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A History of the Mediterranean Air War, 1940-1945: Volume 2: North African Desert, February 1942 - March 1943 [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Christopher Shores , Giovanni Massimello

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Kurzbeschreibung

31. Mai 2014
The first volume of this series dealt with the initial 19 months of the air war over the Western Desert of North Africa. This volume picks up the story as the 8th Army, following its hard-fought success in Operation Crusader, was forced back to the Gazala area, roughly mid-way between the Cyrenaican/Tripolitanian border of Libya and the frontier with Egypt. It covers the lull prior to the disastrous defeat of the 8th Army in June 1942 and the loss of the important port and fortress of Tobruk. The costly efforts of the Allied air forces to protect the retreating British and Commonwealth troops and prevent this turning into a rout is examined in depth. So too is the heavy fighting which followed in the El Alamein region as the line was stabilised. This period was ameliorated somewhat for the Western Desert Air Force by the arrival - at last - of the first Spitfires. The build-up of both the army and air force which followed, coupled with new commanders on the ground, meant that Rommel's Deutsche Afrika Korps was defeated at Alam el Halfa at the start of September, and then again, comprehensively, at the climactic battle of El Alamein in October. Joined now by the first units of the United States Army Air Force, the Allied air forces began to achieve a growing ascendency over those of the Axis. The long, rather slow, pursuit of the Italo-German forces right across Libya is recounted, including the capture of Tripoli, followed by the breakthrough into Southern Tunisia at the end of March 1943. This allowed a link-up with the Allied forces in Tunisia (whose story will be related in Volume 3) to be achieved. In this volume follow to the fortunes of some of the great fighter aces of the Desert campaign such as Jochen Marseille and Otto Schulz of the Luftwaffe, Franco Bordoni-Bisleri of the Regia Aeronautica and Neville Duke, Billy Drake and 'Eddie' Edwards of the Commonwealth air forces. While the fighting above the constantly-moving front lines form the main narrative of this book, the Allied and Axis night bombing offensives and the activities of the squadrons co-operating with the naval forces in the Mediterranean are certainly not neglected.

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A History of the Mediterranean Air War, 1940-1945: Volume 2: North African Desert, February 1942 - March 1943 + A History of the Mediterranean Air War, 1940-1945: Volume One: North Africa, June 1940-January 1942
Preis für beide: EUR 97,49

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Amazon.com: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  3 Rezensionen
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Maintains the standard 10. Juli 2014
Von Barrett Tillman - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The first installment in this series covered the period from June 1940 to January 1942, with the new volume running through March 1943. It fully maintains the standard of Volume I, with more than 100 pages longer.

Set against Britain's misfortunes during the Tobruk campaign of 1942, the new volume traces the increasing ascendancy of the Luftwaffe which began replacing Italy's Regia Aeronautica as the primary Axis air force.

Historians and historiographers will appreciate the section with each of the five contributors describing their main sources. Since the US Army Air Forces appeared in North Africa during the period covered in Vol. II, the portion from Dr. Frank Olynyk is especially valuable. Finally, the endmatter includes an extensive bibliography.

Of enduring value is the early portion of Chapter 1, with lengthy comments by airmen on both sides of the line. Many if not all were included in the authors' 1969 treatment, "Fighters Over the Desert," but their repetition here reminds us of how fragile history really is. Probably none of the veterans cited 45 years ago are still with us, and therefore much of the current book could not be written again.

The text format is identical to Volume I, a day by day recounting of operations ending with tables of aerial combat claims and losses from the British Commonwealth, Germany, Italy, and finally the U.S. Thus, diligent readers are able to determine the validity (or not) of all combatants and many individuals. A quick compilation of June 1942 shows Allies and Axis both claiming more than twice the actual results, with the Germans and Italians running up a 2-1 victory-loss ratio over the Allies.

It would be helpful in assessing RAF aircraft losses if the damages were explained. For instance, "Category I" and "Category II"
are often cited without an indication of whether the airframe was written off, repaired locally, or sent to a depot.

Separate chapters document the little-known RAF night operations in North Africa and the naval air aspects of the campaign.

The text is thoroughly illustrated with scores of black and white photos, some of marginal quality but all relevant to the subject and many new to this reviewer.

Christopher Shores long has represented the gold standard for WW II RAF histories, and his alliance with Giovanni Massimello, Russell Guest, Frank Olynyk, and Winifried Bock continues its winning ways.
5.0 von 5 Sternen Superlative and detailed account of Italian, German, Commonwealth Air Force and USAAF operations - with a caveat 14. August 2014
Von Writing Historian - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Christopher Shores et al have produced another excellent account of air combat in the Mediterranean theater covering the period February 1942 - March 1943. The authors have provided much new information on operations described earlier in Fighters over the Desert and Fighters Over Tunisia.

The book is organized in much the same fashion as its predecessor. Each chapter contains approximately 70 - 90 pages of richly detailed narrative spanning several months. The exceptions being Chapter 10 which discusses anti-shipping operations during the period 1 July 1942 to 31 March 1943 and Chapter 11 which is focused on "The Allied Heavy Bomber Offensive" during roughly the same period. Chapter 11 is followed by a three page Bibliography and index. As you might have surmised, the bibliography contains no mention of the primary sources used.

There are isolated issues in the narrative, such as the events of 23 March 1943 which partially describe the death of JG-77 ace Major Joachim Müncheberg (Captain Sweetland's wingman, in a report filed that evening, presents a very different version of events. In addition, Sweetland was one of two USAAF Spitfires shot down in that engagement - perhaps that will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 3, but no annotation as such was added to the narrative). I also wondered why anti-shipping operations discussed in Chapter 10 did not include USAAF anti-shipping missions. As before, perhaps that material will be included in Chapter 3. That said, I found the only section that fell short of my expectations turned out to be Chapter 11 entitled "Allied Heavy Bomber Offensive." In my mind, "Allied" means British and American. However, this chapter contains an account of British operations and order of battle with a smattering of US raids included. While the authors mention in the introduction that they are limiting their coverage to raids that resulted in aircraft losses or were of particular effectiveness, I would submit that the below might offer one instance (and there are others) that deserved inclusion:

28 December 1942 - Eight B-24Ds of the 343d Bombardment Squadron attacked Sousse harbor from an altitude of 18500 to 19600 feet. Bomb load for each a/c was 6 x 1000 lb American general purpose bombs. Dropped bombs in train. Two aircraft returned with bombs. One aircraft jettisoned bombs. Results: Set fire to two ships along commercial quay, hits on Mole and position three on Map S/22. Explosion on commercial quay. Losses: None. AA accurate from heavy guns. Seven Bf-110s and two Bf-109s attacked formation. Two enemy planes shot down. (98th BG sortie reports, Jan - Mar 43, Rpt dtd 28 Dec 42) Note: The raid sank Italian freighters Anna Maria (1205 tons) and Armando (1541 tons), see Navi Mercantili Perdute pp. 35 and 57.

When other raids that led to aircraft losses are mentioned, they contain a minimum of information. For example, the 15 November 1942 raid is only presented in the claims/losses narrative with no supporting detail while the following occurred: "Four B-24Ds of the 345th Bombardment Squadron, five B-24Ds of the 343d Bombardment Squadron, five B-24Ds of the 344th Bombardment Squadron and five B-24Ds of the 415th Bombardment Squadron set out to destroy warehouses, docks, and shipping at Tripoli with merchant ship at El Agheila as secondary target. Ordnance load of 5 x 1000 pound bombs or 8 x 500 pound bombs. Bombing altitude 14000 feet. Very few aircraft reached target due to bad weather. The 345th BS formation bombed the secondary target with unobserved results. One enemy aircraft shot down, was seen to hit water and explode. 415th BS flight turned back before reaching target due to bad weather clouds. Secondary target bombed but no hits or near misses observed. Three aircraft hit by AA fire. Five B-24Ds of 344th BS did not reach target due to weather. One aircraft jettisoned its bombs, three other aircraft dropped their bombs on enemy airfields, and one aircraft dropped its bombs on an Oasis south of Benghazi. The 343d BS formation did not reach the target due to weather, two aircraft dropping bombs on El Magrum airport and nearby congested road. Near hits to road and vehicles were observed. One aircraft received battle damage to its No. 2 engine and left tire. One enemy Bf-109 believed damaged. No losses." (98th BG sortie reports, Jan - Mar 43, Rpts dtd 15 and 16 Nov 42)."

Granted, this narrative could be trimmed down considerably but readers would know that the 345th Bombardment Squadron shot down the Bf-109 lost by 8/JG 77.

I understand the lack of detail on all bombing operations, but it does seem that a number of RAF raids covered in this chapter do not meet the criteria stated in the introduction.

To be fair, the challenges of covering aerial operations in which, for example, fighter units on the German side were redeployed from Libya to Tunisia to fight the USAAF and back again to combat the RAF are manifold. That is why I unreservedly give this volume a five star rating and once again salute the international team of historians who are undertaking this magnificent effort. Highly recommended with a caveat that this volume may not provide all the details that readers interested in USAAF units might desire.
5.0 von 5 Sternen Five Stars 23. August 2014
Von RAYMOND C. CLAY - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
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