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Book Review
S.79 Bomber Units
Savoia-Marchetti S.79 Sparviero Bomber Units
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Introduction
Savoia-Marchetti S.79 Sparviero Bomber Units was recently released by Osprey Publishing LTD in their series Combat Aircraft. It is the 122th title of the series. A companion of the Osprey book Savoia-Marchetti S.79 Sparviero Torpedo-Bomber Units, Combat Aircraft 106, this 96-page book is authored by Marco Mattioli and illustrated by Richard Caruana. The book is available in three formats: Paperback, PDF, and ePUB. Osprey catalogued the books with their Short code COM 122 and it bears ISBN 9781472818836.

Osprey describes this book:
    Initially developed by Savoia-Marchetti as a transport, the aircraft had evolved into a dedicated medium bomber by the time the S.79-I made its combat debut in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. During World War 2, it became Italy's most successful bomber, and the most produced, with around 1370 built between 1936 and early 1944. Although initially hampered by poor tactics, the S.79 bomber crews nonetheless scored sunk a number of Allied vessels, and provided a constant threat to Allied sailors in the Mediterranean in the early stages of the war. In East Africa and the Red Sea the Sparvieri were the most modern bombers in-theatre, proving a challenge to RAF and SAAF biplane fighters.

    Using specially commissioned full-colour artwork, first-hand accounts and historic photographs, this volume chronicles the history of the S.79's war in the Mediterranean, North African, Balkan, and East African theatres.

Modelers have had a choice of 1/72 Sparvieri (Sparrowhawk) for decades and thanks to Classic Airframes and Trumpeter, the 1/48 squadrons can fill their shelf with the SM.79. This book should be a fine resource for Regia Aeronautica historians and modelers.

Content
Savoia-Marchetti S.79 Sparviero Bomber Units is 96 pages in length and divided into six chapters, five appendices with a colour plates commentary, and index:
    Chapter 1 - Birth of a Bomber
    Chapter 2 - Into the Spanish Arena
    Chapter 3 - World War
    Chapter 4 - War Over the Mediterranean
    Chapter 5 - War Over North Africa
    Chapter 6 - In East African Skies
Appendices
Colour Plates Commentary
Index

Author Marco Mattioli writes in a easy to follow manner. This book recounts the bravery and panache of Italy's aircrews. Even the upper echelon of rank flew mission and performed acts of daring, such as Marshal Italo Balbo, Libya's General Governor, who landed his S.79 in the desert to capture a British armored car crew. Another feat was when a damaged S.79 force-landed in the desert and subsequently repaired but with only two engines working, though lacking pilots, a flight engineer and an aviation cadet flew the S.79 back to friendly territory! Other events include several instances of great bravery resulting in the deaths of comrades to save the lives of their squadron mates.

Birth of a Bomber starts off with no description of the design and development of the S.79 but does follow the civil and military use that proved the aircraft to the Regia Aeronautica and led to its adoption as a bomber. This trimotor Savoia-Marchetti was used extensively for propaganda flights over much of the world, even trans-Atlantic to Brazil, detailed in a short sub-chapter. Next, 23 pages present the S.79 introduction to war in Into the Spanish Arena.

World War recounts the "Hunchback," as the S.79 was nicknamed, entry into war against England and France, Greece, the Balkans, and with the Yugoslavian Air Force. This is an interesting chapter as it presents the performance of the S.79 and its ability to avoid many of the fighters it was arrayed against.

War Over the Mediterranean and War Over North Africa deliver the story of the Sparvieri in its most famous roles, attacking Allied shipping and bombing Malta, and confronting the British before and after the arrival of the Afrika Korps. If one is interested in "also ran" aircraft, then these chapters are especially interesting as we read about Sparvieros and Fiat fighters fighting Fairey Fulmars, Gloster Gladiators, and Bristol Blenheim I fighters, as well as meeting the Hawker Hurricane for the first time. That first meeting between a single Hawker (accompanied by Gladiators) and trimotor Savoia-Marchettis witnessed a triple kill by the Hurricane pilot, and supported by Italian witnesses. Against Faireys and Glosters the S.79s usually gave as good as they got. On the other hand, arriving fast single-seat multi-gun monoplanes began clipping the wings of the Sparrowhawk.

Finally, In East African Skies recalls the mini-war fought over Somaliland. We again encounter uncommon aircraft and also French Air Force participants.

The S.79 was not built in great numbers and thus deployments were usually small groups of aircraft compared to Luftwaffe and Western Allies raids; that is why many of the pilots and crews - of both sides - are identified by name and fate. I think that makes a book far more interesting.

Photographs, Artwork, Graphics
I am not familiar with galleries of S.79s and this book is very interesting to me in that regard. Italian flyers apparently had a good selection of cameras and film. Many of the photos are of airmen and yet the star is the S.79 aircraft - in the air and on the ground. Osprey picked a selection that are well developed, clear and sharply focused. Several interesting images show S.79s with varying amounts of battle damage - always sought after by modelers.

Artist Richard Caruana created 30 full-color profiles of Sparvieros and 15 unit badges. Regia Aeronautica aircraft are very popular due to their remarkable and varied camouflage schemes and this book reveals these. Each profile and badge features its own narrative and description in the appendices.

Graphics include these tables:
    A) S.79 Warship Kills 1940-41

    B) S.79 Merchant Ship Kills 1940-41

Be aware that, as often happens with Osprey books, the content is very different in the book than what is advertised on the website. The website shows appendices A-E. The chapter titles are different, too.

Conclusion
Savoia-Marchetti S.79 Sparviero Bomber Units by Osprey is another good book about the Italian war machine of WWII. The text is very good and informative. The artwork and photographic support is excellent. I am an enthusiast of the early war years and secondary theaters and campaigns, and find this subject very interesting.

I am surprised and disappointed that no description of the design and development of the S.79 is discussed aside from the use by Generals to fly around the Italian empire. For me, a basic overview of the development of an aircraft is needed to round out the history of it.

That critique aside, I am satisfied with this book. I have long sought a war history of the S.79 and find this to be a fine resource for Regia Aeronautica historians and modelers and I recommend it.

Please remember to mention to Osprey and retailers that you saw this book here - on AEROSCALE.
SUMMARY
Highs: The text is very good and informative. The artwork and photographic support is excellent.
Lows: I am surprised and disappointed that no description of the design and development of the S.79 is discussed aside from the use by Generals to fly around the Italian empire.
Verdict: I have long sought a war history of the S.79 and find this to be a fine resource for Regia Aeronautica historians and modelers.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472818836
  PUBLISHED: Apr 12, 2018
  NATIONALITY: Italy
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.03%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 90.22%

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)
FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2018 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.



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