Taranto and Naval Air Warfare in the Mediterranean 1940-1945 By David Hobbs

Taranto and Naval Air Warfare in the Mediterranean 1940-1945 By David Hobbs

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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 Harbour, while air cover for the Salerno landings demonstrated the effectiveness of carrier-borne fighters in amphibious operations. 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.

ISBN: 9781526793836
Author: David Hobbs
Published: 30 November 2020

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    Cameron
    Wide ranging, informative, clearly presented

    A very well written book covering the roll of the Fleet Air Arm in the war in the Mediterranean from the declaration of war by Italy, up to VE Day (with 'hold out' German garrisons in the Aegean after some minor Allied reverses). The author uses a great number of sources, including official (British) unpublished works as background to a wide ranging, informative story with some added - very much hindsight fuelled, but always seeming to bear in mind what was taken into account by those involved at the time- analysis of Allied decision making. A number of important points , some of which possibly slip to the back of many minds are 'brought out', and put into perspective - the inadequacy of initial resources, the RN well into 1942 never had the aircraft to send its carriers out with a full complement of aircraft; the important role of the FAA, especially as 'Pathfinders' for bombing by the Desert Air Force; the lack of up to date aircraft for much of the campaign; the key role of the "assault'' CV's during the Torch, Husky and Italian landings: and the barely remembered, 'unsung' trouper act by the Fairey Albacores. All interesting points put forward in a very readable, logically laid out book. A very useful account of what, if never a 'forgotten' campaign, is certainly far more complex than it is often given credit for. Well worth a read, and a credit to the author's research and his well honed writing abilities.