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Aircraft: The Definitive Visual History Hardcover – May 20, 2013

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Frequently Bought Together

Aircraft: The Definitive Visual History + Flight: The Complete History + In the Cockpit: Inside 50 History-Making Aircraft
Price for all three: $72.10

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: DK (May 20, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1465402128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1465402127
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 1.2 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"[Aircraft] should delight readers. The layout is compelling and makes flipping through the book easy and enjoyable." – General Aviation News

"The book offers history and roles of aircraft, from the first prototypes of flying machines to today's supersonic jets." – (Aircraft owners and Pilots Association)

"[E]ach page of Aircraft is beautifully illustrated, balanced with captions and relevant details." – Cumberland Times-News

"This well laid out coffee table book presents the evolution of aircraft from the earliest beginnings up to present day by presenting excellent photographs of each type. It is rare these days to find an aviation book of this size that is four-color throughout and with the quality of printing this work exhibits." – American Aviation Historical Society Flightline Magazine

Customer Reviews

Similar to DK books, there are beautiful illustrations and is a great coffee table book.
Jong Lee
All in all, a very satisfying visual/written overview of aviation history for the general-interest reader.
Too Cold in Madison
It's easy to just sit down for 5 or 10 minutes, read a few pages, then set the book down.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 21, 2013
Verified Purchase
Having ordered this book well in advance, I had high hopes for it. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a superficial effort as it was mainly written by general staff writers, not aviation historians. Each aircraft is described in just a single sentence. Anyone with a solid knowledge of aviation history will spot errors and inconsistencies with the dates used in the descriptions of many of the aircraft shown. However, the real issue that reveals the limited knowledge of the people who put the book together is the selection of aircraft for inclusion and the exclusion of others in each categorized section; some categories don't really make much sense. Why put different mission types of aircraft in one section that don't have much to do with each other? A 1950s section on bombers but with no Boeing B-52? The relative sizing of aircraft shown in each section also makes no sense at times. Why show the small Avro Anson many times the size of a large Boeing 314 flying boat? The choice of photo cut outs of some aircraft was a real screw up, particularly with commercial types. Why show a Fokker 100 with no engines? How bad can you mangle the cut out of a Grumman F-14? A decade by decade analysis of aircraft might make sense on the surface, but aviation technology does not advance exactly along those hard timelines. It appears that a limited picture library was used to source the book; a flaw for such an illustrated, "visual" book concept. Overall, a low-budget, mediocre-knowledge effort. Sad to see the Smithsonian name on it. I recommend other Smithsonian books instead: Flight: The Complete History by R. G. Grant; Air and Space: The National Air and Space Museum Story of Flight by Andrew Chaikin; or Milestones of Aviation edited by John T. Greenwood and Von Hardesty as alternatives.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gavin Scott on September 3, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Very, very cool book. The DK publishing titles just keep getting better.

This is a visual history of aircraft broken up into chapters by decade.

There are a few things that make it unique and more interesting than just a book of profile shots of aircraft. In each chapter they will usually focus on a single aircraft in detail, and include a couple pages of "detail" photographs. This is visually interesting as you get maybe 20 small close up images of details of the aircraft (a pulley, fuel cap, throttle, instrument, logo, etc.) which together give a feel for the craft which you just would not get from even a series of whole-plane shots.

In addition to focusing on various iconic aircraft in this detail, another theme throughout the book is the history of the development of the aircraft engines that made these machines possible. Most chapters will pick out an iconic engine of the day and provide a two page spread talking about it in detail.

The third area of focus is on great aircraft companies throughout history and they pick out several and tell you about them in more detail.

Overall the images are varied and interesting beyond just the catalog of aircraft, and there are short side bars on topics like airport design, aircraft carriers, etc. but these lack the depth of the other focus areas and often seem to be an excuse to include a particular image that the editors liked.

Another reviewer complained about the lack of text in this book, but I found it to have a higher amount of information than many such "picture book" histories. But make no mistake, this is not a "history book for history buffs".
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By RW VINE VOICE on September 16, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
DK books are visually extremely impressive and so when I had an opportunity to review this book upon early release, I was excited but wasn't sure how much I would like it. I am not an aviation fan, but certainly have an interest in the history of flight and I have a 3 year old so fascinated by airplanes so I thought it would be worth taking a deep dive. Boy am I glad I did!

The book has over 300 pages all with as many as 13 pictures of aircraft per 2 pages. Each aircraft shown has a brief description telling you a history of that aircraft as well as the Origin, type of engine, top speed and what it's name is. The pictures start with Before 1920 then the 1920's, 1930's, etc. on in to 2000's to present. The last 10 pages or so has a great piece on how aircraft fly, two page descriptions of a couple of types of engines and then two pages on Landmark engines with descriptions. There are also sections inside the book on Great manufacturers and dialogue of what made them great and what their history is.

Certainly all kinds of aircraft are shown from blimps to helicopters to military jets to passenger planes, etc. What struck me upon not having thought much about it was just how many different and I mean truly different types of aircraft there really are. The pictures truly are fascinating and I enjoy reading several pages every day. My 3 year old son loves the pictures and hearing some of the descriptions so I would say don't be afraid to look toward having this on your coffee table, but also entertaining your child that enjoys planes and/or flight. I am no expert so I can't comment on accuracy or omissions from this book however again for the novice, I found this work stunning and am extremely happy and pleased with it. For an Amazon price of just under $27 you can't beat it. A wonderful gift for anyone interested in flight or planes.
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Aircraft: The Definitive Visual History
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