FROM ITS TITLE, one might anticipate this book to be a dry-as-dust technical treatise on aeronautical engineering.
FROM ITS TITLE, one might anticipate this book to be a dry-as-dust technical treatise on aeronautical engineering. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is instead a very readable and interesting discourse by a practical aeronautical engineer and aerodynamicist, into the history and requirements of fighter aircraft from WWI until the end of the 20th century.
The author has been a senior lecturer in aircraft design at Cranfield University and is a chartered engineer who has worked on the BAC 111, VC-10 and TSR.2 as well as instructing at Edwards AFB test pilot school and working as visiting professor at West Virginia University. In short, he is a man of wide practical as well as theoretical experience and this shows through clearly in the accessible way in which he treats his subject here. The changing requirements for fighter aircraft over the years, the way technical developments such as high-lift devices, sweepback, swing-wings, improvements in power/weight ratios of piston engines and the introduction of jets, are all dealt with in a lucid manner.
Despite his academic background, Ray Whifford succeeds admirably in putting across his subject matter without resorting to complex formulae or mathematics. The occasional use of a graph to illustrate a point should not deter any interested reader. The work is well illustrated with apposite photography and drawings that greatly aid the reader by helping to explain the associated text.
Though not a book that primarily affects pilots of light aircraft, Fundamentals of Fighter Design does contain a great deal of material that will be of interest to many civil pilots, and will certainly broaden their knowledge of aviation history as well as practical aero engine and airframe design, systems and aerodynamics. You can always skip the sections dealing with armaments and fighter tactics if that isn’t really your scene.