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The Grand Designers
The Evolution of the Airplane in the 20th Century


Part of Cambridge Centennial of Flight

  • Date Published: May 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521817875

£ 46.99

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About the Authors
  • The airplane has experienced phenomenal advancement in the twentieth century, changing at an exponential rate from the Wright brothers to the present day. In this ground breaking work based on new research, Dr John D. Anderson, Jr, a curator at the National Air and Space Museum, analyzes the historical development of the conceptual design process of the airplane. He aims to answer the question of whether airplane advancement has been driven by a parallel advancement in the intellectual methodology of conceptual airplane design. In doing so, Anderson identifies and examines six case histories of 'grand designers' in this field, and challenges some of the preconceived notions of how the intellectual methodology of conceptual airplane design advanced. Filled with over one hundred illustrations which bring his words to life, Anderson unfolds the lives and thoughts of these grand designers.

    • Provides a new perspective on the history of airplane design, exploring it as an evolutionary intellectual process
    • Examines six case histories and identifies for each the responsible 'Grand Designer', comparing their similarities and differences
    • Makes the historical evolution of airplane design come alive for both the technical and non-technical reader
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    Reviews & endorsements

    John D. Anderson, Jr is an icon in the science and technology of aeronautics, and equally revered for his knowledge of the history of aeronautics, aircraft design, and the people who pioneered these fields. He combines this deep knowledge with the most accessible writing style of any author I have read, explaining difficult concepts in such a way that the reader cannot fail to understand. Anyone with an interest in the history of flight will love this book.' Michael D. Griffin, former Administrator at NASA

    'Pioneering historian of aeronautical engineering and technology, John D. Anderson, Jr gives us an engaging and in-depth study of the methodology designers used to create high-performance military and commercial aircraft from World War I to the Cold War. Anyone seeking insight into the nature of conceptual design and its central role in the development of some of the most iconic aircraft in history will want to read The Grand Designers.' Jeremy R. Kinney, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

    'John D. Anderson, Jr traces the exponential improvement in airplane design for over a century, following the Wright Brothers' inaugural flight in 1903. He succinctly defines and codifies 'The Seven Intellectual Pivot Points for Conceptual Design' that all aeronautical architects exhibit. The airplanes of Anderson's selected Grand Designers fly because they were meant to, and the methodologies employed constitute a compelling book for general students and serious scholars alike.' Evan Davies, Institute of Historical Survey, New Mexico

    'The Grand Designers is an approachable and informative study for anyone interested in the history of technical design, iconic British and American aircraft, and the development of aeronautical engineering.' Marc J. Alsina, Technology and Culture

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521817875
    • length: 314 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 159 x 26 mm
    • weight: 0.64kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: before the beginning
    2. The beginning: the Wright Brothers and their design process
    3. Setting the gold standard: the design methodology of Frank Barnwell
    4. Products of the first design revolution: Arthur Raymond and the DC-3
    5. Design for speed: R. J. Mitchell and the Spitfire
    6. Design perfection: Edgar Schmued and the P-51 Mustang
    7. Defying the limits: the jet airplane, the second design revolution, and Kelly Johnson
    8. Airplane design and the grand designers: the end game
    References and notes

  • Author

    John D. Anderson Jr
    John D. Anderson, Jr is currently the Curator for Aerodynamics at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, and Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland. Dr Anderson has published eleven books including A History of Aerodynamics (Cambridge, 1999). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

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