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Book Review: World Aircraft & Systems Directory (Brassey’s) : AVH

8/11/2001 • Aviation History Book Reviews, Reviews

Jane’s longtime pre-eminence in the field of aircraft information may be challenged by a new volume.
A remarkable volume that may pose a real threat to the hallowed Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft has been compiled under the direction of Michael Taylor as chief editor. The big, new book is Brassey’s World Aircraft & Systems Directory(Brassey’s Inc., McLean, Va. 1996, $99.95).

The subtitle The World’s Most Comprehensive Aviation Reference Work seems a little presumptuous at first, until one delves into the 673 well-indexed pages and realizes that it is chock-full of the kind of information that you need, everything from the fax number for the makers of the Italian Dragon Fly helicopter (+39 31 787 641) to the address for the Changzhou Lan Xiang Machinery Works (Changzhou, Jiangsu 213123, People’s Republic of China).

The layout of the book is inspired, although it must have been costly to do. Instead of simply having all the aircraft of one country lumped together, Brassey’s breaks down the table of contents by equipment type–Combat Aircraft, Airliners, General Aviation, Missiles, Radar, etc. As a result, this big book lends itself to easy browsing.

One particularly interesting feature is the editors’ statement of “aims” for each aircraft, something often lost in the scatter of other books. Another interesting aspect is the concise development history of each aircraft, which places the aircraft in perspective over an extended period of time. The editors also have managed to achieve the ultimate in the presentation of succinct but still readable information; the section on the aims of the Lockheed Martin F-117A, for example, clearly details in a single paragraph the salient elements of low observable (stealth) technology.

The book makes a number of strong impressions. The foremost is its quality–the print is sharp, drawings are clear and photos,while often small, are excellent. The new aviation developments outlined in this volume also make some strong impressions,among them the wealth of de-sign ideas flowering in the states of the former Soviet Union, and the incredible outpouring of recreational aircraft designs in countries all over the world. One would think that the Hindenburg disaster had never occurred to read the 16 pages devoted to buoyant airships of every size and shape–from small, electric-powered, radio-controlled experimental models to the Russian Thermoplane ALA-600, a gargantuan dish-shaped vehicle capable of carrying 600 tons over 3,000 miles, with a takeoff weight of 2,645,500 pounds.

World Aircraft & Systems Directory provides the reader with a new and very appreciative view of aviation as the century ends–and at $99.95, it is a little over one-third the cost of a Jane’s. Talk about value for money–this is it.

Walter J. Boyne

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