How come Malta was not invaded?

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Jul 5, 2005
vancouver ,B.C.
I have always wondered why Germany (and Italy too) didn't invade Malta as they did to Crete? I know that the paratroopers suffered heavy losses on Crete but they overcame tremendous odds to capture the island.I always thought that an airbase in reach of Italy,Africa and the supply routes would be more of a concern than Crete. :confused: Just wondering...
I would imagine that it has to do with the size R-man it is a lot smaller than Crete so easier to defend if a sea borne invasion was attempted the RN presents would have made it a real non starter also there are even fewer beaches on Malta than Crete and they are all tiny, everywhere else is very rugged and unsuitable to land troops as for airborne the AA defenses on Malta where very extensive even when Faith Hope and Charity where the only land based planes on the Island. However at sea was a fair sized fleet with two carriers and any paratroop carriers in the area would have been decimated.
The only real strategic value of the Island was too the allies with its Valletta dry dock facilities for the axis forces it did not hold the same use as they had Italy so the general attack on Malta was to deny the habour as a viable repair base. Although operations from the airfield increased later at the time when an invasion would have been practical, air strikes against the axis land or sea forces did not originate from Malta, most where carrier based or before its capture, from Crete.
Later Alexandria, Hal Fah etc where used but Malta still enabled the fleet to remain on station disrupting Rommel's Africa corp supplies in the middle east and effecting the out come there quite considerably.
One of the major reasons Malta was not invaded was Rommel. The request was made to Rommel to move some of his air support away to attack Malta and either destroy it or invade it. The Rommel denied the request and invaded Eygpt, claiming he could take it with Malta still intact.

As we all know, he failed at El Alamein and then freed some of his air support to attack Malta. A little late by then because the RAF had already stationed Spitfires there.
OK, I kind of figured a that a small area is easier to defend. But If the Luftwaffe Paratroopers attacked Malta instead of Crete do you guys think it would have made a difference? I know hindsight is 20/20, but I would have attacked Malta instead of Crete. :?:
That's a question that has been asked for 60 years. Personally I believe it would have made a world of difference. Malta was on the exact route between Italy and Tripoli, the major supply route for Rommel. Malta was almost spot on halfway between Alexandria and Gibralter also. This provided a great staging post between the two major ports.

Crete was far off from the supply route compared to Malta. If the German forces had landed on Malta before Crete and taken it, it would have certainly made a difference. Would Germany have been able to take Malta? I don't know. The Fallschirmjager suffered up to 50% casualties taking Crete and their seaborne invasion didn't have an easy time, the entire first wave was wiped out including the escort destroyer Luzo. And this is on an island with no air defence aircraft and practically nil AA defence.
If Malta had been taken out, Rommel may have been able to get his supplies to defeat the British in N. Afrika. Also it would have allowed the Germans to interfear with the British Supply lines somewhat.
Maybe it was to not offend the Italians (they seem to get on well with the Maltese(rs :lol: )

What I want to know is why the PzIV's were up-armoured for it? :confused:
Just made me wonder if it was for diplomatic reasons.

Do you have any ideas on the PzIV question PlanD?

What was the best anti-tank gun in Malta d'ya reckon? :confused:
I haven't a clue on the Pz.Kpfw IV issue. Have you got any information on the up-armouring of the Pz.Kpfw IV for Malta? I know the Pz.Kpfw IV Ausf G was up-armoured with seven-hundred being superior in armour protection to the other five-hundred or so. But that was a general improvement that was made due to improvements in Allied armour rather than precisely for Malta.

I would think Malta would have at least a few OQF 6pdr. If not I know it had some AA battalions whose AA cannon would take out a Pz.Kpfw IV with relative ease. Especially the automatic Bofors 40mm.
I don't think the Pz 4 was up armoured due to an attack on Malta. They were always updating the armour and the Germans in the Pz 4 had a tank that could easily take the extra weight.
I don't know about the anti tank guns but Malta certainly had some Matilda tanks which were based around the airfields, no doubt they had 2pd anti tank guns as well. I don't know how the Germans would have transported tanks to the island so the Anti Tank weapons would have been a smaller issue
An airborne attack is an infantry attack and with the heavy AA defences on Malta the attacking aircraft would have received heavy losses. The AA guns would have taken a heavy toll of the transport planes and the infantry on the ground. The Germans were stung by the losses on Crete and Malta would have been a tough nut to crack.
It should also be remembered that the defences would have learned the lessons of the loss of Crete and their morale was high. No evacuation would have been possible and they would have fought to the end.
As to why they never invaded, I am not sure but the Germans transferred large numbers of plane to prepare for the invasion of Russia and I expect this to have been an influence. That plus the time needed to replace the losses of Crete might have been a factor.
Had the Germans done it then we would have lost the Middle East and the course of the war would have changed.
Only a small piece on Achtungpanzer website:

In preparation for the planned Invasion of Malta in March of 1942, 12 PzKpfw IVs with 80mm frontal plate were requested and produced.

Glider said:
They were always updating the armour and the Germans in the Pz 4 had a tank that could easily take the extra weight.

I know that the PzIV's main weakness was the front bogie wheels, so an increase in weight made it worse and got the JgdPzIV the nickname 'Guderians duck' - even though he never wanted it built in the 1st place!

Even with 80mm though the 6pdr would be able to get it @ about 500m, the Bofors as PlanD mentioned even better.

Though the Matildas would likely have been no match.
I don't know if they had the 6pd on Malta but I would be suprised if they did. 6pds were is very short supply at that time and my guess is that Matla would be a low priority as the armies in the Desert would have had first call.
Re the use of Bofors, I don't think that they would have been effective against armour as they lacked AT ammunition. In addition they are large guns visible at some distance and easily knocked out by the HE from the PzIV.
There is no doubt that the PzIV could take the extra weight as its development history is well known. I think you will find the the PzIV at Bovington is an early version that was uparmoured to much later standard.
Had the PzIV got ashore then we would have been in trouble, but I still don't know how they were going to get them onto the Island. That would have been Malta's best chance.
A few Bofors 40mm did have some credit of knocking out Pz.Kpfw IVs in their service life. Despite the fact they did lack AP ammo, the constant impact of HE shells tended to either scare the crew to abandon or cause some damage. I'll try and find the story I had of some AA crews.

And, schwarz, I wouldn't take that site as the ultimate source of information. It has been known to have been wrong.
I am reading a book on the seige of Malta at the moment and I just read the bit about the possible invasion (see quote below). A plan was drawn up to invade either Malta or Crete. All the German chiefs of staff voted for Malta as crucial to the securing of the supply line to North Africa (which it was). However Hitler overuled them and order the invasion of Crete because he wanted to secure his southern flank in Russia and he was worried about his Rumanian oil fields and thought that Britain could launch bombing raids on them from Crete.

In fact the Germans had seriously considered invading Malta. That spring (1941), Section L of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) had been asked to prepare an appreciation of whether it would be better to invade Malta or Crete. All officers in the section - from the Army the Navy and the Air Force - unanimously agreed it should be Malta, as this seemed to be the only way to secure the sea-route to North Africa permanently. But despite this, Hitler overruled them, insisting it should be Crete because he still feared British air-strikes on the Rumanian oilfields and mistakenly believed the Island could have far-reaching possiblilities for the Luftwaffe
Taken from "Fortress Malta : An Island under Siege 1940 - 1943" by James Holland (P157 Paragraph 2)

The failure to invade Malta was just another one the occassions when Hitler overruled his Generals. Just think how different the war would have been if they had had more control over the objectives.
You guys are giving too much credit to a possible defense of malta.Late in 1940/early 1941 the defences on the island were almost non-existant(saw it on World at War I believe)only a handful of planes,literally and almost no troops(a few battalions?)And if invaded b4 crete,than no lessons to learn from that loss by the allies right?As for AA,who says you HAVE to invade the most heavily defended point?Remember,the allies invaded the areas AROUND the ports in N.Africa during operation Torch,then took the cities themselves.And with way more infantry(and air dropped artillery/mortars you could pin down the available defenders,then pick your spots to set up your own small manuverable guns and pick off whaterver AA guns the defenders had,right??
An island as small as Malta would provide quick reaction times for the Allied forces there. No matter where the Germans landed, the Allies could react quickly. Had Germany invaded Malta instead of Crete it's likely they would have won the battle, however we must remember that the Royal Navy were in ownership of the Med. Any naval fleet would be smashed out of the water, just like the first wave of Crete's invasion fleet was (including Italian destroyer Luzo). Malta was much more heavily defended by AA than Crete was, and Crete's invasion Fallschirmjager suffered a loss rate of almost 50%!

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