RAF V-force 1955-69 Oper­a­tions Man­ual by An­drew Brookes and Avro Shack­le­ton 1949 to 1991 (all marks) Own­ers’ Work­shop Man­ual by Keith Wil­son www.haynes.co.uk £25 each. Hard­back, 156 and 173 pages, mixed colour & B & W illustrati­on through­out

Pilot - - BOOKS & GEAR -

One more ‘oper­a­tions man­ual’ and one more ‘own­ers’ work­shop man­ual’ from the Haynes stable – the Som­er­set pub­lisher is cer­tainly shelling them out, but it is gen­er­ally main­tain­ing the qual­ity we have come to as­so­ciate with the brand.

This re­viewer was par­tic­u­larly taken by the V-force book. Au­thor An­drew Brooks flew V-bombers (Vic­tors and Vul­cans) as an RAF pi­lot, has served in se­nior de­fence posts and is th­ese days CEO of The Air League. He writes beau­ti­fully, with author­ity and keen insight – all you might hope for in a book like this. Thus the reader will learn an aw­ful lot from the pages of RAF V-force and de­velop a fresh re­spect for the men and com­pa­nies that pro­duced and op­er­ated three of the most out­stand­ing bomber de­signs in the history of the RAF, not to men­tion the equally im­pres­sive Bri­tish nu­clear weapon de­vel­op­ment team. In PRE-NATO days the lat­ter group was charged with pro­duc­ing our own atomic bomb with no co­op­er­a­tion on the part of the Amer­i­cans – an im­pres­sive tech­ni­cal achieve­ment.

With ori­gins in the WWII Lan­caster and post-war Lin­coln, the Avro Shack­le­ton was as con­ser­va­tive in its de­sign as the V-bombers — even the some­times de­rided Vick­ers Valiant — were fu­tur­is­tic. How­ever, as Keith Wil­son makes clear in his ‘own­ers’ man­ual’, crews had great af­fec­tion for the lum­ber­ing and deaf­en­ing ‘Old Grey Lady’ which re­mained in ser­vice for a stag­ger­ing forty years. As you might ex­pect from Pi­lot’s reg­u­lar air-to-air pho­tog­ra­pher, the book is very well il­lus­trated and of­fers a great tech­ni­cal insight to op­er­at­ing the air­craft. What a shame it is that not one is fly­ing to­day. PW

Cut­ting-edge V-bombers and long-serv­ing son of Lanc

Eighty, not out — the im­mor­tal DC-3

When Dou­glas tooled-up to pro­duce the DC-3 in the 1930s, they reck­oned they might build as many as fifty of the air­craft. Of course, the Dakota — as the Bri­tish named it in WWII, when the C-47 mil­i­tary trans­port version came into RAF op­er­a­tion — be­came the ar­che­typ­i­cal air­liner and some 16,000 were pro­duced by the Amer­i­can firm and copy­ists in the Soviet Union and Ja­pan.

Even as late as the 1960s they used to say the only re­place­ment for a DC-3 or war-sur­plus C-47 was an­other DC-3. The air­frame was in­cred­i­bly durable, over-en­gi­neered to the point that there have been only a hand­ful of ADS (Air­wor­thi­ness Di­rec­tives — for­mal re­quire­ments for in­spec­tion of/rec­ti­fi­ca­tion to the air­frame). It is said that no DC-3 has ever suf­fered an accident due to struc­tural fail­ure. How­ever, as Ge­off Jones’s new book ex­plains, most of the sur­viv­ing work­ing fleet is made up from tur­bine-en­gine con­ver­sions be­cause the one item that doesn’t go on for­ever is the long-out-of-pro­duc­tion big ra­dial en­gine.

There’s a lot of in­for­ma­tion in 80 Glo­ri­ous Years, the early history of the DC-3 be­ing set in con­text by a sec­tion that de­scribes its early ri­vals in use­ful de­tail — they weren’t just the ar­chaic bi­plane trans­ports pro­duced by de Hav­il­land and Cur­tiss, but the all-metal, re­tractable-un­der­car­riage Boe­ing 247 and a num­ber of ad­vanced Ger­man, French and Ital­ian de­signs. Th­ese aero­planes — and later mono­plane ri­vals pro­duced by de Hav­il­land and other Bri­tish man­u­fac­tur­ers — are il­lus­trated, de­scribed and listed in good de­tail, but the lack of an in­dex makes find­ing all ref­er­ences to them a pain (Fonthill please note!)

Photo re­pro­duc­tion is very good through­out, and the il­lus­tra­tions are plen­ti­ful and de­cently-sized with­out making this one of those hand­some-look­ing but not ter­ri­bly in­for­ma­tive books you do see to­day. In­deed this one man­ages to be both filled with in­for­ma­tion and a plea­sure to be­hold — and no one can com­plain at that! PW

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