About the current issue
Now embarking on our 5th year of publication (doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun!), we present the 17th quarterly issue of The Aviation Historian. Not only does our worldwide readership continue to grow, but so does our archive – some generous bequests of photographic and other items are necessitating a move to a larger space! This is good for TAH in two ways: first, it provides us with a richer in-house source of material, and secondly it is a measure of our reputation that fellow aviation-history people see us as the best repository for their lifetime collections.
Highlights of our current issue include a couple of unusual perspectives on otherwise quite familiar subjects. The first is an account of the air conflict of the 1956 Suez Crisis from the Egyptian Air Force viewpoint: 60 years on, historian of African aviation Tom Cooper has scrutinised recently-released Egyptian official records to form an unprecedentedly accurate picture, from the “other side”, of one the Cold War’s most momentous episodes. The second is a – perhaps surprisingly – absorbing story of paperwork: when Imperial Airways and Qantas established the Empire Air Mail Service in the 1930s, how were crucial aircraft-servicing and spares records kept up to date when each aircraft was maintained not at a single home base, but almost anywhere and in any nation along a 12,000-mile route? It’s something most of us have never considered, which is exactly what makes it interesting – and Australian civil-aviation historian Phil Vabre describes how it changed commercial air operations forever.
The airshow scene is not something that TAH often covers – we leave that to the mainstream monthlies – but, looking back, one may recognise outstanding events and individuals. What better example of the latter than Stefan Karwowski, the Ayrton Senna of airshow pilots, who had an intuitive gift for revealing the poetry that resides in the knife-edge between complete control and chaos. Paul Fiddian profiles a star who shone brightly but briefly in the 1980s before tragedy intervened.
A unique airshow from an earlier era forms the subject of our TAH17 cover story: the first and only World Congress of Flight, held at Las Vegas in 1959. With low-level runs by B-58 Hustler (at Mach 1+) and others, a napalm drop by Super Sabres and a B-52 nuclear bomb practice-round airburst, it was a shattering experience for the audience.
On an altogether more sedate note, we offer previously-unpublished photographs taken by the late John Stroud of his 1947 flight from Croydon to Belfast in a BEA Junkers Ju 52/3m; and recollections of flying Dakotas across the Channel from former Skyways Coach-Air pilot Brian Turpin.
Other articles in the current issue cover topics as diverse as the wrangling over a possible RAF name for the General Dynamics F-111; a tyro club pilot’s hairy moment in a Tiger Moth; an air-racing Spitfire Mk XIV, and the opening of a three-part series on the Luftwaffe’s efforts to develop increasingly ingenious and bizarre anti-bomber weapons. Finally, of course, we continue to spotlight lesser-known aircraft types: this time we tell the stories of Sweden’s ASJA Sk 10 military training biplane, and Peru’s Stinson-Faucett light transports.
As well as rare photographs (many from our own archive, as mentioned at the beginning), illustrations in TAH17 include, as always, specially-drawn information graphics, maps, profiles and scale drawings.
Nick Stroud, Editor