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The Archaeology of Airfields Paperback – 1 Dec 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (1 Dec. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752444018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752444017
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 617,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Publisher

This book follows on from Clarke's original work on the Cold War first published by Tempus in 2005. Four Minute Warning: Britain's Cold War.

About the Author

Bob Clarke is an archaeologist at Boscombe Down, Britain's main weapons testing establishment and the author of The Berlin Airlift and Four Minute Warning.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was worried I might not get this as the release date was December 2007, however it arrived last week. Ok so what can we say about this latest in a long line of books on military airfields. Well the author approaches this from a rather different, possibly unique angle. Rather than laying out the usual `what flew from where' format he has looked at the `why was that airfield built where it was'. Now this might be obvious to many who have an aviation interest, however there are many surprises. In a publication world obsessed with WWII it is good to see other periods receiving equal attention. The author takes us from the first sites pre-WWI around Salisbury Plain, the RNAS Airship station and Home Defence Squadron distribution and Training Depot Stations of the Great War. Covers the first Expansion in the mid-1920s that spawned Abingdon, Bicester and the reopening of Boscombe Down. The Expansions of the 1930s and subsequent sites across the UK for WWII. This is followed by a very useful section on the Cold War including distribution of the V Force and the subsequent hardening of airfields towards the end of the 1970s. The final chapter discusses some of the issues surrounding the preservation of `large landscape features' (typical archaeological speak) such as airfields. This nicely summarised work underway and the sites/stations already protected. There are a large number of photographs embedded within the text including some nice shots of Caldale Airship Station on the Orkneys. The distribution maps worked very well. The Advanced Landing Ground layout map was a little confusing and maybe slightly optimistic at the size presented however I did work it out. There are a few typos, but nothing that detracts from the text.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Of all the airfield books currently availible this one has to be the best value for money (especially at Amazon!! plug plug). The text covers the usual suspects, relying on documentary evidence where possible. This leaves you in no doubt as to the authenticity of the information presented. What makes this a little different is the fact that the author lumps the entire 20th Century together and manages to pull it off. I have to say the best areas must be the Cold War aspects, something not normally put in context. And as this book hopes to be a reference work it is nicely rounded up with a chapter on current preservation issues. Some typos, as has previously been noted, could have let this down, however seeing as the publishers went bust during its production it is lucky the text made it out at all. The way the subject matter is covered makes the content well worth a read. Did you know we nearly bombed France in the late 1920s? I did after reading this!
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I think that the title of this book is misleading - A History of UK Military Airfields might be a better title but still doesn't describe what it is. I found it fascinating reading if at times irritating - largely for what it didn't say. As a proud Salopian I was taken aback by an author on airfields who could not correctly spell Ternhill - this seems to be an author problem since it is consistently mis-spelled, even on the map. Nor is this an isolated instance: Arbroath and Limavady were also incorrect and probably others that I missed. Poor proof reading might be responsible for the incorrect homonym of principal and vein, but whatever the source it distracts from an otherwise very readable text.

As a boy I spent several weeks in hospital in what had been (apparently) the Sick Bay of RAF Monkmoor - a WW1 airfield that was partially reopened as an Aircraft Recovery Unit in WW2. I had also visited a family squatting in one of the huts there and that, together with the old hangars had given me the idea that it might be an old airfield, but the clincher was the small Meteorological site - Stevenson screen and rain-gauge. Nowhere in this book could I find any mention of the Met Office that formed a prominent part of many airfields. When I started work I was based at RAF Upavon and, for a while, billeted in a WW1 wooden hut attached to the Officers' Mess (replaced, I believe in the 1970s) - the sense of history was evident. But my recollection of this site was that it was originally chosen (as was Monkmoor)in part because it was already used as an exercising area by a local cavalry regiment. Upavon Gallops, next to the station, was occasionally used as a landing ground by transport aircraft to simulate landing conditions in the field).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love aviation, I've even written a book about it, so when I saw this on a regular browse I thought it might be an interesting read. Actually it is quite interesting although I think it might have been better to entitle the book 'A (political) history of military airfield construction in the UK' which, admittedly, is not as punchy as the current title, but at least explains what is inside.

I particularly liked the book up to about 1945, it is astounding how many airfields were constructed during that period, how many still existed in 1945 and how many, or how few perhaps, exist now. It provides a good history of 20th century warfare set against a background of politics (or is it the other way round?!).

If the book had purely been about 'the archaeology of airfields' then it would have been a lot thinner, but it is padded out with the aforementioned history, although I didn't mind that other than it's not what I expected. There are lots of photos in this book, which is very nicely produced by the way, but many of them are not of airfields and when I saw pictures of Brezhnev, Yeltsin and May Day Parades I was left wondering 'why?' - padding again.

Where this book really falls down, and I couldn't wait to finish reading it because of this, is the atrocious proof reading and editing. The narrative jumps about in places and is repeated - minor irritation. However when you notice that there is a typo on almost every page I think that becomes a major irritation, well it did for me, I found myself waiting for the next one.
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