Helion's Air Power and the Arab World Vol.7

Author/Artists: Dr. David Nicholle & Air Vice Marshal Gabr Ali Gabr


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 84 pages, softcover
ISBN 978-1-804510-34-6

Continuing with their series on air power in the Arab world, this volume concentrates where the previous edition left off, covering the time period of April 1941 until December 1942. This was a time when the war in North Africa was ramping up. Initially, it was just the Italians that were the threat but soon, the Germans got involved and the situation turned very much against the British and Commonwealth nations trying to hold them back.

During this period, there were really only two viable Arab air forces; Iraq and Egypt. Of those two, the Iraqi Air Force was the most modern, equipped with mostly Italian and US aircraft. These werr all widely used during the British-Iraqi war of mid-1941. This war was the result of pro-Axis leadership overthrowing the then current government. Both the Germans and Italians sent aircraft and airmen to Iraq to help out, but they arrived too late to really be of much use. Following this war, the Iraqi Air Force was very slow to build back up and basically being a ghost of its former self at the end of this volume.

In Egypt, it was a very different situation. Egypt, while nominally neutral, was hosting British and Commonwealth forces. It was also a goal of Axis forces coming from Libya in the west. The vast majority of the Egyptian Air Force was British equipment, however, this was all obsolete with the Gladiator being the top fighter. The two fighter squadrons were tasked with the defense of the Suez Canal and Cairo. However, it proved impossible for them to reach both German and Italian bombers. The British were not only loathe to provide modern aircraft, but were very stingy with even spares, allowing the EAF to have more and more aircraft out of service.

On top of this, there was a fairly large anti-British sentiment within the EAF along with a considerable portion of the nation. These folks would not have been unhappy to see the Axis beat the British. In fact, there were active cells in officer corps who were planning on not only how to help the Axis, but what to do about leadership later on. A fair portion of the Egyptian section deals with the various machinations and events of these groups. Makes for fascinating reading. The other two Arab nations in the area, Yemen and Saudi Arabia basically had no air force during the time.

Another section of the book, while not specifically an Arab force, concerns Vichy France in the Levant during this time. Vichy units fought against RAF units and attacked British ground forces during the short conflict between the two. In all, this is another fine Helion publication that covers an area little discussed by other books. I'm very much looking forward to the next volume in this series and can very much recommend this series to you.

March 2023

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