Wednesday, August 30, 2006
A more complete accounting of air strengths for Crusader
Apparently, the quote figures for the Axis air strength were based on the idea that they would not be able to hold any aircraft reserve, while the British air strength only included aircraft in service with squadrons. "In Crete and the Aegean", there were 72 more aircraft, not including shorter range fighters. The British had 48 bombers at Malta that could be a factor. The actual figures, not just estimates, show that the British had more than 650 aircraft, of which a portion were "heavy bombers in Egypt". Of the 650, 550 were in servicable condition. Of the 74 at Malta, 66 were servicable. While the Axis airforces had as many as 556 aircraft in Cyrenaica, "only 342 were servicable". It turns out that there was a large reserve of "750 servicable Axis aircraft of suitable types" that could be pulled into the battle. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.