Eagles over North-Africa 1940 – 1943


African Eagles Cover_2

Having seen quite a lot of illustrated WW2 aviation publications, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. In his introduction, the author not only gives a very clear and concise summary of the Mediterranean air war, but he also highlights the operational and logistical problems the Luftwaffe faced, in the desert and elsewhere. Those problems were in many cases caused by faulty strategic decisions “higher up”.
The images are excellent. Drawn from a very wide range of sources, they give a rare insight in the Luftwaffe’s daily life in the desert and the Balkans. I particularly like the early colour shots. They give such a much better feel for what the machines and scenery really looked like. Here’s an example:

African Eagles Photo_2

Two Messerschmitt Me 110’s of ZG 26 over the Western Desert. Note the long range (900 l) fuel tanks

The author is clearly very well versed in Luftwaffe type designations, units and personnel, as the captions show. He presents tantalizing titbits of information, awakening the readers’ curiosity. A good example is the series of pictures showing how equipment was transported in the huge Messerschmitt Me-323 “Gigant”. It conveys the feeling that the situation at sea must have been so desperate, that even the equivalent of a toilet wagon had to be transported by air…
My overall impression of the book is very good; it is not a history textbook, but a great collection of excellent images and good narrative. I was sorry to reach the end. The only thing I missed was a map of the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, nowadays not everyone knows all those places mentioned in the narrative.
I recommend this book to everyone interested in the WW2 Mediterranean air war and to those, who want to get an impression of how it was on the German side.

“Eagles over North-Africa and the Mediterranean, 1940 -1943”
By Jeffry Lance Ethell
Pen & Sword Aviation, 2016
ISBN 978-1-84832-792-4