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  • Michele
    replied
    Originally posted by nikolas93TS View Post
    No,I did take the old border as starting line,but distance I took is wrong indeed,it is around 130/140km (I was quite sure it was more! )
    Yes, since you gave Fiume as a starting point, you were aware of the old border - I was under the impression that BF69, not you, was looking at a recent map.
    And I didn't check the distance, I'll take your word for it.

    Yes,they were lower,but still a formidable defensive barriers.Plus the rivers,which were torrential during spring.Correct me if I am wrong,but those mountain divisions were just regular infantry divisions that were entirely animal drawn.Alpini on the other hand were much better equipped.
    The point is not being animal-drawn - ordinary infantry also were. The point is having mountain artillery that could be disassembled and carried by pack mules. The bottom line is that a mountain path that would be inaccessible to artillery using any kind of vehicle - be it a motor-vehicle or a horse-drawn limber - would be usable by the artillery of the Italian mountain infantry divisions. It's a big difference and gives them an edge over any other infantry divisions of the time which are not specialized in mountain warfare.

    I cut other remarks about which I have nothing useful to add.

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  • nikolas93TS
    replied
    Originally posted by Michele View Post
    Istria is already taken. Maybe you are more pessimistic because you're seeing a wrong starting line, the current border.
    No,I did take the old border as starting line,but distance I took is wrong indeed,it is around 130/140km (I was quite sure it was more! )

    He already had Istria and several islands in 1940! Again, I think you are probably not looking at the right map.
    That said, I agree that Italy conquering all of Yugoslavia single-handedly (save maybe some hostile posturing by Romania) is not in the books.
    For example Zara/Zadar naval base and enclave on Dalmatian coast,which was real thorn in side.Yugoslavs hoped for eliminating it quickly by surprise attack (yet they failed in 1941).I see rather hostile posture by Bulgaria,in fact all war plans included strong reserves in East,to counter possible attacks.

    Originally posted by Michele View Post
    I wouldn't overestimate that. There's Alps and Alps. That terrain is not plains, yes, but it has nothing to do with say the Dolomite Alps (in which the Alpini fought in WWI). Mountain infantry (of which Italy had several divisions in addition to the Alpini ones) would be more than suitable.
    Yes,they were lower,but still a formidable defensive barriers.Plus the rivers,which were torrential during spring.Correct me if I am wrong,but those mountain divisions were just regular infantry divisions that were entirely animal drawn.Alpini on the other hand were much better equipped.Most preferable route of advance would have been in direction of Zagreb from Rjeka/Fiume,with secondary attack along the coast to somehow relieve Zara/Zadar.In that case they would flank main fortification line in Slovenia,as well evaded Dinaric Alps,and could have partially severed communication in Yugoslav rear and assured some form of Croat support.From Zagreb,they are in theoretical possibility to advance further North and eliminate Yugoslav forces in Slovenia,and/or take advantage of plains and better communication lines to advance towards Eastern Croatia.

    Definitely. That's going to be a distraction theater, no more.
    Yugoslav war plan R-41 formulated an attack on Albania in conjunction with Greek forces.Now,most Italian sources I read say that they halted an attack because they anticipated Yugoslav intentions,however Yugoslav forces did took some ground and according to their sources they were forced to gradually halt their operations because Germans occupied Skoplje and advanced in Macedonia.I any case I hardly believe that any of two sides was capable advancing more that couple of kilometers.

    But war plan R-40,which didn't included Italian attack on Greece,envisaged that forces on Albanian and Bulgaria borders were to stand and defend vital route towards Salonika.

    Both plans (as well most of plans from '30) supposed that I Italy would attack in combined action with Germany,and plan was to delay their superior forces as long as possible while army evacuated to Greece,to form new Salonika front with British and French.It is unknown to me what was the plan if Italy attacked alone.

    The defensive line is a sort of hard outer crust. Breaking that would be expensive. Once that is done, however, the Yugoslavians have to defend against multiple axes of attack, not just from Fiume to Zagreb but also from Postojna and down from Jesenice onto Lubljana. Also note that only the first two thirds of the main axis of advance is hilly.
    That as well,maybe combined with my proposal to flank Slovenia.In that case Yugoslavs would have certainly retreated back to Bosnia and East Croatia.Since there is no Germany,I fear they would wait for Italians to over-expand their logistical effort and counter attack.It was embedded in their doctrine and minds.Delay,defend,counter-attack.

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  • BF69
    replied
    Originally posted by Michele View Post
    Istria is already taken. Maybe you are more pessimistic because you're seeing a wrong starting line, the current border.
    Must be. Thought it was only half Italian - misread the map.


    He already had istria and several islands in 1940! Again, I think you are probably not looking at the right map.
    Pretty sure italy only had part of Dalmatia - Mussolini always struck me as a 'low hanging fruit' sort of guy, so I'm assuming a few more (if not all the big ones) end up being occupied.

    That said, I agree that Italy conquering all of Yugoslavia single-handedly (save maybe some hostile posturing by Romania) is not in the books.
    I think we agree wholeheartedly on that. The issue is whether or not they get as far as Zagreb. I forsee a struggle unless ther is a Croatian uprising, and Italy is going to have an awkward time occupying Slovenia. This is going to look like two drunks fighting until they both collapse.

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  • Michele
    replied
    Originally posted by nikolas93TS View Post
    Because of its difficult terrain,Yugoslavia war far from being ideally suited for the conduct of major military operations,except plains in North Serbia and Eastern Croatia (which Germans used).In fact Italians would have faced a fortified line in Slovenia,and Dalmatian Alps running parallel behind the coast,which are a formidable barrier as good roads are scarce,and that means very strong Alpini concentration.
    I wouldn't overestimate that. There's Alps and Alps. That terrain is not plains, yes, but it has nothing to do with say the Dolomite Alps (in which the Alpini fought in WWI). Mountain infantry (of which Italy had several divisions in addition to the Alpini ones) would be more than suitable.

    Advance over Albania would be hard like in Greece since it was poorly developed region,mountainous,with its limited routes of communication and sparsely populated area demanding strong logistical support.
    Definitely. That's going to be a distraction theater, no more.


    There were some 170-180km to cover for Italians between Rjeka (Fiume) and Zagreb for example,and I can imagine....some 50km covered in first weeks after which losses will bring stalemate.
    The defensive line is a sort of hard outer crust. Breaking that would be expensive. Once that is done, however, the Yugoslavians have to defend against multiple axes of attack, not just from Fiume to Zagreb but also from Postojna and down from Jesenice onto Lubljana. Also note that only the first two thirds of the main axis of advance is hilly.

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  • Michele
    replied
    Originally posted by BF69 View Post
    You think they will get as far as Zagreb? You are more optimistic than me. I would have thought that by the time Slovenia & Istria are taken (...)
    Istria is already taken. Maybe you are more pessimistic because you're seeing a wrong starting line, the current border.

    Where we all seem to agree is that this is not going to end in a glorious victory for Mussolini. He might get all of Istria & some nice Dalmatian islands,
    He already had istria and several islands in 1940! Again, I think you are probably not looking at the right map.
    That said, I agree that Italy conquering all of Yugoslavia single-handedly (save maybe some hostile posturing by Romania) is not in the books.

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  • nikolas93TS
    replied
    In 1941 the Yugoslav Army was composed of 17 regular and 12 reserve infantry divisions,6 combined-arms brigades,3 regular cavalry divisions and 3 reserve cavalry brigades,one fortress division,and one fortress brigade.
    There were also 23 frontier guard battalions,a number of frontier guard regiments,dispersed over some 3000km of border,and some fortification troops in Slovenia mostly (Rupnik line).The fully mobilized strength of the Army was slightly under 1,000,000 men.

    Although Yugoslavia was stronger than Greece,it's armored force countered only 56 FT-17 and M.28,54 of modern R-35 and in addition 8 Czech T-32 tankettes which where used for training in Belgrade.Contrary to usual belief,Yugoslavs purchased FT-17 and similar M.28 tanks for doctrine learning and training.They were forced in combat because of uncompleted order for R-35 tanks from France.There were also some armored cars,and somewhere in late 1941 there were some supposed deals with Soviets to procure at least battalion of 45mm armed tanks (some sources indicate BT-7,but since Soviets would have been probably not so inclined,they could have provided T-26 instead).One of 2 or 3 battalions available would have been probably deployed somewhere along Albanian border.In any case,because of trained personnel shortages and French doctrine,I hardly see armored force in combat with some impact.

    In January 1941 the Yugoslav Royal Air Force could field approximately 700 planes,of which however half was obsolete and relegated to training and other secondary duties.On other hand it had over 150 modern fighters,made up 60-70 Messerschmitt Bf 109E3,44 Hawker Hurricane I and 30 Hawker Fury II, as well domestic 10 Ikarus IK 2s and excellent 11 Rogozarski IK-3s,just entering the production.

    It is of note that bomber force gave excellent mark in short April War and consisted of 175 aircraft comprising some 70 Dornier Do 17K,60 Bristol Blenheim Is (both built under license) and 45 Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79s.Something going in Italian favor is that major portion of all weapons and equipment was of foreign make (just look aircraft!),with the Skoda armament plant the main source for land army.Therefore Yugoslavia would have been very dependent on British supply over Salonika port and German concessions.

    Navy was small,it consisted of old German light cruiser,couple of modern destroyers and some torpedo boats,no match for Regia Marina.

    Because of its difficult terrain,Yugoslavia war far from being ideally suited for the conduct of major military operations,except plains in North Serbia and Eastern Croatia (which Germans used).In fact Italians would have faced a fortified line in Slovenia,and Dalmatian Alps running parallel behind the coast,which are a formidable barrier as good roads are scarce,and that means very strong Alpini concentration.Advance over Albania would be hard like in Greece since it was poorly developed region,mountainous,with its limited routes of communication and sparsely populated area demanding strong logistical support.

    Combined-arms training and combat maneuvers had been seriously neglected by the Yugoslavs in '30.During training much emphasis was placed on delaying actions,defensive fighting,and the conduct of counterattacks,reflecting Serbian traditions from WW1.Considerable weight was also attached to assault tactics of infantry forces.The individual Yugoslav soldier (and again Serbs excelled at that,forming special commando battalions) was well trained in close-combat and hand-to-hand fighting,but trained little on how to face armor or air threats.

    There were some 170-180km to cover for Italians between Rjeka (Fiume) and Zagreb for example,and I can imagine....some 50km covered in first weeks after which losses will bring stalemate.

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  • BF69
    replied
    Originally posted by Michele View Post
    I think the main front (the NE Italian border) gives Italy some satisfaction. It's going to be a matter of brute force, WWI-style or almost so, with a sprinkling of tanks and air support. Historically the Italians failed at that game with the Greeks mainly out of logistical considerations, non-existent roads, and, however hard that is to believe, numerical inferiority for much of the campaign. With the area mentioned above, the logistics is better, the infrastructure also is, thus allowing brute numbers weigh more, and the numbers aren't in favor of the Yugoslavians but of the Italians.

    Chances are, however, than even when initial gains are made (helped by the coastal operations you mention, by distractions on the Albanian border, by possibly unfriendly posturing by other neighbors, and by the unreliability of the Croatians), the thrust will peter out. The Italian army at this time simply lacks the operational dimension. They will pause, no matter what. That means the Croatians get to plant the flag with the Italians in Zagreb, which isn't bad, but going beyond that... it's unlikely.

    So yes, the Germans will be interested in brokering a deal, and they have good chances to pull that off, if the Italians are given something to show for their aggression.
    You think they will get as far as Zagreb? You are more optimistic than me. I would have thought that by the time Slovenia & Istria are taken the 'steam' will be running out fast, especially if Yugoslavia can inflict damage from the air or make much use of its tanks. I suspect that if that is the case there will be an attempt to set up 'Croatia' in a place where the vast majority of people are not Croatian & don't want to be. Could get awkward for the Italians.

    Where we all seem to agree is that this is not going to end in a glorious victory for Mussolini. He might get all of Istria & some nice Dalmatian islands, but nothing like what he wants & nothing that will justify the human & economic cost (not to mention the humiliation of being slapped about by germany). Mussolini sulks & has to watch his back at home - a recipie for sitting out the next few years. By that time he will probably jump on the Allied bandwagon. Yugoslavia might too - especially if there is a prospect that inviting a Western army in keeps Yugoslavia out of the hands of the Russians. the first 6 months of 1944 might get very interesting in the Adriatic.

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  • Michele
    replied
    Originally posted by BF69 View Post
    My bet is that Italy can take a bunch of Dalmatian islands & perhaps some coast with navy support. Perhaps the NDH set up their new 'nation' on Vis - big & far enough away from Yugoslavia to make it hard to re-take. Beyond that it is going to be hard work. As I suggested top of page, I can see a stalemate emerging very rapidly with neither side able to gain an advantage. italy might even get pushed back. Eventually I forsee Germany forcing a settlement.
    I think the main front (the NE Italian border) gives Italy some satisfaction. It's going to be a matter of brute force, WWI-style or almost so, with a sprinkling of tanks and air support. Historically the Italians failed at that game with the Greeks mainly out of logistical considerations, non-existent roads, and, however hard that is to believe, numerical inferiority for much of the campaign. With the area mentioned above, the logistics is better, the infrastructure also is, thus allowing brute numbers weigh more, and the numbers aren't in favor of the Yugoslavians but of the Italians.

    Chances are, however, than even when initial gains are made (helped by the coastal operations you mention, by distractions on the Albanian border, by possibly unfriendly posturing by other neighbors, and by the unreliability of the Croatians), the thrust will peter out. The Italian army at this time simply lacks the operational dimension. They will pause, no matter what. That means the Croatians get to plant the flag with the Italians in Zagreb, which isn't bad, but going beyond that... it's unlikely.

    So yes, the Germans will be interested in brokering a deal, and they have good chances to pull that off, if the Italians are given something to show for their aggression.

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  • BF69
    replied
    Originally posted by nikolas93TS View Post
    Against Italy alone?

    In 1935,as answer to Italian "Vallo Alpino" fortifications,Yugoslavs constructed so-called Rupnik line,divided in 6 sectors and covering all major routes into Slovenia from Italy.By 1941 over 40.000 soldiers worked on it,and while rendered useless by German attack from Austria and Hungary,it would have probably cost Italians a lot of losses.

    Yugoslav war plans considered offensives against Italian Zara/Zadar enclave on Dalmatian coast,as well against Albania.In fact they launched limited attacks in Northern Albania during the first days of April War.

    Technically on paper,Yugoslavia represented a very hard opponent for Italy.In practice however,there is to wonder how various ethnics would fight united.Separation of the country was catalyzed by German blitzkrieg rather than popular revolt,and plenty of units initially offered a spirited defense.
    In this version it is Italy alone. It is 1940 and Italy isn't going to go to war with Britain or France, so resources from Nth Africa can be freed up. Yugoslavia probably can't completely strip her Nth & East borders, but Germany is busy & Greece is probably a de facto ally, so unless Romania & Bulgaria decide to jump in it is Just Italy & Yugoslavia. I imagine some less reliable Croat troops can be left to watch the nth & East.

    My bet is that Italy can take a bunch of Dalmatian islands & perhaps some coast with navy support. Perhaps the NDH set up their new 'nation' on Vis - big & far enough away from Yugoslavia to make it hard to re-take. Beyond that it is going to be hard work. As I suggested top of page, I can see a stalemate emerging very rapidly with neither side able to gain an advantage. italy might even get pushed back. Eventually I forsee Germany forcing a settlement.

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  • nikolas93TS
    replied
    Originally posted by BF69 View Post
    Given that Yugoslavia had over 1 million men mobilized in 1941, a number of modern fighters (including Me 109s), tanks & a few other things Greece lacked I'm betting Italy is going to struggle. Logistics will be better & the Croat issue is a bit of a wild card for Yugoslavia, but I'm still betting that Yugoslavia holds its own for long enough for this to become a problem for Italy.
    Against Italy alone?

    In 1935,as answer to Italian "Vallo Alpino" fortifications,Yugoslavs constructed so-called Rupnik line,divided in 6 sectors and covering all major routes into Slovenia from Italy.By 1941 over 40.000 soldiers worked on it,and while rendered useless by German attack from Austria and Hungary,it would have probably cost Italians a lot of losses.

    Yugoslav war plans considered offensives against Italian Zara/Zadar enclave on Dalmatian coast,as well against Albania.In fact they launched limited attacks in Northern Albania during the first days of April War.

    Technically on paper,Yugoslavia represented a very hard opponent for Italy.In practice however,there is to wonder how various ethnics would fight united.Separation of the country was catalyzed by German blitzkrieg rather than popular revolt,and plenty of units initially offered a spirited defense.

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  • BF69
    replied
    Originally posted by Michele View Post
    Yugoslavia was an alliance orphan at the time (Czechoslovakia gone, France having other fish to fry, Romania and Turkey being in all likelyhood unwilling), and in actual history, before the stunt attack on Greece, Italy was amassing troops at the border. Troops in Albania coul dhave cooperated by pushing North instead of SW. Whether that would have been a success, is another matter; but certainly it was easier to feed the thrust directly from the metropolitan territory than across Albania. The Croatians would proclaim independence as a fascist satellite.
    Given that Yugoslavia had over 1 million men mobilized in 1941, a number of modern fighters (including Me 109s), tanks & a few other things Greece lacked I'm betting Italy is going to struggle. Logistics will be better & the Croat issue is a bit of a wild card for Yugoslavia, but I'm still betting that Yugoslavia holds its own for long enough for this to become a problem for Italy.

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  • Michele
    replied
    Originally posted by Cyberknight View Post
    That is a tough one. Perhaps the Balkans and Norther Africa keep Il Duce's interest. He can't expand too far withour running afoul of either British or French colonies or protecotrates, though.
    Yugoslavia was an alliance orphan at the time (Czechoslovakia gone, France having other fish to fry, Romania and Turkey being in all likelyhood unwilling), and in actual history, before the stunt attack on Greece, Italy was amassing troops at the border. Troops in Albania coul dhave cooperated by pushing North instead of SW. Whether that would have been a success, is another matter; but certainly it was easier to feed the thrust directly from the metropolitan territory than across Albania. The Croatians would proclaim independence as a fascist satellite.

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  • Cyberknight
    replied
    Originally posted by BF69 View Post
    I'm working on the assumption that if Italy doesn't lose any more than lives, equipment and a bit of useless territory in Albania & gains a few Dalmatian islands & a few towns in Slovenia they will leave him be. Historically it took the loss of about half of Italy & all its colonies for them to grow a pair. They will probably be the ones pressuring Mussolini to take the deal in the first place. Yugoslavia will swallow it as the price of having an economy, internal stability & security.

    What I'm trying to find here is a way for Mussolini to sit on the sidelines without having to make him too different from the historical Mussolini. I just can't see him sitting on his hands in 1940 even if he isn't allied to Hitler. It is one thing to contrive for him not to take on Britain & France, but somebody is going to get invaded. I figure that after getting chewed up in Yugoslavia & off side with Hitler and some powerful people at home he is going to sit out 1941 & 1942. The economy & military need rebuilding & there is money ot be made in other people's wars. Britain will put up with the blockade running for now as the price of a secure Med, at least until the USN turns up. By that point things have probably turned in the East (if not as severely as in OTL), the Americans are in the war & Italy's Vichy neigbours in Nth Africa have been removed from the war.
    That is a tough one. Perhaps the Balkans and Norther Africa keep Il Duce's interest. He can't expand too far withour running afoul of either British or French colonies or protecotrates, though.

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  • Carl Schwamberg
    replied
    ..hmm.

    The Armistice text required France to defend all its territory against attackers and not to allow any other nation to make any military intrusion. Germany also had the right to intervene and send military force onto French territory to repel any other military force on said territory. Germany soon bent that by telling the Japanese government it would not oppose a Japanese military occupation of Indo China.

    Germany might try to bribe Mussolini by allowing the Italian military occupation of Tunisia, or perhaps Syrian ports. That of course risks British retaliation. Would Hitler be rational enough to balance the benefits of a nuetral Italy against having the Med closed to trade and Italy blockaded? Perhaps sucha thing might be tried in the hope of drawing italy into a Germany alliance and defeating Britain with a African campaign...

    German leadership might not trust the Italians with such a gift. If the reason Italy remains nuetral is because Mussolini does not hold the same power as in OTL, or was incapacitated after falling in the bath, then such a approval or gift may not seem wise.

    Alternately if a arrogant Mussolini attempts attacking French territory without German aggreement then the reaction may be very negative. Mussolini blundering into a war with Germany in 1941 or 1942 certainly alters things

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  • zraver
    replied
    Originally posted by Anacreon View Post
    I doubt Britain will be trying to return to France before '43 or '44 after what happened in 1940. More likely is an attempt on Narvik and the surrounding area in late '41 or early '42, which would be fairly limited in scale for obvious reasons. Without a North African campaign, I really can't see all those Indian, New Zealander and Australian units being siphoned off from the far East.
    What if Italy stays out of WWII but tries to expand its holdings by taking on Vichy France?

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