Airships - Designed for Greatness
Every so often a new book comes along that, by virtue of the quality of the writing, depth of research or detail of its illustrations, sets the new ‘gold standard’ for that field. So it is with AIRSHIPS: Designed for Greatness - The Illustrated History by Max Pinucci and a team of international experts. If you already have a copy then you will know what I mean, but if you don’t, and if you are at all interested in the history and development of airships, then this is a book that you will want to own.
Printed hard covers, and 114 beautifully illustrated pages on ‘art quality’ paper give the book a pleasing weight of over 2kg, but the layout of those pages is what sets the book apart. Each individual page is 45 x 28cm but when you open the book you will find that they been combined into the most amazing double page spreads which, at almost 1 metre wide, lend themselves perfectly to their subject material. And these ‘infographic plates’, as Prof. Pinucci calls them, are the heart of this book because they tell the story of airships from 1900 - 2010 through meticulously illustrated timelines, range charts, size comparisons, routes and, at the core of the book, a series of elegant double page spreads describing 25 of the most famous airships.
Each of these 25 airships, from the French ‘Lebaudy Le Jaune’ of 1902 to the German Zeppelin NT of 2003, is illustrated with a finely detailed pen and ink drawing on one page and a brief history and specification panel on the facing page. Along the way, there are cutaway diagrams, close-up illustrations of particular points of interest, and maps to help tell the story. And the list of airships given this treatment is a roll-call through history including the R33, the Norge, the Shenandoah, The Graf Zeppelin, the R100 and R101, the Akron and Macon and the Hindenburg.
Ask yourself if your airship bookshelf needs a copy of this book. I think you’ll find it does, especially as Max has just announced a revised version which includes 16 new pages on the history of the polar flights.