50 Aircraft That Changed the World

Overview

"A close-up survey of 50 of arguably the most remarkable and influential aircraft in aviation history. . . . Beautifully presented . . . this book will grace the coffee table of any aviation aficionado."
-- Airforce Magazine

In this book, the authors of the widely acclaimed Aviation Century series profile 50 of history's most influential aircraft, their pilots and designers.

They begin with the Wright ...

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Overview

"A close-up survey of 50 of arguably the most remarkable and influential aircraft in aviation history. . . . Beautifully presented . . . this book will grace the coffee table of any aviation aficionado."
-- Airforce Magazine

In this book, the authors of the widely acclaimed Aviation Century series profile 50 of history's most influential aircraft, their pilots and designers.

They begin with the Wright Brothers' 1905 Flyer, then move on to the birth of aerial warfare in World War I, the trailblazers of the interwar years, classic World War II aircraft, the jets of the Korean and Vietnam wars, modern commercial carriers, private jets, experimental designs and new combat fighters featuring stealth technology.

Featured aircraft in 50 Aircraft That Changed the World include:

  • Fokker E.111
  • Charles Lindbergh's Ryan NYP
  • Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega
  • Messerschmitt Bf 109
  • Supermarine Spitfire
  • Boeing B-17
  • Avro Lancaster
  • De Havilland Mosquito
  • Howard Hughes's Lockheed Constellation
  • Concorde
  • Learjet
  • Boeing B-52
  • Rutan Voyager

Hundreds of color and archival photographs enhance the informative and entertaining text.

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Editorial Reviews

Canadian Jewish News - Sheldon Kirshner
Fascinating.
Library Journal

Following the completion of their excellent five-volume "Aviation Century" series in 2006, Dick and photographer Patterson decided to further share their expertise by offering additional studies of some of the century's legendary airplanes. This is their subjective attempt to rank which aircrafts merited inclusion (along with their pilots and designers) among the top 50 Aviation Hall of Famers. Priority choices include the Wright brothers' 1905 Flyer and various World War I fighters. The section covering the interwar period offers several record-breaking machines, while the World War II inductees profiled conclude with Hitler's Messerschmitt 262 jet interceptor. Classic Korean War jets and commercial liners follow. The book's final portions are devoted to aerospace engineer Burt Rutan's futuristic flying creations and combat jets for the 21st century, which incorporate such innovations as stealth technology and fly-by-wire controls. This is much more than a composite rehash of the "Aviation Century" series. The text is new, the team's selections are defensible, and the illustrations (300 color/b&w), sidebars, pilot and aircraft profiles, and human-interest stories are all fresh, appealing, and insightful. Recommended for all aeronautical collections.
—John Carver Edwards

Muskoka Today - Lois Cooper
Really a must read for everyone -- imagine the history.
Airforce Magazine - Vic Johnson
A close-up survey of 50 of arguably the most remarkable and influential aircraft in aviation history... Beautifully presented... A bargain at 40 bucks, this book will grace the coffee table of any aviation aficionado.
Midwest Book Review - James A. Cox
An impressive and encyclopedic history of influential aircraft [that] should be a part of every personal, professional, academic, and community library's Aviation History reference collection.
American Reference Books Annual 2008 - Gregory Curtis
The format and size of this work lend themselves to aviation enthusiasts seeking striking images of famous airplanes.
Choice - M. Levinson
Dick and Patterson have made unusually fine choices.... The 50 aircraft...receive analytical but accurately admiring write-ups... Reasonable affection for aircraft is shown throughout this attractive, literate volume. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554076581
  • Publisher: Boston Mills Press
  • Publication date: 8/12/2010
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,437,593
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron Dick served with the Royal Air Force for 38 years, retiring in the rank of Air Vice-Marshal. After his retirement, Dick lived in Virginia and wrote and lectured on military and aviation history until his death in May 2008.

Dan Patterson received the first annual Combs Award, honoring his contribution to the photographic preservation of America's air and space heritage. He lives in Dayton, Ohio.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Photographer's Preface

1905 Wright Flyer III: The First Practical Aeroplane
Louis Blériot and his Type XI: Closing the Gap
Fokker E.111: Boelke, Immelman and the Eindecker
Caproni Ca.3: Strategic Bombing Begins
Sopwith Camel: WWI's Most Successful Fighter
Fokker D.VII: Too Few and Too Late
SPAD XIII: French and Fast
Curtiss NC-4: First Across the Pond
Vickers Vimy: Nonstop Transatlantic
Douglas World
Cruiser
: Global Conquest
Fokker World Beaters: Trimotors and Trailblazers
Ryan NYP: Ninety-Second but Still First
Schneider Trophy Racers: Faster with Floats
De Havilland's Moths: Planes for the Proletariat
Waco: "Ask Any Pilot"
Lockheed Vega: Versatile Adventurer
Douglas DC-3: Legendary Workhorse
Short Brothers' Flying Boats: Imperial Flagships
Messerschmitt Bf 109: Formidable Fighter
Hawker Hurricane:
Eight-Gun Destroyer
Supermarine Spitfire: Mitchell's Legacy
Boeing B-17: The Flying Fortress
Junkers Ju 52: Iron Annie
Mitsubishi A6M: The Zero
Avro Lancaster: Bludgeon and Rapier
P-51 Mustang: Scourge of the Luftwaffe
D.H. Mosquito: Wooden Wonder
Messerschmitt Me 262: Swallow and Stormbird:
F-86 Sabre: The Elegant Blade
MIG-15: Soviet Surprise
Lockheed Constellation:
"Connie"
DHC Beaver: Creature of the Bush
D.H. Comet: Tragic Pioneer of the Jet Age
Vickers Viscount: Noble Turboprop
BAC/Aerospatiale Concorde: Supersonic, at a Price
Flying Club Cessnas: Why Drive When You Can Fly?
Learjet: The Businessman's Aerial Hotrod
X-15: Rocketing into Space
SR-71: High-Speed Blackbird
MIG-21: Flying Fishbed
F-4 Phantom II: The Rhino
B-52
Stratofortress
: The Buff
Harrier: The Original Jump Jet
Lockheed C-130: Hercules
F-15 Eagle: Big Bird
Boeing Jet Airliners: World Shrinkers
Rutan's Originals: Shapes for the Future
Lockheed F-117A: Stealthy Nighthawk
Jack Northrop's Dream: The B-2 Spirit
F-35 Lightning II: Joint Strike Fighter

Photographer's Acknowledgments
Bibliographical Note from the Editor

Index

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Preface

Introduction

When Dan Patterson and I completed our five-volume Aviation Century series in 2006, we took some time to look back on the adventures we had experienced during the eight years it had taken us to compile the books. We had worked with museums and organizations in nine countries, written half a million words, created thousands of new color photographs, and searched for historic material in dozens of archives. It occurred to us that in the Aviation Century series we had built a firm foundation for other books on aviators and their machines. We recalled the people we had met and the aircraft that were their passion, and we began to think about those that had left the deepest impressions on our memories. It was a short step to considering a ranking system. Which aircraft deserved a place (together with their pilots and designers) in the top fifty of aviation's hall of fame?

Once the question had been posed, we soon found that a definitive answer was beyond our capabilities. We might just as well have tried to respond to "How long is a piece of string?" Nevertheless, we determined to make the attempt, realizing as we did so that any list of ours would be bound to leave out many aircraft that our readers would consider at least as deserving. What follows are our own ideas, arrived at after much discussion, soul-searching and fingernail biting.

The list begins, as it surely must, with the work of the Wright brothers. However, we chose to feature the 1905 Flyer rather than the machine made famous in 1903 on the sands near Kittyhawk. The first Flyer opened the door to manned flight, but only just. It was its 1905 successor that was the world's first practical aircraft. We then move to Europe and the dramatic events of World War I, recognizing the sad fact that aerial warfare is most often the spur that drives aeronautical advance. The interwar years are represented by a selection of trail-blazers and record-breakers, and by some of the aircraft that led the way in the development of commercial aviation. In the opinion of many, the era of the great flying boats was the last time that air travel offered elegance and luxury to rival the ocean liners.

Classic aircraft from World War II, such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109, Spitfire and Mustang, make up the center of the book, covering the astonishingly brief period that saw air forces move from biplanes into the jet age. They are followed by the competing jets from the Korean War, the MiG-15 and F-86 Sabre, and then by the F-4s and MiG-21s that saw action over Vietnam. In between come the commercial aircraft, the Boeings and their contemporaries, that created massive industries and changed the character of international travel. Burt Rutan's imaginative, mold-breaking designs are not forgotten. The last few places of the fifty go to some combat jets for the 21st century, such as the B-2 Spirit and the F-35, pointing to developments such as stealth technology, fly-by-wire controls and advanced avionics.

As we never tire of saying, in our opinion aviation changed the world more than anything else during the 20th century. We offer a very personal selection of the machines, and the people, that between them contributed more than most to that change, not only technologically, but also economically, militarily, sociologically and politically.

Ron Dick
December 3, 2006
Fredericksburg, Virginia

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction

When Dan Patterson and I completed our five-volume Aviation Century series in 2006, we took some time to look back on the adventures we had experienced during the eight years it had taken us to compile the books. We had worked with museums and organizations in nine countries, written half a million words, created thousands of new color photographs, and searched for historic material in dozens of archives. It occurred to us that in the Aviation Century series we had built a firm foundation for other books on aviators and their machines. We recalled the people we had met and the aircraft that were their passion, and we began to think about those that had left the deepest impressions on our memories. It was a short step to considering a ranking system. Which aircraft deserved a place (together with their pilots and designers) in the top fifty of aviation's hall of fame?

Once the question had been posed, we soon found that a definitive answer was beyond our capabilities. We might just as well have tried to respond to "How long is a piece of string?" Nevertheless, we determined to make the attempt, realizing as we did so that any list of ours would be bound to leave out many aircraft that our readers would consider at least as deserving. What follows are our own ideas, arrived at after much discussion, soul-searching and fingernail biting.

The list begins, as it surely must, with the work of the Wright brothers. However, we chose to feature the 1905 Flyer rather than the machine made famous in 1903 on the sands near Kittyhawk. The first Flyer opened the door to manned flight, but only just. It was its 1905 successor that wasthe world's first practical aircraft. We then move to Europe and the dramatic events of World War I, recognizing the sad fact that aerial warfare is most often the spur that drives aeronautical advance. The interwar years are represented by a selection of trail-blazers and record-breakers, and by some of the aircraft that led the way in the development of commercial aviation. In the opinion of many, the era of the great flying boats was the last time that air travel offered elegance and luxury to rival the ocean liners.

Classic aircraft from World War II, such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109, Spitfire and Mustang, make up the center of the book, covering the astonishingly brief period that saw air forces move from biplanes into the jet age. They are followed by the competing jets from the Korean War, the MiG-15 and F-86 Sabre, and then by the F-4s and MiG-21s that saw action over Vietnam. In between come the commercial aircraft, the Boeings and their contemporaries, that created massive industries and changed the character of international travel. Burt Rutan's imaginative, mold-breaking designs are not forgotten. The last few places of the fifty go to some combat jets for the 21st century, such as the B-2 Spirit and the F-35, pointing to developments such as stealth technology, fly-by-wire controls and advanced avionics.

As we never tire of saying, in our opinion aviation changed the world more than anything else during the 20th century. We offer a very personal selection of the machines, and the people, that between them contributed more than most to that change, not only technologically, but also economically, militarily, sociologically and politically.

Ron Dick
December 3, 2006
Fredericksburg, Virginia

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