Cybermodeler Online

Celebrating 24 years of hobby news and reviews




The appearance of U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Defense, or NASA imagery or art does not constitute an endorsement nor is Cybermodeler Online affiliated with these organizations.


  • Facebook
  • Parler
  • Twitter
  • RSS
  • YouTube

America’s Round-Engine Airliners

America’s Round-Engine Airliners Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review April 2019 Title America’s Round-Engine Airliners
Author Craig Kodera, William Pearce Publisher Specialty Press
Published 2019 ISBN 9781580072649
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.