Submarine review Hull Daily Mail - 2014 

Amazon review: 

5.0 out of 5 stars Just finished the latest book from John Swinfield - Another great read, you must buy it..6 Feb 2014 

Sea Devils brims with daring characters and their unflinching determination to make hazardous underwater voyages: an immensely readable, entertaining and authoritative chronicle of low cunning, high politics, wondrous heroism and appalling tragedy.


Midwest Book Review 2013


Nautilus 2013 

Airship by John Swinfield 


ISBN 978 18448 61385 Telegraph
You might wonder at first why this title should merit a review in the Telegraph. But the 'ship' in airship was not coincidental - and this excellent book shows the many connections between these 'leviathans of the skies' and the 
maritime world. 

Written with passion, this book traces the rise and fall of the airship - primarily from a British perspective - and concludes with a chapter suggesting that technology and environmental considerations may see its renaissance. 
Airship development, which began on the continent in the late 19th century, owed much to knowledge gained through ship design and operation, and some of the early pioneers drew from naval architecture - not least in the knowledge of hull stresses - in meeting the considerable construction challenges. 
It's interesting to note, too, how it was the Royal Navy - and other national navies - who took the lead in driving forward airship development, with the Admiralty's first (ill-fated) airship being built at the Vickers shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness. 

Not only did many of the early airship crew come from the merchant service, the 'vessels' also took maritime terminology for many of their operations. They 'sailed' on 'voyages', 'docked' and 'moored', used ballast and featured keels. Crew members included captains and coxswains, helmsmen, boatswains and sailmakers (who carried out running repairs on torn envelopes or ruptured gas bags). 

The commercial development of passenger services - with airships comparable in size to vessels such as the Titanic - also drew from shipping and the way in which liner companies created long-haul monopolies with networks of agents. 
However, the book argues, the rivalry between the RN and the RAF over the operations and control of the airship fleet resulted in significant problems and a lack of strategic vision that compromised the potential offered by the craft. 
High-profile accidents like the R101 and the Hindenburg dealt major blows to the airship industry and the global economic problems of the 1930s presented huge commercial challenges to services that were inherently expensive because 
of the costs of labour, fuel and support services. 

It would have been nice to have a bit more about what it was like 'sailing' the airships and the skills and experiences of those who made the transition from sea to air. Appendices which include some first-hand accounts from crew members provide some tantalising glimpses of working life, and there is also one in which the R101's navigating officer describes a fight between crew members as 'very merchant service'. 

Clearly well researched, the book features some great illustrations, and its many cross-references to the maritime sector make it a particularly fascinating and relevant read for seafarers. 

4.0 out of 5 starsClosely researched Jun 23 2013
By DR MICHAEL F HAWKINS - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition 

5.0 out of 5 starsGreat book, not just hot air Jun 22 2013
By Steve G - Published on
Format:Hardcover (7 Likes)

To see something this size floating in the air would have been amazing. So large, it would block out the sun and cast a huge shadow when flying over an observer. Swinfield writes an interesting history of an nearly forgotten time and craft. The book is alive with competition, struggles, and some victories. A well written book with over thirty-five page of documentation and well illustrated. A very good read for aviation fans and students of the inter-war years. 

Fiction and Naval Institute

 It draws on original sources and interviews along with official documents, and is well illustrated and documented via footnotes with references. Overall, it is a book for readers especially interested in the British airship program. I especially liked the many descriptions of the main characters and personalities that drove the development of this exciting technology.

4 out of 5 Stars 

Evilcyclist's Blog

Airship: Design, Development and Disaster by John Swinfield is a study of lighter than air ships in Europe and the United States. Swinfield holds a Master of Arts in maritime history has been widely published in newspapers as a reporter before joining ITV and the BBC.

The author provides a lively and absorbing account of the major stages in developing airships and provides accounts of the great airship disasters of the 1930s that effectively killed off mainstream development of airships. Strong on politics and personal recollections.


When I started reading this book, I was hoping that it would not be overly technical, given the title of the book. Instead, author John Swinfield crafted a fascinating story of the British airship industry, covering the backgrounds of the major personalities involved and the politics of the time, including the post-WW1 environment, and private industry versus government...


Defense Media Network 

This book recounts the sad, brief history of airships, with particular focus on Britain's experience. It is a tale of wishful thinking, bureaucratic cover-up, over-ambitious technology, ferocious inter-service rivalry, design compromises driven by cost-cutting accountants, and shattered dreams. In short, it is a tale that will be painfully familiar to anyone who has spent much time around today's aerospace industry.


Huffington Post  - Arnie Wilson on the latest book Sea Devils