How important was Malta?

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Full Monty
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Post by Full Monty » 03 Jun 2006 17:03

Michael Emrys wrote:
Full Monty wrote:One only has to look at the statistics and the convoy routes to see that Malta's significance has been blown way out of proportion, particularly by Rommel 'fanboys' trying to explain away their hero's incompetence.
Indeed. But that does not seem to be any part of the present discussion, so let's just set that aside.
Fair enough. :D
I am not trying to claim that Malta was a decisive factor in the eventual Axis defeat, but it was a significant one. The amount of Axis supply reaching the front was pretty much proportional to the amount of suppression through bombing of Malta. And while there were other factors effecting how much successfully got across, the timing was not entirely coincidental. So let's neither exaggerate nor deny the importance of Malta. Even the fact that it was absorbing so much of the Axis air effort in the MTO, making it unavailable elsewhere, is not without its significance.

Michael


It's a bit like Guadulcanal in the respect that it became something of a battle of wills. The losses taken by both sides in the fighting to save/neutralise the island far exceeded its true value.

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Post by Full Monty » 03 Jun 2006 17:18

leandros wrote:
Full Monty wrote:One only has to look at the statistics and the convoy routes to see that Malta's significance has been blown way out of proportion, particularly by Rommel 'fanboys' trying to explain away their hero's incompetence (not saying that of anyone here, just making a general observation :) ). I'd agree that after 'Torch' Malta comes back into play somewhat, but given Allied materiel superiority it really makes little difference who controlled it come late 1942.
Monty himself saw Malta as important. He even adjusted his own plans to accommodate airfield availability for coverage of supply convoys there.
Given that Montgomery took over after the fall of Tobruk - something that rendered Malta more or less redundant - I place little store in this unless you can give a little more context.

@Bronsky

Statistics can prove almost anything and yet can still say nothing. :D What I would argue is that for most of 1942 Malta was either out of action or not optimally sited to intercept the convoys (or single ships) carrying supplies to Rommel. This was, I believe, the decisive phase of the Desert Campaign. Additionally, whilst it's true that shipping had to be grouped and routed in a less than efficient manner I would say that this was not just down to the air and naval assets stationed at Malta.

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Post by Bronsky » 03 Jun 2006 17:39

Full Monty wrote:Statistics can prove almost anything and yet can still say nothing. :D
That's a point of view. Why write "One only has to look at the statistics and the convoy routes to see that Malta's significance has been blown way out of proportion" if you truly believe that, though ? :P
Full Monty wrote:What I would argue is that for most of 1942 Malta was either out of action or not optimally sited to intercept the convoys (or single ships) carrying supplies to Rommel. This was, I believe, the decisive phase of the Desert Campaign. Additionally, whilst it's true that shipping had to be grouped and routed in a less than efficient manner I would say that this was not just down to the air and naval assets stationed at Malta.
I believe that you are wrong on both points. Any history of the desert war will tell you that Malta was out of action when Axis air pounded it, i.e. January to June 1941, and again January to June 1942. In June 1941, the Luftwaffe moved to Russia, Malta got back to strength, and by the time of Crusader Rommel's logistical situation was terrible - which is the reason why he had to pull back.

Winter 1941/42: Luftwaffe moves an air corps' worth of planes back to the Mediterranean from Russia, plus Luftlotte II HQ. Malta is interdicted again, Axis deliveries reach record levels in April, Rommel builds up and attacks at Gazala.

May-June '42: Luftwaffe in the Med is taken off the Malta interdiction mission in order to support Rommel, so the island is reinforced, Rommel's supply problems pick up again during that summer. British air reinforcements to the island (including Keith Park as an air commander) and the fact that Axis air was still largely tied up in North Africa mean that an Axis attempt to suppress the island again in August fails for lack of resources.

September - October 1942: Malta is in full shape, the British use Malta-based assets and ULTRA to specifically target Axis tankers, Rommel's supply situation at El Alamein is terrible and in particular his fuel situation is critical, with a direct effect on his conduct of the battle (i.e. he didn't have the fuel to move his armored reserve back and forth, so he could only commit it to one point).

See a pattern, here?

Regarding why Axis shipping to North Africa was forced to inefficient patterns, saying that there were other reasons than Malta doesn't contribute much to the discussion unless you point out what these "other reasons" are. I did take the time to outline what the direct and indirect effects of Malta had been as far as I knew. Why not address the specifics of these arguments?

Otherwise, I could as well go back to your original comment about a look at statistics showing that Malta's role was overblown and simply commenting along the lines of "there were other reasons why Malta's role was crucial, so there". Save a lot of time it would, too, but I decided it could be considered rude... :P

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Tim Smith
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Post by Tim Smith » 04 Jun 2006 07:52

Absolutely correct.

The German Fallschirmjager should have landed on Malta in May 1941 instead of Crete.

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Post by Jon G. » 04 Jun 2006 11:33

Full Monty wrote:...One only has to look at the statistics and the convoy routes to see that Malta's significance has been blown way out of proportion, particularly by Rommel 'fanboys' trying to explain away their hero's incompetence (not saying that of anyone here, just making a general observation :) ). I'd agree that after 'Torch' Malta comes back into play somewhat, but given Allied materiel superiority it really makes little difference who controlled it come late 1942.
The statistics are here:

Image

Cross-posted (shame on me!) from this post by Davide Pastore:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 474#829474

...apart from demonstrating quite serious cumulative losses, I would add that these statistics don't show the exorbitant amount of warship tonnage the Italians had to earmark for their Naples-North Africa convoys thanks to the mere presence of Malta. Of course not all Axis shipping losses were caused by aircraft and submarines operating out of Malta, but the island's mere presence on the convoy route caused the Italian navy to burn a lot of oil, of which it had precious little. One convoy which set out for Tripolis in December 1941 had no less than three battleships, three cruisers and 20 destroyers to protect five merchant ships.

Edited img tags, duh.

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Malta

Post by metzger76 » 05 Jun 2006 22:20

malta was like Midway in a sense...an unsinkable aircraft carrier that could always harass and interdict Axis shipping.

Had the Luftwaffe and FJs been able to remove Malta has an Allied Air and Naval asset, Rommel might have had a better chance at success since his logistics wouldn't have been compromised.

What if a German held Malta had resulted in success at El Alamain? What if the Axis had siezed the Suez? That would have restricted Allied shipping to the Straights of Gibraltar as the only entry into the Mediterranean.

Malta>El Alamain>Suez>Gibraltar?

Had the Mediterranean been a safe Axis "Lake", the war would have had a different outcome. The removal of Gibraltar and closing off of the Med. to the Allies would safeguarded many the Axis countries "soft underbelly".

Perhaps increase shipbuilding in the Med. could have led to more Axis subs and shipping being allowed into the North Atlantic to take out convoys.

Perhaps Franco would have no longer felt threatened by the Royal Navy and decided to join the Axis?

Perhaps Axis campaigns into Syria/Iraq would have secured even more oil for the Axis?

Perhaps Turkey would have been "persuaded" to join the Axis.

I realize these are all whopping "what ifs" but Malta could have been one part in strategic plan to gain control of the entire Mediterranean for the Axis.

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Post by Full Monty » 05 Jun 2006 23:45

Bronsky wrote:
Full Monty wrote:Statistics can prove almost anything and yet can still say nothing. :D
That's a point of view. Why write "One only has to look at the statistics and the convoy routes to see that Malta's significance has been blown way out of proportion" if you truly believe that, though ? :P
Because they show a consistency in the tonnage of supplies landing in North Africa.
Full Monty wrote:What I would argue is that for most of 1942 Malta was either out of action or not optimally sited to intercept the convoys (or single ships) carrying supplies to Rommel. This was, I believe, the decisive phase of the Desert Campaign. Additionally, whilst it's true that shipping had to be grouped and routed in a less than efficient manner I would say that this was not just down to the air and naval assets stationed at Malta.
I believe that you are wrong on both points. Any history of the desert war will tell you that Malta was out of action when Axis air pounded it, i.e. January to June 1941, and again January to June 1942. In June 1941, the Luftwaffe moved to Russia, Malta got back to strength, and by the time of Crusader Rommel's logistical situation was terrible - which is the reason why he had to pull back.
I'd argue (backed by the Panzer Truppen records) that Rommel had to pull back because the strength of his Panzer Regiments had been worn down by continuous action to the degree that they were no longer capable of decisive action. This is not to say that he didn't have supply problems, but this was a minor contributing factor.
Winter 1941/42: Luftwaffe moves an air corps' worth of planes back to the Mediterranean from Russia, plus Luftlotte II HQ. Malta is interdicted again, Axis deliveries reach record levels in April, Rommel builds up and attacks at Gazala.

May-June '42: Luftwaffe in the Med is taken off the Malta interdiction mission in order to support Rommel, so the island is reinforced, Rommel's supply problems pick up again during that summer. British air reinforcements to the island (including Keith Park as an air commander) and the fact that Axis air was still largely tied up in North Africa mean that an Axis attempt to suppress the island again in August fails for lack of resources.

September - October 1942: Malta is in full shape, the British use Malta-based assets and ULTRA to specifically target Axis tankers, Rommel's supply situation at El Alamein is terrible and in particular his fuel situation is critical, with a direct effect on his conduct of the battle (i.e. he didn't have the fuel to move his armored reserve back and forth, so he could only commit it to one point).

See a pattern, here?
Yes, but I don't think it invalidates my point about Malta. Once Tobruk was taken, the shipping routed there avoided Malta but were subject to attack from aircraft and naval assets based in Alexandria. Not only that but Rommels overstretched land supply lines were subject to interdiction from the DAF. There were plenty of supplies in Benghazi and Tripoli but actually getting them to Rommel at El Alamein was the problem, not getting them from Italy to the ports.
Regarding why Axis shipping to North Africa was forced to inefficient patterns, saying that there were other reasons than Malta doesn't contribute much to the discussion unless you point out what these "other reasons" are. I did take the time to outline what the direct and indirect effects of Malta had been as far as I knew. Why not address the specifics of these arguments?

Otherwise, I could as well go back to your original comment about a look at statistics showing that Malta's role was overblown and simply commenting along the lines of "there were other reasons why Malta's role was crucial, so there". Save a lot of time it would, too, but I decided it could be considered rude... :P
I thought it was self-evident that there were other bases, other naval and air assets in the Med that were available to the British/Commonwealth forces that would force the Axis to take measures to protect their shipping.

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Post by Full Monty » 05 Jun 2006 23:57

Jon G. wrote: Cross-posted (shame on me!) from this post by Davide Pastore:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 474#829474

...apart from demonstrating quite serious cumulative losses, I would add that these statistics don't show the exorbitant amount of warship tonnage the Italians had to earmark for their Naples-North Africa convoys thanks to the mere presence of Malta. Of course not all Axis shipping losses were caused by aircraft and submarines operating out of Malta, but the island's mere presence on the convoy route caused the Italian navy to burn a lot of oil, of which it had precious little. One convoy which set out for Tripolis in December 1941 had no less than three battleships, three cruisers and 20 destroyers to protect five merchant ships.
That corresponds to what I have here. I think it shows that, apart from the back end of 1941, the amount of supplies landing was remarkably consistent, whether Malta was fully operational or not.

I think I've already acknowledged that disproportionate assets from both sides were expended on and around Malta but I don't see what effect that actually has on the Desert Campaign as a whole. Had the Axis taken Malta there would still have been the problem of getting the supplies to Rommel and though the Luftwaffe would have been able to commit more aircraft to supporting his forces, the Allies, in turn, would have been able to commit more resources to the desert.

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Re: Malta

Post by Michael Emrys » 06 Jun 2006 06:10

metzger76 wrote:malta was like Midway in a sense...an unsinkable aircraft carrier that could always harass and interdict Axis shipping.
Except that Midway was not astraddle an Axis shipping lane of major importance. The closest comparison to Malta in the Pacific would have been the Phillipines, Formosa, or Okinawa.
What if a German held Malta had resulted in success at El Alamain?
Odds of that are virtually nil. Capturing Malta does not mean that the floodgates of supply suddenly open for the Axis at el Alamein. It means that a trickle becomes a somewhat larger trickle. The critical difference would have been during the period June 1941-June 1942 when the fighting was still going on in Libya.
What if the Axis had siezed the Suez? That would have restricted Allied shipping to the Straights of Gibraltar as the only entry into the Mediterranean.
So what? The only reason to press Allied shipping beyond Gibraltar was to supply Malta.
Malta>El Alamain>Suez>Gibraltar?
If you are proposing that as a list of Axis victories, you have a lot of work ahead of you to show its plausibility.
Had the Mediterranean been a safe Axis "Lake", the war would have had a different outcome. The removal of Gibraltar and closing off of the Med. to the Allies would safeguarded many the Axis countries "soft underbelly".
You have not shown how Gibraltar can plausibly be "removed".
Perhaps increase shipbuilding in the Med. could have led to more Axis subs and shipping being allowed into the North Atlantic to take out convoys.
What??? I can't make any sense of that statement from any angle. How is shipbuilding in the Med (presumably by Italy?) to come about? How much time is it going to take? Where are the materials coming from? There's a war on, you know.
Perhaps Franco would have no longer felt threatened by the Royal Navy and decided to join the Axis?
Not likely. The essential conditions that led him to reject that course originally would still be more or less in force, the chief one being that the Axis cannot feed his country on anything like the same scale that the Allies already were.
Perhaps Axis campaigns into Syria/Iraq would have secured even more oil for the Axis?
Bollocks. The British liquidated that threat in the summer of 1941. The attack on Malta that we are discussing in this thread was scheduled in June 1942, a year later. Even had the Axis taken Malta in 1941 instead of Crete, the effects of its loss would not have had time to register on the situation in Syria/Iraq/Iran. And if Crete is not taken, the Axis' strategic situation in the Eastern Med is actually weakened.

Finally, even if by some miracle the Axis had captured the Mideast oilfields, they did not have the means to return them to production and move the oil where it was needed. And in any event, not all that much was being produced there at the time.
Perhaps Turkey would have been "persuaded" to join the Axis.
On an outside chance, maybe. The thing is, if Turkey does not join the Axis—or at least cooperate with it—by the beginning of summer 1941, it loses most of its importance anyway. The war simply moved on.
I realize these are all whopping "what ifs" but Malta could have been one part in strategic plan to gain control of the entire Mediterranean for the Axis.
It seems to me that your thinking has fallen into the trap that Full Monty warned of earlier in this thread. Though Malta was of some importance, it was not anything so pivotal as you are trying to make out here.

Go back a bit. The Axis plan was for Rommel to halt as soon as Tobruk was taken and then to take Malta. This means that the next big battle in NA would probably have been fought on the Libya/Egypt border more or less where the summer battles the previous year had been fought, except that this time Rommel now has Tobruk.

Okay, so suppose the fighting goes badly for the British (and this is not at all a given, but for the sake of argument let's say it does). Suppose they fall back once more on el Alamein and dig in as they did historically.

Then in the early autumn of 1942 the situation is not too different from what it was historically except that Rommel has marginally better supply. That is, bad instead of truly awful. I don't think you can posit that that means an Axis victory there. At best, the situation is stalemated until Torch occurs as it historically did, and then the game is over in NA. Rommel is now not only confronted with an army to his front that is at least as big as his own, but he now has one at least equally as big to his rear. Even with Malta in Axis hands, the end is just a matter of time. It might take more time that way, but probably not a whole lot more time.

Michael

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Post by Jon G. » 06 Jun 2006 08:34

Full Monty wrote:That [the table of shipping losses] corresponds to what I have here. I think it shows that, apart from the back end of 1941, the amount of supplies landing was remarkably consistent, whether Malta was fully operational or not.
I think more can be read from the Italian merchant shipping losses than this. You are correct that the majority of supplies did make it safely across the Mediterranean, and you are also correct when you state that the distances the Axis forces' supply services had to cover inside North Africa were another serious concern.

However, the noticeable increase in Italian shipping losses towards the ends of 1941 and again in 1942 corresponds rather well with Crusader and the Alamein battles, Rommel's two worst crisis. In 1941 Rommel rode off the storm thanks to his shorter line of communications (relative to 1942) and the build-up in preparation for the assault on Tobruk, but in 1942 things went horribly wrong for him as we know. Both the 1941 and 1942 British campaigns were preceded by deliberate and protracted attacks on Axis supply lines. This can be read from the numbers in the table originally posted by Davide Pastore. Many of those attacks were staged from Malta, although it would be a mistake to credit Malta based units with all Axis shipping losses.
I think I've already acknowledged that disproportionate assets from both sides were expended on and around Malta but I don't see what effect that actually has on the Desert Campaign as a whole. Had the Axis taken Malta there would still have been the problem of getting the supplies to Rommel and though the Luftwaffe would have been able to commit more aircraft to supporting his forces, the Allies, in turn, would have been able to commit more resources to the desert.
I think Malta was very important - if not outright critical - to Allied success in North Africa. However, that doesn't mean that Malta in Axis hands would have ensured final victory for Rommel and his Panzerarmée.

If (and it's a big if) the Axis had had both the will and the wherewithal to force a decision in the Mediterranean, they sould have devoted their attention to the eastern Mediterranean - i.e. Iraq and the Levant and Crete as a stepping-stone to Cyprus. By the time Rommel was in Cairo nobody would have cared about Malta. However, Rommel's initial orders did not mandate an advance to the Nile, and his ability to act offensively was hamstrung by his very long line of communications. Malta posed a big problem to Rommel's supply line.

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Post by Full Monty » 06 Jun 2006 09:20

Jon, thanks for the clarity of that post. I place a great deal of store with John Ellis in his 'Brute Force' tome where he analyses statistics - less so where he drifts into tactical and operational areas. He makes a pretty convincing case for Rommel's supply problems being largely his own fault in failing to appreciate the difficulties of maintaining even the relatively small DAK in North Africa. He quotes from several German commanders (including Nehring) who state that it was the long distances between the ports and the troops that was the primary cause of the shortages. The 'see saw' of reversing fortunes in North Africa matches entirely with the relative lengthening and shortening of the army's supply lines up until 2nd Alamein and 'Torch' where the balance tipped decisively in favour of the Allies.

I think we're hitting an impasse here. :D

Let me speculate a little. The capture of Tobruk in June 1942 offered Rommel the opportunity of much shorter land supply lines and a route by sea that avoided Malta. However, the increasing superiority of the Desert Air Force, allied with intel supplied by ULTRA meant that this was largely negated as tankers were repeatedly sunk, mostly by aircraft and ships operating out of Alexandria. However, if Rommel had taken the port in November or December 1941 he would have been in a much stronger position because the Allies had not built up their strength to that degree. Had he not embarked on one of his trademark 'disappearing acts' (the 'Dash for the Wire') he may have achieved it. Even with its capture and the elimination of Malta it would still not have been decisive imho. But who can know for sure? :D

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Post by Bronsky » 06 Jun 2006 10:15

Full Monty wrote:
Bronsky wrote:Why write "One only has to look at the statistics and the convoy routes to see that Malta's significance has been blown way out of proportion" if you truly believe that, though ? :P
Because they show a consistency in the tonnage of supplies landing in North Africa.
Do they? That's not what the figures I have show (see below). I'd be interested in seeing the figures backing your interpretation.

Between July 1940 and June 1941 (included), the average cargo delivery rate was 95.2%., the only month where the rate was below 90% being December 1940 at 89.35%.
Following Barbarossa, the Luftwaffe largely pulled out of the Mediterranean and Maltese activity picked up, so between July and October 1941 (inclusive) the delivery rate dropped to 79.9%. So the average convoy was taking 20% losses, that's more than the USAAF loss rate at 2nd Schweinfurt. Curiously enough, Rommel seemed to feel the pinch as he was having trouble building up, which is why he took so long besieging Tobruk.
Full Monty wrote:
Bronsky wrote:Any history of the desert war will tell you that Malta was out of action when Axis air pounded it, i.e. January to June 1941, and again January to June 1942. In June 1941, the Luftwaffe moved to Russia, Malta got back to strength, and by the time of Crusader Rommel's logistical situation was terrible - which is the reason why he had to pull back.
I'd argue (backed by the Panzer Truppen records) that Rommel had to pull back because the strength of his Panzer Regiments had been worn down by continuous action to the degree that they were no longer capable of decisive action. This is not to say that he didn't have supply problems, but this was a minor contributing factor.
Both sides' armor had taken losses. How come that Rommel's force was "worn down" while Auchinleck's was not? Perhaps the fact that during the month of Crusader - which started in 18 November 1941 - 14 ships out of 22 dispatched to North Africa were sunk, so the delivery rate was down to 37%? In the previous 12 months (November 1940 to October 1941), the average monthly fuel deliveries had been 15,387 tons. The figure for November was 2,471 tons. Oops... So Rommel had to break off the engagement as he was out of tanks, out of fuel and out of ammunition, but the fact that two third of his resupply convoys had been sunk had nothing to do with it? :?

This is further illustrated by the fact that Rommel's panzer situation suddenly improved. Convoys arrived in Benghazi and Tripoli starting in late December, including a large one in early January. Perhaps not coincidentally, this was when 2nd Luftflotte had redeployed from Russia and Maltese attacks had been curbed. Perhaps not coincidentally, when Rommel found himself in a position to attack at Gazala, the average delivery rate between December 1941 and May 1942 had gone back to 94.3%... 8-)
Full Monty wrote:Once Tobruk was taken, the shipping routed there avoided Malta but were subject to attack from aircraft and naval assets based in Alexandria. Not only that but Rommels overstretched land supply lines were subject to interdiction from the DAF. There were plenty of supplies in Benghazi and Tripoli but actually getting them to Rommel at El Alamein was the problem, not getting them from Italy to the ports.
Right, and why was Rommel forced to a comparatively inefficient supply scheme? Because the Axis didn't have the resources to defend convoys on several routes (and convoys to Tripoli would have to be run anyway), so they had to concentrate on one route. And why did they have to defend convoys in the first place? Because Malta was active again following the redeployment of Luftwaffe assets to North Africa to support Rommel's offensive. The air assets deployed in Sicily and tasked with keeping Malta relatively under control would have been more than enough to prevent port attacks from unescorted bombers. The Italians had the naval assets to defend against the light harrassing forces sent from Alexandria (though the RAF did most of the work), they just didn't have the fuel to protect the convoys *and* have a sustained naval presence in North Africa (particularly if the enemy had air superiority). Malta again.

Also, you're making it sound as if Egypt-based attacks accounted for most or all of the Axis shipping losses, and that was definitely not the case. Malta had both a direct role, i.e. what Maltese-based forces sank, and an indirect role i.e. forcing the Axis to deploy resources away from the front, the consequence of which was loss of air superiority near the front, the consequence of which was an inefficient supply setup. So it's wrong to say "Malta didn't do anything, the Alexandria RAF and inept Axis logistical arrangements did all the work", because absent Malta the Egyptian RAF could have been neutralized and the Axis could have adopted more efficient schemes (they did try).
Full Monty wrote:I thought it was self-evident that there were other bases, other naval and air assets in the Med that were available to the British/Commonwealth forces that would force the Axis to take measures to protect their shipping.
Other than Malta, what bases were available to the Allies from which to stage air attacks on North African convoys? Bombers from Egypt could reach Benghazi or even Tripoli, but we're talking unescorted or night attacks here. Surface forces staging from Gibraltar or Alexandria would be vulnerable to air attacks on their way to, or from, attacking the convoys. Submarines could base in Gibraltar or Alexandria, though patrol time would be more limited. No surface threat means the Italians can do an ASW escort only, which will save a lot of fuel. No air threat means the Axis have ample air resources to redeploy to Tobruk, Benghazi or Tripoli.

(edited to fix various typos)

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Post by Bronsky » 06 Jun 2006 10:32

Full Monty wrote:I place a great deal of store with John Ellis in his 'Brute Force' tome where he analyses statistics - less so where he drifts into tactical and operational areas. He makes a pretty convincing case for Rommel's supply problems being largely his own fault in failing to appreciate the difficulties of maintaining even the relatively small DAK in North Africa. He quotes from several German commanders (including Nehring) who state that it was the long distances between the ports and the troops that was the primary cause of the shortages. The 'see saw' of reversing fortunes in North Africa matches entirely with the relative lengthening and shortening of the army's supply lines up until 2nd Alamein and 'Torch' where the balance tipped decisively in favour of the Allies.
This looks kind of a chicken and egg question, but I believe that in that case you can argue that the egg came first.

The army's supply lines were shortest when the Axis was in trouble (i.e. December 1940 and December 1941) as a consequence of which the Axis deployed additional assets to the theater. The last time when the supply lines shortened, i.e. post-El Alamein, the Axis was no longer in a position to influence the outcome by reallocating assets (what with Stalingrad, and the fact that Allied strength had increased so much).

Similarly, distance isn't everything. Rommel was fighting Crusader in exactly the same spot as he had fought Brevity and Battleaxe. Distance was the same, but resupply rate was not: the difference was sinkings. This isn't to say that distance didn't matter. It was a factor, but one that could be dealt with absent too much enemy interference. For example, coastal shipping could greatly alleviate the burden of the overland supply route. The Germans knew about it, and tried it. It didn't work. Why ? Because of the direct and indirect effects of Malta that I described in my previous post.

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Post by fredleander » 06 Jun 2006 11:01

Full Monty wrote:Because they show a consistency in the tonnage of supplies landing in North Africa.
Was that their planned tonnage landed?

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Post by Bronsky » 06 Jun 2006 15:33

leandros wrote:Was that their planned tonnage landed?
No, average losses were 15% throughout the campaign, but crisis months e.g. before Crusader and El Alamein were over 50% of tonnage sent was lost.

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