When I was a kid I loved reading my dad’s airplane books. He had lots of aviation books about specific airplanes and pilots. My favorite was a multi-volume set of picture books about everything from general aviation planes to war planes. It was called Aircraft in Profile. I spend many, many hours looking at those books and reading esoteric details about how many were made and by which manufacturer. Each plane had full color pages of detailed drawings of the airplanes and jets featured within and also a fair bit of text describing the history of each plane.
When my dad passed away, I inherited his airplane books. Now my garage holds shelves of them as well as all the aviation books that I’ve read and collected over the years. I still go back to those Aircraft in Profile books though, whenever I need inspiration. As a kid, I built as many of the planes in the books as I could in my preferred scale of 1/48. I built so many ME-109 kits I had every version ever featured in the book, including a tricycle landing gear version that I scratch built.
These days I look through the book for scraps of information that I can use in my space opera series. If you have more than a passing knowledge of WW2 fighters, you’ll find things in my novels that most people just consider world building. That’s been especially true for my current WIP – Devon’s Blade.