At one of the bases, Ta' Qali, 841 tons of bombs were dropped, because the Germans believed the British were operating an underground hangar. Only then did the surface fleets return to Malta to support the offensive. Malta was a significant military and naval fortress, being the only Allied base between Gibraltar and Alexandria, Egypt. Bristol Blenheim bombers also joined the defenders and began offensive operations. More than 14,000 bombs were dropped, destroying about 30,000 buildings but Malta still fought on. [1], For example, in July 62,276 tons of supplies was landed by the Axis, half of the figure in June. The vessels had to spend most of their time submerged, and the surrounding flats and residences where crews had enjoyed brief rest periods had to be abandoned. The diversion of the North African Campaign drew away significant Italian air units which were rushed from Italy and Sicily to deal with the disasters. On 10 January they were within range of the Ju 87 bases. Eventually 2,000 miners and stonemasons were recruited to build public shelters. [170], The submarine proved to be one of the most potent weapons in the British armoury when combating Axis convoys. On 18 January, the Germans switched to attacking the airfields at Hal Far and Luqa in an attempt to win air superiority before returning to Illustrious. Several bombs were dropped in world ww2 such as atomic bombs,nuclear bombs explosives and many more Some of them probably were close to the 2.7 MILLION TONS of bombs dropped in WW Two. Axis forces in North Africa were denied around half of their supplies and two-thirds of their oil. [77] Geisler, commanding the remnants of Fliegerkorps X, could only count upon mine-laying aircraft from Kampfgeschwader 4 (KG 4) and Ju 87s in night operations. [176] The British air-submarine offensive ensured no fuel reached North Africa in the first week of October 1942. For example, 6,728 tons of bombs were dropped on the island during the month of April 1942 alone. Malta was beginning to starve. They did not pass on the intelligence to the Admiralty, who probably would not have sailed within range of the Ju 87s if they had known. [116] The pressure increased and in January the RAF lost 50 Hurricanes on the ground and another eight shot down in combat. [99] In October, 18,800 tons of Axis shipping was sunk. Not only did this preclude any large-scale naval operations, it also left the Italians without adequate fuel for sharpening their combat skills at sea. 'Malta was the most consistently heavily bombed place on Earth during WWII.' The Italians believed they could not beat the Royal Navy's fleet of ageing battleships or keep them bottled up in Alexandria, despite having an apparently formidable navy themselves. Thirteen-year old Rita Galea, 8-year old Joseph Muscat and 42-year old Francis Cutajar lost their lives in this attack. [13], The island itself is 17 by nine miles and has an area of just under 100 square miles (260 km2). Hitler's strategy of neutralising Malta by siege seemed to be working. In December 1942, air and sea forces operating from Malta went over to the offensive. [112] The success against Axis shipping soon dried up. Bomber units included 199 Junkers Ju 88s of II./Lehrgeschwader 1,[144] II and III./Kampfgeschwader 77,[145] I./Kampfgeschwader 54,[146] and 32 to 40 Ju 87s. Moreover, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, one cruiser and three destroyers were sunk by a combined effort from the Italian Navy, Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe. Over 17 days, the Luftwaffe suffered 34 Ju 88s and 12 Bf 109s destroyed and 18 damaged. Malta was the only place from where British strike aircraft could launch their attacks. [63], In contrast, the Hurricanes were patched up and cannibalised beyond their expected service life. 185 Squadron claimed 18 destroyed, seven probable victories and 21 damaged for 11 killed or missing. [57] On 11 January 1941 10 more Ju 87s were sent to sink Illustrious. [115], Over the island the defensive arm of the RAF was also put under pressure. The base soon came under attack. The Italians, in agreement with Kesselring, put invading Malta at the top of Axis priorities in the region. The reluctance of the Italians to act throughout 1940 was strengthened by the Battle of Taranto, in which the Italian surface fleet was severely damaged by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. But Italian intelligence had overestimated the defences, and Mussolini's belief that Britain would sue for peace with Germany meant Malta would fall and be annexed without the need for military action on a large scale. In all of the Vietnam War, 6,715,000 tons of military explosives were dropped, roughly 3 times the amount of bombs dropped in all of WW2. Malta was one of the most intensively bombed areas during the war. [11] In October 1939, the Mediterranean Fleet was moved east to Egypt, practically stripping the island of its naval protection. By 15 December, half of these vessels were either in the Mediterranean, or on their way to the Theatre. [93], Hawker Hurricane Mk IIB Z5140. All livestock had been slaughtered, and the lack of leather meant people were forced to use curtains and used tyres to replace clothing and shoe soles. The Luftwaffe in particular swarmed over the island almost at will. Among the written-off Axis cargo were precious fuel stores. She could not go as deep or dive as quickly as the T and U Class types, but it still made nine supply missions to Malta, which was more than any other vessel of its type. 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