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Air Power and the Arab World 1909-1955, Volume 4

Air Power and the Arab World 1909-1955, Volume 4 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review February 2022 Title Air Power and the Arab World 1909-1955, Volume 4
Author David C. Nicolle, with Gabr Ali Gabr Publisher Helion
Published 2021 ISBN 9781914059278
Format 112 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $35.00


David Nicolle and the late Gabr Ali Gabr recap “The First Arab Air Forces, 1918-1936” in Volume 4 of Air Power and the Arab World 1909-1955 – 35th in Helion’s superb “Middle East@War” series, and available in North America from Casemate.

As before, general background remarks recap military, political, social, and economic considerations.

Coverage then swiftly segues to specific sections on efforts to develop the region’s first indigenous air arms in:

  • the Rif Republic,
  • the Hashemite Kingdom of Hijaz,
  • Saudi Arabia,
  • Yemen,
  • Egypt, and
  • Iraq.

Commentary recaps key personalities, equipment, and basing. And virtually every chapter comes replete with revelations.

Remarks include, for instance, illuminating notes on aircraft acquisitions, aircrew incidents, early actions, and accidents. Rare period photography accompanies all. And two pages of references conclude contents.

Notes on the evolution of Arab national markings proved personally intriguing. And Islamic text and symbols – like ornate ShahAdah calligraphy on an Italian-built SAML S.2 of the first Yemeni Air Force – naturally dominate early designs. Unfortunately, as Nicolle notes, no photo of the earliest Saudi insigne apparently survives.

Minor gremlins, however, stalk this illuminating account. Despite author assertions, for instance, the spelling of “white” in an Italian verbal description – “una spada trasversale in bianco su fondo verde” – is, in fact, correct. And despite my rusty Arabic, I doubt “Misr al-Jadidah” “literally” means “New Cairo”.

Maps and superb color profiles also support Helion’s splendid study. And coverage of contemporary civil developments enriches commentary on military matters. But, again, a troubling lack of annotations frustrates further enrichment and research.

That concern aside, I loved this incandescent installment. Line up behind me for Volume 5!

Robustly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Casemate for this review sample!