V Squadra Aerea (Italian 5th Air Fleet)

When compiling orders of battle for NQM, my first step is to collate sources (often unreferenced) by comparing them to referenced works for anomalies. My first stop is usually Nierhorster.
Where two units only appear to have one model between then, look at the strength points. You can split them down to individual strength points to fly more sorties at once, but your units will be more brittle and fewer will fly home. (remember that a model that is overloaded with hits is destroyed)

V Squadra Aerea (Italian 5th Air Fleet)

  • Battaglione Paracadutisti Libici Fanti dell’Aria (15/01/1940  DERNA defending El FTEIAH airport) – Comd (s3), 1 SM.75 (s1). 1 SM.81 (s2)
    • 1 st Battaglione Paracadutsiti Libici “Fanti dell’Aria”Comd (s3), 4 Rifles (s3), MMG (s3), Mor (s3)
    • Battaglione Paracadutsiti National LibiciComd (s3), 4 Rifles (s3), MMG (s3), Mor (s3)
  • Group “Pancano”:
    • ?? Second Platoon of Border Guard against tank (4 pieces of 47/32)*
    • 14 th Battery controcarri and light anti-aircraft (12 pieces 20/65) – 20/65AA (s1)
    • elements, 60 th Bersaglieri motorcycle company – MC sidear MMG (s3)
    • Platoon training, The Battalion, 4th Medium Tank Regiment (4 tanks M11/39)*
    (*the small elements ignored by NQM are included for interest)
    • Group II, 10 th Artillery Regiment “Volturno” (8 pieces of 75/27) – 75/27 (s1)
  • Battaglione Paracadutisti Folgore (This became a division later) - Comd (s3), 4 Rifles (s3), MMG (s3), Mor (s3)

Comando Aeronautica del Libya (until 15 July 1940)

Libya Air Command – Settore Est BENGAZI/TOBRUK (  after 15 July 1940)
  • 2nd Sahara Recon Squadriglia (EL ADEM) – Ca.309 (s1) Ghibli
  • 127th and 137th Recon Flights (EL ADEM) – Ro.37bis (s2) Lince

  • 13th Bomber Division “PEGASO” (BENGHAZI)
    • 14th Stormo (Bomber Wing)
      • Bombardment Gruppo 44 (6,7 Sqa @ 5 bombers) - 1 SM.79 (s1) Sparviero (Some sources cite SM.81s for this Gruppo reflecting that about 30 a/c of both types were spread between the two squadrons)
        • Bombardment Gruppo 45 (2,22 Sqa @ 5 bombers) – 1 SM.81 (s2) Pipistrelli
  • 10th Stormo
    • 30th and 32nd Bombardment Gruppos (BENINA) – 1 SM.79 (s3)
  • 14th Fighter Brigade “REX”  (TOBRUK)
    • 8th and 10th Squadriglia (@ 25-30 fighters)(TOBRUK) – 1 CR.32 (s3), 1 CR.42 (s3) Falco

Libya Air Command – Settore Ovest TRIPOLI (after 15 July 1940)
  • 1st Sahara Recon Squadron (EL ADEM) – Ca.309 (s3) Ghibli
  • 26th Independent Recon Squadron (HON)- Ca.309 (s3) Ghibli
  • 122nd and 136th Recon Flight (MELLAHA/TRIPOLI) – Ro.37bis (s2) Lince
  • 15th Stormo:
    • 46th and 47th Bombardment Gruppos (TARHUNA) – 1 SM.79 (s3), 1 SM.81 (s1)
  • 33rd Stormo:
    • 35th and 37th Bombardment Gruppos (BIR BHERA) – 1 SM.79 (s3)
  • 50th Ground Attack Stormo:
    • 12th Ground Attack Squadron (SORMAN) – Ba.65 (s1)
    • 16th Ground Attack Squadron (SORMAN)  – Ca.310bis (s2)
  • 2nd Fighter Stormo:
    • 13th Fighter Squadron (CASTEL BENITO) – Cr.42 (s3)Falco
    1st Sahara Recon Squadron (MELLAHA) – Ca.309 (s1) Ghibli

XIX.Deutsch-Italienische Panzerarmee/Armata Corazzata Italo-Tedesca (Flak Div.) Kommando

(Flak Div 19 – see http://www.ww2.dk/ground/flak/19fladiv.htm and http://www.feldgrau.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=13015)
Comd Car (s3), 1 88L56 FlaK 18 (s1) and Sdkfz7 Limber (s1), 1  20L113 FlaK 38 (s3) and Sdkfz10 or Horch Limber* (s3)
  • Flak Regiment 135: as above

*A note on self propelled (SP) artillery pieces in general. They should also have an ammunition  limber, which may be a separate truck or trailer, which gives them the same profile as a towed gun and limber.

The Luftwaffe Enters Nord Afrika

After the first successful British campaign in the Western Desert against the Italians, the Deutches Afrika Korps (DAK) entered the theatre. Nierhorster (see reference links) gives orbats for the invasion of CRETE that include 5 Squadra Aerea (air fleet ). The first Luftwaffe order of battle in North Africa, about the time of the attacks on TOBRUK, in March 1941 that I have been able to find from (http://sturmvogel.orbat.com/LWJul42.html) looks like this, supplemented by Dr Chris McNabb’s (2009) Order of Battle: German Luftwaffe in WWII,which itself quotes Sturmvogel, and Nierhorster as references:

The Mediterranean

First to arrive in North Africa in Jan/Feb 1941 was X Fliegerkorps, followed in November 1941 by Luftflotte 2.
Unit Aircraft Total Svcble
X Fliegerkorps
I/JG 27 Bf 109 34 25
III/ZG 26 Bf 110 25 22
Stab/LG 1 Ju 88A 1 1
I/LG 1 35 4
II/LG 1 25 11
III/LG 1 27 11
II/KG 26 He 111H 28 5
III/KG 26 30 12
III/KG 30 Ju 88A 15 6
KüFlGr 506 11 4
I/StG 1 Ju 87 25 21
Stab/StG 3 3 3
Bf 110 4 0
I/StG 3 Ju 87 30 13
Stab/KG zbV 1 Ju 52 2 1
I/KG zbV 1 27 14
II/KG zbV 1 39 19
III/KG zbV 1 41 29
KGr zbV 9 25 9
KGr zbV 172 44 8
McNabb cites 300 (10) Aircraft for X Fliegerkorps rising to 450 (15) aircraft, but on page 80, two tables appear to duplicate aircraft on the same date. I believe at present that a typo has reproduced strengths for Feb-Mar 1941 erroneously as January in the second table. Note that I have converted servicable numbers to 1:30 ratio NQM strength points (SPs) approximating between the two tables below, and this is for the whole Mediterranean theatre.

X Fliegerkorps (Jan-Apr 1941)

GELA (Sicily) – JG 26/27 – 1 Bf 109E (4)
Diecast 1/100 Bf 109 from the Author’s collection
PALERMO (Sicily) – ZG 26 – 1 Bf 110 (2)
CATANIA (Sicily) – LG1 – 1 Ju 88A (2), 1 Ju 88D (2)

Junkers Ju88 (1939) [Medium Bomber] Author’s collection
(North Afrika) – StG2 -  2 Ju 87B (2) TRAPANI (Sicily) – Stg 1 - 2 Ju 87R (2)
1/144 Ju 87 Stuka from the Author’s collection
COMISO (Sicily) – KG26 – 2 He 111H-3 (2)
Heinkel He111. (1936), [Medium Bomber] Author’s collection.
(Sicily) – KG zbV 1/9 - 1 Ju 52 (3), 1 Ju 52 (2)

Wickepedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fliegerf%C3%BChrer_Afrika) adds the following, supplemented by McNabb:

Luftflotte 2 (MittelMeer-Afrika)(Nov 1941- Jan 1942)

Arrived in November 1941 and took X Fliegercorps under command but shown below in January 1942 by which time Fliegerfuehrer Afrika and II FliegerKorps were also under command

Fliegerkorps II

(Sicily) – KG zbV 1/400 - 2 Ju 52 (3)
GELA? (Sicily) – JG 53 – 1 Bf 109F-4 (3), 1 Bf 109F-4 (2)
CATINA (Sicily) – NJG2 - 1 Ju 88C-6 (2)
Ju 88C-6 copyright Simon Schatz at luftwaffe-aviation-art.blogspot.com
CATANIA (Sicily) – KG54/77 -1 Ju 88A-4 (3)
COMISO (Sicily) – KG26 – 1 He 111H-3 (1) (Transferred from X Fliegerkorps)

  • JagdKommando Kreta
A Model of a rather large and posh Cretan Hotel ought to suffice for this HQ. It should sit unmolested on your dining room sideboard, throughout the game, looking grand! (no citation for this idea)

Fliegerführer Afrika(Ägyptenfeldzug)

(Libya) – ZG26 -  1 Bf 110C-4 (1)
(Libya/Egypt) – JG27 -  1 Bf 109F-4 (3)
(Libya/Egypt) – SG3 -  1 Ju 87D-1 (3), 1 Ju 87D-1 (2)

Luftwaffe Kommando Sudost

(copyright Steve Bathy)

II Seenot Dienstfuhrer (Emergency Sea Rescue Service HQ)

1 Do 24 (s3) - This could be split into 3 strength points; one at each of the bases below:
  • 15 Seenotkommando (BENGASI)
  • 16 Seenotkommando (DERNA)
  • Seenotkommando (TRIPOLI)

II Sanitats-Flugbereitschaft Bengasi (Casualty Evacuation)

BENGASI – 1 Fieseler Storch (s3)
Fieseler Storch Fi156. (1937), [STOL Army Cooperation]. All Fronts. (Tankzone model from the Author’s collection)

Fliegerführer Afrika(Libyen-Tunesien)

  • Verbindungsstaffel und Flugbereitschaft der Fliegerkorps Tunis (Liaison and Army Air Cooperation Staff HQ?)

General der Deutschen Luftwaffe beim Oberkommand der Kgl.Ital Luftwaffe (ITALUFT)

XIX.Deutsch-Italienische Panzerarmee/Armata Corazzata Italo-Tedesca (Flak Div.) Kommando (Flak Div 19)

Flak Regiment 102
1 88L56 FlaK 18 (s2) and Sdkfz7 Limber (s2), 1 x 20L113 FlaK 38 (s2) and Sdkfz10 Limber (s2)
Flak Regiment 135: as above

Western Desert Air Orbats – Desert Air Force

Bickers’ (1991) pulls a common pre-internet trick of historians in giving the orbat for the Desert Air Force (DAF) that does not mesh with the date of June 1940 for their antagonists, the Regia Aeronautica. For this orbat, one has to do some judicious trawling of the net. Wickipedia came up with a surprising amount of information, the structure of which is quoted directly below. Nierhorster was useful as always. The numbers below are for a 1:30 ratio campaign, but it would probably be more sensible to use a 1 sqn = 1 aircraft model for the early operations, about a 1:10 or 1:12 ratio. If you do that, then each strength point is represented by a model that is destroyed on its second hit if it has not already sensibly flown off on its first.

Desert Airforce June 1940

Air Commadore Collinshaw

33 Squadron RAF  80 Squadron RAF  112 Squadron RAF   - 1Gladiator (s3)
 No. 208 Squadron RAF - 1 Lysander (s1)

Western Desert Air Orbats – Regia Aeronautica

The Orbats that follow are all derived from Richard Townshend Bickers’ 1991 account of the air war in the Western Desert, modified by information from John Ellis’ WW2 Databook, Bill Gunson and Nierhorster’s online orbats. Although Bickers’ book is unsatisfactory in many respects for an operational gamer, being deeply partisan and sounding jingoistic to contemporary ears, it covers a neglected subject and has a useful series of orbats in the rear. He can be forgiven for having been a serving RAF officer and reflecting views that were widely shared in the RAF at the time. (Bold numbers in brackets are the NQM strength point equivalents for a campaign on a 1:30 ratio).

Regia Aeronautica – Libya 1940

Eastern Sector – HQ TOBRUK
10th Army – 73rd Gruppo Army Cooperation (127,137 Squadriglia @ 15 Recce) 1 RO37 (s3) Lince

14th Stormo
Bombardment Gruppo 44 (6,7 Sqa @ 5 bombers) - 1 S79 (s1) Sparviero

Bombardment Gruppo 45 (2,22 Sqa @ 5 bombers) – 1 S81 (s1) Pipistrelli

10th Stormo
Bombardment Gruppo 30 (55,56,57,58 Sqa @ 5 bombers) -  1 S79 (s2)
Autonomous Gruppo 10 (84,90,91 Sqa @ 15 fighter bombers) - CR42 (s5) Falco

Western Sector – HQ TRIPOLI
5th Army – 64th Gruppo Army Cooperation  (122,136 Squadriglia @ 15 fighters)1 RO37 (S3)

2nd Stormo
Gruppo 8 (92,93,94 Squadriglia @ 15 fighters)1 CR32 (S5)

Gruppo 13 (77,78,82 Squadriglia @ 15 fighters)1 CR42 (S5)
33rd Stormo
Bombardment Gruppo 35 and 36 (43,44,45,46 Squadriglia @ 5 bombers)1 S79 (S2)
15th Stormo
Bombardment Gruppo 46 and 47 (20,21,53,54 Squadriglia @ 5 bombers) -  1 S79 (s2)
50th Stormo
Gruppo 12 and 16 (159,160,167,168,169 Squadriglia @ 5 recce)1 CA310 (S3) Caproni

26th Army Corps – (120 Squadriglia Army Cooperation)1 RO37 (s1)
Townshend Bickers R. (1991) The Desert Air War 1939-1945. London: Leo Cooper.

A Grand Afternoon Out

Megablitz at RMCS Shrivenham Concludes

The Air Umpire has to use some SMART Chits and is Very Unhappy
Day 2 Continued
By 1400hrs on day two, a large air battle had developed over the Axis northern flank in support of LI Armeekorps (19PzDiv and 23PzDiv). Ground troops were briefly diverted by the impressive sight of the airmen wheeling in the sky, but causing little mutual damage. Five squadrons were involved in total, three VVS and two Luftwaffe.

Dusk saw a final late Romanian Airforce attack on the northern river crossings by 8 GD of 27 Army, which were making steady progress against desperate German infantry counterattacks. The ground crew at North slept fitfully and began loading what limited transport they possessed in anticipation of a withdrawal (Translation :  Tim ran out of boot space in his car for Axis ground crews, so I was busily fabricating Masking tape tents to represent SPs on the airstrip).
The Soviet Air Liaison Officer lodged a formal complaint with Stavka at having to divert his only PVO regiment of 85mm air defence artillery to defend Comrade General Wallmanski’s army group headquarters against the whole might of a German panzer korps. Wallmanski claimed that the swing north of the enemy away from his headquarters was due to his resolute defence and the inevitibility of history! The Air Umpire was seen to put on his unhappy face when he had to place SMART chits on his ground support. This was altogether too close and personal for troops used to sleeping in tents with proper sheets at night!
Below, we can see LI Armeekorps advancing east. They appear unpeturbed by returning Soviet VVS aircraft returning from raids on KHARKOV, the results of which can be seen later.
Day 3
Planned Soviet air attacks on large concentrations of army level artillery had to be abandoned due to the limited remaining capacity at North(1). Things rapidly went downhill as this airstrip was overrun in turn and the surviving fighters spent the day re-establishing themselves at airfields further to the east. The picture below shows Centre(2) being overrun, with fleeing ground support from South(3) heading north visible at the bottom of the picture
As air umpire, I can confidently state that any photo which includes enemy tanks within touching distance of a friendly airstrip, demonstrates clearly that someone’s plan has gone severely wrong. The blocking cavalry were of little comfort to the airmen.
The Romanians were likewise having similar troubles at North. The lighter, nimbler single-engined squadrons were successful in managing to disperse to airstrips further south, but the sole Ju 88 squadron, standing in for the Potez 63 B 2s and Bloch 210s of Regt 2, was caught on the ground and destroyed. Generals Moutski and Agerov seemed quite cheerful at this point, even though their headquarters had been hit by the fleeing fighters as they dispersed!
After Action Thoughts
It proved relatively easy for a single air umpire to cope with a game of this scale. I found early on that the umpire’s role was really that of a Plumpire, or player-umpire. It was easy to be dispassionate about the fate of the individual air squadrons and to avoid being partizan because combat for the most part simply consisted of handing dice to the player being attacked for him to roll. I would have been therefore blissfully ignorant for the most part of the damage caused had I just been a player. Because of the umpire role, I did need to know the effect of the attacks, in order to be able to give a judiciously moderated report back to the respective high commands.
Early on, the high level commanders were definitely suffering from information and decision overload. I felt that Comrade General Walmanski had a better grip of the situation initially and was delegating to his experienced army commanders, who were driving the divisional commanders in fine Red Army style.
Once the battle developed and the Romanian allies evaporated, General Rapier began to look happier. This may have been because his Panzerkorps was ripping through the Soviet rear areas. As mentioned previously, his loss of a substantial part of his railhead and the imminent arrival of 8 GD on his line of communication would have caused significant difficulties. The jury remains out on the question of whether this would have prevented him destroying 28 Army before his own supply line ran out or his own army headquarters in KHARKOV was overrun by 38 Reserve Army. Either way it would have been a close-run thing.
What was plainly clear though was that forward airstrips need to be mobile, well defended, or both. The Wehrmacht approach of casting Aufklaerungskompanies behind the lines caused as much damage as 8 GD‘s approach of heading west in full strength with lots of tanks. (Where does a tank park? Anywhere it wants!)
There was less air-to-air combat than I thought there would have been, mostly due to both commander’s focus on supporting their own ground forces or attacking distinct geographical targets. On a smaller battlefield with more air assets, that might not have been the case. During the whole battle, only one Luftwaffe air squadron was destroyed by ground to air fire, although on both sides, more attacks were driven off than that, by AA or fighter cover.
In summary, this was an excellent day. Thanks are due to Tim Gow for putting the game on, to Tom Mouat for making the venue available, and for Kiera for providing an excellent lunch containing three of the four main wargamers’ food groups : Pie, Chips, Beer and Garnish (anything green that isn’t pie or chips). The jelly was a touch of pure genuis!

A Grand Morning Out

Megablitz at RMCS Shrivenham continued

The Romanians Surprise Everyone
Day 1
With forward airstrips still being established on both sides, Air Liaison Officers on both sides were busy establishing targets for reconnaisance. The Soviets concentrated on KHARKOV and the Axis recce focussed on finding forward airstrips. A lone Luftwaffe pilot following the railway running east out of KHARKOV, in the hope of finding a train to beat up, noticed activity to his north and stumbled across the Soviet North (1) airstrip.
This discovery was followed up rapidly by the Royal Romanian Airforce at North, a full  2 regiments of 4 squadrons in total making it into the air and safely home again. The Luftwaffe had the foresight to fly photo-recce after the raid and so spotted that 66% (2SP) of the ground support had been destroyed.
Photo copyright Tom Mouat 2012
In the photo above (all copyright Tom Mouat in this post unless otherwise noted), the first wave of fighters has just attacked the airstrip to little effect and is heading south to seek further targets. The second wave of dive bombers is approaching, and was to prove much more effective. The rest of the Luftwaffe was busy supporting the sorely pressed Romanian right flank to the southeast of KHARKOV, causing casualties amongst the Soviet divisional command staff (1SP).
Day 2
The morning of day two saw another concerted Soviet effort  against the KHARKOV marshalling yards. Four squadrons of aircraft can be seen in the photo above leaving  South(3) and Centre(2) on their way to KHARKOV. Three squadrons of fighters and two of Stormoviks are about to cross the front line to the east of the city. The Germans had allocated fighter defence and Flak to the rail yards but it failed to prevent the attacks breaking through, and caused little damage on the attackers.
Overnight, German command had confirmed that air support would firstly be concentrated against the left (northern) flank, then switched south to the right flank. Dawn saw the Romanians in the air against a key bridge in the north on the last remaining river (R. KHAR’KOV) between the Soviets and KHARKOV. Worryingly, they didn’t have far to fly from their airstrip!
This attack was coordinated with a further six Luftwaffe squadrons flying from airstrips further south, so the Soviet attack was hit by a mighty 11SPs. This was as good as it was ever going to get! The enemy was left reeling with 1SP on his armour , but 3SPs on his logistic tail. Not for the first time in the battle, I regretted not bringing along plumes of black cotton wool.

The Soviets,meanwhile were having a little local difficulty at their Centre and South forward airstrips : German recce had broken through to the rear areas and armoured car squadrons were scampering around like mice. Ground crews could be seen refuelling the remaining squadrons on the ground, then driving north even as the last aircraft were lumbering ito the air. This undoubtedly prevented further attacks against the marshalling yards taking place that day. Despite casualties from aircraft that had just made it into the air, General von Stahl’s Aufklarungs Kompanies had their happy faces on as they overran two forward airstrips
A  further two fighter squadrons climb into the air in the nick of time from South(3) in the photo above. The air traffic control van is one of my old die-cast Ledo Models, now in Tim’s collection. The 15mm/1:100th scale is not so well-provided with cheap technical support models at the moment and I have still to amass enough toys to provide credible ground support. It is probably time to start carving balsa and pine as I did for 20mm/1:72nd scale, although Zvezda has plenty of cheap trucks to provide cabs and wheels this time around.
To be continued …