John Stroud – illustrator, aviation expert, photographer and historian:
John Stroud was born on 3rd April 1919 in Balham, South London. Unlike many of the people associated with the early days of British aviation he did not come from a wealthy family. His father, Albert Stroud, was a shop assistant, who had married Laura Archer at Lambeth the previous year.
Early Aviation Experiences:
Among John's earliest memories was a visit to Croydon airport when he was three or four years old by which time the family had moved to Streatham Common. Even though he was very young at the time he recalled seeing two de Havilland DH.34 aircraft at the airport, one red and one blue, one from Daimler Airways and one from Instone. John also remembered seeing the last Handley Page W.8b in flight.
However, it was not the visit to the airport and the sight of aircraft overhead that awakened what was to become a lifelong interest in aviation – rather it was articles in Meccano Magazine and paper kits of aircraft that he encountered around 1928-29.
Another move and his parents' choice of a new home town was ultimately to have a huge impact on the life and fortunes of the young John Stroud.
In the summer of 1929, the family moved to Hatfield. The reason for picking Hatfield is not clear – at the time there was no airfield. Whatever the reason John Stroud was in the right place at the right time and he saw aviation take root at Hatfield.
The family's stay in Hatfield appears to have been only for a few years (he left the area around 1935) but during those years he was able to see all the mighty Imperial Airways HP42s and HP45s on their test flights from the Handley Page factory at Radlett.
In 1933. at the tender age of 14, John went to work for Imperial Airways where his artistic capabilities were first shown as, in a later article, he mentioned he was involved in designing the Imperial Airways cobalt blue livery for their DH.91 Albatross fleet before the war.
During his time with Imperial Airways he visited the Short Brothers' factory at Rochester on several occasions and was privileged to see most of the iconic Short C Class Empire flying boats (a design that gained lasting fame during the war as the Sunderland) during their build. After three years with the airline John was allowed to fly in the aircraft and well remembered his flights in the DH86 Demeter, Short L.17 Syrinx, three HP42s, Heracles, Horatius and Hanno, the Armstrong Whitworth Ensign and DH Albatross.
Imperial Airways was one of the five organisations (the others being the four main UK railway companies at that time) that owned Railway Air Services, one of the early internal airlines, which was later incorporated into British European Airways (BEA) shortly after WWII. John Stroud knew many of the people and pilots involved and made his first flight with RAS on 31 August 1935. When he published a book on the airline, in 1987, he included a chapter on his personal memories of flying with them before, during and after WWII which includes mention of flights in DH.84 Dragons, four-engine DH.86's, and DH.89 Dragon Rapides.
He appears to have been involved with recruitment and information / propaganda and possibly even intelligence work during the war (Imperial Airways was replaced by British Overseas Airways Corporation in 1940).
John Stroud is credited for holding a series of exhibitions around Britain to educate people on aircraft recognition. The first was held in London, the second exhibition was at Princes Street, Edinburgh on 19 March 1940. This is known to have included scale models, photographs, colour drawings and silhouettes of British and German aircraft. Also models or dioramas of the Kiel Raid, the raid on the Firth of Forth and a balloon barrage. 17 June 1940 was the date of the Glasgow exhibition – at Rowans Ltd, Buchanan Street.
Later in April that year, his illustrations of unit markings found on German aircraft were published in Flight magazine.
He also did work for the Air Training Corps Gazette (it's not clear whether as an employee or just a contributor). In late 1941, a folder he had prepared detailing 52 aircraft types used by the Russian Air Force was published by Rolls House Publishing Co Ltd for the ATC Gazette.
John Stroud illustrated a 1942 article on the Chinese Air Force in the Air Training Corps Gazette, which had been written by Captain W E Johns – the creator of Biggles.
His first aviation book on the Russian air force was published by The Pilot Press in 1943 (possibly this was an expanded version of the Rolls House folder).
Post war aviation journalism:
In 1946 he published the first book on Japanese military aircraft in the West through Harborough Publishing Company Ltd of Leicester.
By now he had established himself as an authority on aviation, and post-war he concentrated on civil aviation. He had married before the end of 1952, and he and his wife Patricia travelled widely. He was a regular contributor, including an article on Moscow Airport in 1952, and correspondent in the aviation press. His wife clearly shared his interest in aviation and had articles on the subject published independently and jointly.
In 1954 he became the aviation expert for The Journal of Commerce, and had a regular column.
The Times published his article commemorating the 40th anniversary of British Air Transport in 1959 (and also published articles under his name in 1962 and 1963).
In 1961 he took over from Owen Thetford as general editor for Putnam's Aviation List (later Putnam Aviation Books and Putnam Aeronautical Books). Many of these books, which were written by expert authors, are still used as standard reference works on individual manufacturers (like A J Jackson's De Havilland Aircraft since 1909), British aviation development and airports (JS literally wrote the book on the last subject). John himself was responsible for writing some Putnam titles including those on Soviet Airliners, European Transport Aircraft and Airports of the World.
In 1985 he wrote his last column as the aviation expert for The Journal of Commerce, ending a 31-year unbroken stint.
His last published work before his death is thought to be The Imperial Airways Fleet, published in 2004-5 (Passenger Aircraft and Their Interiors 1910-2006 was published posthumously).
Flying as a passenger during civil aviation's infancy was not without risks, and he had his share of excitement (he is reported to have worn gloves during take-offs and landings in case he needed to clear jagged wreckage out of his way).
John's wife, Patricia, played a major part in John's work. She was also an aviation expert in her own right and did a lot of John’s research, accompanying him on many of his planned, and distinctly unplanned, trips abroad. Many of the film reels in the John Stroud Collection show Pat in India, Pakistan, Beirut etc and she wrote many aviation articles herself.
Patricia Stroud passed away in around 1993/94. John Stroud died in hospital on 14 March 2007, aged 87.
WITH GRATEFUL THANKS TO COLIN HIGGS OF aflyinghistory.com FOR GIVING ME HIS KIND PERMISSION TO USE THE ABOVE TAKEN FROM HIS EXCELLENT WEBSITE.
To view the gallery of John Stroud's eighteen published aviation titles below, arrow right for the next volume in sequence. They are arranged chronologically by date of publication except for multiple editions which are included together, the primary date being the first edition.
The Red Air Force - published 1943 by Pilot Press Ltd. - author: John Stroud - Pages: 48 - ISBN: Pre-ISBN - RRP: 5/- net - Dimensions 8.75" x 10.75" - Red board portrait hardback with photo pictorial dust jacket.
We travel back in time to the mid-war years when John, with his unique knowledge of the battle on the eastern front, produced the first in-depth look at the Red Air Force of communist Russia.
I believe this book was also his first venture into aviation authorship. He would have been aged 24 at the time.
'The Red Air Force' is a red board hardback with a gold star embossed on the front and surrounded by a photo-pictorial dust jacket which lists other books by the publisher on the rear. High quality art paper is used in the production - similar to those of Harborough Press published around the same time. It runs to 48 pages.
'The Red Air Force' was published by Pilot Press - the first edition in May 1943 - my copy is the second printing from November of that year.
You can appreciate from the introduction the lengths Mr. Stroud would have had to have gone to in order to gather enough information to produce a worthwhile book on the subject matter, especially when considering the wartime censorship he would have faced at the time.
The photographs are particularly interesting as they not only show images of aircraft being built in the USSR both prior and during World War Two, but also various shots of the life and times of members of the Red Air Force during what Germany called 'Operation Barbarossa.'
This book is now relatively scarce but it should still be possible to obtain copies via the web if you search hard enough.
Stroud's second wartime release (and I believe his second book) was entitled ‘Japanese Aircraft.’ This was a blue board landscape hardback with an art pictorial dust jacket. It was published by The Harborough Publishing Company Ltd (better known for their ‘Aircraft of The Fighting Powers’ series by Owen Thetford.
‘Japanese Aircraft’ was published in 1945 shortly after VE Day when the war in the Pacific was still raging. As with the Pilot Press edition on ‘The Red Air Force’ Stroud brings his special knowledge of Japanese aviation to the fore while also delighting us on this occasion with his excellent artistic skills.
This book is believed to be the first serious attempt by anyone to catalogue Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War and it took a fair number of years before a superior Putnam volume by Rene Francillon was published in 1970. Francillon had the obvious advantage, however, of many more years of research than what was available to Stroud.
‘Japanese Aircraft’ includes a map of ‘The Pacific War Zone,’ with principal island groups listed and also the main prefectures with capitals of the Japanese mainland and islands.
Stroud’s artistry includes probably the vast majority of camouflage schemes carried by Japanese Military Aircraft involved in the Pacific War and the data, specifications and history of each type is second to none considering the book was produced in wartime. Each aircraft is described by the Allied Code Name followed by the official Japanese designation.
This volume occupies a valued section of my library with my other Harborough and Harleyford titles and my copy is of particular note as I have what I believe to be one of the very few now remaining with the original dust jacket although I have to say it has seen better days. I think the grease marks on the front cover indicate it was probably originally owned by a wartime aeronautical engineer!
'Airliners’ was a smallish landscape paperback produced as part of the Puffin Picture Book series and was allocated title number 86. At the time of publication in 1949 the number of subjects covered had reached 87.
The Puffin Picture Books are highly collectable although I only have this one in my collection. They appear to be fairly scarce and quite expensive on line.
I believe this was Stroud’s third book and first post-war production following on from the wartime military titles ‘The Red Air Force’ and ‘Japanese Aircraft’ and continues the trend started with the latter in including his excellent artwork, this time of contemporary airliners of the late 1940s.
The book has no contents page but the airliners featured are as follows:
Vickers Vimy Commercial
Supermarine Sea Eagle
De Havilland 34
Armstrong Whitworth Argosy
De Havilland Hercules
Short Empire Flying Boat
Handley Page Heracles and Hannibal
De Havilland Dragon Rapide
De Havilland Albatross
De Havilland Dove
Handley Page Hermes 4
Avro Tudor 4
Vickers Armstrongs Viking
Convair Liner Model 240
Fiat G-212 Monterosa
Airliners of the Future (Nene Viking and Viscount)
The front cover depicts the Saunders-Roe Princess, a massive Flying Boat powered by Proteus Turboprops with contra-rotating propellers and the rear cover the Bristol Brabazon – both jumbos ahead of their time and significant white elephants!
John Stroud was one of two Editorial Advisors in this early post-war look at the Airline Industry and its operations published by Odhams Press, the other being Captain J. W. G. James OBE MA - the Flight Manager and Chief Pilot of British European Airways Corporation.
Stroud also co-wrote the chapter on 'Airlines Around the World' and wrote in full the chapter on 'Today's Airliners' (see below)
This volume is significant as it includes many superb diagrams by some of the cutaway artists who later went on to produce the many elaborate artwork pieces for the Boy's magazine 'Eagle' published by Hulton Press.
The contents of the book are well described in the summary on the front Dust Jacket flap, from which the following is taken:
"Written by the men who organize, control and operate the airlines, this book gives an up-to-date (1950) international picture of the world's airways.
Specialist authors of wide experience tell the passenger's, pilot's, designer's, meteorologist's, maintenance engineer's and planner's stories and take the reader inside civil aeroplanes of all types, into the control tower, the radio cabin, radar trailer and the meteorological office, simply explaining the mechanisms and procedures.
Explanations are illustrated by more than 30 specially prepared wash drawings and nearly 300 photographs of airline features in many parts of the world. In addition, the book contains six double-page drawings of modern airliners.
Modern jet, turboprop and jet-assisted power units are explained and very fully illustrated, whilst such modern aids as G.C.A, I.L.S. and FIDO are amply covered in words and pictures.
In preparing this book the publishers had the co-operation of many of the world's major aircraft manufacturers and airline operators."
There are 12 chapters as follows:
1. Problems of Planning the Air Routes - by V.E. Mearles BA FRGS
2. Airlines Around the World - by John Stroud and V. E.Mearles BA FRGS
3. Aircraft in the Making - by Staton Abbey A.J. Inst.E
4. Mastery of the Air - by S/L K. A. Porter
5. Finding the Way Though Space - by W/C E. John Dickie MBE ARAeS MIN
6. Sources of Power - by Staton Abbey A,K, Inst E
7. Ensuring Airworthiness - by Capt. R.C. Alabaster DSO DFC FRMetS
8. Air Traffic Control - by W/C E. John Dickie MBE ARAeS MIN
9. Aircraft Landing Systems - By Capt. F. Ormonroyd DFM BA (Oxon) FRMetS (Training Captain, BEAC)
10. Airlines and the Weather - by K. Wood B.Sc (Meteorological Officer, BEAC)
11. Today's Airliners - by John Stroud
12. Aircraft of the Future - by B. J. Hurren
A German language version was also published in 1956 entitled 'Die Beherrschung Der Luft' (with thanks to Holger Loersch).
NB: This volume is also included in the 'Odhams 1942-1950' section of this website.
Falling chronologically between the ‘The World's Airways and How they Work’ (1950) and the ‘Air BP Book of IATA Airlines’ (1958), John Stroud’s ‘Famous Airports of The World’ was likely to have been the first serious attempt at publishing a guide to all of the world’s major airports.
The volume was published in 1956 by Frederick Muller Ltd. London and was one in a series of ten transport-related guides.
Stroud later produced a much more comprehensive guide for the Putnam series called ‘Airports of the World’ in 1980, by which time the majority of the airports featured in the 1956 book had expanded greatly and many additional ones had been built.
Stroud’s 1956 book published by Muller is a small yellow boards portrait hardback with a photo-pictorial dust jacket and consists of 143 pages. It has gold-leaf titling on the spine although my copy has browned significantly over the years.
This book was probably the first to include comprehensive runway plans of many of the airports discussed. Rather than each airport having its own individual section, the chapters are split into different parts of the world and the airports within that sphere are covered using an all-encompassing descriptive narrative of their history and current status.
There is a decent selection of period black and white photos included, featuring airport infrastructure as at 1956 and many piston-engine powered airliners we would now classify as vintage.
Stroud’s ‘Famous Airports of the World’ published by Muller in 1956 is a fairly scarce volume to find these days, particularly with a Dust jacket still present. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavours, should you be interested in obtaining a copy!
This volume is a softback landscape book with card covers and is unpaginated.
The first edition was published in 1958 and I have a signed copy by the author. The summary below refers to the second edition:
Stroud delights us again with more of his colourful artwork of airliners and airlines of the early 1960s. Comets, CV-990s, Il-18s, Caravelles, 707s and Douglas propliners are among the aircraft featured.
The book is also an excellent retrospective look at the many airlines and their liveries that are now lost forever and may be of great interest to modellers of that period as genuine colours appear to have been adopted in the drawings.
A short history of each airline is included under each artwork in four languages which I believe to be English, German, French and Spanish (but don ‘t quote me on that!)
At the rear of the book is a fleet summary of each IATA airline as at 1961 with the numbers of passengers carried, cargo tonnage-km, mail tonnage-km and revenue tonnage-km.
If you have an interest in airlines of the 1960s and their colour schemes, I heartily suggest you look out for a copy of this or any edition you may find available on the web although they are fairly scarce and not overly cheap. A great book for airline and airliner historians though!
This was Stroud's first volume for the famous Putnam Aeronautical Series published in 1960. He became the Series General Editor the following year, taking over this role from Owen Thetford.
‘Annals of British and Commonwealth Air Transport’ is a veritable tome of Air Transport facts from the period 1919 to 1960 relating to Britain and all the countries in its Commonwealth. Each year is covered, individually broken down by month and then day of the month that the actual event occurred.
As with many of Stroud’s works, this volume is probably unique in bringing such a vast amount of detailed factual information together in one volume with many rare photographs from Stroud’s own collection as he had been there from the very start of the early ‘Imperial Airways’ years.
The author’s hand-drawn maps of air routes are also included and are very well presented with many appearing as fold-outs. The only ones I know which in my view are slightly superior are those drawn by R E G Davies, the doyen of Airline History.
The book is a purple portrait-shaped hardback with a photo-pictorial front cover dust jacket with a list of other books and authors in the series on the rear. The titling on the spine is in the usual gold-leaf.
It retailed at 84s net in 1960 and is comprised of 675 pages.
In addition to the yearly summary of notable Air Transport events, the appendices include an alphabetical list of British Transport Aircraft to 1960 with performance data and statistics, the routes of British Independent Airlines in 1960, airline fleets (listed by registration) of all the airlines featured, their traffic statistics 1954-60 and a chronological list of the main fatal accidents involving UK-registered transport aircraft in peacetime.
This is quite a rare volume to find these days, especially with a dust jacket, the cheapest currently available on ABE being £23 with small pieces of the jacket missing. This is good news as four or five years ago you would have been lucky to find one for less than £40!
Stroud was the principal editor of the famous Putnam Aeronautical Series from 1961 until the turn of the century when the role was taken over by Phil Jarrett.
Stroud authored five of the main Putnam series titles himself and one of the most impressive of these in my view is 'European Transport Aircraft since 1910' published in 1966.
The book is a blue board hardback with gold leaf titling and a red dust jacket with titling in black. The cover photo is of a Focke Wulfe Condor of Lufthansa.
The book is arranged in alphabetical order by country and then by manufacturer and even the most obscure transport aircraft and airliners are included. Of the 680 pages, no less than 94 are taken up with very detailed production lists of many of the types featured which in itself makes this book unique.
Hiqh quality gloss paper is used in the production and the photos are of notably high quality for the period. The amount of research undertaken is probably unparalleled in this subject matter and the data and specifications included are extensive.
This is definitely a book I would recommend to any airliner historian. I don't believe anything published since has ever quite come up to this standard.
This volume was probably one of the earliest examples of an in-depth look at the world of Russian and Ukrainian-built Airliners.
As many of you who are aircraft enthusiasts will be aware, the ‘Putnam Aeronautical Series’ of books which ran to 177 editions between the mid-1950s and 2004, was renowned for it’s use of authors who were expert in their specific field of aviation. The volumes were also recognised for their very high quality of production both in paper and binding and for exploring each subject in immense detail, both illustratively and in the narrative provided.
‘Soviet Transport Aircraft since 1945’ was published in 1968 and ran to 318 pages. It followed on from Stroud’s earlier 1966 master volume on ‘European Transport Aircraft since 1910’
A unique and often neglected aspect of Stroud’s work is the amount of photographic material he accumulated during his lifetime in respect of airliner interiors and flight decks, an area of Air Transport interest that was covered by very few people over the course of history. This culminated in his very last book ‘Passenger Aircraft and their Interiors’ which is featured at the end of this section.
Stroud had the great advantage of having travelled on the very earliest airliners right up to the Airbus widebody twins, logging performance details and flight plans with his wife on overseas trips far and wide.
His Putnam book ‘Jetliners In Service since 1952’ published in 1994 looks at this aspect in great detail.
In 1971, a few years prior to his authorship of ‘The World’s Airports,’ Stroud introduced the first edition in ‘The Putnam Aeronautical Library’ sub-series in the form of ‘The Word’s Airliners.’
This was a light blue board landscape hardback with photo-pictorial dust jacket featuring an Olympic Airways Boeing 707 intercontinental on the front.
A second edition was published in 1975 and the dust jacket of that edition featured a Swissair Boeing 747. They were released under the ‘Bodley Head’ imprint.
The first edition (1971) consisted of 128 pages. It charted the history of Airliners from the very early days right up to the first wide-bodies with Stroud’s usual informative and colourful narrative.
There is a great selection of black and white photos featured of airliners ranging from converted bombers of World War One such as the De Havilland 4A to the Concorde and prototype DC-10
John Stroud’s second foray into the world of ‘Aviation Terminals’ occurred in 1973 when as the fifth volume of the Putnam sub-series ‘The Putnam Aeronautical Library’ he authored ‘The World’s Airports.’
This title was one of eight in the series, two of which had second editions and three of which were written by Stroud himself.
The ‘Putnam Aeronautical Library’ series was produced under the ‘Bodley Head’ imprint and consisted of the following:
The World's Airliners Stroud J 1971
The World's Airliners Stroud J 1975
The World's Airports Stroud J 1973
The World's Bombers King H 1971
The World's Civil Marine Aircraft Stroud J 1975
The World's Fighters King H 1971
The World's Fighters King H 1975
The World's Great Pioneer Flights Tapper O 1975
The World's Helicopters Bradbrooke J 1972
The World's Strike Aircraft King H 1973
‘The World’s Airports’ is one of the scarcer titles in the above list to obtain nowadays at a sensible price, particularly if you want a non-ex-library edition and one that still has a dust jacket present.
It is a medium-sized landscape shaped cream-coloured hardback with gold leaf titles on the spine. It has a photo-pictorial front cover dust jacket, showing a prototype Boeing 727 parked at Dulles International Airport, Washington DC. The rear of the jacket lists five of the other titles in the series.
The book runs to 128 pages, the final one being the index.
If you feel that all 177 editions of the Putnam Aeronautical Series would be too much of a collecting challenge then the eight volume (ten editions in total) ‘Aeronautical Library’ series is a nice and manageable series to go for and is a great one for the aviation historian. It also presents very well in a posh book case.
This was Stroud’s third and final contribution to the Putnam Aeronautical Books sub-series: ‘The Putnam Aeronautical Library.’
In 1975, he released the title: The World’s Civil Marine Aircraft,’ which presented a potted history of Flying Boats and Seaplanes. Stroud had a particular fondness for Flying Boats as, after his stint with Imperial Airways as a teenaged boy, he watched many of the Short Empire Flying Boats being built on the Medway.
‘The World’s Civil Marine Aircraft’ is a light blue board landscape hardback with a photo-pictorial front cover dust jacket with a list of other books in the series to the rear. It has the usual gold-leaf titles on the spine and runs to 128 pages. It was produced under the ‘Bodley Head’ imprint.
There are a number of other titles in this series that were written by some of Putnam Aeronautical’s other renowned aviation authors plus a couple of more obscure people.
‘The World’s Helicopters’ for example, was completed by Joan Bradbrooke who at the time was well-recognised for her knowledge of rotorcraft but not widely known as an aviation author per se although she was editor of the RAeS journal for many years.
She completed her contribution to ‘The Putnam Aeronautical Library’ shortly before she passed away in her early sixties.
Airports of the World’ (1980) was Stroud's third and final venture into the world of International Airports.
Although now almost 43 years out of date, ‘Airports of the World’ is still an incredible directory running to 605 pages in the usual comprehensive Putnam style and covering 216 of the world’s airports.‘
It is a dark blue board portrait hardback with gold-leaf spine titles and a green photo-pictorial front cover dust jacket with a list of other titles on the rear.
An interesting aspect of this book is the author’s warning that it should not be used for operational purposes, being a general guide rather than a technical manual.
Thorough airport histories and plans with runway layouts are included throughout as are black and white photos of contemporary airport scenes with airlines and airliners of that era and earlier.
Again, an enormous amount of research was undertaken in order to produce this guide and Stroud’s expertise in writing books of this nature is clear for all to see.
In 1980/81, Phoebus/MacDonald Phoebus publishing set about creating what was planned to be a 39-part softback series called ‘The Illustrated International Aircraft Guide’ but in the end it only ran to 15 titles.
1. Early Jetliners
2. Modern Jetliners
3. Early Airliners
4. Advanced Jetliners
5. Civil Helicopters
6. General Aviation
7. Airliners of the 1930s
8. Piston Airliners Since 1940
9. Turboprop Airliners
10. Private-Owner Aircraft
11. Modern Fighters Part 1
12. Modern Fighters Part 2
13. Sporting & Homebuilt Aircraft
14. Fighters of World War II Part One
15. Fighters of World War II Part Two
The following titles were listed as ‘in the pipeline’ on the rear of Volume 15 but sadly never saw the light of day:
Racing and Record-Breaking Aircraft
Gliders and Manpowered Aircraft
Bombers of World War II Part 1
Bombers of World War II Part 2
Aerial Oddities 1900-39
Aerial Oddities 1939-45
Aerial Oddities Since 1945
Bombers Since 1945
Propeller-driven Attack Aircraft
Jet Attack and Training Aircraft
Anti-Submarine and Marine Patrol Aircraft
Military Transport Aircraft
It is not clear why the series was abandoned after number 15 but I note that MacDonald took Phoebus over at the time Volume 11 was released and they had a history of abandoning series before completion – the most famous that springs to mind is William Green’s ‘Warplanes of the Second World War.’
At the conclusion of the series, a publisher called ‘Windward’ took selected volumes from the 15 and created two nice hardback books with dust jackets.
‘The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Commercial Aircraft’ combined volumes 1,2,4,5 and 6 together and ‘The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Propeller Airliners’ combined volumes 3,7,8 and 9.
Therefore, if you buy these two good looking and informative hardbacks you will have volumes 1 to 9 in HB with DJ form.
Bill Gunston was the series editor.
John Stroud was the author of volume 7 - ‘Airliners of the 1930s’ which is the front cover image featured on this webpage. This book gives a wonderful history with superb three-view drawings and detailed specifications of most of the well known and many of the not so well known airliners of that period.
It is a shame that this series was cut short as it was very nicely put together and came with a set of posh slip-cases at £3.99 each! (I never indulged in these personally).
‘Railway Air Services’ published by Ian Allan in 1987 is a portrait-shaped red board hardback with gold leaf lettering on the spine and a photo-pictorial dust jacket. It consists of 144 pages.
This publication is generally accepted as the definitive work on this powerful group that was set up by British Main Line Railways and Imperial Airways in the 1930s.
It is lavishly illustrated with 100 unique photographs. Also included are maps of the airline’s route structure at selected years.
There is a highly detailed appendix of all the UK airports served by the airline with individual histories and airport specs (runways/elevation etc) and others on the aircraft types employed and liveries.
There is also a full RAS fleet list.
In addition to the main section on History and Operations, there is a very interesting chapter on John Stroud’s personal memories as Stroud was intimately involved during the development of Railway Air Services in the 1930s when, while working for Imperial Airways, he had the opportunity to fly on various R.A.S. routes.
This book is a unique historical record of an important aspect of the early years of British airlines.
This volume undoubtedly represents the pinnacle of John Stroud's productions.
From the late 1950s to the early 1990s, Stroud and his wife were frequently invited to sample the many different types of Jet Airliners of the era as they came into service and he kept meticulous records of the individual operations with the help of the flight crews concerned.
Stroud also ensured that photos of flight decks and cabin layouts were taken and in 1994 he put all this information together and published the Putnam title: ‘Jetliners In Service since 1952.’
The combination of actual operational statistics taken from real flights, historical background and interior shots truly make this book a unique record of the Western-built jetliners from the DH Comet through to the Boeing 747-400. Notably, the Tupolev TU-104 is also included!
The book is a portrait blue board hardback with gold leaf titles and an art pictorial dust jacket featuring Concorde climbing away from JFK painted by Wilfred Hardy GAvA. It runs to 189 pages.
In addition to the aforementioned, there are sections featuring actual Flight Plans, a list of types with their first flight dates, the date into service and the route first flown and a list of airports with alternative names.
The preliminaries include a moving tribute to Stroud’s wife who sadly passed away just prior to the book’s publication.
Included within are such operational notes as that from a flight in Misrair Comet SU-ALD, as well as an impressive photo of a cloud-to-cloud lightning strike taken by Stroud from inside the Comet’s cabin!
I would highly recommend this book to Airliner enthusiasts as your library will be missing a valuable addition without it!
At the age of 85, John Stroud penned one of his final aircraft books: ‘The Imperial Airways Fleet.’
Initially published by Tempus publishing in 2005, it was re-printed in 2012, five years after his passing by ‘The History Press.’ I own the 2012 reprint.
The book is a medium-sized portrait art pictorial cover softback. It consists of 160 pages with eight centre pages of colour illustrations, some of which are prints of original Imperial Airways advertising.
The book describes in detail the main British Airline fleets from 1919 to 1940, giving details of the aircraft history, layout, identity and fate.
Stroud was one of the main authorities on this period, so it is fitting that he should put pen to paper on this very important period of British Airline history in his final years.
Each constituent airline is dealt with individually before Imperial Airways itself, followed by full fleet lists and technical specs of each airliner in operation during the period.
The appendix is a full set of three-view line drawings of the airliners featured.
Coming a close second to ‘Jet Airliners in Service since 1952’ although in my opinion there is very little in it, ‘Passenger Aircraft and their Interiors 1910-2006’ is one of John Stroud’s very best productions.
As mentioned previously, Stroud was blessed in being presented with the chance of flying in more airliner types during his lifetime than possibly anyone else in history, from the days of Imperial Airways in the 1930s to the era of Boeing and Airbus wide bodies of the 1990s.
With possibly this particular book ultimately in mind, over the decades he studiously photographed interiors of most of those he flew in and as a result we have a record of the passenger cabins of many aircraft for posterity, that otherwise would have remained forever unknown to the population at large.
‘Passenger Aircraft and their Interiors 1910-2006’ is truly a unique production from that perspective and pretty much represents Stroud’s life’s work.
The book is produced on high quality gloss paper. It is a softback with photo-pictorial card covers. It was published by ‘Scoval Publishing,’ a niche publisher of quality aviation books run by Scott Henderson of Gosforth near Newcastle. Most of the well-known and many of the lesser-known airliners are featured.
This book would have been an even more beautiful production had it been manufactured as a Hardback with Dust Jacket – the vast majority of Scoval books are hardbacks. Nonetheless it is a superb publication.
Sadly, Scoval Publishing, the firm, was dissolved in September, 2021 - an excellent publisher of quality Aircraft books now consigned to history!