Kittyhawks over the Sands: The Canadians and RCAF Americans
Tate, Rob, Air & Space Power Journal
Kittyhawks over the Sands: The Canadians and RCAF Americans, Campaigns: MTO [Mediterranean Theater of Operations] no. 1, by Michel Lavigne and James F. Edwards. Lavigne Aviation Publications, P.O. Box 222, Victoriaville, Qc, Canada, G6P 6S8, 2002, 384 pages, $45.00.
Since 1969 the outstanding book Fighters over the Desert by the English writer Christopher Shores and his German coauthor Hans Ring has served as the standard by which one measures other aviation history books about the air war in North Africa from 1940 through 1943. Within the last year, however, two indispensable works for the historian or fan of this area of World War II history have appeared: Russell Brown's Desert Warriors: Australian P-40 Pilots at War in the Middle East and North Africa, 1941-1943 (see my review in Aerospace Power Journal, winter 2001) and Kittyhawks over the Sands, both of which have set a new standard in this area of study.
Canadian author Michel Lavigne has again teamed with the exceptional Canadian ace James "Stocky" Edwards, a retired wing commander, to produce their second book. (In 1983 they joined forces to write Kittyhawk Pilot, Edwards's biography.) Lavigne's latest work, the fourth book he has coauthored, gives historians a superb account of this fascinating subject. Readers should note, however, that Kittyhawks over the Sands is by no means an easy read and not the type of book that lends itself to casual reading; rather, the sheer volume of material makes it a reference work.
Unlike Fighter's over the Desert, which steps through the North African campaign in a day-by-day format, Kittyhawks over the Sands focuses on Canadian pilots who flew for the Royal Air Force (RAF), Canadian and American pilots who flew for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), and squadrons that flew the American-built P-40. Thus, the book deals with the 94, 260, 112, and 250 Squadrons of the RAF and 450 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)-specifically, their battles with the Italians and the German Luftwaffe in North Africa. Lavigne and Edwards present a staggering amount of information about each squadron, including unit histories, casualties, and claims. For example, the data on casualties includes the date, type of aircraft flown, pilot's name and fate, source of shootdown, and location of the battle. For claims, they include date, time, name and nationality of the victorious pilot, type of aircraft shot down, and battle location. Throughout the book, readers will find pilot profiles, anecdotes, and 350 black-and-white photographs as well as 16 color pages of aircraft and pilots. …