|Richard A Franks|
|Valiant Wings Publishing|
|£18.95 MSRP at www.valiant-wings.co.uk|
192 pages, A4 Format, softcover,
ISBN: 978-1-912932-02-3, Airframe Album #15
This latest edition of Airframe Album concentrates on the Gloster and Armstrong Whitworth Meteor. While the Germans were the first to fly a turbine powered aircraft and the first to put them into production with the Me-262, the British were not all that far behind. The aircraft were similar in several ways with each requiring two wing mounted engines to provide the needed thrust. However their choice of engine design was quite different. The Germans went with the axial flow turbojet, which eventually became the way to do jet engines, while the British chose the simpler centrifugal flow variant, a type that is now more used in helicopters and small turboprops. Axial flow engines provide a smaller diameter, but with the trade-off of greater complexity. For early jets, the choice of a centrifugal flow meant greater reliability at the expense of greater engine diameter.
While the Meteor could have been put into combat in the air to air role (it had a brief stint at ground attack), it was decided by the RAF that they did not want the engine technology to fall into German hands. Hindsight shows us that this was a false fear as by the time the Meteor entered squadron service, the war was so close to being over that even if the Germans had recovered a crashed copy, they would not have had time to copy and develop it.
Despite its near obsolescence by the late 1940s, the Meteor continued to be developed and became a very successful type. Thanks to the UK's need for currency after WWII, the Meteor became the first jet fight of many foreign air arms. Here its simplicity of design was a major plus and many were in front line service into the 1960s with some remaining in use until the 1990s in special roles.
The book follows the usual script with a history of the type, the different variants, close up images of extant airframe as well as period images and tech manual drawings. There is a section on the differences between airframes and one on the various camouflage schemes worn by the aircraft. Needless to say, these sections are fairly extensive considering the number of variants and sub-variants of the Meteor that were produced. The modeler's section has two builds, a 1/72 Cyber-Hobby F.1 and a 1/48 Airfix FR.9. The usual listing of kits, decals and accessories is provided near the end. The author rightly comments that this is not a model review book, hence a number of other kits were not built for this edition, something I think that readers frequently overlook.
In all, a most welcome addition to what is a superb series of books and well worth the effort of picking up. This one is going right into my reference library.
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