Trying to track a childhood guide to fighter planes
August 23, 2018 1:11 AM   Subscribe

In the late sixties two of my favourite books were small, squarish illustrated hardbacks that listed, with quite a lot of technical detail, all the fighter planes in the world from 1914-1945 and (you guessed) all the bombers from the same period. They got lost in one of my parent's periodic moves. and I cannot remember the names or publishers, but they were perfect for an obsessive 12-year-old. Can anyone help?

Weirdly, they are referenced in one of Clive James's autobiographical pieces, though I can't find them in the memoirs I've got. But I recognised them at once from his description when I came across it maybe ten years ago.

Clive James and I cannot have been the only lonely schoolboys obsessed with pre war fighter aircraft. There must be others here on MeFi. Can anyone help me out with a name for these books, or even a link. Google has not been my friend

One had a blue cover, the other maybe brown or beige.
posted by alloneword to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We’re they Jane’s guides? I had a couple when I was that age.
posted by rodlymight at 3:07 AM on August 23, 2018

Blue cover
Beige cover
posted by flabdablet at 3:13 AM on August 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Nthing Jane's guides. In fact my son, who is not into old aircraft, was given one by his great uncle (who was most certainly a lonely boy obsessed with pre-war fighter aircraft once upon a time).
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:24 AM on August 23, 2018

Rand McNally's aircraft guides also are/were small and squarish. Here's the civilian version for roughly the same period. They have multiple volumes for military aircraft of different eras.
posted by Longtime Listener at 6:08 AM on August 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Our school library in the 70's had a bunch of "Colby Books" about various military vehicles.
posted by tracer at 8:58 AM on August 23, 2018

Rand McNally World Aircraft 1918-1935 and World War II Airplanes Volume 1 and Volume 2? I still have my copies from my obsessive 12-year-old days!
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 10:11 AM on August 23, 2018

Almost certainly this is on the right track. It’s Bill Gunston, Fighters 1914-1945, Crown Publishing.
posted by w0mbat at 11:28 AM on August 23, 2018

Thanks everyone. None of these are quite right: the trouble with the Jane's Guides on Amazon is that they were all published after 1990, more than 20 years too late for me to have read them at the relevant time, I may have had earlier editions.
And I think Rand McNally is a purely American publisher. Mine were English.
I will keep poking around.
posted by alloneword at 2:20 PM on August 24, 2018

Is it these?

War Planes of the First World War: Fighters
War Planes of the Second World War: Fighters

Both were published by McDonald & Co in Britain in the sixties in a squarish hardback format.
posted by flabdablet at 12:20 AM on August 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

ooh, flabdablet, those look right; at least the second one is in the right format, though I had a later edition. Possibly it had lost its slipcover. Thank yo somuch!
posted by alloneword at 8:55 AM on August 25, 2018

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