The Desert Air War 1940-1943
|Pen & Sword|
|$24.95 from Casemate|
128 pages, softcover, 7.5 x 9.5 inches
This book is one of a larger series called Images of War, and you may assume from the series title, has more in each edition in the way of photos than a historical background. Some books have more history in them than others and from what I've read of other titles, this one falls into that category.
The desert war in North Africa started pretty much as soon as Italy declared war in June of 1940. Italy's first action was a bombing raid on Malta and that island received more than its fair share of ordnance during the next three years, though there were some substantial lax periods. While planning on sending defensive squadrons and guns to the island, the British never really got around to it, figuring the French had them covered. With the collapse of France things got desperate rather quickly.
Add to this the Italian advances towards Egypt from eastern Libya and holding on seemed to be the way to do things. Paramount in the fighting in North Africa and its surrounds was air power. Initially the Italians had the edge, but the British slowly built up forces. Eventually, the Italians grew weaker through losses in combat and general attrition and it required the Germans to get into the act. This began a back and forth effort across the northern part of the battlefield. It was the RAF's constant attacking of supply lines that reduced the effectiveness of the Italian and German army and air forces.
The author states that all the photos in this book are from his collection, though I have to say that I've seen quite a few of these in other publications over the years. Nevertheless, they are well chosen and provide an excellent visual look, mostly from the British side, of what it was like to fight on the move in a fairly hostile environment. All the photos are of British, German, or Italian forces. Though briefly mentioned in the introduction, there are no images of the USAAF, who were equally important in the final stages of the campaign.
In all, it is an interesting book that I'm sure the diorama enthusiast would find to be a great reference for future projects.
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