Wings Over Sinai: The Egyptian Air Force During The Sinai War، 1956
Sixty years since the tripartite aggression of France، Great Britain and Israel against Egypt، this is the first account about Egyptian military operations during the Suez War of 1956 (or ‘Suez Crisis’، as it is known in the West). Based on research with the help of official Egyptian documentation and recollections of crucial participants، this book provides an unique and exclusive insight into the ‘other side’ of a war that many consider has marked ‘the end of the British Empire’.
From the Western point of view، the situation is usually explained in quite simple terms: in retaliation for President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalization of the Universal Suez Canal Company - and thus the strategically important waterway of the Suez Canal - France and Great Britain (operating in concert with Israel) launched the operation codenamed 'Musketeer'. Divided into three phases، each shaded into the other; this aimed at obliterating the Egyptian Air Force، occupying the whole of the Suez Canal and toppling Nasser’s government. From the Egyptian point of view، backgrounds were much more complex than this.
Striving to modernize the country، a new and inexperienced government in Cairo launched a number of major projects، including one for the construction of a gigantic Asswan Dam on the Nile. The only Western power ready to help finance this project، the USA conditioned its support with basing rights for its military. With the last British soldiers still about to leave the country - and thus end Egypt’s occupation by foreign powers for the first time in 2،000 years - Nasser found this unacceptable. Around the same time، Egypt found itself under pressure from Israeli raids against border posts on the Sinai.
Left without a solution، Cairo decided to nationalize the Suez Canal in order to finance the Aswan Dam project، but also to start purchasing arms from the Soviet Union. In an attempt to bolster Egyptian defenses without antagonizing Western powers، Nasser concluded the so-called ‘Czech Arms deal’ with Moscow - resulting in the acquisition of Soviet arms via Czechoslovakia. Little known in Cairo at the time، such moves tripped several ‘red lines’ in Israel and in the West - in turn prompting aggression that culminated in a war.
Wings over Sinai is، first and foremost، an account of the battle for survival of the Egyptian Air Force (EAF). Caught in the middle of conversion to Soviet-types، this proved more than a match for Israel، but were hopelessly ill-prepared to face the military might of Great Britain and France too. Sustained، days-long air strikes on Egyptian air bases caused heavy damage، but were nowhere near as crippling as the losses usually claimed and assessed by the British، French and Israelis. The EAF not only survived that conflict in quite a good order، but also quickly recovered.
This story is told against the backdrop of the fighting on the ground and the air and naval invasion by British and French forces. Richly illustrated with plenty of new and previously unpublished photographs، maps (and 15 color profiles)، this action-packed volume is illustrates all aspects of camouflage، markings and various equipment of British and Soviet origin in Egyptian military service as of 1956.
About the Author
David Nicolle was born in London in 1944. He worked for the BBC Television News and the BBC Arabic Service while also writing for educational magazines on various historical subjects - including aviation - before receiving a PhD from Edinburgh University. While continuing to write and illustrate articles for educational magazines، Dr Nicolle also started writing books on various aspects of aviation and military history - largely focusing upon the Arab and Islamic world. In 1983، he became a lecturer in History at Yarmouk University in Jordan، where he continued to teach until 1987. After returning to England، Dr Nicolle continued to write and now has more than 100 books and dozens of TV documentaries to his name.
Late Air Vice Marshal Gabr Ali Gabr PhD (EAF، ret.) served as the pilot of a De Havilland Vampire fighter jet during the Suez War، 1956. After concluding higher military education at the Air Warfare Institute in 1960، he served as an instructor in air tactics at the Air Warfare Institute in 1962-64. Between 1966-67، he was a staff officer during the June 1967 War and went on to be chief of the Operational Training Branch in 1968-73; he was also chief of of the Operations Group during the October 1973 War with Israel. After serving as an instructor in the art of operations and as the chief air force chair at High War College from 1977 until 1982، he received his PhD at Nasser High Academy in 1989. He then moved into writing and has since published seven books and dozens of studies and articles on the history of air warfare in Egypt and abroad.
Tom Cooper is an Austrian aerial warfare analyst and historian. Following a career in worldwide transportation business – during which he established a network of contacts in the Middle East and Africa – he moved into narrow-focus analysis and writing on small، little-known air forces and conflicts، about which he has collected extensive archives. That resulted in specialisation in such Middle Eastern air forces as of those of Egypt، Iran، Iraq، and Syria، plus various African and Asian air forces. Except for authoring and co-authoring 25 other books and over 400 articles، he has co-authored an in-depth analysis of major Arab air forces at wars with Israel in period 1955-1973، resulting in the six-volume book series Arab MiGs.