Axis shipping in the Mediterranean

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Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 05 Dec 2006 17:37

Regarding the choo-choo weight, the three-axle WR360 weighed in at 36 metric tons, distributed on three axles. The WR550 of which two were delivered to Libya by the Ankara had four axles and was ca. 2m longer, and must easily qualify as heaviest single item delivered to the country.

I think we can be sure it was heavier than the WR360, but I doubt it would come in as heavy as the Tiger I tanks delivered to Tunisia. Then again, the latter could move off their carrier under their own traction, if they were delivered e.g. on an MFP, while for the locomotives a crane was a must.

All the best

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Post by Bronsky » 05 Dec 2006 21:40

Jon G. wrote:I trust you mean eastwards? Anyway, the Axis did manage to deliver German locomotives - probably the heaviest single items delivered by ship to Libya - to such an underdeveloped port as Tobruk. There are a few pictures of German shunters dangling from the cranes of the Ankara on the sixth page of this thread, the other thread dealing with the technical issues of North African logistics:
Yes, I meant eastwards, and I was sort of aware of the North African railroad thread as you may recall... :-) Ditto with the DAK forum, but thanks for remining me of the "Italians in NA" thread, it seems I hadn't been notified of the last 2-3 posts.

As I wrote, cranes wouldn't be a problem between Naples and Tripoli, apparently there was another large one in Tobruk though I don't know if it had always been there or if the British had brought it and the Axis had ended up with it in 1942. For Benghazi they were definitely a problem, because large ocean-going ships couldn't go there (too shallow) and the remaining small ships didn't have the lifting power. The new shipping built in 1942 improved matters a bit, but eventually the Italians transferred equipment from mainland Italy.
Jon G wrote:When I wrote about 'vehicle decks', I meant vehicle decks in the modern roll on/roll off sense, like modern car ferries. I doubt if the Italians had any such ferries in 1941, and if they did it is not likely that Tripolis would have been able to accomodate them.
Having looked at diagrams of the Tripoli rail station, I feel fairly confident that they weren't designed for such a use. Nor would there be any point to such a ferry, the crossing is too long and the railroad network at the African end too small.

I don't know about the availability of these modern car ferries at the time of WWII. All the accounts that I'm familiar with show unloading to have taken place the old-fashioned way.
Jon G. wrote:However, my main point was simply that, according to the information you posted about the liner convoy and Sonnenblume 3 upthread, the difference betwee the fast liners and the slower cargo ships was not that great
Yes, but that seems unusually slow. U.S. planning assumptions (drawn from FM 105-10, a postwar edition but featuring liberty ships etc) call for an average speed of 10-15 knots for cargo convoys and 15-18 knots for passenger convoys (low value is for slow convoys, high value for fast convoys), then substract 10% for forming up, and extra distance from zig-zagging. Liners also had a quicker turnaround time in port. In this case, the liners seem to have taken a roundabout route for extra safety, one would have to compute other averages based on more trips I suppose.
Jon G. wrote:Yes, but there can't have been any captured Yugoslav or Greek ships in the German inventory by the time of Sonnenblume. It would be interesting to know what the 50-odd German ships trapped in the Mediterranean post-September 1939 were doing before the Germans decided to lend the Italians a hand in North Africa.
Good point (read: I should have turned my brain on) and good question (read: I don't rightly know).

Some had already been sunk but I'm not too sure of what they had been doing until then. I think they were busy moving goods between Romania & Turkey to Italy, and I vaguely recall reading something on that topic while looking at Allied blockade, but I need to remember where I wrote that down which may take a while...

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Post by Bronsky » 05 Dec 2006 21:43

Andreas wrote:I think we can be sure it was heavier than the WR360, but I doubt it would come in as heavy as the Tiger I tanks delivered to Tunisia. Then again, the latter could move off their carrier under their own traction, if they were delivered e.g. on an MFP, while for the locomotives a crane was a must.
The Tunis area had a largish port as well as a well-equipped arsenal (Bizerte), so finding heavy-duty cranes there wouldn't be a problem. Tobruk is more iffy, a local crane is probably the explanation, like the one that's shown in a picture from the other thread, but it would be nice to be sure.

Given that I know when the loco was sent, I suppose that I could run a check on all Axis ships reaching Tobruk in that time period to track down any specialists in heavy lifting...

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Post by Andreas » 05 Dec 2006 22:24

It is known that both Locos were sent on Ankara, which was a dedicated Choo-Choo freighter, so had heavy-duty cranes.

Regarding modern car ferries - first sea-going RORO ferries after the war. First dedicated car transport (for Japanese exports) in the 70s. Loading/unloading cars on the channel ferry was still by crane until the start of the war.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Jon G. » 06 Dec 2006 18:31

Andreas wrote:It is known that both Locos were sent on Ankara, which was a dedicated Choo-Choo freighter, so had heavy-duty cranes.
Choo-choo indeed :) The Ankara was a regular on the North African convoy routes. She had originally been built to transport rolling stock as you say. It was fortunate circumstance that she was trapped in the Mediterranean in September 1939. The Ankara was also used to deliver tanks to North Africa post-Sonnenblume - for example via Benghazi in December 1941. At that time Benghazi probably did not have any cranes capable of lifting tanks.
Regarding modern car ferries - first sea-going RORO ferries after the war. First dedicated car transport (for Japanese exports) in the 70s. Loading/unloading cars on the channel ferry was still by crane until the start of the war.
Yes, roll on/roll off ferries are post war inventions. The concept was known at the time, though - rail ferries can be found already in the 19th century, and landing craft are of course roll on/roll off too. The Axis used Siebel ferries and Italian MZ barges for the Tunisian routes. Presumably the distance to Libya was too long and too dangerous to cover with a not very seaworthy barge.

The MZ barges very originally developed for the planned C3/Herkules operation against Malta. Following the cancellation of the Malta invasion the Italian barges were instead employed in North African coastal traffic, later on the Tunisian routes, and still later for the Sicily evacuation across the Messina Strait.

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Post by Bronsky » 07 Dec 2006 17:28

Andreas wrote:It is known that both Locos were sent on Ankara, which was a dedicated Choo-Choo freighter, so had heavy-duty cranes
Argh, I KNEW that ! I had something about the Ankara trotting off the back of my mind... :oops:

Time for one of those memory pills, if I could just remember where I put the box...

Thanks for the information anyway.

Regarding Italian barges, they weren't available at the time of Sonnenblume, but some of these were used to deliver cargoes to Libya. No time to dig up examples right now, just take my word for it ;-)

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Post by Wargames » 07 Dec 2006 20:42

Jon G. wrote:
By contrast, the German transports and freighters left Naples at 1900 hrs. Feb. 23rd and arriving at Tripolis Feb. 25th at 2030 hrs - giving an average speed of just over 10 knots, assuming the ships took the same route. I'm aware that real sailing routes likely weren't totally straight lines, but a) that would probably apply to both liners and cargo ships, b) which means that the relative difference between liners and cargo ships would be the same. We're far from your 17 knot ball park.
There are several reasons to believe the 17 knots figure is correct. Two of the Italian liners were listed as making 17 knots and a third, while no speed was given for it, had turbine engines which are designed for speed. Also, liners were designed to meet passenger demands versus cargo demands and passengers tended to book passage on faster, versus slower, ships. Thus, liners were designed to "outrun" their freighter competition in order to attract passengers away from the freighters. For this reason, a "slow" liner would not only have had a low passenger demand but also have had a poor resale value for its owner. It was, therefore, in the economic interest of the liner owners to operate ships faster than freighters.

I can think of three possible explanations for the 11 knots speed (I ran the same calculations using 477 nautical miles and obtained 11 knots for the liners, 9.6 knots for the Reichenfels, and just under 9 knots for convoy #4.). The first is if the liners were "zig-zagging" to avoid torpedoes. A liner steering a course at 45 degree tangents would have to travel 16 knots in order to average 11 knots. Further, each time the liner "zigged" it would have to make a 90 degree turn. The liner would slow down during this hard turn (the rudder acts as a brake). Thus, in order for a liner to average 11 knots while zig-zagging it must make in excess of 16 knots or, in this case, 17.

Of course, they may not have been zig-zagging. But the odds favor that they were as the freighters of convoy #4 made under 9 knots. A "slow" freighter was 10 knots, making the German freighters "slow as mud". This is very unlikely, not only because it looks too slow but because, against interception, a ship's best defense is its speed. The longer you are at sea (i.e. the slower you're going) the higher the odds of your being intercepted. For this reason, the British always selected high speed freighters for convoys through the Mediterranean. It would reason that the Axis would avoid 9 knot freighters by the same logic for transport and, instead, opt for higher speed freighters as in this example quoted:
U.S. planning assumptions (drawn from FM 105-10, a postwar edition but featuring liberty ships etc) call for an average speed of 10-15 knots for cargo convoys and 15-18 knots for passenger convoys
If the German ships zig-zagged, and made 2 knots less than the liners, then they would of had a true sea speed of 15 knots (17-2=15), which meets the high end standards for cargo ship speed described above. The proof of this would be if I could find the speeds of the German ships in the Ships Registry and post their speeds, but only one ship was listed, and without its speed given. It was built in 1937, however, so it "maybe/might" have been a fast design.

The second possibility is based on the escorting ship's fuel consumption. The escort had to carry enough fuel to reach Africa and back. DD's and MTB's carried limited fuel and, at high speeds, burned it very quickly and, if they got too low on fuel, often lost ballast. Most Italian naval designs were at their greatest fuel economy at about 11 knots. I have no idea what the fuel consumption of a DD/MTB at 17 knots was, but it's possible the liners had to slow down to keep their escorts from running out of fuel. I don't consider this to be a very high probability but it is a consideration (I prefer the "zig-zag" explanation.).

The third possible explanation is that convoys can only go as fast as the slowest ship in the convoy. If there's an 11 knot liner in the group, then the convoy will move at 11 knots. Do I believe this? No. That slow a liner would not only probably not exist but, by including it, endanger the rest of the liners who must reduce speed, thereby losing their only defense. Again, I prefer the "zig-zag" explanation. It fits everything.

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Post by Wargames » 07 Dec 2006 20:53

Andreas wrote
It is known that both Locos were sent on Ankara, which was a dedicated Choo-Choo freighter, so had heavy-duty cranes.
This could make the Ankara a critical ship for supply of tanks to North Africa (or at least to Benghazi). It would also seem that if Tripoli and Tobruk already had the heavy cranes required then the Ankara would not have been needed to deliver locomotives (unless deck weight was a factor). Of course, if a PzIV weighs less than a locomotive and a Tripoli or Tobruk crane could lift a PzIV then my point is a mute one. But I noticed Ankara had two Italian escorts assigned directly to it in a December, 1942 convoy (It was lost to a mine off Bizerte in 1943), suggesting a certain Axis attachment to keeping this ship afloat.

Opinions?

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Post by Jon G. » 07 Dec 2006 23:02

Wargames wrote:...
The third possible explanation is that convoys can only go as fast as the slowest ship in the convoy. If there's an 11 knot liner in the group, then the convoy will move at 11 knots. Do I believe this? No. That slow a liner would not only probably not exist but, by including it, endanger the rest of the liners who must reduce speed, thereby losing their only defense. Again, I prefer the "zig-zag" explanation. It fits everything.
The fourth explanation I can think of is that the Italian ships were indeed only making about 11 knots. The fifth explanation could be that the Italian liners took a more circumspect route to Tripolis, as Bronsky suggested. However, my overall point remains that there was little difference in the passage times of the liners and the freighters - the difference only works out to about 13%. Based on the information presented here, we can't conclude that the Italian liners were much faster than cargo ships.

Regarding the Ankara, you can look her (and other German merchant ships) up on Christoph Awender's site, the link to which you will find at the top of this page. Select the link 'Verluste der Deutschen Handelsmarine 1939 - 1945' and the appropriate alphabetic sub-page. BTW, a good trick when googling around for ships is to enter their BRT/GRT weight in the search field alongside the name.

I've compiled a list of all German merchantmen lost in the Mediterranean, mostly using info from Seekrieg. You'll find it on page 2 of this thread http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 710#924710 Most sources state that the Ankara was lost to a mine off Bizerte. Seekrieg - which I consider more authoritative - states that she was sunk by mines laid by the Royal Navy submarine Rorqual near Bizerte on Jan 18th 1943.

A Panzer IV weighs about 22 tons, depending on mark, definitely lighter than the diesel locomotives which you can see being lifted off the Ankara in these posts http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 108#932108 and http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 540#932540 Andreas gave the locomotives' weight as 36 tons, above.

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Post by Bronsky » 08 Dec 2006 19:11

Jon G. wrote:The fifth explanation could be that the Italian liners took a more circumspect route to Tripolis, as Bronsky suggested.
They lost a ship from that convoy near Tunisia, which strongly suggests they aimed for Tunisia and then hugged the Tunisian coast so as to stay away from Malta and make things more difficult for British submarines.

I don't remember where I found that nifty nautical route calculator, but just using one of the online "distance between two points" ones Naples to Tripoli is 502 nautical miles, Naples to Bizerte is 294, Bizerte to Tripoli is 332. So for simplicity's sake, assuming the trip was Naples - Bizerte - Tripoli adds enough distance that the average speed jumps to over 14 knots. Then add sailing around, rather than over, Sicily and the odd zig-zag.
Jon G. wrote: However, my overall point remains that there was little difference in the passage times of the liners and the freighters - the difference only works out to about 13%. Based on the information presented here, we can't conclude that the Italian liners were much faster than cargo ships.
Some weren't. The smaller liners were coastal liners, no commercial point in their pushing 20 knots as distances between stopovers would be too small. They would be rated for 15 and would usually be able to do 12-13. But these are relatively fast ships, I expect them to have taken the long way around for extra safety. You're right that in operational terms, it doesn't matter if a ship sails a long route quickly or a short route more slowly, what matters is transit time.

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Post by Wargames » 09 Dec 2006 09:10

Jon G. wrote
BTW, a good trick when googling around for ships is to enter their BRT/GRT weight in the search field alongside the name.
Yes. This trick did, indeed, produce more hits on the specific ships when I tried it (I really hadn't expected exact BRT to be in agreement but, often it was.). My compliments on the suggestion. Unfortunately, while I obtained the year built, length, beam, and propulsion, it seemed "knots" was almost always ommited (Although most of the German ships used were of 1934 or later construction). After a long search, I obtained only two German ship speeds. They were the Menes of convoy #3 (11 knots) and the San Marco, which wasn't even used in any of the 5th Leight Division's transfer, at 13 knots. Unless someone else can conclude otherwise, the information seems to be worthless.

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Post by Wargames » 09 Dec 2006 10:01

Bronsky wrote:
Regarding another remark that I read (unless Wargames edited it out), the Italians did not have plenty of "DEs". Just because countries like Germany, France and Italy had "torpedo boats" and "destroyers" while the Royal Navy and USN only had the latter, doesn't mean that the "torpedo boats" are destroyer escorts.
Unless you can demonstrate otherwise, that's exactly how they were used. I'm assuming you have a reason for your observation since a whole lot of of British submarines were sunk by MTB's that were not classified as "destroyer escorts".

My own interpretation was that these MTB's were designed to work as escorts to the Italian battlefleet of WWI but, being outdated for this purpose by WWII were relegated to the duty of escorting freighters for which they did a commendable job (My compliments to the Italian naval officer who had the foresight not to scrap them.).
They were small destroyers, but large enough to be rated "destroyers" by the RN, whereas the "Zerstörer / Contre-torpilleur / Cacciatorpedinieri" was often larger than a British destroyer. US-built DE/DDs were of comparable sizes (Americans always need larger helpings ) but a "torpedo boat" was not a dedicated escort ship as a Destroyer Escort was.
You, yoursef, classified them as "MTB's", the same way Italy classified them. They didn't classify them as DD's as they never operated with the battle fleet and were down graded before the war. And which Italian "Zerstörer / Contre-torpilleur / Cacciatorpedinieri" outsized the British [i[Tribal[/i] class that served in the Mediterranean? Italy didn't even have a "DE" class, their version being the corvettes of the Gabbiano class. And the only real difference between an Italian MTB and Gabbiano was speed - the MTB being superior. So you have me me curious. What could a DE do that an Italian MTB or corvette coudn't? I assume you have a reason for this statement so I'll play the role of "fall guy" and bite.

The following WWI DD classes were reclassified by Italy as MTB's in 1929-1938:

R. Pilo class (ex destroyers, classified as torpedo boats in 1929)

Dimensions: Length 73.0 m Width 7.3 m Draught 2.7 m
Displacement: Normal load 770 ton, Full load 900 ton
Speed max.: 30 knots
Autonomy: 2400 miles at 12 knots
Armament: 2 - 102/45 mm, 6 - 20/65 mm, 6 - 450 mm torpedo launch tubes
Crew: 69

Audace class (ex destroyers, classified as torpedo boats in 1929)

Dimensions: Length 87.6 m Width 8.4 m Draught 2.8 m
Displacement: Normal load 1250 ton, Full load 1364 ton
Speed max.: 30 knots
Autonomy: 2180 miles at 15 knots
Armament: 7 - 102/35 mm, 2 - 40/39 mm, 6 - 450 mm torpedo launch tubes (in 1942 was transformed in a.a. escort and armed with 2 - 102 mm and 20 - 20 mm)
Crew: 118


G. Sirtori class (ex destroyers, classified as torpedo boats in 1929)

Dimensions: Length 73.5 m Width 7.3 m Draught 2.9 m
Displacement: Normal load 845 ton, Full load 865 ton
Speed max.: 30 knots
Autonomy: 2100 miles at 14 knots
Armament: 6 - 102/35 mm, 2 - 40/39 mm, 4 - 450 mm torpedo launch tubes
Crew: 78

G. La Masa class (ex destroyers, classified as torpedo boats in 1929)

Dimensions: Length 73.5 m Width 7.3 m Draught 3.0 m
Displacement: Normal load 840 ton, Full load 875 ton
Speed max.: 30 knots
Autonomy: 2230 miles at 13 knots
Armament: 2 - 102/45 mm, 6 - 20/65 mm, 2 - 450 mm torpedo launch tubes
Crew: 99

Palestro class (ex destroyers, classified as torpedo boats in 1938)

Dimensions: Length 80.4 m Width 8.0 m Draught 3.1 m
Displacement: Normal load 1033 ton, Full load 1180 ton
Speed max.: 32 knots
Autonomy: 1970 miles at 15 knots
Armament: 4 - 102/45 mm, 2 - 76/40 mm, 4 - 450 mm torpedo launch tubes, mines
Crew: 106

Generale A. Cantore class (ex destroyers, classified as torpedo boats in 1929)

Dimensions: Length 73.2 m Width 7.3 m Draught 3.0 m
Displacement: Normal load 832 ton, Full load 890 ton
Speed max.: 26 knots
Autonomy: 1300 miles at 14 knots
Armament: 3 - 102/45 mm, 4 to 6 - 20/65 mm, 2 to 4 8 mm machine guns, 4 - 450 mm torpedo launch tubes, mines
Crew: 105

Curtatone class (ex destroyers, classified as torpedo boats in 1938)

Dimensions: Length 84.9 m Width 8.0 m Draught 3.1 m
Displacement: Standard 967 ton, Normal load 1170 ton, Full load 1214 ton
Speed max.: 32 knots
Autonomy: 1395 miles at 10 knots
Armament: 4 - 102/45 mm, 4 - 20/65 mm, 2 - 8 mm machine guns, 6 - 450 mm torpedo launch tubes, mines
Crew: 108

Spica class Climene series

Dimensions: Length 93.2 m Width 9.2 m Draught 3.9 m
Displacement: Standard 797 ton, Normal load 860 ton, Full load 1010 ton
Speed max.: 34 knots
Autonomy: 1960 miles at 15 knots
Armament: 3 - 100/47 mm, 8 - 13.2 mm, 4 - 450 mm torpedo launch tubes, mines, 2 depth charges launchers
Crew: 99

Spica class Perseo series

Dimensions: Length 81.9 m Width 8.2 m Draught 3.0 m
Displacement: Standard 791 ton, Normal load 860 ton, Full load 1020 ton
Speed max.: 34 knots
Autonomy: 1892 miles at 15 knots
Armament: 3 - 100/47 mm, 8 - 13.2 mm, 4 - 450 mm torpedo launch tubes, mines, 2 depth charges launchers
Crew: 99

Spica class Alcione series

Dimensions: Length 81.4 m Width 7.9 m Draught 3.0 m
Displacement: Standard 790 ton, Normal load 975 ton, Full load 1050 ton
Speed max.: 34 knots
Autonomy: 1910 miles at 15 knots
Armament: 3 - 100/47 mm, 8 - 13.2 mm, 4 - 450 mm torpedo launch tubes, mines, 2 depth charges launchers
Crew: 99

Orsa class (ex escort destroyers, classified as torpedo boats in 1938)

Dimensions: Length 89.3 m Width 9.7 m Draught 3.1 m
Displacement: Standard 1016 ton, Full load 1600 ton
Speed max.: 28 knots
Autonomy: 5100 miles at 14 knots
Armament: 2 - 100/47 mm, 11 - 20/65 mm, 4 - 450 mm torpedo launch tubes, mines, 4 depth charges launchers
Crew: 154

Orsa class 2nd series

Dimensions: Length 87.7 m Width 9.9 m Draught 3.8 m
Displacement: Standard 1130 ton, Normal load 1652 ton, Full load 1695 ton
Speed max.: 25 knots
Autonomy: 2800 miles at 14 knots
Armament: 3 - 100/47 mm, 8 - 20/65 mm, 4 - 450 mm torpedo launch tubes, 6 depth charges launchers
Crew: 177

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Post by Jon G. » 09 Dec 2006 10:51

I put together an index for the Italy section yesterday. Two related threads came up while compiling the index:

Italian oil tankers sailing on Romania
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=26205 and

The Italian merchant navy at the outbreak of war
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=53366


Edit: and here's a thread about German merchant shipping, the original parent thread to this topic:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=70974

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Post by Wargames » 09 Dec 2006 11:42

RichTO90 wrote:
I can as easily ask why 12,000? Did all the liners have the ability to carry 3,000 passengers, plus crew?
You answered a question with a question. That's what Bronsky did. Please don't dissappoint me. If you don't know what the capacity of the other liners were, just say so. You won't dissappoint. I don't know it either.

You guessed. Right?

So did I.
Yes, I noticed that your comment that they could carry multiples of their civilian capacity (something on the order of 7 times there peactime capacity in troops is what I recall reading, but then maybe its the drugs) has now disappeared from your post.
Contrary to what you and Bronsky want to believe, I don't edit a post in order to make a "correction" disappear. If you can show it, do so. Otherwise, it's the drugs. The "seven times" is still in the original post with no editing.
And it's a familiar number because a lot of these vessels are similar, the early US AP were in some cases converted vessels that were part of Great War reparations IIRC, and the later ones were built on standard C-2 merchant hulls, so they would all be "familiar".
Most shipbuilders, particularly Japanese, had a tendency to copy British designs. This would also explain "familiar".
You appeared to be building a conclusion about Japanese troop carrying capability based upon the assumption that they relied on "1,000-man" transports. I was pointing out that the assumption was basically incorrect - there were no "standard" Japanese transports, so invalidating the conclusion. But if you weren't draing a conclusion then I'm not sure what your point was?
I never said the Japanese relied upon anything. I said their TR's tended to carry 1,000 troops as per Guadalcanal and I believe that would be my point.
No, buy the Quartermaster Corps volumes in the US Army Green Book series, and then follow them up with the Logistics histories of the ETO/MTO, its already been done, about 40 years ago. Why reinvent the wheel?
I would have guessed it was out of print (I can't find it at Amazon) but it is fascinating to find someone who has found it and read it. Your dedication to your subject material goes incredibly beyond that of "Joe of average interest". I could hit ten libraries and walk away with 5% of what you know. I say this because what you've accumulated goes unnoticed and, in another 50 years, will probably be gone entirely, IMO. Current history doesn't give a rat's ass what was shipped when, or what weights loading decks were designed for. That someone out there has actually dug this up goes way beyond the expected or even hoped for.
Bronsky pretty well covered this. But also consider....
Bronsky answered a question with a question. Guess what that tells me?
In fact, 10. Panzer as well was pretty much available for deployment by August 42 IIRC, after rebuilding in the south of France. But deploying it would have required a Sonnenblume-type effort, when the British capability of intercepting and attacking such a convoy had increased dramatically from spring 1941 when most of that capability was directed at moving their own convoys to Greece (I'm surprised nobody really seems to put together the timelines).
You're surprised? What convoys to Greece? What "rebuilding of 10th Panzer"? You take for granted that this is common knowledge. It isn't. What is common knowledge is that Winston Churchill wrote the history of the Mediterranean war. Getting past that isn't easy.

But - Yes - the required shipping effort of transferring 10th Panzer to North Africa would have been enormous, considering it would have had to be be done in addition to the already required shipping efforts to supply the Axis troops already there,. And you seem to have the required intelligence to recognize that 10th Panzer wasn't going to be transported by Italian DD's or submarines. For me, the required transport just for trucks, let alone tanks and troops, is greater than the other two combined.
Then, assuming they got them to Tripoli they would have to drive them 1,400 miles. As standard German consumption rates as assumed for this period by Pz.A.O.K. Afrika, that would have been roughly 13,440 cbm of gasoline, just to get them to Alamein. Plus they would have required an augmentation of the army QM transportation assets to support an additional mechanized force of that size. And that was something they already had a problem with.
By 1942 definitions, Rommel had reached , or exceeded, the limits of his Italian supply - but not the limits of his demands. I hardly think that the Folgore Division and Ramke Parachute brigades were all that was "available" as evidenced by the transfer of the Littorio division in March and the Centauro in Septemmber. I would say that "shipping" had reached its max and, if Rommel wanted more, that air transport would have to make up the difference. Hence, the already available and easily transported divisions for the canceled invasion of Malta became the logical choice for reinforcing Rommel, even if their desert warfare abilities were completely unrelated to his needs. If they had an Arctic "snowshow battalion" available designed for submarine transport, Rommel would have received it, complete with dogsleds.
So again, it is a combination of factors not so easily explained as Toppe's simplistic "no ships, nos supplies".
Toppe's arguments were, indeed, simplistic. His failure to write in chronological order indicates to me an editorial versus factual need. Yet the credentials for the piece (nine contributors) were undisputed and, therefore, in requirement of intelligent response.

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Post by Jon G. » 09 Dec 2006 15:38

I will leave it to Rich to reply to the rest of your post. Only...
Wargames wrote:
No, buy the Quartermaster Corps volumes in the US Army Green Book series, and then follow them up with the Logistics histories of the ETO/MTO, its already been done, about 40 years ago. Why reinvent the wheel?
I would have guessed it was out of print (I can't find it at Amazon) but it is fascinating to find someone who has found it and read it...
Amazon may not have it, but an idle search on Abebooks yielded 5 hits at prices which should not scare anyone away.

Your comment about contemporary history is facile. Most authors will not get into the exact details of loading gauges, shipping capacity, ship's manifests etc in their books. but they will have done their research regardless. Historians who haven't are, simply, not good historians.
In fact, 10. Panzer as well was pretty much available for deployment by August 42 IIRC, after rebuilding in the south of France. But deploying it would have required a Sonnenblume-type effort, when the British capability of intercepting and attacking such a convoy had increased dramatically from spring 1941 when most of that capability was directed at moving their own convoys to Greece (I'm surprised nobody really seems to put together the timelines).
You're surprised? What convoys to Greece? What "rebuilding of 10th Panzer"? You take for granted that this is common knowledge. It isn't. What is common knowledge is that Winston Churchill wrote the history of the Mediterranean war. Getting past that isn't easy.
That depends on how willing you are to broaden your horizon. The Axis History Factbook, this very forum's parent site, contains a potted history of the 10th Panzer, from which it is evident that this division had spent half a year in France before it was shipped to Tunisia.

At the time of Sonnenblume the British were busy shipping troops to Greece - that was a major commitment not only to the Royal Navy, but also for the RAF and British and Commonwealth land forces. The Italians' campaign against Greece had stalled, and the German conquest of Greece and the Balkans would begin in April. I would rate that as common knowledge, at least for the readers on this forum.
But - Yes - the required shipping effort of transferring 10th Panzer to North Africa would have been enormous, considering it would have had to be be done in addition to the already required shipping efforts to supply the Axis troops already there,...


For what it is worth, Rommel still recieved reinforcements also post-Alamein. For example, a 190th Panzer Abt. had been raised, in order to augment the 90th Light Division into a panzergrenadier division. But due to losses suffered at Alamein, the tanks shipped to Benghazi instead ended up as reinforcements for the 5th and 8th panzer regiments. The balance of tanks intended for the 190th Pz. Abt./90th Div. were instead shipped to Tunisia, due to events unfolding there.

Apart from that, the Axis effort to invade, and then resupply, Tunisia, was different from the Libya/ Egypt convoys. There were far larger ports in French North Africa, the distance involved was significantly shorter (and Malta was no longer astride the Axis supply route), and the Axis had a lot of captured Vichy merchant shipping on hand after the German invasion of Vichy France.

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