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On the Wings of a Gull

On the Wings of a Gull Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review June 2013 Title On the Wings of a Gull: Percival and Hunting Aircraft
Author David W. Gearing Publisher Air-Britain
Published 2012 ISBN 9780851304489
Format 384 pages, hardbound MSRP (BP) £42.95 (non-member price)
£32.59 (member price)


With Miles, Percival remains one of the classic British manufacturers of racing and light aircraft during the 1930s and 1940s.

Now it's the subject of a cool, comprehensive compendium from Air-Britain – On the Wings of a Gull: Percival and Hunting Aircraft.

The first four chapters chart company history from Percival to Hunting to BAC.  Twelve subsequent sections detail individual production designs – including the renowned Mew Gull, Proctor, Prentice, Provost and Strikemaster.

Contents then segue to a bewitching brace of chapters on experimental and concept projects.  That where you'll find exceptionally engrossing entries like a Vega Gull light bomber and "Burnelli-style" freighter.  Intriguing!

No proverbial stone remains unturned.  And coverage concludes with three chapters and four appendices with AIR-BRITAIN's typically masterful mix of production lists, serials, construction numbers, registrations and sundry stuff.

Well-executed scale drawings and hundreds of photos – both color and B&W – add plenty of visual appeal.  And a general index neatly wraps things up.

This terrific tome includes all key planes and players – except for one cinematic slip!  Author Gearing dutifully documents the botched permutation of Percival Proctors into semi-scale Stukas for the 1969 epic, Battle of Britain.  But he fails to note the Mew Gull's starring role as a doomed enemy fighter in Alexander Korda's 1936 production of H.G. Wells' Things To Come – one of my favorite films.

But forgive that nitpick.  David Gearing's brilliant book supplants all prior Percival histories – including PUTNAM's superannuated study.  I absolutely loved it.

Strongly recommended!