Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The Situation at Malta
The fighter strength at Malta had been reduced to 80 aircraft by the end of July 1942. Since the losses averaged 17 per week, the decision was made to fly in more aircraft on board the old Furious. The Furious was to be a secondary operation taking advantage of the main Pedestal convoy. Some of the lessons learned from Harpoon and Vigorous caused there to be two oilers and a fleet tug, all escorted by four corvettes. There were also 8 additional destroyers. These would be available to escorte the Furious back to Gibraltar. Force X also had a fleet tug attached. Submarines were positioned to attack any Italian surface warships. Malta had its air strength augmented for the Pedestal operation. The peak numbers available included: "100 Spitfires, 36 Beaufighters, 30 Beauforts, 3 Wellingtons, 2 B-24 Liberatorss, 2 Baltimores, 3 FAA Albacores and Swordfish". There were also reconnaissance aircraft: "5 Baltimores, 6 P.R.U. Spitfires and 5 Wellington VIIIs". This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.