How far is it from Crete to Alexandria?
Or Harstad from Scapa Flow?
Despite the enemy's air superiority, and losses incurred...
Not the examples I'd have picked LOL the Royal Navy suffered considerable losses off Crete, in just a few days of evacuation - losses that by 1942 would cripple the RM; as for evacuating the Allied forces from the Narvik Enclave - the Germans didn't discover the British and French had left until a couple of days after they were gone, Ruge's Norwegians kept up the defence.
For the last quarter of 1942 Ellis (drawing from 'The Italian navy in WWII' Brandigan) identifies a little over 250,000 tons of Axis military cargo embarked for Africa & 210,000 tons arriving.
At what ports? In this ATL, none of that goes to Tunisia...I mean, what sort of tonnage could the Libyan ports only
shift out in the other direction during an evacuation?
Looking at the Allied build up of air forces into NW Africa during Nov-Dec 1942 any interdiction of a Tripoli evacuation is going to be fairly weak. Certainly some squadrons can be quickly rushed forward to the Tunisian airfields, but the mass of aircraft & support echelon that made the spring 1943 interdiction possible could not occur instantly.
Carl, this was by no means the only
reason why an effective
Allied air interdiction of the supply bridge was historically delayed;
A/ OTL, February 1943 saw three weeks of very bad weather which delayed ops greatly.
B/ There was also a steep learning curve - in that the USAAF flew against Tunis and Bizerte for some time first, attempting to attack merchantmen in port...and took heavy loses from the heavy massed AA there; I mentioned this previously - what amount of AA did the Germans and Italians have remaining in Libya
by November-December 1942?
C/ OTL, there were problems with mission profiles I.E. how they bombed merchantmen; if there's no Tunis/Bizerte level of AA around Tripoli, then the USAAF isn't
forced away from the more highly accurate skipbombing they tried first OTL.
D/ the USAAF historically attempted to bomb ships in port with B-17s; this tactic had to first fail then
B-26s employed...but I would venture that with the DAK and the remains of the Italians clustered around major evacuation ports in Libya, shipping
isn't the most effective target anyway...
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