Published on July 10th, 2019 | by Guy Warner0
Book Review – British Military Test & Evaluation Aircraft
British Military Test and Evaluation Aircraft – The Golden Years 1945-1975 by Malcolm V Rowe, Illustrated by Mark Rolfe, Compiled by Neil Robinson & Martin Derry, 72 pages SB, 37 colour, 24 B&W photographs, 186 colour plan drawings, Pen & Sword £16.99, ISBN 978-1526746719
Any book with a colour photo of the Short SB.5, WG768, on the front cover is already ahead on points. This good first impression is maintained throughout. The photos are well chosen and the line drawings are beautifully executed and perfectly reproduced on a high quality A4 format paper, which do them full justice – at a reasonable price.
It can safely be said that the subtitle ‘The Golden Years 1945-1975’ is unarguable. A companion volume on 1976-2019 would be slim indeed and reducing in scope all the time.
Each of the four chapters on the ’40s, ‘50s, ‘60s and ’70s begins with a brief but informative introduction before moving on to the illustrations, which each have an extended caption; all of which are fully referenced for those who wish to dig deeper. You would need to be a very considerable expert not to glean much of interest from this valuable reference book, which is both a record of and a tribute to the range and ambition of the British aircraft industry during this period. To take just one example, there is a lovely colour photo of Lancaster PA474 on the inside cover, taken at Cranfield before being taken in hand to become the heart of the BBMF. Moreover, modellers, at several levels of experience and skill, should find the colour schemes and markings quite irresistible, as well as being inspired to scratch-build some of the modifications.
I have two quibbles. Though I can understand why there is no mention of the SB.4, it being a purely civilian project, surely space should have been found for the SA.4 Sperrins, VX158 and VX161, both of which were used as flying test-beds for military systems, and also the Canberra SC9, WH132, which flew with the RAE for many years.
These aside, this is a very nice book indeed.