Monday, August 20, 2007
Panzerarmee Afrika strikes in January 1942
54 German tanks, their crews, and fuel arrived at Tripoli on 5 January 1942. They reached the front lines by 14 January. Another shipment of equipment arrived at the front on 17 January. The Germans now had 84 tanks and the Italians had 89 tanks. The next day, Rommel ordered an attack on 21 January. The forces were arrayed in three groups. The DAK would be on the right, the Italian 20th Corps in the center and Group Marcks was on the coast road. At the same time, Axis air strength had risen to 515 aircraft. Still, only 300 were ready for action. The British air strength had fallen to 280 that were actually ready. Sandstorms on the night of 20-21 January helped to hide the Axis movements from aerial observation. Antelat, perversely, got rain and was turned to pudding. Four British fighter squadrons were flown off to other airfields, farther to the rear. The attack was launched at 8am on 21 January 1942. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.