About the current issue
With the 16th quarterly issue of The Aviation Historian landing on subscribers’ doormats in the UK and around the world, we complete our fourth year of publication — and we continue to grow, in both circulation and reputation.
Two flagship stories in this issue are actually as much about politics and power as they are about aircraft. In our cover story, Professor Keith Hayward FRAeS dissects the protracted process surrounding the procurement of the Hawker Siddeley Trident airliner for BEA in the 1950s and 1960s. Meanwhile, World War Two Axis specialist Ted Oliver scrutinises the true extent of wartime technological co-operation between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan — had it not been for a mixture of setbacks and lack of trust, it could have been far more effective.
Looking back to an earlier era, the story of Lt William Leefe Robinson’s downing of a Zeppelin airship over Cuffley in Hertfordshire in 1916 is well-known (and earned the RFC pilot a Victoria Cross) — but what about the German side of the story? World War One specialist Ray Rimell investigates.
The history of the West’s spy flights over the Soviet Union, Korea, China and elsewhere during the Cold War is a subject of perennial fascination, and in this issue Doug Gordon charts its earliest years — from Lockheed RF-80s over the Kurile Islands in 1949, through Spitfires and RB-45Cs over China, to Canberras and RB-50s over Stalingrad and the Arctic in the early 1950s.
Military imperatives can necessitate research in all sorts of unusual directions, and TAH16 features two examples. The first is Willard Custer’s unorthodox Channel Wing concept, which attracted attention from the USAAF for its STOL potential; and the second is the diminutive and little-known Nieuport-Macchi M.16 microbiplane, which caught the eye of the US Navy as a possible shipborne (or even submarine-borne) reconnaissance platform.
Military and civil aviation sometimes come together in unforeseen ways. A case in point is the subject of Africa specialist Tom Cooper’s article on the incident in 1988 when a BAe 125 with the Botswanan President on board was intercepted and fired on by a Cuban-manned MiG-23 Flogger over Angola.
More peaceful times are recounted in our regular series based on the photographic archive of airline historian John Stroud, which this time features the helicopters of New York Airways; and in a first-hand account by former Silver City Airways first officer Ken Honey — not about flying Bristol Freighters across the English Channel, which is what most of us associate with that airline, but flying Dakotas in Libya.
All of this and more, illustrated with rare archive photographs, specially-drawn information graphics, maps, profiles and scale drawings, make up our very special TAH16.
Incidentally, the front cover of this issue (which was inspired in part by the stylish and adventurous covers designed for national-newspaper colour supplements in the 1960s and 1970s) takes us back to the very beginnings of TAH. It is based on a design we came up with in late 2011, about a year before we launched, when we were developing the whole concept of the journal and revelling in its potential to be very different from the mainstream aviation monthlies. We’re still revelling in that individuality today — and, judging by the comments we get from happy readers, our “daring to be different” is appreciated!
Nick Stroud, Editor