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The Desert Air Force in World War II. Air Power in The Western Desert 1940-1942. By Ken Delve.

Ken Delve.
Few generic coffee table books covering the conflict in Europe and the World from 1939 to 1945 seem to be complete without a picture of a Tiger mouthed Kittyhawk (112 Squadron RAF I now know) taking off amid a plume of dust from a rough desert strip usually opposite a Leopard spotted BF109G flying over a rocky and barren plain.

These two well worn pictures do little to encapsulate the huge scope of the air war in this theatre and it's many facets. In this book and it's following/sister publications Ken Delve has attempted to bring into stark focus the sheer effort involved in fighting, flying, equipping, supplying, repairing, and just surviving in this unique environment.

The book covers in fantastic detail the men, machines, and units involved in the DAF from its very humble beginnings into the beautifully forged weapon it became, a mix of British, Commonwealth, French, Polish, American, and many other nations airmen and machines.

Ken really digs down deep to cover the unsung logistic challenges and behind the scenes remorselessly heroic efforts of the men on the ground to keep the planes fighting, the guns firing, and the Aircrews eating.

The action is covered in detail using ORB (Operational Record Books) and personal accounts to bring the statistics to life. There are many wonderful “dits“ and combats are often related from both sides with both Allied and Axis aircrew quoted.

A really quite wonderful book for all students of the Second World War or those with only a passing interest. My overall view of the campaign is all the richer for being able to view it through the lens of this book.

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