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Author Topic: Schneider Trophy books  (Read 923 times)

Offline Pasoleati

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Schneider Trophy books
« on: August 10, 2017, 06:16:23 pm »
What Schneider Trophy book is the most technically detailed? Is Pegram's one or perhaps some other?

Offline Schneiderman

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2017, 11:31:38 pm »
Well, what can I say? My book, Schneider Trophy Seaplanes and Flying Boats, is currently the most detailed available. Derek James' Putnam volume from 1981, republished recently by Fonthill, is both briefer and less complete. I value my (signed) copy of the Putnam but it was the many questions that it left unanswered that spurred me to research further, produce the drawings for all the aircraft and projects, and then write my book.
However, as the racers were all constructed in secret, often hurridly, the amount of technical information documented at the time is not always that great, to the extent that even reliable general arrangement drawings for some are missing. This is especially true for those aircraft that failed to win races or which were never completed. Over many years I tracked down what I could from a variety of museums, libraries, companies and archives but no doubt there is still more to be found.

edit: correct book title, you'd think I would remember the name of my own book  ::)
« Last Edit: August 11, 2017, 08:39:02 am by Schneiderman »

Offline Avimimus

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2017, 11:00:06 am »
I'd agree with that the book is lovely and satisfying in all regards.

The only limitation is lack of detailed discussion of the engine designs: There is information on some things like oil usage or vibration problems - but it is mainly with respect to dates (and delays) that impacted the aircraft development/readiness. So there isn't an exhaustive examination of all of the existing information about the engines, along with a post-hoc 20/20 hindsight critique of their designs. Otherwise the book should be described as definitive as well as charming.

Offline Pasoleati

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2017, 04:56:43 pm »
Thanks for the comments! Based on a quick look I have had on Ralph's book, I would have liked the engines to be covered exhaustively (including detailed drawings of components) as well as thorough treatise of fuels used (quotes from Rod Banks not enough).

Offline Schneiderman

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2017, 12:33:35 am »
Yes it would have been nice if I could have included more on engines and fuels but the information just does not appear to be out there. The major cause of race failures and 'no shows' was related to engines, and engine makers certainly had no intention to discuss that. Then again even Napier and Rolls-Royce, who were by far the most successful, only provided very basic information. I suspect that the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust may have more but they are most reluctant to provide any material. There was a paper on the large Packhard X used by Al Williams and a short one on the Fiat AS6, but that is about it. Rodwell Banks' book gives only a little insight, much quoted, as it is the only source, but I would not be sure it is totally reliable. It is titled 'I kept no Diary' after all.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 03:59:52 am by Schneiderman »

Offline Pasoleati

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2017, 09:44:09 am »
Hmm, did you dig through e.g. Naca archives? American manufacturer archives? Fiat and other Italian archives? Shell archives? Royal Aircraft Establishment archives?

Offline Schneiderman

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2017, 10:15:03 am »
No, have you?
Basically when you write a book you start with what interests you and then tailor it to what will interest a publisher. It is ridiculous when readers criticise the contents based on what they think should have been in it.  If it fails to satisfy your interests then go and do the research yourself and, if you are capable, get it published.

(There you go Chris  ;) )

Offline Avimimus

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2017, 11:44:14 am »
I thought about as much: Engine research was highly competitive after-all, and it is something which is easier to keep secret compared to the overall layout and test schedule of the planes. It is interesting to hear about the challenges that went into the research (I'm sure a small book could be written on that topic alone).

In any case it is a very well researched book. As I said earlier - it is essentially perfect.

Offline Schneiderman

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2017, 11:48:54 am »
Thank you. As with all research the quest is never ending and you have to make a decision as to when sufficient new material has been located to justify writing a book. The gaps that remain can then act as a catalyst for others to pick up the search. After all, that was what spurred me to start.
A book on engine evolution, not just racing engines, would be interesting. What we currently have available, scattered over many books and magazines, is far from complete.

Offline Pasoleati

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2017, 01:45:56 pm »
Come on, Schneiderman! You really cannot adopt the tactic of "you do the research". Just consider Daniel Whitney's Allison book, an excellent example of the power of primary research. In academic reviewing an author saying "you do the research" would get a big F. No wonder aviation history literature  is not highly regarded by academic historians for the terrible shortcomings in referencing and methodology.

Offline Arjen

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2017, 02:07:21 pm »
Any treatise on any subject must of necessity be a limited  rendering of the subject,. because the only complete rendering of a subject would be a complete recreation of that subject - history, hardware, people involved to name a few. This is impractical for most subjects. Any author will therefore have to limit the scope of his/her treatise. You would have Mr Pegram concentrate more on engine technology where I, for instance, would like a book more weighted towards the impact of politics on the races or vice versa.

That wasn't the book Mr Pegram chose to write.

If you would like a different book, you have the option to write it yourself, or wait for someone else to write it. I'm very happy with the book as it turned out.

Offline PaulMM (Overscan)

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2017, 02:58:07 pm »
Come on, Schneiderman! You really cannot adopt the tactic of "you do the research". Just consider Daniel Whitney's Allison book, an excellent example of the power of primary research. In academic reviewing an author saying "you do the research" would get a big F. No wonder aviation history literature  is not highly regarded by academic historians for the terrible shortcomings in referencing and methodology.

Sorry, but you are way off base.

Authors write books on subjects that interest them and that publishers will release. Anyone who does research for a book on aviation will find they have to balance many competing demands on their time and usually end up with lots more material than will possibly fit in one book. The author uses their judgement on what to include and what to exclude based on what they find interesting and they think the readers will find interesting.

Writing my book on the P.1121, I did not pursue some lines of research because they were (in my opinion) peripheral to the book I wanted to write. Some sources simply didn't respond, or would not let material be accessed as it wasn't officially declassified. One potential source was simply a long way from London and I didn't get to visit before moving to New Zealand made it impossible. I started out fully referencing in an academic way (I have a 1st class honours degree in English, I know how to do it) but it was nearly impossible to fit the limit of 64 pages already without adding pages of endnotes.

If you think Ralph's book is incomplete because it needs more research on engines, then write that book. You might find that the material simply doesn't exist.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 03:00:14 pm by PaulMM (Overscan) »
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Offline CJGibson

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2017, 03:05:11 pm »
Never claimed to be a historian, definitely not an academic. I'm a rummager who's lucky enough to have the time to write books about aircraft for people interested in aircraft, not academics. Academics don't have time to write the type of books Schneiderman and I have written. Nor do we get snowflaky about 'mistakes' in prior art. Plus our drawings are better.

My stuff has been compared with Walking with Dinosaurs by an academic, which I was quite pleased about. I knew exactly what they meant. They are entertainment, informative, but still entertainment.

'Write your own' or 'Do your own research' aren't cop-outs, it's why we wrote our books in the first place - we took our own advice. However, if you want academic rigour, 30% of the page count being references/citations and peer-reviewed products from me, you'll have to wait until a Chancellor whacks me on the head and whispers Latin in my ear. Again.

Chris
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 09:47:21 pm by CJGibson »

Offline Schneiderman

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2017, 12:17:01 am »
Come on, Schneiderman! You really cannot adopt the tactic of "you do the research".

I most certainly can. If a subject really interests you then you should be both prepared and keen to do so, it is quite absurd to sit back and expect others to produce just the work you require. As others have said this is quite different from an academic thesis, aimed at a more general readership and, from the publisher's view, a means to make money. Frankly I find your attitude laughable.

Offline Pasoleati

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Re: Schneider Trophy books
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2017, 06:15:25 pm »
Chris, some academics certainly do have the time. E.g. the late professor Mauno Jokipii wrote an 800-page book on the Finnish SS-battalion. His research took at least 5 years, and the book is heavily referenced with primary sources. He conducted research in Finnish and German archives. He even corresponded with participants like Gottlob Berger.

And then a later example is Chris Lawrence's 1660-page Kursk book. He worked something like 10 years for it. And based his research on archival sources.

Or how about the Spitfire bible by Morgan & Shacklady? Again a work of archival research.