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Book Review – Surviving Trainer and Transport Aircraft of the World: A Global Guide to Location and Types

By Don Berliner; Pen and Sword Books; 160 pages

A lot of trilogies fizzle out by their completion. Not so for Don Berliner’s Surviving Trainer and Transport Aircraft of the World: A Global Guide to Location and Types, which is the final volume of the three-volume set that included Surviving Fighter Aircraft of World War Two: A Global Guide to Location and Types and Surviving Bomber Aircraft of World War Two: A Global Guide to Location and Types. Compared to the two that came before it, Surviving Trainer and Transport Aircraft of the World may lack sexiness, but what it lacks in that department it makes up for by being stunningly comprehensive.

If you are an aviation enthusiast, this book is for you. Despite some of my complaints, it remains a great reference book and one that you will turn to time and time again.

Not only are iconic and well-known aircraft covered, but also the obscure and forgotten. The Westland Lysander and C-47 Skytrain are featured alongside lesser-known aircraft such as the DFS 230, Beech C-43 Traveler (Model 17 Staggerwing), and FA. 330. Even a reader knowledgeable about World War II aircraft is likely to learn something thumbing through the pages, likely about an aircraft you didn’t even know existed.

Surviving Trainer and Transport Aircraft of the World: A Global Guide to Location and Types

Surviving Trainer and Transport Aircraft of the World: A Global Guide to Location and Types, by Don Berliner; Pen and Sword Books; 160 pages

Along with a brief summary of the aircraft, their specifications and a list of where surviving examples can be seen are also included. In the back of the book is a guide to extinct types of transports, trainers, reconnaissance aircraft, liaison aircraft, gliders, research aircraft, and miscellaneous aircraft. You will be amazed that some of these aircraft survived and were preserved. The Curtiss-Wright AT-9 Jeep was a trainer built for pilots of hard to handle airplanes – think P-38 Lightning and B-25 Mitchell – and was never placed on the surplus market due to concerns about its flight characteristics. Since many trainers survived the scrapyard by ending up in private hands, it is amazing that not one, but two survivors ended up at museums. Another useful appendix is a list of museums that have large collections of World War II aircraft. For me that appendix will likely serve as a useful tool of where to plan my next vacation.

Among my small list of complaints is the lack of an index, which makes it a bit of a guessing game to find certain aircraft. For example, several amphibious aircraft are classified in the reconnaissance/observation/scout chapter and not in the amphibian utility chapter, where one might first be inclined to look. There is a separate utility aircraft chapter, so why some amphibious aircraft are separated and others are not only adds to the confusion.

Also, for a book that features a spectacular photo of a Martin JRM Mars, of which only 7 were built, the photography is lacking. Many of the photos are small and some are needlessly black and white or depict aircraft on the ground, such as the photo accompanying the Fiesler Fi.156 Storch, which falls short on both counts. Having seen a Storch in the air at the Fantasy of Flight, mentioned in the book as containing an extensive collection, I know a better photo could easily have been obtained. It is understandable that not every surviving aircraft could be photographed in flight or in color, but where possible the effort should have been made. One particularly egregious example is the photo of the Arado Ar-79, which features a watermark in the center of it. Considering that not every aircraft has a photo, this one probably should have been omitted.

Blohm & Voss BV.138 Sea Dragon

The wreck of a Blohm & Voss BV 138 Sea Dragon on display at the Technical Museum of Denmark, Elsinore, Denmark. The wing spar is poised over the aircraft in the same position as it was when the wreck was discovered in Øresund Sound, off of Copenhagen in 2000. In Surviving Trainer and Transport Aircraft of the World, author Don Berliner classifies the Sea Dragon as a survivor. Uffe R. B. Andersen photo

One quibble that might provoke some debate is how aircraft are classified as being “survivors.” Berliner chose to apply a liberal interpretation for survivor and included aircraft such as the Messerschmitt Me-209V and the Blohm & Voss BV 138 Sea Dragon. In the case of the Sea Dragon, whether an airplane that was pulled from the Baltic Sea in 2000, 55 years after it was shot to pieces during a Royal Air Force target demonstration, can be fairly said to be a survivor is open to discussion.

If you are an aviation enthusiast, this book is for you. Despite some of my complaints, it remains a great reference book and one that you will turn to time and time again.

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Steven Hoarn is the Editor/Photo Editor for Defense Media Network. He is a graduate of...