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Reinventing the Propeller
Aeronautical Specialty and the Triumph of the Modern Airplane


Part of Cambridge Centennial of Flight

  • Date Published: May 2017
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107142862

£ 102.00

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About the Authors
  • An international community of specialists reinvented the propeller during the Aeronautical Revolution, a vibrant period of innovation in North America and Europe from World War I to the end of World War II. They experienced both success and failure as they created competing designs that enabled increasingly sophisticated and 'modern' commercial and military aircraft to climb quicker and cruise faster using less power. Reinventing the Propeller nimbly moves from the minds of these inventors to their drawing boards, workshops, research and development facilities, and factories, and then shows us how their work performed in the air, both commercially and militarily. Reinventing the Propeller documents this story of a forgotten technology to reveal new perspectives on engineering, research and development, design, and the multi-layered social, cultural, financial, commercial, industrial, and military infrastructure of aviation.

    • Explores the technical, cultural, and social dimensions of engineering innovation
    • Highlights the central and often tumultuous relationship between inventors, private industry, the armed forces, and other government agencies in the development of new technologies
    • Compliments and goes beyond works on other aeronautical technologies to present a fuller picture of the nature of engineering innovation
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Jeremy R. Kinney's masterful study of the evolution of the aircraft propeller not only represents an important contribution to the history of flight technology, it is also that rare specialist account that illuminates broader questions in the development of complex technical systems.' Tom D. Crouch, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

    'Jeremy R. Kinney illuminates the long-neglected mechanisms which propelled crafts of the air through the early 20th century and the Second World War. In this replete and comprehensive book, Dr. Kinney at last has supplied the missing pieces to the puzzle of powered flight.' C. Evan Davies, Institute of Historical Survey, New Mexico

    'Thanks to Jeremy R. Kinney we now have the first comprehensive treatment of the aircraft propeller as a component of the international technical and cultural revolution that transformed the airplane more than three-quarters of a century ago. Anyone seeking new insight into the history of heavier-than-air flight and the complexity of technological change will want to read this important book.' William F. Trimble, Auburn University, Alabama

    'Thoroughly researched and remarkably well written, Reinventing the Propeller provides the first truly contextualized history of this crucial piece of aeronautical technology as well as the international community that developed it. It is a must-read for historians of technology and airplane aficionados alike.' Alan Meyer, Auburn University, Alabama

    'It is written from an American viewpoint but covers developments in Britain and Germany in some detail. This is fair, because the United States led the development of propellers between the two World Wars. … The book provides an excellent and detailed account of the development of propellers from the start of powered flight to the 1960s, when turbojet propulsion became dominant. … it is a book well worth reading.' C. G. B. Mitchell, Afterburner

    '… the book is well-researched, well-informed, and richly detailed. It is likely to remain the last word on this subject for years to come.' Alex Roland, Technology and Culture

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107142862
    • length: 386 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 160 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.67kg
    • contains: 25 b/w illus. 4 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction. The propeller and the modern airplane
    2. 'The best propeller for starting is not the best for flying'
    3. 'Engineering of a pioneer character'
    4. A 'new type adjustable-pitch propeller'
    5. 'The propeller that took Lindbergh across'
    6. 'The ultimate solution of our propeller problem'
    7. No. 1 propeller company
    8. A gear shift for the airplane
    9. Constant-speed
    10. 'The Spitfire now 'is an aeroplane''
    11. A propeller for the air age
    12. Conclusion. The triumph and decline of the propeller
    Essay on sources

  • Author

    Jeremy R. Kinney, National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC
    Jeremy R. Kinney is a Curator in the Aeronautics Department of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC. Kinney received his PhD in the history of technology in 2003 from Auburn University, Alabama. His research and curatorial focus is aeronautics in the first half of the twentieth century, with a specific emphasis on interwar and World War II military aviation, air racing, and aircraft propulsion technology. His publications include Alaska and the Airplane: A Century of Flight (with Julie Decker, 2013), Airplanes: The Life Story of a Technology (2008), and the award-winning The Wind and Beyond: Journey into the History of Aerodynamics in America (with James R. Hansen, D. Bryan Taylor and J. Lawrence Lee, 2009), essays in various anthologies, and articles in ICON and the Journal of Aircraft.

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