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Convair Advanced Designs: Secret Projects from San Diego, 1923-1962 Paperback – 1 Apr 2010

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Convair Advanced Designs: Secret Projects from San Diego, 1923-1962 + Convair Advanced Designs II: Secret Fighters, Attack Aircraft, and Unique Concepts 1929-1973
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Product details

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Specialty Press (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580072186
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580072182
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1 x 28 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,652,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Until it was sold to McDonnell Douglas in 1994 Convair, previously Consolidated was one of the major American aircraft companies producing some classic WW2 aircraft, such as the Catalina and the B-24 Liberator. In its early days as Consolidated the company became famous for its flying boat designs. Apart from those previously mentioned other machines took to the air, including the Coronado and the Corregidor and later, under the Convair name, the Tradewind.

These are just a few of the `headline' machines, there were many more. But behind these were the design studies that never left the drawing board. Some of these projects were ambitious to say the least and some down right bizarre. Picture a large passenger flying boat taking off on land! This was to be achieved by launching it from a high-speed land vehicle running on rails. There are dozens of these designs - which take up 117 pages before we get to the `Bomber program'. The most famous of these must be the B-36, but there were others, and again many project designs.

This book covers them all, many of them with highly detailed drawings. I find this book a real eye opener and should be of great interest to the `what if' modeller. --Ernie Lee - Model Aircraft Monthly

This new title deals with all aspects of the various projected aircraft designs that came out of Consolidated's (later renamed Convair) San Diego plant from 1923 through to 1962. The coverage is set in date order, with a narrative for each combined with any diagrams or artwork that was produced at the time. These diagrams include plans as well as projected payload and ordnance fitment, while the artwork is from the various official proposal documents and allows you to get an idea of what each concept would have looked like in three-dimensions. Pretty much all of the information in this title has not been seen before.

Verdict: An extremely useful title for anyone interested in the 'what if?' side of Consolidated's aircraft production. -- Model Airplane International - December 2010

Author Bradley worked for Convair, later General Dynamics, from 1957 until retiring in 1993 whereupon he enlisted as a volunteer archivist at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, specialising in their Convair archive. This CV has clearly informed his long-standing personal interest in the Convair advanced design studies and proposals that form the subject matter of his book. The book falls into three sections. The first is a brief company history that traces the evolution of the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation and its transformation into the massive aircraft manufacturer famous for its Catalina flying boat and Liberator heavy bomber. In March 1943, Consolidated and Vultee merged to form the Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, formally renamed Convair in 1954 when it became the Convair Division of General Dynamics. This useful summary then segues into the first of the two major parts of the book which features descriptions of no less than 52 seaplane programmes from the TW-3 single-engined, single float biplane of 1923 to the extraordinary Flying Submersible design of 1952.

Only a few of these 52 seaplane designs were actually built and they include the well-known and less well-known Husky and Fleetster floatplanes; the Admiral, Commodore. Ranger Catalina, Coronado. Corregidor Tradewind and XP5Y-1 flying boats and the Sea Dart delta wing, hydro-ski jet flying boat. Of these, the Model 28 Catalina was the stand-out design in terms of production numbers and its legendary service record but readers will be intrigued by some of the Catalina-related projects that did not progress beyond the drawing board but are covered in this book. They include an amphibious Catalina with main wheels in streamlined pods between the wing lift struts, a bespoke military aerial survey version, a deep hull transport variant and several ideas for commercial passenger carrying Cats. Catalina enthusiasts will be fascinated with these proposals and the similarity of some of them to post-war civilian conversions - it is interesting to see that even the far-sighted designers at Consolidated had not formally considered a fire-fighting water bomber version!

The seaplane section then continues on through an amazing succession of ever more fabulous and incredible concepts that include a flying boat similar to a twin-engine Liberator; blended wing and hull designs; large flying wing floatplanes; trans-oceanic passenger carrying flying boats; triple-engined flying boats with the third engine in the nose; a proposal for a four-engined flying boat designed to take off from land using a high speed rail vehicle as its base; streamlined flying boats with high-aspect-ratio hydrofoils and gull wings and massive twin float seaplanes with what appear to be rather low-slung engines for water borne use. These take us to 1943 only! Thereafter, the drawing board designs get evermore futuristic and include wing-root mounted turbojets and six-engined oceanic flying boats; swept-wing and tail-less long-range attack seaplane bombers; assault seaplane transports; twin-hulled seaplanes and even supersonic attack seaplanes and nuclear powered flying boats, one of which was to be based on a modified SARO Princess flying boat. The last (1962) seaplane project in the book is the Flying Submersible, designed to be equally at home above and below the water! - this reviewer can recall reading about it in a contemporary issue of Meccano Magazine.

These 52 projects are fully described and illustrated with extraordinary plans and artist impressions from the CONVAIR archives and one has to be reminded that they were serious proposals and not material from science fiction books or The Eagle! The third section of the book covers a further 26 bomber projects, mostly still-born but including the Liberator, Dominator, Peacemaker, XC99, Privateer and XB-46 jet bomber, all of which did take to the air with varying degrees of success and longevity. This hardback book is very highly recommended, not least for its Catalina connections, and is worth every penny of the £23.99 price in the UK. -- David Legg - Catalina News Oct 2010 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Ben Liebert on 28 Jan. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book shows some of Convair's unseen design projects and a history of Consolidated Vultee aircraft. It's an easy read, but not too in depth.
I think it is very interesting and contains insights into jet aircraft development and design thinking from the early days.
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By Skyhawk_a4e on 8 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent book with interesting articles, schematics, drawings and photographs.
There were indeed many interesting and quirky designs that nearly got off the ground.
Well worth a look even if it's just for the admiral standing at his wheel of his flying battleship.
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By Johan L on 19 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very thourogh book, but a little boring. In these days with CGI and all kind of computor tricks, b&w sketches is a bit booring. The subjects are nice thou.But why split "Convair Advanced Designs" depending on site-origin?
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By m j garner on 18 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
A great book to inspire a r/c model flyer like me.Many of the drawings are new to me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A splendid piece of aviation history 18 April 2010
By A. Marciniszyn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would not like to overdo it, but this book is great. The layout is superb and readers will see little-known designs and studies supplemented with company drawings, illustrations, photos of models, and in some cases, photos of completed aircraft. Among the surprises were "flying wing" studies which included a tail boom, and those without, a nuclear seaplane, and a Mach 4 Attack Seaplane (dated 1958).

Highly recommended.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Incredible research project 10 Jun. 2010
By James Atkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I get the impression that the author spent a few years buried in the Convair archives at the San Diego Aerospace Museum digging up all of this arcane information. Given the sheer numbers of entries and the limits on how big a given book can be, I don't much miss a lot of data on each entry. Probably, there isn't much available on a lot of these prujects, because they were (mercifully) terminated at an early stage. It is facinating to review the Consolidated penchant for flying boats and amphibians of all sizes, shapes and roles.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Almost superb 22 April 2010
By James Poitras - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book follows the pack of recent references including the "Secret Projects" series. Unlike those books this one only, obviously, follows the products of Consolidated/Convair Aviation from that company's formation to its evolution into General Dynamics.
For those of you who enjoyed the books on German Secret Projects of WW2 or followed the web site 'Luft'46' you will find much the same format, with short discussion about each project and at least one picture per project, which is why I did not give this book five stars.
Missing from this book are any charts or tables clearly defining the performance parameters of any of the projects which either made it into production or lingered on the drafting boards. Also receiving short change in the project descriptions is anything more than a short explanation of the military or commercial requirement each project was designed to satisfy.

In short this book is an excellent initial resource for those interested in the history of American aviation, listing most of the projects carried out by Convair, but for more depth you will have to look elsewhere.

That said, I certainly hope that this will become the forerunner of a series highlighting each of the major American manufacturers.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A fascinating and informative browse for the non-specialist general reader 10 May 2010
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The aircraft manufacturer Consolidated Vultee (later to be renamed 'Convair') built 'flying boats' in the 1930s, those aircraft that could land and take off on water. Then in World War II they produced Convair's six-engine B-36 strategic bombers that played such a vital role in the outcome of that global conflict. While famous for the planes they built, what is not generally known is that from their very beginning, they were also very involved in aeronautical research and development, looking to the future of aviation. "Convair Advanced Designs: Secret Projects from San Diego, 1923-1962", compiled and annotated by Robert Bradley, is a 192-page illustrated compendium of ideas and concepts that were generated, but which never materialized. Replete with company photographs, models, and drawings of 'futuristic' aviation concepts as a folding-rotor anti-submarine patrol bomber, a giant seaplane passenger transport to be launched from a high-speed rail car, and many other fanciful designs, "Convair Advanced Designs: Secret Projects from San Diego, 1923-1962" is a unique 'window in time' giving us access to the kinds of imaginative proposals the aeronautical engineers of one of the nation's most prestigious aviation companies came up with. A valued addition to academic library 20th Century Aviation History collections, "Convair Advanced Designs: Secret Projects from San Diego, 1923-1962" will prove to be a fascinating and informative browse for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in American aviation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A superb, detailed overview of secret bombers and seaplanes designed by Convair 9 Feb. 2015
By Vahe Demirjian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When aviation enthusiasts think of Convair, that brings to mind the many famous bombers and flying boats built by Convair --- the PBY Catalina, PB2Y Coronado, B-24 Liberator, and B-36 Peacemaker. But the flying boats and bombers built by Convair were just a fraction of all bomber and seaplane designs conceived by the Convair company during the years of its existence.

The aviation writer Robert Bradley provides an overview of unbuilt bombers and seaplanes conceived by the San Diego division of Convair from 1923 to 1962, starting with the earliest seaplanes built by Convair San Diego in the 1920s and ending with advanced seaplane studies from the late 1950s and early 1960s. The original project documents (housed in the archives of the San Diego Air and Space Museum) are provided for each entry, along with artist's conceptions and desktop models.

The entries for the Convair Flying Wing bomber and 1950s nuclear-powered seaplanes are clear reminders of Convair's forays into advanced military aircraft design in the 1940s and 1950s. Jack Northrop may have been the crown prince of American flying wing technology in the 1940s, but Convair also got into flying wing design in 1942 with a proposal for a flying wing bomber spanning 288 feet from tip to tip. The nuclear-powered seaplanes designed by Convair in the 1950s came to epitomize Convair's efforts to use nuclear power to keep seaplanes airborne indefinitely when hunting down Soviet submarines.

The early design history of the Convair XC-99 is interesting. Early in its development, the XC-99 design was based on the B-36, but it eventually morphed into a two-deck military cargo plane. With respect to civilian derivatives of the XC-99, it is interesting to note that Convair had a design study for a flying boat retaining the XC-99 and Model 37 passenger landplane's design but with tractor engines rather than pusher engines. Unfortunately, the Model 37 airliner was never built, but it would have had the biggest wingspan of any American passenger plane; its 230-foot span almost rivals that of the forthcoming Boeing 777X.

For anyone interested in unbuilt Convair aircraft, Convair Advanced Designs is a must-read.
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