By Tommy H. Thomason
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
American Military Transport Aircraft Since 1925
This was a pleasant surprise. I never expected to see an entire book dedicated U.S. military fixed-wing transports. Yet another book on fighters, bombers, or strike airplanes, yes. But transports, even as important as they are to the services? Moreover, it’s clearly a labor of love based on its considerable breadth and depth of content. E.R Johnson is the author; he has written three other well-received books on aviation subjects. The esteemed Lloyd S. Jones did the three-view drawings. Aviation historian David W. Ostrowski provided the majority of the many photographs.
Presumably in order to hold publishing cost down, it’s soft cover and there are no color pictures. That’s pretty much where the frugality stops. Including the index and glossary, there are 480 pages of text, pictures, and drawings. One hallmark of scholarship and quality is the care taken to provide captions under the photographs that add content rather than state the obvious or worse, contain errors. Although the book is generously illustrated, with one or more on almost every page, there is plenty of text including specifications and a three-view provided for each airplane entry.
The book is divided into three main sections: 1925 to 1962, 1962 to present, and utility and miscellaneous transports since 1962. I’ve had a lifelong interest in airplanes and there are several that I haven’t heard of and many that I know little about.
Checking one that I am familiar with did reveal an error. The General Motors TBM-3R entry repeats the usual misstatement that it could carry seven passengers. Strictly speaking, it was a seven-place airplane, with one of the seats occupied by the pilot and another usually reserved for a loadmaster/crew chief. So it was intended to carry five passengers. I also doubt that the bomb bay was used to carry someone on a litter as the text implies; there was no hope of his survival if the airplane had to be ditched or crash landed. Also see http://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2013/01/tbm-3r-cod.html.
However, that may well be the only mistake in the book and skimming other entries with which I am familiar, I didn’t notice any more. The interweb is very useful for fact checking and looking up background on aircraft and incidents of interest but the accuracy and completeness vary significantly. I much prefer books like this. McFarland provided it to me for review but I would have bought it anyway.
McFarland's website to order books is www.mcfarlandpub.com; the phone number is 800-253-2187. It’s also available from Amazon and as an ebook (see www.mcfarlandpub.com/customers/ebooks for providers).