Could Royal Navy save Malta?

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Could Royal Navy save Malta? Drazen Kramaric 4/26/98 12:00 AM

In Spring of 1942 Rommel was about to take Tobruk. Too often the
questions have been asked, whether Axis should take Malta instead of
marching into Egypt?

My question is could Royal Navy from its bases in Gibraltar and
Alexandria prevented tha fall of the island?

I suppose Royal Navy was too far away to catch invasion force before
actual landing of the first wave. So the question is could British
defeat combined force of Regia Marina, u-boats, X FliegerKorps and
Regia Aeronautica and cut off Axis ground troops onshore (at least two
Italian divisions + Folgore and Ramcke airborne units).

for reply, delete NOSPAM from my e-mail address

Could Royal Navy save Malta? 4/27/98 12:00 AM

Seems to me that the answer to your question lies in historical fact.

In article <>, (Drazen

Could Royal Navy save Malta? Davide Pastore 4/27/98 12:00 AM

Drazen Kramaric ha scritto

>My question is could Royal Navy from its bases in Gibraltar and
>Alexandria prevented tha fall of the island?

I've always been in love with Operazione C3 (Italian name for the Malta
invasion, although the Germans called it Herkules).

While I was attending the Air War School (pretty impressive name, uh ?) at
Firenze, I spent a couple of hours each day in studying books. The hall
where we were seated had a huge map of the Malta Islands on the wall - a
very detailed stuff, about 15 x 10 feet. It was an impressive relic of the
war; I suppose it was somehow connected with the invasion.

I literally spent hours gazing at such map.

So, for years I've been collecting infos about our plans. In particular,
I've got the official publication of the Historical Board of the Navy about
Operazione C3, which is wonderfully accurate. Sadly, I lack comparable (i.e.
detailed _enough_) informations about British and German forces at the time.

I intend to post a series of pieces about C3 (divided, for simplicity's
sake, between 1) the Air Force, 2) the Navy, 3) the Army, 4) the landing
itself, etc...), along with the perceived enemy strenght as it was expected
by Italian HQ.

I'd love to know the _actual_ British strenght, and to discuss
kriegspiel-like the odds of the operation.

The first piece I wrote is related (of course...) to the Regia Aeronautica
and air operations, excluding the paras landing.

Following: Navy operations, Army operations, Actual Landing.


Could Royal Navy save Malta? the count 4/27/98 12:00 AM

> In article <>,
> (Drazen Kramaric) wrote:
> In Spring of 1942 Rommel was about to take Tobruk. Too often the
> questions have been asked, whether Axis should take Malta instead of
> marching into Egypt?
> My question is could Royal Navy from its bases in Gibraltar and
> Alexandria prevented tha fall of the island?
> I suppose Royal Navy was too far away to catch invasion force before
> actual landing of the first wave. So the question is could British
> defeat combined force of Regia Marina, u-boats, X FliegerKorps and
> Regia Aeronautica and cut off Axis ground troops onshore (at least two
> Italian divisions + Folgore and Ramcke airborne units).

There were a couple of instances of clashes between the RN and the
Italian navy, of which I believe all were RN victories.
The Italian naval commanders just didn't have the gusto to slug it out
with the RN, and instead used their superior speed to flee ;)

In those cases where the Luftwaffe took over to pound on convoys to
Malta, they did a good job, but the Italian navy rarely joined in
(perhaps there was fear they would mistakenly be attacked by
Lufftwaffe pilots?)

Certainly the germans were capable of achieving air superiority over
Malta, although the Brits did sneak a carrier close enough to the
island to deliever fighters...

So, I wouldn't count much on the Italian navy for helping repulse any
British counter attack.  At best, they might have delayed the RN, but
I seriously doubt they could have beaten them.

Would the Lufftwaffe have been enough to protect the invasion force
from a large RN presence?
We could probably find similar situations in the Pacific from which
we could draw conclusions, but I am not familiar enough with Pacific
operations to be able to think of any off the top of my head.
My initial guess is probably not.  Especially considering the the
Brits had quite a few subs in the Med., which would have caused the
convoys considerable headaches!

Operazione C3 - 1 - Air Force [Was Re: Could Royal Navy save Malta?] Davide Pastore 4/27/98 12:00 AM

This piece is relative to Air Force operations with exclusion of the paras
landing, which will be discussed in detail in another piece.

Regia Aeronautica, circa June 1942

The situation is indicative only, since air units were transferred at will
on a near-daily basis. I have also listed the units transferred from Italy
during July-August.

I haven't listed:
- Units assigned to air defence of Italy;
- Units employed against Yugoslavian partisans;
- Units in training;
- Recon units in North and Central Italy;
- Air Observation (Army co-operation) units outside Sicily.

I wasn't able to find any accurate figure for Luftwaffe units.

Basic unit was the numbered Squadriglia [1st to 616th];
2 or 3 Squadriglie formed a Gruppo [1st to 167th];
2 Gruppi (very rarely 3) formed a Stormo [1st to 54th].

Stormi, Gruppi and Squadriglie were identified by a speciality, as:

C.T.= Caccia Terrestre [Land Fighter]
Ass.= Assalto [Ground Attack]
B.T.= Bombardamento Terrestre [Land Bomber]
B.G.R. = Bomb. Grande Raggio [Long-Range Bomber]
A.S.= AeroSiluranti [Torpedo Bomber]
R.M.= Ricognizione Marittima [Sea Recon] - units in center & north Italy not
R.S.T. = Ricogn. Strategica [Strategic Recon]
O.A.= Osservazione Aerea [Air Observation] - only units in Sicily listed.
T. = Trasporto [Airlift]

St.= Stormo
Gr.= Gruppo
Gr.aut.= Gruppo Autonomo [not part of a Stormo]
Sq.= Squadriglia
Sq.aut. = Squadriglia Autonoma [not part of a Gruppo]

Comando Aeronautica Sardegna
[Sardinia Air Force HQ]
Bases: Alghero, Decimomannu, Elmas [Cagliari], Olbia, Villacidro.

24th Gr.aut. [G.50bis & CR.42]

Note: full-strenght unit (very few actions).

51st Gr.aut. [CantZ.1007bis]

36th St. (108th & 109th Gr.) [SM.79]

146th & 287th Sq.aut. [CantZ.506]
138th & 188 th Sq.aut. [CantZ.501]

Comando Aeronautica Sicilia
[Sicily Air Force HQ]
Bases: Augusta, Boccadifalco [Palermo], Caltagirone, Castelvetrano,
Chinisia, Gela, Pantelleria, Reggio Calabria, Sciacca, Stagnone.

51th St. (20th & 155th Gr.) [MC.202]
54th St. (7th & 16th Gr.) [MC.200]
2nd Gr.aut. [Re.2001]

5th St. (101th & 102th Gr.) [CR.42 & Ju-87B]
15th St. (46th & 47th Gr.) [CR.42]

Note: only very few Stuka were still flyable.

7th St. (4th & 25th Gr.) [SM.84]
9th St. (29th & 33th Gr.) [CantZ.1007bis]
10th St. B.T. (30th & 32nd Gr.) [SM.79]
43th St. (only 88th Gr. present) [BR.20M]

Note: 10th St. transferred back to Italy in July, replaced by 37th St.
Note: 98th & 99th Gr. of 43th St. were in Yugoslavia.

130th Gr.aut. [SM.79]
132nd Gr.aut. [SM.79]

170th & 184th Sq.aut. [RS.14]
186th Sq.aut. [CantZ.506]
144th, 189th & 197th Sq.aut. [CantZ.501]

173rd Sq.aut. [CR.25]

40th Sq.aut. [Ca.311 & Ro.37bis]

Quarta Squadra Aerea
[4th Air Squadron - SE Italy]
Bases: Brindisi, Crotone, Gioia del Colle, Grottaglie, Lecce, Manduria,

161th Gr.aut. [MC.200]

37th St. (54th & 55th Gr.) [BR.20M]
50th Gr.aut. [CantZ.1007bis]

Note: 116th Gr. of 37th St. was in Yugoslavia.
Note: 37th St. transferred to Sicily in July, replacing 10th St.

A.S. / B.T.
32nd St. (38th & 89th Gr.) [SM.84]

Note: although trained in torpedo-bombing, 32nd St. A.S. was never used in
such role.

171st & 288th Sq.aut. [CantZ.506]
141st & 142nd Sq.aut. [CantZ.501]

Comando Aeronautica Grecia
[Greece Air Force HQ]
Bases: Araxos, Kalamata, Larissa.

157th Gr.aut. [G.50bis & CR.42]

Note: full-strenght unit (very few actions).

Comando Aeronautica Egeo
[Aegean Air Force HQ]
Bases: Gadurra', Lero, Maritza, Rodi.

154th Gr.aut. [G.50bis & CR.42]

Note: full-strenght unit (very few actions).

47th St. (106th &107th Gr.) [CantZ.1007bis]

12th St. (only 41st Gr. present) [SM.79]
46th St. (only 104th Gr. present) [SM.79]

Note: 105th Gr. of 46th St. was still training in Italy.
Note: Second Gruppo of 12th St. was never formed.

185th Sq.aut. [CantZ.506]
147th Sq.aut. [CantZ.501]

Quinta Squadra Aerea, Settore Ovest
[5th Air Squadron, West sector - W Lybia]
Bases: Castelbenito, Mellaha [Tripoli], Hon, Zuara.

12th Gr.aut. [G.50bis]
150th Gr.aut. [MC.200]
160th Gr.aut. [G.50bis]

35th St. (86th & 95th Gr.) [CantZ.1007bis]

131st Gr.aut. [SM.79]
133rd Gr.aut. [SM.79]

145th, 148th & 196th Sq.aut. [CantZ.501]

Quinta Squadra Aerea, Settore Est
[5th Air Squadron, West sector - E Lybia]
Bases: Barce, Bu Amid, Derna, K.3 [Bengasi].

1st St. (6th & 17th Gr.) [MC.202]
2nd St. (8th & 13th Gr.) [MC.200]
4th St. (9th & 10th Gr.) [MC.202]

Note: 1st St. was transferred back to Italy in July, replaced by 3rd St.

50th St. (158th & 159th Gr.) [CR.42]

Available units - Prima Squadra Aerea [1st Air Squadron - NW Italy]

53th St. (151st & 153rd Gr.) [G.50bis & MC.200]

Note:Transferred to 4th Air Sq. in July-August

Available units - Seconda Squadra Aerea [2nd Air Squadron - NE Italy]

3rd St. (18th & 23rd Gr.) [MC.202]

Note: Transferred to Lybia in July, replacing 1st St.

30th St. (87th & 90th Gr.) [CantZ.1007bis]

Note: Transferred to 4th Air Sq. in July-August

Available units - Terza Squadra Aerea [3rd Air Squadron - Central Italy]

3rd Gr.aut. [MC.200]
22nd Gr.aut. [Re.2001]

Note: 3rd Gr.aut. transferred to 5th Air Sq. in July-August.
Note: 22nd Gr.aut. ransferred to 4th Air Sq. in July-August.

274th Sq.aut. [P.108]

Note: Not fully operative yet. Transferred to Sardinia in September, fou use
against Gibraltar.

Transport Units (T.)

18th St. (56th & 57th Gr.) [SM.81]
44th St. (146th & 149th Gr.) [SM.82]
45th St. (37th & 147th Gr.) [SM.82]
48th St. (144th & 148th Gr.) [SM.82 & G.12]
145th Gr.aut. [SM.75]

Note: 145th Gr.aut. permanently assigned to the Lybian sector. Other units
too occasionaly employed there.

Unit strenght

All C.T. units, plus 50th St. Ass., had three Squadriglie in each Gruppo.
Any other unit had two Squadriglie in each Gruppo.

C.T. & Ass. Squadriglie: 12 planes theorically, 6-7 ready planes average in
the front line.

T. Squadriglie: 10-12 ready planes average.

Any other Squadriglie: 9 planes theorically, 5-6 ready planes average in the
front line.

The units transferred from 1st, 2nd and 3rd Air Sq. were at full strenght.
Also at full strenght were the fighter units stationed in quiet sectors
(Sardinia, Greece and Aegean).

Total ready planes

600-640 fighters (C.T.)
380-440 attack planes (Ass., B.T., B.G.R., A.S.)
100-120 recon planes (R.M., R.S.T., O.A.)
180-220 airlift planes (T.)

for a grand total of 1,300-1,400 ready planes.

Considerations on pilots

4th Stormo was (and still is ! ) the elite unit of the Air Force, whose
planes sported (and still sports) the famed "Ferrari black horse" arm. It
was always the first to receive new equipment.
Out of the 68 Italian aces of the war (with 544 kills), 28 aces (with 237
kills) came from 4th St. - this is 43%.

Other than the Little Black Horses, the best pilots were in the
torpedo-bombing units. These Gruppi collected a massive amount of
decorations - usually conceded "to the memory". The biggest problem was the
insufficient number of torpedoes available, so that not all the
torpedo-trained units could be used in such role.

By and large the training level of the Regia Aeronautica was still high at
the end of the war - due also to the low production of the industry !! Just
every unit had more trained pilots than ready planes at any period of the

The training of the fighter pilots stressed fanatically on aerobatics. The
pilots didn't like a lot the "series 5" fighters (MC.205, G.55, Re.2005)
because, although provided with a very powerful armament, they lacked the
maneuvrability of their ancestors.

Considerations on planes

MC.202 [Folgore] was about equivalent to Spitfire Mk.V and Bf.109F.
Re.2001 was slighty more maneuvrable, but slower.
MC.200 [Saetta] and G.50bis [Freccia] were about equivalent to Hurricane
Mk.I and P-40C.
CR.42 [Falco] was slighty better than Gladiator.

Italian fighters were plagued by a ridicously weak armament, but were
maneuvrable and sturdy. MC.202 was the fastest-climber plane around at the
time, and with a little more artillery would have been better than either
Spit V or 109F.

SM.79 [Sparviero] was a surprisingly agile plane for its size (mainly due to
the absence of any dihedral on its surfaces). This made it an excellent
torpedo bomber.

P.108 was the only heavy bomber in service, built after an offer of B-17
licence production had been turned down in 1939. It was plagued by problems.
Mussolini's son Bruno died in an air crash during the flight tests.

The other bombers in service (CantZ.1007bis [Alcione], BR.20M [Cicogna] and
SM.84) were unimpressive at best.

The recon machines weren't anything of special.

The transport SM.82 [Marsupiale] was maybe the more successful Italian plane
of the time. Such machines routinely transported an entire disassembled
fighter to Etiopia. Some units carried night bombing action too over
Gibraltar, and in one occasion as far as Barhein, without losses.

Airlift capabilities and requirements

[see the landing section for for more info]

The Italian transport planes had the following cargo capabilities:

SM.82 [100-120 ready] : 4,000 Kg or 30-34 men.
SM.75 [20-25 ready] : 3,200 Kg or 24-28 men.
G.12 [20-25 ready] : 2,500 Kg or 18-20 men.
SM.81 [40-50 ready] : 1,600 Kg or 12-14 men.

So, employing _all_ the available planes the maximum single effort would be:

600-700 tons or 4,500-6,000 men

Although this would have seriously disrupted the Afrika Korps operations.

C3 plan called for a first wave of 4 Italian parachute Bns., plus 220
manikins and little groups of saboteurs. This means 4,000+ men. Remaining 2
Bns, plus artillery, would have jumped in the second wave. German units
would have to be transported by German planes.

According to C3 plan, the combined landed units would have required a
_daily_ supplying (from ships and/or planes) of:

- bare minimum: 700 tons (520 supplies, 180 potable water).

- normal level: 2,400 tons (1,500 supplies, 900 potable water).

The Regia Aeronautica expected to be able to daily transport by plane a
maximum of 300 tons (holding an airport) or 150 tons (parachuting only).

I infer from this datas that she was expecting a _high_ initial loss ratio
of transport planes (maybe 30-50%).

Maltese airfields

This is the only subject on which I've got precise informations for both
sides. This are the Italian infos, and the reality (number, type and lenght
of runways):

Identified as "airfields" [Italian & Brit Name]:

1) Micabba / Luqa - 4x tarmac paths (1,700-1,400-1,100-800 yards).
2) Hal Far / Hal Far - 4x stony (1,200-1,100-900-600 yards).
3) Ta Venezia / Taquali - 4x grass (1,200-1,100-850-850 yards).

Identified as "landing strips":

4) Gudra / Safi - 2x grass (1,200-1,200 yards).
5) Krendi / Qrendi - 2x tarmac (1,200-1,200 yards) - in construction.

Identified as "emergency strips":

6) Marsa / Marsa Race Course - 1x grass (1,300 yards) - Really
emergency-only !
7) Gozo / ?? - inexistant !!

Italians hadn't identified Qrendi as a "real" airfield. Being within the
paras landing zone, it would have been a pleasant surprise for them !! While
not fully operative yet (first landing happened on 10 November) it was
definitely better than nothing at all.

Evalutation of enemy strenght

Very little info here !

According to C3 plan, the expected RAF strenght at Malta was "negligible".

The plan doesn't mention anything about air assets at Gibraltar and

However, it was expected that some planes could fly-off from a CV, as done
in previous occasions.

Of course, I'd like to know the actual ready units in the Mediterranean with
their strenght, plus the units transferrable from Britain and Indian Ocean
during June 1942.

Also, I'd like to know some details about the Luftwaffe unit presents in the

I'd love to know your opinion about the odds of the opposing forces.


Operazione C3 - 2 -Navy [Was Re: Could Royal Navy save Malta?] Davide Pastore 4/28/98 12:00 AM

This piece is relative to the "blue water" operations of the Navy, excluding
the actual landing operations and the landing forces, which will be

discussed in detail in another piece.

Situation of Regia Marina, circa June 1942

The situation is indicative only; in particular the assignments of DDs to a
particular Squadriglia were very elastic.

Apparently in June no major warship were at work (all kept ready for C3),
although some of the DDs could have been.

(Note: Italian ships of the time tended to sport very long names, as "Luigi
Amedeo di Savoia, Duca degli Abruzzi" for example. They were generally
referred to in a much shorter form).

Div. = Divisione (BB, CA & CL)
Sq. = Squadriglia (DD)
Amm.Sq. = Admiral (3-stars)
Amm.Div. = Rear Admiral

At Naples: Amm.Sq. Iachino (Fleet CIC), Amm.Div. Giovanola (9th Div.).

9th Div. - BB Littorio [flag], V.Veneto.
1st Sq. - DD Mitragliere, Legionario.
13th Sq. - DD Alpino, Carabiniere, Bersagliere, Fuciliere

Iachino was still under the shadow of Matapan (actually he spent the
remaining part of his life writing books supporting his conduct in that
occasion). It's probably safe to assume that, in the event of a night action
against enemy, his conduct would have been VERY cautious.

The brand-new DD Legionario was the only Italian ship fitted (since March
'42) with a working radar: a German Fu.Mo 24/40 G [De.Te. in Italian
service] with a 14 NM surface radius.

The Littorio had (since August '41) an Italian E.C.-3/bis "Gufo" [Owl]
radar, but the system was still experimental and unreliable. It was
exchanged with the fully-working version E.C.-3/ter in September '42 (17 NM
surface, 45 NM air radius).

BTW, the often-heard claim that Italian Navy was unaware of the very
existence of radar until Cape Matapan is a blatant lie, since her studies on
the topic had been started in 1936.

At Taranto: Amm.Sq. Bergamini.
[but redeployed to Messina for C3]

5th Div. - BB A.Doria [flag], C.Duilio, G.Cesare.
14th Sq. - DD N.Zeno, U.Vivaldi, L.Malocello.
15th Sq. - DD L.Pancaldo, A.Pigafetta, A.Da Noli, G.Di Varazzano.

This group would be tasked with the shore bombardment. See the relevant
section for more details. It's doubtful (also considering the fuel
situation) that the AA-weak Cesare would have take part in the operation;
she was removed from active fleet at the end of '42.

But for shore bombardment and crew training, there was precious little use
for such ships. Too slow to catch a cruiser, too weak to face a battleship.

At Messina: Amm.Div. Parona.

3rd Div. - CA Gorizia [flag], Trieste, Trento, Bolzano
10th Sq. - DD Oriani, Gioberti, Maestrale, Grecale

(Trento sunk 15.6.42 by British sub Umbra)

3rd Division was the weak spot of the fleet. The flagship Gorizia - although
extremely well protected - could only make 29 knots on normal load, while
her much faster sisthrens had much thinner armour. Also, the Italian 8in
guns were higly unprecise, particularly the light mounts on the Trento-class
which suffered from vibrations induced by the machinery.

75% of the Zara-class had the misfortune to be cut to pieces by point-blank
15in fire at Cape Matapan. Against cruiser they would have been a much
thoughter nut to crack.

At Augusta: Amm.Div. De Courten.

8th Div. - CL G.Garibaldi [flag], D.d.Abruzzi, D.d'Aosta
12th Sq. - DD Ascari, Corazziere, Granatiere

Although they didn't manage to fire a single shot during the war, the
Garibaldi-class ships were considered in Italy as the best cruisers in the
Mediterranean (if not in the world): very well protected, very fast and very
precise-firing (for our standards, of course..).

These ships were the backbone of Italian Fleet during 1950s - Garibaldi was
even reconstructed as CG.

At Cagliari: Amm.Div. Da Zara.

7th Div. - CL E.d.Savoia [flag], R.Montecuccoli, M.Attendolo
11th Sq. - DD Aviere, Geniere, Camicia Nera

Seventh Division was the elite of the Navy, period. Add to this that Da Zara
was just the only Italian admiral who shown aggressivity during the war, and
you have a potential trouble for the Royal Navy.

(Note: the Italian CL Eugenio di Savoia, the KriegsMarine CA Prinz Eugen and
the Austrian BB Prinz Eugen were all named after the same person).

Comando Squadra Sommergibili
(Submarine Squadron HQ)
Amm.Div. Legnani.

About 30-40 ready subs, mainly of the "600-tons" classes.

All operative large boats transferred to Bordeaux [Betasom] or employed as

C3 plan called for two thirds of the ready subs to be placed along the 2 to
4 deg E area (line Baleares-Algers) with the remaining third along the 24 to
26 deg E area (line Crete-Tobruk).

F.N.S. - Forza Navale Speciale
(Special Naval Force - tasked with landing protection)
Amm.Sq. Tur (F.N.S. CIC & 11th Div.) - "Famagosta" beach.
Amm.Div. Biancheri (12th Div.) - "Cipro" beach.

CL Bari (ex-SMS Pillau) - [flag 11th Div.]
CL Taranto (ex-SMS Strassburg) - [flag 12th Div.]
Both CLs assigned to F.N.S. as flagship for training and rehersals only, but
not to take part in the actual C3 operation.
"Escort Sloop" Procione [flag Tur for C3], Orione [flag Biancheri for C3],
Pegaso, Orsa
16th Sq. - DD N.Da Recco, A.Usodimare, Premuda [ex-Yug. Dubrovnik]
7th Sq. - DD Freccia, Dardo, Saetta
8th Sq. - DD Folgore, Lampo, Strale
3rd Sq. - DD Crispi, Sella, Lubiana [ex-Yug. Ljubljana]
4th Sq. - DD Euro, Turbine, Sebenico [ex-Yug. Beograd]

(DD Usodimare sunk in error by Italian sub Alagi on 8.6.42)

plus about:
20 torpedo boats [mix of Spica-class and "three-pipes" ships]
20-30 M.S., M.A.S. & V.A.S.

M.A.S. = the classic small torpedo unit (2x450mm torps, 1x20/65, 40+ knots).
M.S. = bigger version, derived from captured ex-Yugoslavian boats,
themselves derived from German S-booten (2x533mm & 2x450mm torps, 2x20/65,
30+ knots).
V.A.S. = ASW version of M.S. (2x450mm torps, 2x20/65, 20 knots).

For the amphibious craft, see the landing section.

German Forces in the Mediterranean
Adm. Weichold - "Larnaca" Beach

The official C3 plan doesn't provide detailed ship info, but for the fact
that such landing would have been directed by Admiral Weichold (ex-liason
officer of KriegsMarine with Regia Marina HQ, and now CIC of German Forces
in the Med).

It's probable that the flagship would have been the DD ZG3 Hermes [ex-Greek
V.Georgios], the only "big" German ship around.

While apparently this command was created only for political and/or courtesy
reasons, the puzzling thing is: "Larnaca" was by far the most dangerous
beach of C3 !! I suppose that the poor Weichold had accepted such "courtesy"
just for pride.

Other local forces, assigned to traffic protection routine

In Sicily:
10 torpedo boats
30-40 M.S., M.A.S. & V.A.S.

In Greece and Aegean:
10 torpedo boats
25-30 M.S., M.A.S. & V.A.S.

Other Navy major assets

CV Aquila - at Genova, under conversion (never completed).
BB C.d.Cavour - at Trieste, under reconstruction (never completed).

CL R.Cadorna - Schoolship in Adriatic.

BB Roma - at Genova, in training, to go to 9th Div.
CL A.Regolo - as above, to 8th Div.
DD Corsaro, Bombardiere, Velite - as above, to 1st Sq.

Shore bombardment

[see the landing section for more info]

According to C3 plan, only a single coastal artillery installation could
fire against "Famagosta" beach. This was the Benghaisa Fort (at the extreme
SE corner of the island). Its armament was estimated by C3 plan at "two big
guns in cavern installation, plus fifteen small ones".

5th Division was tasked with the silencing of such fort. The ships (Doria,
Duilio and maybe Cesare, plus DDs) would have to be exposed to the minimum
possible danger, firing from the maximum distance. The start of the action
was scheduled at 18.00 of X-day (06.00 of X-day being the invasion start),
approching the coast from SW with the sun behind to disrupt land fire.

It was expected to fire 10 "first charge" shells (26,000 metres range) from
each gun, followed by 20 "second charge" shells (21,000 metres range) from
each gun.

If the enemy main guns had been silenced, the BBs would then shift the fire
against the nearby Hal Far airport, while the DDs would have approached at
10,000 metres and fired about 20 shells per gun against the coastal

The operations would have shortly preceded, and somewhat covered, the
landing on the nearby "Larnaca" beach.

Navy problem 1 - Gunnery

Italian Navy was plagued by very poor firing precision during the war. The
main reasons are:

a) - But for BBs and "new generation" CLs (Garibaldi and Capitani Romani
classes), all twin gun mounts were of the common-cradle version, with
insufficient space between gun bores. Also, such mounts were usually very
light built.

b) - The 152/53 mounts of the old CLs (Mod.1926 & Mod.1929) were highly
automated for the time - i.e. unreliable. The subsequent 152/55 and 135/45
were more dependant on hand-power, and were very successful.

c) - The Navy had a tradition of paying premiums to gun builders if the gun
reached a muzzle velocity higher than expected. As a result the 152/53 just
missed 1,000 m/sec during firing trials, which AFAIK was (and maybe still
is) a record for naval guns. This turned into extreme wear of the bores.

e) - The directors were poor. The computer mounted on Littorio-class had a
reaction time of 3 minutes between data input and firing solution - and it
was the most sophisticate afloat. Against fast and maneuvrable targets they
were of little use. Also, all guns but the excellent 90/50 weren't
director-controlled, but used a follow-the-pointer firing system.

f) - The allowed tolerance on the weight of projectiles and firing charges
was as high as +/- 1%. This turned into high dispersion. As a result,
Italian ships invariably straddled the target from the first salvo !! This,
at first, could be taken for good firing - IIRC Cunningham at Punta Stilo
thought just that. As a comparison, the ex-German 15cm L45 (149/43 in Italy)
had an average dispersion of 50m when employing original ammo; 500m
(ten-fold) with Italian-built ammo.

The puzzling question is: why nothing was done ? IMO the Navy was well aware
of its limitations, but reputed that such problems were common abroad too.
So, the Royal Navy's gunnery precision was a bit of a cultural shock.

Navy problem 2 - Fuel

Fuel availability was _the_ big problem of the Navy at the time - bigger
still that poor firing precision. Fifth Division was removed from fight to
all purpose at the end of '42 due to lack of fuel - to the point that later
some DDs could be refuelled only using the remaining quantity in the bunkers
of the Dorias !!

According to C3 plan, the invasion would have required 40,000 to 50,000 fuel
tons in total. This would have such an impact on fleet operations that BB
and cruisers were allowed _one_ sortie each only - plus the fuel burned in
port while being kept ready to move - unless Germany could provide extra

Evalutation of enemy strenght

According to C3 plan, the strenght of Royal Navy in June 1942 would have

At Gibraltar: 1-2 BBs/BCs, 2-3 CVs, 0-2 CAs, 2-6 CLs, 12-30 DDs.

At Alexandria: 0-2 BBs, 0-1 CVs, 0-2 CAs, 5-7 CLs, 15-20 DDs.

Of course, I'd like to know the actual ready units there, plus the units
available on short notice (say 5 days) in Britain and Indian Ocean during
June 1942.

Light forces (CLs and DDs) were expected to be near Malta at about 00.00 of
(X+2)-day (06.00 of X-day being the invasion start), with a permanence there
of 3 to 6 days (depending upon the agibility of La Valletta for refuelling).

It was expected that enemy BBs wouldn't have ventured in the Maltese waters,
inside the Sicily air cover.

Instead, Italian HQ was particularly worried about the possibility of a
reprisal bombing action of Force H against Genova. It was considered a more
dangerous action (for political reasons) that an attack mission against the
invasion convoy (which would have been air-covered).

Another expected British operation was a landing against the
Vichy-controlled Algeria, Tunisia and particularly Corsica, to force Italy
to redeploy its assets.

With exclusion of the 5th Div., all other major units would have been kept
in port, ready to move on short notice.

I'd love to know your opinion about the odds of the opposing forces.


Operazione C3 - 3 - Army [Was Re: Could Royal Navy save Malta?] Davide Pastore 4/29/98 12:00 AM

This piece is relative to the operations of the Army, excluding the actual
landing operations which will be discussed in detail in another piece.

Regio Esercito's forces to be employed in C3

(Note: I was unable to find the name of most commanders)

? Army - General Sogno
Total strenght: 94,000

A) Corpo d'Armata d'Aviosbarco (Air Landing Corps)
General Student (according to C3 plan)
Total strenght: 29,000

- Parachute Division "Folgore" (7,500)
- 7.FliegerDivision (German) (11,000)
- Airmobile Division "Spezia" (10,500)

B) XXX Corpo d'Armata [30th Corps] - 1st wave
General ?
Total strenght: 32,000

- Infantry Division "Friuli" (9,500)
- Infantry Division "Livorno" (9,500)
- Infantry Division "Superga" (9,500)
- X Ra.Co. - Raggruppamento Corazzato [10th Armoured Group] (2,500)
- Corps units (1,000)

C) XVI Corpo d'Armata [16th Corps] - 2nd wave
General ?
Total strenght: 26,000

- Infantry Division "Assietta" (9,500)
- Infantry Division "Napoli" (9,500)
- Corps Units (7,000)

D) C.T.S. - Comando Truppe Speciali [Special Forces HQ]
(attached to F.N.S.)
Total strenght: 7,000

- "San Marco" Regiment (2,000)
- Gruppo Battaglioni Camicie Nere da Sbarco [Blackshirt Amphibious Troops]
- Italian Special Forces elements (500)
- Other German elements (500)

Army Organisation

Div = Division
Rgt = Regiment
Bn = Battalion
Coy = Company
Grp = Group
Bty = Battery

1. Infantry Divisions
Strenght: about 9,500 men each.

Infantry formations to be employed in C3 had a slight different TOE than
usual. Medium howitzers were left in Italy; mortars and AAA were doubled.

To save space on the landing craft, most of vehicles were deleted. Each Div
had only 24 TL.37 4WD tractors (for the 75/18), 24 light trucks (for
artillery ammo) and 20+ motorbykes. All supplies were to be moved by hand,
for the duration of the battle.

The infantry Div. had two infantry Rgts, each of three infantry Bns, plus an
artillery Rgt.

Each infantry Bn had three infantry Coys (each with 12xLMG) and a MG Coy
(with 8xHMG and 18x45mm mortars).

Each infantry Rgt had a weapons Bn, with one cannon Coy (with 8x47/32) and
two mortars Coys (each with 9x81mm mortars).

The Div had a third independent weapons Bn, organised as the other two. The
47mm in this Bn were officially named "Anti-Tank guns", the other being
"Infantry cannons".

The divisional artillery Rgt had two artillery Grps, each of three Bty (each
with 4x75/18 T.M.) and a AAA Grp of two Btys (each with 8x20/65).

Infantry Division total weapons:
24x75/18 T.M.
54x81mm mortars
108x45mm mortars

2. Parachute Division "Folgore"
Strenght: about 7,500 men

As Inf. Div., but:
- Instead of each regimental weapons Bn there was only a single mortar Coy;
- Artillery Rgt had four Grps (one "Anti-Tank", three "Light Artillery") all
armed with 47/32 guns.

I was unable to find an exact figure for the actual number of guns. IMO each
Grp had two Btys of 8 guns for 64 in total.

Para Division total weapons:
64 (?) x47/32
27x81mm mortars
108x45mm mortars

3. Airmobile Division "Spezia"
Strenght: about 10,500 men.

As "Folgore", but with three infantry Rgts. One Rgt (185th Para) was fully
jump-trained, the other two being normal infantry.

4. 7.Flieger-Division  (German)
Strenght: about 11,000 men (C3 plan)

According to C3 plan, the entire 7.Flieger-Division was to take part in the
air-landing (nine infantry Bns, six to jump in the first wave and three in
the second wave), although AFAIK it was still fighting in Russia, on the
Leningrad front.

OTOH, at the time the only FallschirmJager unit present in the Mediterranean
theatre by sure was the Ramcke Brigade (four infantry Bns), shipped later to
Africa. In November 1942 the independent 5th FJRgt was in Italy; it's
possible that it was available in summer too.

I was unable to find much detail on FJ equipment. Artillery units were armed
with 10,5cm LG42 and/or 7,5cm LG40 recoiless guns. Anti-tank units were
armed with 2,8cm sPzb41 squeeze-bore guns.

C3 doesn't list any data on 7.FDiv, but for the assigned gliders which
amounted to "some hundreds" of Go.242 plus "a dozen" Me.321 super-heavies.

5. X Ra.Co.
Strenght: about 2,500 men

This ad hoc unit comprised:

- One medium SP artillery Grp (with 2 Btys with 4xM41 Semoventi each) with a
Bn-sized motorcycle unit attached (presumibly Bersaglieri, with 200+
3-wheels motorbykes and 800+ men);

- Three light SP infantry cannon Bns (each with 19xL40 Semoventi), each with
a Coy-sized motorcycle unit attached (with 100+ three-wheelers and 400+

These were the only motorized troops of the Army.

The three light Bns were attached one each to the Infantry Div of XXX Corps;
the medium Grp was the Corps reserve.

6. Italian amphibious troops
Total strenght: 6,000 men

"San Marco" Rgt (Italian Navy marines, Maro' for us) had two Bns organised
as infantry, plus one cannon Coy (8x47/32 guns) and one mortar Coy (9x81mm

Blackshirts units were organised in two "Raggruppamenti", each similar to
the "San Marco".

These forces would have been in the first wave of the amphibious landing. C3
plan called for three similar-sized forces to land into "Famagosta", "Cipro"
and "Larnaca" beach. Oddly, instead of using the three Rgt as complete unit,
each landing group would have been a mix of Maro' and Blackshirts.

Each landing group would have a Genio Guastatori (assault sappers) Bn
attached, with flamethrowers and engineers equipment

7. Italian Special Forces
Total strenght: 500 men

Main asset was the third Bn - nuotatori [swimmers] - of "San Marco" Rgt, the
very first men to hit the beaches.

Also, C3 plan called for "some tens" of saboteurs to jump mixed with the
manikins. These men came from the X Arditi Rgt (Italian Army SF unit) and/or
ADRA Bn (Arditi Distruttori Regia Aeronautica - Italian Air Force SF unit).

8. Other German Elements
Total strenght: 500 men

C3 plan called for a glide landing against Benghaisa Fort (after the BB
bombardment, of course), to be executed by 300 men of 7.Flieger-Div's
pioneer units.

But for FallschirmJagers, the only German ground unit to take part in C3 was
a group of 10 tanks, to be landed on "Larnaca" beach.

About these tanks, C3 plan keeps referring to them as "52-tons tanks". Of
course, the word "Tiger" springs to mind - but for the fact that in June '42
only the two prototypes existed !!

Possible solutions:
- There were 10 Pz.Kpfw.VI ready yet. I request your info here.
- German propaganda, that Italians blindy trusted.

Other than Tigers (what a baptism of fire !!), most probable tanks would
have been Pz.Kpfw.IV ausf F1 and/or Pz.Kpfw.III ausf L.

I've read on a British wargame magazine that Germans were collecting
captured KV-1s for the landing. The author didn't mention his source, so it
might be only a fantasy.

9. Corps Units
Total strenght: 8,000 men

First-wave XXX Corps had only the bare-minimum HQ troops: about 1,000 men
with only 60 motorcycles as vehicles.

Second-wave XVI Corps' auxiliary units included a reserve artillery Rgt

- One medium Grp of three Btys (each with 4x149/19)
- Two medium Grps, each of three Btys (each with 4x105/32)
- One AAA Grp of one heavy Bty (with 6x90/53) and two medium Btys (each with

In addiction there was the usual collection of ancillary support units
(signals, services, engineers, etc...) with 200+ trucks.

About Italian equipment

The 14-tons Semovente M41 was based on the M14 tank, with the turret removed
and a 75/18 gun-howitzer fitted in the casemate. Unlike the German STUG, it
was intended for indirect-fire purpose; it was in fact the first SP
artillery vehicle in service in the world.

The gun could be used in the direct-fire role too, firing shaped-charge
shells. I don't know if such shells were assigned to the towed Btys too. In
spite of the short bore it was a powerful weapon, its penetration
characteristics being about equivalent to those of M3 General Grant's 75/31.

The big weak spot of M41 (and M14) was the diesel engine. The
power-to-weight ratio was only 9 HP/ton, and the speed over difficult
terrain suffered accordingly.

Maximum armour was 30mm on the front.

The 6,5-ton Semovente L40 was similarly based on the L6 tank. It mounted a
47/32 in the casemate, and was intended as an infantry assault gun.

The 47/32's penetration was about equivalent to those of the 2-pdr.
According to British tank crews the gun was indeed superior, since its
shells had the explosive charge that 2-pdrs lacked.

With 10 HP/ton the L40 wasn't much more agile than M41, although being much
lighter it had less problems on rough ground.

Maximum armour was 30mm on the front.

The heavy AA guns could, and did, be employed as anti-tank guns. The 90/53
was as powerful as the 8,8cm FlaK36, and the 75/46 as the 7,5cm PaK40.

Other Italian equipments had the standard characteristics of similar systems
around the world, with the exception of the LMG (Breda Mod.1935) which was
one of the worse in existence.

About Italian soldiers

Italian soldiers are usually considered some of the worse, if not the worst,
WWII troops. This is the classical example of history being written by the

The troops on the Russian front, which were not particularly hand-picked,
put up a good fight. This is aknowledged by both Germans and Russians.

Regio Esercito problems were bad equipments and worse logistics, not quality
of men. Sadly, these two aspects were paramount in the North African desert.

Morale only collapsed after the loss of Sicily.

"Folgore" Division had extreme high morale and was the best division in the
Italian Army. This unit was later shipped to El-Alamein where it was
eventually overwhelmed by the British. The paras' fight was superb, despite
its light weaponry.

BTW, talking about "good defeats", one Rgt of the actual "Folgore" is named
"El Alamein". The division's motto is: "Manco' la fortuna, non il valore"
[Luck was lacking, courage wasn't].

"San Marco" and Blackshirts troops, although not to the same level, were
all-volunteers elite forces.

Tank troops (despite the many faults of their machines) were quite
competent, having learnt their art the hard way. And were bold. During the
invasion of Sicily, a MG-armed light tank Bn charged the US Rangers at Gela,
to be vaporized by CL Savannah's gunfire. An action reminescent of Balaklava

C3's infantry divisions remained in Sicily and had to front the Allied
Invasion in the following year. Of course they lost, but their fight wasn't
any bad if you take into account the odds against them.

The big weakness was the logistical system. Infantry formations usually had
too few vehicles for efficient supply - and during C3 they would lack  those
few too.

Expected enemy strenght

According to C3 plan, the enemy forces on the islands were:

- Mobile units: 12,000 British troops, with 32 medium artillery guns.
- Second-line units: 4,000 Maltese troops, policemen etc...
- Static units: 10,000 Coastal artillerists, RAF, RN, etc...

Fixed defences included:

- 19 major coastal guns (12in to 16in)
- 130 smaller coastal guns (4.7in to 9.2in)
- 84 AA guns.

A 1940 study credited the garrison with 100 tanks. This seems a huge number.

I was unable to find any info on the Allied forces on the islands, but for
the fact that tanks units included Matilda Mk.II and Vickers Mk.VI (at least
one of each type !!). The characteristic "giraffe-like" camouflage pattern
adopted for Malta tanks is unmistakable.

Matilda and M41 were pretty evenly matched: the Brit had better armour and a
rotating turret, the Italian better firepower and lower profile. And both
were very likely to get stuck in the boundary-walls maze of Malta without
any difficulty.

IMO the Malta-best-suited allied tank of the time was the M3 General Stuart.
Vickers were just too light to do much harm to the enemy.


I'd love to know your opinion about the odds of the opposing forces.


Operazione C3 - 4 - Landings [Was Re: Could Royal Navy save Malta?] Davide Pastore 4/30/98 12:00 AM

This piece is relative to the actual landing operations. Next (and hopefully
last) one will cover the assorted odds and ends of the campaign (plus the
inevitable errata...).

Reference map of Malta

Sorry, I haven't draw an ad-hoc map. We'll use the one at: ["Large Map of Malta"]

The wartime features relevant to C3 are:

1. Luqa airfield. It was located at the point where the two landing paths
shown meet.

2. Hal Far airfield. It was located in the area where the NW "arm" of the
paths shown lies.

3. Safi airstrip. Just in the middle of the actual NW-SE Luqa's path.

4. Taqali airfield. About half-way between Mosta and Mdina.

5. Qrendi airfield. Just north of Qrendi.

6. Marsa airstrip. About half-way between Qormi and Rahal Gdid.

7. Victoria Line. This was a pre-war defence line built along a natural rift
which cut out the NW corner of the island. Imagine a line that starts near
the letter "M" of "Malta", directed to SW in such a way as to follow the
shown chain of hills, passing on the NW of Mosta. Near the middle of the
island the line curved to W, and ended in line with the word "Sea". All
defences fronted to NW.

8. Benghaisa Fort. At the extreme SE corner of Malta, just 1Km to the S of
the letter "B" of "Marsaxlokk Bay".

9. Airdrop zone. Extending from SE outskirts of Dingli, to S outskirts of
Siggiewi, to SW outskirts of Zurrieq. Including Qrendi and its airfield.
About 10Km x 2Km.

10. First manikins drop zone. Halfway between Balzan and Zebbug. About 3Km x
2Km. Airdrop consisting of 120 manikins and "some tens" of saboteurs.

11. Second manikins drop zone.On the N of Mosta, W of Victoria Line. About
2Km x 2Km. Airdrop consisting of 100 manikins.

12. "Famagosta" beach (point 1) ["Famagosta" was the SW coast of Malta]. The
promontory 3-4Km NW of following point 2.

13. "Famagosta" beach (point 2). The bay on the SW of Zurrieq.

14. "Larnaca" beach (point 1) ["Larnaca" was the SE coast of Malta]. Just SE
of Benghaisa Fort.

15. "Larnaca" beach (point 2). Along the E peninsula closing Marsaxlokk Bay.

16. "Cipro" beach (point 1) ["Cipro" was Gozo]. The bay on the N of Nadur.

17. "Cipro" beach (Point 2). Ir-Ramla Bay.

18. "Cipro" beach (Point 3). Marsalforn's harbour.

19. "Cipro" beach (point 4). The bay on the E of Ghadb.

20. "Cipro" beach (point 5). Qala tax-Xiendi Bay.

21. Chambray Fort. At Gozo. Just S of Mgarr.

22. "Beyrouth" beach [feint]. Ghajn Tuffieha's harbour. The feint was to be
carried by one MS laying a smoke curtain at 01.00 of (X+1)-day, plus a few

23. "Alessandretta" beach [feint]. Mellieha Bay. Feint as per above.

24. "Jaffa" beach [feint]. The coast just under the letter "M" of "Malta".
Feint as per above.

Italian landing crafts available for C3

10 x PF (Piroscafo) [Aventino, Viminale, Quirinale, Italia, Milano,Tunisi,
Calino, Rosandra, Crispi, Donizzetti]
Small passenger ships. Capacity from 800 to 1,400 men.

6 x PFC (Piroscafo da carico) [ ? ]
As above, but loaded with cargo. Capacity 3,000 tons.

2 x NT (Nave traghetto) [Messina, Aspromonte]
Ex-Messina Strait railway ferries. 1,000 tons. Capacity 4-8 tanks each.

4 x MC (Motocisterna) - [Sesia, Tirso, Scrivia, Garigliano]
Pre-war purpose-built LST. Utilized for artillery transport. Could carry two
75 Btys with vehicles.

5 x PM (Posamine) [Buccari, Durazzo, Pelagosa, Crotone, Vieste]
Ex-light minelayer. Makeshift bow ramp (motorcycle-able). Capacity 500 men.

2 x MN (Motonave) [Aquileia and ?]
Ex-Venice ferries. Similar to PM. Capacity 400 men.

4 x PFP (Piroscafo Piccolo) [Tabarca, Sauro, Mafalda, Argentina]
Ex-Capri ferries. As MN.

70 x MZ (Motozattera) [50 Italians, 20 Germans]
German MPF model. 250 tons, 10 knots. Armament 1x76/40, 1x20/65. Bow loading
ramp. Capacity 220 men, or vehicles for 50 tons.

30 x MV (Motoveliero)
Ex-trawlers. Makeshift bow ramp (men only). HMG-armed. Capacity 300 men, or
100 tons of supplies.

24 x MF (Motoscafo)
Ex-Venice motorboats. 20 tons. LMG-armed. Capacity 75 men.

50 x ML (Motolancia)
Littler still motorboats. 15 tons. Capacity 30 men.

A) - Airdrop zone

1st wave - 06.00 of X-day

Forces to land:
- 4 infantry Bns of para division "Folgore", with light supports.
- 6 infantry Bns of 7.Flieger-Division, with light supports.

Italians were to land on the NW, Germans on the SE.
Manikins and saboteurs were to jump along 1st wave.

2nd wave - 12.00 of X-day

Forces to land:
- Balance of "Folgore"
- Balance of 7.FD

A third airdrop (supplies only) was scheduled at 18.00 of X-day.

3rd wave - ?

Aimobile division "Spezia" was the Army reserve, to be employed according to
the situation. It could be air-dropped (185th Rgt only), air-shipped (after
capture of an airfield) or surface-shipped.

B) - "Famagosta" beach
Covered by 11th Div., F.N.S.
Amm.Sq. Tur [flag Procione]

Expected enemy strenght

But for Benghaisa Fort, no coastal artillery unit was reputed to be able to
fire on the beaches. The defences at "Famagosta" were expected to be light,
with only a few MG positions. No gun has been identified along the entire SW

1st wave - 04.00 of (X+1)-day

Forces to land:
- 2,000 amphibious troops
- Infantry division "Friuli"
- X Ra.Co.

At point 1:
- 1,000 amphibious troops;
- One infantry Rgt;
- One L40 Bn;
- M41 Bn;
- Artillery Rgt;
- Elements of divisional services;
- 500 tons of assorted supplies.

Landing craft for point 1:
2 x NT (M41)
3 x MC (Artillery)
3 x PM
25 x MZ
5 x MV (supplies)

End of landings: 11.00 of (X+1)-day, but for the supplies that will require
another 24 hours.

At point 2:
- 1,000 amphibious troops;
- One infantry Rgt;
- Divisional Weapons Bn;
- Elements of divisional services;
- 500 tons of assorted supplies.

Landing craft for point 2:
2 x PM
20 x MZ
5 x MV (supplies)

End of landings: 09.00 of (X+1)-day, but for the supplies that will require
another 24 hours.

But for the supplies-carrying MVs, all crafts were to hide near the cliffs
of the coast until 20.00 of (X+1)-day, and then return to Sicily ASAP to
enbark division "Assietta".

2nd wave - afternoon of (X+1)-day

Forces to land:
- Infantry division "Livorno"
- One L40 Bn
- XXX Corps troops

Landing craft:
10 x PF

Mens and equipment were to be transported to the beach by means of the light
crafts previously employed at "Cipro". The PF were to be protected by smoke

End of landing: night of (X+1)-day.

All PFs were to return to Sicily ASAP, to enbark division "Napoli".

3rd wave - [see]

Forces to land:
- Infantry division "Assietta"

To be transported by the landing craft which had previously disenbarked
division "Fiuli".

It was estimated that such convoy could start the landing operations from
10.00 of (X+3)-day onward, if the aero-naval situation looked favourable.
Otherwise, the craft were to arrive at "Famagosta" during the night of
(X+3)-day and complete the landing before next dawn.

4th wave - [see]

Forces to land:
- Infantry division "Napoli"
- XVI Corps troops

To be transported by the PFs which had previously disenbarked division

ETA and related considerations were the same of the 3rd wave. If by
(X+3)-day the Army had succeeded in capturing Marsaxlokk Bay, the six PFCs
carrying supplies were to be included in the convoy too.

C) - "Larnaca" beach
Covered by German Div., F.N.S.
Amm. Weichold [flag ZG3 Hermes]

Expected enemy strenght

Strong. Other than Benghaisa Fort (supposedly armed with "two big guns in
cavern installation, plus fifteen small ones"), defensive installations
along the 6Km E-SE coast included (from N to S):

- Zonkor Bty - 2-7.5in
- S.Tommaso Fort - "Armament unknown"
- S.Paolo Bty - "One big gun"
- Tu-Silch Fort - Telemetric station, some AA guns
- Wolseley Bty - 4-12in, 4-7.5in
- S.Luciano Fort - "Two big guns in cavern installation".

Although most of these weapons fronted to the E.

1st wave - 21.00 of X-day

Forces to land:
- 300 German pioneers
- 80 Italian saboteurs

At point 1:
- 300 German pioneers transported by gliders. They would have to take
possession of the Benghaisa Fort (which, hopefully, would have been put out
of action by 5th Div. gunfire) a la Eben Emael-style.

At point 2:
- 80 Italian saboteurs (swimmers), approaching the beach on light crafts.
Intended to disrupt the fire of the other local forts against the following

2nd wave - 04.00 of (X+1)-day

Forces to land (at point 1 only):
- 2,000 amphibious troops
- 10 German tanks

Landing craft (all German ones):
- 10 MZ (troops)
- 10 MZ (one "52-tons" tank each)

D) - "Cipro" beach
Covered by 12th Div., F.N.S.
Amm.Div. Biancheri [flag Orione]

Expected enemy strenght

According to C3, the only defensive asset on Gozo was Chambray Fort, with
2-14in facing S, some AA guns and a small garrison, plus a battery with
2-8in facing SW on nearby Kemmuna island. Balance of Gozo was reputed

The operation was considered quite easy. It was planned to be able to ship
half of the troops here to Malta 5-10 days after the landing.

1st wave - 01.00 of (X+1)-day

Forces to land:
- 2,000 amphibious troops
- Light elements of infantry division "Superga"
- One L40 Bn

At points 1-5 (each):
- 400 amphibious troops;
- One infantry Bn;
- Heavy weapons elements.

plus two 75 Btys and the L40 Bn at point 3.

Landing craft (complessive):
1 x MC (artillery)
5 x MZ (L40)
20 x MV
24 x MF
50 x ML
Note that, "Cipro" being the least-defended beach, its assigned landing
crafts were a motley collection of the least-effective types.

End of landings: 06.00 of (X+1)-day.

2nd wave - morning of (X+1)-day

The balance of "Superga" (sixth infantry Bn, remaining artillery and
divisional services) was to be landed at one or more of the points, at
commander's discretion.

Landing craft:
2 x MN
4 x PFP

In the late morning/afternoon of (X+1)-day the lesser crafts (MF & ML) were
to be shipped to "Famagosta", to be employed in the PF-to-beach shuttle
role. The mayor crafts were to return to Sicily during the night.


I'd love to know your opinion about the odds of the opposing forces.