Fighter Operations in Europe and North Africa, 1939-1945, David Wragg

Fighter Operations in Europe and North Africa, 1939-1945, David Wragg

The main focus of this book is on the struggle between RAF and Luftwaffe fighter pilots, from the early fighting in 1940, through the Battle of Britain and the war in North Africa to the final campaigns in north-western Europe. The American contribution isn't really covered, and there is a single very short chapter looking at the fighting on the Eastern Front.

There are some factual errors. One that caught my eye came in the chapter on the Battle of Britain where the Bf 109 is described as being armed with one cannon and eight machine guns, thus outgunning all British fighters.

German figures reveal that the Bf 109E-1 and Bf 109E-4 were the main versions used during the Battle of Britain. The E-1 was initially armed with four machine guns, and later with two wing-mounted cannon and two machine guns. The E-4 was armed with two wing-mounted cannon and two machine guns from the start (this explains why some British fighter pilots felt that the Bf109 was under-armed, having encountered early four-machine gun E-1s while others suffered in encounters with the cannon armed E-4.

The book is perhaps a little over ambitious in its attempts to cover the fighting on the eastern front, which gets a single very short chapter. The book would feel rather more coherent if it had focused more clearly on RAF fighter operations against Germany and Italy, the main thrust of the book.

Although the book has its flaws it does serve a useful purpose, bringing together the different strands of the RAF's fighter war, from the pre-war build-up of Hurricanes and Spitfires to the massive aerial armadas of 1944-45. This makes a welcome change after reading plenty of books dedicated to a single type of aircraft.

1 - Britain Prepares for War
2 - The Fighter Forces
3 - War in Europe - Will it be Like the Last Time?
4 - Battle of Britain
5 - Blitzkrieg and Fighter Sweeps
6 - The Siege of Malta
7 - Greece and North Africa
8 - Taking the War back to the Enemy
9 - The Eastern Front
10 - Action over Normandy
11 - Over Occupied Territory
12 - Towards Germany
13 - Into the Reich
14 - What Might Have Been

Author: David Wragg
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 215
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Year: 2012

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