Operation Saturn (ii)

This was an Allied unrealised plan to base air forces in Turkey for the provision of air support in ‘Hercules’ (spring 1944).

Derived from and successor to ‘Hardihood’, the plan was based on the capture of Rome in January 1944, which would free three groups of medium bombers for transfer to Cyrenaica. From here the bombers could start the process of wearing down German air and naval strengths in the Aegean pending the delivery to Turkey of 17 fighter squadrons, assuming Turkish permission. Then the Allies could mount an intensive air campaign against the Germans in the Aegean Sea area while two divisions were prepared in the Middle East for the amphibious assault on the Italian island of Rhodes during March 1944 if the shipping situation permitted, with Kos and Léros as alternatives requiring reduced transport.

During this preparatory phase, Allied supplies would be shipped to İzmir (Smyrna) and, if possible, into the Black Sea where a flotilla of six to eight British submarines (supported by a depot ship) would operate after the implementation of ‘Hercules’ and a Turkish entry into the war on the side of the Allies.

The plan was abandoned at the end of January 1944 because the Turks steadfastly refused to allow the entry of Allied air units onto their soil, and because amphibious transport was not available for ‘Hercules’.