I read on this site an event that happened on July, the 5th 1943:

About 30 Flying Fortresses which set out to bomb the Sicilian airfield at Gerbini are attacked by more than 100 enemy fighters, 35 of which are shot down for the loss of three. Sixty Liberators from the Middle East drop about 375,000 lb. of bombs on marshalling yards, railway-stations, barracks and other objectives at Messina.

Quite a common event by this time of the war, but I am surprised by the unusual casulaty rate of the first raid described here (the one on Gerbini): 35 fighters shot down against only three bombers is a big fail for Axis's air defense, and in 1943 my knowledge is that Axis airforce was still strong enough to oppose successfully in such a situation (example: the raid on Schweinfurt in 1943).

Are there any specific explanation for such an event? I could imagine the following:

  • Was there a powerful allied escort for the B-17?
  • Were Axis's fighters Italian, which might include less powerful airplanes (and still, is it normal to have such kill-ratio)?


From comment: There was an escort of 60 Spitfire. So that could explain either important Axis losses or few bombers losses, but both events being simultaneous while the Allies are still outnumbered by 100 Axis fighters engaged, the question is still there: why so low performance?

  • The bomb run was met by about 60 Spitfires from Malta as the former turned north over Valleta, that escorted them through the bomb run. That changes the odds considerably. The high losses when bombing deep into Axis territories generally didn't occur when under strong fighter escort, as here. I've voted to close as the straightforward Google search "Gerbini airfield raid july 5 1943" turned up multiple explanations on the first page. Jul 30, 2022 at 21:59
  • @PieterGeerkens THanks for the link.Still, I have a question about it because the link does not mention if the attackers were Italian or German, and there is still the issue of 100 fighters close to their bases fightinh only 60 escorts, and being largely beaten. From what I understand from the link, the bomb run was unusually opposed by the Axis so what does this opposition failed? Jul 31, 2022 at 10:37
  • This link (aircrewremembered.com/USAAFCombatOperations/Jul.43.html) shows that massive operations occured in JUly, maybe the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica were exhausted? Jul 31, 2022 at 10:39
  • @PieterGeerkens I think the question should be reopen Jul 31, 2022 at 17:14
  • I'm sorry but I can't edit more: there is a question there about the effectiveness of the different air forces Aug 1, 2022 at 17:18


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