|Published by||Morton Media Group
|Product details||Aviation Classics : Avro Lancaster
Published: 29 October 2009Aviation Classics : The P-51 Mustang
Published: 29 January 2010
|Format||Bookazine, — 132 pages, format A4|
|Price||Recommended Retail Price £6.99 per issue. Subscription is available at £30 for 6 issues.
Available directly via aviationclassics.co.uk or through WH Smiths
Published by Morton Media Group in the UK, Aviation Classics is a new series of “bookazines”, or aviation books in magazine format. These are soft-cover A4 publications, each devoted to a particular type of aircraft but otherwise following magazine conventions in terms of contents, authorship and layout.
Two titles of the series have appeared so far, one devoted to Avro Lancaster and another to P-51 Mustang. Both aircraft are much-loved historic icons which should require no introduction. The Supermarine Spitfire will be the subject of the third issue, due in March. Further issues will be published bi-monthly.
The first impression of Aviation Classics is its size and visual appeal. Each issue features 132 pages, quite a bit more than one would expect from an “ordinary” magazine. With this size, the volume of contents inside each issue compares favourably with many aviation books. Better still, the publisher wisely opted for not saving space on photographs – full colour and black-and-white archive images are being served in abundance throughout each issue.
The editorial standard of Aviation Classics is very high. It is impossible not to like the visual appeal of these titles, as the colourful layout and all the big, crispy illustrations make it a real eye-candy. Form-wise, Aviation Classics fall somewhere between Fly Past’s flamboyant layout and the matter-of-factly style of the Aeroplane – the layout is attractive, but not overdone.
Edited and compiled by Jarrod Cotter, who has edited a host of aviation titles and was co-author of the highly successful Haynes Avro Lancaster Manual, the Avro Lancaster issue includes a mixture of richly illustrated articles.
A given subject in a title devoted to Avro Lancaster is the Dambusters raid. Here we have a first-person account from the attack written by Guy Gibson, CO of No. 617 Squadron, and Les Munro, the last surviving pilot of the raid. Gibson’s account is based on excerpts from his book written shortly after the war.
Aviation magazines are often hunting for previously unpublished aircrew memoirs. In this area there is a crew diary account jotted down the day after a night operation when the Lancaster was hit by flak and a night fighter.
There are also two restoration features. The first is devoted to BBMF’s airworthy Lancaster Mk.1 flying out of RAF Coningsby. The second, is “Just Jane”, a Mk. VII which operates taxi runs at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby.
There is also a sizeable feature recalling the filming of the “Dambusters” movie back in the 1950s.
Those looking for technical reference will appreciate the “inside the cockpit” views of Lancaster crew positions, reproduced with large-size colour photos with detailed description of main controls and instruments. There is also a separate article describing typical Lancaster bomb loads and a few occasional colour profiles.
Click to enlarge images
The P-51 issue has been similarly put together under editorial supervision of Jarrod Cotter. Personally, I found it even more interesting than the Lancaster issue, although it may be the effect of my bias towards fighters. I particularly liked the comprehensive overview of the racing Mustangs used from the immediate post-war period up to this day, when some of these old machines reach unbelievable speeds in excess of 500 mph. There is also a comprehensive overview of the Mustang’s service with the RAF, and a unique feature describing the use of Mustangs in Bomber Command – as precision target marking aircraft with No. 617 Squadron.
Restoration feature tells the story of recently finished and flown “Marinell” – a P-51D brought back to Fowlmere in Cambridgeshire almost 65 years to the day since it took off and was shot down over France. Another article in this area presents ‘Mrs Virginia’ and the Air Commandos – a rare P51A warbird which flies out of Chino, California.
Aviation Classics are something of a hybrid between an aviation magazines and aircraft monographs. Neither of these titles will replace a full monograph of the corresponding aircraft type on your bookshelf, but they offer a very nice complement, printed to the highest standard and with many interesting articles to read and to return to. Under my month-long ownership of the two review issues I found myself returning to articles and pictures of Aviation Classics on more than one occasion!
Despite the “magazine” format, these titles will most probably end up in your bookshelf, saved for future reference and enjoyment. At £30 yearly subscription and back issues readily available from the publisher, collecting all the interesting titles should be easy.
If you are a die-hard aviation enthusiast, Aviation Classics are for you, but these titles should be also enjoyed by someone with casual interest in the field.
Review sample kindly provided by the publisher