Sunday, October 18, 2015

Book Review: Development of Jet and Turbine Aero Engines

Bill Gunston
The Development of Jet and Turbine Aero Engines
Somerset, UK: Patrick Stephens Limited, 2006 (4th Edition)
Category: Aerospace Engineering / Aviation History

Rating: 4-Stars

Bill Gunston has been the most prolific aviation author in the UK for much of the past fifty years.  Most of the books that he writes clearly fall into the historical aviation category, although some - such as this one - straddle between the world of aircraft design and aircraft history.

This particular book is divided into two parts: the first on "How Gas Turbines Work" and the second devoted to "The Historical Story."  At face value, someone might expect the first half of the book to closely mirror Klaus Huenecke's book, Jet Engines: Fundamentals of Theory, Design and Operation - and in fact, Bill Gunston does cover some of the same territory, reviewing the different components of the gas turbine and how each functions.  In practice, however, Gunston's book is less detailed than Huenecke's book on this score - with fewer diagrams and even less mathematics (if that was possible).

Where Gunston's book excels, however, is in its historical sweep of the evolution of jet engine technology.  Whereas Huenecke's text provides the theoretical foundation without fully describing how today's gas turbines came to differ from their predecessors from even a few decades ago, Gunston's book provides less of the theoretical description and far more explanation for how jet engine technology has changed and evolved across the decades.

Gunston's book therefore serves a complimentary function, fleshing in the historical context that books by Huenecke and others of a more engineering-oriented bent, often leave out.  The fact that The Development of Jet and Turbine Aero Engines is now in its 4th edition (the first came out back in 1995) speaks to the enduring role of this book in fulfilling a gap in the available literature.

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