Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The power of the Bofors 40mm Light AA gun

The defenders of the Heraklion airfield on 20 May 1941 had well-sited Bofors 40mm light anti-aircraft guns. There were three troops of four guns each. Two were Australian and one was British. They also had troops who were dug in with overhead cover. The Ju-52 transport aircraft flew from airfields in Greece. They approached at low altitude and then climbed high enough to drop their paratroops and then would descend again and fly back to Greece. One problem was that the light anti-aircraft guns were so well-sited that they were able to shoot down fifteen transports of the approximately 240 that were seen. In some cases, the ground was such that the transports had to drop the paratroops from a higher altitude, which was dangerous for paratroops due to the long time in the descent. Many of the transport aircraft were hit by the Bofors guns but were only damaged. After the initial attack, the airfields in Greece had many damaged Ju-52 aircraft scattered about. Another factor which inhibited air operations was that there was a great deal of dust in the air at the Greek airfields and this effected fighter, bomber, and transport aircraft operations. Refueling was slowed and this delayed the arrival of reinforcements at Heraklion. Thi sis based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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