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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• Aircraft carrier HMS Argus is attempting to deliver twelve Hurricanes to Malta, escorted by Ark Royal, battlecruiser Renown, plus two cruisers and seven destroyers. On receiving news that the Italian fleet is at sea south of Naples (Ammiraglio di Squadra Inigo Campioni with battleships Vittorio Veneto and Giulio Cesare plus escorts), Admiral Sir James Somerville orders an early launch at extreme range. The Hurricanes depart in two waves, each guided by a Skua. Only one Skua and four Hurricanes arrive. Eight Hurricanes run out of fuel amid buffeting headwinds, and seven of the pilots drown. The other Skua crash lands in Sicily. "

 

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[The Skua that crash landed in Sicily[

 

HMS_Argus_(1917)_crop.jpg

 

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• Two more Junkers Ju-87B equipped squadrones enter combat service with the Regia Aeronautica, assigned for attacks on Malta to replace the initial two squadrones that have been redeployed to Albania for the Greek campaign. After a week of operations, they too will be ordered to Albania due to the success of the Greek counteroffensive."

 

Picchiatelli.jpg.6864125f02a2b274f13146109888ef40.jpg

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today[

Battle of Cape Teulada (aka Spartivento)

  • An Italian force under Ammiraglio di Squadra Inigo Campioni consisting of battleships Vittorio Veneto and Giulio Cesare, six cruisers, and twelve destroyers, attempts to intercept a Malta bound convoy south of Sardinia.

- Campioni’s orders are to only engage if assured of success. Guided by an IMAM Ro.43 floatplane from heavy cruiser Bolzano, they encounter a British cruiser force under Vice Admiral Lancelot Holland backed up by Vice Admiral Sir James Somerville’s Force H, consisting of battleship Ramillies and battlecruiser Renown with nine destroyers. Carrier Ark Royal with more destroyers hangs well back, covering the 'Collar' convoy which has a close escort of elderly light cruiser Despatch, AA cruiser Coventry, two destroyers and four corvettes. Seven Swordfish from the carrier attack Vittorio Veneto and although Campioni reports that the attacks are pressed “with resolution” the fast battleship evades the torpedoes.


- A second strike from Ark Royal, this time with bomb laden Skuas and Swordfish with torpedoes, fails to find the Italian battleships and attacks cruisers without making any hits.

 

- During the battle, a Vichy French Farman F.220 carrying former Director of the Sûreté (civil police) Jean Chiappe to Lebanon to assume his new post as High Commissioner of the Levant is shot down in error by Italian fighters. Chiappe’s task was to ensure that Syria-Lebanon remained Vichy. All aboard are killed.

Farman_F.221.jpg

 


- An Italian airstrike is belatedly made on Force H in the late afternoon. Bombers attack from high altitude but nonetheless straddle Ark Royal with about thirty bombs, two of which land within ten yards of the carrier. Admiral Somerville remarks that neither Fulmar fighters nor AA gunfire was able to break up the formations of the Italian air squadrons, and it was fortunate that these attacks were not repeated.

 

228793917_ArkRoyalstraddledbyItalianbombs27Nov40.jpg.76bf7795c6feeffab5affb04f90e3c83.jpg

[HMS Ark Royal straddled by Italian bombs 27 Nov 1940]

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• Convoy MW-5 arrives at Malta escorted by battleships Warspite, Valiant, and Malaya plus sixteen destroyers. HMS Warspite, with Commander in Chief Mediterranean, Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham aboard, puts in to the beleaguered port with three destroyers. Cunningham uses the visit to meet with Governor Lt. General Dobbie and Vice Admiral Malta Sir Wilbraham Ford. The arrival of the battleship is watched by innumerable Maltese spectators and leaves a very favorable impression. Cunningham will depart before dawn the next morning. "

 

HMS_Valiant_fires_guns_1942.jpg.c8b59dc2d1849fde7eda26aff90ed939.jpg

HMS Valiant from HMS Illustrious during exercises in 1942

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• Due to constant Italian air raids and difficulty of resupply, British submarines based at Malta are told to RTB to Alexandria, Egypt, following their patrols. Over the next year or so a handful of small U class boats will occasionally operate out of Malta, spending the daylight hours submerged in Valetta Harbour."

 

Valetta.jpg.88a990a95a6b7a9ae9d85b7da3d393ce.jpg

"Merchant vessel in Valetta, capital of Malta, during a raid. "

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• A mine off Pantelleria blows off the bow of destroyer HMS Gallant, killing 58 crewmen. She was escorting EXCESS convoy MC-4, and will be towed to Malta but damaged by subsequent bombing and declared a total loss.

 

1720066703_HMSGallant.jpg.86d7c028f36cd42cc0328ef5c02508ff.jpg

 

• Italian torpedo boats Vega and Circe intercept an EXCESS convoy near Malta. Light cruisers Southampton and Bonaventure expend 75% of their ammunition to sink Vega while Circe escapes. Bonaventure is lightly damaged by return 3.9” gunfire. Italian submarine Settimo fires torpedoes at Southampton but misses.

• Heavy air attacks are made on escorting forces for the EXCESS supply convoys. Italian and German aircraft concentrate on the battleships and carrier HMS Illustrious.

- In the morning, Fulmars shoot down an Italian reconnaissance plane shadowing the fleet.
 
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- Admiral Cunningham had directed Illustrious to remain between battleships Valiant and Warspite “as a morale booster” despite objections from the carrier’s Captain Denis Boyd who prefers to maneuver independently at higher speed. Cunningham may have also wanted Illustrious under the battleships’ AA umbrella, with flagship Valiant newly refitted with radar and improved AA batteries.

- Italian SM-79 torpedo planes (various sources report two or four) go in first at very low level and undetected by radar. They launch at Illustrious and Valiant then race through the fleet and away at high speed, with the Fulmars on CAP diving from 14,000 feet to pursue. At least one torpedo narrowly misses HMS Valiant. The Fulmars pursue the Sparvieros for 50 miles, claiming to have downed one Sparviero. They also strafe one Italian bomber spotted on the ground at Linosa Island.

- One Fulmar is badly damaged by return fire and several have exhausted their .303 ammo. As Taranto may be considered a prequel to Pearl Harbor, this could be a prequel to Midway as the torpedo plane attack leaves the sky clear for 36 (some sources say 43) German Ju-87 dive bombers from X Fliegerkorps which has newly arrived in Sicily.
 
386630847_Illustriousunderdivebombingattack10Jan41.jpg.f8eeaa1b610070dab64805f2aa454c46.jpg

- Illustrious is launching another five Fulmars when the attack comes in. The Germans strike Illustrious with at least four 250kg and/or 500kg bombs, destroying one Fulmar on deck that is having engine problems, wrecking one AA mount and hitting another AA mount with a bomb that fails to detonate. Illustrious is afire with a hole in her flight deck forward but her speed is unimpeded, though Captain Boyd slows to reduce the winds fanning the fire. The British claim to have shot down eight Stukas while the Germans report losing three. Aloft Fulmars are directed to refuel and rearm at Malta (80 miles away) as needed, then return to cover the fleet until the flight deck can re-open.
 
921877751_HMSIllustriousflightdeck.jpg.05f443b09bb49904381285649da15657.jpg

- Another attack, this time from high level German and Italian bombers, comes in but scores no hits.
 
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- Later in the afternoon Italian Ju-87 Picchiatelli from 237ª squadriglia of 96° Gruppo escorted by MC-200 fighters attack and hit the carrier again. The aft lift is open and one pilot puts his bomb down the well, knocking it out, starting a hangar fire, taking steering offline, and reducing her to 15 knots. She also develops a 5° list to starboard. One near-misses the quarterdeck, killing or wounding a party there tending to injured from the previous attack. All total, the British lose nine Swordfish and five Fulmars. Captain Boyd reports Illustrious out of service as a carrier and makes for Malta for emergency repairs, escorted by two destroyers.

- As dusk is settling in, another German dive bomber attack comes in. Illustrious, now some distance away, is not spotted and they target the battleships. HMS Valiant evades the attacks of fourteen Stukas, with one near-miss that kills one rating and wounds several more. Destroyer Janus is near-missed by a bomb that fails to explode.
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DD_Arthur

Wow! I never realised how intense these early battles around Malta were for the RN.

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today]
• German Ju-87s escorted by Italian MC-200 fighters attack British light cruisers southeast of Malta. HMS Southampton is hit and set on fire by two bombs. Gloucester is hit with one bomb that lands on the roof of the forward 6” director and passes through six decks without detonating, killing two and wounding seven. With further air attacks expected, and knowing Italian submarines are about, Southampton is ordered abandoned and sunk by torpedoes from HMS Orion. 727 survivors are picked up by Gloucester and destroyer HMS Diamond.

 

Southhampton.jpg.7fec98c908cea08260af91d4c6645576.jpg


- Shortly after the sinking, Admiral Cunningham will write privately to First Sea Lord Pound, “I don’t like these ‘Southampton’ class. They are fine ships but that great hangar structure seems to provide a good point of aim, they are always being hit there.”

• Despite heavy losses to the escort, the merchant ships of all three EXCESS convoys arrive at Malta without loss. Deliveries include food supplies, 3,000 tons of seed potatoes to help the populace withstand famine during the seige, 4,000 tons of ammunition, and 12 crated Hurricane fighters with spare parts.

• With HMS Illustrious crippled at Malta, carrier Eagle departs Alexandria escorted by battleship Barham, cruiser Ajax, and five destroyers to provide air cover to the convoy returning from Malta.

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] • Ten Wellingtons based on Malta attack Catania airfield on Sicily in an attempt to prevent German and Italian planes from attacking Malta while temporary repairs are carried out on the crippled aircraft carrier Illustrious.

697124653_Brencarriertowsatrolleyof250lbGPbombstoaVickersWellingtonatLuqaMalta.jpg.3e601c1d06ceaed864c89b986bb92e64.jpg

Bren carrier tows a trolley of 250 lb GP bombs to a Vickers Wellington at Luqa Malta

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jollyjack
On 11/17/2020 at 11:36 AM, cardboard_killer said:

Admiral Sir James Somerville orders an early launch at extreme range. The Hurricanes depart in two waves, each guided by a Skua. Only one Skua and four Hurricanes arrive. Eight Hurricanes run out of fuel amid buffeting headwinds, and seven of the pilots drown. The other Skua crash lands in Sicily

 

 Thanks for posting, now we really need a Battle of Malta in IL2. Malta is not even in Tobruk.

PS was this admiral fired? Degraded?

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DD_Arthur
4 hours ago, jollyjack said:

 PS was this admiral fired? Degraded?

 

Lol, wut!?  You think a handful of Hurricanes were worth risking a carrier for?  Think again.

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• HMS Eagle launches a strike of eight Swordfish against an Italian convoy but the aircraft fail to make contact. One Swordfish has to ditch after running out of fuel. A search by destroyer HMS Mohawk fails to locate the crew."

 

HMS_EAGLE_and_HMS_MALAYA_in_the_Mediterr

 

HMS Eagle with HMS Malaya in 1942

 

564350813_FaireySwordfishwreckoffMalta.jpg.573d21e0fac772125fea2595798f0243.jpg

Wreck of a Fairey Swordfish off Malta

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• Aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, undergoing frantic repairs in Valetta Harbour, is attacked by around 50 German Ju-87s and an undetermined number of Italian high level bombers, escorted by Bf-110s and Macchi MC-200s. The carrier is lightly damaged by near misses. Australian light cruiser Perth and British 11,000 ton steamer Essex are also lightly damaged by near misses. Two of Illustrious’ Fulmars, operating from Valetta airfield, are shot down defending their ship. Five Italian and German aircraft are shot down. "

illustrius.jpg.f97135b3d1b5916d8dd99cf0184898ff.jpg

HMS Illustrious (beneath large crane) under air attack. HMAS Perth is tied up along the waterfront near the center. The Maltese refer to this as the “Illustrious Blitz” due to the number of bombs that land in the city, killing large numbers of civilians. Previous bombing raids by the Italians have focused primarily on airfields. British pilots note that the German Stukas are reluctant to press their attacks into the heavy AA fire, and are releasing their bombs at high altitude.

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] Malta is bombed again by Axis aircraft, destroying five British aircraft on the ground. HMS Illustrious is not targeted as pilots in the previous attack reported her destroyed alongside the docks. This film is part of a propaganda piece about X Fliegerkorps (10th Air Corps) operations against Malta:

 

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• Fleet Air Arm Swordfish from HMS Illustrious still operating from Malta torpedo and sink the German 4,000 ton steamer Ingo off Tunisia. "

1340713301_Swordfishtorpedodrop.jpg.025addd66b4757016374e21e18d1acf6.jpg

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• Eight Swordfish from HMS Ark Royal attempt to torpedo the hydro-electric dam at Tirso on Sardinia, but are unsuccessful. One Swordfish and one escorting Skua are shot down and the crews taken prisoner."

 

2092315289_HMSArkRoyalpre-war.jpg.48c7850bf5013234b2611f1a2b7e0c89.jpg

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago and two days] "Squadron Leader Charles Derek Whittingham had been shot down and wounded during the Battle of Britain. He was now leading No 216 Squadron in the defence of Malta. Now that the Luftwaffe were operating in the Mediterranean this was developing into a very fierce battle.

 

Feb 25th
Red letter day.
Squadron sighted four bandits, enemy bombers, stooging around over Tilfa everyone went arse for leather at them. I saw one straggling about half a mile behind the rest, so left the Squadron and attacked it from the stern. I could not get an underneath deflection shot, as he was too low, only at 500 ft. I had given him three seconds burst, when he opened up at me. He was a very good shot. His tracers were going well around me. It was lucky I was not shot. I broke away sharply to right about 1½ seconds of his fire and did not see him burst into flames, and go into the sea. But the A.A. people did, so that’s my second since coming here. HH got another so did John B. All the flight fired their guns.

 

We celebrated this with a bottle of beer, but had hardly finished it, when we went on another flap.

 

Jock led and took us up to 26,000 feet. On the way down I noticed a plane on fire. I notified control. Jock heard me and circled round. He saw the bloke land in the sea. Fortunately, very near a ship. This picked Jock Watch up. So we flew home and pancaked. Watch had broken his leg in seven places, his arm in three. At the time of writing he is very dangerously ill. Seems to have lost the will to live, and will probably die.

To Rabat that night where the congratulations from Patsy and people were very heartening.

Anti-aircraft-position-at-Malta.thumb.jpg.3094cc4fa23234cf4720cc6cfa4a0045.jpg

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cardboard_killer

• An Italian convoy transits from Naples to Tripoli without loss, as does a convoy returning empty at the same time. The well organized system has a transit in each direction every other day, supplying both Italian and German forces in North Africa. The convoys typically consist of a half dozen ships escorted by a two or three destroyers and/or torpedo boats, with a pair of light cruisers supplying distant cover. The lack of effective interdiction by the British during this period allows the Afrika Korps and several Italian divisions to be transported to Libya without loss.

1035159816_ItalianMediterraneanConvoy.jpg.4b0a3f1f813cf8e02b210b9d62670916.jpg

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cardboard_killer

[80 Years ago today] "• Regular Italian and German air raids on Malta are continuing, with 76 tons of bombs dropped today."

 

1052650981_BombdamageMalta.jpg.988a7c79689b38957a3bcc4d471b9684.jpg

Bomb Damage in Malta

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Hurricane downed over Malta, March 1941

 

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Sunderland flying boat wrecked, March 1941

 

1351782304_MaltesechildrenplayonStukawreckage.jpg.ae83a3c18dd79443eba9ce0a49efae01.jpg

Maltese children playing on Stuka wing

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• Ju-87Bs of Sturzkampfgeschwader 1, escorted by Italian MC-200 fighters, attack convoy MW-6 which arrived in Malta’s Grand Harbour overnight. The British note that that Germans appear hesitant in the face of dense AA fire and release at high altitude. Two freighters are lightly damaged. Four Stukas are downed (the British claim 13 planes) while two Hurricanes are lost to the Macchi Saettas."

 

Macchi200_m2.jpg.0d1cf76e014bd9dfc22303cf6619de5f.jpg

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• Overnight, several waves of Italian and German bombers attack multiple targets on Malta. A large number of bombs hit Luqa aerodrome, damaging buildings and aircraft. One hangar is hit and burned out, a second badly damaged and two others slightly damaged. Water and electricity supplies to the airfield have been disrupted. Bombs also damages civilian property over a wide area: 40 houses are demolished, four civilians killed and seven seriously injured.

 

Maryland.png.fcc0a7ad07fce53fef2ae865e0f08441.png

Wrecked Maryland at Luqa "

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• Force H departs Gibraltar to fly off forty-eight Hurricanes to reinforce Malta [Operation Splice]. All of them will arrive safely.

 

OpSplice.jpg.d8673434c6006aa0a10d5859824bf581.jpg

Ark Royal, Furious, and Renown during Operation Splice "

Wikipedia has them beginning Operation Splice on 19 May, and flying the a/c off on 21-May; however, there is no citation for it there.

 

Naval-history.net has this recorded for Op Splice:


 

Quote

 

Operation SPLICE - FURIOUS was required to carry out a further delivery passage in 5.41, embarking 64 Mk II Hurricanes at Liverpool and then sailing to the Clyde to join the cruiser LONDON, both ships sailing for Gibraltar on 12.5 escrxted by BRILLIANT, LEGION, MASHONA and TARTAR from the Clyde until 15.5, relieved later by FEARLESS, HARVESTER, HAVELOCK and WRESTLER. FURIOUS and LONDON arrived at Gibraltar 18.5, LONDON having 575 Service passengers onboard.

 

On arrival, FURIOUS berthed stern to stern with ARK ROYAL and transferred 20 Hurricanes and 5 of her own Fulmars over a timber ramp erected between the two ships round downs. Both ships then sailed on 19.5 screened by battlecruiser RENOWN, cruiser SHEFFIELD and destroyers BRILLIANT, FAULKNOR, FORESTER, FOXHOUND, FURY and HESPERUS. After launching 48 Hurricanes and 5 Fulmars all ships returned to Gibraltar arriving 22.5.

 

Three Glenn Martin aircraft from Malta were sent out as leaders for the fighters, 46 Hurricanes arrived at Malta, one crashed off Cape Bon and one is logged as "missing"; 16 further aircraft remained at Gibraltar.

 

During this operation the destroyer FORESIGHT made her return from Malta to Gibraltar independently.

 

 

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• In Operation Rocket, carriers Ark Royal and Furious launch 44 Hawker Hurricanes to Malta. 43 arrive, guided by Blenheims. Two dozen of the arrivals are newer Mark-II fighters. German and Italian raids on the island are still a near daily occurrence. "

 

THE SUPPLY OF MALTA 1940-1942,

 

Quote

Operation ROCKET - ARGUS meanwhile was loading 29 cased Hurricanes on the Clyde, and sailed with the cruiser EXETER to join convoy WS 8B on 22.5, arriving at Gibraltar on 31.5 having been met by the destroyer FORESIGHT. FURIOUS, after a fast passage to the UK and turn round, arrived on 1.6 with 48 Mk II aircraft, loading some into ARK ROYAL immediately on arrival. ARGUS made a stern to stern transfer of her aircraft to FURIOUS at the same time the ultimate stowage being 20 Hurricanes in FURIOUS and 24 in ARK ROYAL, the balance were landed at Gibraltar for erection there.

ARK ROYAL and FURIOUS, escorted by battlecruiser RENOWN, cruiser SHEFFIELD and destroyers FAULKNOR, FEARLESS, FORESIGHT, FORESTER, FOXHOUND and FURY sailed 4.6 and launched 44 Hurricanes on 6.6. One Hurricane returned with defects, the remaining 43, escorted by 8 Blenheims from Gibraltar, arrived safely.

The squadron returned to Gibraltar, arriving 7.6, when FURIOUS sailed for the UK to load more aircraft, joining ARGUS at sea en route, both carriers arrived in the Clyde 14.6 accompanied by the liner NEA HELLAS and escorted by the destroyers COSSACK, MAORI and SIKH. FURIOUS was escorted from Gibraltar by Force H which transferred to escort VICTORIOUS on meeting ARGUS and her escort.

 

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• Aircraft carriers Ark Royal and Furious launch 32 Hurricanes for Malta. One Hurricane crashes into Furious’ bridge structure and starts a fire on the flight deck, killing 17 and preventing the last six aircraft from taking off.

 

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Hurricanes en route Malta in 1941

 

1498372797_HMSFurious.jpg.dd60ee1e97e9995b8c4244fc3b818790.jpg

HMS Furious"

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "• The Regia Aeronautica hits the “Substance” convoy to Malta with a coordinated airstrike. Between Tunisia and Sardinia, SM-79 torpedo aircraft attack from two sides while CANT Z-1007 and SM-79 high level bombers attack at the same time. Battleship Nelson downs one torpedo plane and fighters from Ark Royal disrupt several attacks. Destroyer Fearless is torpedoed and sunk, while light cruiser Manchester is torpedoed and damaged. Destroyer Firedrake is bombed and has to return to Gibraltar along with Manchester. Both ships will be repaired in the USA.

 

700295304_CANTZ-1007Alciones.jpg.def50be6a142f62deb7fed34247b862c.jpg

CANT Z-1007 Alciones

 

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Savoia-Marchetti SM-79 Sparviero

 

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HMS Fearless burning and sinking with HMS Nelson visible

 

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Burial at sea for men lost aboard Manchester"

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cardboard_killer

[80 years ago today] "Italian bombers based in Sardinia damage 9351-ton British tanker Hoegh Hood, part of Convoy MG-1 returning to Gibraltar from Malta. The Hoegh Hood, which is empty, is able to continue to Gibraltar.

An Italian CANT Z.506 reconnaissance seaplane, escorted by 42 Macchi C.200 fighters, spots the Operation Substance ships arriving in Malta. The RAF launches 22 Hawker Hurricanes to attack the Italian formation, and the British shoot down three of the Italian fighters without loss to themselves. Overall, the Italians lose about a dozen aircraft during their operations surrounding Operation Substance."

 

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