British Private Aircraft 1946-1970, Volume Two, An A to Z of Club & Private Aeroplanes

B1857

This is an exhaustive review of its subject. The author may have missed some aircraft but it is not apparent. There is extensive illustration with b&w photographs and drawings. One surprise may be the diversity of British private aviation after WWII. Another surprise may be the number of autogiros developed or used during the period.

In some respects this is a very sad story. After 1945 British aircraft designers and manufacturers continued to innovate but eventually lost out to US and French companies. In part, the British aviation industry was suffering from lack of funding and support during the political process of managed decline, where politicians from the three old failed Parties saw they job as dismantling Britain as rapidly as possible. As with most industrial activity, Britain moved from a world leader, to a minor player, to a country dependent on the service industry and tourism. The economy was in effect hollowed out. Some designers and engineers struggled on, but many moved to other countries and what remained of British aviation was sold off or given away.

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NAME: British Private Aircraft 1946-1970, Volume Two, An A to Z of Club & Private Aeroplanes
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
FILE: R1857
DATE: 300713
AUTHOR: Arthur W J G Ord-Hume
PUBLISHER: MMPBooks, Orca
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 398
PRICE: £60.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: light aircraft, monoplanes, ornithopter, helicopter, autogiro, ultra-light aircraft, ex-military aircraft, experimental aircraft, prototypes, aviation design
ISBN: 978-83-61421-92-4
IMAGE: B1857.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/oxbne4s
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: This is an exhaustive review of its subject. The author may have missed some aircraft but it is not apparent. There is extensive illustration with b&w photographs and drawings. One surprise may be the diversity of British private aviation after WWII. Another surprise may be the number of autogiros developed or used during the period.

By ending the review at 1970, the author has avoided the issue of veteran warbirds. Before 1970, some ex-military aircraft did move to the civil list, although many never took to the air in private hands. It was really in the aftermath of the film “Battle of Britain”, after 1968, which saw a considerable number of airworthy Spitfires, Hurricanes and Spanish-built Messerschmitts and Heinkels participating in the filming, that the private ownership and flying of vintage warbirds became popular and a considerable specialist industry sprang up to manufacture replacement components and undertake major restorations.

In some respects this is a very sad story. After 1945 British aircraft designers and manufacturers continued to innovate but eventually lost out to US and French companies. In part, the British aviation industry was suffering from lack of funding and support during the political process of managed decline, where politicians from the three old failed Parties saw they job as dismantling Britain as rapidly as possible. As with most industrial activity, Britain moved from a world leader, to a minor player, to a country dependent on the service industry and tourism. The economy was in effect hollowed out. Some designers and engineers struggled on, but many moved to other countries and what remained of British aviation was sold off or given away.

It is only when the period from 1945 to 1979 is examined in a specific area in great detail that the political failure can be seen and fully appreciated. The process has continued at a faster pace since 1970. There is no shortage of excellent ideas in aviation or any other technical area. There are many ideas that are developed into a product that offers great promise, but there is a failure to fund and support, so that the product either dies at birth or is acquired and developed by another country. At a time when almost all British military aircraft production has moved into a single company that regularly tries to sell itself to the lowest bidder, and civil aircraft production has effectively ceased, British aviation is reduced to a component manufacturer serving aviation companies in other countries. In providing a detailed record of what was, the author has also demonstrated what might have been. Many will take the view that Britain has withdrawn so far from manufacture that it can never again be a world player in the mass production and innovative engineering that it created from the 18th Century and led the world in through the 19th Century. However, as the creative talent still continues to butt its head against the brick wall, it suggests that the only element that has to be found is the determination to fund and support these engineers. In a world where mass production is moving into developing countries, British labour costs are an issue, but not if a new British industrial platform is developed that concentrates on quality and advanced technology, always keeping ahead of the cheap product industries in other countries and making the most of artificial intelligence and automated production.

The great diversity of British post-war aviation is very adequately displayed and some of it has doggedly survived since 1970. One example is the remarkable Ken Wallis who has dedicated much of his life to the development of light autogiro aircraft and holds many world records. As he approaches his Centenary, he continues to fly and continues to plan attempts on new records. His eventual death may mark the end of autogiro development in Britain, but he has already planned for all of his autogiros to move to a museum in Suffolk on his death.

This book is an essential addition to every self-respecting enthusiast’s library and it is a book that should be read and understood by politicians. It is a celebration of creativity in a demanding field.

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