Just the facts, sir. Hawker: An aircraft album by Derek N. James.

Hawker: An aircraft album, by Derek N. James
Ian Allen, 1972, 128 pages. SBN 7110 0294 0

Hawker was one of the great names in aviation until the end of the 1960s, before it was subsumed, like so many other great names in British engineering, into a single large entity, in this case British Aerospace and then BAE Systems, although the Hawker name persists in various fields apart from defence. It’s not quite as unfortunate as how most of the great British car makers ended up as parts of British Leyland, which was very efficient because then they could all go broke at once. In the case of the aerospace industry, it was bailed out by the government because of its national security implications, before undergoing various mergers, public offerings, acquisitions and so on, so it kind of still exists.

 

The last Hawker-built Hurricane during assembly.

The last Hawker-built Hurricane during assembly.

Founded by a group of men that included WWI pilot H.G.Hawker, and T.O.M. Sopwith, Hawker was founded on the ashes of Sopwith (famous for the Camel) and in that tradition specialised in single-seat, single—engined fighters and light bombers right from the start, and stayed true to that mandate right through its time, from the rather dull Woodcock and Horsely of its first phase, through the handsome biplanes of the 30s and the famous Hurricane of the war and on to the Harrier, probably the last plane to be thought of as a ‘Hawker’ rather than British Aerospace (or now Boeing/BAE Systems).

This book is a model-by-model catalogue of the planes made by Hawker. Factual, replete with statistics including production numbers, technical specs and even aircraft numbers, this is a useful reference work but, apart from the quite brief introductory material, not really a books to read through. Indeed, apart from the military historian, it is hard to think who would read it. There is no human story at all. Also relatively little broader context. It is narrowly focussed on the qualities and success or otherwise of the craft discussed.

Why did I read it? I am not sure. Why am I blogging about it? Because I read it… Should you read it? No, because (a) I doubt you’d find a copy, (b) it is of very narrow focus, and (c) who really needs to know?

That’s a bit flip. The fan of the development of the fighter, at least up to the 1960s, would find it a useful text. I read it solely because I’ve mostly been reading fiction lately, including a lot of manuscripts, and this was not that.

So; there we have it.

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About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

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