About the current issue
With the fifth issue of The Aviation Historian landing in readers' letterboxes in the UK and around the world, our compact-format quarterly journal has now embarked upon its second year of publication. To judge from the feedback we get from our growing band of subscribers and single-issue buyers, we are hitting the spot – and we have lots more top-quality content in the pipeline.
TAH makes a superb Christmas or birthday present for any keen enthusiast – including yourself! – and it is quick and easy to subscribe.
Issue 5 exemplifies our aim to assemble an eclectic pick of material between one set of covers, offering the variety of a magazine with the depth of a book. Although it has no specific theme, much of TAH5 does have a thread running through it: that of the movement of people and goods across the British Empire during war and peacetime. The issue begins with the story of Oscar Garden, an unknown and publicity-shy contemporary of Amy Johnson, who bought a Moth in Selfridges in 1930 and set off from Croydon, bound for Australia, with only 40hr of solo time in his logbook. He arrived safely; was it just beginner's luck?
Another aircraft on the same route, but flying in the opposite direction and nine years later, nearly met with disaster: a Qantas Short Empire flying-boat had to put down on a river in Java in bad weather, an event which tested machine and crew to the limit. Airline historian Phil Vabre recounts the epic tale.
Fast-forward another 30 years and it was crunch time – literally – for an RAF Avro Vulcan in New Zealand, which made an unexpected impression at the opening of the new Wellington airport during a flag-waving world tour. And the image of Britain's projection of military air power was under threat again further up to date, in 1982, during the Falklands conflict – a grave situation which prompted America to offer the UK the loan of a US Navy aircraft carrier. Using newly-declassified documents, Ben Dunnell shines a spotlight on the plans.
Beyond the empire theme, TAH5 examines well-known subjects from an unfamiliar angle, such as the full story of the post-war racing career of Hawker Hurricane PZ865/G-AMAU The Last of the Many, and the concluding half of historian Philip Jarrett's detailed survey of the forerunners of World War One's immortal Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 fighter.
Of course we also relish the downright unusual, epitomised in this issue by an account of the Douglas O-38 observation biplane's career in Peruvian Aviation Corps service in the 1930s; Piaggio P.166 gull-winged twin-pusher operations in the diamond fields of Sierra Leone in the 1960s; and a 1945 one-off Italian lightplane which is so obscure that it never featured in Jane's All The World’s Aircraft.
All the above is complemented by a profile of the USAF's 81st Fighter Bomber Wing's Republic F-84F Thunderstreaks in Europe; a re-examination of whether recoverable German World War Two aircraft wrecks survive at the edge of a major US Navy base on the American mainland; and a glimpse of autogyro designer Igor Bensen's rotary-winged watercraft. Added to those, our regulars Lost & Found, Off the Beaten Track, Before & After, readers' letters and book reviews make up the irresistible package that is TAH5.
Canadian author and historian Donald Nijboer described TAH in a recent review as "a shining example of what happens when passion, drive, experience and a desire to produce a quality product come together". But don't take his – or our – word for it: get hold of a copy and decide for yourself!
Nick Stroud, Editor