Osprey's Malta 1940-42


Ryan K Noppen


Osprey Publishing


$20.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 96 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softcover
ISBN: 978-1-4728-2060-0

When Italy entered WWII in June of 1940, it had planned on a pretty quick war. The French were being routed, the British were more and more isolated and it looked as if the Axis was on the way to taking over Europe. Mussolini, who was a narcissist to the max figured that he would be able to expand his holdings into Greece in the Balkans, and east out of Libya into Egypt while the British were unable to really do much to defend the area.

It was also important to him to get Malta out of the picture. This strategic island lies just south of Sicily and was in perfect position to wreak havoc with Italian shipping headed for Tripoli, about the only decent port the Italians had to use in North Africa.

This meant it needed to be invaded. Before that, it needed to be bombed into submission and its few defenders overwhelmed so the invasion could take place. One small problem. The Italian air force was not capable of doing this. Their tactics consisted of high altitude bombing to keep their near obsolescent aircraft from being shot down. Bombing accuracy was pathetic. Add to it that the Italian aircraft industry not only could not keep up with losses, but its aircraft were, for the most part, second rate.

While incapable of properly providing guns and aircraft, the British did slowly build up their defenses. First air defenses were crated Sea Gladiators followed by some Hurricanes. As the AA guns increased, Italian losses mounted. Add to it their defeats in Greece and Libya, and they asked for help from Germany. Reluctantly, the Germans came to their aid. Luftwaffe bombers and fighters reduced Malta's defenses to near nothing, despite the slow influx of Hurricanes and guns. However, the Germans erroneously thought their job was done when no fighters rose to meet the attackers and were pulled out for service in Russia and North Africa.

There is more to it, but I'll leave that up to you to read the book and find out not only how it went, but why. The author does a great job of telling the story. His insights into the politics of the situation tells a great deal as well as his look into Italy's war-making capabilities. There are a lot of great photographs and the art work and illustrations are super helpful in telling the story. It is a book that enthusiasts of this area of WW2 should have on their shelves. Highly recommended.

March 2018

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