Thursday, December 27, 2007

The changed situation in early 1942

As the daylight Axis air raids on Malta grew fewer and smaller, there were more raids at night. These were opposed by Beaufighters of No. 1435 flight, acting as night fighters. By May 1942, the tonnage of bombs dropped on Malta had fallen to 520 tons, which still as great as the highest month in 1941. Probably the greatest hazard in this period were Axis minefields laid by "fast German motor-boats". They had laid 600 mines and 400 anti-minesweeping devices around Malta since February 1942. These were effective, as one or two British submarines were lost to mines. While the Welshman trip had helped the ammunition supply, the island was still in danger and could be lost if the June convoy failed. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The action involving Malta in May 1942

One the night of 8 to 9 May 1942, the fast minelayer Welshman had made a run to Malta bringing precious supplies to the island. The Welshman had been disguised as a French large destroyer and had sailed past Sardinia early on 9 May. Welshman was speedily unloaded and sailed by 8:40pm, having been refueled with 300 tons of oil fuel from Malta's store.

The situation in the air over Malta turned to the British advantage, as so many German aircraft were withdrawn and so many Spitfires had been flown in, that the British had air superiority for the immediate future. The Eagle brought another 17 Spitfires on 18 May, after the island had received 123 in about a month. By late May, Fliegerkorps II only had 42 bombers, 36 fighters, and 13 reconnaissance aircraft. The Axis lost about 40 aircraft over Malta, while the British only lost 25 in combat. Six of those were caught on the ground, but that was much better than the 30 lost on the ground in April. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Early May 1942

The next big operation to supply Malta took place in early May 1942. The American aircraft carrier Wasp and the aircraft carrier Eagle brought 64 Spitfires, which were flown to Malta early on 9 May. They arrived at Malta without interference and the Wasp arrived back at Scapa Flow on 15 May. The first Spitfires landed at 10:30am and had an hour-and-a-half time before the first Axis air attacks. Only 60 of the Spitfires actually landed at Malta. One of them crashed during takeoff, one diverted to Africa, another went down at sea, and the fourth crashed at Malta. The intent had been to send six Albacores to Malta, but they all had malfunctions that necessitated landing back on the Eagle. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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