Taranto and Naval Air Warfare in the Mediterranean 1940 – 1945 written by David Hobbs and published by Seaforth Publishing – £35.00 – Hardback – Pages 440

This is the first book to focus on the Fleet Air Arm’s contribution to naval operations in the Mediterranean after the Italian declaration of war in June 1940. The Royal Navy found itself facing a larger and better-equipped Italian surface fleet, large Italian and German air forces equipped with modern aircraft and both Italian and German submarines. Its own aircraft were a critical element of an unprecedented fight on, over and under the sea surface.

The best-known action was the crippling of the Italian fleet at Taranto, which demonstrated how aircraft carriers and their aircraft had replaced the dominance of battleships, but every subsequent operation is covered from the perspective of naval aviation. Some of these, like Matapan or the defence of the ‘Pedestal’ convoy to Malta, are famous but others in support of land campaigns and in the Aegean after the Italian surrender are less well recorded. In all these, the ingenuity and innovation of the Fleet Air Arm shines through – Taranto pointed the way to what the Japanese would achieve at Pearl Harbor, while air cover for the Salerno landings demonstrated the effectiveness of carrier-borne fighters in amphibious operations, a tactic adopted by the US Navy.

This is a fantastic book looking at the Fleet Air Arm contribution in the Mediterranean and is a similar book to those you get that become the bible on one subject. This is a very thorough book in the telling and the information is very detailed and informative. The book reads very well indeed and doesn’t feel heavy at all. The book also covers subjects such as Operation Judgement, Matapan, the Pedestal Convoy and Operation Torch. I think that what also must be said is, along with the very high standard of writing and detail is the superb number of high-quality pictures and photographs featured in the book. They really do pop and standout. The fascinating part of the book really is the growth and early use of the Fleet Air Arm and seeing its progression, but the best bit has to be the courage and bravery of the men/pilots that carried out the fighting and flying. I really enjoyed the notes and the appendices at the back of the book, which I highly recommend. A definite 5-star rating from me.

By Ben Davidson

Hello, I have been studying all aspects of history for about 25 years. I have a BA History from the University of Bedfordshire. My historical areas of interest are anything really, but I specialise in 19th - 20th century Britain, America and Ireland. I am also strongly aligned with most military history, really enjoying WW2 and the US Civil War. Chuck in the king or queen and Bob's your uncle.