Reviewed by Brett Green
in action is available online from Squadron.com
The Curtiss-Wright CW-20 was the world's largest twin engine aircraft in
1940. Its wingspan of 108 feet was more than 4 feet greater than the span of the
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. The CW-20 was the direct equivalent to the first
C-46 Commando to serve with the US Army Air Force.
The CW-20/C-46 family featured a number of innovations that are stilled used
in airliners of the 21st Century. The most obvious of these innovations is the
"double bubble" fuselage cross section, initially specified due to the
pressurisation of the civil CW-20 airliner. This double bubble was even more
apparent on the C-46, as the fairing on the fuselage sides covering the join
between the upper and lower cylinders was omitted, resulting in the
characteristic crease along the sides of the Commando.
This book follows Squadron/Signal’s popular “In Action” format with Don Greer
cover art, two colour pages as a “centrefold” with ten attractive profiles
(plenty of variety in colour schemes here), helpful line drawings and
specifications spread over 50 pages in landscape format. As with the rest of the
series, the real backbone of these books are the multitude of photographs packed
between the covers. 117 photographss are captioned in detail.
The text seems a little more detailed than usual, with a good summary of the
development of the CW-20, is competitive position in the emerging airline era of
the DC-3, its adoption my the military at the personal "suggestion" of General
"Hap" Arnold, and the military developments to the airframe and powerplants.
As with other "in action" books, variants and operations are also well
covered. The operations cover a wide time span, from WWII to Vietnam. Even
today, around 60 Commandos are still airworthy.
This is an interesting introduction to an important aircraft that has perhaps
not received the exposure it deserves.
Review Copyright © 2003 by
Page Created 23 March, 2003
Last updated 24 August, 2003
Back to HyperScale
Back to Reviews