Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Luftwaffe intervenes around Bir el Gubi

The battle around Bir el Gubi on 5 December 1941 brought out the German Luftwaffe in force. The British forces to the south seemed a great enough threat that something needed to be done to save the Axis position. "Large formations of escorted dive-bombers made frequent attacks", according to the Official History. British fighters were overhead, providing cover, and these caused enough problems for the attackers, that only German fighters were used, after the initial encounters. The Luftwaffe was equipped with Me-109F fighters, which were superior to what the British were using at the time. The RAF lacked any Spitfire V's to combat the German fighter. The British countered at night with Wellington and Fairey Albacores, which were bombing the German forces moving south. During the day, they used Martin Marylands, starting to be supplanted by Douglas Bostons. Maryland production had ceased and numbers were declining. The eventual replacement was to be the Baltimore, but these were not arriving at this stage. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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