Air Power and the Arab World 1909-1955 Volume 2: Arab Side Shows, 1914-1918

Published: February 4th, 2021     
Product Image
Air Power and the Arab World
Author: Dr. David Nicolle
Reviewed by: Frank Landrus - IPMS# 35035
ISBN #: 1913118762
E-Book ISBN #: 978-1913118761
Other Publication Information: Illustrated by Tom Cooper; Luca Canossa Soft Square Bound; 8.3” x 11.8”, 88 pages
Price: $29.95
Product / Stock #: HEL1203
Product provided by: Casemate Publishers

Dr. David C Nicolle is a British historian specializing in the military history of the Middle-Ages, with special interest in the Middle East and Arab countries. After working for BBC Arabic Service, he obtained his MA at SOAS, University of London, followed by a PhD at the University of Edinburgh. He then lectured in art history at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan. Dr. Nicolle has published over 100 books about warfare ranging from Roman times to the 20th century, mostly as sole author. He also co-authored the 'Arab MiGs' series of books which covered the history of the Arab air forces at war with Israel from 1955 to 1973. Furthermore, he has appeared in several TV-documentaries, and has published numerous articles in specialized press. This is his third instalment for Helion's @War series with more planned in 2021.

Helion's latest book in the Middle East @ War series is a square back soft cover including 88 gloss paper pages. The cover photograph is of a Standard Voisin flying past a crowd of spectators and a lancer of the Cairo Mounted Police at the Heliopolis Aviation Week in February 1910. The color side profile by Tom Cooper is of one of three Short Type 82s operated by the British RNAS in Mesopotamia. Originally planned to be operated on floats from the river Tigris, this was found to be impractical and all three were converted to standard landing gear. The rear cover upper color side profile by Tom Cooper of an Italian Navy FBA Type H of the 286th Squadriglia that was based at Khums in Libya and is a copy of the side profile found on page 40vi. Tom Cooper's color side profile on the lower rear cover is of a Donnet-Denhaut D.D.2 of the French Naval Aviation Service and is a copy of the side profile found on page 40v. I counted three color pictures and 144 black and white photographs. There also 20 color side profiles, three black and white maps and one color map.

Dr. David C Nicolle follows up his first volume of Arab Air Power with more detail on the involvement of the major European powers. The British, French, Italians, and Spaniards all wanted to expand their interests in the Middle East. At the same time the Ottoman Empire, aligned with Germany, was struggling to keep its existing areas of control. The other major consideration was the effect of religion on alliances. The allies, primarily Christian, were doing battle in territories dominated by Muslims. Add into the intrigue that the British had brought in Hindus and Buddhists from India to support the war and stir that mix with a stick. This is not to mention the Axis alliance between Germany, Austro-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. Of course, a primary interest for the British was the protection on the Suez Canal, a prime target of the Turks. Britain did have concerns about how its allies in Egypt would fight against the Ottoman Muslims, an issue that the Turks were counting on. Britain at first did not place their Egyptian Muslim allies on the front lines, but eventually they had no choice. As it turned out, the British were not disappointed, as their Muslim allies had no issue fighting the Turks.

The sections include:

  • Dedication
  1. British Air Operations in the Arab World
  2. The Egyptian Military and Air Power
    • Color Profiles
  3. Events in the Italian Colonies
  4. The French in the Levant and North Africa
  5. Spanish Morocco During the Great War
  • Bibliography

I found an account on a British attack on the German airbase at Kifri quite interesting. The RFC bombed the airfield with Martinsydes on September 16, 1917. One pilot, Skinner, decided to come in low on a strafing run and took a bullet to his fuel tank. Heading home, he landed in the Iraqi desert where he set fire to his bird. Another Martinsyde provided air cover while a third Martinsyde landed to pick up the downed pilot. Luck would have it that Skinner's rescue had its engine quit upon landing forcing the Skinner to hand crank the engine to start it up. Upon firing up, Skinner had to jump on to the lower wing, tuck his legs behind the pilot's cockpit and hang on for dear life back to their home base.

The contemporary photographs support the text, and although the quality of some of the photographs due to the source material is not there, they certainly give you a good perspective of the events described. The nice color profiles by Luca Canossa help make up for this concern. Volumes 3 and 4 by Dr. David C Nicolle covering the Military Services from 1916-1918, have already been announced and I am anxiously looking forward to their release in 2021. If you own one the previous releases in the Middle East @ War series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Helion & Company, Casemate Publishing, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

  • Front Cover
    Front Cover
  • Rear Cover
    Rear Cover
  • Helion Middle East at War 26 Page 12
    Helion Middle East at War 26 Page 12
  • Helion Middle East at War 26 Page 40
    Helion Middle East at War 26 Page 40
  • Helion Middle East at War 26 Page 40iii
    Helion Middle East at War 26 Page 40iii
  • Helion Middle East at War 26 Page 51
    Helion Middle East at War 26 Page 51
  • Helion Middle East at War 26 Page 74
    Helion Middle East at War 26 Page 74

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