Courage Alone: The Italian Air Force 1940–1943

  • Published

Courage Alone: The Italian Air Force 1940–1943 by Chris Dunning. Crecy Publishing Limited, 1998, 360 pp. 

It was during World War II when the world learned of the importance air superiority had on the outcomes of battles. Aircraft were used in a variety of ways to achieve objectives on the battlefields and gain the upper hand. Various air missions were used from all nations involved in the war to seize the offense and advance their positions in the war. These missions included air-to-air operations, air-to-ground operations, bombing campaigns, and kamikaze missions.


The US, British, Japanese, and German air forces have been well-documented, with numerous books and documentaries written about those forces and shaping the understanding of how they fit into the outcome of the war. On the other hand, not as much was written and produced about Italy. This is probably because Italy had the smallest air force in the war fighting for the Axis powers. Despite the Italians being the smallest air force, much can be learned from their operation in World War II.


This is why Chris Dunning’s work, Courage Alone: The Italian Air Force 1940–1943, is so vital. This book goes into great detail explaining all flying squadrons during that time and where those squadrons operated during the war. Mr. Dunning also describes the aircraft used by each squadron and the campaigns that each squadron was significantly involved in and how those particular battles impacted the war. There are sections detailing the training, rank structure, and aces who served. In addition to the rich historical details, there are pictures that show the aircraft used and the lifestyles of those on the front lines of the air campaign that make the war come to life from the Italian Royal Air Force’s (IRAF) perspective. Lastly, the author includes many charts that detail the stats of the IRAF during World War II.


Nothing seems to be left uncovered about the IRAF during World War II. Mr. Dunning seemed to know that there was a need for people to understand that they made a significant contribution, despite being the smallest air force in the war. This book underpins the importance that airpower has on the outcomes of wars by showing that, even though a country may have a small force, they can have a large impact on the outcome of a war. Italy did this by strengthening the Germans in the European theater with their partnership in the Axis powers.


This book is a must-have for anyone who enjoys learning about the roles that different air forces have played in shaping the history of airpower, or for those who want to understand how nations, other than those mentioned who have been well-documented, impacted World War II.


SSgt Seth Roese, USAF

Joint Base San Antonio–Lackland, Texas

"The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense."