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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Military/History Related Hobbies > Alternate Timelines

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Alternate Timelines The plausible "what if's" of military history.

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  #16  
Old 27 Feb 17, 23:16
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I agree with most of the above, but bad news about the Battleships.
Roma did not launch until mid-1940, but Imperio was set to launch on Nov. 15, 1939. Since I set the revisions to start just a month before that, it seems too late to scrap it in place. However, it would be the right candidate for conversion to a Carrier.
It was scheduled for an AA armament of 12 x 90mm guns, 20 x 37mm and 20 x twin 20mm... which seems sufficient. For a quick conversion go with a totally flat deck; the navigation bridge can go under the forward flight deck overhang and the Air control post can be located at either or both corners of the aft end.


Something else;
The 45mm mortar was a pretty ridiculous weapon given the cost and weight of it-
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brixia_Model_35
Think of all the work that went into those damn things.

855 Polish 46mm mortars were captured in operational condition by the Germans, who never used them. Make a deal for them, and voila, we can stop production of the weird Brixia mortars and put that shop to work making Spare Parts that are so badly needed.

I will have my own take on the Army later, along with an opening move that would floor the opposition.
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  #17  
Old 28 Feb 17, 00:06
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This company could have been sending kickbacks to the Fascist Party. They could have had a simple design like the two inch mortar, but NNNOOO.

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  #18  
Old 28 Feb 17, 01:53
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On the Brixia mortar. This was held at battalion level in fairly large numbers in infantry formations. By reorganizing the battalions so the line companies include a weapons platoon, you are essentially giving each infantry company the equivalent of several 40mm grenade launchers.
That makes that little mortar a valuable weapon all of a sudden rather than a battalion support weapon where it lacks the range and mobility to be useful.

The whole Italian infantry battalion was badly organized as it was. It retained what was essentially a WW 1 organization.

This is the way it was organized.

There are three line companies and a heavy weapons company in the battalion.

The line companies each consist of three platoons and a headquarters group.

Each platoon has two squads each of 20 men total divided into a rifle group of 11 men and a machinegun group of 9 men with 2 light machineguns.

The heavy weapons company has 2 machinegun groups with 4 heavy machineguns each, and 2 mortar groups each with 6 Brixia mortars.

This gives the battalion 36 LMG, 8 HMG and 18 45mm mortars

At regiment there is a mortar platoon with 9 81mm mortars, among other units.

The reorganization would be this:

The 3 line companies now consist of 3 rifle platoons and a heavy weapons platoon.

The rifle platoons have 3 squads of 12 men and includes a light machinegun.

The heavy weapons platoon has 6 45mm mortars, 3 light or medium machineguns

The heavy weapons company now has 8 heavy machineguns and 3 81mm mortars.

This gives the battalion 36 LMG, 18 45mm mortars, 8 HMG, 3 81mm mortars.

So, the weapons content remains exactly the same while the unit's flexibility and firepower is substantially increased by pushing weapons down to lower echelons along with giving the platoons more flexibility.

Purchase of a large number of antitank rifles like the Solothurn S18-1000 or similar and handing these out to each battalion in say 2 guns at the heavy weapons platoon would give the troops at least a minimum tank defense capacity. Historically, it was adopted by Italy in 1940, but was available pre-war and could have been adopted sooner.

At just 18 per division that amounts to a buy of about 750 at most to supply the army. Mounting these on L3/33 tankettes and giving 2 per battalion would have been a good way to get them some mobility. Maybe add a couple more of these vehicles to the weapons company sort of like a small carrier platoon like the British used would be the way to go. They had the vehicles to give every battalion a couple of these tankettes that really weren't useful for anything else.
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  #19  
Old 28 Feb 17, 03:16
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Italy still would've come out on the losing end despite proper planning.
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  #20  
Old 28 Feb 17, 03:40
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Planning to stay out of the war would have been the proper course, even preferable to joining the Allies in 1943.

No need for ideological solidarity with Hitler to form an Axis
Mussolini could have followed Franco's example.
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  #21  
Old 28 Feb 17, 11:30
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Why on earth would the Italians want carriers?

They have airbases on Sardina, Sicily and Rhodes than could dominate the med if they had a proper airforce.
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  #22  
Old 28 Feb 17, 12:12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdrianE View Post
Why on earth would the Italians want carriers?

They have airbases on Sardina, Sicily and Rhodes than could dominate the med if they had a proper airforce.
Because the RA proved completely incompetent and incapable of supporting the navy. The reason Italian ships got those large red and white stripes on the decks was because the air force bombed their own ships more than once.
They repeatedly showed up late or not at all to support the navy when requested.

Having a couple of carriers with say 30 to 50 planes aboard each would have put the Italians in a great position at sea. The RN in 1939 to early 1941 had largely crap on their carriers in the Med and often had much smaller than capacity air wings aboard.

Just having Re 2000 fighters versus the few Sea Gladiators the Eagle carried in 1940 would have ended British naval air ops entirely. The Swordfish available for strikes would have been no match for the Reggiane fighter (about the equivalent of a P-35). The Re 2001 was roughly the same as an early P-40.
Add some Ju 87 and Fi 167 for strikes and the RN is in serious trouble.
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  #23  
Old 28 Feb 17, 13:26
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Again, I agree with most of that, and kudos for not trying to increase the numbers of weapons or troops.
However-

Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
...
At just 18 per division that amounts to a buy of about 750 at most to supply the army. Mounting these on L3/33 tankettes and giving 2 per battalion would have been a good way to get them some mobility. Maybe add a couple more of these vehicles to the weapons company sort of like a small carrier platoon like the British used would be the way to go. They had the vehicles to give every battalion a couple of these tankettes that really weren't useful for anything else.
The tankettes were present in such large numbers that something had to be done with them, and they are light enough and low enough to the ground to survive in a good many situations. They could be landed in Naval units that would have had trouble with large trucks, however...
They don't do very well in open country, like Russia or the desert. They are so low that their own view is hindered, I saw a pic of one in a recon unit with a 2-meter ladder attached to the back, so that a man could climb up and get a better view!

As you said, in many places, their best use would be moving heavy infantry weapons around.
Some had the 13.2mm Heavy MG, these would be good for suppressing AT guns and rifles (they had the range for that) while the ones with twin 8mm MGs supported the infantry. That may even have been the plan, but they have no business in a tank battle. With the Armored Divs, their only roles would be with the Infantry Battalions... or following the real tanks by cleaning up what had just been over-run.

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Why on earth would the Italians want carriers?

They have airbases on Sardina, Sicily and Rhodes than could dominate the med if they had a proper airforce.
This is exactly what they were saying at the time, Italy was said to be an unsinkable Aircraft Carrier.
However, an offensive war is being contemplated, not a defensive one. Fighters have a limited range, and Italy has few bases in the Eastern Med and none at all in the West end.
At Cape Matapan, they wound up with no air-cover at all when the only planes with the range (German Ju-88s) failed to show up.
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Last edited by The Exorcist; 28 Feb 17 at 13:31..
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  #24  
Old 28 Feb 17, 14:05
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
Again, I agree with most of that, and kudos for not trying to increase the numbers of weapons or troops.
However-



The tankettes were present in such large numbers that something had to be done with them, and they are light enough and low enough to the ground to survive in a good many situations. They could be landed in Naval units that would have had trouble with large trucks, however...
They don't do very well in open country, like Russia or the desert. They are so low that their own view is hindered, I saw a pic of one in a recon unit with a 2-meter ladder attached to the back, so that a man could climb up and get a better view!

As you said, in many places, their best use would be moving heavy infantry weapons around.
Some had the 13.2mm Heavy MG, these would be good for suppressing AT guns and rifles (they had the range for that) while the ones with twin 8mm MGs supported the infantry. That may even have been the plan, but they have no business in a tank battle. With the Armored Divs, their only roles would be with the Infantry Battalions... or following the real tanks by cleaning up what had just been over-run.
There were well over 1000 L3/33 available when Italy went to war. You need about 1200 to give every infantry battalion in the reorganized triangular divisions (say 30 divisions total) a platoon of 4 vehicles. If these were intended mainly for use as the British carrier was, they could move heavy weapons or ammunition forward. Maybe construct cheap trailers to increase their hauling ability. Add a cargo box of light steel over the engine deck for hauling stuff and you're set.
Now they're primarily support vehicles rather than scouts or light tanks. Whether they are hauling 81mm mortars forward, heavy machineguns, or ammunition, they would be very useful in that role.

If 2 per battalion had the S 18-1000 ATR mounted where it could also be dismounted for action, then you have a minimal antitank capacity with the infantry.

Make sure that an antitank mine is available in some numbers and the infantry are at least capable of tank defense to a reasonable degree.

Last edited by T. A. Gardner; 28 Feb 17 at 14:10..
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  #25  
Old 28 Feb 17, 15:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
This is exactly what they were saying at the time, Italy was said to be an unsinkable Aircraft Carrier.
However, an offensive war is being contemplated, not a defensive one. Fighters have a limited range, and Italy has few bases in the Eastern Med and none at all in the West end.
At Cape Matapan, they wound up with no air-cover at all when the only planes with the range (German Ju-88s) failed to show up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdrianE View Post
Why on earth would the Italians want carriers?

They have airbases on Sardina, Sicily and Rhodes than could dominate the med if they had a proper airforce.
As an Italian in the early 1940's I would have preferred a defensive, neutral position.
The bigger part of the Army goes to the North to guard the passes over the Alps against Germany and France and protect the italian industrial heart. Switzerland serves as a neutral bastion halfway and is a big help to bolster Italian defenses.
The Navy and Air Force will defend the Italian mainland (the boot) and its overseas possessions Sardinia, Sicily, Rhodes and Libya.

If Italy for political reasons really has to contemplate an offensive position let it be against selected targets at the other side of the Adriatic, and perhaps the Ionian Sea, as part of expanding our Mare Nostrum

Anything more looks like hybris to me.
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  #26  
Old 01 Mar 17, 13:56
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Paring down the Army-

At the top of the page, I started to reduce and reorganize based on what Italy actually had and could support.
This really shows how weak the Army was, how how limited their options are.
However, there are also many opportunities to exploit.

29 at full strength

3 x Tank, 2 Motorized, 3 x "Fast", 5 x Mountain, 1 x Paratroop Div. (14)
15 x Infantry—Reduces to 10 for Trianary Organization.

1st Mech Corps; 1 x Tank, 1 x Motorized, 1 x Infantry {towards France}

2nd Mech Corps; 1 x Tank, 1 x Motorized {Africa}

3rd Mech Corps; 1 x Tank, 2 x Fast ‘Brigades’ {Africa}

4th, 5th, 6th Corps; 3x Infantry Div.s Each {North Italy/France, 2 x Africa,}

7th Mountain Corps; 3 x Divs {France}

Independant-
1 x Parra Div, 1 x Fast ‘Brigade’, 2 x Mountain Divs that are unassigned at this point



And now…. 34 at approx. 75%


10 x "Other" Divisions.
Static Defense; 10 Div. (Sicily; 1, Sardinia; 2, North Italy; 3, South Italy; 2, Albania; 1, Libya; 1)
Leave these understrength, not ever Division in even the German Army went to war with all that they needed.

24-28 x Infantry Div.

Reorganize to ; 16 Trianary Divs* + 4 “Reservist” Divisions in training/Home Garrisons (Rome, Taranto, Milano, Tripoli) these also remain understrength at this time and will probably supply other units with replacements.

* 16 reduces to 12 for full Strength…. OR, Reduce to 9 at full strength and 3 x seven-battalion “Divisions” for Naval Landing Divisions. with training and naval advisors. A Marine Corps, in fact.

8th, 9th, 10th Corps; 3 x Divs Each, (think East, Central, West)
East= Albania & Rhodes (+ Cyprus)
Central = mid-south Italy
West = Sardinia & Sicily


ATTACK ASSIGNMENTS -

Cyprus; 1 x Marine Div., 1 x Fast Brigade, 1 x Inf Div, (East Corps)

Malta; 1 x Marine Div, 1 x Paratroop Div.

France; 1st Mech Corps, 7th Mountain Corps, 4th Corps {inf}, 1 x Marine Div. (a total of ten Divs)

Libya; towards Tunisia; 5th Corps. towards Egypt; 2nd & 3rd Mech Corps, 6th Corps.
One Fast Division detached to probe Sudan towards Khartoum.


Which brings us to the East Africa Theater. (E.A.T. ….?)

...But first, some details about the Ops-
2nd Mech Corps would have been assigned to Tunisia, but the rapid collapse of France would reduce that to a diversionary attack, meant to give France one more source of worry.

Cyprus was defended at the time by just two Battalions, taking so many troops is meant more to provide a good Garrison in one swift move. That place is of great value to the Air Force and Navy, the Army will not be sending any further units... especially not if the transit is as risky as is likely to be the case.

The attack against Metropolitan France is designed to hasten the collapse and support the Germans, as well as serve as a training exercise for the top-rated units. Nice is a worthwhile objective and only ten miles from the border.
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Old 02 Mar 17, 03:46
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If those changes had been made to the Italian Army, perhaps the best use of them would have been an immediate full scale surprise attack on Malta in June 1940 as Britain is reeling from the loss of France. That would have secured the lines of communication across the central Med and allowed a much better logistical flow. Acting defensively in North Africa would deter the British from attacking early, and if they did it was not likely to go well. The 2nd order effect of that is that relates to another recent thread about the failure of the German North African adventure. If Italy acts in concert with German strategy, we can swap the Italian 8th Army in Russia for the Panzerarmee Afrika and supporting forces (air, logistical, etc.).
An additional what if; Italy discovers the oil in Libya early enough to extract some for wartime use?
I'd say orders for their merchant marine to return to home ports prior to hostilities would have been hugely beneficial as well.
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Old 02 Mar 17, 14:51
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Originally Posted by Javaman View Post
... The 2nd order effect of that is that relates to another recent thread about the failure of the German North African adventure. If Italy acts in concert with German strategy, we can swap the Italian 8th Army in Russia for the Panzerarmee Afrika and supporting forces (air, logistical, etc.).
It is ABSOLUTELY in Italy's best interests to avoid the need for German involvement in the Med... for it's own sake.
Politically, it makes them the pygmy-power in the Tripartite pack, symbolically as well as factually, further depressing Italian morale'.

Interestingly, there was a German "Mechanized Company" in Ethiopia who's presence was of propaganda value to Italy... oddly enough.
It was made up of German refugees from other parts of Africa, not soldiers. Even so, they fought with such determination that they were killed to the last man, according to Wiki.

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Originally Posted by Javaman View Post
An additional what if; Italy discovers the oil in Libya early enough to extract some for wartime use?
That is outisde the parameters of this thread.
All I am covering here is better planning by a revamped Italian officer corps, starting point is October 1939... far too late for that sort of thing.



Returning to where I left off-


Italian East Africa (IEA) was no joke, there was something like 350,00 armed men there, but only about 1/3rd were Italian. The rest were Colonial Troops and 5 years of Fascism had not made much of an impression on them…. yet. Carrying them along on successful offensives and then sending some of them home with tales of military glory should keep them adequately motivated. Historically, they did venture out and seize bits of Kenya, small parts of the Sudan, and all of British Somaliland.

The Kenya adventure seems pointless, raiding parties could have done the same job. Keep the Africans off-balance long enough to fortify your side of the border, that should be the order of the day in the South.

Somaliland was no great trick. The Italians had to be re-directed from the planned attack on Djibouti (French Somalia) and didn’t attack until Early August. This allowed the British to boost the garrison from 2 to 5 Battalions…. still too few to hold the Italians off for more than a few days.

The Sudan was going very well, air superiority (in one battle the Italians lost five Cr. 42 to shoot down seven Gladiators) and were coming close to Port Sudan and the Nile. They were stopped by a shortage of fuel.

Fuel, again….
Where to get more? Russia, via our pals, the Germans.
Germany is putting out Commerce Raiders right from day one. Once Italy is involved, those raiders can come a-calling on us at Mogadishu and then Berbera. However, if they want fuel, they can be the ones to pre-position it. THEY can pay the Soviets for it charter a Soviet tanker to bring it to us prior to the entry of Italy into the war.
The deal is, we get a 50/50 split. So if 10,000 tons arrive, Italy gets 5,000.
That ought to turn the trick, and allow a Corps from Ethiopia to make contact with Libya.

But the really bold part will be taking the one British base in the area that seems out of reach; Aden.
(just found out that the Bombers hit it early, in day and night raids!)

Four DDs isn’t enough to escort a convoy and beat up the shore defenses at Aden too, even with good air cover. Taking the 6” guns discarded during the refit of the older Italian Battle Cruisers can arm the Eritrea, Ramb I & II very well, but we need a cruiser down there. One must be transferred from the Med pre-war, and I suggest the “Condottieri” type as it can lay mines, has a spotter aircraft and would be more than a match for the WWI left-over cruisers the RN has in the area.
The mines matter because they are the best reply available to the RN’s inevitable counter attacks.
There is also a purpose-made minelayer at Missawa that must start laying minefields at the south end of the red Sea a few hours BEFORE the declaration of war. It then dashes back, grabs more and goes right out again.

(one last thing, they had over 600,000 rifles there for 350,000 men, why? 10% is the usual reserve of small arms, 30% would be fine for an isolated Theater. This is more like 100%, and that is not smart. Lets take 100,000 back to Italy.)
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  #29  
Old 02 Mar 17, 17:09
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Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
Four DDs isn’t enough to escort a convoy and beat up the shore defenses at Aden too, even with good air cover. Taking the 6” guns discarded during the refit of the older Italian Battle Cruisers can arm the Eritrea, Ramb I & II very well, but we need a cruiser down there. One must be transferred from the Med pre-war, and I suggest the “Condottieri” type as it can lay mines, has a spotter aircraft and would be more than a match for the WWI left-over cruisers the RN has in the area.
Red Sea Naval War

Quote:
On June 10, 1940, Rear Admiral A.J.L. Murray commanded the British Red Sea Force based at Aden. Murray mustered the New Zealand light cruiser Leander and the Australian Hobart. In the weeks leading up to war, especially after Great Britain read Italy’s orders for the “immediate and secret mobilization of the army and air force in east Africa,” the British Admiralty dispatched the old cruiser Carlisle; three sloops, Auckland, Flamingo, and Grimsby; and the modern ships of the 28th Destroyer Division, Kandahar, Kingston, Kimberley, and Khartoum, to supplement Murray’s command.
Both Leander and Hobart were built in the 1930s.
Carlisle was commissioned Nov. 11, 1918, missing service in WW1 and being converted to an AA cruiser in 1940.

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In June 1939 Carlisle started a conversion to an antiaircraft cruiser, with eight 4-inch (102-mm) QF MK16 and 1 quadruple 2-pounder Pom-Poms being fitted. This conversion was completed in January 1940. Carlisle was fitted with radar during her conversion and introduced the Type 280 combined air warning and gunnery radar into the Royal Navy; she thus became the first naval vessel to be equipped with an anti-aircraft fire control radar system.
Quote:
By the end of August he [Murray] had four light cruisers, Hobart, Leander, Caledon, and Carlisle; three destroyers, Kimberley, Kingston, and Kandahar; and nine sloops, the British ships Flamingo, Auckland, Shoreham, Grimsby, and Falmouth, the Indian ships Clive, Indus, and Hindustan, and the Australian Parramatta.
So the single "Condottieri" would not be facing just "WW1 left over cruisers" but two modern RN cruisers. The radar on Carlisle also makes it more than just a outdated leftover.

Last edited by CarpeDiem; 02 Mar 17 at 17:15..
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  #30  
Old 02 Mar 17, 17:16
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Originally Posted by Javaman View Post
An additional what if; Italy discovers the oil in Libya early enough to extract some for wartime use?
This what if has been discussed before. People knew there was oil there in the 1930s but did not have the technology to get it. The required technology wasn't invented until the 1950s. Libyan oil is a huge red herring.
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