Valiant Wings Publishing | Airframe Album 15: The Gloster/A.W. Meteor
Reviewed by Kevin Futter
Valiant Wings Publishing has just released the 15th instalment in their Airframe Album series, entitled The Gloster/A.W. Meteor: A Detailed Guide To Britain's First Jet Fighter. In common with previous titles in the series, this one is authored by Richard A. Franks, a well-known name in modelling and aviation publishing.
The first thing that strikes you with this book is the atmospheric cover art by Wojciech Sankowski. The presentation of material in this book is impressive throughout. Photographs are generally clear and crisply reproduced, as are the 3D isometric line drawings, also by Wojciech Sankowski. The colour profiles by Richard Caruana are handsomely rendered.
The content itself is organised into four main sections plus an introduction and appendices:
- i. Introduction
- 1. Technical Description
- 2. Evolution - Prototype, Production and Projected Variants
- 3. Camouflage and Markings
- 4. Models
- I. Meteor Kit List
- II. Meteor Accessories, Decals & Masks List
- III. Squadrons
- IV. Bibliography
It should be evident from the list of contents alone that this title is aimed squarely at the modeller. There's plenty here for aviation enthusiasts and Meteor aficionados too, but the emphasis is on providing the modeller with copious data and as much detail as possible.
The Introduction is actually a 25-page potted history of the Meteor, and makes for very interesting reading if you're not intimately familiar with the development of the type. I found myself quite surprised by the extent of development the Meteor underwent during its lifetime, for example.
The Technical Description section of the book is packed with period photographs, technical drawings, and photos of surviving examples. The airframe is covered pretty comprehensively from nose to tail, with special emphasis on those areas of the most interest to modellers: cockpit, landing gear, and engines. There's also extensive coverage of the internal structure of the airframe, by way of photos and drawings.
The section on the evolution of the airframe gives a concise but very clear overview of the development of the Meteor, from its initial prototypes and test airframes, through to production versions, trainers, night fighters, and target tugs. This is probably the section of this book series that I appreciate the most, as it allows you to see at a glance, not only the progress of the airframe's development, but the salient features of each one. This is information that can be difficult to glean or fully appreciate from text descriptions or scattered drawings. Having it so succinctly presented is fantastic.
The Camouflage and Markings section covers the type's use not only by the RAF, but the FAA (testing only), and various foreign air forces. The result is an impressive variety of attractive colour schemes. A decent selection of period photographs is included, along with the terrific colour profiles. Also included is a handy stencil and markings placement guide. There's some serious inspiration in this section!
I'd like to see larger versions of some of the photos, but that's a perennial constraint that all aviation publications have to deal with, and hardly a criticism.
The last of the main sections of the book features two model builds, the introduction to which pre-empts my reflexive grumble about not including the HK Models 1/32 scale kit:
Apologies for not covering the type in 1/32 scale, but model builds are not a major component of the Airframe Album series and the HK Models F Mk 4 is currently your only option in that scale.
That said, the two builds included are both excellent. The first features Libor Jekl's Dragon/Cyber-Hobby F Mk I kit in 1/72 scale. The second build is the 1/48 scale FR Mk 9 kit from Airfix by Steve Evans. Both are magazine-style builds, and certainly worth a look if you're interested in building either of these kits.
The final section is the Appendices, and these follow the customary pattern for this series of books, in outlining what options the modeller has in terms of kits, accessories, decals and masks for producing a scale replica Meteor. Only a smattering of 1/32 scale items is available, unfortunately.
A surprise inclusion is an overview of squadrons that employed the Meteor in service, and covers a handy six pages.
The book rounds things out with a bibliography of existing titles covering the Meteor, which serves as a handy launch pad for further research into the type.
Here's a small selection of sample pages, courtesy of Valiant Wings:
This is a detailed, comprehensive and modeller-friendly title. If you're building, or intend to build, a model of the Meteor in any scale, this book will prove invaluable, and I highly recommend it. I must say that I feel rather inspired to drag another HK Models kit out of the stash now!
Thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing for the review sample.
© Kevin Futter 2019
This review was published on Saturday, June 22 2019; Last modified on Saturday, June 22 2019