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Great Britain’s aircraft industry started in 1908, with the first formally registered organisation in the world to offer to design and build an aeroplane ‘for commercial gain’. This was when the Short brothers, Oswald, Eustace and Horace, decided that aeroplanes would overtake balloons as a business opportunity in the aeronautical world and formed the partnership ‘Short Brothers’.
From this start, the UK aircraft industry expanded and grew rapidly, going on throughout the rest of the twentieth century to achieve many ‘firsts’ in the aeronautical world, with some remarkable technical successes and gaining a reputation to match. There were also setbacks along the way.
This book tells the complete story of the 110 years since the start, all the companies formed and the aircraft they produced, highlighting the advances in aeronautical ambition and technology. It is the story of the creation, survival and decline of all one hundred and twenty-three of the aircraft design and construction companies formed between 1908 and 2018. The exhilaration of success and the magic of aviation technology are vividly illustrated by the technical and political birth stories of iconic projects, such as the Cirrus/Gypsy Moths, the Tiger Moth, the flying boats of Imperial Airways, Spitfire, Lancaster, Viscount, Vulcan, Harrier, Buccaneer and many more.
The rotary wing industry is not forgotten. The birth of the jet turbine engine and the quest for supersonic speed is included. The stories of the disappointments of failure and disaster, such as the Brabazon, Comet, Princess, Rotodyne and TSR-2, and the growth of international collaboration in Concorde, Tornado, Airbus, Eurofighter Typhoon and other projects are included, in the context of the international scene and domestic politics. The conclusion highlights the prominent reminiscences and speculates on the future of the aircraft industry in Britain.
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