Here is what the authors wrote in the introduction of the book:
"The history of the most famous of Czechoslovakian fighter biplanes of the interwar period, the Avia B-534, is more or less familiar to the majority of historians and aviation enthusiasts and our publication does not sek to repeat what has already been described on numerous occasions, nor is it an attempt to scrutinize connections between historical events. On the contrary, it focuses on colorful side-views, sketches and drawings of the biplane's various components and presenting extensive photographic documentation, some seen for the first time, depicting the development and combat role of this remarkable aircraft."
Clearly this publication is a photo reference book. So don't expect to get a a detailled history of the Avia B-534 in it. In fact there is only one page of written text on the subject! The rest are pictures (with English captions), detailled 3 view plans of all versions and several profiles. There is a 4 page build report with an accompanying text at the end of the book though, but more on that later.
The book is seperated into following "chapters":
- Table of Content
- Czechoslovakian Fighter Biplane Avia B-534
- Avia B-34, Predecessor of the Glorious B-534
- Avia B-234, Unsuccessful Prototype
- Avia N-534 1st Prototype
- Avia N-534 2nd Prototype
- The First Mass-Produced Units of Avia B-534 I Series Aircraft
- Avia B-534 Production Details
- Endurance Testing during March 1935
- Avia B-534 I Series in Service
- Incidents involving B-534s in Service
- Avia B-534 II Series
- Avia B-534 III Series
- Avia B-534 IV Series
- Engine Avia 12 Ydrs
- Czechoslovakian B-534 Pilots in Switzerland in 1937
- Avia B-534 in teh Service of the Gendarmerie
- Cannon- Armed Bk-534
- Avia B-634
- Mobilization of 1938
- B-534 Exhibit at the Praha-Kbely Aerodrome on june 5, 1975
- Model assembly
The 88 pages A4 sized soft cover book from CMK is printed on glossy paper and I found no problems on my sample. The photos are crisp and there are often only two per page. This is nice because this means that they are large and one can see a lot of details in them. Apart from the pictures of the model kit in the build article, all the photos are black & white. In total there are 165 pictures of the Avia B-534. The only big problem is that there are no pictures of the cockpit interior!? For a publication destined to modelers this is a big drawback.
The layout of the book is pretty basic but I think this is a good thing. One can easily navigate from one part of the book to another. I found the production pictures of the Avia B-534 very interesting as they show the structure of the plane in detail. This is very nice in case you want to strip down parts of the plane or depict battle damages on a model for a diorama.
The 1/72 scale drawings a very nice and do cover all the variants of the aircraft. Some plans show only parts of the plane (wings) and will be usefull to locate every panel line of the Avia. Unfortunately the 3 view plans won't be really helpfull for the rigging as the struts are mostly in the way. A cutaway plan would have been a nice addition here but there is none in the book.
At the end of the book there is a nice build article of the B-534 IV Series by Pavel Huryta. While it will not be of great help for most modelers (he built the less popular MPM vacform kit but most of us will prefer the Eduard kit), it nevertheless shows a well detailed and executed model. In fact, it will represent the only color reference for the entire book since no infos are present on the subject otherwise.
To finish, there are 24 profiles in the last pages of this reference, mostly of Czechoslovakian planes (11 in total). But there are also profiles of planes used by the Slovak insurgent or Slovak Air Force (4), the Bulgarian Air Force (2), the Hungarian Air Force (1) and the Luftwaffe (6). One of the planes used by the Germans is interesting as it was fitted with an arrestor hook for carrier deck landing trials for the proposed "Graf Zeppelin" aircraft carrier.
CMK's Avia B-534 is a nice starting point if you want some references to build Eduard's latest kit. It is full packed with high quality (and big!) photos, features some nice drawings and has very interesting profiles in it. However, if you search for historical informations about the plane, you should consider buying another publication. This one is clearly aimed at modelers wanting to have some visual references to build an accurate Avia B-534 model. it is not complete though as it lacks cockpit interior shots, a cutaway drawing and some color references.
The CMK Avia B-534 book is available from MODELIMEX
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