Sticking to my tried and tested formula of nostalgic whimsy, I could wax lyrical about the glory days of the aviation industry in the UK and cite the books I have read which are on message such as Empire of the Clouds by James Hamilton-Paterson. But where would that leave us? We all know the classics that were built for war and peace and appreciate where the huge strides in progress were made. That all this was allowed to slip away is really annoying to say the least, but it has happened and there is an end to it. I could metaphorically shoot a busload of politicians but aside from enjoying it immensely (choose your weapons) the end result would still be the same.
We now have to look back at those times in proper context rather than with any emotional hangovers. Things are still being built in Britain and everyone knows the technological skills and so much more are still there, even if the RAF has shrivelled and civil aviation is not the playground it had once been. Time marches on. Even in the USA very few companies can afford to build a design in-house without partnerships. Things cost way too much and boardroom mergers and wholesale takeovers are a fact of life.
This is an immensely useful and well-presented book. It is a straightforward A-Z history of the British aviation industry, listing the giants from over a century of aircraft and aero engine manufacture. The major companies, including the often bewildering degree of takeovers and rebranding; are included with clear and concise histories of the organisations, many of their principal figures and the aircraft they designed and built. You could easily make a decent family tree from this volume if you were so inclined.
Ok, the internet could also give you the same stuff if it is your preferred ground, but a book like this on your shelf has a lot more to it and the way the chronology of the history fits together makes the package very appealing and accessible.
I like this book.
BRITISH AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURERS SINCE 1909
By Peter G Dancey
Reviewed by Mark Barnes for War History Online.