Review Britain’s Glorious Aircraft Industry- 100 Years of Success, Setback and Change
A ‘real’ book!
Yes, this is a real book, as so to say! This is proof of loads and loads of hours of investigation to get it delivered in this way. Hodgson became fascinated by aviation from an early age on and wanted to design airplanes. He followed an Aeronautical engineering education and asked for an internship at Avro. That was the start of his career in the English Aviation industry. He made it to Chief designer at BAE Systems, so he knows where he is writing about. 17 years after his retirement he felt the need to put some things down to paper. It all ended up in this beautiful book.
I love to put this book on my bookshelf as I have a longtime fancy for ‘British design’, to be short, a fascination for the English Aviation. Think of the Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane, Typhoon (twice!), Blackburn Beverly, Harrier, Tornado and yes the Vampire; I can continue like this for a while.
The book wants to be a description of the developments in the English Aviation industry, read factual, the factories that still make and further develop, engines, airplanes and choppers. The book starts ‘really’ with the first balloons, and the first airplanes from Short Brothers, Handley Page Company and Sopwith and ends with the commitment of the English industry in projects as the JSF, Airbus and 6th generation jet fighters.
The book describes in a couple of periods, from particularly 1908 onwards, how this industry started up; got bigger and bigger; manufacturers merged or went bankrupt; about contributions to the military and civil aviation; about the enlarging competition in the UK, but also worldwide; about international co-operation; about the successes and the failures.
It was a huge industry
When you read this book it becomes clear how huge this industry ones was. There have really been tons and tons of airplanes produced by the English. Only in the period 1939-1945 alone 177.025(!) planes were produced for the armies of the English Empire, of which a part was produced in the United States. In 1938 236 planes were produced per month in the UK, which actually is quite a lot. End of 1944 this increased to 2.205 per month! In total in that period more than 600.000 planes were made for warfare, of which more than 131.000 in the UK itself. What a numbers!
Hodgson succeeded in describing this rather complex world of industry very nicely and clear
What I like about this book is that Hodgson succeeded in describing this rather complex world of industry very nicely and clear. There are timelines and great schedules in this book which, – combined with all the pictures of planes-, make easy and well comprehensible how this world developed. You will not get lost in details. Also, a lot of charts you can find in this book which amaze me about this enormous huge industry..that it ones was. Left and right you will also find technical information about engines, wings, cockpits etc. The author writes airy and despite a lot of details, everything stays good readable. Where international developments are interesting, they are stated. You could call this book a scientific book on one hand and on the other hand an encyclopedia. The book with all its appendixes is almost 500 pages big and contains 143 small but sharp black and white pictures.
Of course, a lot of information can be found on the internet, but definitely not in this beautiful and clear way that Hodgson has constructed his book. For the aviation enthusiasts of the UK a must have for on the bookshelf! Well done J. Paul Hodgson!