Eagles over Gazala. Air Battles in North Africa May-June 1942
The volume deals with the so called ‘Battle of Gazala’ a period that has been of great importance for the war in North Africa as it rose from a seemingly stale situation. The Axis army was near to reaching Alexandria and the Suez Canal, which would be a significant blow to British Empire. At last, however, as the Author will unfold in detail in his next books, the Commonwealth was able to turn the tide and push back Rommel to Tripoli.Thanks to his in-depth research approach, Michele Palermo is able to shed new light on many aspects of this important air campaign. He covers broader themes, such as the impact on the operations of the air forces and the balance of power between the contenders, but also included are more specific topics, such as the contribution of SAAF and the other forces of the Dominions to the Commonwealth effort, or the actual results obtained by the super-ace Marseille.The air war over the Mediterranean is too often described as a clash between two contenders only, namely the Commonwealth air forces and the Luftwaffe. Readers already familiar with the history of this confrontation will finally be able to appreciate in full the significant contribution of the Regia Aeronautica. Aside from the review of the performance of the Allied and Luftwaffe pilots, the author examines in detail how the Italians truly fared in combat through analyzing the outcomes of the engagements: it becomes clear that the Italians consistently shot down more planes than they lost throughout the campaign and were in no way inferior to their adversaries. This conclusion defies the historical debate of their competence, declaring once and for all that pronouncements of the Italians’ ‘lack of determination or stamina’ are merely a remnant of war time propaganda.All the above is backed by interesting digressions, useful and timely summary tables and by what is probably the best chapter dealing with the technical aspects of the aircraft involved, ever provided in a study of this kind, making even more precious this innovative work.Published seventy-one years after the battle of Gazala, this updated and original book will become the necessary starting point for a proper understanding of the critical air campaign that led to the battle of El Alamein.