Saturday, March 01, 2008
The plan to invade Malta in early 1942
Taking the island of Malta would have been a much more difficult task than taking Crete, a year before. While Crete was taken by airborne forces, Malta would require troops and equipment landed from sea. The first stage would have 8300 men landing on the island by landing craft. These initial troops would be supported by artillery and tanks also landed. Supplies and reinforcements would follow, also by sea. The Italian fleet would prevent British surface ships from reaching the island. There would also be a flotilla of German submarines to protect the attacking forces and to prevent reinforcements and supplies from reaching Malta. Germany would also supply Italy with "40,000 tons of oil fuel and 12,000 tons of aviation spirit". Three corps were allocated for the attack. The one Airborne Corps had one German and one Italian airborne division. Of the other two corps, one had two Italian divisions and the other would have three. Additional forces included six independent Italian battalions, "two tank battalions, some armoured cars, self-propelled artillery, motor-cyclists and ancillary units and a few German tanks". Between 370 and 470 tranport aircraft would carry the airborne forces. These would include 155 Italian SM.82's, the rest being German Ju-52's. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.