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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adds something to our knowledge of this incredible aircraft.
The British Supermarine Spitfire evolved from the Supermarine S.4 Floatplane originally designed to win the prestigious Schneider Trophy between the two world wars of the 20th Century. There was never any doubt that the introduction of a new, and quite revolutionary, forward swept wing was the stuff of pure genius and the trophy was won outright. As that second war with...
Published 23 months ago by Ned Middleton

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tries to be a biography - Some material repeats - But an interesting revisit
The book itself does discuss some aerodynamic concepts, but does spend a lot of time on the Spitfire wing discussion.

Sections on Shenstone's embedding inside Germany's between-the-war work on aviation and advanced aerodynamics are an intersting read, as is the discussion on early hydrodynamics and boat hulls.

Alas it does repeat from time to time...
Published 15 months ago by Darren H.


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adds something to our knowledge of this incredible aircraft., 15 Feb. 2013
By 
Ned Middleton (British professional underwater photo-journalist & author) - See all my reviews
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The British Supermarine Spitfire evolved from the Supermarine S.4 Floatplane originally designed to win the prestigious Schneider Trophy between the two world wars of the 20th Century. There was never any doubt that the introduction of a new, and quite revolutionary, forward swept wing was the stuff of pure genius and the trophy was won outright. As that second war with Germany loomed, however, the Royal Air Force desperately needed a new fighter and it was from that successful design - where speed had been the dominant factor, that a more powerful aircraft was born and into which was fitted the equally legendary Merlin Engine. This was an aircraft that could spit fire and so the name was born.

In this book, however, we find a fascinating account of the man who designed, developed and eventually perfected that revolutionary wing. His name was Beverley Shenstone - and this is his story.

Shenstone was a brilliant aerodynamicist with more letters after his name than most British generals although, in his case, they denoted a Master’s degree or Fellowship of different prestigious organisations. Ironically, in the 1930s, Shenstone left his native Canada - where he has been training as an RCAF pilot, to study at Junkers in Germany under the direction of Alexander Lippisch who was largely responsible for the development of the ‘Delta’ wing, and became completely immersed in the study and development of various wing designs. He also became a glider pilot in order to test different variations.

Much later, it was Shenstone who actually persuaded Mitchell - the man who has become solely credited with the design of the Spitfire, to adopt the ellipse (i.e. the forward swept wing) which was revolutionary in both shape, design and its combined use of two integrated aerofoil sections.

Mitchell is, of course, justifiably credited with the design of this outstanding aircraft. Nevertheless, his premature death in 1937 means that many of the improvements seen in later variations were not of his making. In addition to crediting Shenstone with his input to the overall aircraft, I was also pleased to see other notable contributors to the on-going variations and ‘upgrades’ of this aircraft - many of whom do not appear to have been mentioned in other works.

This, altogether splendid job of research, has been forged into a most detailed, fascinating and readable book which will add much to the knowledge of those who thought they knew all there was to know about the Spitfire.

NM
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tries to be a biography - Some material repeats - But an interesting revisit, 3 Nov. 2013
By 
This review is from: Secrets of the Spitfire: The Story of Beverley Shenstone, the Man Who Perfected the Elliptical Wing (Hardcover)
The book itself does discuss some aerodynamic concepts, but does spend a lot of time on the Spitfire wing discussion.

Sections on Shenstone's embedding inside Germany's between-the-war work on aviation and advanced aerodynamics are an intersting read, as is the discussion on early hydrodynamics and boat hulls.

Alas it does repeat from time to time. You wonder if this is just 'filler' to pad out enough, to then add in items from the jet-age to get over the 200 pages needed when Shenstone moved on from Supermarine. One key design principle is his definition of the design for rear-mounted jet engines, still in use today.

Whether these are secrets of the Spitfire is open to discussion, but with multiple articles in the aviation press of the 50'sand 60's, Shenstone is clearly one of the true British aviaiton pioneers.

Other's may like this, but this reader felt it could have been shorter and more to the point.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something of a curates egg., 5 Mar. 2013
By 
Iain Wyllie (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Secrets of the Spitfire: The Story of Beverley Shenstone, the Man Who Perfected the Elliptical Wing (Hardcover)
If the author had stuck to the facts of Beverley Shenstone's life and career achievements, this book would have been a lot better. He had access to a mass of personal information with which to work and very interesting facts and details emerge about the background and experiences of his work prior to his employment with Supermarine.

The disappointing aspect of the book is when the author feels obliged to unnecessarily justify Shenstone's part in the Spitfire development and compare the Spitfire with its contemporary, the Hurricane. Again and again he refers to the latter as being canvas covered, instead of fabric or linen covered. His technical knowledge appears to be somewhat suspect; "the Hurricane being built of girders, frames, bracing, and canvas cladding" (sic) ...... based round a girder chassis......and with good nose visibility" sounds very clunky to anyone with a knowledge of aircraft structures. We also read about a ship setting off to cross the Atlantic "with Captain Hamre at the controls", again a strange choice of terminology.

There are whole sentences consisting of little more than a selection of aerodynamic terms which are virtually meaningless and entire paragraphs of pseudo technical gobbledegook, the import of which could be reduced down to one sentence and expressed much more clearly at the same time. It is as if the author had been required to write a certain number of words and felt that he was going to end up short so started using six words, when one would be sufficient. Using a large variety of technical terms without real understanding or explanation of their import simply makes things more difficult or impossible to understand and one gets the feeling that an attempt is being made to blind the reader with "science".

There are also a large number of factual errors in the text which again gives the impression of a lack of knowledge of the subject. For example, aircraft are attributed to the wrong manufacturer, sailplanes with straight tapered wings but rounded tips are referred to as having elliptical wings. Similarly the Lavochkin La-7 and Yak 9 are referred to as "elliptically winged", whereas they have similar straight tapered wings with elliptical tips only. The author appears to believe that the 4-engined bomber project, specification B12/36, was a pure delta winged aircraft, referring to it as " the first tailless delta-winged bomber", totally misrepresenting the fact that it had a fuselage and conventional single fin and tailplane.

Despite all the waffle, though, this book is worth getting as it gives an insight into the series of events, some accidental and others seemingly contrived without his knowledge, that led to Shenstone's work at Supermarine and this, for me, is the real heart of the book. The trouble with it is that the endless repetition of certain facts and statements becomes somewhat tiresome and the overall feeling that the author is attempting to raise Shenstone to the status of a minor god permeates the book from beginning to end.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The importance of Shenstone's aerodynamic knowledge is incalculable!, 2 Mar. 2013
By 
James Rait (Cheshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Secrets of the Spitfire: The Story of Beverley Shenstone, the Man Who Perfected the Elliptical Wing (Hardcover)
This book is a gripping account of how the Spitfire gained such wonderful wings!
It was those wings (and Mitchell's overall leadership and the Merlin...) that enables us to write the reviews so freely today.
There is a sub-text on his stay at Junkers in Germany ... we in Britain didn't really have a workable aerodynamic theory of flight whilst the Germans did. It is to Shenstone's credit that he absorbed the German know-how and ignored our search for know-why and then designed the Spitfire wing that combined with ever increasing power of the Merlin carried more higher and faster throughout WW2... it enriches David Bloor's book 'The Enigma of the Aerofoil: Rival Theories in Aerodynamics, 1909-1930' and is so much more than another book about the Spitfire... but one about a key member of a team that ignored conventional British wisdom and so differentiated the Spit from the Hurricane ... we needed both but one carried on for longer.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing book, 21 Jan. 2014
By 
A. Stevens - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Secrets of the Spitfire: The Story of Beverley Shenstone, the Man Who Perfected the Elliptical Wing (Hardcover)
The main title of this book is somewhat misleading since it is really a a perfectly adequate biography of Beverley Shenstone. The author is clearly not familiar with simple subsonic aerodynamic concepts. The details of the aerodynamic design of the Spitfire could have been covered much more succinctly. There are various inaccuracies as other reviewers have mentioned but in particular it is the confusing & repetitive descriptions of drag coefficients and design features without using any maths which disappoints. The book repeatedly confuses bank angle with incidence and doesn't adequately describe the different types of aircraft drag. A few simple diagrams and simple equations, perhaps in a glossary, would have clarified the arguments enormously. Pictures of some of the other aircraft discussed would have helped too. (La-7 & Yak-9 have straight tapered wings with elliptic tips).
A few questions arise:
Why didn't the Germans capitalise on the advantages of the modified elliptic planform?
Why did Supermarine turn to tapered planforms for developments of the Spitfire like the Spiteful and subsequently Attacker?
To summarise, some interesting details of the design of the Spitfire and general design thinking in the 1930s can be gleaned but it could have been much better.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very heavy read, 1 Feb. 2013
By 
PHSD (Derbyshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Secrets of the Spitfire: The Story of Beverley Shenstone, the Man Who Perfected the Elliptical Wing (Hardcover)
This book needs a glossary of terms to be understandable to the layman. It would also benefit from more photographs to illustrate the text.
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