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Malta and the Summer of 1942:
What If the Island Was Invaded?
By Brian L. Knipple
December 2014

The fall of Tobruk left the Axis on the horns of a dilemma. The plan had been to consolidate the position in the desert after the capture of the fortress and use the time thus spent to take the island of Malta by air and amphibious assault. The British defeat seemed so overwhelming (and it was) to Erwin Rommel, that the Desert Fox became convinced an immediate pursuit of the routed Eighth Army could capture the Nile delta and unhinge the British defense in the Middle East. He demanded the air and logistics support that would come with deferment of the assault on Malta, reasoning, not unrealistically, that the fall of the British base in the delta would leave the island to starve and ultimately surrender.

The Malta invasion game, Island of Death, allows players to explore the hypothetical invasion of the island and plan their own attack on or defense of it. With the rules that follow, the players can link Island of Death with Alamein to simulate the possible outcome of the original plan and assault Malta before following the retreating British into Egypt. This adds strategic scope to that 1942 summer and the decision made by Rommel to pursue a beaten foe in lieu of securing his line of supply.

Operation HERCULES

Players preparing to play Alamein agree before setting up to play Island of Death in conjunction with Alamein. The consequences of launching Operation HERCULES are twofold. First the ships bringing supply and artillery points to the front are reduced as efforts are focused on taking the island. For the same reason, air units are diverted from Africa to the attack on Malta. The results of this decision affect play as follows: Axis supply and artillery points are reduced at start and unit arrival is delayed. This means that the British player will have time to reconsider his decision to defend the Mersa Matruh position and can rebuild and reorganize his defenses before the lead elements of the Afrika Korps reach them. Of course if Malta falls, the Axis supply situation improves dramatically and more supply and artillery points are delivered to Africa along with more air support (now that Malta does not have to be attacked). Also up to four of the formations participating in the assault can be transferred to the desert.


 

Alamein is played normally except: All Axis units entering the map and available aircraft prior to 15 July are received, but kept off-map. Reinforcements are received as well, but not supply, artillery and mine points. Reduced strength and eliminated units can be rebuilt while off-map. No Axis aircraft may be placed on missions. On the 15 July AM turn, all Axis units being held off-map may enter anywhere along the western mapedge and aircraft may fly missions. Supply points must be expended to supply and activate Axis formations and aircraft.

The following Axis supply and artillery points are stockpiled and available at the beginning of the 15 July AM game-turn:

German Supply: 110
Italian Supply: 92
Axis Supply: 80
Minefield Points: 40
Fort: 2

                     Type 1 . . . . . . Type 2 . . . . . . Type 3
German . . . . . 20 . . . . . . . . . . 64 . . . . . . . . . . 31
Italian . . . . . . 106 . . . . . . . . . 100 . . . . . . . . . .34


 

The British player moves normally in all turns prior to the 15 July turn except that no British units may enter any hex within 3 hexes of the western mapedge. The British player receives all reinforcements and replacements and supply and artillery points as if playing the game normally. The British player is not obligated to defend the Mersa Matruh position and may abandon it if desired. He or she can build improved positions and fortifications and deploy minefields where he wishes.

Prior to the 15 July turn, players play the Island of Death game. The Axis player determines the scenario that will be played (regular or night drop) and the game is played to the 10 July turn, at which time the British player will have surrendered or not. If the British player has surrendered, Malta has fallen to the Axis. If the British player has not surrendered, Malta remains in British control and all Axis units on the island are considered eliminated.


 

Beginning with the 15 July Initial Segment, play proceeds normally. The British player continues to receive replacements and supply, artillery, fort and mine points as shown on the Alamein Allied Replacements chart. The Axis player receives units and replacements and artillery, supply, mine and fort points as follows based on whether Malta surrendered:

Malta Surrenders

Formations in the Invasion: All reinforcements are received normally except the Italian Folgore Division and German Ramcke Brigade. The Axis player rolls two dice for these two formations as well as the 4th and 80th Italian Divisions during the 20 July turn Initial Segment. One roll is made for each formation. The rolls are modified by the following conditions:

The formation leader is in play (has not been killed): +2
The formation headquarters is eliminated: -3
Each formation parachute or artillery battalion eliminated: -1
Every two (round down) parachute battalions in play, but at one or two step strength: -1
All engineer units belonging to the formation have been eliminated: -1

On a roll of 7 or higher for the Folgore and Ramcke parachute formations and 8 or higher for the 4th and 80th divisions, the formation is available for redeployment to Africa. Units appear at a rate of two battalions (three companies equal one battalion and leaders do not count) every AM turn anywhere on the western mapedge.

Air Units


 

Axis air replacements are changed from that in the game to the following:

Italian

15 JULY AM: 1 x SM79, 2 x CR42, 1 x MC200, 2 x MC202
17 JULY AM: 1 x MC202, 1 x Ju87
30 JULY AM: 1 x MC200, 1 x CR42
16 AUG AM: 1 x MC200, 2 x MC202, 1 x SM79
20 AUG AM: 1 x CR42, 1 x MC202
1 SEP AM: 1 x CR42, 1 x MC202
10 SEP AM: 1 x CR42, 1 x MC200, 1 x MC202, 1 x SM79
18 SEP AM: 1 x CR42, 1 x MC200, 2 x MC202
4 OCT AM: 1 x MC200, 1 x MC202
11 OCT AM: 1 x CR42, 1 x MC202, 1 x SM79
20 OCT: AM: 1 x MC200, 1 x MC202, 1 x SM79

German


 

15 JULY AM: 2 x Bf109, 2 x Ju87
25 JULY AM: 1 x Bf109
3 AUG AM: 2 x Bf109, 1 x Ju88
9 AUG AM: 1 x Bf109, 1 x Ju87, 1 x Ju88
12 AUG AM: 1 x Bf109, 1 x Bf110, 1 x Ju88
16 AUG AM: 1 x Ju87, 1 x Ju88
18 AUG AM: 1 x Bf109, 1 x Bf110
5 SEP AM: 2 x Bf109, 1 x Ju87, 1 x Ju88
10 SEP AM: 2 x Bf109, 2 x Ju88
18 SEP AM: 2 x Bf109, 1 x Bf110, 1 x Ju87, 1 x Ju88
27 SEP AM: 1 x Bf109
11 OCT AM: 1 x Bf109, 1 x Ju88
20 OCT AM: 2 x Bf109, 1 x Ju87, 1 x Ju88
4 NOV AM: 1 x Bf109

Artillery, Supply, Mine and Fortification Points

The following charts are used in lieu of those in the game:

German

Turn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Supply . . . . Type 1 . . . . Type 2 . . . . Type 3
July 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31 (each) . . . . . . . 45 . . . . . . . . 10 . . . . . . . . 30 . . . . . . . . 15    
Aug 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30 . . . 45 . . . . . . . . 15 . . . . . . . . 36 . . . . . . . . 18
Sep 2, 5, 8. 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29 . . . . 50 . . . . . . . .15 . . . . . . . . 36 . . . . . . . . 18
Oct 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29 . . . . 45 . . . . . . . .12 . . . . . . . . 30 . . . . . . . . 15
Nov 1, 4, 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 . . . . . . . .10 . . . . . . . . 30 . . . . . . . . 12

Italian

Turn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Supply . . . . Type 1 . . . . Type 2 . . . . Type 3
July 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31 (each) . . . . . . . .45 . . . . . . . . 25 . . . . . . . . 28 . . . . . . . 12    
Aug 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30 . . . .45 . . . . . . . . 25 . . . . . . . . 30 . . . . . . . 15
Sep 2, 5, 8. 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29 . . . . 40 . . . . . . . . 25 . . . . . . . . 30 . . . . . . . 15
Oct 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29 . . . . 32 . . . . . . . . 20 . . . . . . . . 24 . . . . . . . 12
Nov 1, 4, 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 . . . . . . . . 18 . . . . . . . . .20 . . . . . . . .9

Axis Common

Turn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Supply . . . . . . . . Mine . . . . . . . . . Fort
July 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31 (each) . . . . . . . . . 30 . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . 1      
Aug 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30 . . . . . 35 . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Sep 2, 5, 8. 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29 . . . . .. 30 . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Oct 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29 . . . . . . 24 . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Nov 1, 4, 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Replacements


 

The following replacements are received in addition to those on the Axis Replacements chart:

July 25: German: 1 x Tank, 1 x Inf, 1 x Recon; Italian: 1 x Tank, 2 x Inf
Aug 12: German: 1 x Tank, 2 x Inf, 1 x AT; Italian: 1 x Tank, 2 x Inf, 1 x AT
Sep 2: German: 1 x Tank, 2 x Inf, 1 x Recon, 1 x AA, 1 x AT; Italian: 1 x Tank, 3 x Inf, 1 x AA, 1 x AT
Sep 29: German, 1 x Tank, 2 x Inf, 1 x AT, 1 x Art; Italian, 1 x Tank, 2 x Inf, 1 x Art
Oct 17: German: 1 x Tank, 2 x Inf, 1 x Recon; Italian: 1 x Tank, 2 x Inf, 1 x Recon

Malta does not surrender

All reinforcements are received normally except the Italian Folgore Division and German Ramcke Brigade, which are not received. All replacements and artillery, supply, mine and fort points are received normally per the Alamein Axis charts beginning with the 16 July turn.

Victory

Same as the Alamein Campaign Game (winner is the player whose opponent has no units on the map) except that the Axis player wins a strategic victory if he wins and Malta surrendered (crow loudly).

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