Saturday, December 12, 2015

Book Review: The Israeli Air Force 1947-1960

Salvador Mafe Huertas
The Israeli Air Force 1947-1960
Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 1996
Category: Israel Air Force - History

Rating: 4-Stars

Roughly half of Huertas' book is devoted to Israel's 1947-1949 War of Independence - a period during which Israel's air force was dominated by foreign volunteers.  Subject to an international arms embargo, Israel's air force comprised a makeshift collection of airplanes acquired clandestinely from a number of sources, facing off against Arab air arms that were supplied generously by their colonial patrons.  It was a desperate struggle for survival, costing more lives than any of Israel's wars since, and while air power did not play a decisive role in the overall outcome of the war, it did provide the necessary means - at critical junctures - to turn the tide of key battles.

The period from 1949 to 1960 in turn was a formative period for Israel's air force.  It marked the transition from the piston to the jet age, and from an air force reliant on foreign volunteers to a wholly indigenous Israeli armed force - responsible for its own training and tactical development.

Huertas' book therefore helps to fill a void in Israel's air force history that has been poorly served relative to other time periods.  It combines this chronology with a selection of black-and-white photographs, and with an Appendice that contains copies of declassified documents from the British Air Attache.

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