Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Mid-October 1940: decisions about air strength in the Middle East
By mid-October, the Chiefs of Staff decided that with the focus on the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, that air strength must be augmented, and quickly. Existing squadrons would be rearmed with newer aircraft and squadron strength would be increased from 12 to 16 aircraft. The Sunderland squadrons would have their strength increased to six aircraft. They would send 48 Blenheim IVs and 24 Hurricanes every month. They would fly out 23 Wellingtons to replace Bristol Bombay bomber-transports. They would send 227 Mohawk fighters to the Middle East as well as 149 Martin Maryland aircraft, instead of the planned 75. The Marylands did not start to arrive in Africa until December 12th, so that setback plans. The RAF also found, when Mohawks started to arrive that they were unsuitable for combat, due to their low performance. They were diverted to India and South Africa for training, instead. In December, RAF losses were mounting, at least partly due to the Italian explosive bullets. Even when aircraft were not lost, they could be put out of action for a while because of damage from the explosive bullets. Despite the RAF situation, General Wavell decided to mount the Compass operation anyway. This is based on the account in Vol.I of the Official History.