This is very preliminary, but I thought readers might be interested. Jon commented earlier on this post, that the RAF as a rule kept 50% of strength in reserve. Going through the weekly loss figures during Operation CRUSADER shows why.
Losses are being defined as write-offs (Cat. E) and need for return to base workshop (Cat. B) – many thanks to Jan Safarik who provided this explanation here. The loss figures extend to week ending 13 February but do not include the week 6 February, which is missing. But on the other hand the week 13 Feb has such high losses that I wonder if it does not include the preceding week…
In any case, Hurricane losses amounted to 74% of strength at the start of the battle. Tomahawk losses to 112% (!). Blenheim losses to 60%, and Wellingtons to 49%. The brunt of the losses in the battle was borne by the single-engine fighters, which accounted for 61% of total losses, and the light bombers, which accounted for another 19%. A very high 11% of the losses were Wellingtons, and the rest is accounted for by various types.
Of note are the high losses in Beaufighters, showing how hard these planes were worked – 14 out of 24 planes, or 58% became casualties. It can’t have been fun to be in the two squadrons (No. 252 and No. 272) operating the type during CRUSADER. On the other hand, the Beaufighter has the highest ratio of Cat.B (repairable) casualties, at 43%. By comparison, the Blenheim has only 24%. While there can be many reasons for this, it may tell us something about the toughness of the planes?
Some odd losses as well – a single Caproni (captured Italian transport), a single Whitley (what on earth was she doing in North Africa?), a single Wellesley, a single Sunderland (with a very interesting story behind the loss – scroll down halfway on this page)