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Sydney Camm: Hurricane and Harrier Designer (Hardback)

Saviour of Britain

WWII Aviation British History Battle of Britain Spitfires & Hurricanes Royal Air Force Cold War Biographies

By John Sweetman
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 320
Illustrations: 24
ISBN: 9781526756220
Published: 24th July 2019



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‘This Man Saved Britain’ ran a headline in the News Chronicle on 18 February 1941, in a reference to the role of Sydney Camm, designer of the Hawker Hurricane, during the Battle of Britain. Similarly, the Minister of Economic Warfare, Lord Selborne, advised Winston Churchill that to Camm ‘England owed a great deal’.

Twenty-five years later, following his death in 1966, obituaries in the Sunday Express and Sunday Times, among other tributes, referred to ‘Hurricane Designer’ or ‘Hurricane Maker’, implying that this machine represented the pinnacle of Camm’s professional achievement. Sir Thomas Sopwith, the respected aircraft designer and Hawker aircraft company founder, believed that Camm deserved much wider recognition, being ‘undoubtedly the greatest designer of fighter aircraft the world has ever known.’

Born in 1893, the eldest of twelve children, Camm was raised in a small, terraced house. Despite lacking the advantages of a financially-secure upbringing and formal technical education after leaving school at 14, Camm would go on to become one of the most important people in the story of Britain’s aviation history.

Sydney Camm’s work on the Hurricane was far from the only pinnacle in his remarkable career in aircraft design and engineering – a career that stretched from the biplanes of the 1920s to the jet fighters of the Cold War. Indeed, over fifty years after his death, the revolutionary Hawker Siddeley Harrier in which Camm played such a prominent figure, following ‘a stellar performance in the Falkland Island crisis’, still remains in service with the American armed forces.

It is perhaps unsurprising therefore, as the author reveals in this detailed biography, that Camm would be knighted in his own country, receive formal honours in France and the United States, and be inducted into the International Hall of Fame in San Diego.

The 1940s weekend in Sheringham this year used to have a Battle of Britain flypast involving at least a Spitfire and a Lancaster Bomber. This year, we had a Spitfire on Saturday and a Hurricane on Sunday. Hurricanes are, of course,m more rare than Spitfires nowadays, and we were extremely privileged to see one close up, flying over the town and along the coast. John Sweetman looks at the pioneering designer, Sydney Camm and examines his legacy, which was the design of two of our most iconic fighter planes, the Hurricane and the Harrier. Brilliant!

Books Monthly

Informative, insightful and in-depth.

Watch the full video review here

Scale Modelling Now

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Royal Aeronautical Society

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NOTE: set cursor to 1:14:41

BBC Radio Devon with presenter David FitzGerald, 18th September 2019

A very well-written and readable book... it is likely that this volume will have wide reader appeal. Aviation Historians may find it of use, as might Military Historians with in interest in military aviation. Aviation enthusiasts with an interest on the Hawker Hurricane, the aircraft of the Hawker-Siddeley Group and British Military Aviation might also find it worthy of their attention. The presence of a small number of aircraft images within the photo section might also interest aircraft modellers.

Keith Rimmer, NZ Crown Mines

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NOTE: set cursor to 9:40

BBC Radio Berkshire with presenter Sarah Walker, 29th August 2019

About John Sweetman

JOHN SWEETMAN’s many publications include The Schweinfurt Raids and Oil Strike – Ploesti describing American raids, Cavalry of the CloudsThe Dambusters Raid and Tirpitz – Hunting the Beast about British air operations during the two world wars over Europe. Married with two sons and four grandchildren, he lives in Camberley.

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