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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume I

APPENDIX ‘C’ — Air Supply Column For Desert Army Corps


Air Supply Column For Desert Army Corps

The strength of a mechanised Division is 14,661 of all ranks, and of an armoured Division 12,146 of all ranks. An Army Corps of two Divisions and one armoured Division would number 41,468 men of all ranks, excluding possible additions for Corps Headquarters. To move an Army Corps, strength as above, across the desert 100 miles per day would require the following weights of Food, Water, Petrol and Oil to be delivered each day:

Food and Water—
Men require one quart of water per day, weight 2½ lb., plus 50 per cent for containers and wastage, say, 3¾ lb. per man.
Food, in concentrated form, 1 lb. 12 oz. plus weight of containers, say, 2¾ lb. per man. lb.
Total Food and Water, 6½ lb. per man 269,542
Petrol per mechanised Division for 100 miles is estimated at 31,310 gallons, weight with containers 10 lb. per gallon 626,200page 349
Petrol for armoured Division, estimated at 1 gallon per 5 miles per vehicle (probably an under-estimate), for 2,565 vehicles (excluding motor cycles) 513,000
Only a guess can be made, and its weight is not included in these calculations.

In considering a move of this nature, a certain proportion of the vehicles, those used for carrying greatcoats, blankets, packs, &c., could be dispensed with, and the total petrol saving from this cause may be reckoned at 10 per cent of the whole. The final result on this basis is as follows:

Food and water 269,542
Petrol for mechanised divisions 563,580
Petrol for armoured division 461,700
Total 1,294,822

No account has been taken of the water used in water-cooled engines on mechanical vehicles.

Taking oil into consideration, it may be assumed that a grand total of not less than 1,300,000 lb. weight of supplies will be needed per day.

It is difficult to say how many planes are required to deliver a given load a given distance, because the capabilities of the different types of aircraft that could be employed vary to a great extent.

The following are examples of this: Load—Lb. Range—Miles
JU 52 3,000 950
JU 52/3 7,700 1,000
JU 86 5,060 930

Fuel consumption of planes is very great and will eat into and reduce these loads. Further, a safety margin in mileage of ⅕ must be allowed.

To sum up, the distance to be covered would be between 500 and 600 miles, of which the first day's supply for 100 miles would be in the echelon at the commencement.

Assuming a JU 52 requires one-third of its carrying capacity for its own petrol, it could carry 2,000 lb. of supplies on each trip. To dump 1,300,000 lb. per day would require 650 such planes to do one trip, or half that number if a second journey is made. By using the larger planes, the total number required would be reduced in proportion, but over the longer distances there would be a reduction in the loads. This should be possible because Germany has 500 such aeroplanes.

While it would be possible for the Italians, plus German help, to keep in petrol and supplies an expedition across the Desert to, say, Assuan, it would definitely require a very great effort on their part. Load-carrier aeroplanes would have to be protected by fighters, which would be possible as German fighters have a range of about 470 miles.

Enormous stocks of fuel and oil would have to be concentrated and dumped near to the Frontier for the aircraft, as well as for the ground vehicles.

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