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The Desert Air War 1940–1943 (Paperback)

Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives

Aviation Military Photographic Books WWII

By Anthony Tucker-Jones
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Series: Images of War
Pages: 118
Illustrations: 200
ISBN: 9781526711083
Published: 13th November 2018



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The war in air over North Africa and the Mediterranean during the Second World War has long been overshadowed by the battle on the ground. Between 1940 and 1943 Italy's Regia Aeronautica and then Germany's Luftwaffe waged a concerted aerial campaign against the British, yet apart from the bitter fight for Malta, this aspect of the conflict is rarely given the attention it deserves. Anthony Tucker-Jones, in this vivid photographic history, provides a fascinating introduction to it.

The wartime photographs, and the concise text, cover the entire course of the struggle in the air. The Regia Aeronautica at first met weak British opposition when Mussolini launched his ill-advised offensive against British-controlled Egypt, but the obsolete Italian aircraft proved to be no match for the Allied fighters once the strength of the Royal Air Force built up. Then, when Hitler stepped in to help his hapless ally, the aerial struggle intensified, and the air forces of both sides were locked in deadly combat in the skies over Egypt, Libya, the Mediterranean and Tunisia.

The wide range of Italian, British, German and American aircraft involved, the air and ground crews from all sides, and the conditions in which they operated and fought are all shown in this varied selection of photographs.

This is an excellent book, well-illustrated covering the air component of the Desert War very well, not just what was done, but the consequences of those actions.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

Whilst the vast array of photographs included may not provide many opportunities for the modeller to examine the details of each aircraft, they are sure to provide plenty of inspiration for potential builds and dioramas.

Overall, I found this book to be a good introduction to an area of the second world war that I had not really spent much time looking at before, with the text providing a good amount of historical detail whilst the selection of photographs covers a good variety of subject matter helping retain a high level of visual interest too.

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KitsandBits Blog, Mark Dale

Understanding the desert war in north Africa is difficult if the air war is not taken into account. Most coverage of the air war in the Western Desert takes the well-trodden path of anecdotes from pilots and ground crew, and this book has examples of this narrative flavour too, but it is refreshing to find an account that also takes a wider view of the area of operations.

The book splits into nine chapters, and is profusely illustrated with photographs, some familiar but many not. The value of a book of this nature is in the welter of incidental detail that the photographs provide. Malta is covered in some detail. Modellers and wargamers will find plenty in this book to engage and divert them, with an eclectic mix of statistical gems thrown in too, to give a good overview of the campaign

Chris Kemp, Freelance

This new addition covers the very interesting history of the air war in North Africa from 1940 to 1943 as armies chased each other back and forth along the narrow coastal strip. - Highly Recommended

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Another addition to the Images of War series from author Anthony Tucker-Jones, though rather than the topic of military vehicles, this time he takes on a military aircraft topic. It is clearly a subject close to his heart, as there is a Dedication at the start to the people of Malta, an element of the story which is a particular part of the book, and the authors fascination for the island having lived there for a time with his parents... With RAF, Luftwaffe and Italian aircraft all well covered in here I thought it provides an excellent look at the work of the Desert Air Force between 1940 and 1943.

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Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

About Anthony Tucker-Jones

Anthony Tucker-Jones, a former intelligence officer, is an author and commentator who specialises in military history, with more than 50 books to his name. His work has also been published in an array of magazines and online. He regularly appears on television and radio programmes commenting on current and historical military matters. His books include Armoured Warfare in the North African CampaignThe Battle for the MediterraneanThe Desert Air WarThe Devil’s BridgeHitler’s Winter and Churchill Master and Commander.

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