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Old 27th March 2005, 20:02
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Re: Discussion on the air war in Tunisia

If we compared the failed LW and RA bombing campaign against Malta during the first part of Oct. 42 and the Tunisia campaign, it seems to me that the Axis problem was the weak defencive power of their bombers which their fighter pilots could not effectively compensate if they operated against well integrated fighter defence. I don't have time to read the Shores' et al Malta the Spitfire Year (1991) but have to rely on Playfair's et al The Mediterranean and Middle East IV (1966) but Shores' article The Long Struggle for Malta in his Duel for the Sky (1985) is in agreement with the first book. Axis flew 2400 sorties against Malta in 9 days and the defending fighters flew 1115 sorties.Playfair p. 195 "...At first Axis used formations as big as 80 Ju 88s escorted by nearly double that number of fighters, but by 15th Oct. as few as 14 bombers were being escorted by nearly 100 fighters. By 18th Oct, after heavy losses in bombers, the enemy had given up using his Ju 88s altogether in favour of Me 109 fighter bombers...The British lost 30 Spitfires in the air ... and only 2 a/c - one Beaufighter and one Spitfire - on the ground. German records disclose the loss of 9 fighters and 35 bombers, some of which fell to the guns" and Italian losses were unknown. Later in same page"...so effective were the air defences of Malta that strikes against Axis shipping were carried out every night exept one, on which no enemy ship came within range of the island."

Shores, on the article p. 92 "...Again and again the formations of Ju 88s, protected by swarms of Messerschmitts and Macchis, attempted to fight their way through to their targets. And again and again they were thwarted."

On losses, on same page "...at least 30 Ju 88s were lost and 13 more damaged seriously, some of them to written-off levels...at least a dozen Bf 109s and MC 202s being shot down and another 10 or so badly damaged...27 Spitfires being shot down during seven days and more than 20 more crash-landing or suffering heavy damage..."

Juha

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