Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by AnchorSteam » 16 Dec 2020 01:24

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
15 Dec 2020 19:11
Instead of thinking about broad minefields it would be better to look at the Italian submarines ability to place mines. 1939-1941 there was success distributing them in the roadsteads & coast traffic routes around the UK & other locations. Perhaps the Italians have the ability 1940-1941 to seed more mines on the approaches to Alexandria, Valettia, ect... Its worth a look.
Oh, very good!
I was just hoping that the Italian Subs could get a few good hits in before their a/c started letting them down, but that works too.
Just prior to the D.O.W. have them go lay mines right outside Alex & Gib, and if the RN won't come charging out have a few subs surface and start lobbing shells with their abnirmally powerful deck-gun batteriess to provoke them.
I have heard that a lot of them had two 100mm guns, which lead them to take some crazy risks, but in this case it suonds very handy for a little late-night havoc.
Thanks!

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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by AnchorSteam » 16 Dec 2020 01:27

Richard Anderson wrote:
15 Dec 2020 18:57
AnchorSteam wrote:
15 Dec 2020 18:20
26 Divisions, in Albania?
How did they fit them all in there?
And why did Italy then invade Greece with just 2 Corps? (25th & 26th)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Italian_War#Italy_2
Initial Italian attack on Greece was by the XXV and XXVI Corpo with nine divisions, reinforced by December with six more divisions, and by March 1941 to 28 divisions. As of April 1941, the Italians had committed 2d Army with five corps and fourteen divisions and 9th Army with five corps and fourteen divisions to the Balkans.
Okay... but this is June 1940, and I am trying to keep myself from going ahead too quickly!

Was there any threat of invasion in Albania, from Greece or Yugoslavia? If so, how serious would it have been once Italy went in with Germany?

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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 Dec 2020 01:48

Greece was one of the more cooperative & friendly Med nation's wi Italy near the Med. Yugoslavia a gov was dominated by a pro German faction until early 1941

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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Dec 2020 02:10

AnchorSteam wrote:
16 Dec 2020 01:27
Okay... but this is June 1940, and I am trying to keep myself from going ahead too quickly!

Was there any threat of invasion in Albania, from Greece or Yugoslavia? If so, how serious would it have been once Italy went in with Germany?
I understand, but you have to realize in turn, the Italian focus on Greece and the Balkans began in April 1939, with the occupation of Albania. It was also the logical follow-on to the "stab in the back" of France, given the Greek operation was intended to occupy Epirus and Corfu, preventing the British from establishing a safe base on the Ionian Sea, threatening Italian control of the Adriatic.

So the threat they expected was not from Greece or Yugoslavia, but from Britain.
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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by AnchorSteam » 16 Dec 2020 02:12

Peter89 wrote:
15 Dec 2020 19:01
AnchorSteam wrote:
15 Dec 2020 18:40
Yes, and that is somehting to be corrected by good Staff work and planning from January - June.... and that is in fact the entire basis of this THread.
It was not really possible. Although tensions rose, Italy never expected such a swift and desicisive German victory in France.

For example, if France is not defeated - or at least not as swift and decisive as OTL - the Italians had 0 chance to defeat the British AND the French.
Stop right there- Mussolini went to war precisely because France's defeat had become inevitable, that hasn't changed. The exact reason for going in was to grab as much as possible, so how the hell can I just ignore that, and ignore France totally because that exact situation had arisen and go merrily chasing after the British alone because we somehow know that they won't quit once France throws in the towel?

And if you really think there was no chance of that, then maybe you should look into what Chamberlain and Halifax were up to at that time.
Am I trying to be too realistic with this scenario?

Peter89 wrote:
15 Dec 2020 19:01
The thing is, that RM had deficiency in almost every aspect of naval warfare, but the British were well ahead of them in this regard......

Therefore we can safely conclude that such a disaster was bound to happen.
You speak as if Italy never won a fight with the RN, and that just isn't true. Isn't there a thread listing Italian Naval Victories, right here in this very website?
Regia Marina had better torpedoes than the Germans, and knew how to use them. There were flaws in their ships, but the RN was far from perfect when it came to design & weaponry and took their licks as well. There was also a certain arrogance in the RN's admiralty; no Battleships had yet been sunk by aircraft while at sea, and none would be until December 10th 1941, off Malaya. If we could get them to stick their necks out the way they did then, it is easily possible that 100 Italian torpedo bombers could do as well as 100 Japanese planes with less going for them,

Peter89 wrote:
15 Dec 2020 08:55
That was my point exactly; there nothing worthy to hit in the range of Italian bombers.
As for Aix en Provance and other targets in metropolitan France: ??? why? France was collapsing, it was soon to be a German fiefdom, damaging its infrastructure would have been a stupid idea.
....
What is that victory good for? The French were on full alert, and they beated Italians badly. To bomb a few cities might have been good for a few hundred civilians killed for nothing, but nothing more. Italy had no capacity to invade and hold French territory. Not without German help.
Since the 1490s, Italian leaders have blamed their own blunders on their own fighting men, very unfairly in most cases, IMHO. Turning this around is essential in this kind of war.... not the least because Italy is now in competition with Germany. And if you don't think that weighed heavily on their minds....

The bottom line; the most powerful factor in the morale' of the troops is being on the winning side. Kicking-ass vs. the French on their own turf will be a tremendous boost to the Italian fighting men, how could it not be otherwise? This is the kind of shot in the arm that is required to make them (and especially, their Generals) take the next steps required for an overall victory.

For example; the Germans were far from spectacular when they invaded Poland, and I am talking about the rank & file here. That and as far as the civilian population goes; "It is impossbile to make war with such people!" .... that was Hitler, talking about the average German in 1939.
Even at the start of 1940, some have said that Hitler might have been the only man in Europe that was enthusiastic about going ahead with the war.

Italy needs this, they need to start off with a string of victories, even if they are easy ones.... just like the US Navy did in early 1942. Look up the collection of piddling little raids they worked on while the IJN was over-running the East Indies.
The same should work for the Italian Navy; minor targets to get the fleet worked-up before a direct confrontation with the RN.

AnchorSteam wrote:
15 Dec 2020 18:40
....
The Italians did attack Egypt OTL, but failed miserably. With a mere glance at the numbers, I guess no military historian would have predicted the outcome of that battle.
Like it was said in a previous comment, more spirited and successful Italian entry into the war could only contribute to lesser German participation in the area. Given the fact that Italy couldn't even score victories under the most favourable circumstances OTL, I think it is not a realistic battle plan to send them against the French. Maybe - maybe - they could have crushed the Greeks, but that would only provoke an earlier British help to the Balkans. In that case, it could have been useful for the big Axis picture.
You are going back and forth between saying that France was too easy and it was too hard now.
See above.
And no, I don't think German participation was inevitable, in fact it did not happen until the end of the year. In fact, it was a major drain on Germany so trying to avoid that goes a long way to ensuring that Itlay is on the winning side.... in a round-about sort of way!
And the Balkans did not become an issue until 1941.
Still on 1940 here, the Summer.
Peter89 wrote:
15 Dec 2020 08:55
Malta was, again, a target worth taking, and serious preparations were made to take it. But the Italians hesitated, and lost the opportunity. The Brits thought rather correctly that in the Med, nobody really has the spine, technology and doctrine to stand up against them without German support. They've just crushed an Arab rebellion. Their only, but most important mistake was the Vichy forces.
You mean Mers el Kebir?
AnchorSteam wrote:
15 Dec 2020 18:40
It meant that the British held firm their possessions in the region, and the Italian rule was not welcome by most. Not until they've defeated the British, whom they simply couldn't.

The amazing German successes in 1938-1940 inspired a certain amount of appeal in the Arab nationalists; the Nazi-Arab relations were rather good. But the Italians could not expect large scale cooperation from either a defeated France or a wannabe-liberated Arab insurgency.
Speaking from experience, I coudln't care less what the Arabs have to say. They make grand promises, but when it comes time to make a stand they are generally notwhere to be found.
As I have said before...
No, I'm get to that soon enough, movihng on now.

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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by AnchorSteam » 16 Dec 2020 02:14

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
16 Dec 2020 01:48
Greece was one of the more cooperative & friendly Med nation's wi Italy near the Med. Yugoslavia a gov was dominated by a pro German faction until early 1941
Perfect!

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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by AnchorSteam » 16 Dec 2020 03:16

Richard Anderson wrote:
16 Dec 2020 02:10
AnchorSteam wrote:
16 Dec 2020 01:27
Okay... but this is June 1940, and I am trying to keep myself from going ahead too quickly!

Was there any threat of invasion in Albania, from Greece or Yugoslavia? If so, how serious would it have been once Italy went in with Germany?
I understand, but you have to realize in turn, the Italian focus on Greece and the Balkans began in April 1939, with the occupation of Albania. It was also the logical follow-on to the "stab in the back" of France, given the Greek operation was intended to occupy Epirus and Corfu, preventing the British from establishing a safe base on the Ionian Sea, threatening Italian control of the Adriatic.

So the threat they expected was not from Greece or Yugoslavia, but from Britain.
All the more reason to not be distracted by any Balkan adventure and get serious about the U.K.
Here's how-

To finish with Army strategy, Let me deploy and send them off; (and remember, these are the full-strength Divisions, a much leaner and meaner set of formations)

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

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

Libya; towards Tunisia; 5th Corps & 3rd Mech Corps + 1 Heavy Division
towards Egypt; 2nd Mech, 6th Corps +2 Heavy Divisions
(The mechanized Division is detached to probe Siwa and Mishefa, and eventually towards Mersa Matruh.)

All of these are to kick-off on the same day, so given the hitoric June 10th decision, this means D-Day June 12th.

France;
Along most of the front Alpine troops will probe, looking for passage round French fortified areas (the passes) to that they can attack them form the rear while 4th Corps hammers them from the front. Near the coast, the Heavy Division will assault the border area with Naval gunfire support, and then more or less remain in place as they pass the 1st Mech Corps through whatever breakthrough they make.

Malta;
A strenuouis air-raid on flak positions and a couple of key forts is followed immediatly by airborne forces, and hopefully the flyboys have not cratered all the runways.... :roll: we'll need those. Naval infantry will be standing by to land at a suitable area once it is cleared from behind by the Paratroops. Going in early like this demands good recon in advance, and minimizes the chances the local garrison (such as it is) to prepare their defenses.

Tunisia;
This must be handled carefully, since the border is fortified and there may be some French tanks more formidable than the FT-17 lurking in the area. To deal with tanks like the 35R, it will be nescessary to equip the truck-mounted 75mm AA guns with armor piercing rounds, and least a few for each batttery, and make sure they can use them. The "Fast" units can try to round the flank, but the rest of our force must use tactics like the Germans at Verdun; use overwhelming force to pinch off small parts of the front, and eliminate the enemy with minimal loses.
(yes, I know, but at first this worked well. Verdun did not become an equal-opportunity meat grinder undil certain Germans became glory-hounds and broke from the plan)

Egypt;
I guess this is the one everyone will watch most closely, so I included a map.
Hopefully, a more controlled entry into the war means that Balbo was not killed in that freak accident, but in any case here is the plan=
The main force will proceed down the main road, or be flanking it, and it will go at the same pedestrial pace that was the case originally; about 20 km. per day, or even a little less sometimes.
I am aware of the supply issues, but I do not think that Garibaldi was justified in asking for more trucks than existed in Italy to keep his army moving forward. That is not the whole reason for a slow pace, at first. Seeing as how we have three armored thrusts going on at once, there will only be 24 x M11/39 tanks here, the only Italian tanks with cannon (37mm). The rest are CV-33, 35 & 38. Now, this is not going to discourage me, what did the WDF have? Vickers tanks and Rolls Royce Armored cars, and that is about all. What could Britain send while the Battle fo Britain was raging and Sealion appeared imminent?
Not much, and if my other plans work, they won't be able to send more in any case, even if they had something to send.

The moderate pace makes things easy for the main body, buit it also sets the WDF for problems;

Image

(I hope this works)

The mechanized Division is to the south ... and I wonder if I should have used two Fast Brigades instead.... but as you see it splits to make two moves.
One is to the railhead at Mishefa, and if they are very lucky they might be able to capture a train or some other running gear there. What they are doing next is making a jab towards Sidi Barani. This should be discomfiting to any Brits thinking of holding that place, but since they did not...

Next we have the truly daring part, the lung from one oasis to the next, from Jarabub to Siwa. Some sort of commandos would be handy for this part, just to prevent the British from finding out about this right away.
This group makes it's tre towards Mersa Matruh, where the WDF was in fact planning to make a stand. Now, the pace of the main body begins to pick up, they are leaving Foot-bound infantry behind to secure the coast. The idea is to hit the British early, and the small force (see the thinest arrow) moving along the Railroad is meant to distract them from the force coming from Siwa, or make them mistake one for the other.

Now, halfway between Mersa and Bagush is a choke-point where the rails and the coast road are close togeter. Half a Mech. Division is never going to block a Corps trying to escape, so they won't. Their job is to "fail" at that, and form a Box where their heavy weapons can still reach those roads. Taking a page from the Mongol playbook, leave a "Golden Bridge" for the WDF, and call in airstrikes or perhaps even naval gunfire down on them as they go streaming past.
At the same time, the Mechanized units of the main body cut loose from the foot-sloggers entirely, and make their move.
The hope is that they can stampede the enemy all the way to El Alamien.

Yes,that place.
I noticed that IRL, the Italians were very concerned about their open flank, and did a terrible job of dealing with it. Here, there is no open flank, so the army pauses and lets the rest of Italy's slender reserves of tanks catch up with them, as well as whatever else can be supported in Egypt.
This really is the limit to what I think they can do, even if pushing those last 50 miles to reach Alexandria seems possible, could they even think of holding it for more than a few days?
An operational pause for the remainder of June is advisable, even if they manage to cross 350 miles in just 2 weeks. In fact, mid or late-July is the soonest they should try for more.

How are we doing so far?

I have one last major item to cover, and I will be able to go into as much detail as you like with this one.
Next, we are going to the Horn of Africa, and the key to this whole thing.
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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by AnchorSteam » 16 Dec 2020 03:18

{ whoops, it shows at the Bottom instead of where I wanted it, but at least it showed up. Click on it and it gets much larger]

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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Dec 2020 04:17

AnchorSteam wrote:
16 Dec 2020 03:16
All the more reason to not be distracted by any Balkan adventure and get serious about the U.K.
But they were serious about the British, which is exactly why they wanted to secure the Ionian and Adriatic seas.

Here's how-

To finish with Army strategy, Let me deploy and send them off; (and remember, these are the full-strength Divisions, a much leaner and meaner set of formations)
Sorry, but you do realize the Italians had just completed the total reorganization of the infantry division under the Pariani reform over the course of two years from 1937 to 1938? The intent was to make them both more mobile as well as more functional given the limited resources the Italians had. Thus, the role of the infantry division was as a blocking and holding force, with the "Big Units", the specialized armored, motorized infantry, and celere divisions that would be the maneuver element.

So you are now asking them to reorganize the army again, essentially overnight, into an entity they eschewed because of the experience of the Ethiopian War.
Malta; 1 x Marine unit, 1 x Paratroop Div.
Um, the Italian Parachute School at Castel Benito trained 1,400 paratroopers, 1938-1940. There were two parachute battalions, the Libyan (500 men) and the National (300 men) as of May-June 1940.

The "Marine" unit I guess is the Reggimento San Marco? It consisted of two battalions, each of three rifle companies and an 81mm mortar company as of June 1940. The RM had five water tankers modified with bow ramps that could be used as a poor-mans amphibious landing ships, capable of carrying an infantry battalion each.

As of June 1940, the defenses of Malta included:

2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers - 22 officers and 691 men
1st Dorsetshire - 24 officers and 689 men
2nd Devonshire - 24 officers and 670 men
2nd Queen’s Own Royal West Kent - 25 officers and 678 men
8th Manchester - 27 officers, 778 men
26th AT Regt RA - 12 officers, 244 men
4th Heavy Regt RA - 23 officers, 352 men
7th AA Regt RA - 18 officers, 379 men
RE – 8 officers, 333 men
1st KOMR – c. 1,200 O&OR (1 July 1941 Strength: 27 officers and 879 men)
2nd KOMR – c. 759 O&OR (25 June)
3rd KOMR – c. 596 O&OR (25 June)
RMA - 78 officers, 1,624 men
RAMP – 18 men
RASC - 5 officers, 126 men
RAOC - 12 officers, 36 men
RAMC - 26 officers, 156 men
RADC - 3 officers, 5 men
RAPC - 6 officers 12 men
Army Education Corps – 1 officer, 9 men
RA Chaplain Department – 4
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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Dec 2020 06:27

AnchorSteam wrote:
16 Dec 2020 03:16
Malta; 1 x Marine unit, 1 x Paratroop Div.

Malta;
A strenuouis air-raid on flak positions and a couple of key forts is followed immediatly by airborne forces, and hopefully the flyboys have not cratered all the runways.... :roll: we'll need those. Naval infantry will be standing by to land at a suitable area once it is cleared from behind by the Paratroops. Going in early like this demands good recon in advance, and minimizes the chances the local garrison (such as it is) to prepare their defenses.
Just to be clear on this, your two-battalion, roughly 800-man "Marine unit" and non-existent "Paratroop Div"(instead 800 parachutists...whose transport aircraft were 13 SM.75, each capable of carrying 24 paratroopers, and 6 of the new SM.82, each capable of carrying 32 paratroopers, so 504 in a single lift) would go up against a fortified British garrison of 9,725 British Army personnel, who were particularly concerned with defending the island airfields against a parachute attack. Nifty.

BTW, except for the 8-Bofors gun Dockyard Defence Battery at Valletta, the "flak positions" were mostly Lewis and Bren guns sited for short-range air defense and also around 46 heavy AA, 3" 20cwt and 3.7" AA around the airfields and harbor. The "key forts" would be the ten rather well-dispersed 9.2" and 6" coast defense batteries. Which are the "key" ones?
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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by AnchorSteam » 16 Dec 2020 06:34

Richard Anderson wrote:
16 Dec 2020 04:17
Sorry, but you do realize the Italians had just completed the total reorganization of the infantry division under the Pariani reform over the course of two years from 1937 to 1938? The intent was to make them both more mobile as well as more functional given the limited resources the Italians had. Thus, the role of the infantry division was as a blocking and holding force, with the "Big Units", the specialized armored, motorized infantry, and celere divisions that would be the maneuver element.
So you are now asking them to reorganize the army again, essentially overnight, into an entity they eschewed because of the experience of the Ethiopian War.
Very well, so instead of 12 Trinary Divisions there will be 18 Binary ones. Bac up to 47 Divisions, all still at full strength, but not so up for a seriuos European war.
Richard Anderson wrote:
16 Dec 2020 04:17
Um, the Italian Parachute School at Castel Benito trained 1,400 paratroopers, 1938-1940. There were two parachute battalions, the Libyan (500 men) and the National (300 men) as of May-June 1940.
Wait... what?
We already covered the fact (?) that the Libyan Battalion was poorly trained and basically not Combat worthy.... or so some have said,
Everyone having contradictory sources is starting to get annoying.
And yet, having trained 1.400 Paras in just the last two years, there are suddenly only 300 available, in the entirety of the Italian military, in 1940?
Come on.
Richard Anderson wrote:
16 Dec 2020 04:17
The "Marine" unit I guess is the Reggimento San Marco? It consisted of two battalions, each of three rifle companies and an 81mm mortar company as of June 1940. The RM had five water tankers modified with bow ramps that could be used as a poor-mans amphibious landing ships, capable of carrying an infantry battalion each.
This must be part of Newbie Week or something. Now, how about this;
Invasion plan DG10/42[edit]

In 1938 Mussolini had considered an invasion of Malta under Plan DG10/42, in which a force of 40,000 men would capture the island. Nearly all 80 purpose-built sea craft that would land the Italian Army ashore were expected to be lost but landings would be made in the north, with an attack upon the Victoria Lines, across the centre of the island. A secondary landing would be made on Gozo, north-west of Malta and the islet of Comino, between the two. All of the Italian navy and 500 aircraft would be involved, but the lack of supplies led the planners to believe that the operation could not be carried out. With the German success in the Battle of France from May–June 1940, the plan was reduced to 20,000 men withthe addition of tanks. The Allied defeat in France gave the Italians an opportunity to seize Malta but Italian intelligence overestimated the Maltese defences and Mussolini thought that an invasion would be unnecessary once Britain made peace. Mussolini also expected Francoist Spain to join the Axis and capture Gibraltar, which would close the Mediterranean to the British from the west.[36]
Supply problems? Something stinks about that. How much would they need for an operation meansure in hours?


Richard Anderson wrote:
16 Dec 2020 04:17
As of June 1940, the defenses of Malta included:

2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers - 22 officers and 691 men
1st Dorsetshire - 24 officers and 689 men
2nd Devonshire - 24 officers and 670 men
2nd Queen’s Own Royal West Kent - 25 officers and 678 men
8th Manchester - 27 officers, 778 men
26th AT Regt RA - 12 officers, 244 men
4th Heavy Regt RA - 23 officers, 352 men
7th AA Regt RA - 18 officers, 379 men
RE – 8 officers, 333 men
1st KOMR – c. 1,200 O&OR (1 July 1941 Strength: 27 officers and 879 men)
2nd KOMR – c. 759 O&OR (25 June)
3rd KOMR – c. 596 O&OR (25 June)
RMA - 78 officers, 1,624 men
RAMP – 18 men
RASC - 5 officers, 126 men
RAOC - 12 officers, 36 men
RAMC - 26 officers, 156 men
RADC - 3 officers, 5 men
RAPC - 6 officers 12 men
Army Education Corps – 1 officer, 9 men
RA Chaplain Department – 4
That is a hell of a lot more than 2 Battalions that I was lead to believe.
All of those units were present on the day the war with Italy started? All 5 Battalions of Infantry, AT and AA Regiments plus all the trimings that a Division would need?
That is an enormous investment to garrison a place where the only RN ships at the time were the Monitor Terror and a pair of Insect-class Gunboats left over from WWI (plus a few Subs), and where there were no operational airfields as yet.

The Italians flew at around 6,100 metres (20,000 ft) and the monitor HMS Terror and gunboats HMS Aphis and Ladybird opened fire. In the afternoon, another 38 bombers escorted by 12 fighters raided the capital. The raids were designed to affect the morale of the population rather than inflict damage to dockyards and installations. A total of eight raids were flown on that first day. The bombing did not cause much damage and most of the casualties suffered were civilian. No interception of the raiders was made because there was no RAF force ready to meet them.[30] No RAF airfield on Malta was operational at that time; one, at Luqa, was near to completion.[5]

Despite the absence of any operational airfields, at least one RAF Gladiator flew against a raid of 55 Savoia Marchetti SM 79 and their 20 escorting fighters on 11 June. It surprised the Italians, but the defences, almost non-existent on the ground and in the air, failed to impede the Italian force.[31] On 12 June an Italian aircraft on a reconnaissance flight over Malta was shot down.[32]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_ ... ld_War_II)


Ahem....

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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by AnchorSteam » 16 Dec 2020 07:00

Okay, found it-
1939 - the Peacetime Garrison Transitions to War[9][edit]
Malta's garrison was a single infantry brigade; comprising the 2nd Battalion the Devonshire Regiment, 2nd Battalion the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, 1st Battalion the Dorsetshire Regiment and the 2nd Battalion the Royal Irish Fusiliers. An infantry territorial unit was also present, the 1st Battalion The King's Own Malta Regiment. The Malta garrison's artillery was largely fixed and consisted of light and heavy anti-aircraft; and coastal defence artillery regiments drawn from the Royal Artillery (RA) and Royal Malta Artillery (RMA). The Royal Engineers were also in evidence with British and Maltese serving in the Corps on the Island.[10][11]
Point made!

Right then, 4 Regular Battalions plus one of local militia, one Brigade of fighting men. and this means the plan from Mussolini will have to be taken up. Fortunately there are Divisions standing by in the Reserves listed.
Richard Anderson wrote:
16 Dec 2020 06:27
Just to be clear on this, your two-battalion, roughly 800-man "Marine unit" and non-existent "Paratroop Div"(instead 800 parachutists...whose transport aircraft were 13 SM.75, each capable of carrying 24 paratroopers, and 6 of the new SM.82, each capable of carrying 32 paratroopers, so 504 in a single lift) would go up against a fortified British garrison of 9,725 British Army personnel, who were particularly concerned with defending the island airfields against a parachute attack. Nifty.
I'm not sure what is expected of the Cooks & Clerks on the island, but going by what happened at Singapore, I am thinking not much.

I see no reason why additional planes cannot be found to transport the entire group in a one-time operation.


Still, just one Battalion would have to be used carefully, on the most important position between the landing beaches and the harbor.

Richard Anderson wrote:
16 Dec 2020 06:27
BTW, except for the 8-Bofors gun Dockyard Defence Battery at Valletta, the "flak positions" were mostly Lewis and Bren guns sited for short-range air defense and also around 46 heavy AA, 3" 20cwt and 3.7" AA around the airfields and harbor. The "key forts" would be the ten rather well-dispersed 9.2" and 6" coast defense batteries. Which are the "key" ones?
Are the 6" and 9.2" guns in covered positions facing the sea? If they are, they cannot fire to landwards. If they are not, they will be in open pits that will be very vulnerable to aircraft and naval bombardment.

So..... is it impossible for Malta to be taken with a 4-1 advantage in manpower, half the fleet vs. one monitor, two gunboats and a few submarines, and hundreds of aircraft vs. a haldful of Gladiators?
If so, I may as well throw in the towel now, but I am not going to do that.

And, we seem to be cross-posting .... I'll get back to this tomorrow. I hope you are still around because this will be in a place that I am indeed prepared to go over every gun position, every individual vehicle and every last plane, even their support.
Game for that?

Richard Anderson
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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Dec 2020 07:41

AnchorSteam wrote:
16 Dec 2020 06:34
Very well, so instead of 12 Trinary Divisions there will be 18 Binary ones. Bac up to 47 Divisions, all still at full strength, but not so up for a seriuos European war.
Yep.
Wait... what?
We already covered the fact (?) that the Libyan Battalion was poorly trained and basically not Combat worthy.... or so some have said,
Everyone having contradictory sources is starting to get annoying.
And yet, having trained 1.400 Paras in just the last two years, there are suddenly only 300 available, in the entirety of the Italian military, in 1940?
Come on.
"We" did? Where? When?

Meanwhile YOU, above planned on using a "Paratroop Div". There was none. There were 1,400 troops that went through the RE Castel Benito parachute school. There were two parachute battalions organized in the RE, the "Libyan" and the "National", with 800 men in them. Yes that means there were roughly 600 other parachute-trained personnel in the RE, but they were not organized in units. Guess what, a lot of personnel go through Ranger School in the U.S. Army, but they are not all in the battalions of the Ranger Regiment.
This must be part of Newbie Week or something. Now, how about this;
No, it's just that this particular Oldie has jumped through these particular hoops too many times before.
Invasion plan DG10/42[edit]

In 1938 Mussolini had considered an invasion of Malta under Plan DG10/42, in which a force of 40,000 men would capture the island. Nearly all 80 purpose-built sea craft that would land the Italian Army ashore were expected to be lost but landings would be made in the north, with an attack upon the Victoria Lines, across the centre of the island. A secondary landing would be made on Gozo, north-west of Malta and the islet of Comino, between the two. All of the Italian navy and 500 aircraft would be involved, but the lack of supplies led the planners to believe that the operation could not be carried out. With the German success in the Battle of France from May–June 1940, the plan was reduced to 20,000 men withthe addition of tanks. The Allied defeat in France gave the Italians an opportunity to seize Malta but Italian intelligence overestimated the Maltese defences and Mussolini thought that an invasion would be unnecessary once Britain made peace. Mussolini also expected Francoist Spain to join the Axis and capture Gibraltar, which would close the Mediterranean to the British from the west.[36]

Supply problems? Something stinks about that. How much would they need for an operation meansure in hours?
Yeah, you might want to search the forum for "Malta" and "Italian invasion", we've been through this all before.

No, the RM had no "purpose-built sea craft" for amphibious operations in June 1940, let alone 80 of them. The 80 vessels planned for the Malta invasion in 1938 were vaporetti drawn from the Venice Lagoon, along with various fishing vessels, converted to "amphibious assault" craft. The problem is the conversions were not carried out until the preparation for C3/HERAKLES began in 1941-1942. That was also when the actual "purpose-built sea craft" were built, which were the Motorazata (MZ) landing craft, built to the plans of the German-designed Marine-Fähre-Prahm...that was designed in November-December 1940.
That is a hell of a lot more than 2 Battalions that I was lead to believe.
Who "led you to believe" the Malta defenses consisted of "2 Battalions"? Whoever that was led you pretty far astray. The prewar (i.e., prior to 1 September 1939) garrison was a brigade of four battalions. They added to it.
All of those units were present on the day the war with Italy started? All 5 Battalions of Infantry, AT and AA Regiments plus all the trimings that a Division would need?
Yes they were there. It was not a division, so I'm not sure what "trimmings" you mean?
That is an enormous investment to garrison a place where the only RN ships at the time were the Monitor Terror and a pair of Insect-class Gunboats left over from WWI (plus a few Subs), and where there were no operational airfields as yet.
Um, the bulk of 1st Submarine Flotilla was there too, seven subs to start, not a few. And the 1st MTB Flotilla. And the 3d Minesweeper Flotilla.
The Italians flew at around 6,100 metres (20,000 ft) and the monitor HMS Terror and gunboats HMS Aphis and Ladybird opened fire. In the afternoon, another 38 bombers escorted by 12 fighters raided the capital. The raids were designed to affect the morale of the population rather than inflict damage to dockyards and installations. A total of eight raids were flown on that first day. The bombing did not cause much damage and most of the casualties suffered were civilian. No interception of the raiders was made because there was no RAF force ready to meet them.[30] No RAF airfield on Malta was operational at that time; one, at Luqa, was near to completion.[5]

Despite the absence of any operational airfields, at least one RAF Gladiator flew against a raid of 55 Savoia Marchetti SM 79 and their 20 escorting fighters on 11 June. It surprised the Italians, but the defences, almost non-existent on the ground and in the air, failed to impede the Italian force.[31] On 12 June an Italian aircraft on a reconnaissance flight over Malta was shot down.[32]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_ ... ld_War_II)

Ahem....
Do you have a point?
Last edited by Richard Anderson on 16 Dec 2020 08:13, edited 2 times in total.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Richard Anderson
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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Dec 2020 07:52

AnchorSteam wrote:
16 Dec 2020 07:00
Okay, found it-

Point made!

Right then, 4 Regular Battalions plus one of local militia, one Brigade of fighting men. and this means the plan from Mussolini will have to be taken up. Fortunately there are Divisions standing by in the Reserves listed.
You're quite the Wiki-Ranger.
I'm not sure what is expected of the Cooks & Clerks on the island, but going by what happened at Singapore, I am thinking not much.
Because Singapore is an island and Malta is an island, so of course they are exactly the same?
I see no reason why additional planes cannot be found to transport the entire group in a one-time operation.
Perhaps because the Italians did not have additional planes dedicated to paratroop transport, nor the pilots trained to fly paratroop operations?
Still, just one Battalion would have to be used carefully, on the most important position between the landing beaches and the harbor.
Which beaches are those?
Are the 6" and 9.2" guns in covered positions facing the sea? If they are, they cannot fire to landwards. If they are not, they will be in open pits that will be very vulnerable to aircraft and naval bombardment.
No, they are not in "covered positions", they were on pedestal mounts in gun pits, but the traverse inland was generally blocked by land features at some point. Not that it was important, since the CD guns were intended for coast defense rather than firing inland. Beach defense was allocated to the 60 18-pdr manned by the 26th AT Regiment RA, which also manned two batteries of 3" 20 cwt "mobile" guns, a bettery of 3.7" howitzers, and a battery of 6" howitzers, which were the main field artillery of the garrison until 12 Field Regiment RA arrived 10 November 1940 with 24 25-pdr guns.
So..... is it impossible for Malta to be taken with a 4-1 advantage in manpower, half the fleet vs. one monitor, two gunboats and a few submarines, and hundreds of aircraft vs. a haldful of Gladiators?
Given the Italians only have five converted water tankers carrying about 5,000 men, I am unclear how they will achieve a 4-1 advantage?
If so, I may as well throw in the towel now, but I am not going to do that.
I rather suspected not.
And, we seem to be cross-posting .... I'll get back to this tomorrow. I hope you are still around because this will be in a place that I am indeed prepared to go over every gun position, every individual vehicle and every last plane, even their support.
Game for that?
I will try to still my beating heart and await with bated breath.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Peter89
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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by Peter89 » 16 Dec 2020 12:23

AnchorSteam wrote:
16 Dec 2020 02:12
Peter89 wrote:
15 Dec 2020 19:01
AnchorSteam wrote:
15 Dec 2020 18:40
Yes, and that is somehting to be corrected by good Staff work and planning from January - June.... and that is in fact the entire basis of this THread.
It was not really possible. Although tensions rose, Italy never expected such a swift and desicisive German victory in France.

For example, if France is not defeated - or at least not as swift and decisive as OTL - the Italians had 0 chance to defeat the British AND the French.
Stop right there- Mussolini went to war precisely because France's defeat had become inevitable, that hasn't changed. The exact reason for going in was to grab as much as possible, so how the hell can I just ignore that, and ignore France totally because that exact situation had arisen and go merrily chasing after the British alone because we somehow know that they won't quit once France throws in the towel?

And if you really think there was no chance of that, then maybe you should look into what Chamberlain and Halifax were up to at that time.
Am I trying to be too realistic with this scenario?
Grab as much as possible: why would the Germans let the Italians do that?

Also, why would the British throw in the towel? It was a fantasy in 1940 and it is a fantasy now. I can tell you why they wouldn't: because the Germans / Italians had no means to conquer the British Isles. If they cannot be conquered, why exactly would they give up?
AnchorSteam wrote:
16 Dec 2020 02:12
Peter89 wrote:
15 Dec 2020 19:01
The thing is, that RM had deficiency in almost every aspect of naval warfare, but the British were well ahead of them in this regard......

Therefore we can safely conclude that such a disaster was bound to happen.
You speak as if Italy never won a fight with the RN, and that just isn't true. Isn't there a thread listing Italian Naval Victories, right here in this very website?
Regia Marina had better torpedoes than the Germans, and knew how to use them. There were flaws in their ships, but the RN was far from perfect when it came to design & weaponry and took their licks as well. There was also a certain arrogance in the RN's admiralty; no Battleships had yet been sunk by aircraft while at sea, and none would be until December 10th 1941, off Malaya. If we could get them to stick their necks out the way they did then, it is easily possible that 100 Italian torpedo bombers could do as well as 100 Japanese planes with less going for them,
Regia Aeronautica could not sink a single RN warship worth of mention, only the destroyer HMS Juno, and that too, in frame of a German operation.

The Luftwaffe sank 6 light cruisers and sank or incapacitated about 37 destroyers.

It seems that the bombers were the real danger to the RN, not the torpedoes. The only ship that was successfully torpedoed from air and sank was the already incapacitated destroyer HMS Bedouin, hardly a big achievement.
AnchorSteam wrote:
16 Dec 2020 02:12
Peter89 wrote:
15 Dec 2020 08:55
That was my point exactly; there nothing worthy to hit in the range of Italian bombers.
As for Aix en Provance and other targets in metropolitan France: ??? why? France was collapsing, it was soon to be a German fiefdom, damaging its infrastructure would have been a stupid idea.
....
What is that victory good for? The French were on full alert, and they beated Italians badly. To bomb a few cities might have been good for a few hundred civilians killed for nothing, but nothing more. Italy had no capacity to invade and hold French territory. Not without German help.
Since the 1490s, Italian leaders have blamed their own blunders on their own fighting men, very unfairly in most cases, IMHO. Turning this around is essential in this kind of war.... not the least because Italy is now in competition with Germany. And if you don't think that weighed heavily on their minds....

The bottom line; the most powerful factor in the morale' of the troops is being on the winning side. Kicking-ass vs. the French on their own turf will be a tremendous boost to the Italian fighting men, how could it not be otherwise? This is the kind of shot in the arm that is required to make them (and especially, their Generals) take the next steps required for an overall victory.

For example; the Germans were far from spectacular when they invaded Poland, and I am talking about the rank & file here. That and as far as the civilian population goes; "It is impossbile to make war with such people!" .... that was Hitler, talking about the average German in 1939.
Even at the start of 1940, some have said that Hitler might have been the only man in Europe that was enthusiastic about going ahead with the war.

Italy needs this, they need to start off with a string of victories, even if they are easy ones.... just like the US Navy did in early 1942. Look up the collection of piddling little raids they worked on while the IJN was over-running the East Indies.
The same should work for the Italian Navy; minor targets to get the fleet worked-up before a direct confrontation with the RN.
A string of victories? With terror bombing against an already beaten France?

The sole Italian focus should have been the British, crushing their linchpin in Egypt and Sudan. The Italians tried, the Italians failed. Not even the initial victories in France, Somaliland, Egypt and Sudan gave them the "thing" you are looking for.
AnchorSteam wrote:
16 Dec 2020 02:12
Peter89 wrote:
15 Dec 2020 08:55
....
The Italians did attack Egypt OTL, but failed miserably. With a mere glance at the numbers, I guess no military historian would have predicted the outcome of that battle.
Like it was said in a previous comment, more spirited and successful Italian entry into the war could only contribute to lesser German participation in the area. Given the fact that Italy couldn't even score victories under the most favourable circumstances OTL, I think it is not a realistic battle plan to send them against the French. Maybe - maybe - they could have crushed the Greeks, but that would only provoke an earlier British help to the Balkans. In that case, it could have been useful for the big Axis picture.
You are going back and forth between saying that France was too easy and it was too hard now.
See above.
And no, I don't think German participation was inevitable, in fact it did not happen until the end of the year. In fact, it was a major drain on Germany so trying to avoid that goes a long way to ensuring that Itlay is on the winning side.... in a round-about sort of way!
And the Balkans did not become an issue until 1941.
Still on 1940 here, the Summer.
I'm not going back and forth, you don't get my point. France was already beaten in the second half of June 1940. A successful Italian entry into the war must look for targets elswhere. There is no point in beating an already beaten France, and besides, the Italians were not particurarly successful in that either.
AnchorSteam wrote:
16 Dec 2020 02:12
Peter89 wrote:
15 Dec 2020 08:55
Malta was, again, a target worth taking, and serious preparations were made to take it. But the Italians hesitated, and lost the opportunity. The Brits thought rather correctly that in the Med, nobody really has the spine, technology and doctrine to stand up against them without German support. They've just crushed an Arab rebellion. Their only, but most important mistake was the Vichy forces.
You mean Mers el Kebir?
And Dakar, and the Levant, and Madagascar, etc.
AnchorSteam wrote:
15 Dec 2020 18:40
Peter89 wrote:
15 Dec 2020 08:55
It meant that the British held firm their possessions in the region, and the Italian rule was not welcome by most. Not until they've defeated the British, whom they simply couldn't.

The amazing German successes in 1938-1940 inspired a certain amount of appeal in the Arab nationalists; the Nazi-Arab relations were rather good. But the Italians could not expect large scale cooperation from either a defeated France or a wannabe-liberated Arab insurgency.
Speaking from experience, I coudln't care less what the Arabs have to say. They make grand promises, but when it comes time to make a stand they are generally notwhere to be found.
As I have said before...
No, I'm get to that soon enough, movihng on now.
Besides the hint of subjective racism in this remark, you must understand that without Arab and other "Untermensch" help, the Axis had no chance to defeat the British Empire.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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