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.
Author: David Hobbs
Published: 30 November 2020