Bob Gardner is the leading expert on propeller design and manufacture in WW1. Over the past few years, Bob has been bringing out a series of books on British propellers and menufacturers, which, when complete, will doubtless be the definitive word. These books are now available through the society's web shop.
Wooden propellers have a certain charm. The blades are often sensual, both in the usually elegant shape and in the colours, grain and texture of the wood laminations.
This book describes how British aircraft propellers were made,the regulations laid down bythe government for their manufacture, and how they looked. There are chapters describing how to buy and restore a propeller.
A companion volume describes each British prop maker and the propellers made. It is being produced in several parts which when complete will give an account of all the known British prop makers and their products.
Rough estimates suggest that at least 250,000 British props were made during WW1. When fitted to aircraft they had a comparatively short life; probably less than 20 hours. Landings on rough grass fields and engine failures accounted for many. Those that survived were soon unserviceable because of routine wear and tear. Many of these were brought home from the war as souvenirs, often cut in half for ease of handling. Enemy action destroyed many aircraft and their props. After the war several thousand were sold off to the public at six pence each. Many of these were converted into artefacts. A domestic industry momentarily blossomed converting propellers into photo frames, tea caddies, hall stands and fire screens. Those that survived became unfashionable in the 1960s and later, and many were thrown away. The result is that comparatively few survive today and it s possible that some of the rarer makes are extinct.
In addition to this introductory book on the subject, Bob has written five detailed volumes, of which four have been published so far. The fifth is due for publication soon, and will then also be available here:
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