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Illustrated History of Romanian Aeronautics 1909 - 1948 - Book review


Fin
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Illustrated History of Romanian Aeronautics 1909 - 1948

by Dan Antoniu

 

This title was published in 2014 and allegedly as a limited edition, but it seems it can still be found as I`ve recently bought mine new in a local modelling store. It is one of those titles from small/independent publishers that don`t appear in major online stores like amazon. Every so often, I see people here asking about this or that less known aircraft or operator and the information - when is not given by one poster to another - is not easy to find in mainstream aviation books and, in their turn, niche subject books are themselves not easy to come across. Since this is a bilingual edition, with text in Romanian and English, I thought that doing a review here might be a good thing. Maybe it helps a few people find an useful book and in turn generate more interest for subjects that aren`t otherwise often covered. Apart from this, as I`ve said, I payed for my own copy of the book and I have no connection to its authors, publishers or anyone selling it.

 

The book is written by Dan Antoniu and translated into English by Radu Brînzan (of RB Productions and author of the book "Vânător - Romanian Hunter: The I.A.R.80 and I.A.R.81 in Ultimate Detail"). It is the result of Mr. Antoniu`s research of the national archives and his efforts to corroborate all the data found there, which as he notes, can sometimes be confusing (for example, the number of ordered aircraft was not always the same with the number of aircraft that were delivered and there`s an entire discussion to be had when it comes to the planes delivered by Germany in the later stages of World War 2).

 

The book is quite large (A4 format) and good looking with its colour hardcover showing - on both front and back - photographs of Romanian aircraft. The quality of the paper and the clarity of the photographs is also good. It lists 268 pages and 434 photographs, all black-and-white.

When you first open it you may have the impression that you`ve got an album, but I think a better way to view it is as a chronologically arranged encyclopedia. It does have photographs on each page of the main section, but the point of the book is actually to list, by the order in which they first entered Romanian service all the planes from the very beginnings up to 1948. And I do mean all the planes that however briefly entered Romanian service. This includes the one offs of the early years of aviation, prototypes, privately purchased planes that were later requisitioned by the military and even captured aircraft. For example, the B-24 Liberator that was brought down during Operation Tidal Wave, repaired with parts from the other downed Liberators, painted with Romanian markings and made fly-worthy does have its own page.

 

The text starts with a 2 pages (all text in the book is split between English and Romanian) Forward section, followed by a 6 pages chapter titled "Brief History of the evolution of aeronautics in Romania 1909 - 1948". Then, the main section begins at page 20 and ends on page 237. As said, this is arranged chronologically depending on when a certain aircraft version entered service, with small notes marking the start of each year. As a rule, each plane is allocated a page consisting of two photographs - arranged top and bottom - and a text section in the middle, split between the two languages. The text is not a commentary for the specific photographs on that page but on the aircraft type depicted there. It will generally mention the complete name of the plane, the engine it used, the date when it entered service (usually mentioning the separate stages where there were batches of the same aircraft type procured at different times), the operators, the date when it was taken out of service and a few other bits of relevant information depending on the subject. Sub-versions of a certain aircraft type tend to have their own sections. For example the Bf 109E-3 has one page and the Bf 109E-7 has another. Likewise, there are separate entries for the PZL P.11a, PZL P.11b, PZL P.11c and PZL P.11f. In regards to the number of photos per plane there are some exceptions. A handful of aircraft only have one photo each and a few aircraft (the IAR 80, JRS 79B and Bf 109Ga-6) have more than the customary two. Concerning the text in Romanian it is a pity that the proofreading did not catch the considerable number of typos that went to printing, but this is not a problem for the English reader as Mr. Brînzan seems to have done a great job on the translation and the English section of the text seems faultless (notwithstanding the title of the very first chapter being spelled "Forevord").

The book ends with an Index (which is very useful  if you want to go straight to a certain aircraft since in the book they are arranged chronologically, not alphabetically), a Glossary of the Romanian terms used in the English text (things like the names of institutions), a very interesting (for those who are into these things) annex listing the manufacturer`s serial numbers and the registrations of aircraft in service that have been identified and a selective bibliography.

 

All in all, I am happy that I bought this book and for the price I payed - 80 lei, which at the current conversion rate means a little over 17 Euro or 15 sterling pounds - I think it was good value for money. As a conclusion, if you`re wondering whether a certain aircraft that you know about ever sported Romanian markings, when it entered service, in what numbers, when it was retired and how it looked in its service then this book is the very first place to check. And, I suppose, it could also be a very fine source of inspiration for modelling some rare subjects that you might never have considered otherwise.

 

I`ll end with a few more shots showing the back-cover and a couple of pages:

 

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Edited by Fin
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