The heavy and persistent air attacks on Malta have rightly earned for that small Mediterranean island
the description "the most bombed place on earth".
Because of its importance to antiaircraft artillery, a brief review of the aerial tactics used by
the enemy is presented here.
All heavy attacks were by day, with a few light raids by night. The Germans never employed
straight, high-level bombing. Full use was made of the sun and any available cloud
cover. The practice of feinting was used--starting to dive towards one objective and then
turning to attack the real target.
Until the middle of March, with one exception, only JU 88's were used by the
Germans. Later JU 87's were also constantly used. The JU 88's approached between
12,000 and 18,000 feet and came in at angles that varied between 30° and 60°, releasing
their bombs at 6,000 to 9,000 feet, sometimes pulling out as low as 4,000 feet. Generally, the
JU 87's dived very steeply, pulling out at the same height as the JU 88's.
The early attacks were by successive waves all approaching from the same direction and attacking
the same objective. As the attack developed, the tactics varied, and synchronized attacks by
waves of bombers approaching the same objective from different directions were common. The
synchronization became markedly better with practice. Alternatively, heavy attacks were made
simultaneously on two targets, the object in either case being to confuse the
defense. Later "wingers" would peel off from the main attack to make individual attacks
on heavy antiaircraft gun positions on the lines of approach or close to the target, or
small formations would make deliberate diving attacks on gun positions, synchronizing these
attacks with the main attack.
After delivering their attacks, bombers took violent avoiding action, turning and changing
height until clear of the island, and did not normally come low enough to make good targets
for light antiaircraft guns. They did not attack light antiaircraft gun positions.
Bomber formations were always strongly escorted by fighters. After a raid, some of the latter
would machine-gun British dispersal areas, gun positions, fishing boats, or fighters about to
land. Bombers were preceded by a fighter patrol and always followed by reconnaissance from a
ME 109's often carried bombs, which were dropped with accuracy from a height until special
Maltese spotters (who have remarkable eyesight) were established in observation posts to
identify bomb-carrying fighters so that the guns would engage them.
At least in the bombing attacks on Malta, Germans showed the trait, observed in the last
war, of doing the same thing at the same time every day. During the heavy raids it was
normal routine to receive an attack of about 75 bombers soon after breakfast, a second
at lunch time, and a third at about 6 in the evening. This regularity was found to be a