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Sacre Bleu! Encore!!

There is, if you accept the author's statement in the first volume of this series, no justification for either that book or this on the grounds that it is impossible to keep a secret in France, and therefore there can be no French Secret Projects; I am as always very happy to accept Jean-Christophe Carbonel's reasoning but I am delighted that he and Crecy have found enough material for a second volume, this one covering as it says in the subtitle cold war bombers, patrol and assault aircraft. Coverage is chronological by French Secret Projects Vol. 2category and many of the types covered will be familiar, some of them as prototypes that got no further although in most cases there are details of projected developments. The French aircraft industry had a reputation - in retrospect probably unfair - for building many one-offs, but comparing designs in these two volumes with Tony Buttler's British industry equivalents suggests that the design offices' imaginations were equally fertile but that perhaps French projects got one stage further before being abandoned!

For "What If?" modellers an immediate and instinctive reaction to a new volume in this series is "What would look good/interesting in three dimensions?", whether by kit-bashing or by persuading one of those kind people who produce resin kits (even if it takes as long as the Vickers Giant Bomber). The Nord design on the cover for a Mirage IV replacement as part of the secretive Minerve project would look good as a very sleek model, but few details have survived. I am always impressed by the way the cover artists in this series have selected and made the most of a visually dramatic design and in this case it's Daniel Uhr, a name I've known for some time often depicting German projects. If I can have a wish for a resin kit of an aircraft covered in this volume, please can I have a Breguet 941? It small STOL transport seems to have hovered on the fringe of my consciousness for many years, and could be adapted at least in the hands of a determined modeller for a number of "stealthy" roles.

Crecy have given us another fascinating book in a category to which I could probably be assessed as addicted. The production is of course first class especially given that some of the small sketches, which must have taken considerable discovery, look as they started on the back of the traditional envelope. Like the others in this excellent series it makes intriguing reading both on what happened and what didn't in an industry that could be relied on to think outside the box, and it is well worth absorbing as a whole before the inevitable revisiting to check something that caught the eye the first time round.

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