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Taranto (Hardback)

And Naval Air Warfare in the Mediterranean, 1940–1945

WWII Seaforth Naval Holts' Battlefield Maps

By David Hobbs
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 456
Illustrations: 240 b/w photos and 6 maps
ISBN: 9781526793836
Published: 10th December 2020

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This is the first book to focus on the Fleet Air Arm's contribution to naval operations in the Mediterranean after the Italian declaration of war in June 1940. The Royal Navy found itself facing a larger and better-equipped Italian surface fleet, large Italian and German air forces equipped with modern aircraft and both Italian and German submarines. Its own aircraft were a critical element of an unprecedented fight on, over and under the sea surface.

The best-known action was the crippling of the Italian fleet at Taranto, which demonstrated how aircraft carriers and their aircraft had replaced the dominance of battleships, but every subsequent operation is covered from the perspective of naval aviation. Some of these, like Matapan or the defence of the ‘Pedestal’ convoy to Malta, are famous but others in support of land campaigns and in the Aegean after the Italian surrender are less well recorded. In all these, the ingenuity and innovation of the Fleet Air Arm shines through – Taranto pointed the way to what the Japanese would achieve at Pearl Harbor, while air cover for the Salerno landings demonstrated the effectiveness of carrier-borne fighters in amphibious operations, a tactic adopted by the US Navy.

The author's years of archival research together with his experience as a carrier pilot allow him to describe and analyse the operations of naval aircraft in the Mediterranean with unprecedented authority. This provides the book with novel insights into many familiar facets of the Mediterranean war while for the first time doing full justice to the Fleet Air Arm’s lesser known achievements.

This book is a fine tribute to the carrier operations and the predominantly RNVR aircrew in the Med. This book is packed with detail, accompanied by a vast array of some fascinating photos, many from the author’s own collection; this really is the definitive history of FAA operations in the Mediterranean.

Warship World

This book has a pacier narrative, interspersed with a really useful analysis of the Fleet Air Arm challenges and personal stories. It is profusely illustrated with period photographs that are relevant to the text. It is an excellent read.

Read the full review here

Balkan Wargamer

If you only read one book on the development of the Fleet Air Arm and Naval air warfare in the Mediterranean during World War 2 then this should be it. Very highly recommended.

Military Historical Society
 David Hobbs

About David Hobbs

DAVID HOBBS served in the Royal Navy as a pilot, and later became the Curator of the Fleet Air Arm Museum. He has since established himself as an authoritative writer on naval aviation topics, with more than a dozen highly regarded books to his name, most recent of these being The Royal Navy’s Air Service in the Great War published by Seaforth in 2017 and The Dawn of Carrier Strike in 2019.

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