Axis shipping in the Mediterranean

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Jon G.
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Post by Jon G. » 29 Nov 2006 10:35

Wargames wrote: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)...
Well, what is your own source? A wargame? It is a little silly to talk about sources since the Italian transport of men and materials aboard the Espero can no doubt be verified by original Italian documents - to which I do not have access. Do you?

In the absence of real primary sources, secondary sources must suffice, at least for me. I checked the information with Bragadin's work on the Italian navy, p. 20-21, according to which
Bragadin wrote:...Libya needed weapons and ammunition on the Mamarican front with the greatest urgency. Because of the difficulties involved in convoying supply ships as far as Tobruk, it was decided to use submarines and other warships to deliver the cargoes. Following the trips of the Zoea and the Bragadin [both submarines - my note], and of the Artigliere squadrilla, as previously noted, the destroyers Espero, Ostro, and Zeffiro sailed from Taranto on 27 June with 120 tons of ammunition, 10 antitank guns, and 162 artillerymen*. A few hours later the escort vessels Pilo and Missori also departed with 52 soldiers and several scores of tons of supplies for the Army on board...
* The information about the artillerymen being Blackshirts I lifted from Green & Massignani's book on the naval war in the Mediterranean.

Bragadin credits good British aerial reconnaissance, and poor Italian ditto, with the Espero's demise.

If we employ interdependence when determining which source is closest to the events described, Bragadin probably wins over the other sources, for his book was published in 1957. Hence, he is conditionally the primary source to the event, which means that we should dismiss any later descriptions of the same event unless we can establish that they did not depend on Bragadin or original Italian sources.
Wargames wrote:...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 point you are making is that destroyers could not act in their intended role as warships while also acting as transports. That point I am not going to argue, nor have I proposed that warships transporting men and material were dual-purpose. It goes without saying that you are not going to get the best of two worlds when you employ a warship as a transport.
...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.
...I suppose that cargo moved by submarine and air lifted troops and supplies don't count in this context? Those are heavy qualifications on your part.

But you maintain that the failure of the Espero convoy meant that the Italians decided not to ship anymore supplies and personnel on surface warships? Maybe fair enough; in relative terms the Italians did have plenty of cargo ships in 1940. I would be tempted to call the Espero convoy a qualified success; after all two of the original three destroyers made it to their destination, just like the Pilo and the Missori did.

Regardless, your claim does not stand closer scrutiny. With Bragadin already off the shelf, I turn to page 131, according to which:
Bragadin wrote:...despite the increased consumption of fuel involved, in the middle of October 1941 the Navy began transporting troops exclusively on destroyers, which crossed the Mediterranean at high speed, and for the most part during the night. When the effectiveness of this system proved itself, the transport of troops to Libya on destroyers became a standard procedure which was continued up to the end of the war in Africa.

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Bronsky
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Post by Bronsky » 29 Nov 2006 18:52

Deleting a post with no useful factual content to save bandwidth.
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Post by Bronsky » 29 Nov 2006 19:01

Ditto
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Post by Wargames » 30 Nov 2006 01:20

Jon G. wrote:
Well, what is your own source? A wargame? It is a little silly to talk about sources since the Italian transport of men and materials aboard the Espero can no doubt be verified by original Italian documents - to which I do not have access. Do you?
No. I'm not using a wargame as my source (Although I see nothing wrong with that.). I obtained most of my information from several books over several years and from which I took notes (The one I rely on for Italians supply transport is called "The Italian Navy at War" (author?). But it is not a book I own and was obtained from a library.). However, I have not been quoting from my notes. In order to speed up my replies I have Googled the internet. Yes - I know that's not a very reliable source but it prevented me from searching around for a week for an answer. Besides, in this particular case, I arrived at my conclusion that warships make very poor supply ships from studying Japanese efforts to supply Guadalcanal. What the Japanese tried simply didn't work. You can, of course, try anything. For example, the Japanses tried supplying islands by submarine too - And it didn't work either. And, in this case I was aware that Italian submarines did, indeed, have a meaningless contribution in terms of % of supplies landed (Although in terms of where they were landed that might have had meaning.).
In the absence of real primary sources, secondary sources must suffice, at least for me. I checked the information with Bragadin's work on the Italian navy, p. 20-21, according to which Bragadin wrote:

"...Libya needed weapons and ammunition on the Mamarican front with the greatest urgency. Because of the difficulties involved in convoying supply ships as far as Tobruk, it was decided to use submarines and other warships to deliver the cargoes. Following the trips of the Zoea and the Bragadin [both submarines - my note], and of the Artigliere squadrilla, as previously noted, the destroyers Espero, Ostro, and Zeffiro sailed from Taranto on 27 June with 120 tons of ammunition, 10 antitank guns, and 162 artillerymen*. A few hours later the escort vessels Pilo and Missori also departed with 52 soldiers and several scores of tons of supplies for the Army on board..."


* The information about the artillerymen being Blackshirts I lifted from Green & Massignani's book on the naval war in the Mediterranean.
Blackshirts are mentioned in one of the links I posted as well. There were Blackshirt divisions in Africa at the time so this is possible, although normally Blackshirts operated in legions without artillery.

Bragadin credits good British aerial reconnaissance, and poor Italian ditto, with the Espero's demise.
It's demise was that it couldn't outrun the British cruisers that found them through good recon. Italian DD's were never as fast as their trial speeds which were always conducted under conditions of light load. Hence, the "Turbine" class Espero would have only made 36 knots in practice versus her 39.5 at trials. Putting them under load would have slowed them down even further. One of the cruisers of 7th Division that ran her down was the Sydney, designed speed, 32 knots and, in practice, lucky to make 30. Hence, Espero and her sisters were making even less than that due to overload conditions. This counters the only advantage a DD has over a CL.
If we employ interdependence when determining which source is closest to the events described, Bragadin probably wins over the other sources, for his book was published in 1957. Hence, he is conditionally the primary source to the event, which means that we should dismiss any later descriptions of the same event unless we can establish that they did not depend on Bragadin or original Italian sources.
I allowed for your source to be correct but, in comparing the cited links of Espero's cargo, I also noticed no other instances of other Italian DD's being sunk carrying weapons, suggesting that this attempt to use DD's as battalion transports just 18 days after the war began was in response to a known and hurried Tenth Army request and, as the DD's were intercepted, was not repeated again in that it could be readily foreseen that future DD's so overloaded could also be run down and sunk. I still have not checked this out yet and suspect that an Italian DD loaded with just 30 tons could still make speed. But I'm unaware of any other DD being sunk afterwards with Espero's weapons cargo and no one else here seems to be aware of that instance either.
Your point was that warships couldn't transport units, period. You have been provided with several examples of warships doing exactly that, so your original point was false, end of story.
My point was that warships could not transport divisional combat units, even down to something as insignificant as a battalion, period. End of story. Your rebutal is one convoy, one time, carrying the smallest ordnance in the italian Army, which failed (did 10 guns arrive?) and, so far as we know, was not repeated. I've stated that anyone can try anything but what matters was whether it was successful or not. Your example was a British success versus an Italian one. I expect I'm not the only person to be able to see that difference.

I'm still giving you credit for the example and I appreciate your digging it up. Yet it happens to be the same example I dug up before asking my question. Evidently, I'm not able to read.
Tapdancing around the issue by making up imaginary distinctions between combat units and reinforcements is just silly. Combat units consist of troops and equipment. They travel separately, and join up at their destination. Reinforcements consist of troops and equipment (you wrote that they consisted of troops only, do you have a source that Italian equipment was indestructible?). They don't have to travel together. There is no practical difference from the point of view of shipping between transporting new units and transporting reinforcements.
I disagree. I see no reason why a transport carrying equipment wouldn't also carry the same troops attached to that equipment unless you have a source that says soldiers transported by destroyer are indestructible. To put the soldiers on a destroyer and their equipment on a different transport doesn't change the delivery problem. It increases it. If the convoy is attacked, you now have 300 soldiers in the way of the DD's sailors and now interferring with the DD's performance in protecting the transport, if only by their weight alone. If they are aboard the transport instead. the DD can provide proper escort and, if the transport is sunk, the DD can take them off in rescue. Further, shipping the men and the equipment on the same transport ship is consistent with them arriving at the same port of destination.

Second, if you were right that "They travel separately, and join up at their destination" then the 52,920 Italian soldiers cited to have been transported to Tunis by DD in 1943 then joined up with what division at their destination? This is no mere "minor problem" to your theory. You have 52,920 soldiers who disappeared into the "Twilight Zone". 52,920 soldiers are enough to outfit FOUR ITALIAN INFANTRY DIVISIONS. According to you, I should find FOUR brand new Italian infantry divisions in Tunisia. If so, NAME THEM. And if you want to use the SUPERGA DIVISION, the answer is NO. The Superga was FLOWN in. So, unless you can explain how the 52,920 soldier weren't REPLACEMENTS to Rommel's FOUR Italian infantry divisions, you haven't got spit to support your arguments.

This doesn't mean you're wrong. It just means that, to me, it doesn't sound right. Because, if it were true, and the figure of 22,000 soldiers drowned enroute to North Africa is correct, and they were being transported at the time by DD's at 300 men per ship, it would require that 73 DD's were sunk with all soldiers lost enroute to North Africa in order to have 22,000 drown. Do you believe that?

Now I recognize that that not all 22,000 who drowned were on DD's but I also recognize that not all 300 soldiers on a DD sunk would also drown. Some would be rescued. Since I don't think either of us is going to claim 73 DD's were sunk carrying troops, then it reasons a big chunk of those 22,000 drowned aboard something else. But the "something else" is rather limited. For example, in September, 1941 the Italian passenger liners Neptunia and her sister ship, Oceania, were torpedoed and sunk by British subs. The death toll from both ships was only 384 men, some 6,500 being rescued. So here we have two massive ship sinkings and yet only 384 drowned. We have a long ways to go to reach 22,000 at that rate in which case DD's transporting soldiers to North Africa must fill the "drowning" gap. Do they?

I don't think so. IMO, we're dealing with incomplete information. You may want to blindly accept Italian DD's delivering 136 TANKS and INFANTRY to divisions that "disappeared" and you may very well be right, but I'm not taking your word on it. I believe this is a question that can only be answered by Davide. The questions for Davide would be:

1) On January 24, 1941 the remainder of the Ariete Armored Division landed in Tripoli. How was it landed? Because, according to you, 29 DD's were used to transport its 8,600 troops. I'm betting they weren't and I'm betting you agree.

2) The first units of the Italian 133rd “Littorio” Armored Division arrived in Tripoli in January, 1942. But the rest of the division did not land until March. How was it landed? Again, if 29 DD's weren't used, your argument fails.

Don't worry, you actually have a chance of being right. In September, 1942 the Centauro Armored Division was made available for North Africa. Only, where is it? It seems to only appear in Rommel's retreat and in Tunisia in 1943. It's very late, slow, and dragged out appearance may very well be due to DD transport of personel. I really don't know. I think only Davide has the answer.

Again, I'm not saying you're wrong and I think this debate has historical significance. If you're right then the Japanese were evidently morons who needed to follow Italy's example. If I'm right, there are severe limitations to what a DD can provide in terms of landing divisional or brigade sized combat units.

Davide has the answer. While I accept your sources I respectfully decline to accept your conclusions without further evidence.
Last edited by Wargames on 30 Nov 2006 07:02, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by RichTO90 » 30 Nov 2006 06:37

Wargames wrote: No. I'm not using a wargame as my source (Although I see nothing wrong with that.).
I'm sure you don't. :wink:

Report of Transports for the Panzerarmee for the Month of february 1942:

A. By Air:
1. Personnel by German aircraft
a) Heer - 35 officers, 1,771 EM
b) Luftwaffe - 29 officers, 1,037 EM
c) Marine - 5 officers, 100 EM
2. By Italian Air Lines
105 officers, 37 men, 2 Wehrmachtsgefolge
3. Material:
19.7 tons of replacement parts from Naples.
B. By Sea:
1. By naval vessels - no report
2. By merchant vessels - 9 officers, 222 men, 20,210.8 tons of supplies (including 6,593.6 tons of fuel for the Heer and 6,323.7 tons for the Luftwaffe), 413 vehicles, 121 guns.
No losses for the month.

So 3,121 men by air and 231 by sea.

April 1942:
A. By Air:
1) Personnel by Luftwaffe aircraft
a) Heer - 6,460
b) Luftwaffe - 4,078
c) Marine - 90
d) Wehrmachtsgefolge - 4
2) By Italian Air Lines - 195
B. By Sea
1) Navy vessels - no report
2) Merchant vessels - 18 officers, 493 men, 35,724.2 tons of supply (19,901 tons of fuel), 1,632 vehicles, 143 guns

So 10,827 men by air and 511 by sea.

In essence, you were partly correct, they tended to use the fastest and safest method of transporting personnel, but they did it by air, since liners simply were impractical (they may have been more efficient, but they also required massive escorts - which weren't around, see below - and required a pretty substantial port, Tobruk's major limitations were the lack of deep water and insufficient pierage). Early on the Italians, before they had access to the Luftwaffe transport capabilities, attempted to use destroyers for rapid movement of troops, which caused many problems (again, see below). The alternative was air transport, which was used heavily.

31 July 1942 -
It was noted that the daily fuel requirements for the entire Panzeramee were 600 cbm of gasoline and 65 cbm of diesel.

On 20 August 1942 the Panzerarmee noted that there was 4,000 men, 1,270 vehicles, and 60 guns in units waiting in Italy for transport space, some had been there for a year. In terms of replacements there were 41 guns and 900 vehicles in Italy waiting transport. They then go on to note that from 1-20 August 5,909 tons of supplies had been delivered to the Heer, including 2,854 tons of fuel, 3,261 tons to the Luftwaffe, and over 15,000 tons to the Italians. But then the problems. The harbor of Tobruk had been idle since 11 August because no ships had arrived and Benghazi was only being partly used. The reason? Lack of escorts, because only 3 Italian destroyers were available the "intolerable downtimes" for ships waiting to discharge cargo was over 8 days. Nonetheless, by the end of the month the unloaded another 10,000 tons - but mostly for the Italians - and had an 8-day supply of fuel, 14 battle-days of munitions, and 23 days of rations.

Now note the next set of problems they had to contend with. It was immaterial by this time if they wanted to attempt to use destroyers to transport troops, they simply couldn't, because too many destroyers had been lost to the RN and RAF, and they were critical for their primary role - escort. Vessels couldn't make efficient use of Tobruk or even Benghazi because there were no escorts, so the turnaround times were becoming intolerable. And that also caused problems, ships waiting in harbor for escorts were targets, it was a lose-lose proposition. Curiously enough though, they were at least in theory shipping almost enough supply, but it wasn't going to the right places, in September 1942 21,110 tons of supplies were unloaded, but only 3,074 at Tobruk and Benghazi.

As of 8 October 1942 16 merchant vessels were ready to sail to Africa with a total of 5,283 tons of gasoline (2,286 tons in the only tanker), 356 tons of diesel, 290 tons of lubricants, 528 vehicles, 650 tons of ammunition, 2,477 tons of rations, 40 tons of clothing, 1 ton of medical supplies, 20 medium and 4 light tanks, 11 guns, and miscellaneous other items.

Note that the tanker accounted for 40.5 percent of the fuel loaded, so its loss would have been major, but strictly speaking it wasn't neccessary and was a bit of "all the eggs in one basket", the other 15 vessels averaged 224 tons each, which spread the threat and also could have eased the unloading (I don't think that Tobruk had a tanker terminus at this point, but will have to check, certainly no fuel was unloaded there in October, and only possibly 60 tons in September). In fact though only 10 carried fuel, and one, the A. Gualdi, carried 957 tons of gasoline and 146 tons of diesel.

As far as the use of destroyers to transport troops it may look insane to us now, but in fact was an accepted practice, the USN even converted a large number of destroyers into high-speed transports (and used them quite succesfully to transport the Marine Raiders and Paratroopers to Tulagi BTW), but that was an exteme, and technically they weren't "full" destroyers anymore. :D But large numbers of the German force transported to invade Norway were by naval vessels, although that was hard on the chaps aboard Blucher. And many of the French and British troops sent to oppose them went by naval vessel as well, they were fast, armed and armored, the downside is apparent to us now though.

So you have a few almost glimmerings of correctness in a some of your remarks, but unfortunately they are neatly wrapped into a wargamers box. :lol:

Hope that helps feed the fire, this has been entertaining reading so far. :lol:

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 30 Nov 2006 06:57

Wargames wrote:
Hence, the "Turbine" class Espero would have only made 36 knots in practice versus her 39.5 at trials. Putting them under load would have slowed them down even further. One of the cruisers of 7th Division that ran her down was the Sydney, designed speed, 32 knots. Hence, Espero and her sisters were making even less than that due to overload conditions.


The additional loading may well have reduced there top speed, along with the sea state at time of the action and the fact that the hulls were probably dirty. the latter two can equally apply to the RN vessels. From the secondary sources-(Greene & Massignani, Bragadin, Playfair, Cunningham)-I have no idea what speed the Italy convoy was making when spotted.

From my reading of the ecounter, Liverpool opened up at 18,000yrds, and it took 15 RN salvoes to finally land a hit on the Espero. The light was fading and the Italians were making good use of smoke. After 50minutes the range had closed to 14,000yds. At this point Baroni decided to sacrifice his ship. The British broke off the action soon after due to the failing light and high ammunition usage.

From my point of view, and excluding any primary source material, the most important factor in the Espero's loss, was the damage she received and the fact she couldn't train her torpedos (because of the deck cargo) which may well have forced her attackers off course.
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
So because no other Italian DD's were sunk your making the asumption this was because they stopped running DD's as supply ships after the Espero affair! Is that a given fact or an opinion? Why do you think if the above was the case, they used the light cruiser L.Cadorna to run petrol & munitions to Benghazi during November & December 1941?

Source: Whitley

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Post by Wargames » 30 Nov 2006 08:01

RichTO90 wrote:
2. By merchant vessels - 9 officers, 222 men, 20,210.8 tons of supplies (including 6,593.6 tons of fuel for the Heer and 6,323.7 tons for the Luftwaffe), 413 vehicles, 121 guns.
Ah! Finally! Some information! According to this post, roughly 3,000 soldiers were flown in while ten battalions of artillery were shipped in during February, 1942. The argument that the soldier was transported seperately from his equipment has merit but, as I suspected, they weren't shipped by DD.
2) Merchant vessels - 18 officers, 493 men, 35,724.2 tons of supply (19,901 tons of fuel), 1,632 vehicles, 143 guns

So 10,827 men by air and 511 by sea.
Again, for April, 1942, air transport provided independent transport for about 11 battalions and sea transport provided equipment for about 12 battalions.
In essence, you were partly correct, they tended to use the fastest and safest method of transporting personnel, but they did it by air, since liners simply were impractical (they may have been more efficient, but they also required massive escorts - which weren't around, see below - and required a pretty substantial port, Tobruk's major limitations were the lack of deep water and insufficient pierage).
Dead on! Where have you been hiding?
Now note the next set of problems they had to contend with. It was immaterial by this time if they wanted to attempt to use destroyers to transport troops, they simply couldn't, because too many destroyers had been lost to the RN and RAF, and they were critical for their primary role - escort.
And they'd have to be frigging idiots to load up escorting DD's with troops as claimed here. Aircraft allowed the difference. But - wow! - isn't that a lot of planes??? No - wait. Unless I'm mistaken, using 18 seats and 50% operati0nal aircraft, you could deliver this number of troops with just 41 total planes - including those in shops.
Curiously enough though, they were at least in theory shipping almost enough supply, but it wasn't going to the right places, in September 1942 21,110 tons of supplies were unloaded, but only 3,074 at Tobruk and Benghazi.
But, without DD escort, they had to go to Tripoli. Makes perfect sense. So who are you? How do you know this? How do I subscribe to your magazine?
As far as the use of destroyers to transport troops it may look insane to us now, but in fact was an accepted practice, the USN even converted a large number of destroyers into high-speed transports (and used them quite succesfully to transport the Marine Raiders and Paratroopers to Tulagi BTW), but that was an exteme, and technically they weren't "full" destroyers anymore. But large numbers of the German force transported to invade Norway were by naval vessels, although that was hard on the chaps aboard Blucher. And many of the French and British troops sent to oppose them went by naval vessel as well, they were fast, armed and armored, the downside is apparent to us now though.
As I said, anybody can try anything but that doesn't mean it's a guaranteed success as some here suggest. Transporting troops and supplies by DD does, indeed, look insane to us now (At least those of us who took the time to study it.).
So you have a few almost glimmerings of correctness in a some of your remarks, but unfortunately they are neatly wrapped into a wargamers box.

Hope that helps feed the fire, this has been entertaining reading so far.
GREAT POST! Although I rather doubt the opposition will agree...

Can I ask your information source? You seem to surpass all of us combined.
Last edited by Wargames on 30 Nov 2006 08:22, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Wargames » 30 Nov 2006 08:20

Andy H wrote:
From my point of view, and excluding any primary source material, the most important factor in the Espero's loss, was the damage she received and the fact she couldn't train her torpedos (because of the deck cargo) which may well have forced her attackers off course.
Ergo the problem with deck cargo (army weapons). They don't get out of the way under attack. A DD with a loaded deck must also be escorted by another DD with an unloaded deck. This is why British DD's supplied Tobruk in pairs in 1941 - one carried the cargo and the other provided the escort.
Why do you think if the above was the case, they used the light cruiser L.Cadorna to run petrol & munitions to Benghazi during November & December 1941?
Why do you think the Italians stopped using the Luigi Cadorna to run petrol and munitions after December, 1941?

I'll give you a hint. Google “DA BARBIANO” and “DI GIUSSANO” in December, 1941.

Just because somebody tries something does not mean it's an automatic success as some here would have us believe.

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Post by Jon G. » 30 Nov 2006 13:30

Wargames wrote:Jon G. wrote:
Actually, Bronsky wrote part of the text you are quoting from. No matter, I am honoured to have my posts confused with Bronsky's.
... [The Espero]'s demise was that it couldn't outrun the British cruisers that found them through good recon. Italian DD's were never as fast as their trial speeds which were always conducted under conditions of light load. Hence, the "Turbine" class Espero would have only made 36 knots in practice versus her 39.5 at trials. Putting them under load would have slowed them down even further. One of the cruisers of 7th Division that ran her down was the Sydney, designed speed, 32 knots and, in practice, lucky to make 30. Hence, Espero and her sisters were making even less than that due to overload conditions. This counters the only advantage a DD has over a CL.
Like Andy, I haven't been able to find anything about the speed of the Espero and her sisters at the time of the engagement with the RN surface units. However, I do not consider that very relevant - indeed, I brought forward the example of the Espero to show that your claim that 'warships weren't used as transports' is wrong. Your assertion remains wrong, whether said warship could make 36 knots or only 30 while carrying cargo.
I allowed for your source [Bragadin, p. 20] to be correct but, in comparing the cited links of Espero's cargo, I also noticed no other instances of other Italian DD's being sunk carrying weapons, suggesting that this attempt to use DD's as battalion transports just 18 days after the war began was in response to a known and hurried Tenth Army request and, as the DD's were intercepted, was not repeated again in that it could be readily foreseen that future DD's so overloaded could also be run down and sunk.
Egads, you keep qualifying your argument. Are you trying to tell me that there were no 'known and hurried' situations for the Axis in North Africa after June 1940?

As for 'known and hurried', a convoy of merchant ships had left for Tripolis a few days prior to the Espero convoy - no losses were sustained, but the convoy took 10 days to unload its cargo at Tripolis.
I still have not checked this out yet and suspect that an Italian DD loaded with just 30 tons could still make speed. But I'm unaware of any other DD being sunk afterwards with Espero's weapons cargo and no one else here seems to be aware of that instance either.
Or, are you trying to tell me, e silentio that since no DDs carrying troops & supplies were sunk after the Espero affair, you can conclude that this mode of transport was not used henceforth?

E silentio reasoning is always problematic from a historical point of view, and at any rate the second Bragadin quote which I posted above disagrees flatly with your assertion, for according to that excerpt destroyers were indeed used post-October 1941 for transporting troops to North Africa. Bragadin could be wrong, of course. His book is not the bible, but you have to come up with something better than ignorance to disprove him.

From December 1941, Italian destroyers were also sometimes used for transporting German B4 aviation fuel ('Beer Four' in ULTRA parlance). The Italians considered this a dangerous and wasteful way to transport fuel, but gave in to Kesselring's pressure - at least according to Sadkovich. I do not have a concrete example to hand just now, but I am still digging. In the meantime, I take consolation that your original points about the narrow applications of liners, tankers and cargo ships have been thoroughly disproved.
Bronsky wrote:Your point was that warships couldn't transport units, period. You have been provided with several examples of warships doing exactly that, so your original point was false, end of story.
My point was that warships could not transport divisional combat units, even down to something as insignificant as a battalion, period. End of story. Your rebutal is one convoy, one time, carrying the smallest ordnance in the italian Army, which failed (did 10 guns arrive?) and, so far as we know, was not repeated. I've stated that anyone can try anything but what matters was whether it was successful or not. Your example was a British success versus an Italian one. I expect I'm not the only person to be able to see that difference...
Actually, and given overall losses on the North African convoy routes in the course of the war, I would be tempted to call the Espero's loss at least a qualified success, as I also wrote above. After all, the Ostro, the Zeffiro, the Pilo and the Missori all made it to their destination, for the price of one destroyer lost.

Finally,
Wargames, in responding to RichTO90's post wrote:...GREAT POST! Although I rather doubt the opposition will agree...

Can I ask your information source? You seem to surpass all of us combined.
I agree with your evaluation of RichTO90's post, but I beg to differ on being labelled in 'opposition' to it. Rich has authoritatively shown how, and by which means, German troops were inserted into the North African theater in selected months in 1942. Just note that Rich's post only tells us how German troops made it to Africa; we still need to account for all those Italians as well :)

I have not opposed the concept of Axis troops being sent to North Africa by air, nor has any other participant on this thread. In fact, and to my certain recollection, you were the one who flatly rejected the idea that the Axis could use transport aircraft when supplying North Africa.

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Post by Bronsky » 30 Nov 2006 17:22

Wargames wrote:And, in this case I was aware that Italian submarines did, indeed, have a meaningless contribution in terms of % of supplies landed (Although in terms of where they were landed that might have had meaning.
You've gone back and forth so many times on this and other issues that I'm not sure what your point is any longer. Suppose you argued that the sun rises in the east, we could all say you were correct, would this end the rest of this nonsense?

I thought that after my first correction you would have realized how wrong your initial figure for submarine loads was, but you didn't. So just to put the matter to rest, here are some correct figures.
Submarine - port - date - load (metric tons)
Zoea - Tobruk - 21/6/40 - 49
Bragadino - Tobruk - 28/6/40 - 30
Corridoni - Tobruk - 3/7/40 - 15
Atropo - Derna - 12/5/41 - 78
Zoea - Derna - 17/5/41 - 75
Atropo - Derna - 20/5/41 - 79
Zoea - Derna - 26/5/41 - 73
Zoea - Derna - 4/6/41 - 77
Atropo - Derna - 7/6/41 - 40
Atropo - Derna - 15/6/41 - 68
Zoea - Derna - 26/6/41 - 76

Yes, that's not much in the way of tonnage. Would it be too much asking for you to let the matter of submarines drop until you actually have information to contribute, now that you have information as to actual capabilities? Loads were mostly fuel, ammunition and documents.

Information from the Italian official history, and I solemnly swear that one day I will get around to puzzling out this Napoleonic battalion information thing so I can finally reciprocate Davide Pastore for his geneous help ;-)
Wargames wrote:I allowed for your source to be correct but, in comparing the cited links of Espero's cargo, I also noticed no other instances of other Italian DD's being sunk carrying weapons, suggesting that this attempt to use DD's as battalion transports just 18 days after the war began was in response to a known and hurried Tenth Army request and, as the DD's were intercepted, was not repeated again in that it could be readily foreseen that future DD's so overloaded could also be run down and sunk.
You have been asked, several times, why you keep insisting on this "battalion transport", or "complete combat units" transport thing. So far you have failed to answer.
I therefore fully expect you to further move the goalposts, but for your information there are numerous examples of destroyers and cruisers being used as transports after 28 June 1940, most of the time carrying personnel and/or fuel.

If you want weapons, this one may have been such a case (I don't know the exact cargo): large destroyers Vivaldi, Da Recco & Usodimare, reaching Tripoli 24 December 1941 with "une reparto di truppa (600 uomini) e materiale di armamento". Then of course we have the amphibious barges which carried a lot of armament, including tanks.
Wargames wrote:My point was that warships could not transport divisional combat units, even down to something as insignificant as a battalion, period.
Please mention examples of "divisional combat units" being transported, I simply don't understand the distinction that you're making.

Don't forget to detail what it is that liners can transport and that other ship types can't, and why. Or if liners are no longer your concern, what it is that you're actually arguing.

Right now, you sound as someone who's been proved wrong and is busy moving the goal posts and building strawmen rather than accept it. If I'm wrong and you actually have a point to argue, I'd appreciate your restating it. Clearly, too, if that's not asking too much.
Wargames wrote:Your rebutal is one convoy, one time, carrying the smallest ordnance in the italian Army, which failed (did 10 guns arrive?) and, so far as we know, was not repeated. I've stated that anyone can try anything but what matters was whether it was successful or not. Your example was a British success versus an Italian one. I expect I'm not the only person to be able to see that difference.
Actually, I don't think that I posted examples of successful British transports on warships, though some did occur. Now that you've told us they wouldn't be accepted because British warships are somehow intrinsically different from Italian ones, I won't bother.

You wrote that the 28 June convoy failed because it lost one ship out of three and it was not repeated. I show the Italians running other convoys involving destroyers at later dates. If you want to argue that they don't count as repetition because they weren't transporting a blackshirt AT unit with full equipment, no skin off my nose, I'm not going to spend too much time digging up examples each time you come up with a new idea.
Wargames wrote:
Bronsky wrote: Combat units consist of troops and equipment. They travel separately, and join up at their destination. Reinforcements consist of troops and equipment (you wrote that they consisted of troops only, do you have a source that Italian equipment was indestructible?). They don't have to travel together. There is no practical difference from the point of view of shipping between transporting new units and transporting reinforcements.
I disagree. I see no reason why a transport carrying equipment wouldn't also carry the same troops attached to that equipment unless you have a source that says soldiers transported by destroyer are indestructible.
Right, I should have added "usually" or "most of the time" to "they travel separately". Please provide example of combat units being transported in one ship other than for amphibious assaults.
Wargames wrote:To put the soldiers on a destroyer and their equipment on a different transport doesn't change the delivery problem. It increases it.
Depends on what the alternative is. If the choice is between one cargo ship plus one destroyer or two cargo ships, then using a destroyer (or a DD squadron) to transport the troops is better from the point of view of troop safety and worse from the point of view of fuel consumption. Since you don't explain what "the delivery problem" consists of, it it makes discussing solutions difficult.
Wargames wrote:If the convoy is attacked, you now have 300 soldiers in the way of the DD's sailors and now interferring with the DD's performance in protecting the transport, if only by their weight alone. If they are aboard the transport instead. the DD can provide proper escort and, if the transport is sunk, the DD can take them off in rescue. Further, shipping the men and the equipment on the same transport ship is consistent with them arriving at the same port of destination.
This one is so funny I just couldn't delete it. The point of transporting troops on DDs is to make them cross at high speed, which makes enemy interception difficult and considerably reduces the threat from submarines. As to "arriving at the same port of destination", I assure you that ship captains could read a name on a mission order and navigate their ships to the right port.
Wargames wrote:Second, if you were right that "They travel separately, and join up at their destination" then the 52,920 Italian soldiers cited to have been transported to Tunis by DD in 1943 then joined up with what division at their destination?
They're Axis soldiers, not Italians and they're supposed to join up with their equipment, please do try to follow.
Wargames wrote: This is no mere "minor problem" to your theory. You have 52,920 soldiers who disappeared into the "Twilight Zone". 52,920 soldiers are enough to outfit FOUR ITALIAN INFANTRY DIVISIONS. According to you, I should find FOUR brand new Italian infantry divisions in Tunisia.
Only if you assume that no German personnel was included and that all the new units being shipped were divisions. Neither is true, so just please don't associate me with your leaky logic and poor math.
Wargames wrote:Because, if it were true, and the figure of 22,000 soldiers drowned enroute to North Africa is correct, and they were being transported at the time by DD's at 300 men per ship, it would require that 73 DD's were sunk with all soldiers lost enroute to North Africa in order to have 22,000 drown. Do you believe that?
22 760 is the difference between troops sent to North Africa and Tunisia between June 1940 and May 1943 and troops arrived. So you're confusing losses at sea (incidentally, they didn't all drown, some were picked up and captured) of Axis personnel transported to Libya and Tunisia in a period of two years with the example provided by Andy for a limited period of time. You then invoke a completely imaginary condition: "they were being transported by DD's at 300 men per ship".

Your logic is such a mess that my head hurts.
Wargames wrote:Since I don't think either of us is going to claim 73 DD's were sunk carrying troops, then it reasons a big chunk of those 22,000 drowned aboard something else. But the "something else" is rather limited. For example, in September, 1941 the Italian passenger liners Neptunia and her sister ship, Oceania, were torpedoed and sunk by British subs. The death toll from both ships was only 384 men, some 6,500 being rescued. So here we have two massive ship sinkings and yet only 384 drowned. We have a long ways to go to reach 22,000 at that rate in which case DD's transporting soldiers to North Africa must fill the "drowning" gap. Do they?
I provided examples of losses at sea upthread, and suggest you read them. BTW, the 22,000 break down to 5,500 to Tunisia and the rest to Libya.
Wargames wrote:You may want to blindly accept Italian DD's delivering 136 TANKS and INFANTRY to divisions that "disappeared" and you may very well be right, but I'm not taking your word on it.
Could you please stop assuming your thought process applies to me? I don't usually mind people insulting my intelligence, but you are overdoing it.
Wargames wrote:1) On January 24, 1941 the remainder of the Ariete Armored Division landed in Tripoli. How was it landed? Because, according to you, 29 DD's were used to transport its 8,600 troops. I'm betting they weren't and I'm betting you agree.
Do go to the trouble of inserting an actual quote before writing nonsense with "according to you" attached. Particularly when calling me a liar in the next sentence. The transports involved were the Esperia, Conte Rosso, Marco Polo and Victoria, and I'm not bothering replying to the rest.

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Post by Bronsky » 30 Nov 2006 17:39

Plenty of concrete examples of fuel and troop convoys by destroyers in 1942. E.g. one 2-DD convoy each in June and July '42.
Last edited by Bronsky on 13 Dec 2006 15:45, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Andy H » 30 Nov 2006 18:24

I wrote
From my point of view, and excluding any primary source material, the most important factor in the Espero's loss, was the damage she received and the fact she couldn't train her torpedos (because of the deck cargo) which may well have forced her attackers off course.
You responded
Ergo the problem with deck cargo (army weapons). They don't get out of the way under attack. A DD with a loaded deck must also be escorted by another DD with an unloaded deck. This is why British DD's supplied Tobruk in pairs in 1941 - one carried the cargo and the other provided the escort
Nobody has denied that transporting supplies only infringes upon a warships ability to do the thing it was intended to do. However in every response, you respond in the language of absolutes and jump to huge generalised assumptions (based on a single fact/event) which you then apply to anything happening after that fact/event.

Like Bronsky I'm getting lost in what your actually asking, as your focus changes. Rich, as always has posted some excellent facts, but no different in there relevance to others posted previously by other members.

I wrote:
Why do you think if the above was the case, they used the light cruiser L.Cadorna to run petrol & munitions to Benghazi during November & December 1941?
Your response
Why do you think the Italians stopped using the Luigi Cadorna to run petrol and munitions after December, 1941?

I'll give you a hint. Google “DA BARBIANO” and “DI GIUSSANO” in December, 1941.

Just because somebody tries something does not mean it's an automatic success as some here would have us believe.
In relation to the Cadorna, she was transferred to Pola, where she was employed in a training role. You may well be right, but is that an quantified assumption, a guess or a fact? I have no problem with any of the first 2 two, as long as you state a source I have no problem with the third. In fact I welcome the third choice.

In response to your automatic success quip, I will confine mine to the submarine saga.
I view it as a relative success. I stress relative, because nobody has claimed that submarines could replace more effective & traditional methods of supply movement. However submarines were identified as a limited means to a limited end. Given what information I've seen, they achieved a relative success.

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Andy H

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Post by Andy H » 01 Dec 2006 05:28

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
What about the 10th Panzer Division and sPZ.Abt501. There equipment was shipped via cargo ships, and no doubt a ?% of the personnel would have gone with them.
33 tanks of the former being lost in transit on December 3rd 1942. Theye were landed at Bizerte & Tunis.
In terms of tank replacements, and not inherent formation equipment, some 210 (MkIII & IV's) had been shipped between November'42 7 May'43. Of which some 44 were lost in transit.

Source: Jentz Vol II


Regarding Sonnenblume
"While loading ships in Naples, the 'Leverkusen' caught fire resulting in the loss of some 13 panzers"

Source: Jentz Vol I

Regards

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Post by RichTO90 » 01 Dec 2006 06:14

Wargames wrote: Ah! Finally! Some information! According to this post, roughly 3,000 soldiers were flown in while ten battalions of artillery were shipped in during February, 1942. The argument that the soldier was transported seperately from his equipment has merit but, as I suspected, they weren't shipped by DD.
Yes, some information. I see you still have trouble processing the significance of it though unless its through the filter of wargaming terms.

Let me put it this way. In the months when Rommel was rebuilding Panzeramee Afrika after CRUSADER and preparing for his counteroffensive, 15 times as many troops moved by air as did by sea. Time and neccessity were the key, not X number of "effective combat troops" - they were essentially all critical replacements, no new units appeared duringthis time. Nor were "ten battalions of artillery shipped", get your mind out of your wargaming box. What were shipped were 121 guns, that included field and heavy artillery, light and heavy Flak, and light and heavy Pak, with few exceptions they were all replacements as well.

The sad truth is few complete combat units were shipped to North Africa in this period, they simply didn't have the shipping space (liners, freighters, warships, submarines, aircraft, whatever), the port space for loading in Italy, and the port space for unloading in Africa (especially that was close enough to the front to make a differance) to even maintain the status quo. Ramcke, Folgore, and 164. le.-Afrika-Division were all flown in, and they were the only "brigade-size" formations that appeared as new in Africa between February and December 1942.

Moving military units is labor intensive in the extreme, and ocean liners don't solve the problem. When I get around to it I'll post the SONNENBLUME convoys in their entirity, it's illuminating. Essentially, the Axis spent the better part of 7 weeks, all their available transport, all their available escort, and all their available aircraft, to move 5. le.-Division (a rump Panzer Division) and Ariete to Africa, about 22,000 men, 400 tanks, and about 1,800 vehicles. And it took over a dozen convoys to do it.
Again, for April, 1942, air transport provided independent transport for about 11 battalions and sea transport provided equipment for about 12 battalions.
In this case about half that was Ramcke, so I grant you 5 battalions of troops and some very like equipment. Otherwise you still miss the point, 21 times the number of men were moved by air as by sea. And the 143 guns were just that, guns.
Dead on! Where have you been hiding?
I know I'm dead on, that's what a lot of people have been trying to explain to you for days now. :D
And they'd have to be frigging idiots to load up escorting DD's with troops as claimed here. Aircraft allowed the difference. But - wow! - isn't that a lot of planes??? No - wait. Unless I'm mistaken, using 18 seats and 50% operati0nal aircraft, you could deliver this number of troops with just 41 total planes - including those in shops.
It's very dangerous to make assumptions based upon shaky data, please stop doing it. As I said, the early Italian attempts to get critical supplies to 10th Army in fall 1940 have little to do with later events. They used destroyers because they were what they had to try to get what they needed to the army, which was in sad shape because of Mussolini insisting they advance into Egypt, something they were nowhere near ready for (the adbance was effectively halted by a motor battalion, a RHA 18-pdr regiment and a regiment of Rolls Royce armored cars for gods sake).

So they weren't "frigging idiots" they were pretty reasonable and experienced commanders left with some unpalatable choices, among which were "do we leave an infantry army with inadequate antitank armament sitting out in a stinking desert or do we make some attempt to help them?" The Regia Marina tried to come through with a calculated risk, trying to get additional antitank batteries to Africa - and not to Tripoli where it would take weeks and consume thousands of gallons of gasoline - that was also a precious commodity - to get to the front.

BTW, DDs can be easily run down by cruisers and often can be outdistanced by even heavier shios, it all depends on the sea state and the relative size of the DD and cruiser. A larger ship in any kind of a seaway can make proportionately greater speed than a smaller ship, just ask the survivors of Scharnhorst what happened to their DDs. :)
But, without DD escort, they had to go to Tripoli. Makes perfect sense. So who are you? How do you know this? How do I subscribe to your magazine?
Yes, it makes perfect sense, but it still remains but a small element in the larger picture you keep missing. And I'm of the "intellectual bully ilk" (TM), you may regret getting to know me. :D I don't have a magazine, but go to dupuyinstitute.org if you want to see what I do.
As I said, anybody can try anything but that doesn't mean it's a guaranteed success as some here suggest. Transporting troops and supplies by DD does, indeed, look insane to us now (At least those of us who took the time to study it.).
You have a penchant for putting words into people mouths, nobody has made the suggestion that it was "guaranteed success." I'm not sure which is more fatuous though, the idea that it was a guaranteed success or your suggestion that one of the pretty smart people that have been posting here claimed that. Simply put, neccessity is never guaranteed success. And you may have taken some time to study it, but I doubt as much time as those who actually tried it did? In any case the idea of landing troops from warships has a long history, and it was a reasonable idea accepted by every naval power in the world at the time (again, I said it only looks insane to us today), it's just that it was superceded by more specialized amphibious assault ships and craft developed by more economically powerful (and much stronger maritime powers) than the Axis.
GREAT POST! Although I rather doubt the opposition will agree...
What opposition? :lol:
Can I ask your information source? You seem to surpass all of us combined.
KTB Panzerarmee Afrika, DAK, a big library, wide-ranging interests. And I have a passion for data rather than assumptions, I don't surpass anybody AFAIK, like I said I was just adding fuel to the fire.

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Post by Wargames » 01 Dec 2006 10:51

Jon G. wrote:
Like Andy, I haven't been able to find anything about the speed of the Espero and her sisters at the time of the engagement with the RN surface units. However, I do not consider that very relevant - indeed, I brought forward the example of the Espero to show that your claim that 'warships weren't used as transports' is wrong. Your assertion remains wrong, whether said warship could make 36 knots or only 30 while carrying cargo.
I don't think I ever said "warships weren't used as transports" as I'm well aware of the fuel cargos of the “DA BARBIANO” and “DI GIUSSANO” as well as Italian submarines being used as transports. But, if I said that, PLEASE POST IT so that I can apologize for that error on my part. Otherwise, feel free to post your apology for misquoting me.

Also, the speed of the Espero is not a classified secret. You can obtain her trial speed and actual sea speed on the internet(Although few actually reached this sea speed except in "dead calm" conditions.). The speed of the British 7th cruiser Division is not a classified secret either. Why you and Andy can't find it is anybody's guess but "some" might guess you're not trying very hard to find it.

Are you trying to tell me that there were no 'known and hurried' situations for the Axis in North Africa after June 1940?
No. Now make your point.
As for 'known and hurried', a convoy of merchant ships had left for Tripolis a few days prior to the Espero convoy - no losses were sustained, but the convoy took 10 days to unload its cargo at Tripolis.
Unless you wish to deny that Tenth Army didn't put in requests for reinforcements before invading Egypt that weren't hurriedly met by Mussolini, I don't see your point.
Or, are you trying to tell me, e silentio that since no DDs carrying troops & supplies were sunk after the Espero affair, you can conclude that this mode of transport was not used henceforth?
I didn't say anything about DD's being sunk carrying "troops and supplies". In fact, I even said Italian DD's could probably carry 30 tons of supplies and carrying troops was established by a previous post. What other inventions do you have that you wish to claim I said?

If you want to avoid your own created (i.e. "strawman") arguments, you'll have to actually stay within my arguments. Except for the Espero convoy, I don't see any evidence of artillery being transported by DD. Do you?

But I'll allow you to expand your argument if you desire. I don't see any evidence of DD's delivering tanks and trucks either. This should be an easy point for you to demonstrate, as you have "136 tanks" delivered by Italian warships to prove me wrong. Which DD delivered them?
E silentio reasoning is always problematic from a historical point of view, and at any rate the second Bragadin quote which I posted above disagrees flatly with your assertion, for according to that excerpt destroyers were indeed used post-October 1941 for transporting troops to North Africa. Bragadin could be wrong, of course. His book is not the bible, but you have to come up with something better than ignorance to disprove him.
Post -October, 1941 DD transportation of troops followed the sinkings of three Italian liners used as troop transports in September, 1941. Liners were withdrawn at that point. Your argument amounts to this: absent liners, DD's were used as the alternative. Absent transports, the Japanese also used DD's as the alternative. So what is your point? Do you want to claim it worked? Can DD's land and supply divisions? Because Gaudalcanal says they can't. All I see is a progression of desperation. DD's cannot land artillery, tanks, or meaningful amounts of supply. As I've stated repeatedly, you can attempt anything you want. The question is, can you get it successfully done? No one seems to want to answer the question. I don't see how DD's could transport a brigade or a division to North Africa no matter how many you had or how many trips they made. If you put bodies ashore without equipment, you don't have a brigade and you don't have a division. So far, no one has been able to show evidence of even a single battalion being landed (The Espero convoy failed).
In the meantime, I take consolation that your original points about the narrow applications of liners, tankers and cargo ships have been thoroughly disproved.
Too bad you had no part in it, right?
This statement of "thoroughly disproved" was based on the landings of two cargo ships. The fact that I accepted it does not mean there were two hundred such ships or even three. You seem to have an exaggerated concept of what amounts to "thoroughly disproved", but go ahead. I'll let you "thoroughly" disprove it. Name a third transport that landed fuel. If you can't, then you are dependent upon the information of others to make your case.

I eagerly await your reply.
Actually, and given overall losses on the North African convoy routes in the course of the war, I would be tempted to call the Espero's loss at least a qualified success, as I also wrote above. After all, the Ostro, the Zeffiro, the Pilo and the Missori all made it to their destination, for the price of one destroyer lost.
That defines the British interception as a qualified failure. According to your logic, Italy could afford to lose a DD on every convoy to North Africa and it would be a "qualified success". Why don't you tell us how many such "qualified success" convoys Italy could have run to North Africa before she ran out of DD's? The math isn't hard. Just count up her DD's.

I eagerly await your reply.
I agree with your evaluation of RichTO90's post, but I beg to differ on being labelled in 'opposition' to it. Rich has authoritatively shown how, and by which means, German troops were inserted into the North African theater in selected months in 1942. Just note that Rich's post only tells us how German troops made it to Africa; we still need to account for all those Italians as well
Off hand, I don't think you'll be able to use the transport of the Folgore and Superga Divisions as the example, since both were airlifted and specifically created for air transport. Your best case is the 1942 landing of the Centauro Division. So go for it. What DD's and cruisers landed the Centauro Division and when? If you don't know then you're just pretending to know and making an argument invented out of thin air. "Pretend evidence" doesn't carry much weight with me.

Once again, I eagerly await your reply - And I predict that others have to come to your aid.

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