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

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  #106  
Old 04 Oct 17, 11:35
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Originally Posted by Michele View Post
What it might do, however, is to convince the British, come 1940, that they'd better come to terms, at least with Italy.
Are you suggesting that Hitler would be prepared to watch Italy make a separate peace?
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  #107  
Old 04 Oct 17, 12:42
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Originally Posted by MarkV View Post
Are you suggesting that Hitler would be prepared to watch Italy make a separate peace?
Later in the war, no. In 1940, assuming the Germans aren't involved in Africa, the Balkans are at peace, and Britain leaves this peace conference table weakened, yes, I'd say so. Hitler wasn't even sure he actually wanted Italy to declare war, in our June 1940. He still might hope Britain would see reason in its dealings with Germany, too, and he still has his "real" war to begin. If actual "separate peace" is too much to stomach from a propaganda POV, I guess Italy could reach a "temporary" armistice with Britain and France, with final settlement of all outstanding issues to be reached as soon as Britain is at peace with Germany too. The Korean DMZ still runs along an "armistice" line today.

Naturally, we're talking about a German-like winning streak for Italy. I'm aware it's not likely.
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  #108  
Old 04 Oct 17, 13:17
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Mussolini wants too much, ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
Later in the war, no. In 1940, assuming the Germans aren't involved in Africa, the Balkans are at peace, and Britain leaves this peace conference table weakened, yes, I'd say so. Hitler wasn't even sure he actually wanted Italy to declare war, in our June 1940. He still might hope Britain would see reason in its dealings with Germany, too, and he still has his "real" war to begin. If actual "separate peace" is too much to stomach from a propaganda POV, I guess Italy could reach a "temporary" armistice with Britain and France, with final settlement of all outstanding issues to be reached as soon as Britain is at peace with Germany too. The Korean DMZ still runs along an "armistice" line today.

Naturally, we're talking about a German-like winning streak for Italy. I'm aware it's not likely.
... historically, in May 1940, he wanted Malta and Cyprus from Britain, Nice, Savoy, Corsica, and Tunis from France plus Italian protectorates over Egypt, Syria and Iraq, and Sudan to be governed as an Italo-Egyptian Protectorate, just to intervene with Hitler for acceptable peace terms, and his own neutrality.
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  #109  
Old 04 Oct 17, 13:58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
...
What it might do, however, is to convince the British, come 1940, that they'd better come to terms, at least with Italy. Thus winning the war in that way.
That means racking up a series of stunning victories which will impress on the British the notion that Italy too is as unstoppable as Germany, and picking up all the chips that are within reach....
That is exactly the idea here.

Now, on the Mediterranean front, the only easy pick-ups I see are Malta and Cyprus. Even in Egypt, the best you can do is a somewhat deeper and more threatening penetration. If that happens in conjunction with the seizure of Khartoum, then it will be very threatening.
The catch is, not only is it essential that all this happen in the first couple of months of the war, Italy is only capable of doing this in the first couple of months!

What you need is a bit of a coupe' among the officer class, and some head-hunters making sure that all available resources are put to use. For example; the drive into Kenya was stopped because of the claim that there wasn't enough fuel to keep it going... and yet when the British tool Mogadishu half a year later they found 430,000 gallons of fuel.
What they needed down there was a handful of roving I.G.s backed up by a Death Squad in the Fascist tradition.

About Djibouti ... you are right, I need to dedicate force to hemming them in as tightly as possible.
Now, what I have done with this front is to take half of the 180,000 Colonial troops available at the outset (not the additional troops raised later on) and give them all invasion jobs. This leaves a major pool of troops for internal security, and/or to relive troops at the front, and a Reserve for situations like this. I also only used 2 of the 6 Blackshirt Division's Battalions for anything but holding the Capitol.

For example, here is what I have in mind for the Kenya front -


It should have come out large enough to read ... oh well.

So what you have there is a cavalry raid cutting across the rear areas (and getting a look at what will be the British defensive line later on) while four columns of a total of about 40,000 Colonial troops move in to overwhelm the three battalions of S. African troops and a brigade of Kenyan troops.
As you will see (if it can be read) the operation is planned to be able to move if 25% of the Colonials don't show, and 1,000 can still be left out of each drive for other tasks. This is because if any one column is stopped, the Brits would still have to withdraw or be surrounded.

It looks like an attempt to take all of Kenya, but it is not.



Those are the stop-lines, using water-sources and favorable terrain to make a good defensive line.
Even if the Italian Colonials could take Mombassa (doubtful) it would be pointless. British reinforcements would simply unload down at Dar-es-Salam and attack an over-extended line.
THIS line is not over-estended, it is dramatically shortened.
By drawing the line from the south end of Lake Rudolf to the mouth of the Juma River, the front shrinks from over 700 miles to just under 400. The Italian Generals regarded the southern tip of Somalia indefensible, and I won't second guess them.

That Lake is huge, but help will be needed to keep it secure.
Also note that 4 out of the 5 MTBs at Massawa (or whatever it is called) were written-off for mechanical issues. Well, you fight with the Navy you have, no point in beating your head against that wall... why not just take one with a sound hull, strip it of all mechanical gear except the props and steering gear, and turn it over to the Air Force. Have them put at 600-hp motor from a Cr.32 in it, and truck it (they were small enough) overland to the river above that Lake. Put a 20mm gun where the Torpedoes used to be, and upgrade the twin 8mm MGs with a 13.2mm.
You now have a Patrol Boat that should be good for over 20 knots, and a much longer range than it had with 1500hp.
It would be a hell of a lot better than anything the British have there, no question.

So, about Djib.... I keep going the long way there....
It would be easy to put 5,000 Colonials (the lesser Ethiopian type) there, would more be needed?
After Aden falls, 7 x squadrons of SM.81 bombers and a squadron of Cr.42 fighters would instantly be available there, and it is very close to their bases.
The SM.79 have to be held for anti-shipping missions.
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  #110  
Old 04 Oct 17, 14:45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
That is exactly the idea here.

Now, on the Mediterranean front, the only easy pick-ups I see are Malta and Cyprus. Even in Egypt, the best you can do is a somewhat deeper and more threatening penetration. If that happens in conjunction with the seizure of Khartoum, then it will be very threatening.
The catch is, not only is it essential that all this happen in the first couple of months of the war, Italy is only capable of doing this in the first couple of months!

What you need is a bit of a coupe' among the officer class, and some head-hunters making sure that all available resources are put to use. For example; the drive into Kenya was stopped because of the claim that there wasn't enough fuel to keep it going... and yet when the British tool Mogadishu half a year later they found 430,000 gallons of fuel.
What they needed down there was a handful of roving I.G.s backed up by a Death Squad in the Fascist tradition.

About Djibouti ... you are right, I need to dedicate force to hemming them in as tightly as possible.
Now, what I have done with this front is to take half of the 180,000 Colonial troops available at the outset (not the additional troops raised later on) and give them all invasion jobs. This leaves a major pool of troops for internal security, and/or to relive troops at the front, and a Reserve for situations like this. I also only used 2 of the 6 Blackshirt Division's Battalions for anything but holding the Capitol.

For example, here is what I have in mind for the Kenya front -


It should have come out large enough to read ... oh well.

So what you have there is a cavalry raid cutting across the rear areas (and getting a look at what will be the British defensive line later on) while four columns of a total of about 40,000 Colonial troops move in to overwhelm the three battalions of S. African troops and a brigade of Kenyan troops.
As you will see (if it can be read) the operation is planned to be able to move if 25% of the Colonials don't show, and 1,000 can still be left out of each drive for other tasks. This is because if any one column is stopped, the Brits would still have to withdraw or be surrounded.

It looks like an attempt to take all of Kenya, but it is not.



Those are the stop-lines, using water-sources and favorable terrain to make a good defensive line.
Even if the Italian Colonials could take Mombassa (doubtful) it would be pointless. British reinforcements would simply unload down at Dar-es-Salam and attack an over-extended line.
THIS line is not over-estended, it is dramatically shortened.
By drawing the line from the south end of Lake Rudolf to the mouth of the Juma River, the front shrinks from over 700 miles to just under 400. The Italian Generals regarded the southern tip of Somalia indefensible, and I won't second guess them.

That Lake is huge, but help will be needed to keep it secure.
Also note that 4 out of the 5 MTBs at Massawa (or whatever it is called) were written-off for mechanical issues. Well, you fight with the Navy you have, no point in beating your head against that wall... why not just take one with a sound hull, strip it of all mechanical gear except the props and steering gear, and turn it over to the Air Force. Have them put at 600-hp motor from a Cr.32 in it, and truck it (they were small enough) overland to the river above that Lake. Put a 20mm gun where the Torpedoes used to be, and upgrade the twin 8mm MGs with a 13.2mm.
You now have a Patrol Boat that should be good for over 20 knots, and a much longer range than it had with 1500hp.
It would be a hell of a lot better than anything the British have there, no question.

So, about Djib.... I keep going the long way there....
It would be easy to put 5,000 Colonials (the lesser Ethiopian type) there, would more be needed?
After Aden falls, 7 x squadrons of SM.81 bombers and a squadron of Cr.42 fighters would instantly be available there, and it is very close to their bases.
The SM.79 have to be held for anti-shipping missions.
Unless the Italian Navy was a lot stronger none of this is more than a fever dream and not after Taranto
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  #111  
Old 05 Oct 17, 03:03
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I see lots of logistical problems. Yes, logistics, transportation etc. can be improved with a better preparation - but those improvements and preparations would mostly go into just advancing into Egypt with a small motorized army (or at least a small motorized vanguard) and into connecting the hugely, hugely dispersed ends of the AOI. Many, many more trucks, and fuel, and rubber tires, and spare parts...

If you add Khartoum, that's already a very daunting logistical effort. Cyprus, likewise, is not a big problem from the point of view of defeating its own defenders; it is an enormous problem when it comes to sending a force there and keeping it in supply.

That's why I support quick coups against Malta (a classic idea) and Aden (a suggestion that I had not seriously considered before this thread): they have the advantage of actually being within a feasible distance in terms of range, logistics and resupply.
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  #112  
Old 05 Oct 17, 05:30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marmat View Post
... historically, in May 1940, he wanted Malta and Cyprus from Britain, Nice, Savoy, Corsica, and Tunis from France plus Italian protectorates over Egypt, Syria and Iraq, and Sudan to be governed as an Italo-Egyptian Protectorate, just to intervene with Hitler for acceptable peace terms, and his own neutrality.
Well, it wouldn't be beneath him to assume a start-bargain position of asking a lot to get something.

That said, we could also rework the initial question, just to keep the intellectual exercise going. We might ask not whether Italy can be prepared so well as to win the war, for any definition of "winning"; we might just ask whether Italy can be better prepared (obviously yes; the real question is how), and thus achieve a better performance in the beginning of the war... presumably only to be defeated later anyway.
That might still be a somewhat interesting question.
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  #113  
Old 05 Oct 17, 15:12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
I see lots of logistical problems. Yes, logistics, transportation etc. can be improved with a better preparation - but those improvements and preparations would mostly go into just advancing into Egypt with a small motorized army (or at least a small motorized vanguard) and into connecting the hugely, hugely dispersed ends of the AOI. Many, many more trucks, and fuel, and rubber tires, and spare parts...
This gives me a chance to go into something that I had not done yet-

It is time to emphasize that major re-directions and transfers of forces are not going to happen.
Once forces are committed to a certain direction or a certain front, they are committed for the duration.
Period.
Even a retrograd movement for anyone but horse or camel-mounted Cavalry might not be possible. Therefore, careful planning is absolutely essential in Italian East Africa.
That's why I have been so focussed on it. There really isn't much margin for error there.

Down there, troops will have to scrounge for everything they can when they get into enemy territory, and they can't be gentlemen about it.

The only major transfer we could look at it getting half of the 40th Division down to the Kenya front after they are done with Brit/French Somalia. The German Motorized Company will go there too, but that isn't a very major move.

There are also 25 transport aircraft... which is kinda pathetic, but it's something. (the are also outwardly identical to the Bombers, being the same aircraft types... an interesting situation)

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If you add Khartoum, that's already a very daunting logistical effort...
Ah, but that is the one where we have a very good transport situation.

I outlined this before, the Blue Nile flows right from Ethiopia to Khartoum. A few rafts and a bunch of native boatmen (you WILL have to pay them, fairly) solves that issue nicely, and makes for a fine MSR for 65th Division and a similar number of Colonial Troops.
The only problem is that is draws a very predictable line of advance. That sucks, but in the entire Sudan Britain only has 3 regular Battalions and 6 Colonial Companies... at the start.

Taking Khartoum also does not guarantee a re-connection with Libya, but it does cut the Nile proper and the railroads, and would probably kill any British efforts to stir up the resistance to Italian rule in Etheopia.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
That's why I support quick coups against Malta (a classic idea) and Aden (a suggestion that I had not seriously considered before this thread): they have the advantage of actually being within a feasible distance in terms of range, logistics and resupply.
Aden is only about 120 miles from Asab, I don't know why they didn't give it a try.
That was a hugely valuable base for the Brits, both for basing aircraft and ships meant to keep the Red Sea open. They also sent reinforcements to Brit. Somalia, including the only 2 x AA guns they could spare.
Two of the Battalions at Brit.Som. also came from or passed through Aden.

But, again, pulling out of Aden would be very difficult. Some of the Eritreans could pull a fast one by passing through neutral Yemen and posing as civilians... but I think that only a few hundred would get away with it before that exit closed. The Alpine Battalion is light enough to be removed by air quickly... but the rest of the force committed is there for the duration.

But long-term... I guess you have to be cold-blooded about it, and admit that the garrison of Aden is unlikely to last any longer than the supplies they capture there.
The Brits will want it back, but they will have to commit more than a Division to be sure of overwhelming the 6-7 thousand men there. That means a Corps fighting in Arabia, instead of Africa.

BTW; what was captured in Berbera is impressive, considering what a successful evacuation it was considered to be;
Quote:
De Simone wrote that the Italians captured five guns, five mortars, more than a hundred trucks, three Bren gun carriers, 30 anti-tank guns, 71 machine-guns, many small-arms and much ammunition.
Foraging parties will also be important, which is why I included 500 x Cavalry, 3 x Tankettes and 3 x Armored Cars for Aden.
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