air war malta

He landed in the midst of a raid although Lloyd had specifically requested he circle the harbour until it had passed. Only slight losses were suffered by the bombers. But the RAF preferred to credit its losses to the Germans, even though the Italians flew more fighter missions over the island, had almost as many fighters on Sicily (184) as the Germans in the whole Mediterranean (252) in November 1942, and seem to have been better pilots, losing one aircraft per 63 sorties, compared to a German loss rate of one per 42 sorties. [120] The Axis conducted 263 raids in that month, compared to 169 in December 1941. 261 and 274, were put under severe pressure. [31], By the start of July, the Gladiators had been reinforced by Hawker Hurricanes and the defences organised into No. They claimed that the Germans purposely flew in front of the Hurricanes in their Bf 109Fs to show off the performance superiority of their fighters. [132] The Germans had watched their delivery and pressed home heavy attacks. They flew to the French colony of Tunisia, but insecurity compelled them to seek friendlier surroundings. On 20 January, two near misses breached the hull below the water line and hurled her hull against the wharf. Ten Italian SM 79s had drawn off the carrier's Fairey Fulmar fighters while the escorting cruiser HMS Bonaventure sank the Italian torpedo boat Vega. The loss of this strategic point in the central Mediterranean would threaten the major supply routes to the British Army in North Africa and deprive the Royal Navy of a vital base. Royal Air Force Safi was a Royal Air Force maintenance base located on the island of Malta, which started life in 1941 as a diversion airstrip for the main operating bases such as nearby RAF Luqa. A War Damage Commission was set up to compensate those whose property was destroyed or damaged during the war. Baling out if the pilots ran low on fuel was the only alternative to landing on Malta. The Malta at War Museum showcases the ordeal of the people of Malta during the Blitz in World War II. To accept cookies from this site, please click the Allow Cookies button below. Axis forces in North Africa were denied around half of their supplies and two-thirds of their oil. Search. The print version of this textbook is ISBN: 9781783031818, 1783031816. [10] General Erwin Rommel, in de facto field command of Axis forces in North Africa, recognised its importance quickly. Air War, Malta, June: June 1940 To November 1942 Sutherland, Jon, Canwell, Diane. ‎This is the story of the historic air defense of Malta by the WRAF against the combined attacking forces of the Italian and German air forces. However, the wealth of information and anecdotes provides plenty of inspiration for projects; I … They chanced upon the light cruisers HMS Southampton and Gloucester. [182] On 11 and 17 August and 24 October 1942, under the respective actions, Operation Bellows, Operation Baritone and Operation Train, HMS Furious brought another 85 Spitfires to Malta. The capture of North African airfields and the bonus of having air protection all the way to the island enabled the ships to deliver 35,000 tons. [78] They were completed on 12 May. WorldCat Home About WorldCat Help. [157], In June, the Royal Navy sent two convoys, Operation Harpoon from Gibraltar and Operation Vigorous from Haifa and Port Said, to Malta. British air-raids from Malta on axis convoy ships on their way to North Africa helped the allies to win the war in North Africa. One Gladiator was shot down but the rest managed to shoot down several Italian aircraft. The three main runways were further extended during 1940 and 1941 and tarmaced in order to be able to handle the bombers; taxi-tracks, extensive dispersal areas and aircraft pens were also provided. In peacetime it was a way station along the British trade route to Egypt and the Suez Canal to India and the Far East. The Allied navies sank 773 Axis ships, totalling 1,364,337 t (1,342,789 long tons).

This is the story of the historic air defense of Malta by the WRAF against the combined attacking forces of the Italian and German air forces. … After that, ships sailed to Malta without joining convoys. They did not pass on the intelligence to the Admiralty, who probably would not have sailed within range of the Ju 87s if they had known. [40], The naval contest in the Mediterranean between the British and the Italian navies is generally considered to have been a draw. The island was poorly equipped when Italy declared war on Britain in June 1940 and its only defence against air attack at the outset of war were 34 heavy and 8 light anti-aircraft guns, one radar set and four Gladiator biplane fighters. Accordingly, the Luftwaffe redeployed the majority of its aircraft in Sicily. Not only did this preclude any large-scale naval operations, it also left the Italians without adequate fuel for combat training at sea. Three destroyers and 11 merchant vessels were also sunk. I., II., and III. May 28, 2018 - Explore Daniel Borg's board "Air War Malta" on Pinterest. Malta) was an overseas command of the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Second World War. An urgent supply convoy from Gibraltar to Alexandria (Operation Tiger) coincided with reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet, two small convoys from Egypt to Malta and 48 more Hurricanes flew off HMS Ark Royal and Furious in Operation Splice, with only the loss of the SS Empire Song, which hit a mine and sank with 10 Hurricane fighters and 57 tanks on board. On 13 January, the Ju 87s, now equipped with SC 1000 bombs failed to achieve a hit. 113 Squadron RAF and 115 Squadron) began to arrive[94] and Bristol Beaufighter units, 252 and 272 Squadrons. [185] On 16 October, it was clear to Kesselring that the defenders were too strong. 261 Squadron RAF in August. At Ta' Qali, 841 tons of bombs were dropped, because the Germans believed the British were operating an underground hangar; the Germans used rocket-assisted PC 18000RS Panther bombs. The island was poorly equipped when Italy declared war on Britain in June 1940 and its only defense against air attack at the outset of war were 34 heavy and 8 light antiaircraft guns, one radar set and four Gladiator biplane fighters. The damaging of the 7,889-ton German ship Duisburg was the only noteworthy attack. An MT boat hit St Elmo Bridge, which collapsed. See more ideas about malta, royal air force, ww2 aircraft. [165], In July, Hugh Lloyd was relieved of RAF command on Malta. The potential of the base was realised and Whitehall ordered further aircraft into the island; including Hurricane fighters, Martin Marylands, Sunderlands, Vickers Wellingtons, more Swordfish and submarines. They sank 37,000 long tons (38,000 t) of Italian shipping, half of which was claimed by one vessel, HMS Truant. Clothing was also hard to come by. Indeed, according to Sadkovich and others, to pretend that the air offensive against Malta had been a purely German affair is misleading. Two-thirds of the Italian merchant fleet was sunk; 25% by British submarines, 37% by Allied aircraft. II./StG 2 sent 43 Ju 87s with support from I./StG 1. [70], On 1 March, the Luftwaffe attacks on airfields destroyed all of the Wellingtons brought in in October. British air and sea forces based on the island could attack Axis ships transporting vital supplies and reinforcements from Europe; Churchill called the island an "unsinkable aircraft carrier". Owing to a shortage of torpedoes, enemy ships could not be attacked unless the target in question was a warship, tanker or other "significant vessel". [25] RAF and Royal Navy anti-shipping squadrons and submarines on Malta threatened the Axis supply line to North Africa and both sides recognised the importance of Malta in controlling the central Mediterranean. The strike force had considerable success, which justified basing it at Malta despite the danger from air attack. [71][72], The Allies had a success in April, with victory in the Battle of the Tarigo Convoy. Between 20 March and 28 April 1942, the Germans flew 11,819 sorties against the island and dropped 6,557 tons of bombs (3,150 tons on Valletta). Air combat over and near Malta was some of the most ferocious of the war, and a series … The island was poorly equipped when Italy declared war on Britain in June 1940 and its only defense against air attack at the outset of war were 34 heavy and… [126] He began the adoption of the loose finger-four formation in an attempt to cut RAF losses by introducing more flexible tactics to compensate for technical inferiority. [Diane Canwell; Jonathan Sutherland] Home. [84] III./Kampfgeschwader 30 (KG 30) and III./Lehrgeschwader 1 (KG 1) flew sporadic night attacks during April. Air War Malta: June 1940 to November 1942 eBook: Sutherland, Jon, Canwell, Diane: Kindle Store but five Hurricanes and five pilots were lost. Air war over Malta : the allies. Simpson to command the unit. Free delivery on qualified orders. Until U-class vessels could be made available in numbers, British T-class submarines were used. Ultra intercepted the Axis communications, and Wellingtons of 69 Squadron confirmed the Axis operation was real. Lloyd met Park and admonished him for taking an unnecessary risk.[166]. Jonathan Sutherland has written widely on historical subjects, in particular on military and aviation history, and has long been fascinated by the history of Norfolk and its military heritage. Join us on this fascinating tour as we explore the military history of Malta. No supplies were sent in August, but Operation Halberd in September 1941 brought in 85,000 tons of supplies, shipped by nine merchant vessels escorted by one aircraft carrier, five cruisers and 17 destroyers. [33], In 1938 Mussolini had considered an invasion of Malta under Plan DG10/42, in which a force of 40,000 men would capture the island. Royal Air Force Safi was a Royal Air Force maintenance base located on the island of Malta, which started life in 1941 as a diversion airstrip for the main operating bases such as nearby RAF Luqa. Supported by S- and T-class vessels, they dropped mines. Bomber units included 199 Junkers Ju 88s of II./Lehrgeschwader 1,[149] II and III./Kampfgeschwader 77,[150] I./Kampfgeschwader 54,[151] and 32–40 Ju 87s. For other uses, see, Radius of action of Allied aircraft operating from Malta in relation to Axis shipping routes, summer and autumn, 1941, sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFde_Zeng2007 (, Military history of Gibraltar during World War II, Military history of the British Commonwealth in the Second World War, "The Consummate Diplomat Wants Malta on the Map", "BBC – WW2 People's War – MALTA – WORLD WAR II", "War Damage Commission decision deemed unjust", "Lo sviluppo della Pesca meccanizzata sambenedettese", Malta Command 1930 – 1945 at, Combat History of the Supermarine Spitfire – The Defence of Malta (1942), The Air Battle of Malta, 1940–1942 (HMSO 1944), Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, Rape during the Soviet occupation of Poland, British Empire battles of the Second World War, Japanese occupation of the Andaman Islands, Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs,, World War II campaigns of the Mediterranean Theatre, Battles and operations of World War II involving Italy, Battles and operations of World War II involving the United Kingdom, Aerial operations and battles of World War II involving Germany, Battles of World War II involving Australia, Battles of World War II involving New Zealand, Battles and operations of World War II involving South Africa, Military history of the British Empire and Commonwealth in World War II, Articles with unsourced statements from November 2014, Articles with minor POV problems from October 2020, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, 716 fighters over the course of the campaign, This page was last edited on 21 December 2020, at 17:41. Air War Malta: June 1940 to November 1942 by Diane Canwell English | May 1, 2009 | ISBN: 1844157407 | 208 pages | EPUB | 4.23 Mb [74] The destroyers sank Sabaudia (1,500 tons), Aegina (2,447 tons), Adana (4,205 tons), Isetlhon (3,704 tons) and Arta. The reluctance of the Italian Admiralty to act was also due to other considerations. [22] With the British home islands in danger, the defence of Malta was not the priority and it was lightly protected. Most aircraft were clustered together on open runways, presenting tempting targets. They then began a counter-offensive and drove the British back into Egypt. For Malta, the Second World War started when fascist Italy invaded France on June 10, 1940. Lloyd himself said, "a few bombs on Kalafrana in the summer of 1941 would have ruined any hope of Malta ever operating an air force". The port facilities could unload six ships at a time, making the port the best facility west of Alexandria, 1,600 km (990 mi) to the east. [105] Joint operations with the RAF were so effective that during November 1941, Axis fuel losses amounted to 49,365 tons out of 79,208 tons. He was able to gain the ascendancy in North Africa once again. : Air war in the Med; Abstract: This publication brings together a … [88], Usually, the protection of air defences and naval assets on the island would have had priority. [136], Along with the advantage in the air, the Germans soon discovered that British submarines were operating from Manoel Island, not Grand Harbour, and exploited their air superiority to eliminate the threat. It had played the key role in the Battle of Taranto, handing naval supremacy to the British, hence it became top of the Axis' target list. This is the story of the historic air defense of Malta by the WRAF against the combined attacking forces of the Italian and German air forces. It confirmed to the Maltese people that the British still controlled the seas, if not from the Grand Harbour. The single engine-repair facility on Malta was located right next to the only test benches. This website requires cookies to provide all of its features. The destroyers HMS Jackal, Kashmir, Kipling, Kelly, Kelvin and Jersey were a part of Mountbatten's fleet. The Axis organised a convoy to relieve the difficulties. 126—were formed and the defenders received the first cannon-armed Hurricane Mk IICs. Bristol Blenheim bombers also joined the defenders and began offensive operations.[95]. Mussolini also expected Francoist Spain to join the Axis and capture Gibraltar, which would close the Mediterranean to the British from the west. [27] Later, 10 Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79s and 20 Macchi C.200s flew over the island, with no air opposition. (1988). [86] When he arrived on the island Lloyd found little to work with. [37] On the other hand, British confidence was eroded when aircraft began to dominate the actions at sea later on in 1941 and 1942, as the Royal Navy had long been expected to be the principal defender of the island. [35], By the year's end, the RAF claimed 45 Italian aircraft had been shot down. Even technical staff, clerks and flight crews helped when required. Only then did the surface fleets return to Malta to support the offensive. After the battles of May and June, the air attacks were much reduced in August and September. Among the British losses was the cruiser HMS Hermione. The island was poorly equipped when Italy declared war on Britain in June 1940 and its only defense against air attack at the outset of war were 34 heavy and 8 light antiaircraft guns, one … This would have been followed by a seaborne landing of two or three divisions protected by the Regia Marina. [citation needed] Another factor was the lack of crude oil (the Italians did not discover the large reserves in Libya during their occupation of the country). On 6 December, another supply convoy under the codename Operation Portcullis reached Malta without suffering any losses. [75], The flotilla had been officially formed on 8 April 1941, in response to the need for a Malta Strike Force. [66] The Allied pilots on Malta had little combat experience and their Hawker Hurricanes were worn-out and for four months, JG 26 had few losses. [122], One-third of all raids were directed against airfields. All refuelling had to be done by hand from individual drums. The gentleman who showed us round had a passion for the the air raid centre and showed us interesting artefacts, and was very informative. In early December, another 55,000 tons arrived. On 23 January, she slipped out of Grand Harbour, and arrived in Alexandria two days later. [5], Despite the absence of any operational airfields, at least one RAF Gladiator flew against a raid of 55 Savoia Marchetti SM 79 and their 20 escorting fighters on 11 June. The ship was sunk by an attack led by Gibbs. Only six obsolete Gloster Sea Gladiator biplanes were stationed on the island, with another six in crates when, on 10 June 1940, Mussolini declared war on the United Kingdom and France. [183] Often, the Spitfires were asked to undertake flights of five and a half hours; this was achieved using 170-gallon ferry tanks. At the Malta Aviation Museum, we discuss the air war over Malta and see a preserved Hawker Hurricane IIa and a later Supermarine Spitfire IX. In November 1940, after months of poorly coordinated Italian air strikes, the FAA and Royal Navy struck at Italian naval forces in the Battle of Taranto, a victory for sea-air power and definite proof that aircraft could wreak havoc on naval vessels without air cover. The first was Erwin Rommel. The move was designed to split Axis naval forces attempting to intervene. The Luftwaffe (German Air Force) and the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Royal Air Force) flew a total of 3,000 bombing raids, dropping 6,700 tons of bombs on the Grand Harbour area alone,[11] over a period of two years in an effort to destroy RAF defences and the ports. The navies and air forces shared in the destruction of 25 ships for 106,050 tons and aircraft sank 1,326 ships, for a total of 1,466,208 tons. It was one of the few German tankers exporting oil from Romania. The shelter was also inadequate, so there was little protection for what equipment they did have. Supply issues were bad, the small German force left was forced to abandon operations on 22 April 1941. Then, USS Wasp despatched 47 more aircraft (Operation Calendar) on 13 April 1942. Valetta was virtuall Maintenance was difficult. [76], Further success was had by the Malta Convoys. Read reviews from world’s largest community for readers. At El Alamein in North Africa the British had broken through on land, and by 5 November were advancing rapidly westward. By Oct. 1942 the Axis air forces lost the battle for Malta. The carrier later sailed to America where she was kept out of action for a year. On 10 January, he could muster 255 (179 serviceable) aircraft including 209 dive and medium bombers. By the start of the first German operation, Geisler had 95 aircraft and 14,389 men in Sicily. The Germans launched Operation Sonnenblume, which reinforced the Italians in North Africa. Soldiers’ rations were also reduced, from four to two thousand calories a day and the British prepared to supply the island with two convoy operations. [60] Within sight of Malta, Italian torpedo bombers also attacked the carrier, but were driven off by intense anti-aircraft fire. At Kalafrana, all the buildings were close together and above ground. [139] The effectiveness of the air attacks against Allied naval assets was apparent in the Italian naval records. All WWI Books; By Battle/Area . [32], An odd development took place on 19 June. [101] 38 Squadron, 40 Squadron and 104 Squadron, equipped with Wellington bombers, hit Axis convoys in Tripoli. [119] In January the RAF lost 50 Hurricanes on the ground and another eight shot down in combat. [23][24], Upon declaring war, Mussolini called for an offensive throughout the Mediterranean and within hours, the first bombs had dropped on Malta. Occasionally, 12 Hurricanes were flown in from British carriers but the replacements were soon used up. [15], Malta is 27 km × 14 km (17 mi × 9 mi) with area of just under 250 km2 (97 sq mi). [174] The Chief of Staff of the DAK, Fritz Bayerlein once claimed: "We should have taken Alexandria and reached the Suez Canal had it not been for the work of your submarines". The workers capitulated but instituted a go-slow, trebling the cost of the work.

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