About the current issue
Ranging from the deeply political to the nostalgically idyllic to the frankly bizarre, the 14th quarterly issue of The Aviation Historian contains a varied and plentiful diet of top-quality reading guaranteed to see serious enthusiasts and students of flying history through the darkest days of the Northern Hemisphere's winter and well into spring.
Launching us very much in the right direction is Professor Keith Hayward's revealing study of the political aftershocks of the cancellation of Vickers' ambitious V.1000 jet transport in 1955. An in-depth feature based on The National Archives' official records, it throws a penetrating light into the darker corners of Whitehall's corridors of power at a time when political rust was already forming beneath the aluminium glare of the era's "white heat of technology".
Still on the subject of cutting-edge technology, the first part of Philip Jarrett's masterful comparison of the efforts of two of British aviation's leading pioneers – Samuel Cody and A.V. Roe – offers a fascinating insight into the motivations and shortcomings of these two "astronauts" of yesteryear.
Meanwhile, some of the more bizarre applications of aeronautical technology are explored in our feature on the AERCAB "flyaway" ejection-seat project, aimed at giving Vietnam-era American combat pilots a means to reach safe territory after punching-out of a stricken aircraft. Shoehorning secondary jet engines plus Rogallo wings or semi-inflatable monoplanes or autogyros into fighter cockpits proved too challenging and expensive, but what a manifestation of the US military's post-World War Two "nothing is impossible" attitude.
Intrepid endeavour was far from being an exclusively American trait, however, as witnessed by the forgotten story of two Japanese aviators' long-distance flight from Tokyo to Rome in 1931. Utterly eclipsed by other developments in aviation and on the world stage at the time – not least the Manchurian Incident and the arrival in Tokyo of Charles Lindbergh and his wife – the achievement has remained largely buried until now.
A change of pace, from pioneering to pleasure, brings us to an evocatively-illustrated feature on the last surviving Supermarine Seagull V flying-boat, and specifically its use as a kind of seagoing aerial camper-van around the coasts of Southern Australia in the 1960s.
Transport of a much more serious variety, meanwhile, is the subject of The Molotov Express, a 12-page article on the vital World War Two "air bridge" between Russia and its allies, which enabled politicians and state leaders to have face-to-face meetings to co-ordinate the war effort.
Still on the subject of transport, we reveal newly-rediscovered photographs taken by airline specialist the late John Stroud during his visits to Beirut's new airport in Lebanon in the mid-1950s; and Jon Pote recalls how – thanks to Air America, the CIA's secret airline – he was able to visit the remote mountain airstrip of Sam Thong in Laos in 1966.
All this, and more – including how the first DFC of the Berlin Airlift came to be awarded, how a Bristol Tourer biplane ended up gaudily modified in California in the early 1920s, and how a US Navy squadron came to paint Playboy bunny logos on all-black McDonnell Douglas Phantoms – is encompassed by this latest issue of TAH.
Finally, don't miss details of our 2016 Reader Tour to Moscow – click here to learn more.
Nick Stroud, Editor