They could not offer the air support needed at the frontline. By March 1942, the set had been delivered and installed and a small group of Italian ratings had been trained in Germany on its use. This time, Student had months to prepare and learn from the mistakes made on Crete. The supplies included spares and aircraft. They chanced upon the light cruisers HMS Southampton and Gloucester. [33], In 1938 Mussolini had considered an invasion of Malta under Plan DG10/42, in which a force of 40,000 men would capture the island. His Forward Interception Plan, issued officially on 25 July 1942, forced the Axis to abandon daylight raids within six days. He acknowledged that the chances of success in an air operation of that kind were low; German airborne forces did not undertake any such operations again. Human casualties amounted to 17,240 personnel at sea. It was one of the few German tankers exporting oil from Romania. [25] RAF and Royal Navy anti-shipping squadrons and submarines on Malta threatened the Axis supply line to North Africa and both sides recognised the importance of Malta in controlling the central Mediterranean. Later, 10 Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79s and 20 Macchi C.200s flew over the island, with no air opposition. [99] Further success was had later in the month, although British losses from anti-aircraft fire from Italian ships were often heavy. [92] In May 1941, 47 Hurricanes were flown into the island. First, there would always be fighters in the air covering those on the ground if one did not send their entire force to engage at once. 1942 and the island of Malta is battling for survival. Kesselring responded by sending in fighter sweeps at even higher altitudes to gain the tactical advantage. The loss of the ship led Hitler to complain directly to Karl Dönitz, while comparing the Kriegsmarine unfavourably with the Royal Navy. [50], The British submarines failed to interdict the German ships transporting the German forces to Libya. Unfortunately no bomb-proof pens were available as the building project had been scrapped before the war, owing to cost-cutting policies. [134] By March–April 1942, it was clear the Luftwaffe had achieved a measure of air superiority. 261 and 274, were put under severe pressure. [12], The Regia Marina had to protect the invasion convoys from attacks by the British Mediterranean Fleet and provide gunfire support during the landings. The 10th Army was crushed in Operation Compass, a British counter-stroke, and Adolf Hitler decided to come to the aid of his ally. Hardly any spare or replacement parts were available—spares had to be obtained by sifting through the debris of wrecks or by cannibalising undamaged aircraft. The bridge was never restored, and it was only in 2011 that a new one was built in its place. By 1938, Comando Supremo, the Italian army general staff, had estimated the amount of sea transport it would require to move military forces into North Africa, and identified the seizure of Malta as a prerequisite. [33] A further two Hurricanes crashed, with one of the pilots rescued by a Short Sunderland flying boat. Other tanks in the unit included captured Russian T-34 medium tanks, up-armoured German light tanks (five VK 1601s and five VK 1801s) plus twelve German Panzer IVGs armed with 75 mm guns. [126] He began the adoption of the loose finger-four formation in an attempt to cut RAF losses by introducing more flexible tactics to compensate for technical inferiority. Mines and naval craft shared a further ship destroyed between them, of 1,778 tons. His reasons for supporting an invasion were to hinder the Allied troops fighting in Africa, as well as to remove the threat to the convoys heading to Italian-German forces with supplies, oil and men, all of which they lacked. With Hitler lacking faith in the parachute divisions after Crete and in the ability of the Italian Navy to protect the invasion fleet from British naval attacks, the plan was cancelled. [8][9] Twenty German Panzer III tanks were also offered for use in the invasion but it is not known what unit these were to be drawn from. Some 11 days later, news of the Soviet counterattack during the Battle of Stalingrad increased morale even more. [citation needed] Another factor was the lack of crude oil (the Italians did not discover the large reserves in Libya during their occupation of the country). [139] The effectiveness of the air attacks against Allied naval assets was apparent in the Italian naval records. [35], By the year's end, the RAF claimed 45 Italian aircraft had been shot down. [164] According to Sadkovich. After eight weeks, the original force of Hurricane units was grounded owing to a lack of spare parts. One submarine was to be stationed midway between Sicily and Malta, to act as a guide beacon for the transport aircraft on their way to and from the drop zones. [7], The follow-up convoy would be mainly made up of troops from the Italian XVI Corps: the Assieta Infantry Division (9,000 men), the Napoli Infantry Division (8,900 men), artillery units (3,200 men) and the remainder of the 10th Armoured Regiment (3,800 men). [44][33], Meanwhile, the Italian invasion of Egypt had failed to achieve its goals and the British counter-offensive, Operation Compass, destroyed several divisions of the Italian army at Cyrenaica. Although frustrated, Kesselring was relieved the operation had seemingly been postponed rather than shelved. [citation needed] Artillery support came from the 12th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery with twenty-four 25-pounder (3.45 in (88 mm)) field guns, capable of providing fire support out to a range of 6.8 mi (11 km) and covering most of the island while remaining in protected static positions. A 2008 Release from Avalanche Press that focuses on the hypothetical invasion of Malta by Axis forces during the Second World War. The three fuel-carrying vessels were sunk by 28 October. In early December, another 55,000 tons arrived. Kesselring handed over Luftwaffe fuel, but this merely denied the German air units the means to protect the ground forces, thereby increasing the effectiveness of British air superiority over the frontline. 1942, Invasion-Malta Board game Last week I found an unexpected copy of the World at War magazine in my postbox. They sank 37,000 long tons (38,000 t) of Italian shipping, half of which was claimed by one vessel, HMS Truant. [48] On 14 January 1941, U-class submarines arrived, and the submarine offensive began in earnest. ; StG 1 made a determined effort against Tiger and Malta without result. [183] Often, the Spitfires were asked to undertake flights of five and a half hours; this was achieved using 170-gallon ferry tanks. [13] The Allied victory in Malta played a major role in the eventual Allied success in North Africa. 601 Squadron over to convoy escort duty. On 6 October Geisler did extend his air sector responsibilities to cover the Tripoli-Naples sea route to curtail losses. [117], Messerschmitt Bf 110s and Ju 88 night fighters from Zerstörergeschwader 26 (ZG 26, or Destroyer Wing 26) and Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1 or Night Fighter Wing 1), were flown into Sicily to support Fliegerkorps II. [78] They were completed on 12 May. A second game using the same game system Invasion of Malta (1942) has its own separate map and counters. Over 17 days, the Luftwaffe suffered 34 Ju 88s and 12 Bf 109s destroyed and 18 damaged. [19], Air power was the method chosen to attack Malta. [159] The eastern convoy was forced to turn back after a series of naval and air engagements, despite the British ships still having 20% of their ammunition left—it was considered insufficient to see them into Malta. [65], The appearance in February of Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-7 fighters of 7. [4] The Italian landing flotilla and the supporting ships formed the "Special Naval Force" (Forza Navale Speciale) under Admiral Vittorio Tur. This convoy is seen as the end of the two-year siege of Malta. "[141][142] The determination of the Axis effort against Malta is indicated in the sorties flown. Ten Italian SM 79s had drawn off the carrier's Fairey Fulmar fighters while the escorting cruiser HMS Bonaventure sank the Italian torpedo boat Vega. [4] Given the 90 mi (140 km) distance between Axis airfields on Sicily and the drop zones over Malta, it was possible for the motorised transports to make four round-trips per day. [1], The Axis resolved to bomb or starve Malta into submission, by attacking its ports, towns, cities, and Allied shipping supplying the island. Axis forces in North Africa were denied around half of their supplies and two-thirds of their oil. On 21 May, the force was sent to join the Battle of Crete. Furthermore, the airfields were too small; there was no heavy equipment to work with; and even the commonest sorts of tools, such as hammers and wrenches, were all but impossible to find. They scrambled and headed south to gain height, then turned around to engage the enemy over the island. Underground shelters were also created in the belief that the Luftwaffe would soon return. Although Rommel believed Malta should be invaded, he insisted the conquest of Egypt and the Suez Canal, not Malta, was the priority. The vast flight deck offered a target of 6,500 square metres. [28][29], The Italians flew at around 6,100 metres (20,000 ft) and the monitor HMS Terror and gunboats HMS Aphis and Ladybird opened fire. The seaborne assault force comprised 70,000 Italian troops who were to make amphibious landings at two points on the south-eastern side of the island, in Marsaxlokk bay, the main effort falling upon a site named "Famagosta beach" and a smaller secondary landing at "Larnaca beach". British submarine commanders became aces while operating from Malta. Simpson to command the unit. Every fortification, artillery emplacement and AA battery was carefully noted and scrutinised. One Gladiator was shot down but the rest managed to shoot down several Italian aircraft. At the Battle of Gazala he won a major victory, while the Battle of Bir Hakeim was less successful. [30] No RAF airfield on Malta was operational at that time; one, at Luqa, was near to completion. Staffel (squadron) Jagdgeschwader 26 (26th Fighter Wing or JG 26), led by Oberleutnant Joachim Müncheberg, quickly led to a rise in RAF losses; the German fighter pilots were experienced, confident, tactically astute, better-equipped and well-trained. The game components inside are in great shape; counters are mostly punched in like new condition; mounted mapboards are also in great shape. Sitting astride the sea lanes from Italy to North Africa, the island of Malta hobbled Axis attempts to supply their forces in Libya and Egypt. These ships would assemble and sortie from the ports of Messina, Reggio Calabria, Augusta and Cagliari. [188], Total Axis losses in the Mediterranean were moderate. [89], With the exception of coal, fodder, kerosene and essential civilian supplies were such that a reserve of 8–15 months was built up. [34] The arrival of more fighters was welcome. [167] The impact of Park's methods was instant. In December 1942, air and sea forces operating from Malta went over to the offensive. It became a linchpin in the British Empire overseas—a vital way station along Britain's lifeline, through Egypt and the Suez Canal to India and the Far East. Lloyd had requested a highly experienced combat leader be sent and Turner's experience flying with Douglas Bader over Europe meant he was qualified to lead the unit. By February around 14,600 men, ​1⁄6 of the island's work force, had volunteered, rationing began reducing morale even more. Owing to its exposed position close to Italy, the British had moved the headquarters of the Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet from Valletta, Malta in the mid-1930s to Alexandria in October 1939. [6], Italian and German submarines were to scout for and intercept British naval forces attempting to interfere with the seaborne landings. [136], Along with the advantage in the air, the Germans soon discovered that British submarines were operating from Manoel Island, not Grand Harbour, and exploited their air superiority to eliminate the threat. [93] From May–December, the first Bristol Blenheim units (No. On 14 January, 44 Ju 87s scored a hit on the ill-fated after lift. Mussolini also expected Francoist Spain to join the Axis and capture Gibraltar, which would close the Mediterranean to the British from the west. The AOC Middle East, Arthur Tedder, sent Group Captain Basil Embry to Malta to assess the situation. All of the Italian navy and 500 aircraft would be involved, but the lack of supplies led the planners to believe that the operation could not be carried out. These were reinforced in January 1942 by four Cruiser Mk I and three Cruiser Mk IV tanks and a Vickers Mk.VIC light tank, with the cruisers armed with 2-pounder (40 mm) guns (part of a detachment from the 6th Royal Tank Regiment). At El Alamein in North Africa the British had broken through on land, and by 5 November were advancing rapidly westward. At the time of these first air raids, the defending fighters on Malta consisted of obsolete Gloster Sea Gladiators, in the Hal Far Fighter Flight. They withdrew their fleet's heavy units from the central Mediterranean and risked no more than trying to send cruisers through the Sicilian Narrows. On 9 February 1941, three submarines missed the same convoy bringing supplies to Tripoli, the principal Italian port in Libya. Command of the airborne component of Herkules was given to Generalmajor Kurt Student and Fliegerkorps XI. [21] The British leadership had further doubts about whether to hold the island in May 1940, when during the Battle of France the French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud suggested that the Italian prime minister and dictator Benito Mussolini might be appeased by concessions, including Malta. The Italians, in agreement with Kesselring, made the invasion of Malta the priority in the region. By the start of the first German operation, Geisler had 95 aircraft and 14,389 men in Sicily. II./StG 2 sent 43 Ju 87s with support from I./StG 1. Certainly bringing in more supplies would have made greater strategic sense, before risking going on to the offensive and thus in turn risking the wrath of the enemy. [11] Twenty German MFPs were transferred to the Mediterranean via the river Rhone to make up for an expected shortfall of Italian-built landing craft. It was felt that a man with past experience of fighter defence operations was needed. Units have attack, defense, and movement values, as well as stacking limits. [79], The Axis air forces maintained air superiority; Hitler ordered Fliegerkorps X to protect Axis shipping, prevent Allied shipping passing through the central Mediterranean and neutralise Malta as an Allied base. On 10 January they were within range of the Ju 87 bases. The Germans launched Operation Sonnenblume, which reinforced the Italians in North Africa. At Kalafrana, all the buildings were close together and above ground. The Italian destroyers Tarigo, Lampo and Baleno were sunk for the loss of Mohawk. Game pieces represent companies and battalions. [95] In September, 33% of the 96,000 tons of supplies dispatched were lost to British submarine and air attack. Sixty-five of these motozattere (MZs) were completed by July 1942 and about fifty were available for the invasion. Compare prices for the Island of Death: Invasion of Malta, 1942 board game across 12 board game online retailers like Amazon, Miniature Market and Cool Stuff Inc. The Free French Narval and Greek Navy vessel Glaukos, were also lost.[3]. In peacetime it was a way station along the British trade route to Egypt and the Suez Canal to India and the Far East. Unlike the boxed version, it is NOT necessary to have the Crete VASSAL module to play. His reasons for supporting an invasion were to hinder the Allied troops fighting in Africa, as well as to remove the threat to the convoys heading to Italian-German forces with supplies, oil and men, all of which they lacked. [177][178], In August, Malta's strike forces had contributed to the Axis' difficulties in trying to force an advance into Egypt. Further convoys in November and December 1942 provided enough supplies to last until 1943 - breaking the siege. The force assigned to accomplish this included four battleships (Littorio, Vittorio Veneto, Caio Duilio and Andrea Doria), four heavy cruisers, eight light cruisers and 21 destroyers. The bombing did not cause much damage and most of the casualties suffered were civilian. [107] Special flights of RAF Wellingtons fitted with air-to-surface vessel (ASV) radar, were important to Force K operations, and Ultra intelligence reached Malta on Axis convoy movements. The Allied navies sank 773 Axis ships, totalling 1,364,337 t (1,342,789 long tons). Eventually, 2,000 miners and stonemasons were recruited to build public shelters but the pay was poor and the miners threatened to strike, and were threatened with conscription into the army. The destroyer HMS Kandahar was also mined while attempting to assist Neptune. [19] In the 1930s, Italy had sought to expand in the Mediterranean and Africa, regions dominated by the British and French. [19], In 1940, an Italian assault on Malta stood a reasonable chance of gaining control of the island, an action giving the Italians naval and air supremacy in the central Mediterranean. Bristol Blenheim bombers also joined the defenders and began offensive operations.[95]. The Italians believed they could keep the Royal Navy's fleet of ageing battleships bottled up in Alexandria. The ladders were to be used to scale the cliffs of Malta's rugged coast. When the route was closed Malta remained a forward base for offensive action against Axis shipping and land targets in the central Mediterranean. [120] The Axis conducted 263 raids in that month, compared to 169 in December 1941. Eight Marylands, two other aircraft, three Beaufighters, one Blenheim fighter and many bombers were also lost. [13], The Regia Marina had made some efforts to rectify this situation by equipping the battleship Littorio with an experimental E.C.-3/bis Gufo (Owl) radar apparatus in August 1941, but the unit was considered unreliable (not until September 1942 did Littorio receive a standardised production-version Gufo with better performance; this set could detect surface ships at a range of 17 nmi (31 km; 20 mi) and aircraft out to a range of 45 nmi (83 km; 52 mi)). 113 Squadron RAF and 115 Squadron) began to arrive[94] and Bristol Beaufighter units, 252 and 272 Squadrons. [104] Soon after, Force K was reinforced by the arrival in Malta of Force B with the light cruisers HMS Ajax and Neptune and the K-class destroyers, Kimberley and Kingston, on 27 November. It envisaged an airborne assault with one German and one Italian airborne division, under the command of German General Kurt Student. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel supported the Malta plan and asked Hitler for command of the invasion forces. Read part one.. Italian/German preparations for the invasion of Malta, 1942. Owing to a shortage of torpedoes, enemy ships could not be attacked unless the target in question was a warship, tanker or other "significant vessel". Around 180 German and 300 Italian aircraft carried out the operation, and the RAF struggled to fly more than six or eight fighter sorties. Ultra intercepted the Axis communications, and Wellingtons of 69 Squadron confirmed the Axis operation was real. It offered a haven for British shipping to and from those places, but it also gave the British an excellent staging platform of offensiv… Even so, he was soon back in Egypt fighting at El Alamein. Baling out if the pilots ran low on fuel was the only alternative to landing on Malta. The Italian and British surface fleets were evenly matched in the region but the Italians had far more submarines and aircraft. Maintenance was difficult. In the densely populated island, 5,524 private dwellings were destroyed, 9,925 were damaged but repairable and 14,225 damaged by bomb blast. But operating overseas in Africa meant most of the supplies to Axis forces would come via the sea. The opening of a new front in North Africa in June 1940 increased Malta's already considerable value. The bloody issue would have been in doubt from the start. [169] The year 1942 was particularly impressive for offensive operations as well. The Ju 87s were withdrawn from operations over Malta altogether. The Beauforts were having a devastating impact on Axis fuel supplies which were now nearly used up. These mines were the bane of the Royal Navy's submarines. [15][1][4], A date near mid-July 1942 was set for the invasion, partly to allow time to bring troops from other front line positions. 261 Squadron RAF in August. – discuss], When it became clear to the British that the Italian air forces were limited and having little impact on the population, which could endure, a steady stream of reinforcements arrived. He suggested that if the Egyptian border was reached once again in the coming months (the fighting at the time was taking place in Libya), the Axis could invade in July or August 1942 when a full moon would provide ideal conditions for a landing. The Italians had been heading to intercept the British convoys transporting reinforcements to aid Greece in the Greco-Italian War. More than 2,000 civilian buildings were destroyed as opposed to only 300 during the Italian siege. The ferry tanks, combined with a 29-gallon tank in the rear fuselage, brought the total tank capacity up to 284 gallons. The estimated tonnage sunk by British U-class submarines alone was 650,000 tons, with another 400,000 tons damaged. [77] Convoy Tiger transported 295 Matilda II tanks, new Crusader tanks and 24,000 tons of oil for operations in North Africa. [23][24], Upon declaring war, Mussolini called for an offensive throughout the Mediterranean and within hours, the first bombs were dropped on Malta. Frustrated Axis planners hatched a series of operations designed to capture the fortress, known as Operation Herclues to the Germans and Operation C.3 to the Italians. Island of Death: Invasion of Malta, 1942 is currently at $0.00. [2] Ten Gruppen of Junkers Ju 52 transports, with 500 aircraft, were allocated for the air landings, along with 300 DFS 230 gliders (carrying ten men each) and 200 larger Go 242 gliders (each carrying twenty-three men or a light vehicle/gun). A date near mid-July 1942 was set for the invasion, partly to allow time to bring troops from other front line positions. [115] No. [123], Dobbie and the British naval and air commanders argued for modern aircraft, particularly Spitfires, to be sent to Malta. This thread is archived. British submarines also made a substantial effort. School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Kavanagh, S. (2006). On 20 January, two near misses breached the hull below the water line and hurled her hull against the wharf. [176] Of the nine ships sent, five were sunk by Malta's forces. In the first two months, around 20 RAF bombers and reconnaissance aircraft were shot down. It was running out of all essential commodities, particularly food and water, as the bombing had crippled pumps and distribution pipes. Shortly afterward, in July 1943, Italy was invaded by the Allies. [31], By the start of July, the Gladiators had been reinforced by Hawker Hurricanes and the defences organised into No. [106] Among the contributors to the sinking of Axis shipping was 828 Naval Air Squadron, 830 Naval Air Squadron, the British 10th Naval Flotilla and 69 Squadron which shadowed convoys with their Maryland aircraft. [162] British destroyers saved 950 of Eagle's crew. The outmoded Hurricanes still struggled against the very latest Bf 109Fs of Jagdgeschwader 53 (JG 53) and Italian Macchi C.202s; the Junkers Ju 88 bomber also proved a difficult enemy. [116] Actual Axis losses amounted to 135 bombers (80 German) and 56 fighters plus a number of other aircraft. By early August, Malta now had 75 fighters and 230 anti-aircraft guns. Using three squadrons, Park asked the first to engage the escorting fighters by 'bouncing them' out of the sun. The situation in North Africa required German air support, so the October offensive marked the last major effort by the Luftwaffe against Malta. [131] While the Spitfires were a match for the Axis aircraft, many of those delivered in March and April were destroyed on the ground and in the air, where they were outnumbered; for five days in April there was just one Spitfire available to defend the island, for two days there was none. [110] On 19 December, ships from both forces ran into a minefield while pursuing an Italian convoy. [27] Later, 10 Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79s and 20 Macchi C.200s flew over the island, with no air opposition. RAF forces on Malta could not afford to sit idle; they could prevent Rommel's advance, or slow it down, by striking at his supply lines. This had important consequences for Malta, as it indicated the island was only at risk from an Axis siege. Embry agreed and recommended that Spitfires be sent; the type began arriving in March 1942. Zones of control, but there's no mandatory attacks. It was attacked from the sea and from the air. Geisler was to be returned to Sicily with his remaining air strength to solve the issue. These 220 long tons (220 t) shallow-draught vessels, were capable of transporting up to 200 equipped infantry, 2–3 medium tanks, or an equivalent weight in cargo and could unload onto an open beach via a drop-down bow ramp. [15], Malta is 27 km × 14 km (17 mi × 9 mi) with area of just under 250 km2 (97 sq mi). Kesselring complained. Malta sent Bristol Beauforts to engage the Italian fleet and German U-boats attacking the convoy. With the German success in the Battle of France from May–June 1940, the plan was reduced to 20,000 men with the addition of tanks. After the battles of May and June, the air attacks were much reduced in August and September. Oberstleutnant Karl Christ, Geschwaderkommodore of StG 3 gave orders to intercept heavy units. Gibbs's Beauforts sank two ships and one of Simpson's submarines sank a third. By 12 May, there were 50 Hurricanes on the island. When Malta started to be affected by the Second World War, the Marfa-Gozo ferry service was gradually reduced from six crossings a week in 1940 to four, and eventually to two in 1941. No interception of the raiders was made because there was no RAF force ready to meet them. [118], Over the island, the defensive arm of the RAF was also put under pressure. 261. By September, Italy had signed an armistice and had switched sides, declaring war on Nazi Germany. The two older Andrea Doria-class battleships would carry approximately 200 rounds each for shore bombardment. Amphibious feints would be directed at St. Paul's Bay, Mellieha Bay and north-west of Valletta near the old Victoria Lines, to draw British attention away from the real landing sites. By May 1943, they had sunk 230 Axis ships in 164 days, the highest Allied sinking rate of the war. [95] On 2 October, Hermann Göring, commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe met with his Regia Aeronautica counterpart Francesco Pricolo, to discuss reinforcements. Nearly all 80 purpose-built sea craft that would land the Italian Army ashore were expected to be lost but landings would be made in the north, with an attack upon the Victoria Lines, across the centre of the island. Players control German, Italian and Commonwealth forces on a 22"x17" map covering the entire island. [189] The novel is interspersed with brief episodes from other periods of Maltese history. Until this point, the Spitfires had fought defensively. Hitler's strategy of neutralising Malta by siege seemed to be working. Rommel still hoped another tanker, San Andreas, would deliver the 3,198 tons of fuel needed for the Battle of Alam el Halfa. [121] Fliegerkorps II was recovering from its losses in the Soviet Union, and could only contribute 118 aircraft in January, but grew to 390 in March, reaching a peak strength of 425 aircraft. Some rafts were powered by outboard motors and others had to be rowed.[4]. On the first day, 55 Italian bombers and 21 fighters flew over Malta and dropped 142 bombs on the three airfields at Luqa, Hal Far and Ta Qali. From January–April, the Axis sent 321,259 tons to Libya and all but 18,777 tons reached port. Around 60 bombers and 120 Hurricanes were now available. [citation needed], Learn how and when to remove this template message, "The place of Malta in British strategic Policy", British Order of Battle on Malta – in both 1939 and 1942, Vivarelli, A. 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