Specialty Press's America's Round Engine Airliners


Craig Kodera & William Pearce


Specialty Press


$46.95 from Specialty Press


Scott Van Aken

Notes: ISBN 978-1-58007-257-1, 8.5 x 11 inches, 218 pages, Hardbound, tons of photos (color and b&w)

Specialty Press has long been known for providing high quality books that are both informative and interesting to read. This one is another example of the best.

Many of us have a rather nostalgic view of prop driven airliners, and that is not surprising, especially when one considers what a hassle it is to fly now days. Back then there was actual service, no long waiting lines, no showing up three hours before your flight, and no having to deal with the Walmart crowd once on the plane. In the past, one was use to well dressed, polite fellow passengers, actual comfort once you got on board and a decent meal or two on the way to your destination. Today it is seriously like being transported in crowded cattle cars for the majority of air passenger. What do you think the 'max' is in 737-800max? It is for more seats in the same space.

This book is a dual story that covers both the engines used to power these aircraft as much as it is the aircraft themselves. Face it, without powerful, reliable engines, passenger air travel would never have been profitable. Of course, the US did not invent air cooled engines, but did take the technology to its ultimate. Air cooled radial engines took coolant and the rather considerable plumbing required out of the equation for aircraft designers. It allowed good power for engine size and also enabled greater growth than was the case for in-line engines.

So what Specialty Press has done is to begin with a look at the very early years of airline operations, where fleets were small, flying fairly expensive and not all that comfortable. It combines this with a look at the earliest successful radial engines from Wright and Pratt& Whitney (which was formed by disgruntled Wright designers). As the chapters move along, so does engine development in a sort of 'battle' between Wright and P&W over engine development. This is also paced by development in airframes with there being two major players here as well; Lockheed and Boeing. For sure, Convair and Martin also played a part in the story, but both of those were post WWII and were more competitors for the smaller, feederline market.

Airframe and engines are discussed in depth with tons of superb photos and excellent drawings. In all, it makes for one of the most interesting books on the subject(s) that I have ever read. It is what one comes to expect from Specialty Press and I give this one my highest recommendation.

April 2019September 2010

Review book courtesy of Specialty Press. You can get yours today by visiting this link.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.