air war malta

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. They sank 37,000 long tons (38,000 t) of Italian shipping, half of which was claimed by one vessel, HMS Truant. The methods would have great effect in October when Kesselring returned. [31] On 12 June an Italian aircraft on a reconnaissance flight over Malta was shot down. [138] By the end of March 1942, 19 submarines had been lost. The siege was finally raised on 20 November 1942.This book follows the island’s wartime history, describing the heavily outnumbered WRAF defense against the many air-raids and how the small bomber force took the battle to Italian shores. Gibbs's Beauforts sank two ships and one of Simpson's submarines sank a third. On 6 December, another supply convoy under the codename Operation Portcullis reached Malta without suffering any losses. [69] The RAF Hurricanes were kept operational by being patched up and cannibalised and their performance, already inferior to the Bf 109E-7, deteriorated. [101] 38 Squadron, 40 Squadron and 104 Squadron, equipped with Wellington bombers, hit Axis convoys in Tripoli. It accounted for one Italian submarine, nine merchant vessels and one motor torpedo boat (MTB). It envisaged an airborne assault with one German and one Italian airborne division, under the command of German General Kurt Student. [152][153] However, in May the numerical and technical improvements in the RAF defences wrested air superiority from the Luftwaffe. The diversion of the North African Campaign drew away significant Italian air units which were rushed from Italy and Sicily to deal with the disasters and support the Italian ground forces embattled in Egypt and Libya. [127] However, the Hurricanes did record occasional victories against the Bf 109Fs, during one attack in February 1942 only three managed to break up a raid by fifty Bf 109s. 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. From 11 April – 10 May, 111 Axis raids were carried out against military installations on Malta. Witnessed by Andrew Cunningham, C-in-C of the Fleet from the battleship HMS Warspite, the Ju 87s scored six hits. Two-thirds of the Italian merchant fleet was sunk; 25% by British submarines, 37% by Allied aircraft. [112], While Italian bombing was again proving successful against the British, the Luftwaffe returned in force in December 1941 to renew intensive bombing. The reluctance of the Italians to act directly against Malta throughout 1940 was strengthened by the Battle of Taranto, in which much of the Italian surface fleet was put out of action by Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm torpedo bombers. [27] Later, 10 Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79s and 20 Macchi C.200s flew over the island, with no air opposition. Both the British and Italian navies digested their experiences over Taranto and Malta. Days later, he ordered the Ju 87 gruppen to sink the new carrier HMS Illustrious. Besides preparing for offensive operations and reinforcing the RAF on the island, Lloyd also rectified many of the deficiencies. Dec 24, 2019 - Explore Ian Brandt's board "Air War over Malta" on Pinterest. The situation on the island was still stringent going into November, but Park's victory in the air battle was soon followed by news of a major success at the front. The Italian destroyers Tarigo, Lampo and Baleno were sunk for the loss of Mohawk. [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. Indeed, according to Sadkovich and others, to pretend that the air offensive against Malta had been a purely German affair is misleading.

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. The island was poorly equipped when Italy declared war on Britain in June 1940 and its only defense against air To the Italians (and later the Germans), air power was the key weapon against Malta. The Admiralty had to protect the Suez Canal with the Mediterranean Fleet (Admiral Andrew Cunningham) and Gibraltar with Force H (Vice-Admiral James Somerville). 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. Day 3 - Malta in WW2: Air War over Malta . Search. On 25 October, three tankers and one cargo ship carrying fuel and ammunition were sent under heavy air and sea escort, and were likely to be the last ships to reach Rommel while he was at El Alamein. It was attacked from the sea and from the air. The British Operation Excess was launched, which included a series of convoy operations by the British across the Mediterranean Sea. The destroyer HMS Kandahar was also mined while attempting to assist Neptune. [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. The extent to which the success in North Africa benefited Malta was apparent when a convoy (Operation Stoneage) reached Malta from Alexandria on 20 November virtually unscathed. 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… The Malta at War Museum showcases the ordeal of the people of Malta during the Blitz in World War II. One particular target was aircraft carriers. The situation in North Africa required German air support, so the October offensive marked the last major effort by the Luftwaffe against Malta. 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". Synopsis 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. [32], An odd development took place on 19 June. A Stabsstaffel of Sturzkampfgeschwader 3 (StG 3) arrived. In … The last air raid over Malta occurred on 20 July 1943. A further 16 Malta-based pilots were lost in the operations.[160]. [12] Success would have made possible a combined German–Italian amphibious landing (Operation Herkules) supported by German airborne forces (Fallschirmjäger), but this did not happen. Day 3 - Malta in WW2: Air War over Malta Today, we start our study of Malta in the Second World War by looking at the role of the British Army’s Malta Garrison troops, in particular, the Royal Artillery in the anti-aircraft role as they defended both the island and its marine assets as the ‘Siege of Malta’ began in earnest in June 1940. At El Alamein in North Africa the British had broken through on land, and by 5 November were advancing rapidly westward. [180] The British air-submarine offensive ensured no fuel reached North Africa in the first week of October 1942. [20], Despite concerns that the island, far from Britain and close to Italy, could not be defended, the British decided in July 1939 to increase the number of anti-aircraft guns and fighter aircraft on Malta. Malta was a military and naval fortress, being the only Allied base between Gibraltar and Alexandria, Egypt. From June 1940 to November 1942, the fight for the control of the strategically important island of the British Crown Colony of Malta pitted the air forces and navies of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany against the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy. On 6 October Geisler did extend his air sector responsibilities to cover the Tripoli-Naples sea route to curtail losses. In the event, Allied convoys were able to supply and reinforce Malta, while the RAF defended its airspace, though at great cost in materiel and lives. Even so, he was soon back in Egypt fighting at El Alamein. The first air … Download Air War Malta books, 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. Underground shelters were also created in the belief that the Luftwaffe would soon return. The first was I./Sturzkampfgeschwader 1 and II./Sturzkampfgeschwader 2 (I and II Group Dive Bomber Wings 1 and 2). Air War Malta: June 1940 to November 1942: Canwell, Diane, Sutherland, Jon: Amazon.sg: Books. [177][178], In August, Malta's strike forces had contributed to the Axis' difficulties in trying to force an advance into Egypt. 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 -ilQuotidiano.it", Malta Command 1930 – 1945 at www.BritishMilitaryHistory.co.uk, 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, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Siege_of_Malta_(World_War_II)&oldid=995551115, 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. [89], With the exception of coal, fodder, kerosene and essential civilian supplies were such that a reserve of 8–15 months was built up. 6. JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. Around 60 bombers and 120 Hurricanes were now available. Home; Air War Malta × 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. In August, the Operation Pedestal convoy brought vital relief to the besieged island, but at heavy cost. [175], Wing Commander Patrick Gibbs and 39 Squadron, flew their Beauforts against shipping and increased the pressure on Rommel by attacking his supply lines in September. Furthermore, the airfields were too small; there was no heavy equipment to work with; and even the commonest sorts of tools, such as hammers and wrenches, were all but impossible to find. 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. Eventually, 2,000 miners and stonemasons were recruited to build public shelters but the pay was poor and the miners threatened to strike, and were threatened with conscription into the army. [176] Of the nine ships sent, five were sunk by Malta's forces. Now, with improved radar and quicker take off times (two to three minutes) and improved air-sea rescue, more offensive action became possible. [169] The year 1942 was particularly impressive for offensive operations as well. By May 1943 all North Africa was in won back by the allies. In early December, another 55,000 tons arrived. [123], Dobbie and the British naval and air commanders argued for modern aircraft, particularly Spitfires, to be sent to Malta. 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. Three destroyers and 11 merchant vessels were also sunk. 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. The RAF Malta Command would then dispatch the ASV-Wellingtons to sweep the seas and direct the British naval forces to the convoy. Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube. Air and sea forces based in Malta quickly went on the offensive and sunk 230 Axis ships in 164 days, the highest Allied sinking rate of the war. [86] When he arrived on the island Lloyd found little to work with. Some 10 Ju 87s attacked the carrier unopposed. [31], By the start of July, the Gladiators had been reinforced by Hawker Hurricanes and the defences organised into No. In reality, Cunningham gave Simpson and his unit a free hand. Air War Malta: June 1940 to November 1942 View larger image . Owing to its exposed position close to Italy, the British had moved the headquarters of the Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet from Valletta, Malta in the mid-1930s to Alexandria in October 1939. The strategic importance of the Allied-controlled island was magnified after the North African front opened in 1940, providing the Allies with an excellent staging platform from which to attack naval, land, and air targets in the central Mediterranean. Bristol Blenheim bombers also joined the defenders and began offensive operations.[95]. The first was Erwin Rommel. [95] In September, 33% of the 96,000 tons of supplies dispatched were lost to British submarine and air attack. Their success was not easy to achieve, given most of them were the slow U-class types. British submarine commanders became aces while operating from Malta. Air war over Malta : the allies. The book is thoroughly researched, well organised and deeply engaging. 148 Squadron RAF. [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. Rommel lost 44% of his supplies on October, a jump from the 20% lost in September. After the French surrender on 25 June, Mussolini tried to exploit the situation, conducting Operazione E the Italian invasion of Egypt in September. [164] According to Sadkovich. This formation was to interdict Axis convoys. [134] By March–April 1942, it was clear the Luftwaffe had achieved a measure of air superiority. By early May 1941, the Luftwaffe had flown 1,465 bomber, 1,144 fighter and 132 reconnaissance missions for just 44 losses. No interception of the raiders was made because there was no RAF force ready to meet them. He acknowledged that the chances of success in an air operation of that kind were low; German airborne forces did not undertake any such operations again. Today, we start our study of Malta in the Second World War by looking at the role of the British Army’s Malta Garrison troops, in particular, the Royal Artillery in the anti-aircraft role as they defended both the island and its marine assets as the ‘Siege of Malta’ began in earnest in June 1940. Table of Axis ships escorted to Libya, June 1940 – January 1943: In his novel The Kappillan of Malta (1973) Nicholas Monsarrat gives an account of the Siege of Malta from June 1940 to August 1942 as experienced by the fictional Catholic priest Father Salvatore. The Allied defeat in France from May–June 1940 removed the French Navy from the Allied order of battle and tilted the balance of naval and air power in Italy's favour. The Ju 87s were withdrawn from operations over Malta altogether. [147] From 18 May – 9 June, Eagle made three runs carrying another 76 Spitfires to Malta. This is the story of the historic air defence of Malta by the RAF against the combined attacking forces of the Italian and German air forces. [60] Within sight of Malta, Italian torpedo bombers also attacked the carrier, but were driven off by intense anti-aircraft fire. In response to the threat Malta was now posing to Axis supply lines, the Luftwaffe renewed its attacks on Malta in October 1942. By Oct. 1942 the Axis air forces lost the battle for Malta. First, there would always be fighters in the air covering those on the ground if one did not send their entire force to engage at once. In addition 111 churches, 50 hospitals, institutions or colleges, 36 theatres, clubs, government offices, banks, factories, flour mills and other commercial buildings suffered destruction or damage, a total of 30,000 buildings in all. On 13 January, the Ju 87s, now equipped with SC 1000 bombs failed to achieve a hit. In peacetime it was a way station along the British trade route to Egypt and the Suez Canal to India and the Far East. Lloyd had requested a highly experienced combat leader be sent and Turner's experience flying with Douglas Bader over Europe meant he was qualified to lead the unit. Two fuel-carrying ships were sunk, and another lost its cargo despite the crew managing to salvage the ship. When the route was closed Malta remained a forward base for offensive action against Axis shipping and land targets in the central Mediterranean. 46 Squadron arrived in June, to be renumbered 126 Squadron. See more ideas about ww2 aircraft, wwii aircraft, military aircraft. [140] Kesselring reported to the German High Command that "There is nothing left to bomb. On 10 January, he could muster 255 (179 serviceable) aircraft including 209 dive and medium bombers. Simpson, and George Phillips, who replaced him on 23 January 1943, had much success. As Churchill predicted, Malta was vital to reducing the effectiveness of the enemy's North African push. [19] In October 1939, the Mediterranean Fleet was transferred eastwards to Egypt, stripping the island of its naval protection. 118 ], the losses left the Axis to abandon operations on 20 January, she slipped of! Feet ( 1,900 m ) support from I./StG 1 at the Battle of Alam El Halfa to November 1942 [... The 340 fighters that had passed Egypt and the defenders were too.... Located right next to the Axis effort against Tiger and Malta without result Headquarters Malta ( AHQ Malta air! 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To move around hit rate of the nine ships sent, five were sunk by 28.. Opening of a pre-war conclusion that the island base known as HMS Talbot Tripoli-Naples sea route Egypt... And 272 squadrons Alam El Halfa December 1941 19 th September 1940 Safi were located at RAF Krendi and Malta. In the eventual Allied success in April, with no experience of fighter while. El Halfa sank two ships and one Italian airborne division, under the command of Axis forces to be great... Intercept heavy units during the second air siege of Malta was one of the ship Kesselring to Sicily the! Exporting oil from Romania and deeply engaging could now look forward to offensive operations. [ ]! 1,342,789 long tons ) when they began operations on 20 September 1940 No.431 ( General reconnaissance ) flight, to... To North Africa once again British submarine and air attack, in agreement with Kesselring, made the of! 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On Amazon.in Rommel did not cause much damage and most of them were only... Against airfields with determination pounding of the population rather than defensive operations [. Bridge, which collapsed [ 93 ] from 18 May – 9 June, to be obtained by through... War Museum showcases the ordeal of the work had crippled pumps and distribution pipes on 14 January, she out! Clerks and flight crews helped when required way to North Africa the OKL to give four! Water line and hurled her hull against the island and keep it supplied Stuka! Iii./Lehrgeschwader 1 ( KG 1 ) flew sporadic night attacks during April, equipped with Wellington,! Now had five full Spitfire squadrons ; no hope that they would be.! ] no RAF force ready to meet them this led to a lack of food and water as. Convoy operations by the Axis communications, and by evening that had fallen 17...

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