Thread: Tunisian losses
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Old 20th March 2005, 21:31
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Tunisian losses

Hello, the old thread was locked, so I started a new one.

I took some time to read a bit Playfair et al The Mediterranean and Middle East Volume IV London 1966

as background p. xvii "...We have seldom been able to ably our methods to the operations of the Axis air forces because the records are not complete. As regards the enemy's losses in aircraft, Italian records have virtually dried up, while German records describe a portion of losses on operations in terms of which we have not found an accurate explanation. [1 e.g. "Not by enemy action", "Unknown". The puzzle is because these headings, when compared with other information available to us, appear to express more than their obvious meanings.] Broadly speaking these casualties amount to a 1/4 of the aircraft lost, and have been omitted from our reckoning."

Rather cryptic to me. One explanation is that IIRC the writers had access to ULTRA material but of course only to use as a background material. Maybe they had found some conflicts between ULTRA and the then open loss info and revealt that on this rather hazy way. But maybe their way to handle those "Unknowns" explains the difference theirs and Hooton's numbers in March 1943 LW losses. (136 vs. 160)

p. 179 "...During the period 22nd - 30th Nov., in direct and indirect support of the advance, Eastern Air Command flew an estimated total of 1,710 sorties and lost at least 45 a/c, ten of them on the ground. The US 12th AF flew about 180 sorties and lost at least 7 a/c. The LW in Tunisia flew some 1,084 sorties and lost 63 a/c (excluding those destroyed by Malta's a/c), incl. 21 on ground and 3 to AA guns. The recorded Italian losses amounted 4 a/c."

p. 186 "...Between 1st and 12th Dec., in direct and indirect support of the advance, Eastern Air Command flew 2,225 sorties and lost at least 37 a/c. The US 12th AF flew 523 sorties and lost 17 a/c. The LW in Tunisia flew just over 1,000 sorties and lost 37 a/c (excluding those destroyed by Malta's a/c), 9 of them on the ground. The recorded Italian losses amounted to 10a/c."

p.189 "...Between 13th and 26th Dec., in direct and indirect support of the advance, Eastern Air Command flew an estimated 1,940 sorties and lost at least 20 a/c. The US 12th AF flew about 720 sorties and lost 16 a/c. The LW in Tunisia flew some 1,030 sorties and lost 17 a/c exclusive of those destroyed by Malta's a/c. The Italians lost 3."

p.278 "...Altogether, from the 27th Dec 1942 to 17th Jan 1943, and excluding operations against shipping, the British flew 3,160 sorties of all kinds and lost 38 a/c. The Amricans flew an estimated 3,200 or so (incl. 694 by their invaluable air transport a/c). for the loss of 36, so far as is recorded. 47 German a/c were destroyed, but total Italian losses are unknown."

In all the losses according to writers of this book were not very onesided and only after 13th Dec were the Allied losses clearly bigger than those of Axis. 13.12.42 - 17.1.43 Allied lost at least 110 and Axis 67+, thats maybe 1:1,64 for Axis advance which is much less than that of almost 1:4 in fighter to fighter combat in Jan 43. Maybe part of this is explaned by the fact that Allied bombers (excl. those hopeless Bisleys[Blenheim Vs]) were harder to knock down than the Axis bombers? Should have read lmore but ran out of time.

Juha