Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Could proper planning have won WW2 for Italy?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    On AA guns, the Italians had a large number of 75mm AA guns of various sorts in service prior to the war. These included the:

    Cannone da 75/46 M34... About 100 in service. Used North Africa, Russia, Italy
    Cannone da 75/40 M40... About 20 in service. Static version, used in Italy
    Cannone da 75/50 M33... About 150 in service. Used everywhere
    Cannone da 76/40 CA... Static gun, used in Italy and North Africa
    Cannone da 76/45 CA... Static mount, used in Italy
    Cannone da 77/28 CA... Ex-Austrian WW 1 piece used in some numbers. Obsolete.

    The Czech piece you mentioned only became available to Italy through Germany in late 1940 - early 1941.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Exorcist
    replied
    Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
    That is incorrect. The New Zealanders built the Western Desert railway extension during the war. It went from Mersa Matruh to Tobruk.
    That's what I thought.
    But what we can do for Italy is expand Tobruk, have some light rail in place, and pre-register a bunch of shallow-draft light cargo ships and boats so that they can be transferred to that front at the outset.

    The larger question is; can Italy mass it's half dozen BBs, a like number of Heavy Cruisers and twice that many Light Cruiser plus dozens of DDs in such a way as to confront the RN in the Eastern Med with overwhelming force?
    I am still wondering why the didn't.... so I will leave that question to you guys.


    Moving on to what I promised; Italian East Africa.

    Historically, after a somewhat eventful Summer (for some of them) the Italians in this theater backed off, dug in and awaited the inevitable doom of their isolated Empire.... with inevitable results. The first British counter-attacks didn't kick off until November, and things didn't start getting serious until the end of the year. Meanwhile, the long wait had the same effect on Italian morale' that the Phony War had on the French; it was ruinous.

    It didn't have to be that way, and half a dozen well-informed staff officers from all three services could have sat down at the end of 1939 and come up with something much better.

    Additional materials-
    I said before that I would fight with the forces available, and what was on hand is sufficient. However, a few basic items of support are needed.

    With 839 artillery pieces, you really can't ask for more than that, but there are only 24 x 20mm AA guns. If each of the two Regular Infantry Divisions have their allotment, that only leaves 8 for the rest of the region. With all the down-sizing of the other Divisions, another 24 should be freed-up, so send that many more.
    And, we will ask for a like number of 90mm guns.
    Panic, madness, you can't have that many of our newest and best guns!
    Okay, fine How about 20 of these?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7.5_cm_kanon_PL_vz._37
    Ain't they just sweet? They even come with AT rounds.
    And they are Skoda, so you know they work.

    The Navy should have a stockpile of 500-1000 mines in addition to what their ships can carry. Since the DDs, dedicated minelayer and CL can carry about 500 at a time, this is very reasonable.

    And about that Light Cruiser I mentioned before; no need for a modern one, there were two German-built WW1 cruisers owned by Italy and converted to "Colonial" cruisers in the mid 1930s.
    So, why wasn't one of them in the freaking Colonies?
    I don't buy the usual excuses, one or the other should have been re-fitting back home at a given moment, but never both of them. No, we just won't accept that. Barri or Taranto, I don't care which, has to be down there. They both have what matters; 5.9" guns, and stowage for 120 mines.
    Yippie-Kiy-Yay!

    As for the Air Force... there is one thing that makes me wonder. Their Depot-level maintenance was capable of reconditioning 15 motors and 15 airframes per month, and of recycling certain key materials. It has been a long time since I was involved in aviation at that level, but I don't think this is going to be sufficient.


    Higher strategy;
    Priority ONE- close the Southern end of the Red Sea, and at least appear to be threatening the Persian Gulf.

    Priority TWO- Link-up with Libya and cut the Nile River & Railroad link Egypt has with the rest of Africa.

    All other objectives are of vastly less importance, including raids into Kenya and other parts of Sudan, such as a possible strike at Socotra Island and Port Sudan.

    Priority ONE will include mining the Red Sea in the hours just prior to the declaration of war, the invasion of British Somaliland, and the landing at Aden.

    Priority TWO is a little misleading. Even if contact is established, running supplies to Khartoum overland from Libya is not going to be very effective, considering the needs of an army of over 300,000. But what it will do is add a new dimension to the threat to Egypt, isolating it as Ethiopia had been isolated. If the RailRoad and the Red Sea are both cut, then the RN will have to evacuate, and the British Army won't be far behind.

    How can we bo so bold?
    Lets take asymmetrical warfare and stand it on it's head. Let's use poorly-armed irregulars as an offensive force.

    The bulk of the Italian Colonial forces were equipped with little more than rifles and a few MGs. They were ferocious, but few of them knew what to do when they were being pounded by artillery or strafed by aircraft. So the only option is to make the most of them before much of that arrives on the British side.

    Send out a wave of 100,000 of them for the Summer campaign, and replace them with another 100,000 for the Autumn offensive. On horse or camel, they will need very little logistical support, and will be encouraged to live off the land. Just turn them lose, they can swamp the enemy and enrich themselves with booty at the same time. Tell them that there is one item that they have to turn over; Gasoline. They can even keep their captives, but only until the end of the war.

    Yes, there may be some war-crimes here and there, but Italy did side with Germany, after all.

    And here we have an opening for the Officers side-lined by the reorganization of the army back home. All these irregulars are going to need some supervision.
    Right?

    Leave a comment:


  • AdrianE
    replied
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    The British had built a double track rail line to the Egyptian border pre-war.
    That is incorrect. The New Zealanders built the Western Desert railway extension during the war. It went from Mersa Matruh to Tobruk.

    Leave a comment:


  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Originally posted by Merkava188 View Post
    With Hitler, Mussolini had no choice but to go to war.
    Why? Was Hitler threatening to invade Italy if Mussolini didn't go to war on the German side? I think not.

    Leave a comment:


  • Merkava188
    replied
    With Hitler, Mussolini had no choice but to go to war.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Exorcist
    replied
    Right to the border?
    I thought that the Egyptian rails ended at Mersa Matruh in 1940.

    Leave a comment:


  • Pruitt
    replied
    I don't think the Italian rail lines used the same gauge as the French and British. The Italian engines were also smaller. They would have had to move the British and French rails in. Of course the French also had the Mareth Line to discourage an Italian advance. The Germans could have made sure Vichy France opened up Tunisia to Italian rail use, but they didn't do it. The French had at least a division in Tunisia and more in Algeria and Morocco.

    Pruitt

    Leave a comment:


  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    The British had built a double track rail line to the Egyptian border pre-war. The Italians need only connect their portion to that. The French, likewise, already had a rail line to the Tunisian-Libyan border in place prior to the war.
    If the Italians started laying track to connect those lines moving back from the border, they could have had at least a single rail line in place to utilize the British and French sections which are the same gage as they advanced. As it was, they did manage to build a paved road clear across Libya prior to entering the war. Building a rail line isn't that much more difficult in most sections.

    Leave a comment:


  • Pruitt
    replied
    Most of the railways in Libya went South into the Interior. You can tear up the end of one of these lines for 50 miles. Then you need some rail facilities like a crane or two some switching yards and some repair sheds. Then you need an engine or two to do the actual hauling.

    Pruitt

    Leave a comment:


  • The Exorcist
    replied
    I don't see any chance at all of Italy building a railway from one end of Libya to the other, even with outside investment. There is just too much steel involved, and it would take too much time.

    Remember, the start date that I assigned for this is Oct. 1939.

    However -

    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    ...
    Second, would be to expand port facilities at Tobruk and Benghazi. This would have allowed the Italians to bring in supplies closer to Egypt and stockpile them.
    Benghazi is too far away, but Tobruk is a fine natural harbor that has yet to be fully exploited. Expanding the facilities involves little more than pouring concrete and installing a couple of rail-mounted cranes... and the later is more of an option than a necessity when you have all those Natives waiting around for a few Lire more.
    And a little rail-link from Tobruk to Bardia is no big challenge, its only 50 miles.


    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    Between having a rail link and better ports they could have managed to advance into Egypt probably non-stop except for British opposition.

    And speaking of Bardia, there is an anchorage there that was actually used for medium-small cargo ships. The 500-foot pier is still there, and there is room for more.

    Just across the border is Sollumn (el Salloum today) that has a couple of docks. Look on Google maps, there is a pic from 1942 that shows a couple of narrower docks just as long in exactly the same place.
    Shallow coasters can use this place as well.

    A couple of SeeBee Battalions could take care of all this in 6 weeks, Italy has 9 months, and all of a sudden our Truck problem only starts at the Egyptian border.

    And there are other possibilities-
    Mersa Matruh has a very shallow bay (they call it "Romel Bay" today, it is next to Rommel Beach! ) that is accessible to small boats.
    You know, the kind of boats that can carry about a truckload of cargo, using less fuel.
    Alamien has something similar.

    On last note about the Trucks; Graziani asked for more trucks than all of Italy had, he was just futzing around. A lot of Generals have a bad habit of asking for more than they really need, and that isn't just an Italian problem.

    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    If the Italian fleet had a carrier with say 30 Re 2001 fighters and 20 attack aircraft of some sort aboard, they could have taken out the HMS Eagle easily. That ship had one Sea Gladiator and about 20 Swordfish aboard in early 1940. That would have allowed the Italians to actually win at sea with just a little spine to push them on.
    I can point you at something better; Cyprus.
    By making that a day-one objective, you will soon have the entire Eastern Med within range of the SM.79 Spaverio. By the end of the war it had proven so deadly with torpedoes that the entire fleet was concentrated on this one mission. In 1940, Italy has hundreds of them.
    A Carrier with just one fighter isn't going to stand much chance against them.

    I assigned 2 mechanized Corps and an Infantry Corps for this offensive, I think they can take care of a WDF with just 35,000 men and Vickers tanks.

    Leave a comment:


  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
    There is no real chance of taking Egypt as you haven't yet solved the logistical problems. Italy just doesn't have enough trucks to project a force to Alexandria that is strong enough to take the place. Even if by some miracle they got there the big guns of the RN's eastern fleet would chew them to bits. Do you really want to see your Italian mobile corps wrecked by Warspite, Barham and Malaya?

    I think Italy's best chance would have been to try to take Alexandria by some kind of sneak attack on the first day of hostilities. Couple that with an attack by Italian navy frogmen and you could cause some real chaos that might give you a 10% chence of taking the place.
    The way to fix the logistical problems is two-fold, but I doubt Italy could have pulled it off.

    First, is building a rail line across Libya from the Egyptian frontier to Tunisia. The only way I could see this being done is Italy starts early and gets Britain and France involved by selling the project as a link across North Africa from Egypt to Morocco. It might have worked if the British and French helped out thinking it would benefit them as much as Italy.

    Second, would be to expand port facilities at Tobruk and Benghazi. This would have allowed the Italians to bring in supplies closer to Egypt and stockpile them.

    Between having a rail link and better ports they could have managed to advance into Egypt probably non-stop except for British opposition.

    If the Italian fleet had a carrier with say 30 Re 2001 fighters and 20 attack aircraft of some sort aboard, they could have taken out the HMS Eagle easily. That ship had one Sea Gladiator and about 20 Swordfish aboard in early 1940. That would have allowed the Italians to actually win at sea with just a little spine to push them on.

    Leave a comment:


  • AdrianE
    replied
    Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
    It would be a 3-pronged attack;
    Landing at Cyprus gives you a platform from which to threaten more landings along the Levant.
    Attacking Egypt with a leaner, meaner force gives you a chance of taking Egypt.
    And then there is East Africa.

    There is no real chance of taking Egypt as you haven't yet solved the logistical problems. Italy just doesn't have enough trucks to project a force to Alexandria that is strong enough to take the place. Even if by some miracle they got there the big guns of the RN's eastern fleet would chew them to bits. Do you really want to see your Italian mobile corps wrecked by Warspite, Barham and Malaya?

    I think Italy's best chance would have been to try to take Alexandria by some kind of sneak attack on the first day of hostilities. Couple that with an attack by Italian navy frogmen and you could cause some real chaos that might give you a 10% chence of taking the place.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Exorcist
    replied
    Originally posted by Bwaha View Post
    Oil. Lads can't fight ww2 without it. Guess who has none and has to beg to get it?

    All these plans to make Italy a fighting power without oil...
    They did have it, as stated earlier the Germans found 100,000 tons that had been hoarded in Northern Italy when they took over in 1943.
    And did you notice, Historically, the Air Force alone had 10,000 tons stockpiled in Ethiopia!

    But yes, they need Oil sources of their own... and if you will notice that my Strategic focus is Eastwards right from the start.
    Towards the Persian Gulf.
    Make it and you are Golden, make the effort and that is one hell of an incentive for Britain to offer you the best terms possible. A separate peace on favorable terms is still a win for Italy.

    It would be a 3-pronged attack;
    Landing at Cyprus gives you a platform from which to threaten more landings along the Levant.
    Attacking Egypt with a leaner, meaner force gives you a chance of taking Egypt.
    And then there is East Africa.

    The huge force there was somehow consigned to a mere holding force, Mussolini even said "Just do your best, hold out at least 3 months..."
    That is just ridiculous, IMHO.

    As things turned out, Duke Aosta himself and the main force held out until April or May, and another large force at Gondar lasted until the Fall... the last Italian aircraft was shot down in the Fall as well, a Cr.42.
    As guerrillas and raiders, other Italians were still fighting until October of 1943.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italia...ar_in_Ethiopia
    Even the Italians seem to have forgotten about that.

    Clearly, there was even more unexploited potential there than the raw numbers of 370,000 men at arms would indicate.

    Here is another zinger for you; At the outset, British Empire troops (mainly Colonials) in Sudan, Kenya and British Somaliland totaled fewer than 20,000 men. Better trained men, to be sure, but the Italians can gain a ten-to-one advantage and still have more than enough to keep the rest of their Empire secure. In fact, the farther you push out, the less your internal garrisons matter.

    What was lacking was belief that it could be done at the highest levels of command, a few key items, and the right plan. The later item could have completely changed the first problem.
    Without substantially changing any of the forces involved, I intend to come up with that plan.

    Stay tuned.

    Leave a comment:


  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Originally posted by asterix View Post
    It is curious that, had Italy stayed out of the war altogether, could Mussolini's fascist government survive an Allied victory over Nazi Germany la Franco's Spain?
    Absolutely. The best outcome of all for Italy would be to join the Allies in late 1942 to mid 43 so they're in on the victory. That ensures that their colonial possessions remain intact, even get military and economic aid to improve them, and that Italy gets in on the spoils.
    Maybe Mussolini allows Jews and others persecuted by the Nazis to flee to Italy provided they move to an Italian colony... That way you're putting people with skills, knowledge, and potentially even wealth, in places lacking it.
    The Italian Navy and Air Force benefit getting Allied equipment, while the army only need support Allied operations to the extent it is required to. The Allies might find it isn't worth refitting many Italian units for frontline operations, just selecting a few for that and using the rest for occupation duties.
    Italy comes out of the war intact, and a bulwark against Communism in the Balkans post war.

    Leave a comment:


  • asterix
    replied
    It is curious that, had Italy stayed out of the war altogether, could Mussolini's fascist government survive an Allied victory over Nazi Germany la Franco's Spain?

    Leave a comment:

Latest Topics

Collapse

Working...
X