No, no, the forces trained for Malta were much, much stronger than those against Crete. Everything was improved; equipment, parachute harness, individual weapon containers, doctrine (integrated training), weaponry, etc. Also, the OKW and the Commando Supremo did not believe it anymore that any infantry division would do for air landing, though they couldn't spare enough Ju-52s for air assault practice in large formations.daveshoup2MD wrote: ↑15 Mar 2021 06:46Thanks for a very interesting post; so, was the German parachute troop element envisaged for Malta in 1942 basically a couple of battalions/light regiment, then, at most?
And, presumably, capabilities were even less by the end of the year (1942, I mean)?
At the planning of Operation Herkules, the German paratroopers were to be 4 regiments (of which 2 were veterans). The Italian forces - 185th Division Folgore and 80th Division La Spezia were brought up to high standards by Ramcke. The La Spezia was to be an air landing force.
At that point, in the summer of 1942, the air assault and air landing capacity of the Axis was at its top height. Tunisgrad still did not happen, and many Ju-52 units became familiar with airlift operations, some of them were survivors of Crete or previous airborne missions, so they had some experience. Also the Italian units had some jumping experience, because they've jumped on Cephalonia in the spring of 1941.
After Tunisgrad, nothing is certain anymore, the number of Ju-52s doesn't tell much, the paratroopers were distributed as regular infantry, and only shattered remnants of experienced units remained. The concentration of forces, equipment, experience and tactical knowledge was the best in the summer of 1942.