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Aircraft - Great Britain: books - history and types

A book on aviation in Britain? Here our general books on the history, types and technology of British civil and military aircraft.

British Aircraft Before the Great War

For the very first time, the history of British pre-World War I aircraft has been gathered together in one volume, with more than 900 of them well illustrated. This book constitutes a most valuable contribution about a remarkable period in aviation history and is a memorial to the bravery and inventiveness of the intrepid pioneers of that far off era.
Among the many famous manufacturer's covered are Avro, Sopwith, Shorts, and Bristol. Many lesser known designers and builders such as Martin-Handasyde and Howard Wright are also given ample coverage.

Author:Mike Goodall
Specs:300 pages, 28.5 x 22 x 3.5 cm / 11.2 x 8.7 x 1.38 in, hardback
Illustrations:930+ b&w photographs
Publisher:Schiffer Publishing Ltd (USA, 2001)
Book: British Aircraft Before the Great War

British Aircraft Before the Great War

Language: English

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From Balloon to Boxkite - The Royal Engineers and Early British Aeronautics

The story of early British military aviation is one of trial and error, of triumph and adversity and it all began with a detachment of the Royal Engineers called the Air Battalion, which had previously been called the Balloon School.
Created some forty years before the RAF, the Balloon School commenced a long history of British aeronautics. Initially, spotting for artillery, the Balloon School grew to encompass kites and gliders and early aircraft also.

This history of this little-known army detachment presents the tale of these daring aviators and the balloons, airship, kites and pioneer aircraft during a time of much change in military design and thinking. It shows the development of military aviation in its formative years, and the use of these new weapons in time of war.

Malcolm Hall brings together a thoroughly researched history of military aviation in the pioneer years with a selection of images, some previously unpublished, showing the development of the flying machines, both lighter and heavier than air.

Author:Malcolm Hall
Specs:256 pages, 24 x 17 cm / 9 x 6.7 in, paperback
Illustrations:159 b&w photographs
Publisher:Amberley Publishing (GB, 2010)
Book: From Balloon to Boxkite - The Royal Engineers and Early British Aeronautics

From Balloon to Boxkite - The Royal Engineers and Early British Aeronautics

Language: English

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British Airships 1905-1930 (Osprey)

Presents the fascinating story of the cat and mouse duel between the airship and another pioneering form of technology - the submarine during World War 1. Detailed cut-away drawings reveal the design and development of the airship, during and after the war, whilst full-colour illustrations depict the airship in dramatic action shots.
A tragic accident in 1930 brought the British airship's military service to an end, resulting in a tiny window in which they were used and little acknowledgement over the years.

Ian Castle gives deserved attention to an aeronautical wonder that for a short amount of time played a crucial service to the defence of Britain.

Author:Ian Castle
Specs:48 pages, 24.5 x 18.5 x 0.5 cm / 9.7 x 7.3 x 0.2 in, paperback
Illustrations:photographs and drawings (in b&w and colour)
Publisher:Osprey Publishing (GB, 2009)
Series:New Vanguard (155)
Book: British Airships 1905-1930 (Osprey)

British Airships 1905-1930

Language: English

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Why Not? - The Story of the Honourable Charles Stuart Rolls

Charles Rolls was the first Englishman to be killed in an air crash. He was thirty years old. Rolls's death shocked the country and made headlines across the world. His relative youth at the time is perhaps the reason that he is a forgotten hero; a man who today receives little credit for the legacy that he left behind, even though at the time of his death on July 12th 1910 he was one of the most famous men in the country. His loss was regarded as a national tragedy.

Today he is most famous for the partnership he forged with Henry Royce to form Rolls-Royce, a name that today is as synonymous with excellence as it was then. Yet Rolls was a national hero long before he met Royce in Manchester in 1904. He made his first ascent in a balloon in 1898 and was experimenting with the possibilities of powered flight as early as 1901. One of the first Britons to fly, he made the first return crossing of the Channel in 1909 in a Wright Flyer and was acclaimed across the world.

The son of a peer, Rolls was one of the first, and certainly the youngest of Britain's pioneer motorists. He was a successful racing driver and achieved what many believed impossible - selling the motor car to Britain.
With the reliability of the car achieved, Rolls immersed himself in conquering the next great frontier, the air.
Charles Rolls was an enigma, a man of great paradox, and yet he was a great patriot, racing driver, record breaker, aviator, one of the United Kingdom's great industrialists, a pioneer in the true sense of the word and he had a prophetic ability to see the way of the future.

This biography quotes extensively from the writings of Charles Rolls himself and from contemporary accounts of the events during those pioneer days of motoring and aviation.

Author:David Baines
Specs:307 pages, 28.5 x 23 x 4.1 cm / 11.2 x 9.1 x 1.61 in, hardback, in cassette
Illustrations:300 b&w and 7 colour photographs
Publisher:Dalton Watson Fine Books (USA, 2009)
Book: Why Not? - The Story of the Honourable Charles Stuart Rolls

Why Not? - The Story of the Honourable Charles Stuart Rolls

Language: English

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Local Aviation Collections of Britain : The UK's Regional Aeronautical Treasures

Britain has a wealth of museums of all sizes, all with incredible exhibits, yet the 'big' collections tend to get the limelight. All over the UK are amazing aircraft collections, containing aircraft of world, national or regional importance, many of which the curators of the national institutions would love to have.

With region-by-region coverage, the backgrounds of the formative museums of Great Britain are highlighted along with the pedigrees of their most significant exhibits. Included are such icons as the de Havilland Aircraft Museum - home of the Mosquito; the Brooklands Museum - headquarters of Sopwith, Hawker and Vickers; the Helicopter Museum - the world's largest rotorcraft collection and Solent Sky - shrine to flying-boats and the Spitfire.

Across Britain are many local collections that helped to pioneer this country's incredible aviation heritage and the role of enthusiasts is highlighted with a profile of the first of them all - the Northern Aircraft Preservation Society and its lineage.
Among the 'regionals' are the Dumfries and Galloway, Solway, North East, Newark, Norfolk and Suffolk, Yorkshire and Berkshire museums.

Smaller collections have incredible stories to tell, for example the Martlesham Heath Control Tower Museum - the home of British flight test; the RAF Air Defence Radar Museum - devoted to the vital 'magic eye' of the Battle of Britain, the Glenn Miller Museum - at the airfield from which the band leader departed to his doom and Fort Paul Armouries - dominated by the enormous Beverley airlifter.

Over 150 museums and their most important exhibits are profiled with over 250 photographs, both archive and in full colour. "Britain's Local Aviation Treasures" is a unique reference for anyone interested in Britain's aviation heritage and it provides inspiration for a tour of discovery of the 'unknown' gems of the UK.

Author:Ken Ellis, Chris Goss, Gunther Ott
Specs:224 pages, 21.5 x 16 x 2.6 cm / 8.5 x 6.3 x 1.02 in, hardback
Illustrations:180 b&w and 96 colour photographs
Publisher:Crecy Publishing (GB, 2017)
Book: Local Aviation Collections of Britain : The UK's Regional Aeronautical Treasures

Local Aviation Collections of Britain : The UK's Regional Aeronautical Treasures

Language: English

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Great Aviation Collections of Britain - The UK's National Treasures and Where to Find Them

A century ago the Cody Biplane was presented to the Science Museum, putting Britain at the forefront of the worldwide aviation heritage movement. This special edition of Wrecks & Relics celebrates the centenary and the development of the UK's aviation museums, telling the story of the national icons such as the Science Museum, Imperial War Museum, RAF Museum, Fleet Air Arm Museum, Museum of Army Aviation and the Shuttleworth Collection including how they developed and their exhibits, past and present.

"Great Aviation Collections of Britain" also pays tribute to provincial, regional and local collections, large and small which tell the tale of the UK's incredible diversity of aviation achievements and provide details of nearly 100 venues open to the public.
Over 200 of the most important exhibits are profiled in detail, with their backgrounds described, their significance explained and the exploits of the pilots that flew them revealed.

From Roe's Triplane, Amy Johnson's Moth, a Battle of Britain veteran Spitfire, the very first Mosquito all the way through to Concorde and Eurofighter, each has its biography outlined. Aircraft are cross-referenced allowing the reader to visit the 'must see' exhibits across Britain.

Over 250 photographs and illustrations including archive imagery stretching back over 100 years highlight the UK's treasures both when they were in service, or found disused and decaying.

Author:Ken Ellis
Specs:272 pages, 21.5 x 15.5 x 2.5 cm / 8.5 x 6.1 x 0.98 in, hardback
Illustrations:over 250 photographs and illustrations.
Publisher:Crecy Publishing (GB, 2013)
Book: Great Aviation Collections of Britain - The UK's National Treasures and Where to Find Them

Great Aviation Collections of Britain - The UK's National Treasures and Where to Find Them

Language: English

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British Airship Bases of the Twentieth Century

Numerous books have been written on airships, but few concentrate on their bases and infrastructure to support their operations. "British Airship Bases of the Twentieth Century" starts with documenting the primitive facilities from which the early machines flew in the years prior to the First World War.
The outbreak of the First World War resulted in airships being adopted for military purposes and bases were established across Britain. Most of these were operated by the Royal Naval Air Service for the protection of shipping against U-boats.

In the 1920s, an attempt was made by the British Government to build airships for commercial transport. The locations where these giants of the sky were constructed are described as well as the proposed overseas passenger terminals.
The latter part of this enthralling and detailed book chronicles the attempt to establish the airship as a means of transport to link together the far flung lands of the British Empire.
Reference is also made at attempts to revive the airship in the closing decade of the 20th century and the locations associated with them.

Author:Malcolm Fife
Specs:320 pages, 25.5 x 17.5 x 2.6 cm / 10 x 6.9 x 1.02 in, hardback
Illustrations:170 b&w photographs
Publisher:Fonthill Media (GB, 2015)
Book: British Airship Bases of the Twentieth Century

British Airship Bases of the Twentieth Century

Language: English

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Flying Boats of the Solent and Poole

Flying boats have been a familiar sight in the Solent since the dawn of aviation. Two of Britain's major manufactures, Saunders-Roe and Supermarine, were based in Cowes and Woolston respectively. The area has been home to flying boats of Imperial Airways and, latterly, BOAC and Aquila Airways.

With a terminal at Hythe and then Southampton Docks, one could view not just majestic ocean liners but huge flying boats too, from the Empire boats of Imperial Airways to the majestic Saunders-Roe Princess, built in the post-war period. During wartime, BOAC operated their vital flying boat services from Poole Harbour. In fact, BOAC was based at Poole for longer than Southampton - a fact frequently overlooked, mostly due to wartime censorship.

Post-war route expansion was also undertaken while still at Poole. Military aviation in the area saw flying boats operated from RAF Calshot and RAF Hamworthy, with types ranging from elderly biplanes to Sunderlands.
Mike Phipp takes us on a tour of the Solent area and Poole Harbour's flying boat heritage using many previously unpublished images of the aircraft plus the men and women that flew and maintained them.

Author:Mike Phipp
Specs:128 pages, 23.5 x 16.5 cm / 9.25 x 6.5 in, paperback
Illustrations:illustrated
Publisher:Amberley Publishing (GB, 2013)
Book: Flying Boats of the Solent and Poole

Flying Boats of the Solent and Poole

Language: English

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SBAC Farnborough : a History

Home to the famous biennial Farnborough Air Show, the town of Farnborough in the south of England has had a pivotal role in the history of British aviation since flying commenced from the site in 1905.
The Royal Aeronautical Establishment was set up there and rapidly expanded as the scene of many significant developments in British aviation for many decades. Over the years, a range of buildings were constructed for various purposes and to house specific functions such as wind tunnels.

Many of these buildings are now listed and protected as part of a museum on the site. Farnborough is best known for its experiments and development of aircraft types. After the Second World War, it played host to a considerable variety of aircraft, including a number of Axis types captured during the war.

Beautifully illustrated and written by a leading aviation expert, SBAC Farnborough: A History is the definitive book on the subject of Farnborough from 1932 onwards.

Author:Peter G. Dancey
Specs:192 pages, 23.5 x 15.5 x 1.2 cm / 9.25 x 6.1 x 0.47 in, paperback
Illustrations:132 b&w photographs
Publisher:Fonthill Media (GB, 2015)
Book: SBAC Farnborough : a History

SBAC Farnborough : a History

Language: English

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The Secret Years - Flight Testing at Boscombe Down 1939-1945

The highly classified work of the A&AEE (Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment) at Boscombe Down included the intense, ever-expanding business of testing aircraft and their varied armaments in WWII.
Over 1,500 British, American and German aircraft of the RAF, Fleet Air Arm, Army - and the Luftwaffe - were tested at Boscombe Down.

Aircraft as diverse as the Aerovan, Barracuda, Pitcairn PA39 and Nomad were put though their paces together with, amongst others the Skymaster, Vengeance, Lightning, Hudson and Welkin plus the more well-known Wellington, Mosquito, Halifax, Ju88, Fw190 and Spitfire.

Using some 500 photographs, The Secret Years explores unusual variants of standard service aircraft types, machines which remained purely experimental, and the trials with their guns, bombs, rockets and equipment.
Performance tables, details of production and rogue aircraft tests together with over 90 colour profiles ensure The Secret Years forms a comprehensive reference source for the historian and modeller alike.

Author:Tim Mason
Specs:368 pages, 30.5 x 22 x 3.1 cm / 12 x 8.7 x 1.22 in, hardback
Illustrations:500+ b&w and colour photographs, 90 profile drawings in colour
Publisher:Hikoki Publications (GB, 2010)
Series:Hikoki
Book: The Secret Years - Flight Testing at Boscombe Down 1939-1945

The Secret Years - Flight Testing at Boscombe Down 1939-1945

Language: English

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Related titles:

British Aircraft Manufacturers Since 1909

British Aircraft Manufacturers Since 1909

Peter Dancey

English | hardback | 256 p. | 2013

British & Allied Aircraft Manufacturers of WW I

British & Allied Aircraft Manufacturers of the First World War

Terry C. Treadwell

English | paperback | 224 p. | 2011

British Post-War Airliners

British Post-War Airliners - An A to Z of UK Aircraft 1945-2000

Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume

English | paperback | 256 p. | 2017

Scotland's Aviation History

Scotland's Aviation History

Arthur W. J. G. Ord-Hume

English | paperback | 144 p. | 2014

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Last update:15-04-2024