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Lictorian Fasces over England - book review

1089maul

New Member
Written by Marek Sobski and published by Kagero in their Air Battles series, number 20.

As the title suggests, this book is about the involvement of the Regia Aeronautica (RA) in the latter stages of the Battle of Britain during World War 2 from their first bombing raid on the 24th October 1940 until the withdrawal of the last fighter unit in early April 1941.

As far as I am aware, this book is one of only two that deal with the RA’s participation in the Battle of Britain with other being The Chianti Raiders by Peter Haining.

The soft cover book is 56 pages long and is well supported with numerous photographs. At the end of the book there are a number of good quality drawings of the aircraft involved on the RA side. Of the 56 pages, only 12 directly concern the operations of the Corpo Aero Italiano (CAI). This gives the book a bit of a ‘Lopsided’ feel with more focus on the aircraft than the actual operations over England.

The book is simply written and split into four specific areas. It starts with a brief overview of the RA and it’s doctrines. There follows detailed descriptions and history of the four aircraft that were the main participants in the battle. The third area deals with deployment to Belgium and actual operations conducted by the CAI. The book ends with the withdrawal and redeployment of the various units.

As previously mentioned, the text is well supported by photographs but unfortunately there is a complete lack of maps which would have been important to have included as it would support the problems experienced by the CAI when flying to England and the handicap of limited flying time over enemy territory.

I liked the detailed information on each aircraft. The supporting photographs were of good selection and included photographs of the aircraft on Belgium airfields. This leads to another criticism as in the chapter dealing with aircraft, more often that not, the photographs on the pages did not match with the aircraft being described on the same page. Admittedly this is a small point but one that in my view spoils the fluidity of the reading.

I would like to have seen a lot more on the actual operations conducted by the CAI. Whilst the author has covered each raid, much more could be included on each raid, for example what happened to the shot down aircraft one of which now resides the the RAF museum in Hendon. What happened to the aircrew two whome are buried in the Brookwood cemetery in Surrey. All this is part of CAI operations over England.

The book ends with the author conclusions which whilst short does make interesting reading. As he quite rightly states, the CAI and its pilots served under extreme disadvantages with its equipment from quality of aircraft to the lack of radios to having to flying open cockpits in inclement weather. The author has drawn information from two authors, Mr Frank Joseph and Mr Peter Haining and also two participating pilots, one from the RAF and one from the RA. The conclusions are well known deficiencies with RA but ends with the well earned praise of the CAI pilots courage.

I would recommend this book to those with little knowledge of the RA and their involvement in the a Battle of Britain but would warn the serious student that they will not learn anything new. Personally I prefer the subsequent book The Chianti Raiders as being more complete.

I would like to end this review with my thanks to Jeff Leser for his encouragement and taking time to give me his opinions on my draft copy. This is the first time that I have done a book review and have found it challenging and rewarding. It is my plan to do a review of The Chianti Raiders in the near future.

Regard to all,

Bob
 

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I enjoy all these book reviews. I've read them all and appreciate the effort. One criticism I consistently notice is the problem of good maps that follow the units. Kinda sad to hear considering all the google earth and translation technology that the authors could utilize. I'm aware that certain towns and cities, especially on the eastern front, have changed names over time but some small effort from the authors would go a long way.
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
Maps are an issue in most new history books. They are an additional publishing cost (especially if color is used) and most authors lack the skills needed to build them themselves. As separate or foldout maps are a thing of the past (costly), it is a challenge to create a map in a (lets be generous) 10' x 7.5" format that is readable and useful.

It remains a problem as understanding military operations normally requires some good maps. Without them, the personal accounts tend to outweigh the planning and decision-making.
 
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