Air War Over North Africa...

 

...USAAF Ascendant, from Pen & Sword

 

Title: Air War Over North Africa

Author: David Mitchelhill-Green

Publisher: Pen & Sword

ISBN: 978-1-57388-179-2

 

Another in a batch of recent additions to their popular Images of War series, and one focusing on the USAAF in North Africa. A 224-page softcover book, it is packed with archive photo reference, the vast majority of which I had never seen before. It sees the arrival of the USAAF into North Africa and the support they provided for the Operation Torch and the eventual defeats of the Afrika Korps in Tunisia. Things didn't stop there though, as they continued to support the invasions of both Sicily and mainland Italy. Going on even further from there, North Africa also provided a useful base area to attach targets in Italy itself as well as other important targets in Southern Europe and the Balkans. The raid on Ploesti in Romania is a good example, along with the Messerschmitt works at Regensburg.

Following a good Introduction to set the scene for the reader, the heart of this book lays in 6 main chapters. The first starts us off with Fallen Eagles, with some interesting images of broken German and Italian aircraft types as found on the old Axis airfields as they were captured. Both fighters and bombers are featured and a varied mix of types, along with lots of finer detail revealed within the wrecks and the airfield dumps. That's followed by the first of the USAAF sections, starting with the Fighters. These include the P-40, P-47, Spitfire and P-38. Next is a chapter on Photo Reconnaissance using the F4 and F5 versions of the P-38 Lightning along with the Mosquito. These twin engine aircraft lead neatly into chapter 4, Medium Bombers. The two main types here are the B-25 Mitchell and the B-26 Marauder, though there are just a couple of pictures of the A-20 Havoc. Next come the 'Heavies', and that means the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator. The final chapter considers the Airfields and the Airmen. This includes the need to actually create suitable landing grounds and the personnel who are so necessary to keep the aircraft flying. A single Appendix brings things to a close, with Casualty figures for USAAF aircrew in Europe and North Africa.

Each chapter has a section of text on the different aircraft types, while the photos mostly have extensive and informative captions that are more extensive than we usually find in this series. The archive images are very well chosen, showing the aircraft of course, as well as so many of the pilots and aircrew, but also the maintenance work needed to keep them flying, and the extreme conditions in which they were all operating. Aviation historians will like this one, as well as re-enactors searching for uniform detail. It is the aviation modeller who will enjoy this most of all, as there is so much detail to be seen, a variety of colour schemes and some great ideas for dioramas.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin