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Air Power and the Arab World 1909-1955, Volume 6

Air Power and the Arab World 1909-1955, Volume 6 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review January 2024 Title Air Power and the Arab World 1909-1955, Volume 6
Author David C. Nicolle, with Gabr Ali Gabr Publisher Helion
Published 2022 ISBN 9781915070760
Format 58 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95


Europe plunges into a Second World War – and the conflict affects Arabs as “bystanders” and “victims”.

That’s the nub of Air Power and the Arab World 1909-1955, Volume 6 – 48th entry in Helion’s superb “Middle East@War” range.

Ably authored by David Nicolle and the late Egyptian Air Vice Marshal Gabr Ali Gabr, the slim, 58-page study charts “The World Crisis 1939 - March 1941” in four succinct sections:

  • Introductory remarks on initial “Allied Confidence and Allied Collapse”
  • Iraq as an Allied “Base Area”
  • Egypt as a “Non-Belligerent Ally”
  • Neutrals, Independent Arab Nations, and “Subject Peoples” in the Air War


As with previous series installments, commentary covers relevant politics, personalities, equipment, units, actions, and incidents – both Arab and European.

Five categories of references – “published books”, “journal articles”, “online sources”, “unpublished sources”, and British archival material also comprise the book’s selected “bibliography” – and provide useful leads for further study.

Lots of eye candy here, too. The lavishly illustrated effort sports dozens of rare photos, one color map, and one B&W map. And twenty-one color aircraft profiles proffer plenty of intriguing project possibilities.

But some tactical maps – of, for instance, Egyptian deployments around the Qatara Depression – might better help readers put commentary into geographic contexts.

I also think that Peter Penev’s Iraqi “SM.79B” [sic: S.79B] profile, page vi, should wear overall “cachi avorio chiaro” (“light ivory khaki”) applied to S.81 bomber-transports and other Savoia-Marchetti machines – not a “sandy yellow” (giallo mimetico). And that should actually read A80 – not “A60” – on the cowling of his Breda 65 color plate, page i.

But this book’s most serious problem – and that of all previous Air Power and the Arab World volumes – remains the lack of annotations.

Sure, you can infer sources for anecdotal commentary details – Fred Weston of the British Advisory Mission, for instance, being one example.

But what’s the name and source of that intriguing “British government memo” on page 14? And why not simply identify that “recent history of the desert air war” with “prejudiced British documentation rather than on Egyptian documentary or verbal sources” on page 44?

Nevertheless, the vast number of Helion’s revelations far outweighs my reservations. Volume 6 takes readers to the precipice of May 1941. That means The Golden Square, Rashid Ali al-Kaylani, Habbaniya, Vichy Syria, and plenty more.

And I can’t wait.


My sincere thanks to Casemate for this review sample!