommendations of Second Brabazon Committee (1943).

Some fascinating stories are to be found in this excellent book, from which we learn what it was like to fly a towed Horsa glider, of the first down-payment on an Airspeed Ferry by the late John C. Sword being his 6 1/2-litre Bentley, valued in 1933, at £900, but fetching only £700, of the quite remarkable fail-safe self-landing aids built into the pilot-less Queen Wasp a quarter-of-a-century before automatic control down to the actual landing became an accepted accomplishment, and of the remarkable landing of an Ambassador by Ron Clear after it had shed its two engines, which resulted in Chief Test Pilot George Errington arranging for his colleague to be presented with a miniature ship’s telegraph with its signal set to “Finished with Engines”. All told, a book aviation enthusiasts and historians are going to greatly enjoy.

W. B.

Some time ago we published a review of a fascinating book, “Great Mysteries of the Air”, by Ralph Barker (Chaco & Windus, 1966). There is now a similar book, “The World’s Greatest Air Mysteries”, by Michael Hardwick, published by The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., Hamlyn House, 42, The Centre, FeItham, Middlesex, at 25s. The author pays tribute to the earlier book on the same subject and admits that his book repeats five air mysteries covered by Ralph Barker. This leaves 16 fresh chapters, covering a very long period of aviation, from ballooning over the North Pole in 1897 to UFOs, although much of the information is to be found in Barker’s book. The book runs to 254 pages, plus some mediocre illustrations.

* * *

With so many fine annuals devoted to reporting, in text and picture, motor racing and the competition scene season by season, and the bound volumes of the motor journals, it is difficult to see any real necessity for a full-scale book about motoring sport in 1969. But author Anthony Pritchard saw a need for it and wrote a 240-page work about it. “The Motor Racing Year” is published by Pelham Books Ltd., 52, Bedford Square, London, WC1, at 45s.

* * *

Intended mainly for children, Music for Pleasure, Astronaut House, Hounslow Road, Feltham, Middlesex, have issued an LP record, “Sing a Song of Motor Cars”, which sells for 14s. 6d.

but fetching only £700, of the quite remarkable fail-safe self-landing aids built into the pilot-less Queen Wasp a quarter-of-a-century before automatic control down to the actual landing became an accepted accomplishment, and of the remarkable landing of an Ambassador by Ron Clear after it had shed its two engines, which resulted in Chief Test Pilot George Errington arranging for his colleague to be presented with a miniature ship’s telegraph with its signal set to “Finished with Engines”. All told, a book aviation enthusiasts and historians are going to greatly enjoy.

W. B.

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