by: Darren Baker [ ]
Helion & Company have released a series of titles looking at South America and the conflicts that have plagued that continent since the advent and introduction of air power. The series is titled 'Latin America @ War'. The goal of this series is stated as "Unravelling the mysteries and complexities of 20th Century Latin American conflict".
This offering from Helion & Company is No.9 in the series and is a soft backed offering. This title has been authored by Santiago A Flores. The book is roughly A4 in size and consists of 216 pages. The soft cover is a heavy card offering that should do a reasonable job of protecting the pages within for some time with reasonable use. The paper used inside is a very good quality gloss paper that should be hard wearing and shows off the included photographs very well.
This offering is broken down into 9 sections which are as follows:
Mexican military aviation before 1941
U-boat attacks and the defence of the coast
The volunteers, observers and Spitfires
Evolution of the organisation of the air force, 1941 - 46
The creation of Mexican naval aviation
The evolution of the Mexican military aviation school
Training in the USA: learning new skills
Going to war: training in the USA
Going to war the MEAF and the liberation of the Philippines
Mexican Military Aviation is not a subject I have given much thought too; I know that at Fairford I have seen a number of aircraft in service with Latin American nations, but I have never really given any thought into their aviation history and participation in conflicts in the past. I will admit that I never knew that Mexico fought on the side of the Allies as a late comer to the 2nd World War. As such this title opens up some interesting scenarios.
As with most books we are provided with an introduction to Mexican history following the freedom from Spanish rule. I suspect much of this history is known to the North Americans, but for me beyond the Alamo and Mexico losing Texas and it becoming an individual state I was pretty much oblivious to the history. This title and its short history on Mexican history actually got me looking into Mexico's history as a sovereign country, so that aside I think this provides some idea of how much I thought of this area of the title.
The section covering German U-boats around the Latin American coast and the efforts of the Mexicans to deal with them has some nice details. Details on the aircraft that the Mexicans started with and the aircraft that the Mexicans were provided with to perform the task are looked at. The images of the Kingfisher aircraft provided to the Mexicans were interesting as it is an aircraft I have interest in.
The section looking at volunteers, observers and Spitfires is a wonderful inclusion in this title as it takes the Mexican out of Mexico and into service with both USAAF and Commonwealth Air Forces during World War 2. These men and in some cases women show the Mexicans in a new light from the one that seems prevalent today.
The next four section of this offering I found of limited interest to me personally, but the colour profiles and colour photographs of preserved aircraft are well received by me. The black & white photographs in these areas of the book are also of interest to me as visual reference on a little known subject is
The section looking at Going to war: training in the USA interested me as this section presents the words of the people undergoing the training provided. This aspect of the title is something that has always interested me the most as the content is the opinions of those who underwent the situation rather than wrote about it.
The last section of this title is for me is the best portion of the title as it is full of the missions the Mexicans took part in and conducted during their participation during World War 2. These are well presented by the author of the book and provides the reader with a good insight into the conditions faced by the Mexicans.
I rather enjoyed this title on the whole, but I found the sections mentioned in the middle as a little hard going due to the information being very dry. I do not blame the author for this as I feel it would be very hard to make the information provided grab you by the throat. The black & white photographs included are for the most part of a good or better standard and the captions are of a suitable length in order to provide enough information on the content. The high parts for me are the sections where you get to read the Mexicans own words and I liked the unit patches and artwork that always seem to add visual interest.