by Tim Laming; Airlife Publishing, 128pp, colour, £10.95, softback
BY THE VERY nature of things, only certain aircraft can be objects of beauty and grace. The C-130 clearly doesn’t possess too many pleasing aesthetic qualities, but this workhorse of the skies does command immense respect for its sheer practicality. If form equals function, then the flexible Hercules is comely indeed.
It’s nearly 40 years since the first prototype flew, and yet you’d have to look quite closely to differentiate a brand new C-130 from the first one off the production line. There have been innumerable changes under the skin, or to the engines, as new technology developed. But the same basic shape and size has been retained because it was right in the first place. With a combination of good access, flexible payload/range envelope, strong take-off performance and excellent fuel economy, the C-130 has effortlessly spanned the decades.
Inevitably, the gawky airlifter has crept into the affections of the pilots and crew who operate them and the countless devotees who peer at them through binoculars. So the bland C-130 title has been transmuted into the Herky Bird. Much of this enthusiasm is transmitted by Tim Laming’s book, which boasts some captivating anecdotes to accompany the pictures. With the exception of the front piece, these are a fine collection of images.
There seems to be hardly a corner of the globe, or national air force, without a Hercules doing trojan work. Little has been published about the C-130 as it lacks the glamour of other military fighters and bombers, but this volume starts to put that situation right.