Sunday, November 15, 2015

Book Review: Israeli Air Force Operations in the 1948 War

Shlomo Aloni
Israeli Air Force Operations in the 1948 War
West Midlands, UK: Helion & Company Limited, 2015
Category: Israel Air Force - History

Rating: 5-Stars

Working from the official Israeli archives, Shlomo Aloni has brought the same level of rigor and detailed documentation to Israel's 1948 War of Independence that he has already brought to Operation Focus and the Six Day War.

This particular book is centered around the period from December 22, 1948 to January 7, 1949 - Operation Horev, the "Winter Offensive" wherein Israel pushed back the Egyptian armies from her borders and secured the Negev.  In contrast to the earliest phases of Israel's War of Independence, when Israel's armed forces were attempting to do little more than stem the invading Arab armies on all three fronts (four fronts if you count Lebanon and Syria separately), by December of 1948 the Israeli armed forces had absorbed sufficient weapons and resources to attempt a coordinated counter-attack.

By December of 1949 the Czech-built S199s that had been Israel's earliest fighter aircraft had been complimented by a fleet of four Spitfires and two P-51 Mustangs. Although half a dozen S199s continued to fly, the Spitfires and Mustangs providing the young Israeli Air Force with a far more reliable fighter fleet.  Added to this was a collection of three B-17 bombers, which together with three C-47 and two C-46 transports provided the air power necessary to support the ground offensive which eventually drove the Egyptian army back into the Sinai.

Aloni has collected details on every mission that took place as part of this offensive, including targets attacked, diagrams for Egyptian air bases that were bombed, the aircraft and pilots involved, photographs from the period, and first-hand pilot accounts wherever available.  Many of the bombing target sketches were actually drawn from the official debriefing records recorded by the pilots that conducted each mission.

Once again, Aloni has prepared the definitive account for this chapter in Israel's Air Force history, preserving this chapter of Israel's national heritage for future generations, and for English language audiences.

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