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on 26 March 2017
I found this book to be very interesting. If you love British aviation and its colourful history, you will love this book.
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on 9 December 2008
RJ Mitchells life as one of the prime aircraft designers of the `Golden Age of Aviation` is presented here and the designs are mentioned in the order in which they were created. Dr. Shelton has a very easy style of writing and he is to be commended on the depth of his research in producing this book. Every page contains large library photos of Mitchell`s seaplanes and three views of several of them. Apart from his writing Dr.Shelton is also an accomplished painter and several of his paintings of Mitchells seaplanes are presented here. This is one book which I will pick up again and again as, due to the great detail given of special incidents during designing and flight testing, there will always be some small detail which was missed the last time araound. Congratulations for a nicely produced book which will find a place in many aviation enthusiasts library.
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on 12 November 2010
Reginald Mitchell created revolutionary new aircraft, first for the Schneider Trophy contests and then for a battle he anticipated, but did not live to see. His story has been told in different genres: in a wartime film, starring Leslie Howard; in a biography by his son; and often in parenthesis, in the memoirs of the airmen who took his marvellous machines to the skies. John Shelton's unique achievement is to combine a specialist's understanding of Mitchell's technical achievement with an artist's ability to portray the grace and beauty of the results of his work. This beautifully produced and thoroughly researched volume is as indispensable for historians as it is for enthusiasts: my own forthcoming biography of one of Mitchell's seaplane pilots, Racing Ace: The Fights and Flights of 'Kink' Kinkead DSO, DSC, DFC, has greatly benefited from the insights derived from Dr Shelton's first-class book.
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on 6 April 2009
A comprehensive review of Supermarine Aviation and the aircraft it produced from 1913 to WW2. The many illustrations and photographs add greatly to this superb insight into the Southampton company and it's very talented Chief Designer. It was a tragedy that he died at such a young age just when he was at his most creative. However, I felt that the book was rather 'padded out' in places and there are a number of repetitions in the text. It is recommended for both entertaining reading and as a reference book.
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on 23 February 2013
The subtitle of this book is entirely accurate. After an appreciative introduction and an introductory chapter covering Mitchell's early experience and the background to Supermarine, it takes in chronological sequence all the aircraft R. J. Mitchell designed. These are grouped in seven well illustrated chapters printed in a large enough format to permit good reproduction of many period photographs and a substantial number of of full page three view plans. An added bonus is eight pages of reasonably good color paintings by the author of various specific airplanes described in the text. An epilog covers briefly the use of Mitchell designed Supermarine aircraft in World War II. There are four appendicies with the first giving us the clearest description I have seen of the quite complex ten year development history of the Spitfire.

This well conceived and organized work tells us a number of things. First, Mitchell's design path was quite severely evolutionary in nature with clear progression of development from one design to another following the general trajectory of aircraft development from 1920 to 1937. Second, Mitchell was primarily a flying boat and racing seaplane designer with the Spitfire the only successful landplane he did! Third, Mitchell created a very skilled and capable design team that contributed greatly to his sucess and was capable of carrying out all the development work that virtually doubled the performance of the Spitfire in it's life. Fourth, he designed aircraft strictly to his analysis of their intended role and what characteristics were required for that specific application. Thus it was by no means odd that the last design before the iconic high performance Spitfire was the wire braced pusher engined biplane amphibian Walrus which had a quite useful wartime career.

All this is quite different from the view of R.J. Mitchell as Romantic (in the philosphical sense) hero struggling to assert his individual genius on an uncaring world as depicted by Leslie Howard in the film Spitfire (The First of the Few). But in my view reality is often much more complex and interesting than legend, as I find it to be in this case. I don't think this book reveals anything new or startling but presents the facts in a very clear and well organized way.

I wish the author had presented more to us about the working methods of Mitchell and his design team, including pages of sample calculations and working drawings but John Shelton wrote, quite well, the book he wanted to write and I highly recommend it.
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on 13 October 2010
This is the gripping story of a man who could think beyond convention but yet maintain close attention to fine detail.The engineering drawings and many photographs clearly illustrate the diversity of his designs and are complimented by a selection of excellent paintings by the author.
I enjoyed the way that Dr Shelton describes R J Mitchell's life, from a fantastic array of Supermarine seaplanes and amphibian aircraft to the world-beating Schneider Trophy machines.
This book also shows what happens when a great engine (The Merlin) is teamed with a great Engineer(Mitchell)resulting in the legend that is the Spitfire.
All to soon, I had reached chapter 9; Epilogue, only to be delighted to find four very interesting and informative appendices.
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VINE VOICEon 25 April 2010
I should have purchased this book earlier; R J Mitchell deserves to be remembered more than just as a name for a restaurant in Eastleigh Airport! The Schneider Trophy winning designer is well-detailed in Dr Shelton's book, and pleasingly the book appears to be well-researched and accurate, unlike some recent 'popular' examples available on the retail bookshelf. Sadly R J's son Gordon died before this was published - I met him at Eastleigh on March 5th 2004 at the unveiling of the 3/4 scale K5054 prototype Spitfire - WHY has Great Britain virtually ignored the greatest aircraft designer it has ever produced (sorry Sydney Camm and Roy Chadwick!).
Perhaps further exposure such as this book MAY bring R J's name back to the fore, as it was in 1931 when Great Britain (with the help of Dame Lucy Houston) won the Schneider Trophy outright with a crowd of nearly a million spectators watching!
I admit that I am a self-confessed Spitfire 'nut' - my pen name confirms this - it was my house name - but well done to Dr Shelton for putting the life and designs of R J Mitchell in a very-readable book, and following the excellent Haynes manuals- AND it's printed and bound in BRITAIN!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 2 January 2011
A great idea for a book (for Spitfire and R J Mitchell fans) - chapters on each of the amazing aircraft that our hero designed, some original drawings and aircraft diagrams, lots of great photos and interesting information.

Really, really good - so why the 3*s?

Well, its the "colour" section. When I first picked up the book, I thought perhaps these were some RJM originals - which would have been REALLY interesting... But no, they are some really rather amateur paintings of some of the aircraft in the book by the Author. It this some vanity publishing exercise? I suppose I could take a sharp razor and cut them out...

Otherwise this would have scored 6*s and taken pride of place on my aviation bookshelf - along with Eric Brown's "Wings on my Sleeve", James Hamilton-Paterson's recent (and superb) "Empire of the Clouds", and Gordon Mitchell's "Schooldays to Spitfire".
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on 22 February 2013
This is quite simply a must have for anybody interested in RJ Mitchell. The text is informative and well written and the illustrations are good. Not quite a coffee table book it is still quite a large format and feels nicely printed. The opinions are balanced and the book concentrates on the designs rather than being a biography, ie. it is what it says on the tin. Some are criticising the authors paintings, these take up a handful of pages in the centre of the book and do not detract from it at all. Overall a superb book, five stars.
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on 17 December 2010
He lived a productive but sadly very short life. One wonders what more he may have acheived had he lived another twenty or thirty years.

This an incredible story of a self taught aero designer, responsible near the end of his life, for one of aviation's all time greats - the Spitfire.

Recommended for all aviation enthusiasts. An easy and absorbing read.
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