The Admiralty and the Helicopter

Hood

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I will be at IMPS Telford tomorrow.
So if any members are around, I'll be lurking near the Project Cancelled SIG tables and there will be an official book launch and signing with The Aviation Bookshop too.
 

overscan

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Nice! Telfords seem to be passing with alarming swiftness since I last attended.
 

TsrJoe

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Friday setup of the Project Cancelled group display, this years main theme being rotorcraft to tie in with James's recent book :)
 

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robunos

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I'm going . . . ;D


cheers,
Robin.
 

von hitchofen

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Arrived today from Blue Envoy - very quick service.



Thanks James and Chris, it has filled a gap in my knowledge, and goes well with the recent purchase above!
 

SteveO

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Bought it, read it, thoroughly enjoyed it. Good job Mr Jackson! Westland came up with some very nice looking designs.
 

Hood

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Thank you for all the kind words, I'm happy that everyone has enjoyed reading it so far.

The Sycamore Seeds has slipped under my radar, looks like an interesting read.
 

newsdeskdan

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Hood said:
Thank you for all the kind words, I'm happy that everyone has enjoyed reading it so far.

The Sycamore Seeds has slipped under my radar, looks like an interesting read.
The Sycamore Seeds is essential for understanding the early development of British helicopters. It's really a sort of British Secret Projects: Helicopters 1. The terrible cover belies the fact that it was published in 2014 - so it's a recent book and crammed full of fantastic original research, project drawings, photos etc. The only caveat I would add is that you need to read Helicopters of the Third Reich by Steve Coates with JC Carbonel (2002) first, because Charles MacKay is a bit weak on the German designs which (he argues) heavily influenced early British helicopters.
 

Hood

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newsdeskdan said:
The Sycamore Seeds is essential for understanding the early development of British helicopters. It's really a sort of British Secret Projects: Helicopters 1. The terrible cover belies the fact that it was published in 2014 - so it's a recent book and crammed full of fantastic original research, project drawings, photos etc. The only caveat I would add is that you need to read Helicopters of the Third Reich by Steve Coates with JC Carbonel (2002) first, because Charles MacKay is a bit weak on the German designs which (he argues) heavily influenced early British helicopters.
Agreed, Helicopters of the Third Reich by Coates and Carbonel is probably the best volume on German helicopter development that I have read.

I think perhaps being produced by a non-mainstream publisher (I presume its self-published), Sycamore Seeds has probably escaped wider notice.
 

newsdeskdan

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Hood said:
newsdeskdan said:
The Sycamore Seeds is essential for understanding the early development of British helicopters. It's really a sort of British Secret Projects: Helicopters 1. The terrible cover belies the fact that it was published in 2014 - so it's a recent book and crammed full of fantastic original research, project drawings, photos etc. The only caveat I would add is that you need to read Helicopters of the Third Reich by Steve Coates with JC Carbonel (2002) first, because Charles MacKay is a bit weak on the German designs which (he argues) heavily influenced early British helicopters.
Agreed, Helicopters of the Third Reich by Coates and Carbonel is probably the best volume on German helicopter development that I have read.

I think perhaps being produced by a non-mainstream publisher (I presume its self-published), Sycamore Seeds has probably escaped wider notice.
The Coates/Carbonel book was 2002 and Steve's continued to extensively research the subject ever since. I can tell you that there remains a huge amount of incredible material which has yet to be published.
Yep - The Sycamore Seeds is self-published. I order it via Amazon and it came bundled with a lovely little set of photos showing early British helicopter designs. Apparently it was originally going to be a two-volume set, the first volume covering 1900 to 1937 (up to the flight of the Weir W4), and the second covering 1937 to 1994 (the point at which MacKay originally completed his research).
As it is, it's a fascinating book covering a subject (British helicopters from 1900 to 1945) that I've not seen covered elsewhere.
 

CJGibson

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Lovely book, needs bigger photos and drawings. It is an excellent history of early UK helicopters but would have been much, much better in large format with bigger images.

A classic example of publishers ignoring rotary wing subjects and a passionate author going it alone.

Chris
 

newsdeskdan

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CJGibson said:
Lovely book, needs bigger photos and drawings. It is an excellent history of early UK helicopters but would have been much, much better innlarge format with bigger images.

A classic example of publishers ignoring rotary wing subjects and a passionate author going it alone.

Chris
It's certainly not a patch on The Admiralty and the Helicopter in terms of visual presentation. TAATH's 68-page near-A4 format allows the 86 images to really stand out, particularly the full colour photos towards the back.

With The Sycamore Seeds, it appears as though MacKay stopped working on the project in 1994 because the guy supporting it asked him to drop it and do something else, which he did. The guy then died and MacKay simply never went back to it. He later rediscovered it as a text file on a floppy disc in 2013 and the book was published in July 2014 - between 19 and seven months later, depending on when he rediscovered the disc. Allowing time for him to knock it into shape as a book and prepare all the images, I would guess that he went straight down the self-published route, rather than offering it round the various publishers and being ignored. I reckon someone like Fonthill would have been interested, or maybe The History Press. Do you know whether MacKay pitched it to anyone?
 

Hood

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I ordered a copy yesterday and I'm quite excited about this book.

It is lucky for us that he found that floppy disk and decided to publish the results. From the sounds of it, a lot of research would have been lost if he hadn't rediscovered it. I notice that MacKay has written and published other books himself, so I guess he had that knowledge which made sense not to seek a publisher. At £7.95 its a bargain, a mainstream publisher would charge around £20 for the same.

Saying that, I think someone like History Press might have taken it on had he offered it. They have published a lot of little gems over the last two decades, books like Stuck on the Drawing Board and the Forbat Vickers books come to mind, at around 220 pages they are similar in size too.
 

newsdeskdan

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Hood said:
I ordered a copy yesterday and I'm quite excited about this book.

It is lucky for us that he found that floppy disk and decided to publish the results. From the sounds of it, a lot of research would have been lost if he hadn't rediscovered it. I notice that MacKay has written and published other books himself, so I guess he had that knowledge which made sense not to seek a publisher. At £7.95 its a bargain, a mainstream publisher would charge around £20 for the same.

Saying that, I think someone like History Press might have taken it on had he offered it. They have published a lot of little gems over the last two decades, books like Stuck on the Drawing Board and the Forbat Vickers books come to mind, at around 220 pages they are similar in size too.
It's a little gem. I think it would've found a pro publisher but at least it did get published! Chris is right - the images would look much better used larger. Then again, it's hard to say what sort of quality the originals might be.
 

Arjen

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I tried to order The Sycamore Seeds through Amazon.co.uk, but Amazon doesn't deliver the book where I live. Bookfinder pointed me to Ebay -
https://www.ebay.com/itm/323569506451
- so that's where I ordered it.
It is possible the link goes dead as soon as somebody places an order - it did yesterday, could be something about Ebay's internal workings - but it's up again today.
 

CJGibson

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Funnily enough it was a self-published book - Sniffing and Bottling - that led to Listening In and Black Box Canberras by Dave Forster. Hopefully similar will happen with The Sycamore Seeds.

Chris
 

newsdeskdan

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CJGibson said:
Funnily enough it was a self-published book - Sniffing and Bottling - that led to Listening In and Black Box Canberras by Dave Forster. Hopefully similar will happen with The Sycamore Seeds.

Chris
If the same thing happens with The Sycamore Seeds, I'll definitely buy it. On a slight tangent, I found loads of interesting material in The Admiralty and the Helicopter. One of the first things that really struck me when reading it was the story-within-a-story of British postwar airborne torpedo development. I mean, development of Pentane alone lasted eight years! And in the end it was just ditched as being out of date. And before that there were Zeta and Zonal. Red Admiral's photos of a chart at the Museum of Naval Firepower in Gosport show that Zonal at least was a fantastic-looking weapon. https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,8127.msg165778.html#msg165778
I'd never really heard of any of them before.
 

Hood

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newsdeskdan said:
If the same thing happens with The Sycamore Seeds, I'll definitely buy it. On a slight tangent, I found loads of interesting material in The Admiralty and the Helicopter. One of the first things that really struck me when reading it was the story-within-a-story of British postwar airborne torpedo development. I mean, development of Pentane alone lasted eight years! And in the end it was just ditched as being out of date. And before that there were Zeta and Zonal. Red Admiral's photos of a chart at the Museum of Naval Firepower in Gosport show that Zonal at least was a fantastic-looking weapon. https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,8127.msg165778.html#msg165778
I'd never really heard of any of them before.
Thanks Dan, I tried to include a lot of related developments, many of which haven't been covered elsewhere in depth.

Britain's torpedo troubles post-war would form a pretty lengthy story, especially with the related ship-launched and submarine-launched torpedo woes. This would probably warrant a book in itself! The best I could do was give a potted history.
Pentane's seeker had certainly become dated and the newer lightweight torpedoes were a far more practical solution. Lugging a full-size 21in torpedo around was not really a credible proposition and it was causing headaches for all the designers who were asked to integrate it, even for larger aircraft like the Gannet.
 
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