Operation Flax

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Peter H
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Operation Flax

Post by Peter H » 08 Jan 2008 07:14

The Allied strangulation of the Axis air route to Tunisia,April 1943.The Luftwaffe lost 432 aircraft in 5 weeks.

On the 20th April,21 Me 323s were intercepted and 16 were shot down.

Has anyone got further details on this?

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Post by JonS » 08 Jan 2008 08:14

Look up the PDF copy of Eduard Mark's book "Air Power in three American wars"


Link:
https://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/P ... aerint.htm

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Post by Jon G. » 08 Jan 2008 09:15

Actually, 16 Me 323 shot down is a number I haven't seen before for this event. Some sources state 14, some 20. It could be the old case of one side's claims vs. another side's reported losses.

In any case, it was not a good day for the Luftwaffe.

Also see this thread

Lorries-trucks for Africa corps
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=97316

I recommend Mark's book very highly - not just for this event, but for how the Allied air forces learned the interdiction trade in North Africa, improved it in Italy and perfected it in France.

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Post by Peter H » 09 Jan 2008 13:43

Thanks Jon!

Regards
Peter

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Post by Jon G. » 09 Jan 2008 19:42

You're welcome Peter :)

There is a lengthy write-up of the action off Cape Bon in April 1943 over on Stonebooks:
... The enemy fighters estimated the size of the Me 323 formation at 20 aircraft instead of the actual 14. Once attacked, the Me 323s took evasive action and the wedge-shaped formation disintegrated. The huge, cumbersome transports had little chance of even reaching the African coast. Usually able to sustain a great deal of battle damage, on this day the Giganten were carrying volatile cargoes and most caught fire or exploded after a few hits. Though they put up stiff resistance, shooting down five to seven enemy fighters, the Me 323s were shot down one after another until the last Gigant crashed into the sea in flames. The escort fighters from Tunisia were still with the Ju 52s and were too far away to intervene. In any event, it is likely that they could have done little to alter the outcome of this uneven battle...link
Most of the kills were made by SAAF P-40s.

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Post by Peter H » 10 Jan 2008 23:30

Some Allied accounts refer to it as the "Easter Day Massacre" but it appears that Good Friday was on the 25th April in 1943.

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Post by Jon G. » 12 Jan 2008 17:53

No, April 22nd was Holy Thursday (? pardon my Easter English)

From Mark's book, p 46-48.

Image
Image

The Allies had the benefit of very good intelligence and reckless opposition. Who on earth would fly a motorized kite loaded with gasoline to Tunis in the face of enemy air superiority?

Marks is probably wrong on the number of Me 323 lost on that occasion, though.

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