Book Reviews, September 1959, September 1959

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“Air Aces of the 1914-18 War,” Edited by Bruce Robertson. 211 pp. 11¼ in. by 8½ in. (Harleyford Publications, Ltd., Letchford, Herts. 45s.).

Here is another painstakingly compiled, exceedingly comprehensive book by Harleyford which will delight students of aeronautical history. Here all the outstanding air aces of the First World War are described, together with the aircraft and military background with, and against which, these great and immortal pilots flew. Most of the famous 1914-18 aeroplanes are splendidly illustrated.

This is really eight books in one, because under Bruce Robertson’s leadership separate authorities deal with the aces of Britain, America, Italy, Belgium, France, Germany. Russia and Austro-Hungaria. Production is in the experienced hands of D. A. Russell, M.I. Mech.E., and the book, which weighs nearly 2¼ lb., contains over 350 photographs, some of them remarkable action shots, and individual biographies of 135 aces, besides mention of over a thousand others. We are interested that the publishers claim meticulous attention to detail and state: “Hundreds of facts and figures will be found to differ from previously published sources; in particular the scores of the aces will be found to be at variance with earlier compilations. It is possible the book may cause great controversies but the editor and authors stand by the revealing evidence of their meticulous researches, in the full knowledge that they refute much that has been published previously, and found later to be incorrect.” That is the right spirit in which to write history. — W.B.

_

We have received several new titles in the “Modern Sports Car Series” published by the Sports Car Press, Ltd., of New York, and handled here by Neville Spearman Ltd., 112, Whitfield Street, London, W.1. These soft-cover books cost 12/6d. each in England. One of the titles is “Volkswagen Guide,” by William Carroll. Although it summarises the history of the VW as contained in “Beyond Expectations” there is some new material, notably drawings of the military Series 82 Volkswagen of which over 80,000 were built and of the Zahnradfabrink positive locking differential used on this version. Reference is also made to an automatic transmission evolved by Dr. Beier for the VW during the war and there is an interesting table of production figures for all VW models, from 1936 to 1957, covering Series 30, 60, 38. 82, 21 and the present Series 11, Reference is made to little known items of VW development before the book goes on to describe the modern cars, including transporter, pick-tip, van, kombi, microbus, microbus de luxe and ambulance, and to provide the usual servicing data. Evelyn Mull contributes “Women in Sports Car Competition” and Rodney Walkerley “Races That Shook the World,” each chapter of which covers a classic race, from Paris-Madrid of 1903 (“The Race of Death”) to Hawthorn’s titanic victory over Fangio at Reims in 1953. Alas, several serious errors in the illustrations undermine faith in the text. For instance, Lang is mistaken for Seaman, a four-cylinder B.R.M. is illustrated with the chapter about the 1953 Albi race in which the supercharged V16 cars went so fast, Gonzalez, who drove one of these cars is pictured “at Albi 1953” when he is actually in a Vanwall at Silverstone, Ascari is quoted as being seen in a 4.5-litre V12 Ferrari, whereas he is in a 2-litre, and that faked picture of Nuvolari’s P3 Alfa-Romeo No. 14 at Montlhery in the 1935 French G.P., its number altered to 12 to suggest that it is seen winning the 1935 German G.P., a deception used some time ago in The Motor, crops up again.

Miniatures News

The fascinating range of motor car and associate miniatures continues, Dinky having recently brought out a two-tone Humber Hawk (No. 165), Corgi an R.A.C. Land Rover rescue vehicle (No. 416). If you find yourself in France with spare francs, look for the Rami miniatures, which include some veterans, a nice little yellow Citroen 5 c.v. and a very fine type 35c G.P. Bugatti — see accompanying photograph. Of farm models, a “winner” is the Corgi Major working replica of a Massey-Ferguson 780 self-propelled combine harvester (No. 1,111), which has revolving pick-up reel and self-feeding auger driven from a ground wheel, the reel being complete even to scale tines and independently adjustable from the driving seat. This model costs 19/11d. Lesney have added a tiny Fordson farm tractor to their Moco Lesney series.

If any of the toy makers are running out of ideas, how about some racing-car transporters, such as the B R M and Vanwall vans? — W.B.

Cars in Books

Nothing much this time except for some references to a “huge hearse-like Daimler with soft grey upholstery and driven by a tremendously efficient chauffeur in shining black gaiters and a peaked cap” a car with “two great yellow headlamps, gliding almost soundlessly through the Blackwall Tunnel” which was engaged on domestic duties in London and Kent before the 1914-18 war, from “The Shabby Paradise” by Eileen Baillie (Hutchinson 1958) — a book worth reading should you propose to explore London’s dockland, perhaps during the quiet of an autumnal Sunday. From this book too, one learns that the Vicar of St. Michael-and-All-Angels of Bromley-by-Bow, Poplar, the authoress’ father, owned, circa 1911, an Aster car, “a rarity in East London, with its bucket seats, crimson body and glittering brass carbide lamps” which was kept in the garage by the vicarage in St. Leonard’s Road. (What modern vehicle has replaced it?) in an age when Olympia was associated in a child’s mind with motor shows, “dull fatiguing, and dominated by a frightening rubber giant advertising a certain make of tyre.” — W.B.

Prize Money

When a contemporary weekly suggested that the £3,700 prize money which will be awarded in the 150-mile Formula One International Gold Cup Race at Oulton Park on September 26th was “the largest sum ever offered in the entire history of British motor racing” it had to climb down on being reminded that Aintree paid out £6,588 during the 1957 season. It is also pointed out that Brabham’s victory in the British G.P. this year at Aintree “produced £2,500, whereas first prize in the Oulton Park F.1 race is £2,000. However, starting money, which will not be paid at Oulton Park, has apparently been taken into account at Aintree, because according to the programme first prize in the G.P. was 1,000 guineas, Apart from this it had overlooked the fact that at the opening meeting at Brooklands Track in 1907 prize money of nearly £5,000 was offered — and that is equal to something like £25,000 by today’s values!

VW Notes

Detail improvements are announced to the ubiquitous VW. An anti-roll bar is now fitted at the front, the engine/gearbox unit is inclined 2 deg. forward to lower the final drive and softer torsion-bar springing with more progressive action towards full bounce is incorporated. Inside the car a dished safety steering wheel, half-horn ring, push-button door handles and, on the de luxe version, a safety-padded sun-vizor, are fitted, while the door locks and striker-plates are of an improved type. Self-cancelling direction-indicators figure on the saloon and convertible and heater effieiency has been improved. Further mods. cover better sound-proofing, improved front seat angles, foot support and arm-rest cum grip, while there is a range of new colours. The engine has a lower speed fan driven by the type of belt previously reserved for export models, the gear-lever coupling has been altered and dynamo output has been raised from 160 to 180 watts.

The Karmann Ghia VW incorporates similar improvements, as well as screen washers as standard, a lamps flasher incorporated with the trafficator switch and hinged rear ¼ -lights on the coupe, while the headlamps have been raised by nearly 2 in.

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