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Secret US Proposals of the Cold War

Secret US Proposals of the Cold War Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2013 Title Secret US Proposals of the Cold War
Author Jim Keeshen Publisher Specialty Press
Published 2013 ISBN 978-0-8597916-1-8
Format 176 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $34.95


Here is a new title from Specialty Press (published by Crecy in the UK) that tells an interesting story of aviation history. In this interesting title, the author tells the story of a variety of aircraft concepts proposed in the US from World War II through the end of the cold war. What makes this title different is it tells the story using models - manufacturer's display models, wooden proposal models, even plastic model kits that illustrated a concept. The reason that this title interests me is that before the days of sophisticated modeling and digital illustrations, aircraft manufacturers used desk model-sized replicas to illustrate a concept for consideration by officials in the US armed forces.

One case in point was during the late 1940s, a team from Boeing had been pitching different concepts for strategic bomber to the US Air Force. On a Thursday in late October, 1948, the team had presented a four-engined turboprop bomber concept which didn't impress the chief of bomber development Colonel Pete Warden. The Boeing team was invited to try once more and presented a four-engined turbojet design the following day. With the customer still not impressed, the Boeing team gathered a few additional folks and developed the concept of an eight-engined turbojet bomber in a hotel room with several folks typing up a proposal and one literally carving a wooden 14 inch scale model, all of which was successfully presented the next Monday morning. The B-52 Stratofortress was born.

This title walks through a variety of concepts that had at least made it into model form, but as you read through the history, you'll see a number of these concepts that made it into flight test. Coverage of this title includes:

  • Modelers and Model Making
  • Models and Artwork
  • The Bombers
  • The First Jets
  • Fly Navy!
  • Vertical Flight and other Concepts

There are quite a few interesting development programs that generated some innovative concepts even though they ultimately didn't make it beyond the conceptual model stage as they were too far ahead of their time or simply too far-fetched for practical use. As you look at these concepts, you'll see the concepts that would later lead to aircraft like the V-22 Osprey, the B-2 Spirit, the compound helicopter (still under development), and even the cold war concepts that look similar to the alleged wave-rider 'Aurora'.

This book makes for some interesting reading and because it tells its story through models, you might find yourself drawn back to the bench to add your own chapters to aviation history in scale.

Definitely recommended!