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Not Much Of An Engineer:- An Autobiography

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Hooker's eminence in the field was widely recognised and he was made an Honorary Fellow of the AIAA. Thoroughly enjoyed this book (what a career this man had) and wouldn’t dream of leaving a negative review. He finally retired in 1978 and in 1984 just before his death, he published his autobiography “ Not much of an engineer” the title of which was a quip by the intimidating Hives at his lack of engineering qualifications during his interview at Rolls-Royce! On the screen behind him, towards the end of his talk, he showed a picture of Hooker, and said, "I'll have to think about this a bit, but if I was asked who was Britain's greatest ever engineer, I'd have to decide between Brunel and Sir Stanley Hooker, but I'd probably go for Sir Stanley.

and here is a good place to mention Hooker’s essentially collegial approach, as throughout his book he gives credit to the people he worked with, and to the companies great and small, which often self-financed developments. Ideally, this book should be read after 20 minutes or so spent listening and watching a documentary film on YouTube, passages of which show Hooker sitting at a desk talking and playing with a pad and pencil.

The early pages spring from such a different era, and the man himself seems still to be steeped in it, with that typical English middle class reserve and understatement. With uncanny precision he managed to put off death until the day before the actual publication of the work.

For example, at 200 mph the maximum pressure that air can exert is only 5 per cent of the atmospheric pressure, which has a negligible effect on the air density and the flow. To me, he seemed self-critical and full of praise for many of the people involved throughout his career. The book has a useful glossary and even covers some of the calculations used in determining engine efficiencies.

I could have improved them half pissed, which generally I was at the time, because in those days you were at the pub every lunchtime and evening, driving home three sheets to the wind to give the wife one over the kitchen table dinner. The Merlin 61 arrived in time to give the Spitfire a desperately needed advantage in rate of climb and service ceiling over the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. Covering, his university studies to his doctorate has a brilliant mathematician , thence to his little known or understood work with the Admiralty calculating the size of a liquid fuelled rocket to attack Berlin. All fluids have the property of viscosity, though in the case of air it is less obvious than with oil or treacle.

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