The Seaplane Years
Tim Mason had a forty year flying/Royal Air Force career. Since his retirement he has written three books on the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment. The Seaplane Years is the third of those books. (Editor's note: The book is subtitled - A history of the Marine & Armament Experimental Establishment, 1920 - 1924, and Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, 1924 - 1956)
The book opens with an interdiction by Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire, followed by an Introduction and Acknowledgements.
The first three chapters cover the three facilities used for testing from 1920 to 1956. Of special interest to modelers will be some of the pictures found here. There are a few good diorama ideas tucked into this part of the book. The meat of this book for scale modelers will be found in Chapters 4 and 5.
Chapter 4 is Flying Boats where such familiar planes as the Supermarine Sea Otter, the Consolidated Catalina, and the Martin Mariner are covered along with many others. Each plane has a discussion of it’s testing and the findings. For most there are one or two pictures and some, such as the Shorts Sunderland has several photos and a color profile drawing. Most of the pictures are full shots, but a few interesting detail shots can be found in the book. One exceptional series of pictures shows a float plane (a special design called “Mercury”) piggybacked on a Shorts Empire flying boat.
Chapter 5 is Floatplanes. Some of the examples discussed include the Fairey Swordfish, Spartan Arrow, De Havilland Moth, and Avro Bison. Again, most entries have one photo, while a few have 2 or 3 and/or a color profile painting. One floatplane I was surprised to see was the Heinkel He 115.
There are seven appendices, including one on German Seaplanes of the MAEE. A useful index rounds out the book. The book contains over 300 black and white photographs and over 20 color profile drawing. I feel that this book is more likely to appeal to aviation historians or aircraft buffs. It is, after all, the story of a testing program and in that sense is very well done. For the aircraft modeler looking for detailed information on a specific plane, it can’t be found here.
I wish to thank Specialty Press for the review sample and IPMS for the opportunity to do the review.