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Wings of Iraq, Volume 1: The Iraqi Air Force, 1931-1970

Wings of Iraq, Volume 1: The Iraqi Air Force, 1931-1970 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review April 2021 Title Wings of Iraq, Volume 1: The Iraqi Air Force, 1931-1970
Author Milos Sipos, Tom Cooper Publisher Helion
Published 2020 ISBN 9781913118747
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (GBP) $29.95

Review

For most of the 20th Century, the Iraqi Air Force proved a pivotal participant in key regional and local conflicts.

More significantly, perhaps, its actions and activities roused worldwide reactions that eventually caused its collapse.

Now Milos Sipos and Tom Cooper chart the saga of “The Iraqi Air Force, 1931-1970” in Wings of Iraq – first in an admirably annotated, two-part study and 27th in Helion’s superb “Middle East@War” series.

Don’t skip introductory remarks and acknowledgments. Authors candidly assess their Herculean task – citing three key Iraqi sources, the tragic destruction of Iraqi archives, the assistance of Western experts, and the frank prospect of “frequently unavoidable” errors.

I’d say it worked: their toil produced the best, popular, English-language perspective – to date – on the political, economic, and military story of Iraqi military aviation.

Battle-tested since The Great Depression, the Iraq Air Force first saw combat suppressing insurgent incidents. Conventional blooding occurred during 1941’s “Anglo-Iraq War”. And a period of rebuilding through the immediate post-WWII period followed.

At that point, the book’s pace considerably quickens. Coverage chronicles the air force in the turbulent, politically unstable 1950s and 1960s. And commentary culminates in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and its aftermath.

Photos, color profiles, maps, tables, and sidebars augment the account. And abbreviations, references, and endnotes further supplement the study.

Photo quality often proves marginal – especially with the book’s oldest images. But that’s the price we pay for glimpsing rarae aves like a FIAT CR.42 in Iraqi insignia – one of only two such images known to exist.

While I enjoyed Wings of Iraq, knowledgeable readers will quickly question some narrative claims and conclusions. And attentive ones will swiftly spot issues and inconsistencies in sources and endnotes.

That’s also Savoia-Marchetti S.79B, as in Tom Cooper’s profile – not SM.79A. And did Iraq receive six or four – or even five, as recent Iraqi sources suggest – of these bombers? Is the Arabic for “Habbiniya” rendered two different ways – with a Haa’ above, and a kaaf below – in page 42’s photos? And the word “lone” – not “lonesome” – correctly describes solitary inanimate objects like aircraft.

Pardon the pedantry. I do realize that many buy “@War” titles for pictures and purview – not for prose or particulars. And this one doesn’t disappoint.

Helion’s lavishly illustrated effort offers a sound launch pad to further study of Iraqi military aviation. I eagerly await its sequel.

Recommended!

With thanks to Casemate for the review copy!