Over 1,250,000 tons of Axis shipping sunk in the Central Mediterranean
Basic map of the Mediterranean showcasing Axis naval casualties.
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Immediately after Italy declared war on France and Britain in June of 1940, the Mediterranean Sea erupted into yet another battleground in the titanic struggle. The British Navy was well aware of the supply needs of Italian soldiers in North Africa, Germany’s reliance on Romanian oil (carried on tankers through the Aegean) and the isolation of Axis territories like Sardinia, Corsica, and eventually, Crete. As a response, the Brits waged a campaign of interdiction against all enemy (and some neutral) shipping in the region.
At the outset of war with Italy, there were only 18 available torpedo planes in the theater, but the English (and eventually Americans) would continue to build up both naval and aerial strength to support the invasion of North Africa in 1942.
This map was likely produced after Allied forces achieved success in that theater, based on the tonnage of Axis shipping destroyed in the title. It was printed in London by Chromoworks and shows an outline of the Central Mediterranean. “Hits” by Allied ships and planes resulting in damaged or sunk ships are shown individually based on the size and type of target.
In reality, only a small fraction of the total individual vessels are illustrated. For example, in a six month window between November 1942 and March 1943, Allied forces sank 387 ships and tankers, equaling approximately 650,000 tons. This map shows less than 300 lost ships, and claims to represent nearly double the tonnage sunk. However, the purpose of the image was not necessarily to convey “true” statistics, but rather to reinforce the notion of complete Allied dominance in the theater. Ultimately, American, British and French forces in the Mediterranean would sink over 1,700 Axis vessels, totaling nearly 3,000,000 tons.
Hammond, R. J. (2013). Air Power and the British Anti-Shipping Campaign in the Mediterranean during the Second World War. Air Power Review, 16(1), 50-69.
Publication Date: c. 1943
Sheet Width (in): 19.50
Sheet Height (in): 29.75
Condition Description: A small chip in the sheet in the lower margin, and separation along a centerfold from where the map was previously folded (repaired on verso).