The Mediterranean Air War: Airpower and Allied Victory in World War II.

Author:Agoratus, Steve
Position:Book review
 
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The Mediterranean Air War: Airpower and Allied Victory in World War II. By Robert S. Ehlers Jr. Lawrence Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2015. Photographs. Notes. Bibliography. Maps. Pp. 520. $43.00 ISBN: 978-0-7006-2075-3

This synthesis convincingly depicts the air war over North Africa and Italy as a key enabler of Allied victory in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean offered access to the Suez Canal and mid-East oil, was a back door to southern Europe, and lay astride key Far East supply routes. Allied airpower, as effectively executed by, and under the command of, airmen was a key factor in that victory. Without Allied air supremacy in the Mediterranean, the fate of the war in North Africa, and indeed the entire war, would have been in question. This book builds on the thesis of Douglas Porch, Hitler's Mediterranean Gamble (2004), of the Mediterranean as a major theater that enabled overall Allied victory in World War II.

Author of the groundbreaking Targeting the Third Reich: Air Intelligence and the Allied Bombing Campaigns (2009), Col Ehlers expands upon the theme of David Ian Hall in his Development of British Tactical Air Power, 1919-1943 (2008), to reveal the RAF's timely development of a spectrum of airpower capabilities in the heat of aerial combat over North Africa as crucial to the Mediterranean campaign: air superiority, interdiction, night operations, reconnaissance, training, hemisphere-spanning logistics pipelines, rapid airfield engineering, timely intelligence analysis and dissemination, and aircraft maintenance. Emphasized throughout is the overriding importance of command and control--closely coordinated among air, ground, and naval forces--as a prime enabler of effective airpower exploitation. The vital role of key RAF leaders--especially Tedder, Portal, and Coningham--is accentuated in these successes. Ehlers argues that superior airpower techniques were tested and matured here and benefitted subsequent Allied ground campaigns in...

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