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What if Italy joins the Central Powers in WWI

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  • What if Italy joins the Central Powers in WWI

    It could have gone either way, but if Italy had not abrogated there alliance with Germany during WWI what could we have seen happen. This would cause future history to be re-written no matter how you look at it.
    If you sacrifice freedom to obtain some security, you deserve neither and will gain none.

    There never was a good war or a bad peace.

  • #2
    Not so sure about this one.

    They were a real "drag on the ticket" on WW2, how would this have been any different?
    "Why is the Rum gone?"

    -Captain Jack

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    • #3
      I think in World War I they could have influenced situations quite a bit more, If Italy were to join the Germans, France and Britain would have had to redirect forces to the Italian fronts, also it would have freed up the Central Power forces, I do indeed think it could have changed World War I and future events drastically.
      If you sacrifice freedom to obtain some security, you deserve neither and will gain none.

      There never was a good war or a bad peace.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Lonewulf View Post
        I think in World War I they could have influenced situations quite a bit more, If Italy were to join the Germans, France and Britain would have had to redirect forces to the Italian fronts, also it would have freed up the Central Power forces, I do indeed think it could have changed World War I and future events drastically.
        I agree. The Italians would be able to pull allied units to the Italian border,thus making it easier for the German Army to defeat the Allies. I wonder though,would more Austrian units fighting the Russians make an difference?
        If the art of war were nothing but the art of avoiding risks,glory would become the prey of mediocre minds. Napoleon

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Legate View Post
          I wonder though,would more Austrian units fighting the Russians make an difference?
          Good point, I'm not sure that would have mattered much...
          If you sacrifice freedom to obtain some security, you deserve neither and will gain none.

          There never was a good war or a bad peace.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Legate View Post
            I agree. The Italians would be able to pull allied units to the Italian border,thus making it easier for the German Army to defeat the Allies.
            I have a OB and deployment chart of the French mobilization in 1914. they had anticipated the possibility of a Italian DoW and a army was mobilized on the Franco Italian border. This OB shows the 44th, 64th, 65th, 75th, 79th Divsions & a Brigade Chassuers as guarding the border in August/September. Several were ordered north at the peak of the emergency in August, but as far as I know none arrived before the battle of the Marne was won, and they were replaced by other reserve or territorial units mobilized in September.

            The terrain along the Franco Italian border is extremely rugged mountains that run litterally into the Mediterraian Sea. In 1940 two Italian armys attempted to attack through this and went nowhere. In 1944 the US Army that landed at Marsaille did not even think of attempting this terrain and for the remainder of WWII a handfull of ill armed French units guarded it from the Germans defending northern Italy.

            Prewar discussions between the Italian and German military leaders had resulted in a plan for two Italian corps to be sent north to Germany. They were to be deployed south of Straussberg along the Rhine River valley. There was a vague refrence to other Italian units following later. But it seems everyone thought any war would be over in a few months and such long term plans irrelevant.

            Originally posted by Legate View Post
            I wonder though,would more Austrian units fighting the Russians make an difference?
            What portion of the Austrian army was deployed on the Italian Front? I really dont know how many were on each front at critical dates.

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            • #7
              If the Italian DoW on France in 1940 and subsequent skirmishes are anything to go by, i'm sure the French would have been able to contain with ease any incursions along the French/Italian border. Especially given the terrain, and technology of the time, suited a defensive posture.

              As others have pointed out though, the requirement to withdraw troops from where they were facing the Germans might have had an effect.

              Its interesting to ponder what would have happened in North Africa as well. The Italians viewed the French possessions, especially Tunisia, with envy. What effect might have this have had on France, and indeed Italy's authority as a colonial power there? Would the large scale use of African troops have been employed? And would this have generated an expectation that some sort of self governance or sovereignty would have been given as a reward?

              Good Topic.

              Peace.

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              • #8
                Its been over twenty years since I studied this one, but I dont think the capabilities have changed much. The French & Brit Meditterraian fleets were capable of containing the Italian fleet and preventing a army from reaching Africa. I recall the poor odds for a naval war influenced the Italian decision not to join the Central Powers.

                A second problem for Italy in 1914 is it was already dependant on imports for grain and various industrial items. A disruption of imports via the sea routes for even a couple months caused many Italian leaders to think twice about war with Britian.

                Perhaps if Britian had not entered the war in August 1914 the Italian view might have been different.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                  I have a OB and deployment chart of the French mobilization in 1914. they had anticipated the possibility of a Italian DoW and a army was mobilized on the Franco Italian border. This OB shows the 44th, 64th, 65th, 75th, 79th Divsions & a Brigade Chassuers as guarding the border in August/September. Several were ordered north at the peak of the emergency in August, but as far as I know none arrived before the battle of the Marne was won, and they were replaced by other reserve or territorial units mobilized in September.

                  The terrain along the Franco Italian border is extremely rugged mountains that run litterally into the Mediterraian Sea. In 1940 two Italian armys attempted to attack through this and went nowhere. In 1944 the US Army that landed at Marsaille did not even think of attempting this terrain and for the remainder of WWII a handfull of ill armed French units guarded it from the Germans defending northern Italy.

                  Prewar discussions between the Italian and German military leaders had resulted in a plan for two Italian corps to be sent north to Germany. They were to be deployed south of Straussberg along the Rhine River valley. There was a vague refrence to other Italian units following later. But it seems everyone thought any war would be over in a few months and such long term plans irrelevant.



                  What portion of the Austrian army was deployed on the Italian Front? I really dont know how many were on each front at critical dates.
                  correct.

                  french units stayed on the Itaian border well into spring 1915 (when it was a given that Italy would be neutral or join the entente).

                  Austrian border armies with Italy were at full strenght all the time.

                  no one trusted italy in 1914.

                  now, in 1914, Italy was not prepared for war and Italy's objectives were anyway to gain land from Austria in the tyrol and dalmatia, etc. so no real plausible way that Italy would join the Central Powers, until they would actually win a decisive victory in the summer of 1914 (i.e. take paris) and that woud then be a moot point to hve italy in the war, as the war would end in a french defeat.

                  now, in a very fantasy world, ITaly might have a pro-austrian government and king (this is as likely in 1914, as, say, have the USA have a pro-soviet union government in the 1950's), then Italys attacks across the alps and on the mediterranean and in the balkans might well have tipped the balance for the centrlpowers in 1914 - especially for the austrians that could have sent 3 extra armies against Serbia and or Russia that winter, perhaps crushing Serbiaa and avoiding defeat by the russians in Galicia and bessarabia
                  "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                    The French & Brit Meditterraian fleets were capable of containing the Italian fleet and preventing a army from reaching Africa.
                    Thats true, but what about with Austrian naval support? I have read before that the British had an agreement with the French; to the effect that the Royal Navy would look after the North Sea and the French Navy would look after the Mediterranean.

                    So I if this were the case I guess the question is could a combined Italian/Austrian Fleet be enough naval support for the Italians to ward off the French Navy and ferry some troops to Africa in order to attempt an expansion of their colonial empire at the expense of the French? And would it be feasible to do this if there was a requirement to keep large numbers of troops on the French/Italian border?

                    I think that the Italians, if they wanted to hold their African possesions, would have at least had to attempt moving some troops to Africa, as the experience of the German African colonies would suggest that their (the Italian) colonies would have been invaded by the French and the British...

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                    • #11
                      Good points, The Turks were keeping the Brits occupied, if the Italians were to kick it down, it may just have been enough to cause a ruckus there in Africa.
                      If you sacrifice freedom to obtain some security, you deserve neither and will gain none.

                      There never was a good war or a bad peace.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Rythmik View Post

                        ....So I if this were the case I guess the question is could a combined Italian/Austrian Fleet be enough naval support for the Italians to ward off the French Navy and ferry some troops to Africa in order to attempt an expansion of their colonial empire at the expense of the French?

                        After so many years I cant recall the combined strength of the Austrian - Italian navys. I recall the Autrian fleet was just large enough to make a fight for the Adriatic and thats all, but I could be wrong. We need to hit the books on this.

                        Originally posted by Rythmik View Post
                        And would it be feasible to do this if there was a requirement to keep large numbers of troops on the French/Italian border?
                        Understand there would not be a requirement for this. The French planned for mobilizing a minimum of six divsions (two reserve corps) there and did not have a problem replacing part of those with weak Territorial or third rate reserve regiments in September. The Alps along the Franco/Italian border are just as rugged as in Switzerland and the French maintained some fortresses covering the mountain passes. In June 1940 Just three French divsions were posted to cover the mountain passes (with some partially mobilized divsions behind them) against some twenty Italain divsions assembled in north western Italy. In 1944 the Germans had a army group in Italy, but after the Allies captured Marsallies and advanced north towards the Germany border it was only thought necessary to post a couple underrstrength French corps to guard the passes. That worked both ways. The 'Ligurian Army' assembled by Kesselring in late 1944 to guard against any Allied atack through there was made up of the weakest Italian and German units available.

                        In this case of the hostile Italians two corps of infantry should be more than enough to hold this Alpine Front.

                        If you can operate Google Earth on your machine take a look at the mountains extending through this border region.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                          Understand there would not be a requirement for this. The French planned for mobilizing a minimum of six divsions (two reserve corps) there and did not have a problem replacing part of those with weak Territorial or third rate reserve regiments in September. The Alps along the Franco/Italian border are just as rugged as in Switzerland and the French maintained some fortresses covering the mountain passes. In June 1940 Just three French divsions were posted to cover the mountain passes (with some partially mobilized divsions behind them) against some twenty Italain divsions assembled in north western Italy. In 1944 the Germans had a army group in Italy, but after the Allies captured Marsallies and advanced north towards the Germany border it was only thought necessary to post a couple underrstrength French corps to guard the passes. That worked both ways. The 'Ligurian Army' assembled by Kesselring in late 1944 to guard against any Allied atack through there was made up of the weakest Italian and German units available.
                          I am aware of this, as somebody else mentioned the French did not even withdraw their troops until 1915 when it was clear which way Italy would go.

                          What I meant was would it be feasible for Italian troops to be shipped to Africa if there was a conflict occurring on the French/Italian border...

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Rythmik View Post
                            I am aware of this, as somebody else mentioned the French did not even withdraw their troops until 1915 when it was clear which way Italy would go.

                            What I meant was would it be feasible for Italian troops to be shipped to Africa if there was a conflict occurring on the French/Italian border...
                            well, any war in north africa is a proble for italy. first italy has very few shipping to transport troops to Tripoli or Benghzi.

                            also, what is not yet Libya is not really controlled by the italian forces, beyond those two cities. the country side and the desert are still hed by the locals - in early 1915, a column (size of a regiment) of italian troops was wiped out in trying to control the area south of Tripoli.

                            so any reinforcements, supply, let alone offensive towards Tunisia, would be a disaster - there are also no roads and everthing must ove by foot or camel....

                            not to mention the british and french navies interdiction of the colony.
                            "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by piero1971 View Post
                              in early 1915, a column (size of a regiment) of italian troops was wiped out in trying to control the area south of Tripoli.
                              I find this little tidbit interesting,got any sources? I would like to study this further.
                              If the art of war were nothing but the art of avoiding risks,glory would become the prey of mediocre minds. Napoleon

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