Jump to content


We Need Your Help - Become a Site Supporter

For 16 years we've been delivering WWII discussion and research, help support our efforts for the next 16 years. Become a WW2 Forums Patron!


Photo
- - - - -

Should the Axis have tried harder to take Malta?


  • Please log in to reply
273 replies to this topic

#26 Za Rodinu

Za Rodinu

    Aquila non capit muscas

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,809 posts
  • LocationPortugal

Posted 14 October 2007 - 08:31 AM

How the hell shall I know? :)

Quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra...


#27 Jaeger

Jaeger

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,495 posts

Posted 14 October 2007 - 03:50 PM

Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel.
'We march. The enemy is retreating in transport. We follow on foot.' Lt.Neil McCallum 5/7 Gordons 19th November 1942

#28 Herr Oberst

Herr Oberst

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 782 posts

Posted 14 October 2007 - 09:19 PM

Robert Duvall;):D
Coir a glaive

Nemo me impune lacessit

#29 topdeadcenter

topdeadcenter

    Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 12 posts

Posted 26 October 2007 - 09:46 AM

Posted Image

From today's Times of Malta News
When Luftwaffe intensified attacks on Malta


Photo above: Rescue workers, assisted by servicemen, search for survivors and recover bodies on the site of the Regent Cinema, in Valletta, hit on the evening of Sunday, February 15, 1942.


The Luftwaffe in Sicily intensified its attacks on Malta in the first two months of 1942, so that the island would no longer serve as a base for attacks on Axis convoys ferrying troops and supplies to North Africa.

In January, the Luftwaffe opened its offensive with strong fighter sweeps escorting small formations of bombers, with its top aces taking on the defending Hurricanes. At the time, an attempt was made by the Royal Navy to escort a convoy of three merchant ships to Malta from Alexandria but it ended in failure, with two of the ships sunk and the third sailing back to port.
At the same time, four empty ships sailed from Malta to Alexandria and arrived safely, including one, HMS Breconshire, carrying Maltese internees.
These episodes are also recorded in the latest two issues of Malta At War.
Also highlighted in the two issues are the heavy bombing raids which brought further destruction in various towns and villages such as Valletta, Floriana, Sliema, Paola and Ghajnsielem.

Malta At War is published by Wise Owl Publications and sells at Lm1.85 (€4.31).

#30 Falcon Jun

Falcon Jun

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,281 posts

Posted 26 October 2007 - 09:51 AM

Posted Image


From today's Times of Malta News
When Luftwaffe intensified attacks on Malta


Nice info. Thanks.

#31 Neon Knight

Neon Knight

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 112 posts

Posted 26 October 2007 - 10:03 AM

but that didn't change much things...

axis convoys keept on sinking, and rommel tanks bogged down into sand with no petrol.
If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons
- Winston Churchill

#32 operation felix no 18

operation felix no 18

    Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 12 posts

Posted 18 November 2007 - 11:10 AM

Having control over nearly all of the Mediterranean, I think it only would have made sense for the Axis to have destroyed this British outpost and kept it from being quite a nuisance to shipping. From Malta, the British had fighter range reaching parts of the African coast like Tripoli and Tunis, and the entire Island of Sicily. Not to mention the bomber range that covered most of Italy and the Balkans, and the northern parts of Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.

Why did't the Axis do something about this last British stronghold in the Mediterranean?

maybe because germany had their eyes mainly set on defeating russia ,due to its enormous geography ,that been also its big industry in oil metals , and so on .Germany i think had its pryoretys set on this giant ,same as on britain ,eventually,for the nazis things would get out of hand .Maybe yes ? they should have concentrated on key elements such malta,gibraltar in closing the straits ,and strungling supply lines etc; But good for us they did not win the war .

#33 merdiolu

merdiolu

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 305 posts
  • LocationIstanbul Turkey

Posted 02 December 2007 - 11:18 PM

I think the losses taken by German paratroopers/gliderborne troops during invasion of Create were enough to deter Hitler from another airborne attack ( besides this time on a heavily fortified target. Malta was no Create. Its defenses was much more stronger ) Besides Hitler's priority was Eastern Front during that time. Most of the reinforcements , material and resources were going to Russia. In fact he was barely convinced by General Student for Operation Mercury , invasion of Create in 1941. After the heavy casaulties taken Hitler lost his faith for airborne operations and often remarked "Airborne troops are a thing of past"

In 1940-42 period a possible invasion of Malta , "Operation Hercules" required a massive Italian involvement. Unfortunetely Italian Navy was not in a shape to fight. ( but Mussolini insisted that invasion of Malta should be a complate Italian operation and Hitler who wished to keep his blundering ally happy complied it. Besides he didn't want to involve Mediterenian Front personally at all ) Their commanders are very hesistant after defeats they have suffered at Taranto and Matapan. Moreover they had very little fuel. So Italian battleships were not able to leave harbour. Italian merchant fleet and naval units which already suffered heavy losses during this period ( they couldn't replace the ships they lost ) , were barely conducting supply operations for German/Italian units in North Africa and that was it. They had no more resources for both supplying Rommel and invading Malta. ( or so Italian commanders assumed ) When General Student presented his plan "Operation Hercules" for an airborne and seaborne attack on Malta to Hitler in April 1942 , Hitler was under the influance of negative reports about state of Italian Navy sent to him by German commanders in Mediterenian theatre. So he postponed Hercules to an indefinite time.

But of course meanwhile he and German General Staff forgot to put a leash on Rommel. When Rommel won Battle of Gazala and captured Tobruk he didn't stop and entered Egypt meanwhile outrun his supply lines. Then Kesselrings Luftwaffe units based on Mediterrenian began both participating supply operations for North Afrika and covering Afrikakorps on the ground while it advanced beyond their range as well as surprassing Malta and trying to stay alive. Predictably they failed in all of them.

Only Malta incident shows how uncoordinated Axis operations are in strategic level even in a local theater like Mediterrenian.

#34 Repulse

Repulse

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts

Posted 04 December 2007 - 11:16 PM

there was no point malta was a fortress and the british in north africa could of holded out alright.
Posted Image


#35 Falcon Jun

Falcon Jun

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,281 posts

Posted 06 December 2007 - 11:17 AM

there was no point malta was a fortress and the british in north africa could of holded out alright.


Check my earlier post in this thread. Malta was not always a fortress. Before the DAK deployed, Malta was hardly defended. It was entirely possible for the Germans to take Malta first before landing in North Africa.

#36 Scott Ward

Scott Ward

    Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 5 posts

Posted 31 December 2011 - 11:32 PM

My new Alternate History Novel "OPERATION HERKULES" is now available on Amazon.com as an e-book and it addresses exactly the querstions posed here.
It is a novel with fictional as well as historic characters. I agree entirely that the invasion would have been a close-run affair, but I believe it would have
succeeded if tried in the late spring or early summer 1942. With Malta in Axis hands, I will explore the outcome of the desert war in the sequel.
http://www.amazon.co...25374333&sr=1-1

#37 LJAd

LJAd

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,995 posts

Posted 01 January 2012 - 11:05 AM

IMHO,it is unwise to focus on Malta.The supply problem of the DAK was intricate:there first was the problem of sending supplies to Naples (1500 km?),there,they had to be loaded on ships,a convoy has to be constituted,at the arrival on Tripoli,everything has to be transported to the front,on a quasi non existent rail infrastructure .
I have posted somewhere the monthly supply arrivals in NA,and,there were no big differences .

#38 Belasar

Belasar

    Court Jester

  • Administrators
  • 7,515 posts

Posted 01 January 2012 - 02:38 PM

I can agree that Axis control of Malta would not be decisive in a Axis victory in North Africa, nor solve all the supply problems for Rommel. That does not however detract from the fact that there was a window in mid-late 1940 when the island was takable by Axis forces, and once taken to be a net value to the Axis cause.

Basing ASW assets from there would hinder Allied sub attacks on convoys.

Basing Fighter aircraft would hinder air attacks on convoys.

Basing long range reccon aircraft would expand the area under observation, granting the option of either intercepting Allied warships or rerouting convoys to avoid same.

Staging salvage and rescue assets in the port would enable aid to be given to damaged/sinking convoy vessels, damaged vessels could put in, repair or transfer cargos to other hulls.

When the Axis were forced out of North Africa the Allies would likely insist on retaking Malta prior to any attack on Sicly or the Italian mainland, thus delaying such a attack, keeping the Italians in the war longer and Germany more time to prepare to hold Italy.

Sometime events take on a life of their own. An early focus in the Med by Germany might ecourage the Axis to do the other things like expanding port and rail nets in North Africa that would prolong the campaign for the Axis and possibly delay Overlord.

It could also distract Mussolini from his Greek adventure which would no longer sap both German and Italian assets from more important fronts such as Russia and North Africa, and eventually, Northwest Europe (France). No Yugoslav-Greek adventure might start Operation Barbarossa 2-3 weeks earlier. Not enough time to ensure victory, but more time to render Red Army forces 'Hors de Combat' before winter sets in. Any additional Soviet losses work in favor of a longer living Reich.

Enigma Intel could only be used if the Allies could plausably convince the Axis that it came from a different source, usually air-sea reccon. Malta was usefull to the Allies in this reguard, and its loss would increase (however small) the chance that the Axis would conclude that their signal traffic had been compremised. Loss of Enigma would have added many layers of difficulty to tha Allies, and greatly aided the Axis.

Not every act is the one thing that ensures ultimate victory, but sometimes doing them does buy you time, and that was all Hitler wanted from Rommel anyway.

Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

(Poppy is occasionaly correct, or so I hear)


#39 Marmat

Marmat

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 292 posts
  • LocationHuronia, Upper Canada

Posted 01 January 2012 - 06:22 PM

First of all, the Med. area was not of interest to Hitler, it was within Mussolini’s sphere of influence, the Germans had no designs on the area at all, nor even access to the Med. itself. until AFTER Yugoslavia & Greece. Hitler looked East, war with Stalin was always in the offing, both knew it, they were not Allies. Hitler moved into the area i.e. North Africa and then Greece and the Balkans, for one reason; to support Mussolini. Without Mussolini’s aspirations, then military rebuffs, there’re no Germans in the area, it’s as simple as that. Along the same lines, Mussolini did not support Hitler in Poland for fear of the Allies, i.e. Britain and France, he was not prepared for war and knew he had a great deal to fear from both, and that includes North Africa. Mussolini’s “Parallel War” concept wasn’t even formulated until both France and Britain were on the ropes thanks to Germany, and continued German pressure against Britain itself if not an outright invasion if Britain refused to submit, and even then the French were able to handle his efforts, and so did the British in Africa.

While it was distinct from Germany's war, Mussolini's "Parallel War" was quite dependent on it. While Hitler was keeping the British busy, attacking the UK and otherwise taking Britain’s stomach out of continuing the war, the Italians, much like they did against the French, would use the period to their advantage by hedging in on the areas that they would claim at the final peace table; Suez from the Med., and the Red Sea area from East Africa, consolidating the area largely at Britain’s expense. It's not even a matter of attacking Egypt, more of taking on border posts and getting close enough to point just “over there” to make claims. Never the less that is how actual combat was initiated in Africa, Mussolini felt the urge so acutely that he wrote off a huge chunk of his own merchant marine seized in foreign ports in order to stake his claims before Britain caved in to Germany, it had little to do with the Germans directly. Most histories are of the view that Mussolini disappointed Hitler, however the reverse is just as appropriate when you consider the grief Sealion beached in France caused Mussolini in the long run. The British, left off the hook, and aware that apart from bombing they were limited as far as options for offensive war with Germany, and would be for a while, opted to exert diplomatic and economic pressure on Spain to limit Germany’s options in the Western Med. (and Petain wasn’t interested),and to respond to the Italian challenge, even shipping out a large part of their armoured force during the BoB, but it was a war that played to British strengths, i.e. maritime and largely colonial, that they knew they could win.



The Axis didn’t need Malta for anything, the Italians remained in control of Pantelleria, and Lampedusa for ASW, fighters & recon, salvage ships, repair et. al., and with a limited merchant marine, what they didn’t need was another island to feed and supply, and those forces were better served on Sicily anyway. Pantelleria, and Lampedusa themselves required neutralizing before HUSKY. But Axis ASW by aircraft was poor, although aircraft versions of ASW weapons were developed prior and during WWII, only one non-Soviet submarine was “possibly” sunk by Luftwaffe aircraft and another shared with surface ships. Information on Soviet submarine losses is unreliable even now, but, omitting harbor or stranded losses, it appears that only five were sunk by aircraft. The Luftwaffe’s ASW record was abysmal.

  • CTBurke likes this

"Where is the hunter when the reindeer has its hoof in a pool of lava?" - Russian Proverb, Bartalamyeh Fyodorevitch


#40 Gebirgsjaeger

Gebirgsjaeger

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,321 posts

Posted 01 January 2012 - 07:01 PM

Malta was a important point but not in the way to make the NA campaign a top or a flop. It would´ve been better to have it under control but not under all circumstances. The bigger problem was Italy and their not really successful troops and the danger of having a allied landing in the early years of the war at there.
Regards, Ulrich

Horrido!

"We're surrounded. That simplifies our problem!" LtGen. Chesty Puller.

#41 Belasar

Belasar

    Court Jester

  • Administrators
  • 7,515 posts

Posted 01 January 2012 - 07:08 PM

Italy would have been better served by say 45 to 50 well equipped and full strength divisions rather than 70-90 poorly equipped and undersized ones. It also might have made Mussolini's ambitions far more realistic and achievable. Sometimes the stupidity of tyrants work in your favor.
  • CTBurke likes this

Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

(Poppy is occasionaly correct, or so I hear)


#42 lwd

lwd

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,264 posts
  • LocationMichigan

Posted 03 January 2012 - 04:07 PM

My new Alternate History Novel "OPERATION HERKULES" is now available on Amazon.com as an e-book and it addresses exactly the querstions posed here.
It is a novel with fictional as well as historic characters. I agree entirely that the invasion would have been a close-run affair, but I believe it would have
succeeded if tried in the late spring or early summer 1942. ...

From discussions I've seen on the topic (primarily over on the axis history forum) I've been pretty well convinced that it is unlikely that it even would have been close. Malta was going to be a very rough place to invade due to both the topography and the defence.

... Basing ASW assets from there would hinder Allied sub attacks on convoys.
Basing Fighter aircraft would hinder air attacks on convoys.
Basing long range reccon aircraft would expand the area under observation, granting the option of either intercepting Allied warships or rerouting convoys to avoid same.
Staging salvage and rescue assets in the port would enable aid to be given to damaged/sinking convoy vessels, damaged vessels could put in, repair or transfer cargos to other hulls.

Between North Africa and Sicily Malta represents no real improvement in these functions for the Axis. If they take it the main benefit is in denial of Malta to the allies.

When the Axis were forced out of North Africa the Allies would likely insist on retaking Malta prior to any attack on Sicly or the Italian mainland, ....

I'm not sure at all that this would be the case. Given the difficulty of invading and the limited utillity of the island given the increased airpower of the allies I would expect it to be bipassed just like many of the islands in the Pacific.
  • CTBurke likes this

#43 scrounger

scrounger

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 165 posts

Posted 04 January 2012 - 05:48 PM

I believe this may be an example of what war on multiple fronts would cost the axis powers . With the majority of Germany's forces commited to the eastern front, Malta ( like most of the North African campain) represented a diversion of forces from Russia that they could not afford. When you consider that Germany was outnumbered and facing an enemy in the east that just kept getting stronger, it is not surprising that Hitler felt it may be easier just to wage a bombing campaign against Malta especially after the cost of the Invasion of Crete. Also I'm wondering if German/Itilian forces were to capture Malta how long would it be before the allies tried to take it back ?

#44 Belasar

Belasar

    Court Jester

  • Administrators
  • 7,515 posts

Posted 04 January 2012 - 07:35 PM

While Axis ASW could cover the same area they did so at the limits of their range. With assets staging from Malta ASW coverage could be done at the lower end of their range, and therefor more effectively. Contol of Malta would allow convoys to keep close air cover for a greater length of time reducing the loss of irreplacable hulls and supplies.

It would in hindsight be a good idea to bypass an Axis controlled Malta and continue on to Scicly/Italy but would Churchill see it in this way. A stong proponent of Empire, he would likely want to 'reclaim' any lost pieces of empire rather than have them wither on the vine.

If the Axis struck Malta shortly after the fall of France, no diversion of forces would occur for Operation Barbarossa.

Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

(Poppy is occasionaly correct, or so I hear)


#45 LJAd

LJAd

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,995 posts

Posted 04 January 2012 - 07:46 PM

As shortly after the fall of France,there were no German airborne unts,an attack on Malta was improbable .

#46 lwd

lwd

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,264 posts
  • LocationMichigan

Posted 04 January 2012 - 08:23 PM

While Axis ASW could cover the same area they did so at the limits of their range. With assets staging from Malta ASW coverage could be done at the lower end of their range, and therefor more effectively. ....

I suggest you take a closer look at a map. Try google Google Maps
If you go more than 30 miles or so north of Malta you are closer to Sicily than to Malta.
Go West more than about 75 miles and the same is true.
Go South about 100 miles and you are closer to North Africa.
The only direction you get much of a range advantage is SE from Malta but even there you are closer to Sicily or North Africa after something less than a couple hundred miles.

....

If the Axis struck Malta shortly after the fall of France, no diversion of forces would occur for Operation Barbarossa.

But what are they to strike with at that point? The German paratroopers and thier transport have been badly damaged by the assaults on Norway, Belgium, and Holland. The Italian paratroopers aren't ready yet nor do they have the transport. The RN has a huge naval advantage. Neither the Germans or the Italians have much if anything in the way of landing craft.

Oh and as to bypassing Malta by mid war the British were getting worried about the losses they were taken. There are some indications that one reason Monty for instance wasn't as aggressive at times as he could have been is that he was aware of these concerns. Churchill would also likely have realized that they would get Malta back after the war just like they did their possesions in the Pacfic. If they really need to take Malta they can wait until after Sicily when it's truly isolated.


#47 Marmat

Marmat

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 292 posts
  • LocationHuronia, Upper Canada

Posted 04 January 2012 - 08:34 PM

In the summer of 1940, just how are the Germans going to get to the Med.? They can't breach the Armistice with France otherwise Weygand and his forces and the French Navy are back in the fight, something both Hitler & Mussolini greatly feared, and with good reason.

Malta was 93 km. from Sicily, 170 km. from Pantelleria, in the Straits of Sicily, and 250 km from Lampedusa, which is much closer to Tripoli than Malta is, we're talking distances comparable to the Germans taking off from their bases in France to attack positions in the UK i.e. nowhere near the limits of the range of Axis ASW.

The problem was with Axis ASW. As previously stated, Luftwaffe ASW was awful, I should now add the Regia Marina; w
hen the war started the RM had no radar, or more importantly here, no ASDIC/Sonar and minimal ASW capability, they had completely neglected ASW. If the Med. wasn't so clear and relatively shallow, RN sub losses would've been few and far between.

Early on, Churchill had wanted to take Sicily and/or other various Med. Islands, fortunately he'd been talked out it. Like the Italians the British didn't need any more islands to garrison, feed and support.


Edited by Marmat, 04 January 2012 - 08:54 PM.
clean up

"Where is the hunter when the reindeer has its hoof in a pool of lava?" - Russian Proverb, Bartalamyeh Fyodorevitch


#48 Belasar

Belasar

    Court Jester

  • Administrators
  • 7,515 posts

Posted 04 January 2012 - 11:32 PM

As pointed out Italy is fairly close to Malta is it not? So no absolute need to stage from France or violate the new treaty. Fallshirmjaegers were being prepared for Operation Sealion, so some were available. The Italian Navy had a very close expiration date due to fuel considerations, so why not use them while you can for something of value rather have them rust in port as they did. Sealion demonstrated the axis ability to improvise a landing fleet, Malta would be a far easier target that the south of England. According to Wiki after the war the British wargamed a simulated invasion without total Luftwaffe control, and Germany could effect a landing, but not break out. Considering the size of Malta, not an issue. Not an easy task by any means, but not impossible either.

Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

(Poppy is occasionaly correct, or so I hear)


#49 Marmat

Marmat

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 292 posts
  • LocationHuronia, Upper Canada

Posted 04 January 2012 - 11:55 PM

The Germans aren't anywhere near the Med. in the summer of 1940, they had no shoreline, no resources, no warships, only some trapped shipping that they owed the Italians for keeping. b, are you saying that they'll sail from the French Atlantic shore, the Fallshirmjaeger board their aircraft near Stuttgart? The Germans never just told the Italians what to do, how can they "just use" the Italian Navy?

"Where is the hunter when the reindeer has its hoof in a pool of lava?" - Russian Proverb, Bartalamyeh Fyodorevitch


#50 lwd

lwd

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,264 posts
  • LocationMichigan

Posted 05 January 2012 - 03:18 PM

... Fallshirmjaegers were being prepared for Operation Sealion, so some were available.

Indeed but they and their transport were not available in all that great of numbers I believe. I seem to recall that Malta as a whole was pretty much unsuitable for glider landings as well.

The Italian Navy had a very close expiration date due to fuel considerations, so why not use them while you can for something of value rather have them rust in port as they did.

So you have them rusting at the bottom of the Med rather than in harbor? Take a look at what they had available in this time period.

Sealion demonstrated the axis ability to improvise a landing fleet,

That is highly debateable. The Sealin "landing fleet" was a disaster in the making and would have been almost impossible to move to the Med in any case.

Malta would be a far easier target that the south of England.

In some ways but not in others

According to Wiki after the war the British wargamed a simulated invasion without total Luftwaffe control, and Germany could effect a landing, but not break out.

If you are talkinga bout the wargaming of SeaLion they assumed that the Germans could successfully land an invasion force so they could wargame the land portion of the battle. That's a long way from Germany actually being able to make a successful landing.

Considering the size of Malta, not an issue. Not an easy task by any means, but not impossible either.

It's not just the size of Malta it's the topography, structures, and defences.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users