There are books and then there are labors of love. AVIATION, AN EXPLORATION OF 400 OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST AIRCRAFT is a labor of love, being Irish artist/author Fia Caoimh's tribute to the rich history of aviation. This Tess Press release, apparently a reprint of the original Thames and Hudson edition, features Caoimh's intricate drawings of aircraft ranging from the Wright Flyer to the Scaled Composites Space Ship One. Visually, AVIATION is one impressive piece of work!
Caoimh follows a lengthy historic introduction on aviation with a 20-page, illustrated 'Timeline of Aviation' before presenting the meat of the book, some 850 illustrations of aircraft. Arranged by manufacturer, Caoimh's detailed sketches are complimented by concise, often anecdotal descriptions of the aircraft depicted. The first illustration is of an Adams Aircraft Industries A-500; the last, a Zlin Z-526F. In between those two aircraft can be found nicely-done illustrations of Cessna Skyhawks, Fairchild Republic A-10s, Sikorsky MH-60G Pave Hawks, Gloster F-8s, Piper PA-31 Chieftains, English Electric Wrens, Boeing B-17s, Supermarine S-5s, Avro 701 Athenas, McDonnell Douglas F-15s, Guimbal Cabri G-2s, Yakovlev Yak-42s, Morane-Saulnier MS-230s, Fairchild C-82s, Loening OA-1As, Dornier Do-335s and so on. Tech specs for the aircraft depicted are given in a concluding section that runs to over 150 pages.
Some might quibble about aircraft missing from Caoimh's volume. Where, for instance, is the B-29, the Mitsubishi Zero and the B-36? And, truth be told, not every last illustration is 100% accurate. Caoimh's 'Skiptamaloo' P-51, for instance, looks bloated. But when you look at the totality of his work, such slips are miniscule.
Whiel there have been many photographic guides to aircraft, there have been precious few works similar to Caoimh's; small wonder given the incredible amount of work such an endeavor would take. AVIATION is truly a rara avis; a marvelously well-done illustrated guide to aircraft big and small, famous and less-well-known, military and civilian. Highly recommended.