Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The RAF from 18 December 1941
Two tactical reconnaissance squadrons, No.208 and No.237 (Rhodesian), operated in support of the advance, as the Axis forces retreated west and south. There were some LR Hurricanes from No.33 Squadron operating as reconnaissance aircraft, as well. The fighters supplying air cover also doubled as reconnaissance aircraft. By 18 December, there were many fighters based at Gazala. They were able to operate from Mechili by 20 December. By 23 December, they could use the field at Msus. No.262 Wing then was able to move to Msus to take charge of fighter operations. Bombers operated by day, hitting targets far in advance of the front line, to minimize the chance of attacking friendly forces. This reduced their effectiveness in direct support of the army. Night bombing was conducted by FAA Albacores and Wellingtons, presumably from Malta. The British were running short of day bombers due to teething problems with Bostons and the small numbers remaining of Marylands, which were out of production. The remaining Blenheims were being withdrawn to be sent to the Far East. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.