It’s a well worn axiom that any guide book is pretty much out of date as soon as it’s printed and I’m already thinking you can guess I am going to be harsh before we get out of the first paragraph. I am. At first glance this book looks like a supersized museum guide, like the type we used to get at Hendon back in the Seventies, and I still have mine; and love them, but in reality I can’t see where this thing has moved on much from them.
I don’t doubt the enthusiasm or the knowledge and the little bit of style that has gone into the book, but this is one package, it seems to me, that has been wholly surpassed by the internet and to be frank it has something lacking and smacks of vanity publishing. I will illustrate this by heading straight to the page on the Avro Lancaster where there is no mention of the well known and loved example soon to be made airborne at East Kirkby. This is a plane that has popular days taxiing about and appears in TV documentaries, so is it hardly off the radar. It represents a serious omission. But the way the thing is got round is by the expedient umbrella treatment used throughout of “some surviving examples”. I’m afraid I find this a bit lazy. If we were talking B-25 Mitchells then to list them all, worldwide, would be a considerably harder task, but not the Lanc and if you want your book taken seriously, then you have to try a bit harder, don’t you?
When we get to German aircraft the author tells us there are two Stukas in the RAF Museum at Hendon – news to me. I’m glad I’ve been to Specsavers. If I needed any further opportunity to prove my point that guide books immediately outdate themselves the section on extinct aircraft tells us there are no Dornier Do17s, but one was found intact in 2011 and will be raised from the Goodwin Sands in May and taken to Cosford for conservation.
So, what does this book actually achieve? Well, it does give you a fair idea what is out there. But the truth is, you would need to get on the wibbly-wobbly-web to check out the museums if you were on the road in the US of A or anywhere else. This is not a definitive guide to exact numbers and examples. It does not suggest it is and this is the flaw, in a way you rather assume it might be. Net result: disappointment – well, for me anyway. What compounds it are straightforward errors. Like the nonexistent second Stuka, there is no Stirling at Hendon, Lord knows I wish there was, in any state; but the powers that be neglected to keep one. Nuff said.
SURVIVING BOMBER AIRCRAFT OF WORLD WAR TWO
A Global Guide to Locations and Types
By Douen Berliner
Published in hardback by Pen & Sword Aviation £19.99
ISBN: 978 1 848845 459