by: Darren Baker [ ]
The following portion of the introduction is from Pen and Sword:
The early 1950s were a boom time for British aviation. The lessons of six years of war had been learned and much of the research into jet engines, radar and aerodynamics had begun to reach fruition. In Britain, jet engine technology led the world, while wartime developments into swept wing design in Germany and their transonic research programme were used to give western design teams a quantum leap in aircraft technology.
The English Electric Lightning emerged at this time. This supersonic fighter aircraft of the Cold War era is perhaps best remembered for its amazing take-off performance, its exceptional rate of climb and its immense speed. Here, Martin Bowman takes us on a photographic journey, illustrating the various landmarks of the Lightning's impressive operational history.
This offering from Pen and Sword is part of the ‘Images at War’ series. This series of books are soft backed offerings having a good card cover with a very good spine to the book that keeps the contents in good order. This book covering ‘The English Electric Lightning’ has been authored by Martin W Bowman. This title from Martin W Bowman is one of 85 offerings covering aircraft from a very broad period of time and that is only counting the titles available from Pen and Sword. The contents of this title are provided over 114 pages of good quality semi gloss paper.
The contents are presented in the following sections:
Appendix 1 – Specifications
Appendix 2 – Timeline
This offering from Pen and Sword as part of their Images of War series is a little different to what I have become familiar with; this change is highlighted to me by the introduction being the contents of the book, but it is no bad thing in this case. The dedicated text is more than I have become used to finding in these titles, but then again we need to remember that the title is a single chapter rather than a series of them. The text is well written and covers the intent of the author very well I feel, as it provided a decent quantity of information that pleased me.
Moving onto the photographs I was very pleased to see that the aircraft itself took not just centre stage but left and right wings as well. The photographs in this title are all black & white and period images, but I cannot help thinking a few colour images could have been thrown into the mix as well and brought some colour to our lives. The photographs do cover some of the early aircraft that look quite different to the Lightning we know today, and I am please that if memory serves some of these aircraft are on display at the RAF museum at Cosford. The quality of the images selected are of a high quality and I was also pleased to see covers the Lightning from many aspects rather than in flight and sat static on the ground only.
The photographs are of course the stars of this title in every way, but a photograph can only provide a certain level of reference that can be enhanced; the enhancement of the images is provided via captions. The captions in this title are sometimes very long and provide a great deal of background on the image displayed, and I have to say the author appears in my mind to have done and exceptional job with the captions in this title.
At the end of the title are the two appendices covering different aspects of the aircraft. The first appendix supplies information such as dimensions, speed and armament and so supplies information in a quick reference format. The second Appendix presents a time line for the Lightning from contract in 1947 to the last RAF flight in 1988. This time line provides a great reference for the modeller who wishes to represent a certain aircraft at a certain time. There are a small number of empty pages at the end of the book which I like as it means I can write down page numbers for images I am particularly interested in and locate them quickly at any time.
This offering from Pen and Sword is one of the books that make me so appreciative of the Images of War titles. The book is covers the subject I expected it to cover and does it well. The dedicated text may be limited but it provides a good grounding in the aircrafts history. The photographs are well chosen, but I would have liked to see some colour photographs in the mix. If the images are the stars of the title then it is the captions that are a very close second and increase the value of the images considerably as it provides information the image cannot.
Darren Baker takes a look at a release from Pen and Sword as part of their Images of War series titled and covering ‘The English Electric Lightning '.
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