Grounded – Forsaken & Deserted Aeroplanes.

by Graham Robson; Airlife Publishing, 128pp, colour, £10.95, softback

BY DEFINITION, AIRCRAFT belong up there in the wide blue yonder and that’s certainly where they look best in photographs. Yet here’s a book without a single picture of a flying machine in its natural habitat which manages to remain both readable and visually appealing. Given the somewhat unpromising potential of the material — a series of ground-based machines in various stages of disregard — author Graham Robson has worked wonders.

Apart from a brief introductory text, this Airlife volume comprises a colour picture per page accompanied by an explanatory caption. The standard of photography is generally excellent, which is the way it should be as technical requirements are fewer than when shooting air-to-air or ground-to-air. Because of security, the main obstacle here seems to have been gaining access to the places where certain military aircraft have been lain to rest or rot.

In scouring the scrapyards and deserted airfield corners of the world, Robson has uncovered several distinct categories of flightless machinery. There are planes simply withdrawn from service through age, those being scrapped or cannibalised, while others still enjoy a function as crash rescue, fire practice devices or battle damage repair training airframes. The final ignominy for some is employment as a decoy or target, and to literally be shot to pieces. Fascinating and unusual stuff.

Malcolm Birkitf

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