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  • Merlin: The Power Behind the Spitfire, Mosquito and Lancaster

  • The Story of the Engine That Won the Battle of Britain and WWII
  • By: Graham Hoyland
  • Narrated by: Chris Courtenay, Philip Pope
  • Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (24 ratings)

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Summary

The most iconic planes of WWII, the Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, DeHavilland Mosquito and the Avro Lancaster, were all powered by one engine, the Rolls-Royce Merlin. The story of the Merlin is one of British ingenuity at its height, of artistry and problem-solving that resulted in a war-winning design.

Published to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain, Merlin is the extraordinary story of the development of the Rolls-Royce engine that would stop Hitler from invading Britain and carry the war to the very heart of Germany.

The story of the Merlin engine encompasses the history of powered flight, from the ingenuity of the Wright brothers to the horrors of World War I and from the first crossing of the Atlantic to the heady days of flying in the 1920's. There is also the extraordinary story of the Schneider Trophy - an international contest wherein nations poised on the precipice of war competed for engineering excellence in the name of progress.

And at the heart of this story are the glamorous lives of the pilots, many of whom died in their pursuit of speed; the engineers, like Henry Royce of Rolls-Royce, who sketched the engine that would win WWII in the sand of his local beach; and perhaps most importantly the Lady Lucy Houston who after the Wall Street Crash single-handedly funded the development of the engine and the iconic Spitfire.

Never was so much owed by so many to so few - and without the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, the few would have been powerless.

©2020 Graham Hoyland (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Illuminating and entertaining." (The Times)

"A towering work full of twists and turns." (Independent)

"Richly enjoyable." (Daily Mail)

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What listeners say about Merlin: The Power Behind the Spitfire, Mosquito and Lancaster

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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating tribute to the Merlin & Rolls Royce’s brilliant engineers who

A very fine book which draws you in the more you listen to it. It is perfectly arguable that without the Merlin we would have lost WW2. Graham Hoyland describes the magnificent engineers at Rolls Royce, and at Supermarine, Hawker and Avro, without whose willingness to back their judgement with their own money neither the engine nor the aircraft that used it would have been built. It is notable, in these modern times of the State being thought to know best, that the aeronautical achievements that won WW2 essentially came from private enterprise and not from the War Office bureaucracy. Indeed there is a book to be written about the War Office’s failure to build a single decent tank throughout WW2, in stark contrast to the Merlin and the aircraft that used it.

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Brilliant story covering related and interesting additional history.

I wondered what this book would cover. As an avid aero-enthusiast, I was cautious of content and presentation. I need not have worried as the early history of flight, British politics, commercial intrigue and fascinating tales, all knitted together to make an enjoyable and cohesive book. The narrator has a clear concise pleasant English voice but sadly is unfamiliar with many aeronautical pronunciations, and this was my reason for deducting two stars. I’m now looking forward to further work by Graham Howland as he also includes many of his own personal experiences and history. I highly recommend this book!

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Absolutely Brilliant

This is the best book I've listened to since joining audiobooks approx 3 years ago. it links so many aspects of the two world wars that took place in the 20th century together and the time inbetween.

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Superbly entertaining and informative account

This is not just a narrow history of the Merlin engine but a history of flight, the times, the politics, the characters, of the aviation and engineering companies- as well as being a satisfying insight into the incredible practical and theoretical challenges of creating the engine itself. The narration was perfect, delivered with a nice precision and gentle wryness at the right places. Really enjoyed the whole thing, one of the best.

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Engineering Enlightenment

A magnificent history of engineering evolution sprinkled with relevant; social, economic, military, political and aviation history. I was educated, entertained and amused.

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  • Carol Domme
  • 24-08-20

Revisionism run ampk

ridiculously revisionist. entertaining, in a Hollywood sort of fashion, it doesn't meet traditional historical excellence in truthfulness, being full of half-truths and selective facts. Still, it was entertaining to listen to, much in the way the movie" Pearl Harbor, with Ben Affleck, is entertaining. Just don't rely on it as history. Should have stuck with the dry facts of engineering, left the research to his forebears, as well as the political correctness.

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  • George Young
  • 22-08-20

BRILLIANT!!!!!

Graham Hoyland is a delightful storyteller. This history of the Merlin engine is so much more than that!!! Hoyland is like a weaver of historical threads creating a work rich with knowledge of personalities, events, design, politics and human greatness and human perfidy. If you love history that includes all the facts, but is rich with the characters and events that define human action, not just the dry facts, then please purchase this work!! Graham Hoyland has created a history that only a deeply intelligent and richly emotional person could!!! I bow to the author for creating a history that recreates a fascinating world, which affects us still! My single complaint is that the narrator, an excellent, excellent reader, had some trouble with sticky mouth noise, and the recordist must have let the window open a few times because I'm pretty sure I heard birds twittering a few times... George Young Montreal, Canada