Wings Over Sinai...

...The Egyptian Air Force During the Sinai War, 1956, Helion & Company, via Casemate Books

Title:  Wings Over Sinai

Author: David Nicolle, Tom Cooper and Air Vice Marshal Gabr Ali Gabr

Publisher:  Helion and Company

ISBN:  978-1-911096-61-0

The Suez Crisis of 1956, with the British and French armed forces invading Egypt, Operation Musketeer, is quite well known, but some of the details are less well known.  Number 8 in their Middle East at War series, I found this one a really interesting read, as well as a useful modelling reference.  The region had come out of WW2 and it was an era when both British and French imperialism were contracting and the new Israeli state was bedding in to an Arab world that in basic terms did not like it.  In the midst of it sat the Suex Canal, and that was/is an important resource for world trade which of course did still impact Britain and France.  The background of the first chapter, The Geo-Political Background, explains the situation nice and clearly.  The internal issues within Egypt itself, the rise to power of Nasser, the new Israeli state, plus the British, French and US interests in the region.

Then comes the start of influence from the Soviet Union and when Egypt starts to receive military equipment from them by way of an arms deal through the Czechoslovak government rather than direct from Russia, to soften the potential reaction from the USA, Britain and France and be part of the arms race in the region.  Britain had put an arms embargo in place, while France was supplying new equipment to the Israeli's.  What we get for the Egyptian air force therefore is a very interesting mix of equipment they used, with Meteors and Vampires, Harvards and Chipmunks, Spitfires and Sea Fury's operating alongside Mig 15 and 17 fighters with IL28 bombers.  Along with the text story there are lots of archive photos to illustrate the story, plus a section of excellent colour profiles illustrating the various types with colours and markings.  Add maps and data tables there is a lot of detailed information to be found.

The story goes on to tell what happened with regards to the development of war as Israel attacked, Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal, which led to British and French forces getting involved.  Within the story of the war there is an interesting section on the use of some very effective looking dummy aircraft by the EAF (Egyptian Air Force), which led to errors in British and French loss assessments.

With this one written very much from the Egyptian point of view, I found this an interesting one to read, throwing some new light on this episode in the history of the Middle East conflicts.  As a modeller the colour profiles and the many photos are very handy references.  Perhaps the one sadness is still to see that so many years later there is still unrest in the region, and now in Syria in particular.  As an outside observer I just find it so sad that these countries can't find some peace for themselves.

Robin