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X-Planes Photo Scrapbook

By John Lester - images & text © 2004

Type: Softcover, 180pp, ISBN: 1-58007-076-0, by Dennis R. Jenkins
MSRP: $24.95 USD (~$ 29.88 CAN/ 19.23 EUR) available from Specialty Press
Overall Rating: 9 - a treasure trove of visual reference

Continuing their series of excellent photojournals devoted to aerospace subjects, Specialty Press have published David R. Jenkins' X-Planes Photo Scrapbook.

What You Get


The book documents experimental aircraft (and spacecraft) from the X-1 program through the recent X-50, as well a other experimental vehicles such as the LRRV and D-558. It contains 500 photos, 50 in color, from government and company archives, personal and public collections - many of them not seen before. It is written by Dennis R. Jenkins, a consulting engineer working on various projects such as the Space Shuttle and X-33 program. He is also the author of the definitive Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System - The First 100 Missions, and co-author of similiar photojournals of the X-15 and B-36.

The book is divided the sections according to the main area of research for which the aircraft were (or were to be) built. Those chapters are:
  • High speed flight, covering the X-1, Skyrocket, X-15, etc.
  • Vertical flight - many different aircraft such as the X-18 shown on the cover.
  • Aerodynamic test - X-4, X-5, etc
  • Lifting bodies - the MF and HL series as well as X-24
  • Into space - many of these projects were never completed, such as the X-20, X-30 and X-40A.
  • Really weird - LLRV (LEM simulator for Apollo program) and swing wing AD-1.
  • Prototypes - the nuclear B-36, X-9, X-10 and some ICBM prototypes
  • Without Pilots - X-36, X-45, X-50, etc.
  • Group Portraits - collections of experimental airframes
  • Sled Tracks

Each chapter provides enough historical background information so that you get a general understanding of the projects described. There are 500 photographs, 50 in color, all of which are crystal clear.


As a general reference, it's a great book, and makes for some fascinating reading. It's not as detailed as, say, one of Squadron's Walk-Around booklets - but then again, it's not intended to be. Modelers will find the information on colors, markings, and variations between airframes and over a particular program's duration very useful. In most cases, though, you'll need to hunt up further documentation for things like cockpit layouts.

Very highly recommended!

Many thanks to the folks at Specialty Press for the review sample.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2004 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 5 November 2004.