Axis shipping in the Mediterranean

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Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 24 Nov 2006 21:36

Sonnenblume convoys:
7.– 14.2.1941
Mittelmeer / Nordafrika
Operation »Sonnenblume«: Nach einem Nachtangriff der dt. Luftwaffe auf Malta läuft am 8.2. der erster Konvoi mit Truppen und Material des Deutschen Afrika-Korps mit den dt. Dampfern Ankara (4768 BRT), Arcturus (2596 BRT) und Alicante (2140 BRT) von Neapel nach Tripolis. Sicherung durch den ital. Zerstörer Turbine und die T-Boote Orsa, Cantore und Missori sowie Flugzeuge des X. Fl.Korps. 8.-10.2.: Konvoi bleibt wegen Sichtung der Force H vorübergehend in Palermo. 11.2.: Konvoi läuft weiter nach Tripolis. 12.2.: GenLt. Rommel trifft als Befehlshaber der deutschen Truppen in Nordafrika einen Tag nach den ersten deutschen Truppen in Libyen ein. 14.2.: Vergeblicher Angriff brit. Torpedoflugzeuge von Malta auf den nach Italien zurück marschierenden Konvoi.
12.– 14.2.1941
Mittelmeer
Operation »Sonnenblume«: 2. Konvoi des Afrika-Korps mit den dt. Frachtern Adana (4205 BRT), Aegina (2447 BRT), Kybfels (7764 BRT) und Ruhr (5954 BRT) von Neapel nach Tripolis. Sicherung durch ital. Zerstörer Camicia Nera und T-Boot Procione.
EDIT: Maybe Sonnenblume, but see Jon's post below:
24.– 26.2.1941
Mittelmeer
Großgeleit von Neapel nach Tripolis mit den Fahrgastschiffen Esperia (11398 BRT), Conte Rosso (17879 BRT), Marco Polo (12272 BRT) und Victoria (13098 BRT). Sicherung durch die Zerstörer Camicia Nera und Baleno, das T-Boot Aldebaran und als Fernsicherung die Leichten Kreuzer Giovanni delle Bande Nere und Armando Diaz mit den Zerstörern Ascari und Corazziere. Aus dem Deckungsverband versenkt das brit. U-Boot Upright (Lt. Norman) am 25.2. die Armando Diaz (Kpt.z.S. Mazzola), nur 133 Überlebende von 633 Mann Besatzung.
Supply convoy:
1.– 3.3.1941
Mittelmeer
Nachschubgeleitzug für das Afrika-Korps von Neapel nach Tripolis: dtsch. Transporter Castellon, Ruhr, Maritza und ital. Amsterdam, gesichert durch die T-Boote Clio, Pegaso und Orione. Gleichzeitig Rückgeleit mit den dt. Dampfern Alicante, Arcturus, Wachtfels, Leverkusen mit Sicherung durch Zerstörer Vivaldi und die T-Boote Procione, Orsa, Calliope. Keine Verluste.

3.– 6.3.1941
Mittelmeer
Nachschubgeleitzug für das Afrika-Korps von Neapel nach Tripolis: dt. Frachter Adana, Arta und Aegina und it. Sabaudia mit Sicherung durch die Zerstörer Tarigo, Freccia und T-Boot

7.– 12.3.1941
Mittelmeer
Nachschubkonvoi (8. Transportstaffel) mit ersten Panzern des dt. Pz.Rgt. 5 auf den Frachtern Alicante, Arcturus, Wachtfels und der ital. Rialto, gesichert durch Zerstörer Fulmine, Baleno und Turbine von Neapel nach Tripolis, und ein Rückgeleit mit den dt. Schiffen Adana, Aegina, Arta, Heraklea und der ital. Amsterdam im Geleit des Zerstörers Tarigo und des T-Bootess Aldebaran. Keine Angriffe.

9.– 10.3.1941
Mittelmeer
Ein vorübergehend in Palermo eingelaufener ital. Nachschubgeleitzug (9. Transportstaffel) für das Afrika-Korps (Andrea Gritti und Sebastiano Venier, gesichert von den T-Booten Alcione, Pallade, Polluce, Clio und Centauro aus Tripolis) erreicht am 11.3. unbehelligt Tripolis. Ital. Konvoi mit Tanker Tanaro und den Frachtern Caffaro, Fenicia und Capo Vita unterwegs von Trapani nach Tripolis und gesichert von Hilfsschiff Attilio Deffenu und T-Boot Papa, wird vor der tunes. Küste von den brit. U-Booten Utmost (LtCdr. Cayley) und Unique (Lt. Collett) angegriffen. Am 9.3. verfehlt Utmost zuerst die Deffenu und versenkt dann den Transporter Capo Vita (5683 BRT), am 10.3. versenkt Unique die Fenicia (2584 BRT). Upholder und Upright verfehlen Ziele. — Upholder lässt einen nordgehenden Geleitzug mit kleinen Schiffen vorbeiziehen, da Weisung besteht, wegen der in Malta herrschenden Torpedoknappheit solche Ziele zu meiden.
Other convoy:
5.– 10.3.1941
Mittelmeer
Nordafrika-Konvoi mit den dt. Frachtern Ankara, Kybfels, Marburg und Reichenfels und Sicherung durch die Zerstörer Vivaldi, Da Noli, Malocello, Folgore und Lampo, dem von Tripolis aus das Torpedoboot Centauro entgegenläuft. Rückgeleit von Tripolis nach Neapel: dt. Frachter Castellon, Ruhr und Maritza mit Sicherung durch Hilfskreuzer Ramb III und die T-Boote Orione und Pegaso. Keine Verluste.

12.– 13.3.1941
Mittelmeer
Ital. Truppentransport von Neapel nach Tripolis mit den großen Fahrgastschiffen Conte Rosso, Marco Polo und Victoria. Nahsicherung durch Zerstörer Camicia Nera, Geniere und Folgore, Fernsicherung durch die Schweren Kreuzer Trieste, Trento, Bolzano mit den Zerstörern Carabiniere, Corazziere, Aviere und T-Boot Dezza. Gleichzeitig läuft ein Geleitzug für das Afrika-Korps mit den dt. Frachtern Castellon, Ruhr, Maritza, Leverkusen, gesichert durch die Torpedoboote Procione, Orsa, Orione, nach Tripolis und ein Rückgeleit mit den dt. Frachtern Marburg, Reichenfels, Ankara, Kybfels, gesichert von den Zerstörern Malocello, Vivaldi, Da Noli, nach Italien zurück. Keine Verluste.
Etc.pp.

http://www.wlb-stuttgart.de/seekrieg/41-02.htm

http://www.wlb-stuttgart.de/seekrieg/41-03.htm

All the best

Andreas
Last edited by Andreas on 26 Nov 2006 11:48, edited 1 time in total.

Wargames
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Post by Wargames » 25 Nov 2006 02:31

The general arguments seem to be that 1) tankers weren't the only means to transport fuel, they were just the only effective means and 2) effective combat troops, not replacement troops, were being transported by warships and 3) that cargo ships were equal to liners in both speed, vehicle, and troop carrying capacity. By point:

Tankers weren't the only means to transport fuel, they were just the only effective means: As soon as one makes this admission, one has already lost the argument. If one attempts to meet Axis fuel requirements without tankers, it can't be done. Therefore, the availability of tankers becomes an important factor. One cannot simply say, "Italy can lose all her tankers and it doesn't matter because she will still have her cargo ships." The cargo ships were not a sufficient replacement requiring the tanker deficiency to be made up by other means - beginning in November, 1942 with air transport to support the Axis retreat. If we look at Major General Alfred Toppe's analysis ("Experiences in World War II") assisted by nine German commanders who served there, he lists the effectiveness of this emergency air transport as follows:

"Altogether, fuel supplies had become the major problem of this late 1942 retreat. As no ships at all arrived in African ports, with the exception of a few military transports with a gross tonnage of 400 tons, the army was entirely dependent on air transportation for fuel supplies. On one single day, 200 tons were delivered in this way, but on all other days, the performances were far lower, rarely being more than 80 tons, and on one day, only 2 tons arrived. At any rate, the promised performance of 300 to 400 tons daily to be delivered by air was never achieved because of weather conditions and enemy activity."

http://stinet.dtic.mil/oai/oai?&verb=ge ... =ADA244832

Thus, aircraft delivered less than half the required daily tonnage even though a massive deliver attempt was undertaken. Can submarines make up the difference? It was cited:

"From June 1940-Sept 1943, Italian submarines transported the following to North Africa. 10,641 tons of cargo (5,92 tons fuel & 4,193 tons munitions) using 29 boats in 158 missions."

This amounts to 37 tons of fuel being delivered per submarine, or about 5 tons per day based on the above. Since aircraft were coming up about 200 tons per day short on delivery, when we figure in the, evidently "major contribution" of the submarine, we find North Africa is still 195 tons short of fuel per day. The contribution of the submarine is, therefore, meaningless in supplying North Africa (able to deliver only about 2% of requirements). In order to make their point that it was tried, posters here must concede it failed. As one poster stated about submarines being unable to suppy North Africa:

"Who claimed they could? Jon used that example to show that they could - and did - transport supply."

But the contribution was meaningless as the poster was forced to concede.

In order to supply North Africa with fuel, the Axis were dependent upon tankers to do so. Lose the tankers, lose the supply. Italy had a finite number of tankers and was running out of them by mid-1942. By what is apparently sheer "coincidence", the Axis lost every battle in North Africa beginning in mid-1942. But no one can see a relationship. Everything's "okay" because we have "other means" of delivering fuel besides tankers even though they "don't work". While I'm very impressed with the information and knowledge of the posters here, it seems that methods that "don't work" are still methods that don't work. In that case, arguing the "other means" existed is pointless. Lose the tankers and lose the war. No one seems to be able to dispute that. In fact, in order to make their cases, they have to agree with it such as with these comments:

"No-one claimed that Axis tankers were unnecessary. The question is whether they were the bottleneck in supplying North Africa. Until late in 1942, shipping in general and tankers in particular weren't."

Conclusion: Tankers are not a problem to supply until you don't have them and until "late in 1942" you have them. That they became a short on numbers and a problem afterwards is immaterial even though it proves my argument. Again:

"Tankers weren't unnecessary - they just weren't the only way to send fuel to North Africa. In the examples you mention, the crisis for the Axis was not brought about by the loss of the tankers, but rather by the loss of the fuel they carried."

That the other methods "didn't work" is ignored. As for the loss of the tanker itself being meaningless and only the loss of the cargo meaningful, it was stated here at one point that Italy began to spread cargo over more ships (true) in order to lessen losses (If one is sunk, not all of the cargo being shipped was sunk). For this reason, Italians moved to smaller and smaller transports in order to spread the risk. Yet one must wonder why the Italians, if they had so many tankers available, didn't do the same thing with them?



2) Effective combat troops, not replacement troops, were being transported by warships: If we examine this claim, we find the following; the 52,920 Italian soldiers transported by destroyer in 1943 happens to be almost exactly equal to the number of replacement troops required by Rommel's four Italian divisions at that time. In fact, if we look, we find that the actual combat brigades/divisions that arrived at that time (1942-43) were airlifted - not transported by Italian warships. Examples of airlifted divisions/brigades include the German 164th Light Infantry division (transported without vehicles) and the Ramke Parachute brigade (also on foot) and the Italian Folgore Parachute division. In Tunis, the Italian "Superga" division was a mountain division converted to an air landing division. Except for the 164th, these divisions were designed for air transport. None of these divisions/brigades were transported by Italian warships (or cargo ships).

3) that cargo ships were equal to liners in both speed, vehicle, and troop carrying capacity: The average Italian cargo ship made 10 knots, compared to the 15 knots for liners admitted by a poster here. They were not equal in speed and by a 50% margin. No one seems to openly argue that cargo ships had the same troop carrying capacity as liners but you would think so from the posts (We'll see if they can produce cargo ships routinely transporting brigades). As for vehicle transport, a poster noted the following ships "probably" used in the Sonnenblume convoy of 26.2.1941 :

"Großgeleit von Neapel nach Tripolis mit den Fahrgastschiffen Esperia (11398 BRT), Conte Rosso (17879 BRT), Marco Polo (12272 BRT) und Victoria (13098 BRT)."

And ships used for this 13.3.1941 troop transport convoy:

"Truppentransport von Neapel nach Tripolis mit den großen Fahrgastschiffen Conte Rosso, Marco Polo und Victoria."

The Esperia, Conte Rosso, and Victoria were all liners and - judging by her tonnage - so was the Marco Polo (Also, "fahrgastschiffen" means "passenger transport ship" AFAIK). Thus, the very example of liners not being used to transport divisions becomes an example of liners transporting divisions.

Once the liners were removed from North Atlantic runs, the amount of divisions and brigades delivered by sea seems to have taken a sudden drop.

I await the reply.

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Post by Andy H » 25 Nov 2006 03:04

Andy H wrote:
"From June 1940-Sept 1943, Italian submarines transported the following to North Africa. 10,641 tons of cargo (5,92 tons fuel & 4,193 tons munitions) using 29 boats in 158 missions."
Wargamer responded
This amounts to 37 tons of fuel being delivered per submarine, or about 5 tons per day based on the above. Since aircraft were coming up about 200 tons per day short on delivery, when we figure in the, evidently "major contribution" of the submarine, we find North Africa is still 195 tons short of fuel per day. The contribution of the submarine is, therefore, meaningless in supplying North Africa (able to deliver only about 2% of requirements). In order to make their point that it was tried, posters here must concede it failed. As one poster stated about submarines being unable to suppy North Africa:
How did it fail?

Looking back over the thread since your input, nobody has claimed that submarines ALONE could supply the needs of NA, only that they could contribute to that ability. There contribution though small, must be deemed a success within the restrictions they operated under.

Regards, more later

Andy H

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Post by Wargames » 25 Nov 2006 04:45

Andy H wrote:
Looking back over the thread since your input, nobody has claimed that submarines ALONE could supply the needs of NA, only that they could contribute to that ability. There contribution though small, must be deemed a success within the restrictions they operated under.
I'm not sure why you define a failure to contribute anything even remotely close to being meaningful as a "success". This is like claiming the Japanese successfully supplied their troops on Guadalcanal. Surely, as a replacement for Italy's tankers, these submarines were a failure.

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Post by Andy H » 25 Nov 2006 06:56

Wargames wrote:Andy H wrote:
Looking back over the thread since your input, nobody has claimed that submarines ALONE could supply the needs of NA, only that they could contribute to that ability. There contribution though small, must be deemed a success within the restrictions they operated under.
I'm not sure why you define a failure to contribute anything even remotely close to being meaningful as a "success". This is like claiming the Japanese successfully supplied their troops on Guadalcanal. Surely, as a replacement for Italy's tankers, these submarines were a failure.
Hi

Unless you can tell me that the Italians had higher hopes and expectations for there submarine supply runs, I can't see how you can call it a failure. Nobody is arguing that there contribution would replace that of tankers, but only to offset, by whatever (puny) margin the contributions lost by tankers etc.

Regards

Andy H

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Post by Andreas » 25 Nov 2006 10:40

Wargames wrote: As for vehicle transport, a poster noted the following ships "probably" used in the Sonnenblume convoy of 26.2.1941 :

"Großgeleit von Neapel nach Tripolis mit den Fahrgastschiffen Esperia (11398 BRT), Conte Rosso (17879 BRT), Marco Polo (12272 BRT) und Victoria (13098 BRT)."
'Probably' was too strong, it should have been 'maybe', since the only reason for my connection of this transport to Sonnenblume was the closeness in time. It is however clear that the initial two Sonnenblume transports of troops and equipment were undertaken with freighters - 1st convoy with Steamers Ankara (4768 BRT), Arcturus (2596 BRT) und Alicante (2140 BRT), 2nd convoy with freighters Adana (4205 BRT), Aegina (2447 BRT), Kybfels (7764 BRT) und Ruhr (5954 BRT). Another freighter planned to be used according to a forum discussion elsewhere was Leverkusen (7386 BRT), but that had a fire on board, in which a few tanks were lost.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Jon G. » 25 Nov 2006 11:07

Wargames wrote:...Tankers weren't the only means to transport fuel, they were just the only effective means: As soon as one makes this admission, one has already lost the argument. If one attempts to meet Axis fuel requirements without tankers, it can't be done. Therefore, the availability of tankers becomes an important factor...
You seem to be ignoring the information I provided you about the Dielpi, which you wrongly identified as a tanker, and also the information posted earlier by Bronsky, according to which 119,130 tons of fuel was delivered to North Africa post-mid-1942, when Italy supposedly had run out of tankers.
...In order to supply North Africa with fuel, the Axis were dependent upon tankers to do so. Lose the tankers, lose the supply. Italy had a finite number of tankers and was running out of them by mid-1942. By what is apparently sheer "coincidence", the Axis lost every battle in North Africa beginning in mid-1942. But no one can see a relationship...
If you place such great store in the Axis availability of tankers, you must make an effort to quantify how much fuel was delivered by tankers and when the Axis ran out of them. You should also be able to establish a relationship between a shortage of tankers and reduced shipments of fuel. I am not going to do it for you; it is your argument after all.

Your repeated assertion that the Axis lost the war in North Africa for want of tankers does not cut any ice with me, for you conveniently make Italy run out of tankers at the time of Alamein.

I'll skip your points about supply delivered by submarined and by air, since you're repeatedly building the strawman that I claim that all Axis supply could have been delivered by those means. The contributions of submarines and air transport planes are slight in the big picture, but that does not disqualify them altogether, especially not when you consider that air/sub delivered supply was generally unloaded exactly where it was needed, rather than at Tripolis or Benghazi, hundreds of miles from the front.
Jon G. wrote:"Tankers weren't unnecessary - they just weren't the only way to send fuel to North Africa. In the examples you mention, the crisis for the Axis was not brought about by the loss of the tankers, but rather by the loss of the fuel they carried."
That the other methods "didn't work" is ignored...
You are the one ignoring the 'other method' I posted, namely the 1,600 tons of fuel delivered at Tobruk by the cargo ship Anna Maria Gualdi on August 31st 1942. If I buy your logic, everything would have been fine for the Axis if the Anna Maria Gualdi had been a tanker?
...As for vehicle transport, a poster noted the following ships "probably" used in the Sonnenblume convoy of 26.2.1941 :
"Großgeleit von Neapel nach Tripolis mit den Fahrgastschiffen Esperia (11398 BRT), Conte Rosso (17879 BRT), Marco Polo (12272 BRT) und Victoria (13098 BRT)."

And ships used for this 13.3.1941 troop transport convoy:

"Truppentransport von Neapel nach Tripolis mit den großen Fahrgastschiffen Conte Rosso, Marco Polo und Victoria."

The Esperia, Conte Rosso, and Victoria were all liners and - judging by her tonnage - so was the Marco Polo (Also, "fahrgastschiffen" means "passenger transport ship" AFAIK). Thus, the very example of liners not being used to transport divisions becomes an example of liners transporting divisions...
Those convoys aren't positively identified as Sonnenblume convoys, unlike the convoys made up of German cargo ships. Not that I really mind being corrected on this; perhaps the Italian liners did carry German troops at the time. You are probably aware that the Italians were shipping the Ariete and Trento divisions across to Tripolis in February/March 1941.

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Post by Jon G. » 27 Nov 2006 12:39

A number of posts were split off from the ongoing Malta topic

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=102636

...and instead merged into this existing thread. This split-off was done in order to provide two more focussed topics, rather than two strongly overlapping subjects.

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Post by Bronsky » 27 Nov 2006 14:39

Wargames wrote:The general arguments seem to be that 1) tankers weren't the only means to transport fuel, they were just the only effective means
Your argument was that the Axis ran out of tankers in 1942, and from that point ran out of fuel in North Africa. That is false on both counts: the Axis still had tankers - though not many by late 1942 - and it still had the shipping to send more fuel to North Africa. The problem wasn't tankers but the fact that the route was interdicted.
Wargames wrote:Tankers weren't the only means to transport fuel, they were just the only effective means: As soon as one makes this admission, one has already lost the argument. If one attempts to meet Axis fuel requirements without tankers, it can't be done.
You wrote that what happened was that the Axis ran out of fuel in North Africa because it had run out of tankers. That is demonstrably false, as the figures I posted before indicate. Here's another example. Fuel deliveries dropped from 10,992 tons in September, 1940 to 371 tons in October. Axis convoys didn't lose a ship. Where's the tanker shortage?

At the time of Crusader, Rommel was experiencing a severe fuel shortage. Fuel deliveries to North Africa in November and December 1941 combined were less than the already insufficient level of October 1941. Was it a dearth of tankers? Of course not, since as I wrote before the best month was yet to come. 12,308 tons of fuel were delivered in October 1942, 21,731 in November 1942. These figures include warships, but not air deliveries. Wartime average was under 20,000 as I wrote, so November 1942 was above average. What does your "Axis had no tankers, Axis had no fuel" thesis rely on?

Then we have over 25,000 tons delivered to Tunisia in January 1943 (again, not counting air deliveries).

You were the one arguing that the Axis had no tankers and therefore that they ran out of fuel. The figures above show that either the Axis had enough tankers (and your original claim about lack of tankers is false), or that it could do without tankers (and your point about tankers being necessary is false). You want to argue either proposition is wrong? Prove it. Others on this thread bring up facts to support their statements. You provide unsupported opinions that are, most of the time, demonstrably wrong. That is infinitely less worthwhile a contribution to the discussion.

By the way, Italy gained 16 tankers of over 96,000 GRT capacity in November 1942. So much for running out of them.
Wargames wrote:The cargo ships were not a sufficient replacement requiring the tanker deficiency to be made up by other means - beginning in November, 1942 with air transport to support the Axis retreat.
You don't know that they were not a sufficient replacement, because you don't know about the problems that cargo ship convoys experienced in the same period. Let's assume, for the sake of discussion, that cargo ships could have been sufficient. We know that Rommel didn't receive enough fuel. Perhaps a look at how much non-tanker shipping was sunk and where the convoys were forced to deliver (i.e. Tripoli, 1,000 miles from the front) might be in order? The links provided by Andreas and Jon can help you there.

If you think that's too much reading, then let's just go back to the document you quoted (bold part is mine)
"Altogether, fuel supplies had become the major problem of this late 1942 retreat. As no ships at all arrived in African ports, with the exception of a few military transports with a gross tonnage of 400 tons, the army was entirely dependent on air transportation for fuel supplies.


So it's not a case of "we had tons of ammunitions, food, spare parts, but no fuel", it's a case of "nothing arrived".

Wargames wrote:"From June 1940-Sept 1943, Italian submarines transported the following to North Africa. 10,641 tons of cargo (5,92 tons fuel & 4,193 tons munitions) using 29 boats in 158 missions."
This amounts to 37 tons of fuel being delivered per submarine, or about 5 tons per day based on the above.


Only if the submarines continuously ran supply missions, as opposed to only doing so during critical periods i.e. early and late in the war. I'll assume you were just ignorant of basic statistics, if I'm wrong please accept "dishonest" as a correction with my apologies.

Wargames wrote:By what is apparently sheer "coincidence", the Axis lost every battle in North Africa beginning in mid-1942.


Maybe that one was intended as a proof. All right: Mersa Matruh, Kasserine. Try again.

Wargames wrote:While I'm very impressed with the information and knowledge of the posters here, it seems that methods that "don't work" are still methods that don't work. In that case, arguing the "other means" existed is pointless. Lose the tankers and lose the war. No one seems to be able to dispute that.


1. The burden of proof lies with the side making an assertion. Pulling facts out of the top of your head (we're still waiting for the references regarding the 2,500 ships lost and the other laughs) and asking other people to prove you wrong is bad form.
2. The Axis could lose the war without losing tankers. It was losing the war in North Africa in late 1941 despite having plenty of tankers left. What allowed Rommel to stage a comeback was the Japanese attack (read: Commonwealth troop withdrawals), Axis success in the battle of the Atlantic (read: less shipping available to the Allies for reinforcements), and an additional air corps deployed in the Mediterranean from Russia (read: Malta suppressed). The Axis lost the war in 1943 - at least in the Mediterranean - though they still had tankers.
3. The Allies unloaded more fuel in Normandy prior to the fall of Cherbourg than the Axis were sending to North Africa. This is after deducing the fuel delivered by pipeline from tankers anchored offshore. Please list the tanker berths that the Allies were using in Normandy, or prove your point about the impossibility to deliver fuel without tankers.

If you prefer to go by coincidences, then here's my attempt at Wargames-logic: "When von Bock and Halder were active, Germany won most of its battles. Hitler fired von Bock in the winter of 1941/42 and Halder the following year. From then on, Germany lost the war. Coincidence? I think not. Prove it ain't so".

Wargames wrote:For this reason, Italians moved to smaller and smaller transports in order to spread the risk. Yet one must wonder why the Italians, if they had so many tankers available, didn't do the same thing with them?


If one really must wonder, then one might come up with answers such as
-Because this kind of defeats the whole purpose of sending a tanker in the first place
-Because small ships are useful in Benghazi - plenty of berthing space, low draft - or in Tripoli - plenty of berthing space - but that these are far from the front. There was no way to unload a convoy of tankers in Tobruk.

Wargames wrote:2) Effective combat troops, not replacement troops, were being transported by warships: If we examine this claim, we find the following; the 52,920 Italian soldiers transported by destroyer in 1943 happens to be almost exactly equal to the number of replacement troops required by Rommel's four Italian divisions at that time. In fact, if we look, we find that the actual combat brigades/divisions that arrived at that time (1942-43) were airlifted - not transported by Italian warships. Examples of airlifted divisions/brigades include the German 164th Light Infantry division (transported without vehicles) and the Ramke Parachute brigade (also on foot) and the Italian Folgore Parachute division. In Tunis, the Italian "Superga" division was a mountain division converted to an air landing division. Except for the 164th, these divisions were designed for air transport. None of these divisions/brigades were transported by Italian warships (or cargo ships).


Please explain why these were not effective combat troops, and why truly "effective combat troops" could not be transported in warships. What's the practical difference between sending troops in warships or in aircraft? Replacements were flown in as well, I have positive primary source evidence of that. Not that this is needed given the level of this discussion...

By the way, the Axis sent both replacements and new "effective combat troops" to Tunisia like 10th panzer division. Either it still had enough liners to transport what troops it needed or they travelled in other ships. As far as I'm concerned, the answer is a bit of both but your thesis that lack of liners crippled the Axis ability to send troops (then amended to "effective combat troops", whatever that is) is just false.
Last edited by Bronsky on 13 Dec 2006 15:36, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Wargames » 28 Nov 2006 05:16

Bronski wrote:
Availability of tankers was a problem, but the Axis could work around it.
Well... I knew they couldn't work around it with submarines (That argument won't work) and I knew air transport wasn't enough either so I drew the conclusion that since subs and airplanes can't fuel the Axis Army in North Africa by themselves, the critical factor in fuel supply was tankers in order to make up the difference. I think I would have won that argument if you hadn't come up with two examples of cargo transports being used to deliver a meaningful amount of oil. Point to you. Hence, the lack of a tanker could result in the alternative use of a cargo transport.

From the aspect of a wargamer, would you say then, that it is unnecessary for a game to keep count of tankers separately from cargo transports (not a trick question, BTW)? This seems to be the argued conclusion here.

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Post by Jon G. » 28 Nov 2006 17:29

Well, if any conclusions can be drawn from the last few pages of debate, they would be that the problems facing the Italians plying the North African convoy routes were far more complex than you acknowledge them to be. It eventually became a problem for the Italians that they were running out of shipping space (incl. tanker shipping), but it was not the sole overriding factor by any means. As demonstrated nearly ad nauseam above, the Axis found itself in trouble well before it ran out of tankers; conversely the Axis also proved capable of delivering supplies - including oil - after tanker space had become scarce.

By the way, relating to your earlier assertion that warships cannot & will not deliver supplies and reinforcements, it is worth mentioning one of the first surface engagements between the Regia Marina and the Royal Navy - namely, the engagement which lead to the loss of the Italian destroyer Espero, June 28th 1940. This engagement happened while the Espero, along with the destroyers Ostro and Zeffiero were shipping Italian soldiers to North Africa; 10 anti-tank guns, 120 tons of ammunition and 162 Blackshirt artillerymen were transported aboard the three Tobruk-bound destroyers.

Due to the exposed location of Tobruk and the very limited capacity of Tobruk's harbour the Italians preferred to use destroyers (and in some cases submarines) for the Tobruk convoy runs at this stage of the war, just as the RN kept Tobruk supplied by destroyers when it was under siege in 1941.

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Bronsky
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Post by Bronsky » 28 Nov 2006 19:26

I don't know how to erase posts to save space so have trimmed this one down to just this sentence instead.
Last edited by Bronsky on 13 Dec 2006 15:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Wargames » 28 Nov 2006 22:52

Jon G. wrote:
By the way, relating to your earlier assertion that warships cannot & will not deliver supplies and reinforcements, it is worth mentioning one of the first surface engagements between the Regia Marina and the Royal Navy - namely, the engagement which lead to the loss of the Italian destroyer Espero, June 28th 1940. This engagement happened while the Espero, along with the destroyers Ostro and Zeffiero were shipping Italian soldiers to North Africa; 10 anti-tank guns, 120 tons of ammunition and 162 Blackshirt artillerymen were transported aboard the three Tobruk-bound destroyers.
Sources on this vary as to what was being transported. My own stated the Espero carried a single A/A gun. But here are other examples of her cargo description, some of which may apply to all three DD's or just to the Espero (The battle action describes all three DD's as being used as transports):

"160 soldiers"

http://www.maritimequest.com/daily_even ... espero.htm

“an unit of antiaircraft artillery”

http://www.regiamarina.it/history.htm

"28 june 1940 the Espero naval destroyer guided a fast convoy of transport troops and materials for Africa with with the naval destroyer Ostro and Zeffiro.
They carried refueling for Tobruk."

http://gilbertino.splinder.com/archive/2004-02

“it was carrying units of black shirts from Tarento to Tobruk”

http://users.swing.be/navbat/schema/680.html

“an antitank transfer of 10 complexes and relative ammunitions and of 160 men from Taranto to Tobruk”

http://www.regiamarinaitaliana.it/Prime ... zioni.html

The last one comes closest to matching your description of 10 anti-tank guns but it is not the only one described. Even if it is correct the early sinking of the Espero at the beginning of the war on June 28, 1940, demonstrated my point right away that destroyers could not be used for this purpose as they 1) became overloaded and could not make speed, allowing them to be caught by enemy ships and 2) The men and materials loaded aboard interferred with the gun mounts of the DD in action.

The 1943 troops described in another post being transported by DD to Tunisia were free of British ship interference due to a minefield laid on each side of the Sicily to Tunis convoy lane. This allowed for DD troop transportation over a relatively short distance but equipment was still a factor. For example, the largest anti-tank gun the Espero could have been carrying would have been a 47mm cannon and the 20mm gun could also fit this description as well as being an A/A gun as described elsewhere, making the 20mm more likely (as there were no ten gun units of 47mm A/T). Thus, this is a description of the very smallest ordnance that existed in the Italian Army and will not allow for transportation of field guns and their tow trucks.

I believe that, if you check further, you won't find any other Italian DD's sunk after the Espero sinking while transporting similar material to North Africa during 1941-42 (I'll check myself but don't have time now.). They learned from the sinking of the Espero not to do that. This is why I say it doesn't work.

Carrying fully equipped combat troops aboard warships is simply impractical. I have seen a post here claiming such and providing a citation for it but not for the type of ship that landed it. For example, I would be very interested in knowing what Italian warship delivered a tank(s) to North Africa and whether or not the warship had been converted for this purpose.

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Post by Andy H » 29 Nov 2006 00:31

Wargamer wrote
The 1943 troops described in another post being transported by DD to Tunisia were free of British ship interference due to a minefield laid on each side of the Sicily to Tunis convoy lane
.

Whilst that is the case,it would have no bearing on any aerial interdiction, which were causing more losses (overall) than those by naval means.
This allowed for DD troop transportation over a relatively short distance
I don't see the relationship your pointing to in terms of distance. Minefields or not, the trips would still be undertaken, out of neccessity.
I believe that, if you check further, you won't find any other Italian DD's sunk after the Espero sinking while transporting similar material to North Africa during 1941-42 (I'll check myself but don't have time now.). They learned from the sinking of the Espero not to do that. This is why I say it doesn't work.
Well I'll let you check your time frame, but in March 1943 the Italian DD Pancaldo & the German manned DD Hermes (ex Greek) were attacked in March 1943 whilst transporting German troops to NA. The former was sunk and the latter badly damaged. Also sunk was the Italian DD Lampo, though she was carrying ammunition I believe.
Carrying fully equipped combat troops aboard warships is simply impractical
Depending on what you quantify as fully equipped combat troops to mean, depends if I could agree with that statement. I would certainly agree that it wasn't ideal.
1) became overloaded and could not make speed, allowing them to be caught by enemy ships and
2) The men and materials loaded aboard interferred with the gun mounts of the DD in action
Are you applying this to all inncidents where Italian or German DD's undertook such transport operation?

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Post by Wargames » 29 Nov 2006 09:39

Andy H wrote:
Depending on what you quantify as fully equipped combat troops to mean, depends if I could agree with that statement. I would certainly agree that it wasn't ideal.
An intelligent question since that (above) terminology is my own invention. However, I'll start with replacement troops, which is a known term. "Replacement troops" are fresh troops sent to a division to replace losses of that division whether those losses are due to action, fatigue, or end of tour of duty. Italy maintained a huge pool of replacement troops that existed on a regimental level. That is to say that Italy was prepared to replace entire regiments at a time. It's how a division stays at full combat strength. However, replacement regiments are not combat regiments because they lack weaponry and vehicles (Although they may have rifles.). Because they lack heavy weapons and vehicles, you can fly replacement troops to North Africa in an SM81 or Ju-52 aircraft transport or load them on a destroyer and ship them. They're sent without heavy weapons and vehicles because the division they've been assigned to either already has them or has put in for them by other means.

Replacement troops bring existing divisions, brigades, regiments, and battalions back up to strength. However, they seldom create new units because they would be lacking in artillery and transport services. Those artillery and transport services aren't going to fit on a destroyer. This is why you don't read about destroyers landing a brigade somewhere. I've challenged that someone demonstrate a battalion being landed by destroyer and, so far, we might have one example with the Espero and her two sisters because, if they were landing ten guns (be they anti-tank or anti-aircraft) that, technically is a battalion. But just because someone tried it 18 days into the war does not make it a success. The Espero landing was a failure. She and her two sisters were so loaded down they couldn't outrun British cruisers. Except for the Espero's sacrifice of herself, all three DD's would have been run down and sunk. The sinking of the Espero demonstrates the impracticality of using DD's as transports for fully equiped combat troops. That doesn't mean it can't be tried. The Japanese tried it all the time. They landed thousands of troops on Guadalcanal by DD with no artillery, no vehicles, and nothing to eat. It didn't work.
Are you applying this to all inncidents where Italian or German DD's undertook such transport operation?
I'm saying that a DD can't transport a divisional combat unit and all it's equipment even down to the battalion level. It can carry replacement troops. It can carry crates of ammunition and supplies but only about 85 tons (and that's for a Briitish DD which are larger than Italian. Italian DD's would probably carry 30-50 tons, depending upon size.).

The question becomes whether that's a meaningful amount of supply or not? Now if you happen to believe that an Italian submarine landing 5 tons of supply is a success than a DD is ten times that. But it would still take twenty large DD's to land 1,000 tons of supply, the equivelent of one small cargo ship. And, in the very best situation (the Sicily to Tunisia run), those same twenty DD's could load, land, and unload every day for a month, and not even provide 43% of Tunisia's requirements. And this assumes they can load, travel to Tunis, unload, and return to Sicily every 24 hours all month long without a refit.

We can use the British supply of Tobruk in 1941 as the example, since it's been mentioned here. Every day, the British sent two DD to Tobruk (only one loaded) to deliver 85 tons of supply. This worked because that's all the Australian garrison required. The British could also send in DD's carrying replacement troops (The same DD would then carry out wounded). In this way, the Australian garrison remained in supply and at full strength. But it was not increasing in size. The British DD's did not land tanks, trucks, artillery, and brigade troops.

Between Aug 18-25, 1941, the fast minelayers Abdiel and Latona, a cruiser, and two destroyers transported 5,000 men in seven trips of the Polish Carpathian Rifle Brigade to Tobruk while evacuating 6,000 Australians of the 9th Division. This would means about 850 men, max, were carried between the five ships or 170 men per ship. No artillery or vehicles were landed. Instead, the Polish brigade took over the existing equipment that the Australian brigade evacuated. In September, and again in October, this was repeated again, with the remaining two brigades of the Australian 9th Division replaced by two brigades of the 70th Division. This is the only time that I know of that brigades were moved by warships in North Africa and, in each case, no vehicles or artillery was transported that I know of, the Australians simply handing theirs over to their replacements.

Thus, at the end of the convoy operation in October, the British had three brigades in Tobruk, exactly what they had before the convoy operations in July. The DD's didn't add so much as one combat battalion to the defense even though they shipped 17,000 replacements.

If someone has evidence to the contrary, I'm a willing listener.

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