Sunday, November 04, 2007
Malta in mid-April 1942
The Axis had about 160 fighters and 250 bombers operating from six airfields on Sicily. They could keep 70 fighters up when needed. In early to mid-April 1942, they only attacked Malta with concentrated attacks, as they were not sure what the fighter strength on the island was. The British fighters were being conserved until more Spitfires could be sent. They intercepted some attacks, but not all. The British hoped to be able to start using 8 Wellingtons to bomb the airfields on Sicily, but they could not be effective in that strength, since they had to bomb at night. A convoy needed to be sent in May, but the Royal Navy would not be able to send one until there was greater fighter strength on the island. The solution was to send the USS Wasp with 47 Spitfires into the Mediterranean. The Wasp launched the Spitfires from about 45 miles northeast of Algiers. 46 of them arrived on Malta. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.