Saturday, June 11, 2005
British tank strength in Egypt in September 1940
The British official history points out something that I had not realized, but should have, that the Italian medium tank designations included their size in tons. For example, the M11/39 was an 11 ton tank and the M13/40 was a thirteen ton tank. British intelligence knew that they were facing Italian medium tanks of both sorts, but didn't know numbers. The British, in the September 1940 timeframe had something like 85 cruiser tanks, of which 15 were in the shop. The British tanks were 12-1/2 and 14 ton vehicles. British offensive operations by air, at this time, had been limited to a nightly bombing raid by a single Bristol Bombay aircraft on targets at Tobruk. Typically, these were ships and fuel tanks. As Italian air operations increased in tempo, the RAF started bombing with their three available bomber squadrons, Nos. 55, 113, and 211. The British had grand plans for reinforcing Egypt and the Middle East, but shipping the men, equipment, and supplies around the Cape would take time. This set the scene for the consideration to ship immediate reinforcements with the Hats operation.