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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bouncing Bomb Man - The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis
Not enough real information exists in the public domain about Barnes Wallis and apart from a splendid biography nearly 40 years ago and his daughter's lovely book covering his courtship correspondence, little new has been written. There are lots of Dambuster Books, but the public should realise that this episode formed only a fraction of this remarkable man's life...
Published on 4 Nov 2009 by Anthony M. Knight

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3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonaly good
Got this and looked forward to heaps of good info and insights. It doesn't offer anything really new though. I would recommend not rushing to buy this without taking a good look at it to make sure it's the level you desire.
Published 5 months ago by L. Brennan


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bouncing Bomb Man - The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis, 4 Nov 2009
By 
Anthony M. Knight (Solihull, West Midlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis (Hardcover)
Not enough real information exists in the public domain about Barnes Wallis and apart from a splendid biography nearly 40 years ago and his daughter's lovely book covering his courtship correspondence, little new has been written. There are lots of Dambuster Books, but the public should realise that this episode formed only a fraction of this remarkable man's life.

Iain Murray has written a simply splendid account of Wallis's work spanning nearly sixty years and has researched his subject very thoroughly. The coverage of Wallis's post-war work on supersonic aircraft and the lesser known Highball 'bouncing-bomb' introduces the lay reader to a facet of Wallis that many are unfamiliar with. For Wallis researchers like myself this is a tremendous addition to the knowledge base. For the curious or for those who are simply interested in British Aircraft and technology, buy it for Xmas because you will enjoy it.

In answer to a question about how the world would view him after his death, broadcast on October 31st 1979, Wallis said, "I think the world will have forgotten all about me." To that extent he was wrong and Iain Murray's excellent book proves that.

Tony Knight 4th November 2009
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis by Dr Iain Murray, reviewed by D. Forbes., 11 Mar 2010
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D. Forbes "Donald B. Forbes" (Kidderminster) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis (Hardcover)
Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis by Dr Iain Murray was an absolute delight to read. The book is much more than a detailed description of the development of airships, geodetic structures and Wallis's other work; it tells the story of modern engineering in the pre-computer age. Dr Murray's narrative paints a clear picture of a genius of engineering working in a world where new designs were developed by (mainly) gentlemen with slide rules, paper, pencils and drawing boards. In those days a computer was someone they could have taken out to dinner. The subject's character comes over as being larger than life and very driven. I don't imagine that Vickers (Aviation) Ltd had a Personnel Department in the 1930's and the descriptions of Wallis's relations with collegues has to be viewed in the context of that time, but with the right team Wallis was clearly a capable and productive leader.

The text could have been weighed down with pages of calculus and calculations. However, the descriptions of Wallis's work will easily be digested by anyone who has a casual interest in engineering or aeronautics. The most demanding calculation I could find in this book was the Breguet range equation which would be understood by anyone studying school maths.

The entire volume is delightfully illustrated with photographs, maps and diagrams which range from the highly detailed, such as those of Upkeep (drawings interestingly produced by the Germans during World War II), to the frivolous. I especially liked the picture of the Wild Goose on its trolley at Predannack with the technician sitting under the jet pipe enjoying a cuppa.

Dr Murray has clearly proven that Sir Barnes deserves to be described as a genius, not only by the fact that all of Wallis's creations that went into production clearly worked, but by the sheer originality of the man's ideas. He was able to apply geodesic principles to produce unique structures in airships, aeroplanes and radio telescopes. Sir Barnes Wallis was a man bursting with original and novel ideas who applied for scores of patents on ideas as diverse as The Mooring of Lighter-than-Air Aircraft to Improving Radio Telescopes.

I was fascinated to read about Wallis's post-war career. Although not involved in any big way in mainstream production he was nevertheless feted by Vickers, and its successors, for another quarter of a century. Sir Barnes finally retired in 1971 at the age of 83. Even then he felt that he had been pushed out of the company. At the end of his working life he was still involved in producing plans for very radical all-speed aircraft. For those aviators flying today's subsonic airliners rather than supersonic, wing-controlled aerodynes or universal aircraft, the future certainly ain't what is used to be.

Donald B. Forbes.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forefront of the genre, 6 Feb 2010
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This review is from: Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis (Hardcover)
I have studied the work of Wallis for many years and found sound, scientific texts few and far between. This is one of the few. While this one does not show his calculations, nor have as many illustrations as I had hoped, it exceeds expectations on many fronts. For anyone like me who has struggled with Morpurgo's biography of Wallis (and given up!)there is an excellent potted biography of his early years which leads into the chronology of his work - remember this book isn't primarily about the man, it's about his work. The Vickers type 432 - an obscure high-altitude fighter prototype is outlined with particular attention to its unique wing structure. Geodetic theory - which I had always been told was based on the shortest line between 2 points is described as based on great circles, i.e. the shortest route, but helices on a curve surface. Of course the "bouncing" bombs are covered in more detail than other texts,as are the "earthquake" bomb series (Tallboy and Grandslam)but his later work on swing-wings (particularly their tailless application, which no-one has ever had the nerve to put into production)is probably covered in greater depth here than any other text.
Beware - footnotes in the text are explained in an appendix of notes - I'm not a fan of this format, too much flicking back and forwards, but if you just want to enjoy the book, don't bother flicking. If you want to study the subject, you'll have to refer. One comment - when you get to the note about biographies of some of his colleagues - go to the relevant appendix and read it thoroughly. My one criticism would be that this shouldn't be an appendix, it should be a chapter inserted just about where it is called up.
In summary this is an excellent and very readable book and I would recommend it, but it alone is probably not enough to paint a complete picture of his work and its application.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alternative title: "Concorde - we should have listened to Barnes Wallis instead", 10 July 2010
This review is from: Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis (Hardcover)
This is an excellent summary of the works of Barnes Wallis, showing him to be both a man of engineering genius and great vision. It demonstrates that he aimed to push the technologies of his day to the limit and was always ahead of his time. For example - had we listened to Wallis in the early 60s then by the 80s we could have been flying to Australia in 5 hours for an economy class fare, but he was ignored and we built the brilliant - but failed - Concorde instead. Some day Wallis's Universal Aircraft will be built.

The dambusters raid is Wallis's most famous venture, of course, but perhaps the most significant contribution of this was the credibility it gave to Wallis's Big Bomb ideas, which had a major impact in shortening the war. The list of targets that were obliterated by the Tallboy is astonishing. It is a shame that Wallis felt such guilt at the loss of 53 lives in the Dams raid, because his weapons undoubtedly saved thousands of lives elsewhere.

The book is highly readable and well-illustrated, with technical explanations to help the uninitiated. And though Dr Murray obviously worships the man he doesn't blindly praise everything Wallis did and is realistic about his less successful ideas.

From now on this will be the principle text for anyone with an interest in this great man.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just the Bouncing Bomb Man, 28 Dec 2009
By 
Vulcannav (North Yorkshire. England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis (Hardcover)
This book is long overdue in describing the full extent of Sir Barnes Wallis's inventions and working life which lasted nearly seven decades. The full title including '...the Science of Sir Barnes Wallis' is a better description of the contents - presumably 'The Bouncing Bomb Man' was chosen by the publisher rather than the author, Dr Iain Murray. Of the twelve chapters, one describes Sir Barnes's life, three cover the 'Bouncing Bombs' and the remaining eight chapters give a close insight into the many different aspects of Sir Barnes's inventions, airships, aeroplanes and weapons. Dr Murray has thoroughly researched his subject and created an excellent reference book which makes absorbing reading. Well illustrated throughout with photographs, maps and drawings, this book is a must for the bookshelf of anyone with an interest in aeronautics or engineering.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sir Barnes Wallis, 1 July 2010
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Railway Mike (Pickering, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis (Hardcover)
If you want to know all the technical details about the inventions of Barnes Wallis, then this is the book to read. There are lots of detailed drawings and plenty of photographs that illustrate the brilliance of his inventions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Technology with biography, 13 Oct 2010
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This review is from: Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis (Hardcover)
I'm only half way through this book, but it's well written and a very good read. The interest in Barnes Wallis is not only the man himself (which a previous biography brought out) but also his innovative ideas, how they worked, their scope - and how he managed to put then into action. This book combines what happened with a good explanation of the ideas themselves - by understanding why, say, geodetics were so radical, and the wider political and commercial context, it shows how persuasive BW must have been to get the powers that be to actually adopt them.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 19 July 2010
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Sandy (fraserburgh, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis (Hardcover)
One of the best books I have ever seen on Barnes Wallis. Recommend this book for anyone with an interest in his work.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonaly good, 24 Oct 2013
By 
L. Brennan "technophobe" (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis (Hardcover)
Got this and looked forward to heaps of good info and insights. It doesn't offer anything really new though. I would recommend not rushing to buy this without taking a good look at it to make sure it's the level you desire.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE book about Barnes Wallis, 23 Oct 2011
By 
John B. Winterburn (Wiltshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis (Hardcover)
Barnes Wallis came to the public's attention with the release of The Dam Busters film in 1955 which illustrated the success of bouncing bombs in the destruction of German dams in 1943 and the heroism of the men of 617 Squadron. Little else was generally known about the enormous contribution Wallis made to the development of airships, aircraft and specialist weapons. `Bouncing Bomb Man' has corrected this and it will become the definitive work detailing Wallis' unique contribution to weapon design and aviation.
Born in 1887, Wallis' early education was unremarkable. He was indentured as an engineering apprentice working on marine engines but in 1913 began work on the design of airships. In 1921 he graduated with a degree in engineering from the University of London in less than 6 months. Wallis then returned to work on airships, most notably the R100, which incorporated unique features designed by him. Of these, the principals used in the novel geodetic wiring structure of the gasbags would re-emerge in the design of the iconic Wellington bomber 15 years later.
On the outbreak of war in 1939 Wallis, paradoxically for a pacifist, set himself the personal goal of finding `an engineer's way of stopping the war' and commenced designing weapons with which to attack the enemy's infrastructure. He held the conviction that the way forward was to use the power of shock waves transmitted through the ground or water and that bombs should contain as much explosive as possible as the amount of disruption was proportional to the cube of the charge weight. Thus, the literally ground breaking idea of the earthquake bomb was conceived. Initially, these ideas were deployed in the novel `bouncing bombs'. These spinning bombs were dropped at very low altitude, bounced across the water avoiding anti-torpedo nets and then rolled down the faces of the dam or beneath ships before detonating and destroying the target by pressure waves. The success of the bouncing bomb in the destruction of the Mohne and Eder dams and the severe damage inflicted on the Sorpe dam cleared the way for Wallis, `the RAF's number one wizard', to develop the massive Tallboy and Grand Slam earthquake bombs. These precision engineered weapons, fabricated from special steel and containing up to ten tonnes of explosive, hit the ground at supersonic speeds and could penetrate 10m into the earth before detonating. They were successfully used against the Tirpitz, the Beilefeld viaduct, U boat pens and other German targets including V1, V2 and the little known V3 rocket installations.
After the war, Wallis was engaged in the design of variable geometry aircraft and other advanced designs including the ill-fated TSR2. Designs for hypersonic and sub-orbital aircraft and a revolutionary concept design for a high-pressure submarine were to follow. Haunted by the death of 53 aircrew in the `dam buster' raids he vowed never again to endanger the life of pilots and much of his later aircraft work was hindered by his wish to replace test-pilots with radio control equipment. He also produced designs for bridges, smoke-laying gliders and incorporated similar geodetic designs to those used in the R100 airship and the Wellington bomber into the dish of the Australian Parkes radio telescope, also designing the equatorial mount that enabled it to be steered.
Wallis continued working long after his enforced retirement at the age of 83. Characteristically, he derived a formula for calculating the date of his demise; underestimating this by 2 years he died in 1979. His fame lives on via The Dam Busters film but this book is broader testament to a genius whose inventions demonstrated original thought and a vision for the future of aviation.
This is a large and well presented book, printed on high quality paper and containing over 130 illustrations and numerous tables. The six appendices provide additional information that compliments the text and the many pages of notes and sources will please scholars and researchers.
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Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis
Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis by Iain Murray (Hardcover - 29 Oct 2009)
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