Book Review: Flight Craft 18 “Special” – British Military Test and Evaluation Aircraft The Golden Years 1945 – 1975

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Flight Craft 18

This volume of the Flight Craft series differs somewhat to those I have reviewed previously. Typically, the books concentrate on a single aircraft type such as The Spitfire or the ME-109 for example, this one differs in that it covers a genre of aircraft.
Prototypes and test aircraft are always at the forefront of development, and they can often be radically different to the aircraft they are intended to replace, this book covers British Test and Evaluation aircraft during what was probably the busiest period of aircraft development for the British industry, 1945-1975.
This post war environment and the rapid shift in predicted warfare tactics this period bore witness to massive developments being made in everything from avionics to electronics, weapons to power plants. This volume concentrates mostly on the colour schemes and markings of these aircraft during this period.
The book starts in the 1940’s with 1945-1950 being looked at. The chapter begins, as do the others in the book, by describing the conditions and developments the period was to bear witness to and there plenty of fantastic photographs and the superb full colour profiles of aircraft that we are by now used to finding in this series of books. There are profiles of some fantastic and unusual aircraft in this section including the Armstrong Whitworth AW.52, Saunders-Roe’s SR.A1 and De Havilland 108 Swallow.
Next, we move into the 1950’s, a decade that due to the Cold war saw much development of British aircraft, it witnessed the quest for supersonic fighters. There are profiles of what have become very famous aircraft in the Gloster Meteor, the English Electric Canberra and the Hunter, accompanying these are profiles of test versions of the Lincoln B2, the Avro Lancaster B.1 (special) and the Fairy Gannet amongst many other aircraft.
The 60’s is looked at next, which was a decade of decline really for the British aviation industry, the cancellation of the TSR.2 project is often looked at as the focal point of this decline. This was a project that so much of the British aviation industry was focused on that its cancellation was to have massive repercussions for the sector. The increase in development costs for new aircraft types was causing more collaborative efforts with other countries to come to the fore. Still this meant that aircraft such as the HP.115 and BAC 221 which were produced as part of the Anglo-French Concorde project for example. The 60’s did see the birth of one of the real highlights of British aircraft design the Hawker P.1127 was developed into what was to enter service as the Harrier. There are also references for aircraft such as the Javelin and some rotary wings in the form of the Westland Scout and Whirlwind.
Finally the book moves into the 70s and there are more variants of the Canberra, Javelin and Hunter looked at along with things like the Vickers Viscount, Handley Page Hastings, there’s even a VC-10 and a Shackleton to name just a few of the aircraft in this chapter and there are again rotary wings in the form of Westland Wessex and the Sea King.
Overall this book is a fantastic resource for the modeller, again as with all Flight Craft books this should provide great references and inspiration to maybe get a conversion or two on the bench or look at reproducing some of the fantastic and rarely seen schemes the test aircraft of the post war period wore with pride. The photographs and profiles are good quality and the accompanying text and captions are informative. This volume is definitely one you should pick up if you like aircraft of the period.

I would as always like to thank Pen and Sword books for allowing me the opportunity to review this book. You can pick up your copy of this book, along with many more great titles at their website.

Messerschmitt Bf-109, The early years – Poland, The Fall of France and The Battle of Britain


This book is part of Frontline Books Air War Archive series covering various historical and famous aircraft types with this one taking a look at the Bf-109.
This title is a fantastic resource for modellers, it begins with a short description of the aircraft type, development during service, with an explanation of the markings they wore during this time.
The book then continues on with a wealth of fantastic images, each with a detailed caption full of the intriguing and incredible stories of those aircraft and their airmen captured in the images.
The images begin with shots of pre-war aircraft of 1939 and continue on through the ‘Sitzkreig’, the fall of France, the Battle of Britain and end with images from 1941.
Whilst the images provide a great source of reference material for the modeller, their captions give further life to the images and make this a great addition to anyone’s collection of wartime reference material.