About the current issue
The 11th quarterly issue of The Aviation Historian continues to reflect the aims we set ourselves when we launched the journal in 2012: to provide fresh perspectives on flying history for enthusiasts who want to progress beyond the mainstream monthlies. Although still a relatively small player in our market, we are the world’s fastest-growing aviation history magazine – which suggests we are on the right track!
TAH11 opens with a revealing article from Prof Keith Hayward about the Supermarine Swift programme – which, after World War Two, established Britain's unfortunate and ongoing pattern of crisis after crisis in military equipment procurement. A great British success story, by contrast, is the BAe Hawk; rarely used in combat, it is the subject of an extraordinary story culminating in surely the shortest-range strike missions in history, conducted by the Air Force of Zimbabwe in 1998.
From such relatively recent aviation events back to the earliest, the writing of history has consisted of assembling facts and interpreting them. One of aviation's earliest attempts to rewrite history was the Langley Aerodrome affair, in which vested interests conspired to "prove" that Smithsonian Institution Secretary Samuel Pierpoint Langley's tandem-winged monoplane could have flown before the 1903 Wright Flyer. What has never been fully revealed is the part played in the scandal by the Smithsonian's Assistant Secretary, Charles Walcott, and the multiple motivations behind his actions. Wright historian and replica-builder Nick Engler presents a "follow-the-money" exposé, complete with exclusive new artworks which demonstrate the extent to which history was not just rewritten, but physically rebuilt. These artworks may also be downloaded and viewed interactively – see our News & Gallery page for more about this; the beginnings of what we hope will be a succession of innovative TAH interactive graphics.
Returning to the content of our compact-format journal (TAH is rather more like a softback book than a magazine), Issue 11 reveals lesser-known aspects of well-known aviation careers. Did you know that leading biplane design exponent H.P. Folland conceived a Mayo Composite-style high-speed long-range monoplane bomber? Or that another great designer and aircraft stylist, Italy's Stelio Frati, made his debut with a pusher ultralight? Or that Supermarine test pilot Henri Biard adopted an unusual solution to the problem of a full bladder while airborne in a Southampton flying-boat – with its creator R.J. Mitchell on board? No? Then get hold of a copy of TAH11 and all this rare knowledge will be yours.
Turning from people to hardware, aero-engines are a subject often put into the "too difficult" box by other publications – but we, and many readers, relish such articles. Our current issue goes into depth about the USA's outstanding Liberty engine of World War One – or rather, the story of how Soviet Russia reverse-engineered it to create its own metric version.
All this and more – including the first half of a biography of Fairey test pilot Duncan Menzies, the story of how air-freight operations revolutionised Australia's livestock industry in the 1950s, and an in-depth look at the USAAF's Cold Weather Test Detachment – constitutes TAH11. It is quick and easy to subscribe (you can click here to do so). You can also buy single issues and back-issues via our Shop page.
Nick Stroud, Editor