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Old 9th February 2005, 18:53
Dick Powers Dick Powers is offline
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Dick Powers
Favorite Aircraft History Books?

Which do you consider the “best” World War 2 Axis or Allied (keeping our focus on this forum) aircraft history books? By aircraft history, I mean a book documenting the birth, life and final disposition of one particular aircraft design (the Lancaster, for instance), or a family of related designs (Me-110.210/410). Please limit yourself to aircraft history (mechography?..similar to the biography of a machine), and don’t include unit histories, campaign histories or other books. Those can wait for other discussions. Also say what you consider important in a “mechography”, and give reasons for your book selections.

In my own world, the “perfect” aircraft history would:
Document an aircraft which had not been covered in other books.
Discuss the design evolution, starting with the requirements to which it is designed, show alternate designs, and discuss modifications to the design during its lifetime.
Include information on the propulsion systemsused.
Dicsuss armament.
Discuss service use from initial tests through operational use and allocation to training or reserves, presenting critical analysis of the subject.
Discussed camouflage and markings since these are part and parcel of the aircraft, and give them character.
Of course pertinent photographs, well captioned are a must.
Three view drawings and color profiles are nice, but not essential.
Physical data including dimensions, weights, performance for subtypes are necessary. Serial numbers (or manufacturers numbers), subtypes and other production related data in usable form.

All in all, a tall order.

A few of my favorite “mechographies” are:

“Hs-129 Panzerjaeger” by Martin Pegg
Of all the books, this comes closest to being my model of a “good book”. A unique subject, detailed coverage, combat use, weapons development.

“Hawker Hurricane” by Frank Mason
I have the original 1962 version as well as the updated version. Almost as encyclopedic as “Blenheim”, coverage of all theaters, excellent photograph selections ( apparently the author attempted to provide at leat one photo of each Hurricane unit). And, of course a classic subject.

“Mosquito”, by Sharp & Bowyer
Everything you want to know about design, production and service use of the Mosquito. Beautiful photo selections with detailed captions.

“The Bristol Blenheim: A Complete History”, by Graham Warner
Encyclopedic coverage of the Blenheim. The RAF had more Blenheims than any other type when the war started. It fought in almost every theater for most of the war. Complete with color profiles, loss lists, design and service use.

Warren Bodie’s self published P-38 and P-47 books.
Bodie was a long –time AAHS P-38 specialist, he lived thorough the era, so his credentials are unique. Both books are well illustrated (except for the color profiles), discuss the technical aspects of design, set the aircraft in historical context and ,importantly, discuss shortcomings. The P-38 book, in particular, has a very good discussion on comperssilility and the remedy (flaps) as well as discussing why the later high-powered engines were fundamentally troublesome. The only negative aspect is the author’s annoying “America designed it first, every one else copied us” attitude which occasionally comes out.

All above are English language simply because that is the only language I read. Please feel free to include non-English books.

OK – what are your favorites and why?
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