Operation Pedestal

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Erich, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    Gents anyone have any info or where to have me locate something on this relief mission out of Gibralter during early 1942 ? the force was sighted by Ju 88D-1's of 1.F/122 and then hampered by LW torpedo bombers, etc all along the route..........or so I have heard

    thanks all !
     
  2. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    i think i have some thing in a couple of Fleet Air Arm books i have Erich, willl have a look on sunday when i'm next off work.
     
  3. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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  4. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Erich, these are notes that I put together many years ago from different sources.....

    11 August 1942
    The Allies tried to resupply the island of Malta with a convoy of fourteen merchant ships and twenty warships, codenamed ‘Operation Pedestal’. This was the biggest operation ever mounted from the Gibraltar end. The Luftwaffe took note and with the Italian Air Force began attacking the fleet. At 2045 hours thirty-six Axis warplanes attacked the convoy with no results.

    12 August 1942
    The attacks on ‘Operation Pedestal’ convoy continued. At 0915 hours twenty Luftwaffe aircraft attacked the fleet. Then at 1215 hours the ‘Deucalion’ was damaged and sunk by a combined force of Italian and Luftwaffe aircraft totaling seventy planes. At 1840 hours,100 warplanes manage to sink the ‘Foresight’ and damaged the carrier ‘Indomitable’. But at 2000 hours the Luftwaffe had its most success. Twenty German aircraft along with two submarines were able to sink the ‘Cairo’, ‘Clan Ferguson’ and ‘Empress Hope’. The ‘Nigeria’, ‘Brisbane Star’, ‘Kenya’ and ‘Ohio’ were damaged.

    13 August 1942
    Operation 'Pedestal’ made port at Valletta but not before the Luftwaffe sent another twelve aircraft to attack the convoy. They succeeded in sinking the SS ‘Waimarama’ and further damaging the ‘Ohio’. The ‘Waimarama’was sunk by German Junkers Ju 88 dive bombers off Cape Bon. Direct hits by four bombs ignited aviation fuel stored in cans on her deck. The ship exploded in a sheet of flame and smoke. In less than five minutes the ship was gone. Of her crew of 107, only 27 men survived. Later at 1900 hours the Luftwaffe also sank a merchant ship straggler. The Operation 'Pedestal' convoy was the most bombarded convoy in the entire war.
     
  5. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Pedestal: The Malta Convoy of August 1942 by Peter C. Smith
    Malta Convoys by David Thomas

    There might also be something in Christopher Shores Malta the Spitfire Year 1942 but I'm not sure.
     
  6. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    I have a copy of a report, by the senior officer of Force "F," which I found in our National Archives, and can send to an E-mail address (at 15-16 pages, it's far too big to put it on here.) "Pedestal" took place in August, 1942, incidentally, not early in the year.
     
  7. mhuxt

    mhuxt Active Member

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    The gallantry of 'Ohio' and her crew are the stuff of legend.
     
  8. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    thanks guys so far keep the thread alive, will pick up a copy of Smiths work later although old by todays standards it is old and could use an update(s), still thew ork on the crazy o0peration in August of 42.

    anything any of you can additionally provide here or privately to me please do. going through some other sites including a very fine Italien into English, Stuka units were used very heavily besides Italien flying units along with a mix of KM and Italien PT/Schnellboot. can we call it a German victory ? .............. don't think so. Again the resolution of British nand American ship defenses and some big LW losses during the attacks......
     
  9. Tankworks

    Tankworks Member

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    Check out 'Red Duster, White Ensign' by Ian Cameron, it has the story of the Malta convoys.
     
  10. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    Whilst aircraft losses were high, they paled in comparison to the startegic calamity that would have befallen Malta if Ohio had not made it to port!
    Kesselring threw everything he had at the convoy yet three made it from the main body and another by a different route the next day if i recall, it is a testement to the courage of those merchant sailors who must have felt like ducks in a shooting gallery, that Ohio made it and was able to unload her cargo is nothing short of a miracle and some extremely bad luck for the Axis who must have thought she was a goner after the hammering they gave her!
     
  11. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Sources: Fioravanzo, La Marina Italiana Nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale, vol. 5, pp.
    410–13;

    Royal Navy and the Mediterranean Convoys, pp. 129–31; “Operation Pedestal,”
    Supplement to the London Gazette, p. 450-6.


    "THE ALLIED FORCES
    OPERATION PEDESTAL
    FORCE F
    Convoy WS.5.21S
    13 freighters (Empire Hope, Dorset, Wairangi, Rochester Castle, Waimarana,
    Brisbane Star, Port Chalmers, Almeria Lykes, Santa Elisa, Clan Ferguson, Glenorchy,
    Melbourne Star, Deucalion)
    1 oiler (Ohio)
    Additional escorts from Britain to Gibraltar: 5 destroyers (Keppel, Malcom,
    Amazon, Venomous, Wolverine)
    FORCE Z
    2 battleships (Nelson, Rodney)
    3 aircraft carriers (Victorious, Eagle, Indomitable)
    72 fighters, 38 torpedo bombers3 light cruisers (Charybdis, Phoebe, Sirius)
    15 destroyers (19th Destroyer Flotilla) (Laforey, Lightning, Lookout, Quentin,
    Eskimo, Tartar, Wilton, Westcott, Wrestler, Somali, Wishart, Zetland, Ithuriel,
    Antelope, Vansittart)
    FORCE X
    4 light cruisers (10th Cruiser Flotilla) (Nigeria, Kenya, Manchester, Cairo)
    11 destroyers (6th Destroyer Flotilla) (Ashanti, Intrepid, Icarus, Foresight, Fury,
    Derwent, Bramham, Bicester, Ledbury, Pathfinder, Penn)
    1 ocean tug (Jaunty)
    FORCE Y
    2 freighters (Troilus, Orari)
    2 destroyers (Matchless, Badsworth)
    FORCE R
    3 fleet oil tankers (Brown, Ranger, Dingledale)
    4 corvettes (Jonquil, Spirea, Geranium, Coltsfoot)
    1 tug (Salvonia)
    Malta Escort Force (17th Minesweeping Flotilla)
    4 minesweepers (Speedy, Hythe, Hebe, Rye)
    7 motor launches (121, 126, 134, 135, 168, 459, 469)
    Submarine Group (10th Submarine Flotilla)
    2 submarines off Milazzo and Palermo (P.211, P.42)
    6 submarines between Malta and Tunisia (P.44, P.222, P.31, P.34, P.46,
    Utmost)
    OPERATION BELLOWS
    1 aircraft carrier (Furious)
    RESERVE ESCORT GROUP
    8 destroyers (Keppel, Westcott, Venomous, Malcolm, Wolverine, Amazon,
    Wrestler, Vidette)
    OPERATION M.G. 3
    Port Said
    Convoy M.W.12 (3 merchant vessels)
    Escort (2 cruisers, 10 destroyers)
    Haifa
    1 merchant vessel
    2 cruisers
    3 destroyers
    SERVICEABLE LAND-BASED AIRCRAFT ON MALTA
    9 fighter squadrons
    3 torpedo-bomber squadrons
    4 bomber squadrons
    2 air recce squadrons
    38 Spitfire fighters from Furious
    (Note these forces were unavailable for most of the battle)

    The Allied sector of the main effort in Operation PEDESTAL was the western
    Mediterranean, while the easternMediterranean was the sector of secondary effort.
    This decision was predetermined because the convoy started its voyage in
    Gibraltar and headed towardMalta. The sectors of effort dictate where the principal
    forces and their supporting forces should be concentrated or employed in a
    major naval operation. In a defensive major naval operation as was Operation
    PEDESTAL, the main Allied forces were those that defended the convoy, Force X.
    Force Z, submarines, and land-based aircraft were supporting forces.
    VEGO 125
    THE AXIS FORCES
    ITALIAN MAJOR SURFACE FORCES
    3rd Naval Division (Messina)
    3 heavy cruisers (Gorizia, Bolzano, Trieste)
    7 destroyers (Aviere, Geniere, Camicia Nera, Legionario, Ascari, Corsaro,
    Grecale)
    7th Naval Division (Cagliari)
    3 light cruisers (Eugenio di Savoia, Raimondo Montecuccoli, Muzio
    Attendolo)
    4 destroyers (Maestrale, Gioberti, Oriani, Fuciliere)
    1 destroyer for mining the Sicilian Narrows (Malocello)
    8th Naval Division (Navarino)
    3 light cruisers (Duca degli Abruzzi, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Emanuele Filiberto
    Duca d’Aosta)
    5 destroyers
    SUBMARINES
    18 Italian submarines (Bronzo, Ascianghi, Alagi, Dessié, Avorio, Dandolo,
    Emo, Cobalto, Otaria, Axum, Asteria, Brin, Wolframio, Granito, Dagabur,
    Giada, Uarsciek, Vellela)
    2 German U-boats (U-73, U-333)
    LIGHT FORCES
    2nd MS Squadron (MS 16, 22, 23, 25, 26, 31)
    15th MAS Squadron (MAS 549, 543, 548, 563)
    18th MAS Squadron (MAS 556, 553, 533, 562, 560)
    20th MAS Squadron (MAS 557, 554, 564, 552)
    German S-boats (S30, S59, S58, S36)
    Total: 9 cruisers, 17 destroyers, 20 submarines, 10 MS, 13 MAS
    LAND-BASED AIRCRAFT (SICILY/SARDINIA)
    Italian 287th, 146th, 170th, 144th, 197th air squadrons
    328 aircraft (90 torpedo bombers, 62 bombers, 25 dive-bombers, 151
    fighters)
    German II Air Corps
    456 aircraft (328 dive bombers, 32 bombers, 96 fighters)
    Total: 784 aircraft (328 Italian, 456 German)"

    (Note: The aircraft numbers available to the Axis are disputed, there is a wide variation in the vailability......it could be as low as 590 a/c. 784 was the number reported by kesselring to OKW the day the operation began)
     
  12. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Lt Col Eddie Bauer - The History Of WWII Jaspari Polaris Monaco 1984
    Lt Col Eddie Bauer is a swiss historian. not a fantastic source, but he is considered thorough and unbiased

    In Chapter 34 of his book he makes the following observation

    "it was difficult to keep such a large operation as the pedestal convoy a secret,and the italian secret serviceused paid informers in the bay of Algeciras to give ample early warning of the the convoy. German B-Dienst wservices had also given warning of the operation some days previously. This allowed the germans to prepre down to the smallest details and concentrate a maximum of force to counter the allied movement. Recognizing that the re-supply of Malta represented a direct threat to the control of the central basin, Kesselring Admiral Ricardi of Supamarina and the Commando Supremo command issued instructions accordingly. This shows a close level of co-operation now existed between Supermarina under adm riccardi, Superareo(Gen Rino Corso Fougier and the german commands under feldmarshal Kedsselring and Admiral Weichold. (Supermarina) reported that it could not use its four battleships so great had the fuel crisi become. in a memot to OKW kesselring reported August 10 on the following force availability

    1.16 Italian and 5 German submarines which had the task of attacking the enemy between the straits of algiers and the Sicilian Narrows.
    2. A total of 784 aircraft from both FKX and the RA (447 bombers, 90 torpedo aircraft, 247 fighters and fighter bombers)
    3.18 MTBs which had been ordered to concentrate around Cape Bon and the island of Pantelleria
    4. 6 cruisers and 11 destroyers which in conjunction with the the land based air units would finish off the convoy."

    Bauers account then gives a pretty good summary of what happened. Eagle was sunk by U-73 1209 on the 11th August, south of Majorca. RN DDs a few hours later attacked and sank the italian submarine Dagabur as she attempted to torpedo the Furious.

    There were some vlr attacks at 2000 on the 11th by Ju88s . These attacks were inneffective

    "At 0800 on the 12th the convoy was 120 sw of Cape Spartivento, and came under the first air attacks at about that time. Bauer states "throughout August 12, the CAP of the three carriers repulsed successive attacks that amounted to more than 200 aircraft. 28 were shot down and scores forced to turn back before pressing home their attacks . The successes of the Axis attackers were extremely meagre, the CAP not deviating from its primary purpose....to break up and disrupt the axis attackers, and not be drawn away from the defence of the fleet. Axis success was extremely meagre - one cargo vessel damaged by a bomb lagged behind and was finished off during the night by an MAS boat. Hits were scored by Ju87s on the flight deck of the Indomitable , however it was possible to transfer the planes of this carrier to the Victorious. Destroyer Foresight was hit by a torpedo and was scuttled. The eastwards movement of the convoy continued, with four more airstrikes between 1600 and 1900. At 1908 some 65 miles NNW of Bizerte, Syftret detached the main force from the convoy and turned west".

    The main force increased speed and had cleared the sardinian narrows by morning. they were not again troubeled by the Axis air units. However during the night, Axis submarines and MTBs were very effective. RM submarines Axum and dessie hit and sank the AA cruiser Cairo (a major loss at that point)and also hiting tanker Ohio. Cruiser Nigeria was also hit, whilst two cargo vessels were hit by night air attack (which were sunk after 2200 by italian naval forces). In addition, RM sub Alagi damaged the cruiser Kenya and sank another merchant ship. MAS Boats sank a further 4 cargo ships and the cruiser Manchester".

    However during that fateful night the convoy moved from a point west of the skerki bank to a point 60 miles south of Pantelleria and about 80 miles from Malta ....well within fighte range (now reinforced by the Spifires flown off from Furious the previous day). A fierce battle was now raging in the axis high command....what to do with the available fighters. Should they be used to provide aircover to the cruisers so as to finish off the convoy with naval power, or should they be used to provide escort to the strike aircraft? The axis high command decided to put their faith in the air force and allocated their fighters to escort duties. The commanders could not agree, the final decision was made by Mussolini himself.

    It was a bad decision. The next day beginning at 8am and continuing all day, the axis delivered multiple attacks on the convoy. They were largely unsuccessful. The newly arrived Spitfires and the beafighters on Malta prevented all further losses bar one. worse, the italian cruiser force itself was attacked on its way home by RN submarine Unbroken, the cruisers Bolzano and Atendolo were both hit and so badly damaged they never returned to service.
     
  13. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    "Hitler's Stuka Squadrons" by John Ward (pg 160) states that on the evening of 12 Aug 1942, 29 Ju 87s from StG 3 attacked HMS Indomitable, hitting the deck and preventing her from using her aircraft.
     
  14. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    Parsifal i've already writed that this is not possible (it's possible that there were 328 combat planes it's not possible that thar 5 air squadrons (what's a air squadron in italian air force?) had its). So again can check the source and report the italian words?
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I agree that it cant be just 5 squadrons, but we do agree that there were 328 italian aircraft.

    I'll have another look at the source, though I dont speak Italian.....
     
  16. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    just copy the words don't need you speak italian
     
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