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Today in History

British Built Aircraft - Volume 5
Northern England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
by Ron Smith
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Tempus Publishing, Limited (June 30, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN: 075243487X

   "This is the final volume in Ron Smith’s ambitious effort to compile a complete record of aircraft manufacturing in Britain. The five-volume work is organized geographically; each book covers an area of the country and is structured rather like a tour guide, grouping entries together based on their location. The focus of this book is the manufacturing sites of Northern England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
   Presented as a history of places, the book is naturally also a history of the people and the companies operating within the region. Of particular interest here is the chronicle of A.V. Roe & Co., Ltd’s activities in Manchester, as well as entries covering Armstrong-Whitworth, Blackburn, and Beardmore. Contract building of RAF types and other mass-produced machines (Sopwiths and Nieuports) during WWI is noted by place of manufacture. There are details of Pioneer-era efforts in the area, and also an entry for the Northern Aeroplane Workshops and the replicas built there for the Shuttleworth Collection.
   Liberally illustrated with black-and-white photographs, the book also features a fascinating selection of advertising pieces dating back to the very early 1900’s. An introduction briefly summarizes the complete history of British aircraft manufacturing, and traces the genealogy of British Aerospace. A Cross-Reference Index for all five volumes is included, as well as a proper index for this book alone. The indexes are particularly helpful given the work’s geographical structure – for example, information on Robert Blackburn and his succession of companies will be found under seven separate major locations in this volume and two in Volume Two, not to mention the twelve minor references scattered throughout the entire series.
   This book and its companion volumes should be invaluable for those researching the aviation industry in Britain and the history of aerodromes and flying sites there. It also provides a slightly different look into the story of aviation, focusing not on the aircraft themselves but on who built them and where they were built. It is evident that a tremendous amount of research went into this series, and the author is to be commended for providing those interested in any era of aviation history a somewhat new perspective on it."

Reviewed by Eric Goedkoop

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