Airships: Designed for Greatness | The Illustrated History
Airships: Designed for Greatness | The Illustrated History, Max Pinucci (concept and artwork), 2016, ISBN 9791220005395, 113 pp.
This great book is difficult to classify–as greatness often is. It is coffee table in size but unreliant on image size to carry the day. It is wonderfully as well as completely informative like a reference work, yet the artwork sets this title well apart from other works on lighter-than-air craft. Max Pinucci’s Airships: Designed for Greatness | The Illustrated History is all three: art, history and reference.
- Art because of his textured and colored illustrations with most measuring as long as a forearm. The details of airships are there as well and throughout the book humans are placed in work positions for scale—and charmingly so.
- History because the facts, numbers and events are all here—presented in order and, importantly, in context with the development of the airplane.
- Reference since the index and citations are more than complete. Readers can easily use them to investigate in detail every aspect of airship design and history.
Airships: Designed for Greatness | The Illustrated History is more than the sum of its parts. Uniquely so. The artwork is second to none. Pinucci has used his skills as an artist and as an illustrator to give the reader a visceral feel for the size of these wonderful machines as well as why they were termed air ships. Two page spreads abound with pseudo-silhouettes of various airships against famous structures and well as the grand nature of airship hangars. This book recalls the grace of airships, and expertise of their crews, when giant airships no longer exist for us to witness—for this Pinucci has performed a great work for aviation’s history. All the countries involved in airship use and development are present: Germany, France, England, the United States and Imperial Russia.
The reader learns of 25 specific lighter-than-air vessels which span from the earliest dirigibles through the great airships of the 1920s and 1930s to modern-day blimps. The vital numbers are all specified (e.g., numbers of airships built, number lost, historic voyage lengths, speeds, dimensions, etc.). Remarkably, Pinucci has illustrated many of these statistics evocatively by intriguing the human sense of sight—there is hardly a table to be seen.
Along the way bits of information are mentioned, the sort that one gets usually only when talking to a mechanic of an airship, a museum curator or docent, or expert during a side conversation. One such gem, for example, is of how a specific and historic aircraft design was originally designed as the empennage for a dirigible–and there are more to be enjoyed.
Pinucci availed himself, not only of his own serious investigation over one hundred books, of no less than nine experts from Russia, across Europe as well as the United States. The introduction is written by Iron Maiden, front man, Bruce Dickinson.
In Airships: Designed for Greatness?
Well, yes, since Dickinson holds an airline pilot rating and flies the band’s Boeing 747, though primarily due to his eloquence in song and prose as well as passion for aviation’s history. His song of the loss of the British airship R101 tragedy is one of several he has written. Dickinson’s writing both inspires the soul to soar as well as bringing tears to the poetically natured. Dickinson is also involved in active flying (as mentioned) as well as historical flying and modern lighter-than-air design.
Pinucci’s writing compliments Dickinson’s and reflects his Italian upbringing. His insightful words flow smoothly and effortlessly with an energy inducing style akin to a superb backbeat. The book’s production is second to none since the paper has nice tooth (feeling of texture) to it and pairs hand-in-glove with Pinucci’s visual creations which defy determination whether they are digitally created or hand crafted. These illustrations are as captivating as their subject matter.
The writing, the art, the illustration, the intimate understanding of airships and the largest format which can use the offset printing process—this not a book for a library shelf, this is a book for overt display, learning and inspiration.
Dan Grossman, of Airships.net, first wrote of Airships: Designed for Greatness in his post, Beautiful New Book: “AIRSHIPS: Designed for Greatness” and was instrumental in helping me in the purchasing of the book. Since Airships: Designed for Greatness has been produced in limited numbers, for now, it is recommended to use the information in his post to arrange for purchase. Airships: Designed for Greatness will elate any person who receives it—including those fluent in Italiano as it is written in both languages. Salute!