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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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  #31  
Old 02 Mar 17, 19:05
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
Or at the very least, made it less of a humiliating ordeal?

I have looked at the slap-dash nature of the Italian military and its operations in WW2, and then at how Japan went about it. In December of 1941, Japan didn't have any aircraft or ships sitting idle wondering what to do, and it was all about proper planning.
Like the Italians, the Japanese had poor logistics, some good (and some not very good) aircraft, lousy small-arms and artillery, horrible tanks and a navy that looked good on paper but which proved to be brittle in action.
Without question, Japanese esprit was much higher, but the main factor in that is winning victories.

The most shocking deficiency was in their planning for war, they just didn't do any of that sort of thing!
Yes, the decision to enter the war was purely Political and based on short-term gains, pure greed, in other words. However, that does not excuse the Military from setting up some operational plans to cover that eventuality. After October of 1939 (let's start there) Italy knew it would be a real war and they knew what side they would be on. If they had started formulating plans at that point, and done a good job of it, they would have had a much better chance of forcing an early decision... which would have been the only way they could win.

Italy could have attacked the following places simultaneously on June 10th; France (the only one they did) and supportive landings in the Riviera, Tunisia, Malta, Cyprus, British Somalia, Aden and the Sudan.

And I can back that up, they had the forces to do all that.
However, I need to dash out, I'll be back with facts and figures later on.
A great question, but I think it unlikely. Unlike Germany, Italy was on the winning side during WW1, and did not learn all the lessons of that conflict. Tactically in WW1, they were as good as anyone, but by WW2 Italy was more about image than substance, thanks to Mussolini et al.

Germany became the paramount army at the beginning of WW2 for a whole host of reasons. OTOH Italy did not learn from their mistakes. They were not left with a shadow of its former military glory, one that left its relative remaining few military personnel being the elite from a devastating conflict. Italy was also not surrounded by a host of potential enemies. It had the Alps to its north as its only means of being invaded by land, which limited the weight of its tanks, but otherwise could only be conquered by sea, hence its decent navy.

Mussolini knew style over substance could work when you were able to bluff. What Italy did not have was the infrastructure or experience to conduct total war. That Italy could have been slightly more effective at the beginning of WW2 is not in doubt. In 1942, the Germans stated the Italians were their most effective Allies at Stalingrad. What this means was the average Italian infantryman was probably as good as the German equivalent, given their almost complete lack of decent kit.

Like the French, the Italians were let down by their High Command, and it would take a major change in the timeline to get the Italian government at the time as militarily effective.
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  #32  
Old 03 Mar 17, 02:40
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Regarding the fights against the Frenchie's : Italian soldiers were brave , but keep in mind that since the great Italian migration in France from the 30's , they were likely to shoot at someone from their family at a moment in war , and that doesn't help them to be efficient fighters.
Plus :there is no real antagonism between our 2 countries , like the ones we had towards Germany.
What's the point for fighting each other then ?
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  #33  
Old 03 Mar 17, 03:10
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Exactly, Italy should stay on the defensive in the North, stay friends with the French!
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  #34  
Old 03 Mar 17, 15:24
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Originally Posted by CarpeDiem View Post

That is a really great link, thanks for posting that!

But.... okay, they had two modern cruisers there, that would be great if we were war-gaming this. Two could be sent, Light Cruisers were not in short supply for Italy in 1940, or none, or something else.
Come to think of it, sending a Heavy Cruiser with 8" guns could have been done, but every Italian ship would have to go through the Suez canal, noted, and countered by the Brits.

Maybe a small Guerrilla fleet really was the smart way to go, but I really want Aden, for the shock value if nothing else.

At any rate, the idea is to send a Light Cruiser and take 100,000 excess rifles back to Italy. Seems like a good trade to me, maybe the best idea would have been to pre-package a supply base for German Raiders.... so that the Italians could skim some of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
A great question, but I think it unlikely. Unlike Germany, Italy was on the winning side during WW1,
So was Japan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Like the French, the Italians were let down by their High Command, and it would take a major change in the timeline to get the Italian government at the time as militarily effective.
Right, that is what I am trying to correct here.
Why would it take such a major change? Change is the only thing that is truly inevitable, and Hitler managed to turn the German General Staff inside out in about 3 years, which was perhaps the ultimate entrenched clique outside of the Vatican at that time.



Time to go into the plan for the opening move, for the Army---

Going to war

June 8th; Ships suitable for Army use commandeered at Massawa, Eritrea, and loading begins. Other task forces are readied for departure in the Med.

June 9th;
Noon; Mine-laying operations begin in Italian waters, task forces assemble, intensive fighter patrols are launched to drive away enemy recon
aircraft.

1400; Massawa task force departs.

1700; Ultimatum handed to France and Britain, war will commence on June 10th.

1800; Task forces depart from Rhodes and Italy.


June 10th, D-Day

Unrestricted Submarine warfare commences.

2405; Artillery fire and raiding parties go forward along the frontier with France and Tunisia. At the later place, the attack is noisy but mainly a demonstration/probing attack. In France proper, it is the opposite. Forces go forward with as much stealth as possible, only calling for artillery when enemy concentrations are located. There will be no bombing raids on Metropolitan France.
At the same time, the attack into Egypt begins.

0300; after an hour of bombing raids and 30 minutes of naval bombardment, Paratroopers descend on Malta. Two hours later, a Marine Division begins landing.
Obsolete older Bombers begin raids on all fronts that last until dawn, including Cyprus and Aden.

Dawn (times vary)
Aden; 4,000 Italian and 6,000 Colonial troops land under cover of naval gunfire. One hour later, two squadrons of SM 79 bombers will provide direct support.
Cyprus; 3 x Divisions land at Paphos and North Cyprus.

The timing of supportive bombing raids is important, you want to try to catch them on the ground. How long does it take for a Gladiator to take off, use up it’s bombs and ammo, and get back on the ground to re-load?
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  #35  
Old 03 Mar 17, 23:04
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colonel Sennef View Post
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.
I wonder if Italy remaining neutral would have benefitted Germany more than having them join the Axis did historically?
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  #36  
Old 03 Mar 17, 23:47
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Originally Posted by Daemon of Decay View Post
I wonder if Italy remaining neutral would have benefitted Germany more than having them join the Axis did historically?
A neutral Italy means the British and Commonwealth armed forces can threaten North-West Europe or the Balkans forcing Germany to seriously weaken or even postpone 'Barbarossa'. Italian armies were also important in 'padding out' the Axis forces advancing into the Soviet Union. Given Mussolini's trenchant anti-Communism it's hard to envisage him being able to sustain his own position, or Fascism remaining dominant in Italy, if he refuses to get involved in the campaign on the Eastern Front. So I don't believe that Germany benefits from a neutral Italy and, if we're being realistic, it isn't possible for Italy to remain neutral if it remains Fascist. I know people might throw Spain into the argument but it's important to remember that Franco was not the established leader that Mussolini and Hitler were and had a shattered country to rebuild before a large-scale foreign excursion could be considered.
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  #37  
Old 04 Mar 17, 00:13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Full Monty View Post
A neutral Italy means the British and Commonwealth armed forces can threaten North-West Europe or the Balkans forcing Germany to seriously weaken or even postpone 'Barbarossa'. Italian armies were also important in 'padding out' the Axis forces advancing into the Soviet Union. Given Mussolini's trenchant anti-Communism it's hard to envisage him being able to sustain his own position, or Fascism remaining dominant in Italy, if he refuses to get involved in the campaign on the Eastern Front. So I don't believe that Germany benefits from a neutral Italy and, if we're being realistic, it isn't possible for Italy to remain neutral if it remains Fascist. I know people might throw Spain into the argument but it's important to remember that Franco was not the established leader that Mussolini and Hitler were and had a shattered country to rebuild before a large-scale foreign excursion could be considered.
Britain on their own is not going to seriously threaten Germany with an invasion of the continent anywhere. Britain lacks the amphibious forces as well as the land forces to engage Germany in a major land campaign or even a major amphibious assault.

A neutral Italy means the Mediterranean is out of play. Greece won't enter the war on their own even if Britain made entreaties for them to do so. It'd be utterly stupid for them to get involved. As it was, the only reason they did get involved was Italy invaded and was already at war with Britain.

Italy could have easily remained neutral and out of the war. Mussolini had nothing to lose by doing so. He jumped in because he thought Germany was on the verge of a quick win and the war would be over shortly. He was wrong.
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  #38  
Old 04 Mar 17, 03:08
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Full Monty View Post
A neutral Italy means the British and Commonwealth armed forces can threaten North-West Europe or the Balkans forcing Germany to seriously weaken or even postpone 'Barbarossa'. Italian armies were also important in 'padding out' the Axis forces advancing into the Soviet Union. Given Mussolini's trenchant anti-Communism it's hard to envisage him being able to sustain his own position, or Fascism remaining dominant in Italy, if he refuses to get involved in the campaign on the Eastern Front. So I don't believe that Germany benefits from a neutral Italy and, if we're being realistic, it isn't possible for Italy to remain neutral if it remains Fascist. ...
Interesting....
I used to be of the opinion that Italy staying out would have been the clever thing too, but that makes sense. The whole system of Fascism really boxed them all into a corner, didn't it?

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Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
Britain on their own is not going to seriously threaten Germany with an invasion of the continent anywhere. Britain lacks the amphibious forces as well as the land forces to engage Germany in a major land campaign or even a major amphibious assault....
I'm not sure sure of that.
Sure, the main body of the continent is safe in 1941, but the Yugoslav about-face is not tied to Greece. And with everything that would have been in Libya and Greece combined, including the RAF, that country might have had a chance to hold out.

And then there is the big one; Norway. There were 300,000 Germans there instead of going with Barbarossa for a reason. The cool part is that most of them don't really matter, Narvik is what matters.



Back to the thread--

Something quick about the Navy;

Concentration of force seems to work well for the Panzers, let’s see if that is also good for the warships.

Leading off are 3 x Heavy groups with; 2 x BBs or BCs , 3 x Light Cruisers, 8 x DDs.

2 x Heavy Cruiser Divs with 3 x CAs, 1 x CL and 6 x DDs.

10 x DD Divisions of 8 x DDs each. (Most are convoy escorts or paired with Heavy units)

This leaves 1 x CA and 19 x DDs as standby reserve or down for maintenance…. or on solitary patrol.


The western Med will be walled off by mines, MTBs, Subs and aircraft, as well as a few of the smaller DDs.


Malta- 1 x Heavy group, 1 x DD Division

Cyprus- 1 x Heavy group, 1 Cruiser Div,

Monaco- 1 x Heavy group, 1 x Cruiser Div, 1 x DD Division

So… which group gets the big Littorios with the 15” Guns?
You tell me, where do you think they need to be; facing the French, or the Royal Navy… hours from Genoa, or way out at Cyprus.
I favor the later, of course.
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Old 04 Mar 17, 09:43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
Britain on their own is not going to seriously threaten Germany with an invasion of the continent anywhere. Britain lacks the amphibious forces as well as the land forces to engage Germany in a major land campaign or even a major amphibious assault.
In a one-on-one situation, yes, but the Germans can't do what they did historically and leave France as a place where divisions were rebuilt, trained or just rested whilst they throw everything else at the USSR. The British and Commonwealth maintained large forces in the Middle-East from 1941 onwards so they would be free to deploy in the UK as a very credible 'threat in being'. It's very hard to imagine Winston Churchill not pushing for some kind of strike with the forces at his disposal even before 'Barbarossa' and once that's gone ahead it's impossible to imagine. Whether it would work is another matter entirely, and it's not for this thread to consider, but the Germans cannot assume that it will not work and certainly cannot disregard the potential for a large Allied force landing on French soil.
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Old 04 Mar 17, 14:11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
I'm not sure sure of that.
Sure, the main body of the continent is safe in 1941, but the Yugoslav about-face is not tied to Greece. And with everything that would have been in Libya and Greece combined, including the RAF, that country might have had a chance to hold out.

And then there is the big one; Norway. There were 300,000 Germans there instead of going with Barbarossa for a reason. The cool part is that most of them don't really matter, Narvik is what matters.
I am. Through 1942 Britain and the Commonwealth had less than a dozen (the 6 Glen class were the main ones) amphibious assault ships available along with a couple hundred smaller landing craft, mainly the LCA type.
To provide lift for say a 4 division assault they'd have to pull merchants out of service and keep a certain number out to support them. Those 4 divisions would require rapid reinforcement if they were going to do more than sit on a beach somewhere Anzio-style. A four division amphibious assault in 1942 was probably beyond Britain's capacity to launch and support.

Norway would still require occupation but maybe a third of what they eventually put there would be required, possibly less. Most of that 300,000 occurred later in the war when the threat of a combined US-British invasion was real.

Britain was going to survive in any case. Germany lacks a navy so an invasion on their part is totally out of the question. Once Japan gets involved in the war, Britain's capacity on their own is going to get stretched even further.

I would think that Britain would still supply Russia as much arms and equipment as possible to fight Germany. It's possible that even some RAF units might be sent to fight there too.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Full Monty View Post
In a one-on-one situation, yes, but the Germans can't do what they did historically and leave France as a place where divisions were rebuilt, trained or just rested whilst they throw everything else at the USSR. The British and Commonwealth maintained large forces in the Middle-East from 1941 onwards so they would be free to deploy in the UK as a very credible 'threat in being'. It's very hard to imagine Winston Churchill not pushing for some kind of strike with the forces at his disposal even before 'Barbarossa' and once that's gone ahead it's impossible to imagine. Whether it would work is another matter entirely, and it's not for this thread to consider, but the Germans cannot assume that it will not work and certainly cannot disregard the potential for a large Allied force landing on French soil.
I can't see the Germans doing anything different than they did historically in France. Against the Anglo-Commonwealth forces in North Africa, Germany put in no more than 5 divisions up until very late in the campaign in Tunisia where better ports allowed more logistical support for a larger force.

As I pointed out, the Germans would know that Britain would have a very hard time supporting more than a handful of divisions on the continent through the end of 1942. Britain will still have to maintain forces in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East to keep an eye on Italy... Just in case.

Then there's Japan...

Through the end of 1942 there is no realistic means for Britain alone to invade Europe and keep a useful sized army there fighting what would be a much larger German army defending the continent.
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Old 04 Mar 17, 18:58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
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.
Maybe use the L3/33s as MG/Mortar carriers? Have an 8mm LMG mounted above the crew compartment (hatch pintle) paired with a 45mm Brixia Mortar for the gunner to operate? It's a breechloading mortar, so you can fire it from under armor. That would give the tankette both a limited direct-fire asset as an MG, and a direct/indirect asset with the Brixia mortar. 45mm mortar HE would have been better than what was available on a lot of Tanks at the time for infantry support. Even if you deployed dedicated MG carriers and Mortar carriers you're still getting an improvement.
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Old 04 Mar 17, 19:42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TacCovert4 View Post
Maybe use the L3/33s as MG/Mortar carriers? Have an 8mm LMG mounted above the crew compartment (hatch pintle) paired with a 45mm Brixia Mortar for the gunner to operate? It's a breechloading mortar, so you can fire it from under armor. That would give the tankette both a limited direct-fire asset as an MG, and a direct/indirect asset with the Brixia mortar. 45mm mortar HE would have been better than what was available on a lot of Tanks at the time for infantry support. Even if you deployed dedicated MG carriers and Mortar carriers you're still getting an improvement.
The 45mm Brixia is the equivalent of a 40mm grenade launcher. It fires a breech loaded "bomb" about the size of a 40mm round. It uses a 10 round clip of propellant charges (like blank rifle cartridges) to fire these.
The range is several hundred yards at best.

This means that at company and platoon level having one or more of these little mortars around would make them very useful. They could toss "grenades" all over an attacking infantry unit or fire covering grenade fire for their own infantry.
Reorganizing the companies as I proposed, means there are 3 or 4 medium machineguns in the heavy weapons company that can now be concentrated for the attack or used on the flanks of the company position to provide a thick cross fire for defense.

The L3/33 tankette is best used in the battalion heavy weapons company where you supply 6 vehicles. Three would carry 81mm mortars and the other three mount a 20mm antitank rifle. All of them would have one or two 8mm machineguns mounted as they originally did. They are given trailers to tow as well.
This means the heavy weapons company of the battalion has the means to move their antitank and heavy mortars into position and supply them with ammunition and covering fire.
While a 20mm ATR isn't going to stop a Matilda, it will perforate a British cruiser tank and can be used effectively against French tanks that have just two man crews by shooting out vision ports or damaging tracks.
With 3 81mm in each battalion, and the means to haul forward a good ammo supply, those become the battalion's main "artillery."
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Old 04 Mar 17, 22:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
The 45mm Brixia is the equivalent of a 40mm grenade launcher. It fires a breech loaded "bomb" about the size of a 40mm round. It uses a 10 round clip of propellant charges (like blank rifle cartridges) to fire these.
The range is several hundred yards at best.

580yds per Wiki. Though I would say that a vehicle mounted version would probably only be able to do 300 due to angle restrictions.....unless they ran supercharges (might or might not be doable depending on metallurgy). Still....it's a good sized grenade being thrown every 6 seconds or so (realistic RoF) from a platform that's mostly immune to rifle and rifle-caliber MG fire at 250m. Would be quite a problem for British troops trying to hold off an assault by infantry if their MG nests and foxholes were getting hit by something they couldn't easily suppress.

This means that at company and platoon level having one or more of these little mortars around would make them very useful. They could toss "grenades" all over an attacking infantry unit or fire covering grenade fire for their own infantry.

Hence my argument that as a breechloading weapon with a relatively high RoF, they're perfectly suited to be fired by an L3/33 from under armor. Tankettes were meant to support infantry in the assault. They're literally, and only useful as, an infantry support tank. Since you can't easily mount any AT weapon worth having on them, and in most circumstances HE fire is more desirable, mounting a 45mm mortar as the gunner's main weapon would give them a role in the attack for suppressing enemy MG positions at medium and short ranges for the infantry to assault.

Reorganizing the companies as I proposed, means there are 3 or 4 medium machineguns in the heavy weapons company that can now be concentrated for the attack or used on the flanks of the company position to provide a thick cross fire for defense.

The L3/33 tankette is best used in the battalion heavy weapons company where you supply 6 vehicles. Three would carry 81mm mortars and the other three mount a 20mm antitank rifle. All of them would have one or two 8mm machineguns mounted as they originally did. They are given trailers to tow as well.

I just don't see the reason for them to carry the 81mm mortars. These can be carried by a small truck. Heck a big car could do it. It's a slow tracked platform and a fuel hog for this function. And its armor is totally wasted on firing mortars from a rear area. The 20mm AT rifle is functional in the front lines. Unless you're going to build up a box structure and fire the 81mm from behind armor against positions spotted by the crew, then it's a waste to carry the 81mm mortars in an armored platform......especially when you have so few armored platforms to work with.

This means the heavy weapons company of the battalion has the means to move their antitank and heavy mortars into position and supply them with ammunition and covering fire.
While a 20mm ATR isn't going to stop a Matilda, it will perforate a British cruiser tank and can be used effectively against French tanks that have just two man crews by shooting out vision ports or damaging tracks.
With 3 81mm in each battalion, and the means to haul forward a good ammo supply, those become the battalion's main "artillery."
There's some functionality, but for the same cost in vehicle, training, and fuel/parts, you could run two trucks to carry the mortar crew and mortar, along with extra ammo. 81mm mortars are going to be fired from beyond normal rifle range of the front line, and they'll be either dug in or exposed while firing. No reason to have an armored vehicle cart them to an exposed firing position. Now if you happened to scale up the 45mm mortar to 81mm and mounted it to be fired from behind armor......that would have been a potent weapon in 1940. Would have even been able to knock out cruiser tanks....maybe even Matildas if they made a shaped charge shell.
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Old 04 Mar 17, 22:42
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Would the Italians had the funds to use two trucks or even two cars for Mortars? My bet is if there were cars assigned to the Battalions they would have ended up as transport for officers.

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Old 04 Mar 17, 23:54
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I don't think the Tankettes could transport a weapon like the 81mm mortar, let alone the ammo for it.
Even with the 45mm (great idea!) the space for ammo and the work-space inside that little bugger makes me wonder.

Craziest thing of all, the flamethrower variant;
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L3/33


Changes to hardware involve more than planning, and could distract from bringing newer and better tanks into action.
One thing I would wholeheartedly support; curtail production of Cr.42 fighters in favor of newer types. THe Italians got the wrong idea in Spain, and thought that light and maneuverable was the way to go. The Germans were there too, and came away favoring the Me-109. Why was there such a disconnect there?

Meanwhile, for those that don't think the Italians could do some amazing things... how about their bombing raid on Bahrain -
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombin...n_World_War_II



I am having trouble hunting down the exact strength of the Airpower, the numbers of each type in June of 1940.
All I have so far is-

—Fighters- -
177 x Cr.32*
300 x Cr.42*
236 x Fiat G.50
144 x M.C. 200 Saetta

(*minus 18 ea. in Ethiopia)


— Ground Attack- -
154 x Breda Ba.65
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Last edited by The Exorcist; 04 Mar 17 at 23:59..
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