1941 convoys in the Central Med & the air battle over Malta

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Jon G.
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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by Jon G. » 11 Jun 2009 10:11

39 is ~2.62% of 1,485. But we should be careful about comparing percentages of raids of such vastly different scales. You can certainly find Bomber Command losses for given raids both above and below 4%.

The Italians definitely couldn't sustain the attrition rate which their air force suffered in all theaters. That was why the Luftwaffe was sent to help them in the first place :)

Fliegerkorps X couldn't keep up steam, either. It wasn't a very large force in the first place, and apart from suppressing Malta it was also tasked with supporting Rommel (for example, Stukas from St.G 3, a part of Fliegerkorps X, were detailed to him already in February), and with interfering with the British supply route to Egypt.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by Gooner1 » 11 Jun 2009 10:14

From Playfair TMAME Vol.I

"German records show that sxteen of their aircraft were destroyed in attacks on Malta while the carrier was in harbour." :D

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by Jon G. » 11 Jun 2009 10:30

That figure can only match Shores' if we include crash-landed aircraft at Sicily and also aircraft destroyed in accidents.

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bf109 emil
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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by bf109 emil » 11 Jun 2009 10:42

Jon G wrote'
39 is ~2.62% of 1,485
GOD sorry and thank you...(this getting up at 3A.M. to track stock markets and commodities prior to N.American markets opening tends to take it's toll).

and i have to agree as losses to an air force/bomber force trying to commit to various locales or theatres as opposed to say Bomber Commands one main location has to in the end become prioritized as to what and where said losses and sorties have to be committed or flown and targets prioritized as to there value likewise

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Jun 2009 20:11

Illustrious crept into Valetta harbour for emergency repairs and, despite some 200 strike sorties by Geisler with the loss of eight aircraft, she escaped to Aleaxandria..."
So - two hundred sorties - and one hit.
One hit on the Illustrious, yes. Raids on Hal Far and Luqa which destroyed aircraft on the ground, and also the unexploded bomb hitting the Essex - apparently the bomb went right down the ship's funnel! - are all in addition to that.
Except as I said - Hooton's sentence only refers to actions against the Illustrious so any "return" from other sorties against Hal Far and Luqa are separate. And he doesn't give a sortie total/rate for the 18th.
With Hooton's (via Shores) figures for LW losses over Malta on the three dates we're discussing here, I make that out at 4%. Is that, in your opinion, high Luftwaffe losses?
this number or percent is similar to Luftwaffe losses in august 13 1940 with 1485 sorties and a loss of 39 or 3.8%...this seems about the norm or lower then typical bomber command raids by the RAF into continental Europe in the later night conflicts of the war...To me it doesn't seem high but unsure if and how Axis Command viewed this and deemed whether it being high or acceptable?
For the one hit "return" - yes.

Jim, look at the returns in aircraft destroyed in the air and on the ground, and damage to Eleven Group Fighter Command the Luftwaffe both thought they were enjoying for that casualty rate - and were in reality. Much lower than their intelligence analysts were telling them...but still MUCH higher than one minimal-damage hit per 200 sorties.
am sure each of us has a differ of view/opinion as whether we would find this either high or low...but was it the view of the Axis that i am interested in. If anyone has a source or read how this was scene please list/state/comment.
Jim, take a look at a good BoB history that mentions the faulty intelligence analysis on RAF losses etc. done by Beppo Schmitt. THAT is the sort of return the Luftwaffe regarded as "good" for that level of loss.
Nice try, but no cigar. Those Stukas were Italian from the Ju 87-equipped 96 Gruppo.
"THE AIR BATTLE FOR MALTA The Official Account of the RAF in Malta, June 1940 to November 1944", HMSO 1944 attrributes them to the Luftwaffe.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by Jon G. » 11 Jun 2009 21:08

phylo_roadking wrote:...
One hit on the Illustrious, yes. Raids on Hal Far and Luqa which destroyed aircraft on the ground, and also the unexploded bomb hitting the Essex - apparently the bomb went right down the ship's funnel! - are all in addition to that.
Except as I said - Hooton's sentence only refers to actions against the Illustrious so any "return" from other sorties against Hal Far and Luqa are separate. And he doesn't give a sortie total/rate for the 18th.
Oh, okay. So you are dividing the totality of losses with a fraction of sorties in order to make your 'one hit for 200 sorties' comment? Although I think Hooton's sentence isn't quite as unambigious as you want it to be.

According to Hooton, Fliegerkorps X flew 285 strike missions over Malta during all of January. Considering the other returns, that's fairly good results from the remaining 85 sorties, no?
...
Nice try, but no cigar. Those Stukas were Italian from the Ju 87-equipped 96 Gruppo.
"THE AIR BATTLE FOR MALTA The Official Account of the RAF in Malta, June 1940 to November 1944", HMSO 1944 attrributes them to the Luftwaffe.
OK. Shores has them as Italian, and so does Sadkovich (on p 113) Sadkovich doesn't source to Shores (whom he otherwise makes frequent reference to), but to the Italian Navy Official History IV pp 329-330. I don't have that to hand, and sometimes Sadkovich needs double-checking, but since Shores also has it I put more store in this version. Shores (on p. 105) elaborates that the Italian Stukas were sent to Sicily from Lecce on the 8th, and going into action the next day.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Jun 2009 21:29

According to Hooton, Fliegerkorps X flew 285 strike missions over Malta during all of January. Considering the other returns, that's fairly good results from the remaining 85 sorties, no?
The "remaining 85 sorties" MAY have been those on Hal Far and Luqa and at most a VERY few others...for the 1944 history records that after the 19th the Luftwafe was pretty unactive for a time, right up until the end of the month!

The ONLY LW activity over the island of the 20th for example, was a high-level Ju88 on photo-recce. There was a "little indiscriminate nightbombing from a high altitude" - and "no further activity by the Luftwaffe during the subsequent days."

When Fliegerkorps X DID return at the beginning of February...on or around the 6th for the first of eleven night's operations...it wasn't for direct bombing but massed mine-laying raids at Marsa Muscetto and Grand Harbour.

So given that there WERE only three days of intense activity - 200 for the 16th +19th...leaving 85 or so for the third plus a very limited and occasional nightbombing - doesn't seem at all out of the ballpark.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by Jon G. » 11 Jun 2009 21:40

phylo_roadking wrote:...So given that there WERE only three days of intense activity - 200 for the 16th +19th...leaving 85 or so for the third plus a very limited and occasional nightbombing - doesn't seem at all out of the ballpark.
No, maybe not. But it is odd that Hooton notes 8 aircraft lost for 200 strike sorties, no? If he for some reason had wished to concentrate on only the 16th and 19th, the correct LW figure - assuming Shores & Co are correct, of course - for a/c lost over Malta should be six -- in any case a lower figure than you posted here http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 7#p1340727

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Jun 2009 22:01

That's IF Shore is correct - interestingly the 1944 history notes that that losses I mentioned were the confirmed "kills", and was specific about not including include the claimed probables.
But it is odd that Hooton notes 8 aircraft lost for 200 strike sorties, no? If he for some reason had wished to concentrate on only the 16th and 19th...
The problem with that is the 85 sorties THEN are "detached" from the "Illustrious Blitz", and mean that his TOTAL sortie figure for January doesn't in any way gel with the very low activity rate the garrison of Malta reported for the rest of the month :wink: Attributing a goodly part of them to the airfield raids on the 18th is the only remaining way of "using them up".

Then again - there's also the possibility that Hooton didn't expect his sentence to be dissected for what WASN'T in it... :lol:
Last edited by phylo_roadking on 11 Jun 2009 22:42, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by Jon G. » 11 Jun 2009 22:31

Well...

a) Shores gives 8 LW aircraft lost over Malta on the 16th, 18th and 19th of January - one on the 16th, two on the 18th, and five on the 19th.

b) Hooton says that 200 strike sorties were flown. You interpret that as strikes against the Illustrious, while I think his comment is more ambiguous and could well pertain to the number of strike missions flown on all three dates. This would leave 85 strike sorties for all of the rest of January; under your interpretation, the 85 missions not accounted for in the 200 would cover strikes flown on January 18th + the rest of January.

c) However, Hooton also lists eight Luftwaffe losses. That figure, as we know, covers all three dates - 16th, 18th and 19th - if we can believe Shores. I think we can in this context, for Hooton sources his figures to none other than Shores.

So it follows that

d) The 200 strike missions which Hooton is talking about in his less-than-crystal-clear sentence must pertain to strike sorties flown on all three dates.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Jun 2009 22:46

Which then by that logic leaves

E/ 85 unaccounted-for sorties in his monthly total - and a recorded VERY low activity rate for the remaining week and a half of January, including specifically NO daytime bombing and VERY light night bombing.
c) However, Hooton also lists eight Luftwaffe losses. That figure, as we know, covers all three dates - 16th, 18th and 19th - if we can believe Shores. I think we can in this context, for Hooton sources his figures to none other than Shores.
That's a bit of a tort - that we can accept/believe one source because another historian uses him. We have enough examples in the study of WWII alone where historians maintain the errors of original sources or earlier commentators. Half the content of the Holocaust Section of AHF would vanish in a puff of smoke if all period numerical/quantitative sources were complete and verifiable 8O

Shores is in the same position as Rudi Overmans and others; he can only check back/crosscheck on SURVIVING material. He's only as reliable as his source materiel are complete.
Last edited by phylo_roadking on 12 Jun 2009 00:39, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Jun 2009 23:05

Jon, something has suddenly come to me - there's a way to check how "divergent" the HMSO history details are...

In it's introduction it mentions the following losses to the RA and LW June 1940-November 1942:
1,129 aircraft lost, of which 236 were destroyed by anti-aircraft fire
Do we have other sources recording Axis losses specifically against Malta in this "whole" 1940-42?

This is just an aisde - as a way of checking the degree of divergence of at least ONE of the contending sources.

EDIT - Got it, a test data set. Jon, check what Shores says for the following action...
On 26th February, thirty Ju87s, twelve Ju88s escorted by twenty to thirty mixed fighters, together with ten Do.215s and ten He.111s attacked Luqa. The anti-aircraft defences threw up a barrage for the airfield and eight Hurricanes took off. The guns destroyed five divebombers, confirmed - the fighters, two; there were eleven probables.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Jun 2009 23:26

As a P.S. to
b) Hooton says that 200 strike sorties were flown. You interpret that as strikes against the Illustrious, while I think his comment is more ambiguous and could well pertain to the number of strike missions flown on all three dates. This would leave 85 strike sorties for all of the rest of January; under your interpretation, the 85 missions not accounted for in the 200 would cover strikes flown on January 18th + the rest of January.
From the RAF Museum, Hendon website -
16 January
The Luftwaffe mounts its first heavy attack on Malta, targeted on the carrier HMS Illustrious. Despite generating some 200 sorties against the carrier, the Luftwaffe is unable to prevent it from sailing for Alexandria on 23 January.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by bf109 emil » 12 Jun 2009 07:04

On 26th February, thirty Ju87s, twelve Ju88s escorted by twenty to thirty mixed fighters, together with ten Do.215s and ten He.111s attacked Luqa. The anti-aircraft defences threw up a barrage for the airfield and eight Hurricanes took off. The guns destroyed five divebombers, confirmed - the fighters, two; there were eleven probables.
so if i total right this is between 82 to 92 depending on the number between 20 or 30 mixed fighters, so this must be the other 85 sorties flown for the month, should it not?

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by bf109 emil » 12 Jun 2009 08:23

I have to ask, as it was stated earlier that Illustrious sustained only 2 hits in 2 weeks and another saying she received only 1 hit...is this correct as i found this claiming she was struck 6 times prior to making harbour in Malta! Is this incorrect or has this attack with 6 hits perhaps been overlooked
06/01/1941--The Luftwaffe launches its first attacks against British convoys bound for Malta in the Mediterranean.
10/01/1941---German aircraft surprise the Mediterranean fleet, which is escorting 3 merchant ships to Greece. 40 Ju-87 Stukas attack them, scoring 6 hits on HMS Illustrious and severely damaging her. HMS Warspite also receive damage. Both ships make for Malta and arrive the next day.
11/01/1941---The Cruisers HMS Southampton and HMS Gloucester are attacked by German aircraft in the Sicilian channel. HMS Gloucester receives damage, while HMS Southampton is sunk. British submarine's begin to make attacks German and Italian convoys crossing to Libya.
http://www.worldwar-2.net/timelines/war ... x-1941.htm
and although it is only wikipedia and the source is a personal acct. of a petty officer"Petty Officer Telegraph operator: George Russell Dickson, personal account" he claims she was hit not 6 but 8 times
On 10 January 1941 Illustrious was attacked while escorting a convoy east of Sicily by Axis Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 and Ju-87 "Stuka" dive-bombers, being hit by 8 bombs and suffering extensive damage
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Illustrious_(R87)

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