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Israeli Air Force Operations in the 1948 War

Israeli Air Force Operations in the 1948 War Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review April 2016 Title Israeli Air Force Operations in the 1948 War
Author Shlomo Aloni Publisher Helion
Published 2016 ISBN 9781910294116
Format 72 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $29.95


Airpower proved critical during the fourth phase of Israel’s war of independence.

Now Helion tells that tale in Israeli Air Force Operations in the 1948 War – second installment in the publisher’s exciting new “Middle East@War” series.

Subtitled “Israeli Winter Offensive Operation Horev 22 December 1948-7 January 1949”, the slim study spans 72 lavishly illustrated, fact-packed pages – and is available in North America from Casemate.

Day-by-day. Hour-by-hour. For 16 days. Shlomo Aloni’s timelines tally all known missions – fighter, bomber, “raid”, reconnaissance, observation, transport and “test”. And sections survey participating units, personnel and equipment.

Israel mustered, for instance, a motley mix of warplanes during 1948-49 actions. Bomb-laden Piper Cubs and d.H. Dragon Rapides. Camouflaged T-6s and B-17s. Spirfires. Avias. And Mustangs.

Aloni’s absorbing account sports dozens of rare aircraft photos. Tom Cooper’s typically terrific color profiles offer plenty of model project possibilities. And maps graphically chronicle combat.

But the evocative account leaves some fascinating details hanging. How, for instance, were Israeli C-46s and C-47s configured for bombing?

This book can also prove tediously tough to read. With no column headings, Helion’s embedded time, aircraft and unit listings, for instance, confused. I simply couldn’t decipher many entries. What, for instance, do “Orringer Wygle Festing Manor”, “test” and “sluj” mean?

Moreover, those listings only offer aircraft serials. So determining participating types by continually referencing Aloni’s ORBAT table also proved irritating. Troublesome, too, were transliterations from Hebrew to English. Why “dalet” and “bet” – but not “Horeb” or “Beer Sheva”?

Finally, historian Kenneth Merrick disavowed his 1980 research on RLM 68 over a decade ago. So assigning that pre-WWII Luftwaffe color to postwar Avia S.199s frankly beggars belief.

Still, this “Middle East@War” effort boasts enormous amounts of fascinating facts – and delectable details. Going forward, however, Helion might consider referencing, say, Tom Cooper’s outstanding “Africa@War” studies as templates for future entries.

Roundly recommended!

With thanks to Casemate Publishing for the review copy!