Op Hercules - Malta '42

Discussion around the Second World War.
billk
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Joined: 01 Dec 2020, 00:33

Op Hercules - Malta '42

Post by billk »

Hey Guys,

We are looking at putting together an Operation HERCULES scenario for our group. I've seen a few game AARs and pics over the years and am wondering what sources, if any, were used to identify the forces in-play. Also, besides the airfields (obvious) were there any other locations or physical assets considered to be key targets or must defend sites? Our imaginations are good but it would be nice to have whatever historical basis we can muster.

Seems I've repeatedly seen a KV-2 rumbling about Malta and wonder what provided the basis for including that monster; simply hypothetical thought or some pereliminary OB from the historical record? Seems the British had a couple of Matildas, Cruisers, and Mk VIs running around since I recall multiple pictures of the stone pattern camo on those vehicles attributed to a presence in Malta. I also seem to recall something about Italian fast patrol boats being part of the mix. If memory serves me correctly, all the games I've seen had a German airborne and amphibious component; just scenario designers using their logical and creative brains or are there archival records of the German and Italian OPLANs?

Thanks in advance, good gaming,
Bill
dadlamassu
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Location: Bonnie Scotland
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Re: Op Hercules - Malta '42

Post by dadlamassu »

A nice unit for some interesting vehicles Panzer-Abteilung zbV 66 was scheduled to support Operation Herkules and is reputed to have had at least 10 Russian Heavy tanks (at least one KV-2). Note added commander's cupola in the photos here
http://beutepanzer.ru/Beutepanzer/su/t- ... _zbv66.htm

Incidentally it also operated the up-armoured Panzer II Ausf J and the up-armoured Panzer I Ausf F

Panzer Abteilung (z.b.v.) 66
Organisation, as of 30 May 1942:
- HQ (unknown)
- HQ Company (unknown)
- 1. Kompanie (German tanks)
12x Pz IV G/BW (Trop) (75/43 type with 80mm frontal armour)
5x Pz I Ausf F – neuer Art verstarkt (up-armored new model) (VK 1801)
5x Pz II Ausf J – neuer Art verstarkt (VK 1601)

- 2. Kompanie (Russian tanks)
at least 10x KV-I and -II (at least 1x KV-II present)
unknown number of T-34/76
dadlamassu
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Location: Bonnie Scotland
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Re: Op Hercules - Malta '42

Post by dadlamassu »

My internet search indicates information in Miniature Wargames magazine, issue 182 (July 1998)

For information, maps and articles try internet try searches for Operation C3 HERKULES (Operation C3 was the Italian name)
billk
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Joined: 01 Dec 2020, 00:33

Re: Op Hercules - Malta '42

Post by billk »

Thanks Alan.
Richard B.
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Joined: 16 Mar 2012, 06:54

Re: Op Hercules - Malta '42

Post by Richard B. »

dadlamassu wrote: 27 Feb 2021, 17:06 My internet search indicates information in Miniature Wargames magazine, issue 182 (July 1998)

For information, maps and articles try internet try searches for Operation C3 HERKULES (Operation C3 was the Italian name)

I probably have this I`ll have dig around in the files.

The Italian Superga Division was originally earmarked for Herkules and trained for naval landings to be ready for it :D
"“Sir with the compliments of my officer, your shooting was excellent – you killed four of our men”!
Un-named Traillieur to an artillery officer at R`Fakah, Morocco, Feb. 29th, 1908
David Reasoner
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Joined: 16 Mar 2012, 07:18

Re: Op Hercules - Malta '42

Post by David Reasoner »

Here is an excerpt I have from a Martin Block article on the VK1801. I don't remember if I got it from Axis History Forum or from Alan McCoubrey. Unfortunately, it only mentions the Soviet beute panzers in passing.

"1./Pz.Abt. z.b.V. 66

Apart from being issued to testing facilities and Panzer Regiment 1, some of these vehicles went to Pz.Kp. z.b.V.66. This unit was formed on April 28, 1942 with Pz.Lehr-Regiment Wunsdorf. It was meant to take part in ‘Operation Herkules’, the attack on Malta. According to an OKW-Weisung dated May 4, 1942 the ‘Heer’ was advised to prepare a Panzercompanie equipped with 12 Pzkw.IVG (tropenfahig) and 5 each VK1801 and VK1601, and all available heavy Russian Beutepanzer (at least 10, refitted with German type commanders cupolas and radio equipment) for this operation.

Personnel were taken from I./Pz.Lehr-Regiment, Pz.Ers.Abt.1, 5, 10, and 25, as well as Scheissschule der Pz.Tr.Schule Putlos. The company was transferred from Wunsdorf to Neuruppin on May 21, and it was there that it received its tanks. On May 30, 1942 the company was enlarged to Pz.Abt. z.b.V.66. The former Pz.Kp.66 became 1.Kp (with Pzkw.IV and the VKs) while a new 2.Kp was formed with the Russian tanks.

After ‘Operation Herkules’ was called off the 1./Pz.Abt. z.b.V.66 (Hauptman Bethke) was transferred to the Eastern Front on July 31, 1942 where it was used as the ‘fire brigade’ of H.Gr. Nord (the Abt.Stab and the 2.Kp were apparently disbanded). According to T. Jentz in Panzertruppen Volume 1, it then had 7 each VK1601 and VK1801 as well as 15 Pzkw.IV (lg). I don’t have much on its assignments, but between August 15 and 23, 1942 it was attached to 18.Inf.Div. near Staraja Russa and after that to II. A.K. in the Demjansk area. At an unspecified date in August it became attached to 12.PzDiv. and still had 13 Pzkw.IV L/43 and all 14 VK1601 and VK1801 available. On September 9, 1942 it reported 10 Pzkw.IV L/43 and 6 each VK1601 and VK1801. On October 2, 1942 the 1./Pz.Abt. z.b.V. 66 was renamed 8./Pz.Rgt. 29. The 12.Pz.Div. had 3 VK1801 left on July 7, 1943 but no VK1601.

Camouflage and Markings:

All tanks of the company (probably with the exception of the Beutepanzers) were painted in desert yellow. My source for this story has two photos proving this, one of a VK1601 and one of a Pzkw.IVG. The tanks apparently carried a stenciled black ‘B’ (for Bethke) in front of the turret number. While the ‘B’ is clearly visible on the already mentioned VK1601 photo, the turret number is unfortunately hidden behind the body of GFM Kuchler (OB H.Gr. Nord) who is inspecting the tank. In the background the turret of a Pzkw.IV with a stenciled ‘B21’ is visible.

Source:

‘Panzerkompanie (z.b.V.) 66/Panzerabteilung (z.b.V.) 66’ written by the well known H. Ritgen of Pz.Lehr fame in ‘Deutsches Soldatenjahrbuch 1985’

Martin Block"

David
David Reasoner
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Joined: 16 Mar 2012, 07:18

Re: Op Hercules - Malta '42

Post by David Reasoner »

Bill, I also have a 6-page German language article on Pz.Abt. z.b.V. 66 by Helmut Ritgen and a very detailed 15-page article by Bob Mackenzie on Operation Hercules that I can email if you are interested.

David
billk
Posts: 128
Joined: 01 Dec 2020, 00:33

Re: Op Hercules - Malta '42

Post by billk »

Thanks David. Please send Bob's article. I always enjoy reading his stuff.

Lets hold off on the German language article until I see if the gang is really going to commit to this. (If it ends-up being a "go," it will be a Google translation exercise because my German is so far gone I'm certain I would translate the article to read like a Japanese anime booklet!)

Cheers!
billk
Posts: 128
Joined: 01 Dec 2020, 00:33

Re: Op Hercules - Malta '42

Post by billk »

Thanks Richard.
David Reasoner
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Joined: 16 Mar 2012, 07:18

Re: Op Hercules - Malta '42

Post by David Reasoner »

billk wrote: 27 Feb 2021, 21:21 Thanks David. Please send Bob's article. I always enjoy reading his stuff.

Lets hold off on the German language article until I see if the gang is really going to commit to this. (If it ends-up being a "go," it will be a Google translation exercise because my German is so far gone I'm certain I would translate the article to read like a Japanese anime booklet!)

Cheers!
I sent them both as email attachments. The German article unfortunately was done as page scans from a book or magazine, so Google translation may require retyping it. Even though I was stationed in Germany for 3 years, my German never progressed much beyond "ein bier bitte" and "wo ist die toilette?". :lol:

David
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