Taylor, H. A.


Putnam, new ed., 1991. X + 206 pp., frontis., + photo-ills., + ills. D.j., 22 x 14cm. FINE. During the 20 years of its life as an independent or quasi-independent company, Airspeed designed and made a dozen different aircraft, excluding many variants. Nearly all of them were outstandingly advanced in design for their time, or especially ingenious, and two, the twin-engined Oxford trainer and the Horsa troop-and-vehicle-carrying glider, were produced in very large numbers before and during World War II. In addition, Airspeed worked on many projects but this book does more than describe the aircraft and most of the projects. It also gives much of the thinking and history behind the designs and describes some of the incidents involved in development flying. The author was a member of the staff of Airspeed during the five years in which the Ambassador (Elizabethan) airliner was being developed, built and tested. Thus, he tells for the first time many incidents behind the problems and minor technical disasters which bedevilled the development of this advanced medium-haul piston-engined airliner. He describes these and explains the reasons for the year-late delivery to BEA and for the final decision to the de Havilland Company and Airspeed to cut their losses, make only the 20 Elizabethans for BEA and give up ideas for further development of this, the last Airspeed aircraft, in four-turbo-prop-engined form.

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