The Desert Air War 1940-1943...
...Images of War from Pen and Sword
Title: The Desert Air War 1940-1943
Author: Anthony Tucker-Jones
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Another addition to the Images of War series from author Anthony Tucker-Jones, though rather than the topic of military vehicles, this time he takes on a military aircraft topic. It is clearly a subject close to his heart, as there is a Dedication at the start to the people of Malta, an element of the story which is a particular part of the book, and the authors fascination for the island having lived there for a time with his parents.
The book is divided into 9 chapters, starting with a look at Mussolini's Regia Aeronautica, as he tried to take advantage of events at Dunkirk to try his luck in North Africa. That however leads to an Aggressive RAF, using some outdated aircraft to good effect. This in turn leads on to Regia Aeronautica Humiliated and then Enter Hitler's Luftwaffe. Then we move to a vital aspect of the war in North Africa, the matter of supplies and the Mediterranean Convoy War. Blunting Crusader fills chapter 6, followed by Rommel's Achilles Heel, which was the key position of Malta on the Axis supply routes. Then we get to Stukas at Tobruk, before the closing stages when The Luftwaffe Falters.
Each chapter begins with a few pages of text which gives the background story to each one and then a selection of excellent archive photos, all with informative captions that add to the story. I particularly liked the way a mix of the lessons which came out of the Desert War are all illustrated. The importance of logistics, of supply lines, resulted in the focus of Axis attacks on Malta, while the mobile nature of the war along the North African Coast also led both Luftwaffe and RAF support units to have to be able to work in a barren environment and be able to pack up and move in a very short time. The abrasive sand was a major problem for engine wear and performance. The RAF fitted the Vokes filters to aircraft even though that degraded aircraft performance. In particular we see the Hurricane. It gained a fine reputation in North Africa as a ground attack aircraft, and coupled with light bombers the RAF learnt the valuable lesson of working in close support of the ground forces, a lesson that was later applied in North West Europe. A number of photos feature Hurricanes in service, along with many that have come to grief or being transported on trailers, plenty of detail and inspiration for modellers. With RAF, Luftwaffe and Italian aircraft all well covered in here I thought it provides an excellent look at the work of the Desert Air Force between 1940 and 1943.
Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.