It is usually stated that the success of the invasion of Sicily was due, to a large degree, to the Allies ability to dominate the skies over the Mediterranean by the time the troops stormed the beaches. However, as Alexander Fitzgerald-Black reveals, that impression is far from accurate.

A Spitfire VB (Trop) of 417 (RCAF) ‘City of Windsor’ Sqn over the ‘Bark’ landing beaches at Cape Passero, Sicily, on 10/11 July 1943. (ARTWORK BY ANTONIS KARIDIS)

It was at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943 that military Chiefs of Staff of the United States and Britain decided on the invasion of Sicily. Their hope was of knocking Italy out of the war and opening up the Mediterranean once more to Allied shipping. An amphibious assault upon Sicily was envisaged, but it was appreciated by planners that the invading forces would be dangerously exposed to attack from the skies, particularly the troops on the landing beaches and the fleet lying offshore. Success for what was codenamed Operation Husky depended on defeating the Axis air forces.

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