Author: Alec Harvey-Bailey, Softbound, 132 Pages, ISBN: 9780951171011, Historical Series No.2 **Third Edition, 1987 **RARE BOOK IN EXCELLENT CONDITION**
Alec Harvey-Bailey served with Rolls-Royce for over forty years and his associations with the company began long before he joined its employ. His father was a senior executive of Rolls-Royce for the majority of his working life. In consequence Alec's personal memories span an era encompassing recollections of meeting Sir Henry Royce, the Schneider Trophy Seaplane contest and the epic days of motor car development in the 1920s and 1930s before he actually joined the company shortly before the Second World War.
Following a brief period of association with motor cars, after the start of the war Alec joined defect investigation and was soon given charge of the task on both the Merlin and Griffon aero engines. The task involved not only the examination of damaged service engines and being a party to the development of solutions to engineering-problems but also the definition of technically effective repair techniques. Furthermore his work was far from confined to the workshop for he spent a great deal of his time, including many weekends, with the Squadrons, finding out for himself. He flew in service aircraft when necessary and became familiar at first hand with the many aircraft types powered by the Merlin in particular.
The pressures placed on Rolls-Royce by the need to keep one jump ahead of a determined adversary, sand the gaunt nature of life in those war years made an indelible impression on Alec. These factors, together with his prodigious memory, make him unique in his understanding of the Merlin engine and its contribution to this crucial period of aviation history.
Over the years, particularly during the course of his overseas assignments, Alec and his wife Joan, who was an able unpaid personal assistant through many crises, often entertained colleagues from the factory. The topic of conversation on such occasions was almost always Rolls-Royce and, as evenings wore on, conversation tended to hark back to earlier years. The clarity of Alec's memories was such that on more than one occasion colleagues suggested that he should write it all down. Their words did not go unheeded, and pondering on them Alec recalled that his father had tried to do this. But he had left it too late.
It was this fact in particular that steeled Alec's determination to set down his memories before they became blurred either by the passage of time or the effects of advancing years. More than a decade ago he therefore started dictating his memories of the Merlin during odd moments of spare time in Beirut and Cairo. As the story came together he began to refine its contents by repeated dictation of its various elements until the equilibrium he sought was achieved in the narrative.
Since returning to Britain further work has gone into the text of this book. Indeed, to achieve the accuracy of narrative essential to satisfy his principles, Alec has put more hours, and more sweat into his story than he could ever be persuaded to admit. Furthermore he has been able to cross-check his facts, not only with those of his colleagues who remain, but also with friends he made in the services at the time. Many have had distinguished careers—some in the Royal Air Force and others, since the war, in the aviation industry.
The outcome of Alec's effort is contained in this volume. Despite the problems, none of which have been overlooked in these pages, the Merlin emerges as a giant of aero engine history. No other aero engine of the Second World War has, as far as I know, ever been written up in such a thorough manner. Neither can I think of one that is more deserving of such a treatise. To the allied cause it made an unrivalled contribution and for Rolls-Royce it was instrumental in causing a metamorphosis. Rolls-Royce entered the war years as a small high-quality manufacturer in a Derby side road. It emerged as a major British company, the magic of whose name is now admired throughout the World.
For the best part of a decade now I have been privileged to be able to help Alec in a small way with the preparation of this volume. I hope you will share with me in the thought that this record of the Merlin had to be published, and the belief that it does full justice to a great aero engine.
M H Evans
Chairman, Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust