Air Strength N W Africa nAir Forces 1942-1943

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Carl Schwamberger
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Air Strength N W Africa nAir Forces 1942-1943

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 17 Sep 2021 01:59

Looking for sources on strength and reinforcement/repalcement numbers for the Allied air forces during the Tunisian campaign 1942-1943.

Aside from the numbers information on how the aircraft were sent, by ship or the Latin American-Central African flight route.

Thanks for directions to sources.

EwenS
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Re: Air Strength N W Africa nAir Forces 1942-1943

Post by EwenS » 17 Sep 2021 10:23

There were a number of routes / methods of getting aircraft to NW Africa in 1942/43.

Entire multi engined units flew from U.K. to Gibraltar then onwards. For example from 8th AF. Also RAF units such as 608 and 500 with AS Hudsons plus various Beaufighter NF units. There is an OOB of 12th AF on Wiki for the post Torch period that will let you see the source of the US units.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelfth_Air_Force


Ahead of Op Torch large numbers of fresh from the factory Spitfires and Hurricanes were crated and shipped for assembly at Gib to be flown to NA as soon as airfields became available. Later the whole operation was transferred to Casablanca. IWM photos here of 145 MU later in 1943.
https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item ... /205212489

That is one of a whole series of photos taken there. The complication about numbers is that later in 1943, Spitfires assembled there were not only for use in the Med. Some were being flown to India. This also happened with US types. For example P-61s later in 1944.

Multi engined types were being flown in via the South Atlantic Ferry Route. But again not all aircraft on this route were destined for NW Africa. Numbers were being flown on to U.K., and across Africa to the Middle East and Far East.

Deliveries were also being made by carriers used in the transport role. For example USS Chenango delivered 77 P-40F of 33rd FG to Port Lyautey in Morocco a few days after the Torch landings. Ranger made one or two (sources seem confused but probably the former) trips in Jan-Mar 1943 with 325th FG and also replacement aircraft. HMSs Hunter and Stalker, two newly built in the US escort carriers made aircraft deliveries of US fighter aircraft to Casablanca as part of convoy UGF6 arriving 18 March 1943. They then went on to the U.K. USS Card also made a delivery run May/June. Croatan made a couple of trips in Oct-Dec 1943.

The CVE were able to carry up to 90 single engined fighters on each trip. Chenango carried fewer as she was required to fly them off on arrival in NA.

More information will likely be available in Ferry Command (until March 1943) and Transport Command records.

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Re: Air Strength N W Africa nAir Forces 1942-1943

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 17 Sep 2021 23:27

Thanks. That gives me some clues to follow. My immediate goal here is to understand the rate at which the Allied air forces in NW Africa were increased 1942-1943. Particularly the first half of 1943.

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Re: Air Strength N W Africa nAir Forces 1942-1943

Post by EwenS » 18 Sep 2021 16:41

Carl
Some more info for you.

A Special Erection Party was created at Gibraltar in July 1942 to assemble mostly Spitfires then being delivered by carrier to Malta. Between Oct and Dec 1942 they assembled a total of 431 Spitfires and 134 Hurricanes for units moving to NW Africa. One shipment consisted of 116 Spitfires and 13 Hurricanes which arrived on 28th Oct and assembly of which was completed by 8 Nov.

By April 1943 the following RAF units had arrived in NW Africa from Britain. I've also provided the month of arrival. Twin engined types were flown out via Gib. Single engined types were collecting new aircraft in Gibraltar.

Walrus - 283 2/43
Auster - 654 2/43
Spitfore PR - 682 2/43
Hudson - 500 & 608 11/42
Wellington - 150 12/42; 142 1/43
Bisley (aka Blenheim V) - 13, 18, 114, 614 all 11/42. 18 and 114 began conversion to Boston III/IIIa in March 1943.
Beaufighter NF.VI - 255 & 600 11/42; 153 12/42
Spitfire Vc - 72, 81, 93, 111, 152, 154, 242 all 11/42; 232 & 243 12/42.
Hurricane - 43, 241, 253 all 11/42; 32 & 87 12/42.

After April the waters get muddied as units were moved around betweeen the Desert Air Force, Malta and NW Africa commands ahead of the invasion of Sicily.

You might want to get hold of this book, if you haven't already.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/History-Medite ... 765&sr=8-3

reedwh52
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Re: Air Strength N W Africa nAir Forces 1942-1943

Post by reedwh52 » 19 Sep 2021 03:30

You may find the RAF history at Hyperwar helpful. at http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK/U ... index.html
These appendices may give you some data over time since they include NW africa forces

X. Order of Battle, Middle East Command, 11th November, 1941
XI. Order of Battle, Middle East Command, 27th October, 1942
XII. Order of Battle, Mediterranean Air Command, 10th July 1943

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Re: Air Strength N W Africa nAir Forces 1942-1943

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 19 Sep 2021 23:24

That last gives me some sense of the growth covered from the inception of Op TORCH to mid 1943. Two items I've been wresting with when looking at this in the past are:

Counting planes off the OB gives a nominal front line strength. Whats lacking is the size of the on hand reserve or spares, or lack thereof. Then the numbers or velocity of the replacement stream from the US & UK, or lack thereof.

Second would be dates units and aircraft arrived. Im trying to understand the attrition side of the air campaign November 42 to July 1943. How fast the Allied air forces built up and replaced losses were crucial to this attrition question. It looks like the answers are emerging. Appreciate the references given here.

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Re: Air Strength N W Africa nAir Forces 1942-1943

Post by Urmel » 20 Sep 2021 10:36

If this is anything like the picture around the time of CRUSADER (and I don't see why it wouldn't be), it is highly complex, and I very seriously doubt anyone has done the work at that level.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Air Strength N W Africa nAir Forces 1942-1943

Post by reedwh52 » 20 Sep 2021 14:03

Paspartoo posted a link to Scribed on 10 Apr 2012. The link contains three strength report files for January, May and September of each year. The three files are:
1) Fighter,Bomber,Coastal Commands,
2) Middle East & Med
3) Far East Commands
The link is to scribd and worked this morning
http://www.scribd.com/collections/35612 ... ts-1939-45

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Air Strength N W Africa nAir Forces 1942-1943

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 Sep 2021 14:33

Thanks. Those reports should have some clues.

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Urmel
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Re: Air Strength N W Africa nAir Forces 1942-1943

Post by Urmel » 20 Sep 2021 14:46

reedwh52 wrote:
20 Sep 2021 14:03
Paspartoo posted a link to Scribed on 10 Apr 2012. The link contains three strength report files for January, May and September of each year. The three files are:
1) Fighter,Bomber,Coastal Commands,
2) Middle East & Med
3) Far East Commands
The link is to scribd and worked this morning
http://www.scribd.com/collections/35612 ... ts-1939-45
I think the link is broken?

The strength reports are normally snapshots, they won't tell you about the expected flow of planes into the vehicle, neither short nor long-term.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Air Strength N W Africa nAir Forces 1942-1943

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 22 Sep 2021 22:39

Three data points are better than none. Im sure others will turn up. Usually when I ask questions like this it requires assembling many puzzle pieces to sketch a meaningful picture.

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