96 pages, 7¼ x 9¼ inches, softbound
It seems to be common practice for those who are not all that well informed to consider Italian warplanes prior to and during WW2 to be substandard. This is a general fallacy and those who look into the subject with a critical eye will realize that many of their aircraft were not only equal to, but in some cases superior to the aircraft they were facing. What did inhibit the Italian air arms were a variety of things that were often beyond the control of the airmen.
Frequently mentioned is a lack of powerful engines, armament that was not heavy enough, a lethargic arms industry, and a tendency, at least with fighters, to be attached to WWI tactics, hence we have a modern military air arm flying biplanes at the start of the war. This isn't exactly limited to the Italians as the British were also still flying biplanes, but quickly learned that they were not the way to go.
One area where Italy led or at least maintained parity with the Allies early on was with bombers. Specifically the SM.79 Sparviero. Here was a fast medium bomber that for the time, was well armed and could carry a respectable load. Indeed, during the times before the war and early days of the war, it was not unusual for bomber crews to outpace defending fighters. However, wartime tends to speed up armament development and it wasn't long before the Sparviero was falling behind the curve. It needed good fighter protection against British Hurricanes, Spitfires and P-40s, and as mentioned, good fighters were either too lightly armed or insufficient in number. Despite that, the aircraft soldiered on until the end of the war and beyond.
This particular book covers the bomber units flying the SM.79, the torpedo units having been covered in an earlier volume. Though not as successful as the torpedo units, they were a critical and useful part of the air force and were able to perform most of their missions without heavy losses until near the end of Italy's war when Allied air power became nearly overwhelming.
We are provided the history of the plane's development, its use in the Spanish Civil War along with its overseas sale. This then develops into the various operations of bomber units during the progress of the war. This is divided into three major segments covering the Mediterranean, North Africa, and East Africa. There are tons of great period photos as well as the usual fine full color profiles we expect from this series. It all makes for a superb look at this important Italian bomber and is one that I can easily recommend to you.
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