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Nimrod's Genesis

Nimrod's Genesis Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review Juy 2015 Title Nimrod's Genesis
Author Chris Gibson Publisher Hikoki Publications
Published 2015 ISBN 9781902109473
Format 224 pages, hardcover MSRP (USD) $49.95

Review

The United Kingdom remains a "maritime nation". And a maritime nation requires aerial maritime patrol capability.

That premise underpins Hikoki Publications' superb survey of British maritime patrol aircraft since World War II, Nimrod's Genesis.

Subtitled "RAF Maritime Patrol Projects and Weapons Since 1945", author Chris Gibson tells the total tale in 224 pages and 10 chunky chapters.

"'There is no-one to fight at sea'," British Prime Minister Clement Atlee famously opined after the decisive defeats of Axis navies during World War II. That rapidly changed with the onset of the Cold War. And a muscular submersible attack force became a spear tip of Soviet ambitions.

And that's where Gibson logically begins. Contents initially recap post-WWII Soviet submarine and surface warship evolution – then shift to Western "hunter/killer" sensor and weapons technology countermeasures. Did you know that the Admiralty thought six missiles of two different types would disable a Sverdlov-class cruiser? I didn't, either.

Coverage then takes flight with successive sections on flying boats, short- & medium-range land-based design proposals, and the "slow, noisy and uncomfortable" Avro Shackleton era – the last chapter including intriguing Bristol 175 proposals.

Too bad that the antipodes didn't pitch-in to help fund the beautiful R.2/48. The "scarecrow" factor really worked for US Civil Air Patrol sub-hunters. And those Chapter 4 concepts certainly proved riveting – especially maritime-reconnaissance versions of the Vickers Viscount. But can you imagine a Bristol 170 Freighter in the same task? Gibson includes that, too.

Text then traverses NATO's requirement to replace Lockheed P2V Neptunes, which the RAF ultimately opted out of – and utterly fascinating, multi-role "Trinity" concepts, especially sundry VC10 schemes. 

Innovative VC10 proposals returned in the follow-on OR.350 and OR.357 requirements. So did Breguet Atlantic, Avro Vulcan, Vickers Vanguard, Bristol Britannia and Lockheed Hercules iterations – among others. Just imagine that Handley Page HP.117 in service!

None of these studies bore fruit – and the faithful Shackleton stayed in service. That changed with supposedly "interim" requirement OR.381 – which ultimately generated the Nimrod. And for 40 years, they remained Britain's maritime-reconnaissance and anti-submarine asset.

But the design remained, Gibson frankly admits, a "Forties airframe with a Sixties kit". And the RAF quickly initiated a number of new – and ultimately abortive – studies for Nimrod's replacement. At least one proposed grafting surplus MR.2 noses, radars and weapons panniers to Super VC10s – again confirming the Vickers/BAC design's polymorphic potential. Gibson outlines all – right through the Cold War's end. Would you believe that Britain reportedly considered acquiring a Russian Beriev design?

With Nimrod's retirement, Hikoki's spellbinding survey concludes with "21st Century" prospects – which remain bleak. The United Kingdom – a "maritime nation" with the world's fifth largest Exclusive Economic Zone – currently maintains no aerial maritime patrol capability. Nary a Nimrod replacement in sight!

Hundreds of photos and drawings season this superb study. A glossary, selected bibliography, index and three informative appendices also augment the account.

I absolutely loved this book. With Gibson's extensive projects and proposals coverage, "what if" enthusiasts will especially go ga-ga.

Robustly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Specialty Press for this review sample!

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