Early French Aviation 1905-1930...

 

...from Pen & Sword

 

Title: Early French Aviation, 1905-1930

Author: Graham M. Simons

Publisher: Air World/Pen & Sword

ISBN: 978-1-52675-874-1

 

New in the Images of Aviation series from Pen & Sword, this one goes back to the very early days of powered flight. Pioneering is an appropriate description for so many designs that emerged from France in the first third of the century. France was also the first country to stage aircraft exhibitions.

Following the Introduction, the book is split into sections on Expositions; Lighter Than Air (dirigibles): The Pioneers: Airfields: Hydro Avions: and Post War Years. There are far too many of these early designs to be able to pick out individuals, the whole set of archive images are just eye-catching. Rather than text introductions to each section, the photos are accompanied by extensive captions, which tell us the story.  There are monoplanes, biplanes, dirigibles, gyrocopters, tractor and pusher designs, along with some which I find too difficult to describe. Some are military designs while others are simply 'a flying machine'. One of the strangest must be one where there is a design that has a gun position mounted in a pod in front of the propeller, fixed to the undercarriage, with the pilot, engine etc behind the propeller, which looks like it is in the centre of the fuselage. Just weird, even if it did offer a solution to the problem for firing a machine-gun through the propeller before a suitable mechanism was found that would enable that to be accomplished.

There are aircraft both large and small, some looking very attractive and 'modern' for the period, while there are many more which must have provided some of the inspiration behind those we saw in the old film 'Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines', while others were too outlandish even for that. The inventiveness shown, however bizarre, abounded in this period so soon after those early successful flights by the Wright Brothers in their 'Flyer', and so many bore absolutely no resemblance to that successful design.  Well worth seeing for any aviation history enthusiast.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin