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Mussolini attacks Tunisia, instead of France

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  • Mussolini attacks Tunisia, instead of France

    Mussolini does not mobilize vehicles to the French border when Hitler invades France, only 60,000 men (artillery and mountain troops) and some planes. He sends all the vehicles and most of the planes to Libya and west Sicily. When France's defeat is certain on 24 May, 1940 Italy attacks Tunisia shelling and bombing the defensive line and using flame throwing tanks against it and simultaneously going around it (like Monty eventually did) and dropping paratroopers just behind the defensive line.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Draco View Post
    Mussolini does not mobilize vehicles to the French border when Hitler invades France, only 60,000 men (artillery and mountain troops) and some planes. He sends all the vehicles and most of the planes to Libya and west Sicily. When France's defeat is certain on 24 May, 1940 Italy attacks Tunisia shelling and bombing the defensive line and using flame throwing tanks against it and simultaneously going around it (like Monty eventually did) and dropping paratroopers just behind the defensive line.
    The French had more forces avialable in this theater than the British did, and we know how well the Italians did against them.

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    • #3
      The Italians only had two Libyan parachute battalions at that time. I'm sure that they would've performed well.
      They only had a few of the L3/35 tankettes with a flamethrower. It also towed its fuel in a 133gal trailer. It would be deadlier to its crew than the enemy.

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      • #4
        Mussolini divided his scarce vehicles and planes between the French border and Lybia. In this scenario he sends the vehicles to Lybia and Sicily (to land in the first captured port).

        On the date suggested the French have weaker forces in Tunisia than they do along the Alpine Franco-Italian border when Italy attacked.

        Despite Mussolini wasting a lot of vehicles in France and then Greece, the Italians advanced rapidly in Egypt and remained there for several months.

        It's much easier to supply an attack against Tunisia from Tripoli (the main port) and Sicily than in Sidi Barrani 1,000 miles away along a poor road exposed to the RN and RAF. The same truck and fuel will move perhaps 40 times more supplies to Tunisia than to Sidi Barrani and be exposed to much fewer enemy planes and ships.

        The French air force and armor in Tunisia were weaker than in France when Mussolini attacked and than the British forces in Egypt in Nov 1940.

        It is much easier for the Italians to fight the French navy and army around Tunisia with planes and ships from Tripoli, Panteleria, Sardinia and Tunisia than to fight the RN in Alexandria.

        The British alligator flame throwing tanks in 1944 also towed the fuel in a trailer.

        Tunisia is much less important to a beleaguered France than France itself or Algeria. Therefore, the French are more likely to withdraw to strong mountain positions in order to defend Algeria with extended Italian supply lines than they are to risk losing a lot of troops, equipment and ships so close to the Italian supply centers (Tripoli and Sicily).

        The paratroopers will be at least a distraction and source of confusion. better to use them there than not at all. If they happen to fight well, they will help considerably.
        Last edited by Draco; 24 Aug 14, 15:32.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Draco View Post
          .
          The British alligator flame throwing tanks in 1944 also towed the fuel in a trailer.
          Why don't you check out the armour thickness on a Churchill tank vs that of an Italian CV35 tankette, then check out the armour thickness of the respective fuel trailers, then look at how the fuel trailers are connected to the tank (hint: the CV35 version has a heavy canvas hose connecting the fuel source to the vehicle) before implying they're the same?

          You're comparing apples to grapefruit.

          Oh and it's a Crocodile tank not an alligator.

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          • #6
            So are you, check out the German defenses, troops and weapons in Normandy in 1944 and the French defenses in Tunisia in 1940.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Draco View Post
              So are you, check out the German defenses, troops and weapons in Normandy in 1944 and the French defenses in Tunisia in 1940.
              Strawman! And completely irrelevant. But thanks for showing that you're determined to get another thread locked due to your propensity for making things up

              Go for the record!

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              • #8
                In reality the French High Command knew quite a lot about the forthcoming Italian attack on southern France. There is no reason to doubt (unless you can show otherwise) that they wouldn't equally recognise the signs for an invasion of Tunisia from Libya and prepare accordingly!

                I have my doubts (without any evidence to the contrary) about the ability of the Italians to break the Mareth Line. Without this happening any other direction of attack would be meaningless or a failure.

                The OoB for the Commandement Supérieur des Troupes de Tunisie can be found here:- http://france1940.free.fr/oob/cstt.html

                In addition I'm sure they could call upon other units based in Algeria (which can also be found on the above linked website) if needed!

                As with any war there won by logistics, and from my knowledge the logistical infrastructure in NW Libya isn't on par with northern Italy. Also much has been written about the rather limited port capacity in Libya, even from when the Germans arrived and set some improvements in motion. I would guess in your timeline they would be even worse!

                The French had quite extensive minefields at sea, especially near the routes to the main Tunisian ports, and I'm struggling to find any reliable sources about the Italians minesweeping capacity at this time.

                Regards
                "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

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                • #9
                  There were several divisions and hundreds of planes and tanks in Libya yet France did not reinforce it considerably. Fighting for their life against Germany, they will most likely not send planes, armor and troops from France. Algeria is far more important than Tunisia, so it is more likely that they will withdraw to the more defensible mountains than reinforce coastal Tunisia, next door to Italian forces.
                  The French sent 3 Tunisian regiments to France (despite having a huge army already in France) to fight the Germans, instead of reinforcing Tunisia.

                  As I specified, the Italians go around and behind the Mareth while they attack it. They also have landing craft intended for Malta (which becomes moot if Tunisia falls), which they can use for a landing between Bizerte and the Mareth line. In any event, it is easier and much more productive to break the Mareth line than the Alpine defenses.
                  I do not know of any shallow defensive line other than el Alamein (which had the RN artillery, RAF, enormous field artillery and tanks and the Qatar depression baring bypass), which held in WW II, not even the Mannerheim line. Kursk held but it was not a defensible line, it was 5 incredibly strong defensive lines with more cannon, armor, planes, mines, etc, than France had in 1940 and concentrated in a very small area. The area south of the Mareth line does not compare to the Qatar depression at all.

                  For France Tunisia is the eastern outpost in NA, for Italy it is the closest point to Tripoli (much more so than Sicily), to Sicily (much more so than Tripoli), to Sardinia (more so than Italy or Sicily) and Panteleria.

                  When Rommel withdrew to Tunisia, the Germans certainly did not clear the French mines, so the Italians were capable of doing it.

                  If Italy could supply a huge army in Sidi Barrani for several months, with the limited port capacity of Tripoli, the few trucks and the extremely long road. It can certainly supply a fast offensive into Tunisia, until the first port is captured. Just transporting water and food for those men in Sidi Barrani from Sicily for so long was an achievement.
                  Last edited by Draco; 24 Aug 14, 19:19.

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                  • #10
                    A landing near the small port of Sfax may have outflanked the Mareth line while it was being attacked. There are also two good size islands along the eastern Libyan coast that may have been captured and allowed at least CR.42s to be deployed from them and served to stage landings.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Draco View Post
                      They also have landing craft intended for Malta (which becomes moot if Tunisia falls), which they can use for a landing between Bizerte and the Mareth line.
                      Hi Draco

                      Italian landing craft you say!
                      The said craft that I'm aware of, weren't built until April 1942, and then they only built less than 10 out of an order 100!

                      If you go to Article No 55 in this link and then to Pg35 within it, you'll get some details on Italian Landing Craft http://www.pietrocristini.com/storia-militare.htm you'll also get some useful info in Article No 54.

                      Even if you don't read Italian I hope the pictures will give you a sense of the woeful equipment and lack of ability Italy had in the naval landing dept! Thus any seaborne landing element of your scenario is null and void!

                      Will get back to you on the other aspects later in the day

                      Regards
                      "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                      "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Andy H View Post
                        In reality the French High Command knew quite a lot about the forthcoming Italian attack on southern France. There is no reason to doubt (unless you can show otherwise) that they wouldn't equally recognise the signs for an invasion of Tunisia from Libya and prepare accordingly!

                        I have my doubts (without any evidence to the contrary) about the ability of the Italians to break the Mareth Line. Without this happening any other direction of attack would be meaningless or a failure.

                        The OoB for the Commandement Supérieur des Troupes de Tunisie can be found here:- http://france1940.free.fr/oob/cstt.html

                        In addition I'm sure they could call upon other units based in Algeria (which can also be found on the above linked website) if needed!

                        As with any war there won by logistics, and from my knowledge the logistical infrastructure in NW Libya isn't on par with northern Italy. Also much has been written about the rather limited port capacity in Libya, even from when the Germans arrived and set some improvements in motion. I would guess in your timeline they would be even worse!

                        The French had quite extensive minefields at sea, especially near the routes to the main Tunisian ports, and I'm struggling to find any reliable sources about the Italians minesweeping capacity at this time.

                        Regards
                        So am I. It seems on a par with looking for information on Great Chilean Fast Bowlers. There might have been one (or even several) but they aren't household names!

                        The best I can find (Italian Minesweepers, not Chilean cricketers, that is) is the RD class. RD in this case stands for Rimorchiatore Dragamine, which apparently means Tug Minesweeper.

                        Around 50 were built during and just after WW1, and 38 or so were still around at the outbreak of WW2. Each displaced 200 - 220 Tons, and seems to have carried a single small gun forward. How long the life expectancy of such vessels in waters dominated by the French & British navies would have been is a moot point.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Andy H View Post
                          Hi Draco

                          Italian landing craft you say!
                          The said craft that I'm aware of, weren't built until April 1942, and then they only built less than 10 out of an order 100!

                          If you go to Article No 55 in this link and then to Pg35 within it, you'll get some details on Italian Landing Craft http://www.pietrocristini.com/storia-militare.htm you'll also get some useful info in Article No 54.

                          Even if you don't read Italian I hope the pictures will give you a sense of the woeful equipment and lack of ability Italy had in the naval landing dept! Thus any seaborne landing element of your scenario is null and void!

                          Will get back to you on the other aspects later in the day

                          Regards
                          Again, a fanciful story ruined by inconvenient facts.

                          As you have already suggested, there were no Italian Landing Craft at the time. The first batch of 100, ordered in Autumn 1941, only began to appear in Spring 1942, and then only nine of them (ML 654-662).

                          Each had a crew of 9, and could carry 30 fully equipped infantrymen.

                          Of course, in March 1942 the Italians began building their version of the German MFP-A, a much superior vessel which might explain why the remaining MLs never saw the light of day.

                          Eventually there were just over 100 Italian MFP-As, but in terms of this thread these are even more irrelevant than the MLs.

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                          • #14
                            Next up is the intervention of the german navy with ubber destroyers and wolf packs.

                            Betcha a quarter...
                            Credo quia absurdum.


                            Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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                            • #15
                              Then I use barges and pontoon bridges. Interesting landing sites would be the shallow lagoon Bahiret el Bibane (very close to Tripoli and close to the Mareth line) and the above mentioned area around Sfax after capturing the Island nearby.

                              The Italians were the only ones who could deploy deep water mines, so the allied navy will have more trouble sailing in deep waters around Tunisia than the Italians.

                              Having planned the invasion of Tunisia, instead fo the invasion of France, the Italians start developing torpedo planes before the invasion.

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