By Jurgen K. Bock & Berthold Knauer
English Language / Update Edited By R G. Van Treuren
Reviewed by C. P. Hall II
As the title implies, this is a tome encyclopedic in nature and scope. It is just over four hundred 8 ½ X 11 inch pages with many photos, illustrations, diagrams and tables. If there is a specific topic which a reader wishes to research, he need only consult the Table of Contents – which is twelve pages long!
The volume is quite detailed regarding LTA craft used for transport. It covers unpowered lift-assisting balloons, the three classic powered types, Non-rigid, semi-rigid, and rigid; historic types, types in current service and some unique ideas and proposals as yet unfunded. LTA phenomenon are discussed and formulas provided to work out the effects of these.
The subject matter is covered in great detail and will likely be found useful if a bit dry to the individual curious about the potential of lighter than air aviation. The potential buyer should realize that this is not a history of either all, or any given type of, lighter-than-air craft. It is a discussion of the many technical aspects of both previously flown and proposed aircraft. If, for example, you wish to learn more about fuel in gaseous form as used in Graf Zeppelin, that topic is discussed, as are comments about other similarly fueled craft and the topic in general. If you are interested in Lady Hay-Drummond Hay’s role in Graf Zeppelin’s 1929 flight around the world, then you will be disappointed. The book only occasionally mentions an historic episode. Technological highlights are noted; however, it is in no sense a comprehensive history of any specific aircraft.
There is included a healthy dose of advocacy regarding the physical and perceived practical advantages of hydrogen as a lifting gas as compared to helium. Hydrogen is described as also having potential for its fuel value and that, if water recovery is desired, consuming hydrogen will be more advantageous both as to volume recovered, the purity of the water, and the maintenance of the equipment so employed. While the current legal restrictions are acknowledged, the arguments are made as to the safety of hydrogen in gas cells made of 21st Century materials, successfully maintained in a pure or nearly pure state. It will be interesting to see how this advocacy is received by 21st Century readers?
This book is a reference work that should be in every modern library oriented towards STEM topics. It should be made available to every ‘popular’ author who feels that 100 years after the hay-day of LTA might be a profitable moment to publish a new ‘history’ of this branch of aviation. The serious student of this genre will find content of interest almost no matter how well read he may be on the topic. The publisher’s description states, “One of the reasons no American University offers a course in LTA technology is the lack of a text book in the English language.” Furthermore “…LIGHTER THAN AIR TRANSPORT AND CARRIER SYSTEMS is a complete encyclopedia of all things LTA – past, present and future.”
It is also observed that, as recently as November 2018, used copies of the out of print original, German language version were listed at Amazon.com for $220.00. This new English language, hardcover edition is $65.00 per copy. The book is simultaneously printed in the USA and in the European Union.