The Eyes of Malta

The Eyes of Malta

The Crucial Role of Aerial Reconnaissance and ULTRA Intelligence, 1940-1943

Salvo Fagone

The island of Malta is renowned for its stoic defiance during the Second World War. Less well known is the significant contribution of its photographic reconnaissance aircraft to the war in the Mediterranean, particularly the surveillance of Sicily up to and beyond the Allied invasion.
Date Published :
May 2023
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
10 b/w ills, 210 b/w photos, 16 maps, 54 tables
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781804512418
Pages : 356
Dimensions : 9.6 X 6.7 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


During the Second World War, aerial reconnaissance in all its aspects – photographic, strategic, tactical and armed – played a leading role. The British, French, Americans, Germans and Italians all used this exceptional means of observation to try to understand the enemy’s strategies in advance. This volume describes how things really went; it brings to light new details, revealing the way the war in Sicily, and in the Mediterranean in general, was influenced by aerial reconnaissance. Sicily was a proving ground for many reconnaissance techniques before, during and after its eventual invasion. The highly secret Ultra intelligence service also played a decisive role, anticipating the enemy’s aerial and nautical activities. Finally, the strategic position of the island of Malta supported and facilitated the Allies. Heavily bombed throughout the first few years of the war, this tenacious island resisted admirably and became a thorn in the enemy’s side as its reconnaissance aircraft repeatedly revealed Italian and German activities in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Sicily and greater Italy.

The war in the Mediterranean was a key to the entire global conflict. Stopping the Germans and Italians in North Africa meant the Suez Canal was safe, the rest of Africa was safe and the vital oilfields in the Middle East remained in the Allies’ hands. Also, the war could only reach its end if the Germans were pushed out of Italy. Malta’s strategic location meant it was crucial, as it has been for centuries, to controlling the ‘middle sea’. Its role during the 1939–45 war is well known and has been told many times before. However, the focus has usually been on the defending fighters or the convoys fighting to get through. If aerial reconnaissance efforts are featured, only a very few key people have been mentioned. The same stories are often repeated. Here, though, for the first time, is the complete picture of Malta’s role in wartime aerial reconnaissance.

Aerial reconnaissance during the Second World War in the Mediterranean has never been covered in this detail. The reconnaissance aircraft used throughout the Mediterranean during the war were, early on, a mixed bunch of odd types often doing a job they weren’t designed for. As the war progressed, the aircraft became more specialized. The same can be said for the men who flew them, many of whom are quoted at length.

The many photographs, maps, diagrams and tables will appeal to all readers as they put faces to names while also keeping abreast of the bigger picture at the campaign level (and aerial reconnaissance’s part in it).

Perhaps most importantly, the extensive personal recollections will help the reader looking to experience life and wartime flying in, often, unarmed aircraft. It is a window to a time and parts of the war few have studied.

About The Author

Salvo Fagone was born in 1979 in Catania, Sicily, where he still lives with his wife and their three sons. He studied at his town’s university and graduated in Information Technology. He currently works for a leading energy company as a commercial planning and improvement analyst. His research interests include air power in the Second World War, with a particular focus on Mediterranean military history. Salvo is the author of various books in Italy and has also written numerous articles for national and international periodicals. In the past few years, he has carried out research to find American aviators lost during Operation Husky and still missing in action in Sicily.

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