jwsleser wrote: ↑
15 Nov 2018 16:25
Lift of the paracadutisti. Yes, all can be carried in one lift. The primary aircraft was the SM81. 1,000 paratroopers can be carried by ~85-90 aircraft. Over 500 are in the inventory in 1940. I only mentioned the SM82 as they were coming available in 1940 and could carry more. I have about 50 SM82 available in the summer of 1940, but that is from sources I have not validated and might not be correct.
I guess I'm getting confused, but where are these aircraft? As of 10 June 1940, the Servizi Aerei Speciali consisted of 8 SM.83, 12 SM.82, 13 SM.75, 3 S.74, and 13 S.73, plus the militarized aircraft and personnel of Italy's three air lines, 10 SM. 83, 8 G.18, 1 G.12, 1 DC-2, 6 C.94, 4 C.100, 4 Ju52/3m, 4 Cant.Z.506/C, and 1 Ro.10, a total of 88 aircraft of various types. SM.81 was a bomber I thought?
Fort Campbell. We can agree to disagree. The vulnerability of the fort in my opinion is not necessarily its construction (but it does have weaknesses), but its location and the fact it is one of a very few critical targets. It would be a main target during the prep and landings for the reasons mentioned here, and there are very few other critical targets competing for those same resources. It is easy to identify from both the air or sea, hence an easy target to TRY to hit. If the naval bombardment does nothing else, taking out Fort Campbell is important.
Actually, no Fort Campbell was specifically designed for minimum vulnerability to naval gunfire and for minimum visibility from sea and air. It is relatively easy to see today, because none of its active camouflage is present, no netting scree, and much of its painted passive camouflage is gone as well, so only its passive camouflage, its construction material and setting are present. Its vulnerability to naval gunfire is due to its height above water, glacis, and barbette mounting; any flat-trajectory round from the sea is likely to hit short and do no damage or graze and then explode beyond the gun pit...high angle plunging fire - the most difficult for a naval vessel to achieve accurately.
Visibility in terms of air bombardment would be as bad if netting was in place, since the battery positions then would blend into the hillside. In that case, extreme accuracy was needed, or large numbers of pattern bombing in order to achieve a direct hit doing damage to the gun, which meant, almost quite literally, a bomb striking and exploding on the gun (large guns are very resilient to fragment and blast damage. Again, the experience of the much more numerous and intense Allied operations versus similar defenses in Normandy tends to demonstrate just how sanguine the Italian expectations probably were.
I am also unclear where the 500 (or 300) bombers intended to execute the 5-day prep were to come from? The 2d Air Corps (Squadra Aerea) 3d Bomb Division and 11th Bomb Brigade (Brigata Aerea) in Sicily only had 147 SM.79 as of 10 June 1940 and its 96° Gruppo Tuffatori were converting to Ju 87, so were not available until later in September. Adding the 4th Air Division from Novaro (97 B.R.20) 5th Air Division from Viterbo (88 SM.79), and 6th Air Division from Padova (27 B.R. 20 and 4 Cant.Z.1007) gets 363, but did they really plan on massing all their Metro air assets in Sicily? Were there sufficient airfield space and facilities there? Otherwise, the commitment of the units in North Africa (27 SM. 81 and 96 SM.79) appears to get the numbers up to - possibly - 486, but 500 seems unobtainable for the R.A.? Otherwise, the Italians would have to strip units from Albania and Sardinia, which seems unlikely. And, yes, I am aware that new aircraft were arriving, but the pace of build-up was woefully inadequate.
Overall, I think that your figure of 300 is possible, but only by a massive concentration of aircraft into the available air bases.
I am unclear about the 18pdrs. How many were on the island, where were they located and how were their positions designed? The term anti-boat has a significant meaning, which implies the sites have limitations. Positioning guns for direct-fire/anti-boat/anti-armor work is not ideal for using these same guns as general support artillery. It also implies individual placement, which then requires extensive communications and centralized fire control to mass effective indirect fire. So I am getting mixed messages on the purpose and associated placement of the 18pdrs.
Well, we know that at least four were already on Malta, the Saluting Battery at Valletta. Those four were removed early on and placed as part of the "beach defenses". I am still trying to track down the origin of the figure of "60" 18-pdrs, but a large number were part of the reinforcement sent in 1939, which included the personnel of the soon to be misnamed 26th "Antitank" Regiment RA. It was split and provided trained personnel to man the 18-pdr "beach guns", and the "mobile guns" present, the 12-pdr 20cwt battery, the 3.7" howitzer battery, and the 6" howitzer battery. If we assume the "60" figure is correct, then the logical places for them are the Northern Brigade Sector, which was assessed as the greatest landing threat, and then the Marsaxlokk Sector, which unlike Valetta was not protected by the 6-pdr batteries and other weapons (including all 8 of the Bofors present until a few were relocated to the airfields). Given the relative threat I would guess probably a 40:20 or 35:25 split. And yes, all would likely be sited as direct fire, in field fortifications, sometimes integrated into the existing pill boxes, covering likely landing spots and sea approaches.
I am sorry if I gave the impression I expected the 18-pdrs to be part of an effective indirect fire plan, the existing "mobile" 12-pdr 20cwt battery, the 3.7" howitzer battery, the 6" battery, the fixed 6-inch and 9.2-inch batteries, and the "emergency" 4" and 4.7" guns would have that role.
To compare the actual Italian summer 1940 bombing campaign with its limited objective and resources to what the Italians would do if they decided to tackle the invasion is truly a stretch. It is quite possible that an actual 1940 invasion air campaign will be just as ineffective as the historical bombing campaign, but with the increased resources and the clear objectives, the results will likely be better. How much better, I don't know. If the R.A. can interfere with UK troop movements during the actual landings, then that is a very good plus.
I agree, just given the extensive wartime and postwar ordnance studies on bombing effects done at Aberdeen, I suspect the Italian expectations for the results of the 5-day prep were a tad over-enthusiastic and would likely be as ineffective as the historical bombing campaign.
I will once again note that the Italian invasion was based on mass, not finesse. Get enough stuff ashore and the garrison will lose. A comment was made that the 5 day prep might give away the main landing area. The 1940 plan was to land at multiple locations. Strip other sites of their defenders and success can be had at those locations. 38 motobragozzi were held in immediate reserve to support success.