Davide Pastore wrote:However at some later time Rommel has to move and try to break through the next obstacle, El Alamein. I see no point in just staying there waiting for the British to build up their force and strike back.
Yes, but the British didn't intend to withdraw all the way to El Alamein, they only did so because Rommel bounced them off Mersa Matruh. If there's a next battle, it will involve strong British forces anchored around that position, not El Alamein. How strong depends on the date.
Davide Pastore wrote:Have you already covered this topic in some forum discussion?
This thread from the Usenet WWII group 3 years ago has a good outline of the argument,http://groups.google.fr/group/soc.histo ... 20e00e415d
This thread also has some, though the discussion is somewhat polluted by other considerations.viewtopic.php?f=56&t=102636&st=0&sk=t&sd=a
Essentially, the argument is that
1/ The figures for tonnage offloaded prove conclusively that the port capacity figures provided by Cocchia and quoted by Van Creveld (whom everyone else quoted from then on) are demonstrably conservative. You already have the relevant figures, and can judge for yourself, so the Axis could have shipped a lot more to North Africa.
2/ Malta was a key part of Axis logistical troubles in North Africa, because in addition to the direct losses (and bear in mind that this was prime-quality shipping loaded with expensive equipment, not an old English tramper sunk while carrying sheepskins to Belfast) it forced the Regia Marina in a very inefficient and expensive patter of operations. Escorted convoys (read: poor port efficiency, huge fuel consumption), sending ships half-loaded so as to minimize equipment losses and maximize discharge rate, plus the need to devote large forces just to keeping Malta down.
Remove Malta and the assets historically used to keep it down become available again. The Axis can use shipping in a more efficient manner that will make better use of existing port capacity. But I suggest that this discussion take place in the proper thread.
Davide Pastore wrote:Any discussion about C3 has to have as premise a successfull air campaign (in the same way as any discussion about Seelowe) otherwise it wil never take place.
Sure, so this leaves us with 3 scenarios assuming Rommel agrees not to pursue 8th Army all the way to Egypt (more likely: Rommel is in hospital for some reason so Kesselring gets to make the decision):
1. The campaign kicks off very early, Malta is suppressed before significant reinforcements make it there, invasion takes place.
2. The campaign starts a bit later, some reinforcements have already arrived so the air campaign to suppress the island takes longer (the good news is this offers the opportunity to defeat follow-up reinforcements piecemeal) or alternately the Axis decides to launch C3 with air superiority but not air supremacy.
3. It is still later, or the campaign isn't doing well (e.g. because some of the fighters were initially retained in Libya to provide protection over Tobruk against RAF attacks), the campaign drags into August by which time Parks' substantial reinforcements - and the expectation of still more to come - make the whole thing impracticable, the Axis eventually calls it off. Battle of Britain II.
There are mentions of the air battles in the usual works, which I'm sure you're already aware of, so doubtless you can piece the dates together more quickly than if I tried it by memory, alternately I can look up a more detailed chronology, but my point here is that the clock is definitely ticking and there will be a point after which a successful C3 will no longer be in the cards.
This is more realistic a situation than Seelöwe, because the Luftwaffe never actually was in a position to defeat the RAF over its home turf, but there are still limits. You can't just decide that the Axis has air superiority, period, and now let's pick a date for that to happen.