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As mentioned elsewhere, I have been studying the history of Malta and the many ship and aircraft wrecks found there for some years and this allows me to make some explanatory points prior to my review. Because of her strategic position in relation to the war in North Africa, Malta underwent a period of concentrated bombing during WW2 with the Malta Blitz lasting 100 days longer than that on London! Aircraft losses at one point amounted to the equivalent of a Squadron every week. In addition to squadrons being rotated from the UK, replacement aircraft were also flown-in from aircraft carriers. Aircraft staging through Malta on their way to Egypt, were pressed into service - earning the AOC the nick-name “sticky fingers” for using these resources. In addition, some pilots who arrived in brand new aircraft, found themselves continuing their journey in another which was in dire need of service and repair. This assortment of different aircraft and different squadrons meant there really was no distinct colour scheme which might, today, be easily identifiable as being that of RAF Malta! Nevertheless, several different schemes were found in Malta and this book goes a long way to explaining these.

The work is, however, very muddled and commences with Acknowledgement (yes singular! And using 2 pages to mention very few names with several being repeated), Foreword and Introduction. The chapters are; (1) Delivery Operations, (2) Gibraltar, (3) Squadron Operations, (4) Other Relevant Examples, (5) Methods of Over-painting, (6) The Mount of an Ace and (7) Veterans’ Testimonials. These are followed by 9 very different Appendices filling a further 37 pages and yet the individual headings for these are not mentioned within the Contents at all. In other words you have to wade through those pages to see what subjects they cover. The work concludes with a Bibliography.

My first impression was one of opening a well-presented scrapbook. The background for every page is identical and is a double-page spread of a photograph of the sky with buff-coloured cloud covering most of the two pages with a light grey (not blue!) sky across the top. To these are added individual boxes of text (often in different colours such as green and brown), photographs and so forth - with the final product looking as though each box or picture was literally pasted by hand in amongst other text written over cloud and sky. Throughout the work there are also 29 good-quality artistic impressions of Spitfire profiles in various liveries. These, however, are added as though each one was an afterthought. Each of these images is on its side and appears down the outside edge of the page. This requires the reader to turn the page through 90 degrees in order to view and then repeat the process a few words later-on when another point is made. Boring! Add to that the very wide empty margins on the outside edges where there is no artwork and you have a lot of wasted space.

The entire layout is amateurish and creates considerable disappointment. All too frequently I found myself distracted by constantly having to turn the book as described - with my train of thought interrupted each and every time. Ordinarily, a glance from text to image is the norm. All of which is most odd because it would have been easy to find sufficient space for each aircraft profile to be displayed the right way up.

All things considered, I think the author has gone to a great deal of trouble to expose whatever limited information is available on the subject of the colours and markings of the Spitfire V in Malta at the time in question. Instead of remaining within the stated aim of the project, however, the work is padded out with peripheral - albeit sometimes interesting (not always!), facts and figures relating to Malta’s air war. Examples are: Appendix 6 comprises 12 pages of Pilot profiles - which have nothing to do with colour schemes and Appendix 9 which takes up a whole page (12 lines of text and a photograph of US Marines - described as a photo of a US Aircraft Carrier!) to explain something which the author admits is not even known – and yet a sentence or two would have sufficed.

Very rarely have I been so annoyed by a book!

NM
0Comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 September 2013
Really liked this. The author doesn't come up with firm answers to the problem of markings and colours, but this is impossible given the evidence which is available. The result is thought provoking and genuinely interesting stuff. If you're the kind of person who wants certainties then this book isn't for you, but if you are willing to take on board that historical evidence is open to interpretation and that this is part of the fun then this book will be worth checking out. Fascinating.
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on 9 June 2013
A very detailed treatment of the problem of the colour(s) in which Spitfires operated from Malta were painted.

After an excellent review of the possible answers the conclusion though was a bit of a let down, and can be summarized in three points :

1. There was no standard.

2. In the absence of reliable artifacts we will probably never know what colours individual Spitfires were painted.

3. People who were there had more urgent concerns than what colour to paint their aircraft.

One interesting, but overlooked issue is what was the purpose of camouflaging the Spitfires in the first place. The author clearly think that it was to camouflage the aircraft while in the air, but even in Malta 1942 aircraft spent a lot more time on the ground than they did flying but the usefulness of camouflage in concealing the Spitfires on the ground is not mentioned at all.
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on 16 April 2014
Maltese Spitfire colors have been a matter of discussion for years. This book neatly sums up all the possibilities, gives evidence and makes educated guesses.
It is very well laid out, with loads of original phoyto's and drawn profiles.
In an annex an overview is given of all Spifire mark V's that served in Malta.
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on 26 May 2013
I have always been facinated by the Battle for Malta and the air battles that ensured, this book is very well researched and presented and is an excellent buy for Military History buffs and modellers alike.
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on 20 April 2013
This is for the enthusiast and those keen to model the Spitfire aircraft that flew over Malta. There are two books that seem to cover this subject although this one is much more specialised on the aircraft paint schemes. The other is the Osprey book Malta Spitfire Aces. If you read them both you will find there are some commonality as they sometimes pick the same aircraft to discuss but there are some that seem to contradict the actual finish of the aircraft. Since the whole subject is open to interpretation and there are so many arguments about the actual answers then you have have to decide for yourself who you believe to be the most accurate. However it is interesting to compare what the author says in this book and the photographs provided and of course to compare the Osprey book. The osprey book covers the aircraft with some discussion on the paint finish and do not claim to be the experts on the actual finish. This book does claim to be the most authoritative on the subject I found having read the book that the author makes some dubious conclusions and in a couple of photos wrongly describes the aircraft in the picture which makes me wonder about the conclusions he draws about colours used. However in saying all that he comes up with some interesting findings. I found it well worth getting and yes you really have to be keen and interested in the subject to make it worth buying.
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