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Target-Tug Extraordinaire

by Tony Buttler

Ad Hoc Publications


S u m m a r y

Title and Author Sturgeon Target-Tug Extraordinaire
by Tony Buttler
Ad Hoc Publications
ISBN: 978-0-946958-77-1

Soft, glossy, laminated card, colour covers; A4 portrait format on 84 semi-gloss pages (4 in colour).  Includes 13 colour artworks, 83 photographs and 5 line drawings.

Price: GBP£14.95 net
Review Type: First Read

Useful monograph on an obscure type.  Great photographs (again!) and much useful technical detail.  Informative personal insight of pilots and crew plus great colour profiles.

Disadvantages: Not really, though lack of cockpit photographs is frustrating.
Recommendation: The photographs are the 'piece de resistance' of this book.  Whilst modeller's  choices for this subject may be a bit restricted at present, this book is definitely recommended for appreciators of naval types and obscure subjects everywhere.


Reviewed by Steve Naylor

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Another new book from Ad Hoc and another 'stand-alone' aircraft title to follow that produced for the Fairey IIIF, and again one which sits well with this publisher's more well known 'From The Cockpit' series.  Whilst the IIIF's treatment was a veritable behemoth at 248 pages, the subject of this review is a more modest undertaking for well-known aviation author, Tony Buttler.  Definitely in the 'obscure types' category, the Short Sturgeon was in fact 'a casualty of war', or rather the lack of a war, as it was a twin-engined carrier aircraft (unusual in itself),  designed to take the war to the Japanese just as that final conflict came to an end.

With only 84 pages to play with, there is no hanging about as the first chapter looks at the genesis of the design, in 1943, as naval bomber with a modest nose and Merlin-driven contra-rotating propellers (think; De Havilland Sea Hornet on steroids or a much more refined Sea Mosquito).  The type's early prototype development and trials are covered and drawings are also included which detail the proposed twin-jet version (scope for the 'What-If' brigade there I feel).


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We then move on to the role with which most readers will associate the Sturgeon, the TT Mk.2 target-tug.  Now fitted with that ungainly nose (this time, think; P-38 'Droop Snoot'), the aesthetics might have suffered, but the effectiveness of the design had not.  Ironically, for a type synonymous with target towing, there is not a single photograph amongst the many excellent ones in this book, of the Sturgeon undertaking this particular activity.  In fact the only 'towing' photograph in the book, is of Sturgeon VR363 on loan back to Shorts, as a tug for that company's private-venture SB.1 tail-less glider.

The third chapter covers what might be termed 'the runt of the litter', namely the proposed SB.3 Anti-Submarine version.  Saddled with a cartoon character nose, its piston Merlin's replaced by jet turbine single-Mamba's, this interim design (pending the eventual introduction of the Fairey Gannet) was fortunately short-lived, although it did give useful experience of both turbine engine and ASV radar scanner operation.

Chapter four, literally gets under the skin of the Sturgeon, looking at the design and construction employed.  This chapter also includes a reproduction of a Short Brothers general arrangement drawing, including 4-views and basic overall dimensions.

We get a glimpse 'from the cockpit' in chapter five, containing as it does, two articles on the Sturgeon's flight characteristics.  The first comes from 'The Aeroplane' magazine in 1951 (in the days when authors from both it and 'Flight' magazine, got to get their hands on service aircraft), and the second from, who else, but Captain Eric Brown.

Chapters six and seven look in more detail at the Sturgeon's target towing and other duties, the former chapter looking more closely at its abilities as a Fleet Requirements Aircraft, the latter from a squadron perspective.   Again, we get the personal insight of pilots and crew and the description of operations from Malta to service the various fleets active in the Mediterranean, are of particular interest.

Inevitably, the book concludes with four pages of Short Sturgeon paint schemes by Ad Hoc supremo, Roger Chesnau, mostly profiles, this also includes a two-page spread on TT. Mk.2 'TS492' with both plan and underside views (illustrating the yellow and black-striped target-tug markings).





Although to this point, I have not really mentioned the photographs too much, they are (once again) the 'piece de resistance' of this book.  Whilst there are a few I do recognise, most are completely new to me and from a wide variety of sources, providing a huge amount of detail for modellers.  These images include flap and wing-fold arrangements, though there are (unfortunately) no cockpit or other crew position views, so presumably if they are not included here, they must be extremely rare, or even non-existent.  Whilst modellers are limited at present (as far as I am aware) to resin kits in 1:72 scale, lets hope that this new book stimulates someone to produce something worthy of the excellent content provided, and in a larger scale (hint!).  Definitely recommended for appreciators of naval types and obscure subjects everywhere.

Thanks go to Ad Hoc Publications for the review copy.

Copies should be available to order from most good book outlets, but can also be ordered direct from;

Ad Hoc Publications
Wattisham Road
Suffolk IP14 2HX

Tel: 07776 134277 Email: sales@adhocpublications.com


Review Copyright 2009 by Steve Naylor
This Page Created on 15 December, 2009
Last updated 18 December, 2009

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