The Desert Air Force in World War II - Air Power in the Western Desert 1940-1942, Ken Delve

The Desert Air Force in World War II - Air Power in the Western Desert 1940-1942, Ken Delve

This is the first of a short series of books on the role of the Desert Air Force during the Second World War, a period that saw it develop from an outnumbered band of squadrons equipped with fairly obsolete equipment into a very powerful force that played a major role in the Allied victories in North Africa and Italy. This book covers the ‘back and forth’ period of the war, which saw the British start well, defeating the Italians, before being pushed by by Rommel. The first siege of Tobruk ended with a second phase of British victories, followed by a second counterattack by Rommel. The book ends with the defensive battles fought deep inside Egypt, the high point of Rommel’s success. 

This falls into the ‘very detailed’ school of aviation history, dominated by day-by-day accounts of operations, often illustrated by lengthy extracts from eye witness accounts. Each chapter starts with a short overview of the strategic situation during the period it covers, but after that the overall picture is soon rather lost in the mass of detail. Instead we get an excellent feel for the daily life of the aircrews, and for the nature of the aerial fighting and life in the desert, from the difficult living conditions to the risks of ‘walking out’ after a crash.

This is a useful book that brings together an impressive array of eyewitness accounts of the fighting during this crucial period in North Africa – just don’t expect a detailed account of how the fighting in the air meshed into the progress of the individual battles – this isn’t that sort of book.  

1 - Introduction
2 - Beating the Italians in the Desert
3 - From Victory to Defeat and Stalemate
4 - Operation Crusader
5 - 1942 - Backwards Again
6 - Borders of Egypt: Facing Defeat

Author: Ken Delve
Edition: Hard Cover
Pages: 224
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Year: 2017

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