America’s Round-Engine Airliners Book Review
|Date of Review||April 2019||Title||America’s Round-Engine Airliners|
|Author||Craig Kodera, William Pearce||Publisher||Specialty Press|
|Format||300 pages, hardbound||MSRP (USD)||$46.95|
Round in cross-section, reliable, reciprocating radial engines literally propelled American air travel from frail, fabric-and-wood airframes to fast, safe, all-metal designs – cementing U.S. leadership in the field.
That's the premise of America's Round-Engine Airliners from Specialty Press.
The subtitle – "Airframes & Powerplants in the Golden Age of Aviation" – tells it all. Authors Craig Kodera and William Pearce traverse the terrific, transitional tale in nine picture-packed chapters:
- From Inline to Round
- One Wing, Two Engines, All Metal
- Presenting the Ship as an Airplane
- Landplanes Become Viable Contenders
- Expanding the Envelope
- Some Serious Air Transports
- Shrinking the Envelope
- The Big Time
- Twilight of the Goddesses
Call this compendium "multi-dimensional": part aerodynamic, part engineering, part technical, part mechanical, even part cultural – but all informative and entirely entertaining.
Each chapter divides into Kodera's "Getting There By Air" and Pearce's "Hardware on the Wing" sections. You'll easily see why.
Hundreds of illustrations – color and B&W shots, archival images, drawings, close-ups, exploded views, memorabilia, and more – season the saga. Sidebars and explanatory captions further complement commentary. And a selected bibliography and index complete contents.
It's full of fascinating facts, too. Thanks to revolutionary American designs like Douglas' DC-3, for instance, total U.S. airline passengers "increased nearly ninefold, to more than 4 million" between 1934 and 1940 – just six years.
Kodera and Pearce's splendid study nicely surveys the maturation of American commercial flight. And it's a cool, colorful introduction to the roots of today's international air-transportation system.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.
But were engine nacelles really "rather perpendicular to the swept leading edge" of the DC-4E wing?
With thanks to Specialty Press for the review copy.