Book Review
RacePlane Tech; Griffon Powered Mustang
Review by Scott Germain / Warbird Aero Press

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Unlimited air racing is a difficult, "inside," subject to write about. The number of people writing about it versus those whom really know what is going on is lopsided. In addition, the number of publications dealing with air racing is low. Fans must dig for what does get published, and we all wait impatiently for the next book, web site update or magazine with Reno coverage.

Aviation authors Kevin Grantham and Nicholas Veronico - long time air racing writers as well as noted aviation writers - have written the first volume of RaceplaneTECH. Published by Specialty Press, Griffon Powered Mustangs is the first volume in a technical series of books taking a close look under the skin of unlimited air racers. These books follow the proven formula of their WarbirdTECH and AirlinerTECH series. Each book is a soft cover with 100 pages and approximately 135 photos and diagrams. Four pages of color photos occupy the center of the book.

RaceplaneTECH volume one concentrates on the three unlimited racers that have used the Rolls Royce Griffon engine. Although the title is Griffon-Poweed Mustangs, one must give some leeway due to the fact that Miss Ashley II was not really a Mustang at all. Close enough, though!

The book begins with a history on the development of the Griffon, then moves on to the N7715C airframe that became The Red Baron. The authors interviewed various people associated with the racer and this information is passed on to the reader. Pete Law, Randy Scoville, Chuck Hall, Gunther Balz and Steve Hinton all lend first hand recollections and technical data regarding The Red Baron. Modification and race information is also included.

The book then moves on to Don and Bill Whittington’s World Jet Griffon-powered Mustang. Like the Red Baron chapter, Don Whittington gives first hand quotes as to how the aircraft was created and how it raced. It’s the shortest chapter in the book, but then again, this racer has garnered the smallest amount of attention of the three aircraft portrayed in the book. Great black and white photos accompany this chapter that will be of great aid to the modeler or historian.

The final chapter is devoted to Miss Ashley II, Bill Roger’s purpose-built racer. Utilizing a custom-built Mustang fuselage, Lear 23 wings and horizontal, and a Griffon 58 for power, this racer really couldn’t be classified as a Mustang at all. However, including Miss Ashley II in this book makes sense with its Griffon engine.

The story on MA2 is well told, with much of the story coming from interviews with Bill Rogers himself. The reader will come to understand the inner workings of this aircraft, and the modifications made to get more speed out of her. A race history and a short note on the demise of MA2 closes the book.

There are other nuggets buried within the covers of RaceplaneTECH: Griffon-Powered Mustangs. A two page spread on Vendetta is published, along with another one page spread on the first Griffon powered racer; a Spitfire Mk. XIV. There is also an essay on the NACA duct technology that Miss Ashley II used for her induction and radiator cooling systems.

Overall, Grantham and Veronico have hit the nail on the head with this book. Obviously, the material they were able to include was limited by the approximately 13,000 words they had to work with. There are deeper stories within these racers, but this book is a solid first step in the right direction. Great job to Grantham and Veronico, and a special kudos to Specialty Press for recognizing the need for more air racing books.

Are there any drawbacks to this title? Yes... We need more of it.

 
RaceplaneTECH: Griffon-Powered Mustangs can be ordered from the authors, or directly from Specialty Press:
Nick Veronico:        NVeronico@wreckchasing.com
Kevin Grantham:    pscreamer@email.msn.com

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