Historian Boyne (a retired colonel in the air force and author of Beyond the Wild Blue, 1997, etc.) offers a long and...



Historian Boyne (a retired colonel in the air force and author of Beyond the Wild Blue, 1997, etc.) offers a long and laudatory history of Lockheed (now Lockheed-Martin), a mainstay of the military-industrial complex. Founded at the dawn of commercial flying, with aircraft made of fabric and sticks, the business of the brothers Loughead (pronounced ""Lockheed"") soon made fuselages of molded plywood, then planes of metal, and, later, spy satellites. Now producing space vehicles, stealth aircraft, and vehicles too secret to discuss, the firm has survived the Depression and the US's Cold War victory--a victory that Boyne credits in very large measure to Lockheed for its spy planes and satellites, missiles, and transports. The military, of course, is how Lockheed always made its money. ""The military-industrial complex's existence,"" Boyne asserts, ""is not based on the profit motive,"" but throughout he makes it clear that profits couldn't be made with commercial airliners alone. Lockheed's claim to a special corporate culture is supported by the establishment of its fabled Skunk Works, producer of some remarkable weaponry in secret and in record time. Indeed, Lockheed has developed some memorable aircraft, like the P-38, the Constellation, the U-2, and the C-130 (still in production after nearly half a century), and a curious reader will learn how Lockheed's distinctive tail assemblies evolved and how a stealth fighter got its shape. With enough technology for most buffs, but too much for casual readers (we are told of ""bypass doors, bleed ports, suck-in doors"" and ""full-chord leading edge flaps, ailerons, and flaperons""), the technicalities are probably more than sufficient for anyone who isn't transported by tales of Fowler flaps and ullage rockets. The text is filled with names, statistics, and lost test pilots, but ""back to the old drawing board"" was the watchword. A perhaps overly comprehensive encomium for an American finn, this volume carries a heavy payload that limits performance.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 1998


Page Count: 576

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

Close Quickview