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Should the Axis have tried harder to take Malta?


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#51 LJAd

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 05:56 PM

About the FJ,I have seen the information on AHF(but sadly enough,I can't find it back)that after the campaign in the west,the Germans only had a few operational batallions of FJ,that they had lost 325 Ju52 with their crew,and were producing monthly only 25 Ju 52.

#52 LJAd

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 06:13 PM

Never despair:the thread on AHF is :intended FJ role in Sealion
Some excerpts:
The airborne units (=7th Flieger division)with a strength of 4500 men,lost 2000 men,a maximum of 3500 could be ready in september.
The 22 ID (only one regiment took part in the airborne operations) also lost 2000 men
The training of the Ju 52 crew took 6 months .

#53 lwd

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 09:22 PM

I think they were repairing a fair number of those Ju52's although it's not clear if they are folded into the production numbers or not. The Germans sometimes did that with rebuilds from what I've read.

#54 steverodgers801

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 02:18 AM

THe irony is that it was Rommel who convinced Hitler to give him the supplies thatwere to be used for an attack on Malta. With the supplies Rommel launched his attack that got him to El Alamain. Of course it was Malta that enabled the inderdiction of supplies that Rommel needed.

#55 cimon_unhipocrisy

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 01:54 PM

Question is wrongly put:"try harder"? they didn't try at all! you don't take an island by just bombing it!!!

#56 cimon_unhipocrisy

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 01:59 PM

I was there.

Do not agree that the Island was subdued by bombing at all. After two years of continous bombing the Island's defences were in good shape. A lot of work and preparations for a likely invasion was carried out. Malta was one solid fortress and being so much smaller then Crete an air invasion would have been very costly for the Germans and could have been a disaster.

By mid 1942, fuel, ammo and food was extrtemely low but the convoy named Pedestal of 65 years ago (today its the 65th anniv) saved the Island. Only 5 of 21 merchant ships reached the Island but that was enough to recharge the Island. By then it was too late for the Germans to attempt an invasion. When that convoy arrived the German bombers were hit with everything and I think they learnt a lesson on that day.

The three airports at Ta Qali, Luqa and Hal Far were badly damaged, so was the Naval Dockyard but none of the forts and the many hundreds of concrete pill-boxes etc were out of action.

A few thousand German paratroopers would have been slaughtered. I dont think the German High Command could have afforded such loses.

There we not only the paratroopers,but the ships with troops from Sicily(150 klm)

#57 lwd

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 02:15 PM

There we not only the paratroopers,but the ships with troops from Sicily(150 klm)

You are correct we shouldn't leave out the losses that would be inflicted on the Italian navy, transports, and their passengers.

#58 LJAd

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 04:19 PM

Question is wrongly put:"try harder"? they didn't try at all! you don't take an island by just bombing it!!!

The question is :why should the German have tried to capture Malta ?

#59 bdmalta

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 04:49 PM

I'd say the Axis did all they could to subdue Malta. 70 years ago this month the siege of Malta was entering its critical phase, and the Island was about to become the most bombed place on earth, thanks to Kesselring's intention to neutralise it.

You can follow these events daily (and hourly) at maltagc70.com, a website created from official wartime documents including War Diaries and personal memoirs. (MaltaGC70 is a voluntary, non-profitmaking venture set up to mark 70th anniversary of the award of the George Cross, to be commemorated in the UK and Malta on 15 April 2012.)

#60 steverodgers801

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 08:40 AM

There are two critical factors in not taking Malta, the first was the German navy convincing Hitler that Crete was more important for long term operations and Hitler was afraid of Crete as a British air base. The second was Rommel convincing Hitler to let him have the supplies intended for taking Malta so Rommel could launch the attack that led to El Alamain.

#61 Carronade

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 02:30 PM

Question is wrongly put:"try harder"? they didn't try at all! you don't take an island by just bombing it!!!

The question is :why should the German have tried to capture Malta ?

Apparently they considered British air and naval operations from Malta to justify tying down significant air forces for most of 1941-42. As others have mentioned, whenever they relaxed the pressure, Malta rebounded and resumed taking a toll on convoys to North Africa. So there's a case for one big effort to solve the problem once and for all - the earlier the better.

Malta illustrates the fundamental limitation of bombing - even when something is "destroyed" or "suppressed", you have to keep bombing or the enemy will repair and recover.

#62 steverodgers801

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 09:25 PM

There were times when (guessing) 80% of a convoy were sunk from Malta.

#63 Carronade

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 11:58 PM

There were at least two times when 100% of the cargo ships in a convoy were sunk by surface forces operating from Malta. Four destroyers under Captain Philip Mack sank an entire of five ships and three Italian destroyers, one of which did manage to torpedo and sink HMS Mohawk. On another occasion Force K (two Arethusa class light cruisers, two L destroyers) sank all eight merchant ships and IIRC one destroyer from a total escort/covering force of ten plus two heavy cruisers.

#64 Volga Boatman

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 09:54 AM

I'm suprised at those of you that believe that Malta was too tough a nut to crack.

See other threads, but Malta's defense were run down considerably, with the troops in rags, and dispersed about the island not on anti invasion duties, but repairing bomb damage.

The Axis airborne units slated for Hercules were some of the best units anywhere in the world at the time.

It was Kurt Student who planned 'Hercules'. Kesselring was to direct it, something he was a proven asset at doing.

The initial parachute drop would have been tough, but the Axis would most certainly have carried the day, as they did at Crete, which was an even tougher nut to crack. Folgore, Student's own first Parachute Division, Ramcke's seasoned brigade....all of these boys would have been tough opponents, and only four brigades of dispersed troops to oppose them? Sounds like a walkover to me, even with the fortifications, which the Para's were ably equipped to deal with anyhow.

Axis air superiority was guaranteed, and the Italian Navy would have been allocated more than enough fuel for a change to actually do something.....I mean, what more could you ask for....

And if you read Liddel Hart's ,"Both Sides of the Hill", Student himself tells you exactly why "Hercules" was cancelled from Hitler's perspective. Hitler beleived the Italians would "take to their heals and run, leaving the German forces stranded....an incredible assessment no doubt influenced by none other than Rommel....

In fact, Rommel is the principle reason why Hitler felt that way, and why the Axis aircraft that had been slated for Hercules were supporting Rommel instead, overtime by many weeks from the limited time he was supposed to enjoy their support for his ground operations.

Malta was ripe for the taking, Rommel wanted the Pyramids, so over the protests of the Italians AND Mussolini, Rommel got his way, and threw the unique opertunity that Kesselring and Student were preparing to the winds for ever, never to return...

Blame Rommel.....
Llamas are bigger than frogs.:cool:

#65 lwd

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 07:24 PM

I'm suprised at those of you that believe that Malta was too tough a nut to crack.

I'm rather surprised that you are surprised.

See other threads, but Malta's defense were run down considerably, with the troops in rags, and dispersed about the island not on anti invasion duties, but repairing bomb damage.

That depends a lot on when you want to launch the invasion. By July of 42 when it was planned the defences were improving at a respectable rate. Furthermore it's not a very big island. Dispersed repairing bomb damage may mean well placed to repell an air drop. Of course the chance of them getting surprised by one are pretty low.

The Axis airborne units slated for Hercules were some of the best units anywhere in the world at the time.

Were they? The German airborne units had been savaged by the invasion of Crete. Were they back up to par by the time Hurcules was to be launched?

It was Kurt Student who planned 'Hercules'. Kesselring was to direct it, something he was a proven asset at doing.

Student was aggressive but also very lucky in several of his operations. I've not been impressed by what I've read of his planning although I'll admit it's not a great deal.

The initial parachute drop would have been tough, but the Axis would most certainly have carried the day, as they did at Crete, which was an even tougher nut to crack.

I disagree. Malta would have been much worse than Crete. For one thing the whole Island was covered by heavy caliber AA guns. The terreign was also less forgiving and the defenders had had plenty of time to prepare for an invasion and were familiar with the terreign. Furthermore they had a a unified command and were fully equipped unlike the defenders at Crete. They also can be expected to have learned from that operation. As it was the parchute drop at Crete didn't "carry the day" it was the forced landing of additoinal troops on the airfields that did so but that wasn't likely to be repeated on Malta.

... Sounds like a walkover to me, even with the fortifications, which the Para's were ably equipped to deal with anyhow.

Ably equiped to deal with fortifications? They weren't even ably equiped to protect themselves until they got to their equipment drops. This would have left them extremely vulnerable to immediate counter attacks.

Axis air superiority was guaranteed,

Was it? I wouldn't be so sure.

and the Italian Navy would have been allocated more than enough fuel for a change to actually do something.....

Indeed it would have been ideal for drawing the attention of the RN. More attention than they or the invasion fleet would really want.

And if you read Liddel Hart's ,"Both Sides of the Hill", Student himself tells you exactly why "Hercules" was cancelled from Hitler's perspective. Hitler beleived the Italians would "take to their heals and run, leaving the German forces stranded....an incredible assessment no doubt influenced by none other than Rommel....

It appears to be other than Romel based on:
http://www.dtic.mil/...oc?AD=ADA452022

#66 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 09:09 PM

A massive intervention of the RN in the central med in mid 1942 is a lot more likely to end in disaster for the RN than for the Regia Marina. By then both the German and the Italian air forces had perfected anti shipping tactics and the British carrriers were still operating obsolescent fighters, they would be continuously bombed attempting to get there and then have to face the Italian battleships with tired crews and accumulated damage, for a maximum effort like that the Regia Marina would sortie all 5 of them (Roma was still working up) , it did so for a couple of convoys that fared a lot better than Pedestal until fuel shortages stopped the practice. The RN can scrape up 3 BBs from force H, there are none left at Alex, but is likely to have one or two suffer the fate of HMS Nelson if not the one of HMS Barham, before even getting near the Sicily narrows, any ship damaged after passing Sardinia would have little chance of getting back to Gibraltar (running the gauntlet of the Crete based LW squadrons to get to Alex is an even worse option). For Pedestal the British used four carriers, lost one and had a second one badly damaged, and the heavy forces didn't even get much further than Sardinia, if they try to enter the Sicily narrows in daylight, already low of AA ammo after two days of fighting ..... it doesn't look good.
The axis had something like a 4:1 advantage in planes over the Malta forces if you look just at Sardinia and Sicily based planes, more if adding the Crete based ones to the mix I call that air superiority.

Edited by TiredOldSoldier, 29 May 2012 - 09:17 PM.

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#67 Gebirgsjaeger

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 09:12 PM

I disagree. Malta would have been much worse than Crete. For one thing the whole Island was covered by heavy caliber AA guns. The terreign was also less forgiving and the defenders had had plenty of time to prepare for an invasion and were familiar with the terreign. Furthermore they had a a unified command and were fully equipped unlike the defenders at Crete. They also can be expected to have learned from that operation. As it was the parchute drop at Crete didn't "carry the day" it was the forced landing of additoinal troops on the airfields that did so but that wasn't likely to be repeated on Malta.


That point goes to you! And i can agree that Malta would have been harder to fight but in my opinion it could have been made, but not easily.

Ably equiped to deal with fortifications? They weren't even ably equiped to protect themselves until they got to their equipment drops. This would have left them extremely vulnerable to immediate counter attacks.


They were equipped for such challenges remind the using of hollow charges on Eben Emael.
Regards, Ulrich

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

#68 lwd

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:02 PM

That point goes to you! And i can agree that Malta would have been harder to fight but in my opinion it could have been made, but not easily.

Given how close they came to failing at Crete and that you agree that it would be a harder fight and that the probability of a Crete style rescue was unlikely (the British planned to block the runways of any airport that looked like it might be siezed). I wonder why you think so?

They were equipped for such challenges remind the using of hollow charges on Eben Emael.

That works find if you are on the fortification with all your equipment before the other side even realizes that there is a threat. Not likely to occur at Malta though is it? Then there's a question of how similar the fortifications were. It would be interesting to know just what equipment they planned to drop with on Malta.

#69 lwd

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 03:27 PM

Wrote a lenghty reply and lost it so this one will be shorter with fewer or no refernces.

A massive intervention of the RN in the central med in mid 1942 is a lot more likely to end in disaster for the RN than for the Regia Marina.

I'm not at all convinced of that.

By then both the German and the Italian air forces had perfected anti shipping tactics

Really? I certainly seen little evidence of it being perfected. They were certainly better than they had been a year before but still had little practice attacking large formations of naval vessels with CAP.

and the British carrriers were still operating obsolescent fighters,

Even "obsolescent" fighters are still perfectly capable of breaking up and disrupting attacks by bombers.

they would be continuously bombed attempting to get there and then have to face the Italian battleships with tired crews and accumulated damage,

The same could apply for the Italians. Indeed it could be worse for them as RN carriers were capable of launching night time antishipping strikes and had practiced the same.

for a maximum effort like that the Regia Marina would sortie all 5 of them (Roma was still working up) ,

I only get 5 if the torpedo damage has been repaired to one of the new battleships (Littirio?) and you count the Roma. With a day or twos warning the British can muster 5 newer battleships (Nelson, Rodney, KGV, Duke of York, and Washington) all of which are at worst on a par with the new Italian battleshisp, 5 WWI battlships all clearly supperior to the Italian ones, not to mention a battle cruiser (roughly equal to one of the old Italian battleships) and as many as half a dozen carriers.

it did so for a couple of convoys that fared a lot better than Pedestal until fuel shortages stopped the practice.

Speaking of which do the Axis even have the fuel to keep 5 battleships and their escorts at sea operating at speed for multiple days?

The RN can scrape up 3 BBs from force H, there are none left at Alex, ...

I only counted one BB and 1 BC with Force H in July of 42 but that's neglecting both Home Fleet and Eastern Fleet both of which can have battleships and carriers in the Med in a day or two.

The axis had something like a 4:1 advantage in planes over the Malta forces if you look just at Sardinia and Sicily based planes, more if adding the Crete based ones to the mix I call that air superiority.

Air superiority isn't dependent on how many planes you have at various bases. It's dependent on how many fighters you have over the area of interest at a particular time. In this case the Axis have to worry about the RN approaching from either the East or the West as well as providing air support to the invasion. Air superioirity is not guaranteed at all.

#70 steverodgers801

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 03:31 PM

Exactly with what were the landing troops going to be transported in? The Germans had nothing and I dont recall the Italians having anything but regular boats, which are not condusive to successful landing.

#71 Gebirgsjaeger

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 04:52 PM

lwd: Given how close they came to failing at Crete and that you agree that it would be a harder fight and that the probability of a Crete style rescue was unlikely (the British planned to block the runways of any airport that looked like it might be siezed). I wonder why you think so?


lwd, i´m a optimist and if i made a error i won´t do it a second time. It is for sure that the british had learned their lesson at Crete but also the germans would have learnde theirs! A landing at there would have worked, but only under different circumstances. If, than they had to cut of the supply lines of the island over the Med Sea at first. Than you had to bomb every single military facility you could have found and after downing the Airforce you had to start with much more men from Air and Sea as they did at Crete. It would have worked, for that i´m sure but as i said with complete different circumstances.

That works find if you are on the fortification with all your equipment before the other side even realizes that there is a threat. Not likely to occur at Malta though is it? Then there's a question of how similar the fortifications were. It would be interesting to know just what equipment they planned to drop with on Malta.


The fortifications at this time weren´t that different that you had no chance to destroy them with some hollow or whatever charges. The only difficult thing is how to get at there. That you can beat them in one or the other way is no question.
Regards, Ulrich

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

#72 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 06:37 PM

For operation M41 the RM committed Duilio as close esort and Veneto, Littorio Cesare and Doria, as far escort that adds up to 5 in my book. Veneto took a torpedo crossing the Messina straits so turned back and most reports of "first Sirte" fail to mention her. It's unlikely that they would commit less for an invasion of Malta. The British can only count on what is in theater, other British fleets may send reinforcements but a week is more realistic and by then it's over.

IMO there is no credible threat from the Alex forces, QE and Valiant are under repairs, the best they can put together is a cruiser squadron that will arrive short of ammo, even the rebuilt WW1 BBs can hold them off, let's not forget that the "smokescreen and torpedo" threat will not work here.

There is also no way for the RN to achieve operational surprise despite Ultra, there are no surface forces at Malta and anything leaving Alex or passing through Gibraltar is going to be spotted.

With the distances from Augusta to Malta there is really no big need for the RM to be at sea at night. Assuming the convoy can make 8 knots, a reasonable figure based on Adige that was the slowest of the "cisterne acqua", Sesia and her sisters could do 9 1/2 and the MZ 11, the RN must cruise within 400 miles of Malta to have a chance to intervene, that's well within Sardinia based fighter planes range, similar story on the other side (assuming there is a viable force at Alex that historically was not there ) with Crete based planes, it takes over two days to reach Malta from either base.

The problem for the axis air forces in mounting escorted attacks is that they have vey few fighters with the legs to do escort work, but if the RN lingers within 300 miles of axis bases it's a different story, if a couple of squadrons of Mc 202 or Me 109 accompany the strike the Fulmars and Sea Hurricanes are in big trouble.

As for what the assault force would look like the assigned forces are likely tho be Adige and the four Sesia together with as many MZ they can scrape up. each cisterna acqua (they were officially classed as water tankers but were actually designed to serve as landing ships as well) can carry a reinforced battallion (1000 men and a gun battery) the MZ (most of the 65 from the first series were available) and their German counterparts some 200 assault infantry each or 3 M13 tanks.
I have no data on what was intended to carry the "special" tank unit equipped with captured soviet KV and T34 but as I believe some Tigers went to NA on MZ they could carry those as well.

Here is a nice pic of MZ 774 she was a second series boat but not much different from the first series ones. Note that the 3" and 20mm were mounted on all MZ (the German equivalents had 88s) so they could provide a good amount of fire support as well.Attached File  mz774.jpg   46.38KB   4 downloads

Edited by TiredOldSoldier, 30 May 2012 - 06:51 PM.

Truth is the first victim of conflict

#73 lwd

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 07:01 PM

lwd, i´m a optimist and if i made a error i won´t do it a second time. It is for sure that the british had learned their lesson at Crete but also the germans would have learnde theirs! A landing at there would have worked, but only under different circumstances. If, than they had to cut of the supply lines of the island over the Med Sea at first. Than you had to bomb every single military facility you could have found and after downing the Airforce you had to start with much more men from Air and Sea as they did at Crete. It would have worked, for that i´m sure but as i said with complete different circumstances.

That assumes they can do a whole lot more than they did historically. Certainly the situation was not as you describe in July of 42 and the situation actually improved from their from the British POV for the rest of the war. Of course at Malta the Germans would have faced a number of things they hadn't in any of their previous paratroop drops such as armor, significant amounts of artillery, heavy AA fire from the time they approached the island, and likely considerable light and medium AA over the drop zone.

The fortifications at this time weren´t that different that you had no chance to destroy them with some hollow or whatever charges. The only difficult thing is how to get at there. That you can beat them in one or the other way is no question.

They were different in a very major way. They were maned by an alert, well trained force that had been at war for years as opposed to undermanded by a neutral force not expecting an attack. Indeed as you suggest even getting to them would have been very problematic for the Germans.

#74 lwd

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 07:40 PM

For operation M41 the RM committed Duilio as close esort and Veneto, Littorio Cesare and Doria, as far escort that adds up to 5 in my book.

On 15 June Littorio took a torpedo. Was she repaired by mid July when the invasion was scheduled?

It's unlikely that they would commit less for an invasion of Malta.

Then what do they do if Littorio is not ready? The window when they have even a very marginal chance closes very rapidly after Jully of 42.

The British can only count on what is in theater, other British fleets may send reinforcements but a week is more realistic and by then it's over.

Or not. They knew of the Crete invasion several days in advance I believe. According to MaritimeQuest - HMS Duke of York Builder's Data
A force including Duke of York, Nelson, Rodney, 3 carriers, and a bunch of escorsts left Scapa Flow on 30 Oct 1942 and were in Gibralter on 5 November. That puts them about 2 days from Gibralter at 25 knots. Not sure what speed they were moving at to get to Gibralter. I would assume that given the size and scope of this invasion Ultra would have revealed it to the Briish at least a week or two ahead of time.

IMO there is no credible threat from the Alex forces, QE and Valiant are under repairs, the best they can put together is a cruiser squadron that will arrive short of ammo, even the rebuilt WW1 BBs can hold them off, let's not forget that the "smokescreen and torpedo" threat will not work here.

Not sure why the cruiser squadron would arrive short of ammo. At 30 knots its just a bit over a days travel for the cruisers and any accompanying destroyers. It took them a couple of days of heavy attack at Crete to run low on AA ammo. If I were doing it I'd plan on hitting the invasion fleet around midnight. That means you don't have to deal with the Axis aircraft close in and may even avoid the Axis naval units. Torpedos should be a significant threat in any case. Then of course if the British have a week or so warning they can move in several battleships and carriers from the Indian Ocean.

With the distances from Augusta to Malta there is really no big need for the RM to be at sea at night. Assuming the convoy can make 8 knots, a reasonable figure based on Adige that was the slowest of the "cisterne acqua", Sesia and her sisters could do 9 1/2 and the MZ 11, the RN must cruise within 400 miles of Malta to have a chance to intervene, that's well within Sardinia based fighter planes range, similar story on the other side (assuming there is a viable force at Alex that historically was not there ) with Crete based planes, it takes over two days to reach Malta from either base.

So what if RN units are spotted approaching Malata with the timing such that they will arive at night? Certainly you aren't withdrawing the transports every evening? How long would it take them to unload if you did that?

Another real problem the axis would have with the landing force is that there are only a few suitable beaches and their land approaces are typically funnel shaped with the sides being cliffs.

#75 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 09:31 PM

On 15 June Littorio took a torpedo. Was she repaired by mid July when the invasion was scheduled?

AFAIK damage to Littorio was limited, Mussolini held a celebration on her June 25 and she went into dry dock the day after and returned to service in august, when Roma also joined the fleet bringing the numbrer of "theoretical" BBs to 6 (fuel permitting but it's safe to assume the Germans would provide fuel for ther ships supporting the FJ).

Then what do they do if Littorio is not ready? The window when they have even a very marginal chance closes very rapidly after Jully of 42.

If set on a July date they could very likely speed up either Littorio repairs, they can gain some days just by docking her immediatly instead of waiting for Musso to do his show, or Roma by trasfering experienced personnel from the sister ship.

Or not. They knew of the Crete invasion several days in advance I believe. According to MaritimeQuest - HMS Duke of York Builder's Data
A force including Duke of York, Nelson, Rodney, 3 carriers, and a bunch of escorsts left Scapa Flow on 30 Oct 1942 and were in Gibralter on 5 November. That puts them about 2 days from Gibralter at 25 knots. Not sure what speed they were moving at to get to Gibralter. I would assume that given the size and scope of this invasion Ultra would have revealed it to the Briish at least a week or two ahead of time.

They would need a crystal ball for that not just ULTRA the planning for C3 continued to the last minute, but no additional ships were sent to the Med, by the time the convoy assembles it's too late.

Not sure why the cruiser squadron would arrive short of ammo. At 30 knots its just a bit over a days travel for the cruisers and any accompanying destroyers. It took them a couple of days of heavy attack at Crete to run low on AA ammo.

At 30 knots the destroyers would run out of fuel before getting to Malta and possibly a few cruisers would suffer "engineering hits", the Hunt class, that are the best AA platforms the RN has, can't even make that speed, IMO anything above 25 is emergency steaming, BTW Nelson and Rodney won't do even that on their best day so a report of a fleet containing them doing 25knts average looks suspicious. A lot of Vian's cruisers are Dido class with DP guns and 340 rounds per gun, any AA ammo expended against planes will be missing for the surface engagement

If I were doing it I'd plan on hitting the invasion fleet around midnight. That means you don't have to deal with the Axis aircraft close in and may even avoid the Axis naval units. Torpedos should be a significant threat in any case. Then of course if the British have a week or so warning they can move in several battleships and carriers from the Indian Ocean.

the Italians have 150km to go and a convoy that can do nearly 15 Km/h, a bit more if they leave Adige home or start her early so about 10 hours sailing, in summer you have around 14 hours of daylight and they probably can leave Augusta round midnight to gain another five, by dawn they would just be just leaving the defensive minefields belt. At at 25 kmots that means the RN cruisers must start less than 300 miles out to catch the convoy before landing and 300 miles is well within Me 109 range .... The Regia Marina main force is at Taranto but it's a lot faster than the convoy, all ships could probably do 24 knots so it can catch up to the convoy by the time it leaves the defensive minefields without giving the game away by leaving port early. In a nutshell the RN must remain within Me 109 range to have any hope of catching the convoy at sea while the axis can pound it at will and only sail when it's forced to retreat, and two or three days of of air attacks will get that result. Forget about raiding Augusta with naval forces, it's got a 15" gun battery lots of 6" and 4" ones and plenty of defensive minefields, that leaves the Swordfish, but there are some night fighters and radars in Sicily by 1942.

So what if RN units are spotted approaching Malta with the timing such that they will arive at night? Certainly you aren't withdrawing the transports every evening? How long would it take them to unload if you did that?

This is not overlord or even Guadalcanal, there is no need for cargo ships with troop accomodation as the invasion crossing time is hours, an MZ can unload in minutes.
The fighting is going to be decided one way or the other in a few days so no need for a massive resupply effort either, the axis has to bring the airfields in mortar or artillery range, once they do that the RAF will swiftly disappear from the picture and with full air superiority they can airdrop ammo and field rations until they secure an airfield.

Another real problem the axis would have with the landing force is that there are only a few suitable beaches and their land approaces are typically funnel shaped with the sides being cliffs.

That was a big issue in Italian planning, all sorts of "ad hoc" contraptions were designed for deling with that but it was the big obstacle. Still the San Marco marines were pretty confident they could secure a beachead.

On more thing to consider is that there was a civilian minority that hated the British, so the attackers will get more local support than they did at Crete.

Edited by TiredOldSoldier, 30 May 2012 - 09:39 PM.

Truth is the first victim of conflict




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