British Light Aeroplanes

 

 

British Light Aeroplanes

Their Evolution, Development and Perfection 1920-1940

The two decades between the end of the Great War (1914-1918) and the start of World War Two (1939-45) represented what many consider to have been the 'Golden Age' of the light aeroplane.

The first Flying Clubs were formed and soon there was a tremendous growth both in private flying and also small aeroplanes. People from all walks of life took up aviation while the civic authorities of almost every town in the British Isles clamoured to have their own municipal aerodromes.

This development of private flying created a demand for suitable aircraft and manufacturers vied with each other to design and manufacture the most desirable light aeroplane not just for Flying Club use but for the burgeoning band of private aeroplane owners.

This is the story of this unofficial contest to find the ideal light aeroplane. Today we remember the Moth of de Havilland and the Hawk of Miles, but there were many, many others, most of which were to fall by the wayside. Home-builders are not forgotten in this survey that extends from Halton Meteor to Camsell Monoplane, Hinkler Ibis to Worsell amongst its descriptive sections on some 250-odd aircraft.

As aeroplanes were developed, so engines were improved from the largely unsuitable and unreliable motors that characterised the infamous Lympne Light Aeroplane Trials of the 1920s. New standards were set by Cirrus, Salmson, Pobjoy and Gipsy.

In this rich period of a mere two decades the light aircraft developed from the military combat fighter of the First World War to the safe, comfortable long-distance tourer of the 1930s. Yet this transformation was undertaken under extremely difficult conditions. It began with a massive marketing void in the 1920s as sales of vast numbers of war-surplus machines quashed demand for new aircraft, endured the world economic recession of the late 1920s and early 1930s and struggled on to the day War broke out again. It was anything but an easy mutation.

And behind all this endeavour were the men and women who strove with commendable single-mindedness to make light aircraft happen. These people have mostly left little or nothing behind them to celebrate their endeavours and their dreams.

This book describes their work and their hopes. It is a memorial to twenty short years that changed aviation for ever.

It is also the story of some 250 different aircraft, most of which are long forgotten. 656 pages fully illustrated with 1,027 photographs, many of which are rare and have never before been seen in print. There are 98 specially-produced three-view drawings of rare and unusual aeroplanes.

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