By any measure, the Lockheed Constellation is a star in the history of aviation and several books have been written about it. It was the aircraft in which Howard Hughes set a transcontinental record in the US and first demonstrated his terrain avoidance radar, it was which the aircraft’s name and details are marked, and one plan view. The B-2’s origins and development are very well covered in the text before Thomas Withington goes on to tell the operational story, in users’ accounts wherever possible. There are line drawings to 1:216 scale (of which I’m still trying to work out the mathematical significance). I wonder the first aircraft to have been called AIR FORCE ONE to distinguish it from all other aircraft when the president of the US was aboard, it was the last aircraft that Orville Wright piloted after his brother died, it was the aircraft that Pan American used to complete its ‘around the world’ route without flying boats. It is graceful, elegant, and powerful. A book to do justice to all of these facets of the aircraft would be as rare as the aircraft itself. Lockheed Constellation from Excalibur to Starliner is just such a book. Presented in a 12- x 9-in format hardback without a dust cover, it is rich with information and a striking presentation. Translated from the French, the book loosely follows the style of authors Breffort and Jouineau in the earlier Planes and Pilots series, but it is much richer in all aspects of the aircraft’s history. Thus, in addition to black and white photographs, there is a variety of color images, period advertisements from carriers and Lockheed, postcards and sometimes about the advisability of producing an account of an aircraft in service, but with the current longevity of airframes it has become a necessity in case some details fade with the passing of time. I’m not aware of any decals having been produced other than those which came with the Testor’s or Revell kits, but perhaps this book will inspire a cabin layouts, to include, not surprisingly, several advertisements in French. When the book was translated, the advertisements were not. N’est pas significant, the ads are easy to understand and the pictures clear. Included as well are line drawings and profiles. Like the earlier series books, it is roughly arranged historically parallel to the development and deployment of the aircraft. It focuses primarily on the commercial users of the type, although an occasional military machine is covered before the last section. Broadly speaking the book is arranged in five sections. There is a section on the L-049 series, to include the C-69 and the proposed B-30; one on the L-749 series; one on the L-1049; and finally one on the L-1649A series, the final series, of which only 45 were built. The final section is on military C-121 series aircraft, including the WV-3 and R7V and is divided into a section on US Navy aircraft and one on USAF aircraft. It cov-short run from some enthusiast with an ALPS printer, especially for the 1:144 kit. This is a very worthwhile addition to the story of contemporary warfare, and a good window into the use of this somewhat enigmatic stealth aircraft. ers the Arctic surveillance birds and the EC-121 in Vietnam colours. Included in each section, depending on the length of the section, are many colour and black and white photographs of the aircraft, many detail images of the cockpit, engines, flaps and other details, and a wide variety of travel stickers featuring the aircraft. In each section there are some excellent profiles, with three on each page and, for example, four pages on the L-1649A, of which there were only a few, and ten pages on the L-749, of which there were many. At the end of the book there is a collection of line drawings illustrating the differences within and between the series and finally a complete fleet listing.
If you can have only one book on the Connie, I would say this has to be it. In fact, I’m tempted to say that if you can have only one book on airplanes, this should be it. I bought mine at Squadron ShoD for US$39.95.
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