Maintenace for North Africa Hurricanes?

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Wargames
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Maintenace for North Africa Hurricanes?

Post by Wargames » 18 Nov 2023 02:19

It has occurred to me that early Hurricane fighter maintenance must have been below average in Malta and Egypt in 1940-41. I have 35 Hurricanes operational in April 1940 in North Africa and Egypt combined, but not the total number of Hurricanes there to compare for percentage of serviceable aircraft. Any help here?

EwenS
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Re: Maintenace for North Africa Hurricanes?

Post by EwenS » 18 Nov 2023 12:45

I'm surprised that in April 1940 there were any operational Hurricanes in the Middle East. April 1941 I could believe.

When war with Italy broke out on 10 June 1940 there were only 3 fighter squadrons in the MIddle East, all equipped with Gladiators. Those were:-

33 squadron re-equipped with Hurricane I in Sept/Oct 1940.
80 squadron got a few Hurricanes to operate alongside its Gladiators between June & Aug 1940 but lost them and didn't get any more until re-equipping fully with Hurricanes between Feb & April 1941.
112 squadron kept its Gladiators until July 1941 when it got Tomahawks.

Over the next few months the following squadrons joined the ranks of Hurricane operators:-
274 squadron formed in Egypt in Aug 1940 with 1 flight of Gladiators & 1 flight of Hurricanes, before receiving more Hurricanes to allow full re-equipment in Oct.
208 began to receive a few Hurricanes in Nov 1940 to operate alongside its Lysanders for tactical recce duties.
3 RAAF arrived in Egypt in Sept 1940 and didn't replace its initial equipment of Gauntlets, Gladiators & Lysanders with Hurricanes until Feb 1941.
6 squadron began to receive a few Hurricanes to operate alongside its Lysanders in March 1941.
73 arrived in Egypt via Takoradi at the beginning of Dec 1940 fully equipped with Hurricanes.

The Mediterranean was closed to through shipping in May 1940. From then until Dec 1940 all aircraft deliveries had either to be flown out (Wellingtons) or delivered by sea via the Cape of Good Hope, a journey that took about 2 months. In July 1940 work was begun on the base at Takoradi in West Africa but the first trans-Africa deliveries had to await the Free French securing Fort Lamy in French Equatorial Africa (now Chad), which happened at the end of Aug 1940. Initially it was Blenheims & Hurricanes that used this route. The journey took about a week, weather permitting, but aircraft required a lot of maintenance on arrival in Egypt after the 4,000 mile flight. The first flight took off on 20 Sept 1940. And there were losses along the way.

In Nov/Dec 1940 the carriers Argus & Furious made 2 trips to Takoradi carrying crated Hurricanes, some of which were assembled on board and flown off. These trips took some 100-150 HUrricanes to Takoradi.

Hurricane arrivals in Egypt in the first half of 1941 via the trans-Africa route (from British Official History). These included aircraft delivered to Takoradi by the carriers.
Jan - 44
Feb - 30
Mar - 13
Apr - 62
May - 39
Jun - 62

Turning to Malta, the first 12 Hurricanes were delivered from Britain on the carrier Argus, being flown off on 2 Aug 1940 in Operation Hurry (1 crashed on landing). Ground crews went by submarine. 261 squadron was formed on Malta that same day to operate them and the surviving Sea Gladiators. The next attempt was in Operation White in Nov 1940 when only 8 of 12 Hurricanes launched, reached the island. Argus's next trip was in March / April 1941when another 12 were delivered (the first Mk.IIs. 1 crashed on landing). In between these last 2 operations a dozen Hurricanes ahd been delivered from Egypt. These deliveries were to make up for the losses being suffered in the air over the island.

Wargames
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Re: Maintenace for North Africa Hurricanes?

Post by Wargames » 18 Nov 2023 20:54

Thanks for the rapid reply. Lots of valuable information there.

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