Sunday, September 21, 2008

Increased air activity from March

Because of the convoy run from Alexandria to Malta in March 1942, the air activity increased considerably. The British made a special effort against the Axis air forces, especially the Luftwaffe. In conjunction with the convoy, the army conducted raids against Rommel's army. These were supported by fighter cover and resulted in three Me-109's destroyed, although at the cost of five Kittyhawks and one Hurricane. At the same time, Wellington bombers raided airfields and ports.

When the Germans started flying supplies and troops over the sea in Ju-52's, long-range Kittyhawks and Beaufighters were sent against them. After a successful action on 12 May 1942, the Germans resorted to escorting the Ju-52's with Me-109's fitted with "extra fuel tanks". This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Axis fighter-bombers

The Axis air forces in the desert started using fighter-bombers in response to the British operations. El Adem and Gazala received visits from Me-109 fighter-bombers, which achieved "considerable success". Due to the impact of dust on operations, the British pulled their fighters back to Gambut and Gasr el Arid. They were further from the front, which gave sufficient time to intercept German raiders. They also had better communications and AA defenses. Before ground operations began in May, British fighters mainly operated in defense of Tobruk, shipping, roads, rail transport, and airfields. They had to contend with Me-109's using the sun to attack. Four Hurricanes were jumped by six or eight Messerschmitts. Two were shot down and two were badly damaged. The British adopted the tactic as well with equal success. They shot down six Macchi 200 fighters over Tobruk. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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