Jane's All the World's Aircraft has chronicled a century of ever-accelerating aviation progress and recorded the particulars of an unprecedented number of flying machines, using the widest possible interpretation of that phrase, in the most minute detail. Six editors have had the privilege of commenting upon the significant aircraft and events of manned flight since the first edition appeared in November 1909 as All the World's Airships (which was then a generic term for any machine that flew). This first publication was seen as being ahead of its time but even the skeletal book showed the strength of Fred T Jane's standardised approach to data collection. The first edition even carried a pre-addressed return proforma for aviation pioneers to supply the details of new machines.
Besides listing the different types of aircraft by nationality, the first issues covered aerial societies, journals and flying grounds and cost just 21 shillings (£1.05). Jane himself had a desire to fly and he was nearly killed doing so in 1909 whilst attempting a flight on Dartmoor. His aircraft caught fire, but he merely commented that it would be one less machine to include in his forthcoming work. As with Jane's Fighting Ships, Jane received extensive help from enthusiasts worldwide, including Louis Bleriot, A V Roe and Prince Harry of Prussia.
Jane censored the 1914 issue, which was published just after the outbreak of the First World War, blacking out whole sections describing British equipment and organisation. He noted in it that, for all practical purposes, aircraft have no more to do with peace than submarines. The work's accuracy helped morale by dispelling alarmist rumours about imminent German air raids, showing that the Germans did not possess anything but the smallest fleet of airships. Respect for the accuracy of Jane's All the World's Aircraft transcended political enmities. Cold War notwithstanding, Soviet authorities supplied Jane's with information. Such was the technical reference book's reputation that Argentina even provided details of its aircraft during the Falkland's Conflict in 1982. Altogether, there have been only 97 editions, mainly due to disruptions during the two World Wars.
Few lives on the entire surface of this planet are not now touched by aviation in some way, yet as IHS Jane's celebrates this milestone there are still a small number alive who were born before the Wright Brothers lifted themselves aloft in 1903.
Jane's All the World's Aircraft Editors
Fred T Jane's - Founding editor: 1909 - 1915
John Frederick Thomas Jane, who preferred to be known as Fred T Jane, was the founder of what is now IHS Jane's. Born in Richmond in 1865, he moved to St Austell, Cornwall, at the age of one after his father, John Jane, became curate. When Jane was nine his father was appointed to the Parish of Bedford Chapel in the centre of Exeter and Jane attended Exeter School.
Jane was fascinated with maritime matters from an early age and as a teenager conscripted his brother and two sisters to play out complicated Naval manoeuvres at the vicarage and on the village pond.
Jane was never top of his class but did show a keen interest in rugby and chemistry, although he was banned from the chemistry lab when his teachers discovered that his only real interest in the subject was furthering his knowledge of making explosives.
Pursuing his desire to be a journalist and illustrator, Jane moved to London at the age of 20. His first residence there was an unsavoury flat in the, at that time, muddy Greys Inn Road in Holborn. Jane fitted his attic with partitions to represent a ship. It was from here that he produced his first commission for the Illustrated London News. Jane used his experience of the area to write the novel The Incubated Girl and various other social articles.
In 1890 Jane experienced the sea for the first time when he joined HMS Northampton to report on naval exercises. He used this voyage to produce a perfect pictorial account of the Northampton's cruise from Torbay to the Azores. The unique aspect of Jane's drawings was that his ships appeared to lie in the water as ships really do, heeling slightly over. It was from this voyage that Jane produced his first published ship sketch, which was reproduced in the July 1890 edition of Pictorial World.
In 1895 Jane's first novel, Blake of the "Rattlesnake": Or the Man Who Saved England. a Story of Torpedo Warfare in 189-, was published and drew on his experiences from the Northampton. It was written as a wake up call for the Royal Navy who Jane saw as being slow to adapt to modern naval technology.
In February 1898 the first edition of Jane's Fighting Ships was published and sold 1000 copies within the first few days. Jane also devised a naval wargame which was adopted for training the officers of navies worldwide. Jane was quickly recognised as an authority on naval matters and in 1899 he was invited by Grand Duke Alexander Mihailovich to Russia to produce a book about the Imperial Russian Navy. The Japanese Government was so impressed by the amount of publicity this generated for Russian sea power that its naval authorities persuaded Jane to write a similar publication for Japan. Jane's account of the Imperial Japanese Navy appeared in 1904.
When Bleriot flew the Channel in 1909 Jane's head was turned to aircraft and he completed and published Jane's All the World's Airships, later to be renamed Jane's All the World's Aircraft. This first publication gained much media interest and was given the honour of a review column on a leading page of the Daily Mail.
Jane was a supporter of the Boy Scout movement and also a keen motoring enthusiast who drove an 8 litre, 90 horsepower, chain-driven Benz racing car as his daily runabout.
C G Grey - Editor: 1916 - 1940
Charles Grey, or C G as he was known, the second editor of Jane's All the World's Aircraft, is considered by some to be the first great aviation journalist. He became an honorary Companion of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
Grey was born on 13th November 1875 and educated at the Erasmus Smith School in Dublin and as an engineer at the Crystal Palace School of Engineering. Grey's first job was as a staff writer for The Autocar. His secondary role as the magazine's aviation specialist resulted in a commission from Iliffe and Sons, Ltd. to edit a penny weekly aviation paper called The Aero. In 1911, in partnership with Mr E V (Later Sir Victor) Sassoon, Grey founded The Aeroplane and he remained editor until 1939. Grey took over as editor of Jane's All the World's Aircraft from 1916 to 1940. From 1939 he was air correspondent of The Yorkshire Evening Post, Edinburgh Evening News and various overseas journals. Grey also wrote a number of books including A History of British Air Ministry (1940), The Luftwaffe (1944) and The Civil Air War (1945).
"Anyone who read C G in the 'twenties and 'thirties without having met him might have supposed his critical references, and sometimes perverse and acid comments, reflected his nature and personality. Nothing could have been further from the truth. As long as we knew him he was a gentle and kindly man, always charming and generous to his friends, among whom he numbered rivals. Today there are men on Flight's staff who recall a kind word of encouragement here or a spot of advice there from the one-and-only C G, particularly when they were taking their first tentative steps in the hard and competitive world of journalism. His goodwill continued to be reflected in frequent correspondence. From the first to the last occasion upon which we talked to him, he never once failed to express either an original thought or to reveal an unexpected viewpoint on some current topic. Neither his writing nor his conversation was ever lacking in humour and regardless of one's age."
- Flight Magazine, 18th December 1953, published after Grey's death.
Leonard Bridgman - Editor: 1941 - 1959
"Leonard Bridgman, who died on 19th December, 1980, will be remembered with respect by many people for achievement in a range of widely differing interests and skills,"wrote John W R Taylor, his successor as Editor for Jane's All the World's Aircraft.
Bridgman's first assignment in aviation was in 1913, aged 18, when one of his drawings was used to illustrate the Hendon Air Race programme. As payment he received a flight in a 70 hp Maurice Farman biplane. During the First World War, Bridgman served as an officer in the Honourable Artillery Company.
He is best remembered within the aviation industry as the journalist who joined C G Grey in 1923 on the staff of Jane's All the World's Aircraft after working on the staff at The Aeroplane. Bridgman also edited Esso Air World from 1939 to 1963.
In 1956 in recognition of his contribution to technology, principally his work on Jane's All the World's Aircraft, Bridgman was awarded a Paul Tissandier Diploma by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. By that time, he had been associated with flying and publishing for 43 years.
Bridgman was also a talented artist and produced many aviation paintings, wash drawings and illustrations. He received commissions for numerous advertisements for British companies and illustrated Oliver Stewart's text for The Clouds Remember, one of the classics of aviation literature.
John W R Taylor - Editor: 1960 - 1989
John William Ransom Taylor edited Jane's All the World's Aircraft for three decades during the Cold War. He retired as editor in 1989, just as the Iron Curtain obscuring the Soviet Bloc's technology started to lift.
Taylor, who lived to the age of 77, was a master of a parallel art to Kremlinology, he could deduce the performance of Soviet military equipment from blurred photographs.
"Thus in 1961, when Western intelligence was fascinated by early glimpses of a new Soviet bomber, the Tupolev Tu-22, many analysts estimated it could reach a speed of Mach 2.5 - more than twice the speed of sound. But Taylor, after noting the shape of the aircraft's engine intakes, put the maximum at no more than Mach 1.4, which proved much closer to the truth. In 1983, he analysed the MiG-29 fighter, whose agility was the cause of much anxiety amongst NATO's war-gamers; seven years later, when Jane's was able to check his suggested measurements, they were found to be accurate to within an inch. " The Guardian, Tuesday 25th January 2000.
Taylor was educated at Ely Cathedral Choir School and Soham Grammar School in Cambridgeshire. He trained as a draughtsman and joined Hawker Aircraft in 1941. There he worked on the development of the Hurricane fighter and its successors. His specialisation was rectifying design defects. He joined Jane's as editorial assistant on Jane's All the World's Aircraft in 1955 and four years later he took over as editor. Until the late 1960s he edited this volume with virtually no editorial support but his love of aviation was such that this was a challenge he enjoyed.
Mark Lambert - Editor: 1990 - 1994
Mark Lambert trained to fly as a fighter jet pilot on Gloster Meteors with the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. His flying experience with the RAF qualified him to join Flight in 1953 as the air test features writer and during his tenure he tested over 300 types of aircraft. Whilst at Flight, Lambert also flew the company's communications aircraft, which successively was a Miles Gemini, Beech Baron and Piper Seneca, to name a few. As well as holding an instrument rating, he was also technically qualified and specialised in electronics and aircraft systems. He was promoted to assistant editor of Flight in 1964. After leaving to work in the aerospace industry for a time, he rejoined the magazine in 1973 as international editor and later became associate editor. Lambert had an array of talents: he spoke fluent French, German and Italian and was known to entertain his colleagues at Flight with his guitar playing in the office from time to time. He married Anna and they had twins. He later went to Switzerland to work for Interavia and took over the post of editor of Jane's All the World's Aircraft in 1990.
Paul Jackson - Editor: 1995 - present
The chance gift of an aircraft book at the age of six was the Genesis of a passion for all matters aeronautical that has absorbed Paul Jackson for almost half a century. Editor of an aviation society newsletter in his native East Yorkshire shortly after leaving school, he contributed to amateur and professional aviation journals, on both historical and current matters, for a further decade before becoming a freelance aerospace writer and editor. In 1987, he was invited to join the compiling team of Jane's All the World's Aircraft, being appointed its editor in 1995. Inevitably, his hobbies are aviation related, including flying and maintaining a veteran Aeronca Chief lightplane; chairing a branch of the Popular Flying Association; sitting as a committe member of an Air Training Corps squadron; and aviation photography. In 2004, he was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.