The Desert Air War 1940-43

The Desert Air War 1940-43

Author
Anthony Tucker-Jones
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
This is another edition from the wonderful Images of War series by Pen and Sword books.

This book covers the air war in the North African desert where army/air cooperation was rediscovered and finessed, making control of the air such a meaningful action. This book does have plenty of photographs, many I have not seen before, but importantly it is accompanied by a very detailed and informative text.

Previous books of the Desert Air War has concentrated on the RAF and associated Empire squadrons with some mention maid of the Luftwaffe contribution. This book is fairer to all sides and indeed includes a very good section on Italy’s Regia Aeronautica who, while maybe not as effective as the Luftwaffe, could not be ignored in any way at all.

There are nine chapters in all ranging from the Italians, through the German and of course the RAF contributions. The book itself is dedicated to the people of Malta who endured such a sustained, but unsuccessful bombing campaign that the Island was awarded the George Cross for their collective bravery. One of the Chapters covers Malta, Rommel’s Achilles Heel, and another the convoys sent to supply and relieve the Island and the importance of Malta in interrupting Rommel’s supplies. It has to be said that the author declares an interest as he was on the island as a young pad brat so has a soft spot for the place – which takes absolutely nothing away from the resolution of the Maltese people and Garrison who withstood all that the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica could throw at them.

The importance of ground/air cooperation is explored well in this book and that was a definite factor in the final defeat of the Axis in North Africa, but it also explains the work the RAF did in interdiction of Rommel’s supply lines making life for him and his front line troops as difficult as possible.

Overall this is an excellent book, well-illustrated covering the air component of the Desert War very well, not just what was done, but the consequences of those actions.

The Images of War Series is growing to be a huge library covering the Second World War and Pen & Sword need to be congratulated for bringing this series of books to the military history audience. No doubt there will be many more to come and I look forward to seeing them.

Auld Yin

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