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. » 12 Jun 2009 10:15

phylo_roadking wrote: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.
Yes. Unless he includes strikes against the illustrious before she made it to Valetta - but then his loss figure would be off.

Note that the 4% loss rate which I arrived at, above, for the three-day Illustrious blitz would be too high if we presume that more than 200 strike sorties were flown on the 16th, 18th and 19th -- not to mention Zerstörer sorties, which were also flown over Malta on those dates.
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...
It's just source interdependence at work. If Hooton relies solely on Shores, as he seems to do on the 200-sorties-against-Illustrious-for-eight-losses, he can fairly be dismissed if his figures don't match those of Shores.

Shores isn't infallible, of course, and he certainly doesn't claim to be. But his research is very meticulous, usually right down to giving the names of airmen in downed aircraft, along with their planes' identification letters. For the same reason, his book is a very boring cover-to-cover read; it is on the other hand a great reference - there's definitely a good handful of historians who seem to agree on that.

It would of course be more preferable if we could consult RA, Luftwaffe, RAF and FAA archives and hold their figures against one another. This appears to be what Shores has done, via the many helpers he gives credit to in his book. But in the absence of direct archival access - which would not necessarily give us the full picture either, as you say - we have to trust Shores.
bf109emil wrote:
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?
Well, the chronology doesn't fit, because you have advanced to the next month :)

Just to clarify, here is the Hooton quote again, from pp 78-79 of Eagle in Flames

'...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 Alexandria on 23 January, although a year's repairs in the United States awaited the carrier... he sources this to Shores, Malta: the Hurricane Years, pp 109-111, 114-115 and 119-136.

Hooton has a table at the bottom of p 79 where he provides a breakdown of Fliegerkorps X sorties against Malta for January thru May 1941. The numbers for January are 285 strike sorties (this number's relation to the '200 strike sorties' is discussed above), 122 fighter escort sorties, 30 sweeps and 14 recon, for a total of 451 sorties for 21 losses, or a c. 4.65% loss rate for all of January over Malta.

Just to keep things complicated, Hooton does not source his sortie figures to Shores. Rather, he sources to a German book which I have never seen or read, Tätigkeit des X. Fliegerkorps in Italien in der Zeit von 10. Januar bis zum 22. Mai 1941 und erzielte Resultate via Karl Gundelach's 2-volume book Die deutsche Luftwaffe im Mittelmeer 1940-1945 which I haven't seen, either.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by bf109 emil » 12 Jun 2009 10:48

Well, the chronology doesn't fit, because you have advanced to the next month
my god..will someone shank me...alright i will stand aside and thank you as it seems i have been foiled again but better to be shown then to allow me to continue going in the wrong path
Thank you

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by Jon G. » 12 Jun 2009 11:32

No worries, bf109emil, I am not out to foil you. We all make mistakes, especially when it's past bedtime.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by bf109 emil » 12 Jun 2009 11:37

No i don't mind being foiled and i am rather glad you did...er corrected as i would rather be wrong and corrected then believe i am right with the wrong data...okay enough and sorry for the off topic stuff

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by Sid Guttridge » 12 Jun 2009 11:53

Hi Phylo,

You write "Shores is in the same position as Rudi Overmans and others; he can only check back/crosscheck on SURVIVING material."

Absolutely true. But at least they have personally checked the surviving material, which, all else being equal, puts them as authorities ahead of anyone who hasn't.

If you have better informed alternative authorities than Shores, please bring them forward. If you can't, then the likes of him and Overmans remain the best we have to work with in their subject areas and, by default, carry more authority than alternatives.

What are you offering as alternatives? I would be delighted to find something even better than Shores, in particular, because it would have to be pretty exceptional.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by phylo_roadking » 12 Jun 2009 14:48

If you have better informed alternative authorities than Shores, please bring them forward
What are you offering as alternatives?
Actually, Sid - I may do. Possibly. Or rather...something that MAY very well change the perception of the 1944 HMSO history mentioned several times now. But first I'd like to check what I have against what Shores say about Axis losses for this particular action in February, and RAF losses in the same action.
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 Jon G. » 12 Jun 2009 15:25

Shores & co. have this to say about the action on February 26th:

From pp 158-159
...the Axis launched one of the biggest 'Blitzes' to date - certainly the heaviest raid since that of 19 January. The attack came at around 1300, with Luqa the main target, the attacking force being identified as comprising thirty-eight Ju87s, ten Do17s or 215s, ten He111s and twenty to thirty fighters. The latter included the Bf109Es of 7/JG 26 with MC200s of 6 Gruppo and 12 CR42s of 156 Gruppo...
Note how Shores does not explicitly identify the Ju 87s as German. Or Italian, for that matter. He continues:
...The main force of level bombers passed over to 6-8,000 feet virtually unchallenged...
An important clue for the loss figures, which I shall post below, despite Shores adding:
...their bombs crashing down on on Luqa where six Wellingtons were burnt out (R1247, 1381, 1382, 1383, 1384 of 148 Squadron, plus the sole remaining aircraft of 70 Squadron detachment, T2816) and seven more badly damaged, as were several Marylands. The devastation was tremendous, hangars and workshops being badly smashed. One bomber - reportedly a Ju88 - was seen to be hit by A.A. and went vertically into the sea with a great howl of engines...
I'm omitting the part about air-to-air losses taken by the defenders because they are not relevant for our purposes.

Now to claims and credits, apart from the Ju 88 mentioned above:
...The authorities credited Taylor [who himself was shot down and killed, probably by Müncheberg at 1306] with a Ju87 probable; Plt.Off Pain in V7114 claimed a Do215 probable and a Bf109 damaged, while other pilots were credited with two more probables - a Do215 and a Ju88. Although reported for the day that the A.A. crews had shot down a Ju88, their claims for the day were five Ju87s shot down, four probables, and one damaged.
...and recorded losses:
...II/St.G 1 in fact lost three Ju87s, two 4th Staffel aircraft flown by Fw. Johannes Braun (6G+PR) and Uffz. Heinz Langreder (6g+ER) being reported missing, while Oblt. Kurt Reumann, commander of 6th Staffel, was seen to be shot down in 6G+GT by Hurricanes. Another aircraft, this one from 5th Staffel, was also hit and damaged by Hurricanes, the gunner, Uffz. Robert Kolland, being wounded. One Ju87 of III/St.G 1, flown by Hpt. Helmut Mahlke, was hit in the starboard wing by an A.A. burst, and only by luck and much skill was he able to regain Sicily and land safely...
And thus ends Shores' paragraph about February 26. As can be seen, it is not altogether clear if he is talking only about Ju 87 losses, or if he is addressing all German losses for the day.

Edited to insert the R1382, which had slipped out in the copy-paste process.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by phylo_roadking » 12 Jun 2009 15:58

I'm omitting the part about air-to-air losses taken by the defenders because they are not relevant for our purposes.
Jon, do you have those figures? I'm checking the quality of the 1944 history and a corroborating source.
Now to claims and credits, apart from the Ju 88 mentioned above:
...The authorities credited Taylor [who himself was shot down and killed, probably by Müncheberg at 1306] with a Ju87 probable; Plt.Off Pain in V7114 claimed a Do215 probable and a Bf109 damaged, while other pilots were credited with two more probables - a Do215 and a Ju88. Although reported for the day that the A.A. crews had shot down a Ju88, their claims for the day were five Ju87s shot down, four probables, and one damaged
Would you agree that comes to four (4) claims by RAF pilots, and five (5) claimed kills by AA fire?
And thus ends Shores' paragraph about February 26. As can be seen, it is not altogether clear if he is talking only about Ju 87 losses, or if he is addressing all German losses for the day
It would be probably safe to say just the Ju87s...given that we do have the witnessed Ju88 loss as well :wink: And that's not accounted for in that paragraph. I wonder if this indicates a lack of returns for the participating Ju88 unit for Shores to check?

In the absence of that - the total from Shores looks like three Ju87s and one Ju88 comfirmed?

Do we have any source for RA losses for escorting fighter losses if any?

Just to mention...
...their bombs crashing down on on Luqa where six Wellingtons were burnt out (R1247, 1381, 1383, 1384 of 148 Squadron, plus the sole remaining aircraft of 70 Squadron detachment, T2816) and seven more badly damaged
....is an EXACT match with the 1944 HMSO history. AND with the corroboration I may have found confirms the six Wellingtons lost - but only FOUR severely damaged; not necessarily too far astray from the mark, as the 1944 history indicates three of the seven seriously damaged Wellingtons WERE repaired and returned to service...it taking several months to repair the other four :wink:

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by Jon G. » 12 Jun 2009 18:52

phylo_roadking wrote:
I'm omitting the part about air-to-air losses taken by the defenders because they are not relevant for our purposes.
Jon, do you have those figures? I'm checking the quality of the 1944 history and a corroborating source.
OK. Also with regards to RAF/FAA losses Shores is just a little ambiguous - briefly put, he states that Pt. Off. Kearsay in V7121 and Pt. Off. Langdon in V7474 were both shot down and killed. Additionally, the above and below-mentioned Eric Taylor went missing on that day but his body or his Hurricane were not found - he was instead declared dead when his mae west washed ashore with a cannon hole in the chest.

Shores corraborates that Taylor was probably the 1306 claim which Müncheberg made for the day. Müncheberg claimed an additional Hurricane at 1310, Uffz. Ehlen also made a claim for a Hurricane at 1310 while the earliest LW claim was for a Hurricane shot down by Fw. Kestel at 1305*.. In addition, the 12 pilots of the 156 Gruppo (the CR 42s) claimed four Hurricanes between them - two confirmed and two probables.

So Luftwaffe claims of four Hurricanes, and RA claims of another four.

Shores then goes on to tell us that
...it may be that a further Hurricane was also lost, some sources recording R.A.F. fighter losses for this day as five Hurricanes and three pilots...
Shores does not seem to have much faith in the claims of the Italian pilots!
Now to claims and credits, apart from the Ju 88 mentioned above:
...The authorities credited Taylor [who himself was shot down and killed, probably by Müncheberg at 1306] with a Ju87 probable; Plt.Off Pain in V7114 claimed a Do215 probable and a Bf109 damaged, while other pilots were credited with two more probables - a Do215 and a Ju88. Although reported for the day that the A.A. crews had shot down a Ju88, their claims for the day were five Ju87s shot down, four probables, and one damaged
Would you agree that comes to four (4) claims by RAF pilots, and five (5) claimed kills by AA fire?
No. I read it as two claims by fighter pilots and three credited probable kills. For reasons not elaborated upon, it appears that the AA gunners rescinded on the Ju 88 kill - although I have no idea what the difference is between 'reported' and 'claimed'; it appears that no credit was given.
And thus ends Shores' paragraph about February 26. As can be seen, it is not altogether clear if he is talking only about Ju 87 losses, or if he is addressing all German losses for the day
It would be probably safe to say just the Ju87s...given that we do have the witnessed Ju88 loss as well :wink: And that's not accounted for in that paragraph.
Yep, it sounds mighty convincing. But it appears that it wasn't filed as a claim.
I wonder if this indicates a lack of returns for the participating Ju88 unit for Shores to check?
That could be. Note however that the level bombers were 'virtually unchallenged' when they went in as I quoted above, the apparent absence of 6. Gruppo Mc 200 claims can perhaps be explained by the Macchis providing close escort?
In the absence of that - the total from Shores looks like three Ju87s and one Ju88 comfirmed?
No, I wouldn't call the Ju 88 confirmed, just 'reported'.
Do we have any source for RA losses for escorting fighter losses if any?
From the above, it appears that neither claims nor losses for RA escorts were filed for that day.

For what it is worth, a HMSO publication is probably the right place to look for RAF/FAA losses, but I wouldn't put it above other sources for verifying RA and LW losses. Especially not if the book you refer to was published in 1944.

*I have Caldwell's JG26 book lying around somewhere, but don't seem to find it just now. However, if Caldwell is also sourcing his description of events of February 26th to Shores, I am going out to buy the rest of Shores' books for myself post haste.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by phylo_roadking » 12 Jun 2009 20:54

Also with regards to RAF/FAA losses Shores is just a little ambiguous - briefly put, he states that Pt. Off. Kearsay in V7121 and Pt. Off. Langdon in V7474 were both shot down and killed. Additionally, the above and below-mentioned Eric Taylor went missing on that day but his body or his Hurricane were not found - he was instead declared dead when his mae west washed ashore with a cannon hole in the chest.
Interesting. Not only does Shores tally exactly with the other historical record I've discovered...three aircraft/pilots missing - that tally, along with the very precise damage assesment of the damaged Wellingtons and the time required to put them back into service, comes from less than 48 hours later :wink:
Note however that the level bombers were 'virtually unchallenged' when they went in as I quoted above
Only by fighters; it would appear the airfield defences had their barrage up okay covering the fighters taking off as the LW approached Luqa. The principle of the "barrage box" was as we know that the RAF's fighters would only work on the periphery, and not intrude on the gunners' "free fire" area - hence the anecdote earlier about the Fulmar crossing the Grand Harbour barrage box on the 16th - in breach of the new standing orders. So as they lined up for Luqa, there weren't yet any fighters covering the approaches to the barrage box until they got airborne.
No. I read it as two claims by fighter pilots
Excellent, that's what I have too, from 48 hours later. Although the "probables" number is seven - but given that they're uncorroborated probables, I'm not using them for checking accuracy.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by phylo_roadking » 12 Jun 2009 23:23

Just noticed...
In addition, the 12 pilots of the 156 Gruppo (the CR 42s) claimed four Hurricanes between them - two confirmed and two probables.
From the above, it appears that neither claims nor losses for RA escorts were filed for that day.
? I take it you're JUST referring to the "apparent absence of 6. Gruppo Mc 200 claims" in that last quote?

You said earlier Shores also worked/had work done on the RA archives; we've been talking so far about Fliegerkorps X losses - are there losses listed for the Italian element on the 16th/18/19th of January? I'm asking because Denis Richards mentions in his Official History of 1953 that while there were losses available for the LW, there were no equivalent data for the Italians during the Illustrious Blitz.
Last edited by phylo_roadking on 13 Jun 2009 02:26, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by Jon G. » 13 Jun 2009 02:25

phylo_roadking wrote:Interesting. Not only does Shores tally exactly with the other historical record I've discovered...
I don't have Shores to hand right now, but I would not be surprised if he lists the 1944 HMSO publication in his bibliography...
Note however that the level bombers were 'virtually unchallenged' when they went in as I quoted above
Only by fighters; it would appear the airfield defences had their barrage up okay covering the fighters taking off as the LW approached Luqa...
It could also have been a simple tactical decision. The action started by 261 Sqn Hurricanes climbing to 26,000 feet - must have been close to their max. ceiling and indicative of relatively good lead time - then diving down to engage the Stukas they spotted at 10,000 feet. The Hurricanes would not have performed as well at the higher altitude of the level bombers, so may instead have decided to go for the Ju 87s, where the prospects would have been better. By the time the level bombers went lower for their bombing runs, the Hurricanes, CR 42s and Ju 87s were already involved in a dog fight, which gave the bombers a relatively easy time. That could also explain why the Mc200s apparently were not very involved, at least claims- and losses-wise.
...
From the above, it appears that neither claims nor losses for RA escorts were filed for that day.
I take it you're JUST referring to the "apparent absence of 6. Gruppo Mc 200 claims" in that last quote?
No... but it goes to show how easily a sentence can be misconstrued. I meant that no losses were filed against RA escorts. But strictly speaking, we don't know if all the Ju 87s involved in the action on this date were German.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by phylo_roadking » 13 Jun 2009 02:28

Jon, I expanded that section a few minutes ago, while you were posting the above; so you may not have seen it.
You said earlier Shores also worked/had work done on the RA archives; we've been talking so far about Fliegerkorps X losses - are there losses listed for the Italian element on the 16th/18/19th of January? I'm asking because Denis Richards mentions in his Official History of 1953 that while there were losses available for the LW, there were no equivalent data for the Italians during the Illustrious Blitz.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Interesting. Not only does Shores tally exactly with the other historical record I've discovered...
I don't have Shores to hand right now, but I would not be surprised if he lists the 1944 HMSO publication in his bibliography...
In this I wasn't talking about the 1944 HMSO history - but about the SECOND "period" source and far closer-to-the-date-of-events record I've found. It doesn't ALWAYS dovetail perfectly with the 1944 history - but as I said it's suprisingly accurate so far in RAF losses and aircraft destroyed, and the discrepancies so far only seem to be an occasional one claim up or down from the daily totals for the events we've been talking about in the 1944 history, therefore FAR closer to those numbers than Shores - as we know.

I'd need to do some quality-checking on something in it other than Malta, however; just to be sure how accurate it is.Can we try another check? THIS might be included in Shores&Cull -
Malta. At dawn March 9th four enemy fighters and a bomber approached
at sea level and attacked an aerodrome where one Hurricane was
burnt and another damaged. Bomber crashed on Gozo and crew were
killed.

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Re: 1941 convoys in the Central Med

Post by Jon G. » 13 Jun 2009 16:27

phylo_roadking wrote:...
You said earlier Shores also worked/had work done on the RA archives; we've been talking so far about Fliegerkorps X losses - are there losses listed for the Italian element on the 16th/18/19th of January? I'm asking because Denis Richards mentions in his Official History of 1953 that while there were losses available for the LW, there were no equivalent data for the Italians during the Illustrious Blitz.
Yes. Overall, Shores is less specific about Italian losses, and as exemplified above, he appears to trust German claims over Italian claims. But the absence of RA losses during the Illustrious blitz over Malta proper may be explained by the small size of Air Sicily at the time. North Africa and, especially, Greece sucked away Italian air strength. After all, that was why the Germans sent Fliegerkorps X to help in the first place.

From Shores, here is a tentative Jan 1 Air Sicily OOB:

1. Stormo with the 6 Gruppo (79., 81. and 88. Squadriligie) with Macchi C 200s and the 17 Gruppo (71.,71., and 80. Squadriligie) with CR 32s and CR 42s. Bombers were with the 30. Stormo with the 87 Gruppo (192. and 193. squadriligie) and 90. Gruppo (194. and 195. squadriligie) with S 79s and the 289. autonomous squadriliga with S 79sil. (presume that must mean torpedo bombers?) Air Sicily strength increased during the year - f.e. the 96 Gruppo Stukas coming down on January 9th, though apparently they didn't stay in Sicily for long. Sadkovich in passing mentions that the RA had to give up Sicily's best (= tarmac'd) airfields to the Luftwaffe in January.

Shores gives two Italian losses over (/near) Malta for the 16th, 18th and 19th: an MC200 on the 18th and a Z. 506 B floatplane on the 19th. Controversially, the floatplane was a red cross-marked rescue aircraft.
Malta. At dawn March 9th four enemy fighters and a bomber approached
at sea level and attacked an aerodrome where one Hurricane was
burnt and another damaged. Bomber crashed on Gozo and crew were
killed.
Shores, who in the opening paragraph for March 9. mentions that 'there were now few Luftwaffe bombers left in Sicily', has this as a raid by four Bf 110s and a Ju 88. One German aircraft, a Bf 110, crashed on Gozo.

The final entry for March 9 reads that a recon Ju 88 was intercepted by four Hurricanes. Sgt. Pickering filed a claim for a kill over the sea, but Shores does not elaborate if it was credited, confirmed, or mentioned in German records.

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

Post by phylo_roadking » 13 Jun 2009 20:53

Malta. At dawn March 9th four enemy fighters and a bomber approached
at sea level and attacked an aerodrome where one Hurricane was
burnt and another damaged. Bomber crashed on Gozo and crew were
killed.
Shores, who in the opening paragraph for March 9. mentions that 'there were now few Luftwaffe bombers left in Sicily', has this as a raid by four Bf 110s and a Ju 88. One German aircraft, a Bf 110, crashed on Gozo.
Okay, this is shaping up nicely :D The congruence in historical details of events between Shores, the new source, and where particular events are mentioned in the 1944 HMSO history of the campaign ...is excellent. It's just the variation in confirmed vs. claimed/probable kills that sets them all apart at the minute.
and a Z. 506 B floatplane on the 19th. Controversially, the floatplane was a red cross-marked rescue aircraft.
This MIGHT might be explained with reference to the 1944 history. And the "contrversial" element possibly removed. The identification of the aircraft type differs, but given that by 1941 the Z.501 was being used mainly for search-and-rescue by then due to its vulnerability to RAF/FFA fighters...this COULD be it - unless Shores mentions THIS as a separate incident?
A lighter incident at the end of January was the approach of an italian Cant Z.501 float-plane at dusk one evening. With navigation lights burning, it flew round the island for nearly 45 minutes. Then a searchlight was exposed from the ground, and the float-plane gratefully landed near Comino Island, at the north-west extremity of Malta. Interrogation of the four members of the crew revealed that they had been lost and had just signalled their base to expose searchlights to aid their return. At this very moment one of the island's searchlights chanced to be turned on.


A possible misidentification - THIS could be the Cant Z.506B mentioned by Shores, for that aircraft type is a "float-plane", whereas a Z.501 is actually a flyingboat :wink:

As for numbers, Denis Richards' 1953 Official History of the RAF has this for the period...
The forces of Fliegerkorps X in Sicily on 9th January 1941 numbered 61 dive-bombers, 77 long-range bombers, 12 long-range reconnaissance aircraft, and 22 twin-engined fighters. There were also about 75 Italian machines available for operations against Malta, making in all a total of some 250 enemy aircraft

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