R. J. Mitchell at Supermarine

John Shelton’s book, Schneider Trophy to Spitfire; the Design Career of R. J. Mitchell (Haynes Publishing), sold over 2000 copies before being withdrawn following a decision to concentrate on their Manual publications. The present work represents an expansion and extension of previous concerns and is uniquely a comprehensive biographical study of the famous designer. It includes the author’s three-view line drawings of Mitchell’s 21 main aircraft types which flew, as well as 40 other drawings. There are also 161 photographs, including 24 featuring or including Mitchell, as befits the first fully detailed and definitive account of the man and his work at Supermarine. In particular, the ‘human interest’ side of the Schneider Trophy competitions is fully explored, the skill and courage of the RAF High Speed Flight pilots, Mitchell’s concern for their safety, and the colourful role of Lady Lucy Houston who bankrolled the final success of our designer’s record breaking machines. Numerous anecdotes of Mitchell’s day-to-day activities at Supermarine enliven the narrative, the result of extensive research into accounts no longer easily available of fellow workers and test pilots.
R. J. Mitchell at Supermarine gives a biographical account of our designer, places him foremost in the context of aviation development, as well as revealing the great importance of the Schneider Trophy competitions to his development and, ultimately, to the Spitfire. It describes how a talented young man, apprenticed to a local locomotive firm in the land-locked Potteries, rose to become a successful designer of slow-flying seaplanes and, even more surprisingly, the world famous designer of the iconic Spitfire. Whilst this book surveys the whole of Mitchell’s career since 1916, the enthusiast for the Spitfire will not be disappointed either, as there is a full account of the extraordinary development of this aircraft after his death, including details and the changing wartime requirements of every variant produced. Produced to exacting standards, this is a quality book, enhanced by the inclusion of a Foreword by Julian Mitchell. For the Spitfire and aviation history enthusiast this will be a must-have title but the price of this hardback book has been deliberately kept at a modest figure as the author wished to appeal to the widest audience that the Mitchell story deserves.  Advanced sales are running at 150 and rising.
John Shelton has an MA from Miami and a PhD from Birmingham University; he was Head of the Department of Humanities at what is now Staffordshire University. His interest in industrial archaeology led to various reviews and publications relating to R. J. Mitchell, including a paperback title current with The History Press, From Nighthawk to Spitfire, and a blog at http://www.johnkshelton.blogspot.co.uk. 

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