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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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  #46  
Old 05 Mar 17, 03:38
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The concept is that the 81mm mortar like the British 3" isn't fired from the vehicle, but rather simply carried by it to the location where it will be emplaced. Even the smaller universal carrier could haul a 3" mortar and a significant number of rounds forward. There's no reason to make the mortar be capable of being fired from the vehicle.

Instead, the vehicle delivers it forward and is then used to haul more ammunition forward. The other use would be as a forward observation post to direct the fire of the mortar. In many instances, a small vehicle that allows the FO crew to shelter in cover and provides some defense with a machinegun would be a valuable addition to a mortar platoon.
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  #47  
Old 08 Mar 17, 01:52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
... In many instances, a small vehicle that allows the FO crew to shelter in cover and provides some defense with a machinegun would be a valuable addition to a mortar platoon.
I should put you in charge of all the tactical sides of this!

But I was thinking more of the strategic applications of this. Also- Italy was introducing a lot of new and improved weaponry in 1940, I don't think that any more can be asked without sacrificing other things and getting into a tangle that would take 50 pages to unravel.

You fight with the army you have.
I'm trying to see if it would have been worthwhile to make the most of it.

I got it down to ten Corps plus some unattached units, that is pretty slim, isn't it? VERY slim, if your strategic aim is to go for the Persian Gulf oil.
A pipe-dream?
Maybe not.

There is something we haven't touched yet, a whole Theater of Operations; East Africa.

According to Wiki-

Historically on hand, June 1940;

Quote:
Aosta had two metropolitan divisions, the 40th Infantry Division Cacciatori d'Africa and the 65th Infantry Division Granatieri di Savoia, a battalion of Alpini (elite mountain troops), a Bersaglieri battalion of motorised infantry, several Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale (MSVN Camicie Nere [Blackshirt]) battalions and smaller units. About 70 percent of Italian troops were locally recruited Askari. The regular Eritrean battalions and the Regio Corpo Truppe Coloniali (RCTC Royal Corps of Somali Colonial Troops) were among the best Italian units in the AOI and included Eritrean cavalry Penne di Falco (Falcon Feathers)


Italian forces in East Africa were equipped with about 3,313 heavy machine-guns, 5,313 machine-guns, 24 M11/39 medium tanks, 39 L3/35 tankettes, 126 armoured cars and 824 guns, 24 Χ 20 mm anti-aircraft guns, 71 Χ 81 mm mortars and 672,800 rifles


In June 1940, there were 323 aircraft in the AOI, in 23 bomber squadrons with 138 aircraft, comprising 14 squadrons with six aircraft each, six Caproni Ca.133 light bomber squadrons, seven Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 squadrons and two squadrons of Savoia-Marchetti SM.79s. Four fighter squadrons had 36 aircraft, comprising two nine-aircraft Fiat CR.32 squadrons and two nine-aircraft Fiat CR.42 squadrons; CAAOI had one reconnaissance squadron with nine IMAM Ro.37 aircraft. There were 183 first line aircraft and another 140 in reserve, of which 59 were operational and 81 were unserviceable.[8][a]
On the outbreak of war, the CAAOI had 10,700*t (10,500 long tons) of aviation fuel, 5,300*t (5,200 long tons) of bombs and 8,620,000 rounds of ammunition. Aircraft and engine maintenance was conducted at the main air bases and at the Caproni and Piaggio workshops, which could repair about fifteen seriously-damaged aircraft and engines each month, along with some moderately and lightly damaged aircraft, and could also recycle scarce materials.[8] The Italians had reserves for 75% of their front-line strength, but lacked spare parts and many aircraft were cannibalised to keep others operational.[10] The quality of the units varied. The SM.79 was the only modern bomber and the CR.32 fighter was obsolete, but the Regia Aeronautica in East Africa had a cadre of highly experienced Spanish Civil War veterans.[11] There was the nucleus of a transport fleet, with nine Savoia-Marchetti S.73, nine Ca.133, six Ca.148 (a lengthened version of the Ca.133) and a Fokker F.VII, which maintained internal communications and carried urgent items and personnel between sectors.[8]
(25 total)



On 10 June 1940, the day Italy declared war, the Italian Red Sea Flotilla had seven destroyers organized into two squadrons, a squadron of five Motor Torpedo Boats (Motoscafo Armato Silurante, or MAS) and eight submarines organized into two squadrons. The main base was at Massawa, with other bases at Assab (also in Eritrea) and Kismayu, in southern Italian Somaliland.[1]



• 3rd Destroyer Division (All Sauro*class[8] (1,600 tons full load displacement))
• Francesco Nullo - Crippled by HMS Kimberley and eventually destroyed by RAF 22 November 1940
• Nazario Sauro - Bombed and sunk by 813 & 824 Naval Air Squadrons at 0615 3 April 1941 in position 20.00°N 30.00°E[9]
• Cesare Battisti - scuttled after engine breakdown 3 April 1941.[9]
• Daniele Manin (1,058/1,600 tons displacement) - Sunk by RAF 3 April 1941 in position 20.33°N 30.17°E[9]
•
• 5th Destroyer Division (All Leone*class[8] (2,690 tons full load displacement))
• Pantera - Scuttled 3 April 1941 after being damaged by RAF[9]
• Tigre - Scuttled 3 April 1941 after being damaged by RAF[9]
• Leone - Ran aground and scuttled 1 April 1941 in position 16.15°N 39.92°E[9]
•

The five MAS were organized as follows:
• 21st MAS Squadron
• MAS 204 - Lost due to mechanical difficulty
• MAS 206 - Lost due to mechanical difficulty
• MAS 210 - Lost due to mechanical difficulty
• MAS 213 - Scuttled 8 April 1941
• MAS 216 - Lost due to mechanical difficulty
•
The eight submarines were organized in the 8th Submarine Group as follows:
• 81st Submarine Squadron
• Guglielmotti (896/1,265 tons displacement) - Sailed to Bordeaux, France and arrived 6 May 1941[10]
• Galileo Ferraris (880/1,230 tons displacement) - Sailed to Bordeaux, France and arrived 9 May 1941[10]
• Galileo Galilei (880/1,230 tons displacement) - Captured 19 June 1940
• Luigi Galvani (896/1,265 tons displacement) - Sunk 24 June 1940
• 82nd Submarine Squadron
• Perla (620/855 tons displacement) - Sailed to Bordeaux, France and arrived 20 May 1941[10]
• Macallθ (620/855 tons displacement) - Ran aground and scuttled 15 June 1940
• Archimede (880/1,230 tons displacement) - Sailed to Bordeaux, France and arrived 7 May 1941[10]
• Evangelista Torricelli (880/1,230 tons displacement) - Sunk 23 June 1940

Other vessels[edit]
• Colonial ship Eritrea (2,170 tons displacement) - Sailed to Kobe, Japan, and surrendered to the Allies in Columbo, Ceylon, when Italy surrendered
• Torpedo boat Vincenzo Giordano Orsini (670 tons displacement) - Scuttled 8 April 1941
• Torpedo boat Giovanni Acerbi (670 tons displacement) - Scuttled in the mouth of the harbor at Massawa as a blockship after suffering heavy bomb damage[9]
• Gunboat G. Biglieri (620 tons displacement) - Captured
• Gunboat Porto Corsini (290 tons displacement) - Scuttled
• Minelayer Ostia (620 tons displacement) - Sunk by British Royal Air Force attack within the harbor at Massawa; all mines still racked
• Auxiliary cruiser Ramb I (3,667 tons displacement) - Sailed to Kobe, Japan. Lost 27 February 1941 in battle against the light cruiser HMNZS Leander.
• Auxiliary cruiser Ramb II (3,667 tons displacement) - Sailed to Kobe, Japan, and placed into the service of the Imperial Japanese Navy when Italy surrendered
• Hospital ship Aquileia - former Ramb IV - Captured and placed into the service of the British Royal Navy
Yeah, that is a hell of a lot of stuff to go over... so I will save my comments on it for a little later on.
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  #48  
Old 08 Mar 17, 01:59
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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...
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Old 08 Mar 17, 04:33
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Quote:
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...
Another nearly unsurmountable reason why, if propely planned, Italy should have stayed out of WW2.
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Old 08 Mar 17, 11:39
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It is curious that, had Italy stayed out of the war altogether, could Mussolini's fascist government survive an Allied victory over Nazi Germany ΰ la Franco's Spain?
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  #51  
Old 08 Mar 17, 12:32
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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 ΰ 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.
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  #52  
Old 08 Mar 17, 14:54
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Quote:
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.
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  #53  
Old 08 Mar 17, 17:51
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Quote:
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.
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  #54  
Old 08 Mar 17, 18:22
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Quote:
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.
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Old 08 Mar 17, 23:06
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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 -

Quote:
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.


Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.
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Old 08 Mar 17, 23:15
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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.

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Old 09 Mar 17, 00:34
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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.
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Old 09 Mar 17, 00:46
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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.

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Old 09 Mar 17, 01:49
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Right to the border?
I thought that the Egyptian rails ended at Mersa Matruh in 1940.
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Old 09 Mar 17, 02:10
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