Comparative Strengths Tank vs Aircraft Crusader/Venezia (GAZALA)

I was looking up servicable combat aircraft strengths for the Western Desert (as one does) and wondered how they compared to servicable tank strengths (excluding reserves) around the time of Rommel’s 26th of May Offensive to take TOBRUK (Operation Venezia); known to the British as the GAZALA battle. This  followed the British Operation Crusader, begun in November 1941. Given that figures fluctuated as battles were fought, caution is needed, but here is what Ellis (1993) has to say in The World War II Databook. (NQM 30:1 strengths in bold brackets as always). More tanks and ‘planes were around in the logistic chain and the Mediterranean theatre, but I have excluded these.  The numbers make for a maneagable campaign and will doubtless be further jigged to reflect the models that I actually have.  I was surprised at the Allied types breakdown from Brad Hunter (2006) on the Axis History Forum;namely the 5:1 Hurricane to Spitfire ratio. A huge amount of ratio-ing and extrapolation has gone into these figures, and will doubtless continue.

November 1941 (Crusader)

Allied

Tanks – 711 (23),  Aircraft – 445 in DAF (15), broken down as :

Armoured cars :  (8) Marmon-Herrington, (2) Humber

Marmon-Herrington Mk II

HumberAEC2

Light/Cruiser : (3) Honey, (11) Crusader

IMGP0050

15mm QRF Crusader with QRF? Austin 3Tonner 'A' Echelon support

Medium : (1) Lee, (3) Grant

M3 Lee (L) and Grant (R) Tanks

Infantry/Heavy : (3) Matilda, (5) Valentine

British Early Western Desert Infantry Tanks

(1) Boston, (2) Baltimore, (2) Mitchell – Bombers

(5) Hurricane – Fighters/Ground Attack

(2) Kittyhawk, (1) Tomahawk, (1) Warhawk, (1) Spitfire – Fighters

German

Tanks – 244 (9),   Aircraft – 360 * (12), broken down as :

15pz+21pz-3

Light : (2) PzII

Medium : (5) PzIIIh

Heavy : (1)  PzIVe

(4) Bf 109, (2) Bf 110 – Fighters

(2) Ju 87 – Dive Bombers

(2) Ju 88, (2) He 111 – Bombers

Italian

Tanks – 146 (5)  Aircraft – 300 (10) broken down as :

Understrength L6 Tank Regiment - Flames of War

Light: (1) L6 Tank

M11Tank Regiment

Medium : (1)  M11/39, (3) M13/40 Tanks

Ariete M13/40 Tanks

(3) C.R. 32, (4) C.R. 42 Falco(1) G. 50 Freccia, (1) M.C. 200 Saetta – Fighters

(1) Z. 1007 Alcione – Bomber

* Ratioed from (183 North Africa/375 total Mediterranean) in June 1942 and approx 600 total Nov 1941

May 1942 GAZALA (Venezia)

Allied

Tanks – 849 (28),  Aircraft – 463 (15), broken down as :

Armoured cars :  (10) Marmon-Herrington, (3) Humber

Cruiser : (3) Honey, (10) Crusader

Medium : (1) Lee, (4) Grant

Infantry : (3) Matilda, (7) Valentine

(1) Boston, (2) Baltimore, (2) Mitchell – Bombers

(5) Hurricane – Fighters/Ground Attack

(2) Kittyhawk, (1) Tomahawk, (1) Warhawk, (1) Spitfire – Fighters

German

Tanks – 330 (11),   Aircraft – 183 ( 6), broken down as :

Light : (2) PzII

Medium : (8) PzIIIh

Heavy : (1)  PzIVe

(2) Bf 109, (1) Bf 110 – Fighters

(1) Ju 87 – Dive Bombers

(1) Ju 88, (1) He 111 – Bombers

Italian

Tanks – 228 ( 7)  Aircraft – 248( 8) broken down as :

Light: (2) L6

Medium : (2)  M11, (3) M40

(2) C.R. 32, (2) C.R. 42 Falco(1) G. 50 Freccia, (1) M.C. 200 Saetta – Fighters

(1) Z. 1007 Alcione – Bomber

Alcione (Kingfisher) bomber converted from a Liberator, and Freccia fighter by QRF from the Author’s collection

… and for anyone who has read this far, I am adding thumbnails to the aircraft pages as I try to make sense of the air strengths in NQM terms for various theatres of war. (Last updated Nov 2014)

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