Saturday, June 18, 2005

The RAF was active following the commencement of war with Italy

Flying from Egypt, Blenheim I's had a limited reach into Libya. For example, Benghazi was beyond their range. Right before they were at war, the British moved No.202 Group to Maaten Gaggush. 26 Blenheims attacked an airfield at El Adem. Three of the attacking aircraft were lost. In a repeast attack, 18 Italian aircraft were destroyed or damaged. In a dawn attack the next day, nine Blenheims attacked Tobruk and among other targets, damaged the old cruiser San Giorgio. A few days later, when the Army took Fort Cappuzo, just beyond the border, the RAF supported the attack with Gladiators and Blenheims. After the initial burst of activity, the limited resources of the RAF caused them to have to drop back to harrassing attacks with single aircraft. Short range reconnaissance over Italian lines was done by Lysanders, while longer range reconnaissance was handled by Blenheims. Fighter support was still limited to Gladiators, as Hurricanes had not yet arrived in the desert. This is based on the account in Vol.I of the Official History.

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