When, in 2009, All the World's Aircraft marked its centenary with a specially enlarged Foreword, readers were promised a shorter editorial essay upon the achievement of the hundredth edition four years thence. The discrepancy between years and editions, it was explained, was due to the exigencies of war - specifically the two major conflicts of the 20th century disrupting annual publication.
One of those exigencies, it subsequently transpired, was the unfortunate descent of a Luftwaffe incendiary bomb upon the premises of Jane's publishers during the London Blitz of 1940-41. The consequent loss of records, including the library of past editions, was to be acutely felt when the history of this annual was being written. Thus was permitted to be called into existence the '1911 edition', which, although claimed to be in the possession of some book collectors, has never been indisputably identified. The edition published in November 1910, it is now clear, was not followed until the Spring of 1912 - a delay for which Jane apologised to his readers. Unexpectedly postponed by a year, we now offer the following as the true 100th Foreword.
Proving a negative is always problematical. However, the fate of the mythical '1911 Jane's' was sealed by references to contemporary literature that established beyond all reasonable doubt that our founder, Frederick Jane, did not submit a copy of any aviation annual for review by the weekly magazine Flight during the period in question - and, furthermore, that he religiously did so in all other years between 1909 and the start of the First World War.
What would previously have been a time-consuming chore of research in dusty archives was reduced to an hour of key-tapping in the comfort of the editorial office chair, thanks to the current publishers of Flight International, who have generously made the entire contents of that journal available.