LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

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Carl Schwamberger
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Re: LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 17 Mar 2021 05:12

Richard Anderson wrote:
17 Mar 2021 03:43
:lol: I developed an unhealthy fascination with Malta three years or so ago over one of these endless what if exercises. Plus, with a bit of luck I'll be spending a day there in September.
Pictures or it didn't happen.

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Re: LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

Post by Peter89 » 17 Mar 2021 07:07

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
17 Mar 2021 05:12
Richard Anderson wrote:
17 Mar 2021 03:43
:lol: I developed an unhealthy fascination with Malta three years or so ago over one of these endless what if exercises. Plus, with a bit of luck I'll be spending a day there in September.
Pictures or it didn't happen.
I'm just fascinated with this one day trip to Malta from the US. Was he to pick Mallorca, we might even meet for a copa de sangria!
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

Post by Richard Anderson » 17 Mar 2021 07:19

Peter89 wrote:
17 Mar 2021 07:07
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
17 Mar 2021 05:12
Richard Anderson wrote:
17 Mar 2021 03:43
:lol: I developed an unhealthy fascination with Malta three years or so ago over one of these endless what if exercises. Plus, with a bit of luck I'll be spending a day there in September.
Pictures or it didn't happen.
I'm just fascinated with this one day trip to Malta from the US. Was he to pick Mallorca, we might even meet for a copa de sangria!
Its a 24-day cruise out of Venezia, we have a day in Valleta and a day in Gozo...as well as a day in Chania.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

Post by Peter89 » 17 Mar 2021 08:18

Richard Anderson wrote:
17 Mar 2021 07:19
Peter89 wrote:
17 Mar 2021 07:07
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
17 Mar 2021 05:12
Richard Anderson wrote:
17 Mar 2021 03:43
:lol: I developed an unhealthy fascination with Malta three years or so ago over one of these endless what if exercises. Plus, with a bit of luck I'll be spending a day there in September.
Pictures or it didn't happen.
I'm just fascinated with this one day trip to Malta from the US. Was he to pick Mallorca, we might even meet for a copa de sangria!
Its a 24-day cruise out of Venezia, we have a day in Valleta and a day in Gozo...as well as a day in Chania.
The northern Adriatic is beautiful. Lived there for a few months, and I still think it was the best scenery I've ever seen around the Mediterranean, and God knows I've traveled its northern coast from Thessaloniki to Barcelona.

Image
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

Post by Richard Anderson » 17 Mar 2021 16:07

Indeed. This will be our third cruise out of Venezia (also one out of Civatavecchia). Split, Dubrovnik, Kotor, and Corfu have been ports of call.
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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 26 Jan 2022 03:50

Was there any plan to land on Gozo? Seems easier and that taking that island makes Malta hard to defend and/or impossible to operate from.
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Re: LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

Post by EwenS » 26 Jan 2022 10:13

Landing on Gozo was an integral part of Operation C3/Herkules in 1942. Planned for D-Day. There is a map of the planned landings in this paper.
https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/1003811.pdf

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Re: LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 Jan 2022 14:12

EwenS wrote:
26 Jan 2022 10:13
Landing on Gozo was an integral part of Operation C3/Herkules in 1942. Planned for D-Day. There is a map of the planned landings in this paper.
https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/1003811.pdf
The landing on Gozo is aimed at the north coast & a area where there is the only appreciable beach I could spot on other maps. Maybe there are others, but the very few I could see were tiny & had a scattering of boulders on and off shore. The cove the landing is aimed at has in this century a tiny boat basin. Google Earth shows either some fishing boats or small recreational boats within. The shore of the cove is strewn with boulders. There are a few other small sheltered spots with a few small boats docked or beached. None of those have a dock suitable for freight ships. On the SE coast is a small harbor with a breakwater and a ferry dock. The rest of the coast is either cliffs or rock strewn with boulders and what appears to be fractured rock face.

Nowhere can I find evidence of a airfield existing circa 1940-1942. No remnants visible on Google Earth Nothing in the map I have from 1942. A brief history of th island states a airfield was proposed after year 1990 but no actions was taken. Perhaps there is evidence of one elsewhere.

What it looks like any landing force will be supplied across a beach until a dock and other accoutrements can be built. It also appears a airfield would have to be built from scratch. Shelter and local food supply are also problematic. Gozo is described as "agricultural" but the size of the island & portion of cultivated land is not large. There is a lot of rock, so if you bring the equipment to gather sort, transport, and place it ballast & sub pavement for a airfield is at hand.

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Re: LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 26 Jan 2022 14:21

EwenS wrote:
26 Jan 2022 10:13
Landing on Gozo was an integral part of Operation C3/Herkules in 1942. Planned for D-Day. There is a map of the planned landings in this paper.
https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/1003811.pdf
Thank you for that document, much appreciated.

Some versions of Malta planning omitted a Gozo element. Even when included, it seems a minor element.

Image

My question regards a plan focused only on Gozo and neighboring Comino as a method of tight siege warfare and/or as a preliminary step to a follow-on assault on the main island. Was something like this ever considered?

Siege warfare from Gozo (and Comino) has several possible benefits. It would allow operating light naval forces from small harbors and bays. This could, inter alia, prevent/diminish the sweeping of mines from around Grand and Marsaxlokk Harbors, impeding the island's ability to receive supplies even by submarine. On Gozo you'd establish at least forward operating airfields to intercept patrols and to recover aircraft damaged while operating over Malta. Gozo airfields would extend dwell time for Sicily-based fighters conducting patrols over Malta as cover for light naval forces and to suppress the RAF.

Heavy German field guns like the 17cm K18 (ranged 18mi) could cover the entire main island from Comino:

Image

...that makes the harbors practically unusable and consistently shelling Valetta and other towns increases willingness to surrender (probably destroys stores like foodstuffs as well). Malta has fairly powerful artillery as well but in a sustained siege from Gozo/Comino it's going to be impossible to match Axis ammo supply.

A tight siege strategy requires maintaining air/sea superiority around Malta to maintain Gozo/Comino but that's probably doable, at least through May '42 if LW diversions to the Eastern Front and Afrika Korps are as in OTL. If the siege is going well and Malta looks on the verge of surrender by late spring, then refuse Rommel his OTL LW reinforcements and stop him at the Egyptian border (probably the right thing anyway).

Given the weak forces deemed necessary for taking Gozo (3,000 troops in the largest plan vs. 70,000 on Malta), could the Axis have taken the island in early '42 with existing assets (and with OTL air/sea superiority in the area)? Even if it take 10,000 troops to conquer Gozo, this seems both within Axis capabilities and justified by strategic benefit.

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If an assault on the main island becomes necessary or desirable, Gozo/Comino are excellent platforms for it. Stack up artillery instead of massed naval gunfire support, rely less on expensive ship-to-shore assault and more on cheap shore-to-shore craft (Pioneerelandungsboote). Field howitzers and even mortars on Gozo/Comino probably make the northern ~third of the island - up to the Victoria defense line - indefensible. Once you've taken that portion of the island, the siege of harbors and towns is even tighter and more deadly, probably obviating the need for a final assault and for high-casualty airborne ops.

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It seems highly unlikely that a smallish initial force on Gozo could be successfully counterattacked from Malta. In early '42, Axis was able to create air/sea superiority around Malta at will, though with frequency/endurance subject to resource constraints (fuel). A week of sustained Axis air/sea activity around Malta seems sufficient to ensure that whatever amphibious ability existed from Malta (can't imagine it being much) could not have been deployed on a timeline sufficient to interrupt the buildup of Gozo/Comino's defenses.

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These comments assume that Axis assessments of the strength needed to take Gozo were within an order of magnitude, given the British defenses there (of which I know nothing).
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Re: LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

Post by EwenS » 26 Jan 2022 14:42

The only airfield built on Gozo was Ta Lambert / Xewkija which was built by US Army engineers in June 1943 and used for only a short period before the war moved on into Sicily & Italy.
https://www.forgottenairfields.com/airf ... t-386.html

It looks to me like the modern heliport was built on or very close to the airfield site.

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Re: LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 26 Jan 2022 14:46

Carl Schwamberger wrote:The landing on Gozo is aimed at the north coast & a area where there is the only appreciable beach I could spot on other maps.
Indeed, I don't see any other real beaches on Google Earth. In Ewen's link's plan schematic, is there an air drop on Gozo? Can't tell. Seems like that would be possible, were Gozo the main effort as part of a siege strategy rather than C3/Herkules's coup de main. The fairly large concentration of naval gunfire support, if concentrated against Gozo AAA, probably could have suppressed a good deal of it (if the Italians were remotely competent at NGFS, of which I'm unsure).
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Re: LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

Post by Urmel » 26 Jan 2022 15:16

Gozo is a non-location. Occupying it serves nothing either way. There also isn't a proper port that would enable you to supply a major force on the island.

What this has to do with the original topic is beyond me.
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Re: LW transport fleet - losses, operations, stock, production

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 26 Jan 2022 15:28

Urmel wrote:
26 Jan 2022 15:16
Gozo is a non-location. Occupying it serves nothing either way. There also isn't a proper port that would enable you to supply a major force on the island.

What this has to do with the original topic is beyond me.
In warmaking-potential terms Malta is a non-location besides its actual location. Gozo's location abutting Malta's location is its value.

You don't need a "major force," only a tight-siege base for artillery, advanced operating/recovery airfields, and a garrison sufficient to withstand whatever small counterattack - if any - might be launched from Malta.

Mgarr harbor on its south coast is sufficient for shallow-draft boats; the one beach can take MFP/MZ/Siebel supplies; several small harbors could probably be jerry-rigged for offloading as well. The British had artillery there, which got there somehow.

I don't see how Malta's airfields and harbors could operate under shelling from Gozo/Comino. That's the point. Malta feasibly remains suppressed even after the LW pulls forces after May, once the siege base is established.

The thread has long jumped the topic. I may start a separate.one anyway.

EDIT: new thread
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