It is axiomatic, yet sometimes forgotten, that tactical operations cannot
be supported without the necessary supplies. In this connection close
cooperation must exist between G-3s and G-4s.
It is well known that in the various Egyptian-Libyan campaigns, the availability
of class III supplies has been a major factor in the success or failure
of tactical operations. This fact is highlighted by Axis instructions to units in
Libya on the subject of restrictions on fuel consumption.
During February 1942 the Axis ground forces (about 10 divisions) consumed 3,700 tons
of fuel, a daily average of about 132 tons; between February 15th and
28th, the Afrika Korps (15th and 21st Armored Divisions, and 90th Light Division) was
issued 1,038 tons of fuel, a daily average consumption of about 75 tons. The
instructions state that these quantities were brought forward only with great effort, and
that this rate of consumption could not be maintained with the available transport
facilities. It was therefore directed that all movements should be considered most
carefully with a view to saving fuel, and that the rate of consumption was not to
exceed one-sixth of what is referred to as "normal" consumption.
The significance of the figures given above is extremely difficult to assess. First
of all, it must be remembered that major operations ceased in January 1942 and
were not resumed until May. Secondly, it is not clear as to whether these amounts of
fuel were actually consumed or merely issued to units from supply points; however, the
general sense of the statement would appear to imply actual consumption. Thirdly, it is
not definite as to what weight ton is used. Finally, it is not clear whether
the 1,038 tons consumed by the Afrika Korps is included in the 3,700 tons
attributed to the Axis ground forces. Assuming "fuel" refers to gasoline, lubricants, and
diesel oils, and that "tons" refer to metric tons (approximately 2,200 pounds), and
using an average figure of seven and one-half 42-gallon barrels per short
ton (2,000 pounds) of all types of fuels, it is estimated that 3,700 "tons" would
constitute about 1,280,000 U.S. gallons, and 1,038 "tons" about 360,000 U.S. gallons.
As a sidelight to the above, it is of interest to note the following figures on the
fuel consumption of German mechanized vehicles, based on a German
manual. Light armored cars are said to average about 8 miles per gallon, medium
armored cars 7 miles, and heavy armored cars 5 miles. The Mark I tank gets
about 3 miles to the gallon, the Mark II about 2 miles, the Mark III and IV
about 1 mile. In the case of both armored cars and tanks, the engine oil
consumption is about 5 percent of the gasoline consumption.
Based on 15 gallons per vehicle, it has been estimated that it requires
about 16,000 gallons of gasoline for a German infantry division, 44,000 gallons
for a motorized division, and 32,000 for an armored division.