Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

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

Post by Peter89 » 01 Mar 2021 07:28

Just came across a very similar thread viewtopic.php?f=11&t=227491 . Given the degree of similarities, maybe this one is simply a duplicate?
“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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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 Mar 2021 14:51

Peter89 wrote:
01 Mar 2021 07:28
Just came across a very similar thread viewtopic.php?f=11&t=227491 . Given the degree of similarities, maybe this one is simply a duplicate?
Post # 30 in that thread sums up my thoughts. Argued it myself several times. Am embarrassed to admit I'd never thought of the benefit of Italian cargo ships fro the Allies. But, there are so many other benefits neglecting one hardly seems to matter.

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

Post by nuyt » 01 Mar 2021 16:24

Post #30 is very interesting and I agree that would have been Italy's number one best strategy.... but... would AH allow Mussolini to go it alone and stay out - that Feigling! No, Italy would pay a price to stay neutral, with its industry working for Nazi Germany, still with thousands of volunteers on the Eastern front, with German submarines looking for bases in the Med (in the same ports that would repair British ships?), with agricultural produce being bought up by Germany (or bartered for weapons), with German intelligence all over the place to watch out for any sympathetic gestures towards the Allies, etc. No, Italy would have been a Super Sweden: nominally neutral, but working with and closely economically connected to Germany. Profitable, yes, if Benito can escape the Fuehrer's wrath...

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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 Mar 2021 20:44

I don't know how the nazi regime could enforce all that on a neutral Italy. Technically they could invade Italy, but with 5% at best of the global warmaking capacity it looks like a poor trade for the USSR with 20% or better. Maybe if a Britain First strategy is pursued, but I have doubts about the desirability of that as well. & what can the nazis do? Cut off Italys coal imports. Hijack their share of Rumanian oil? Britain can offset much of that, & the US all of it. Germany of 1941 does not have a lot to pressure Italy with besides terror bombing and invasion.

The argument of a neutral Italy would for the near term provide another conduit for evading the blockade is useful for the short term. Not perfect certainly but along with Spain, Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Rumania, & Turkey it adds up. Eventually the Allies can offer a larger stick and sweets for Italics cooperation. Spain & Turkey despite their politics sold to the higher bidder.

Worst case for the Germans i if Italian neutrality leads to a pro Allied government emerging in North Africa (Tunis>Morocco) much earlier than OTL.

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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by C. A. Fleischer » 10 Apr 2021 21:50

Having read the entire thread and much impressed by AnchorSteam's research and nose for opportunism which the Italians could have done much more of in 1940, I will go as far back as post #16. No matter how successful the Italians could realistically have been in the Mediterranean and Africa in 1940, it was not going to end in Axis victory. However, efforts could still be decisive for the longer war. Four focused steps in June 1940 would be needed:

1. The key to control the central Mediterranean is Malta and Tunisia. These could possibly have been taken in 1940, but it would require major re-deployments and an Italian aggressiveness and risk-taking not seen in OTL. Had it succeeded, the necessary stage would have been set for any remote chance of success when moving towards the Suez canal, the Middle East and link-up with East Africa. The downside would be smaller chance of direct German support however.
2. A successful attack on metropolitan France would not gain anything to win the war and at worst reduce the chance of setting up Vichy France. As a side note, French and British Somaliland should be attacked without delay with necessary forces needed to succeed. It would have freed up Italian forces for the later showdown in East Africa.
3. Let Greece and Yugoslavia alone. They would not have bothered the Axis and would, as in OTL, tie down huge Italian forces that instead could be used to fight the British (and French, for a short time before the armistice).
4. The key to win WW2 was the Battle of Britain and the Battle for Russia. Italy could not play a remotely meaningful role in the former. Any talk of Franco and let the Italian fleet pass Gibraltar is fantasy. In Russia, an earlier, better equipped Italian 8th Army could play a decisive role at i.e. Leningrad (attack) or Moscow (defence) in 1941 if the Italians were not occupied in or having to recover from the conquest of the Balkans. If they enabled the conquest of Leningrad in 1941, that would free up German forces for Moscow. In the winter of 1941, the four Italian Alpini divisions and especially prioritized infantry divisions could have made a difference, with a dense company of German advisors. They would be on foot, like the bulk of their companion Wehrmacht infantry divisions.

It is nearly 700km from the Libyan-Tunisan border to Tunis. It is a stretch to reach to cover this in two weeks from 10 to 24 June in 1940, even if the two Italian armoured division, two motorised divisions and an amalgation of the Celere and auto-transportable divisions were used. It all depends on the strength of the French. However, the armistice date of 24 June is not given in ATL. Alternatively, even a partially successful invasion of metropolitan France could serve as a bargaining chip, where the Italians could agree to withdraw if Tunisia were allowed to be occupied until the war with Britain was ended somehow.

Is there any data on French defences in Tunisia in 1940 other that a generic OOB on division and regiment level, which I alreadu have?

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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Apr 2021 09:06

Hi C.A. Fleischer,

Google "La Ligne Mareth" or "Mareth Line". The French is more detailed and less concerned with the Battle of the Mareth Line later in the war.

On the first Google page the following looks most detailed: http://loup-mouton.blogspot.com/2017/10 ... u-sud.html.

It seems to be Part 1, so presumably there is more.

There are also several French books on the Mareth Line.

The deployment of Italian forces at Leningrad or Moscow was not practicable because their supply lines would have crossed those of the entire Ostheer. If you look at German initial deployments, divisions from the the northern wehrekeise tended to serve in the north, the middle wehrkreise in the centre and the southern wehrkreise in the south. This is one reason why Austria suffered twice as heavily at Stalingrad as the rest of the Reich and why the Italians, Romanians, Hungarians and Slovaks served in the south.

The climate of northern Russia would have been completely alien to the Italians and the qualities of the troops and equipment were not appropriate to operations in a major urban centre as most infantry were from rural areas and the Army had almost no experience of urban fighting. (I think the last major European city it had captured was Rome itself in 1870!)

Cheers,

Sid.

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C. A. Fleischer
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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by C. A. Fleischer » 11 Apr 2021 21:25

Thanks Sid Guttridge, very useful link. Interesting to read that the French had contingency plans for an advance on Tripoli before the war. Not surprising though, as it is a natural consideration to make when looking at a map of North Africa. With proper re-deployments before hostilities, the French seems beatable for the Italians. Tunis in 14 days still not.

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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by History Learner » 19 Apr 2021 00:38

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
01 Mar 2021 14:51
Peter89 wrote:
01 Mar 2021 07:28
Just came across a very similar thread viewtopic.php?f=11&t=227491 . Given the degree of similarities, maybe this one is simply a duplicate?
Post # 30 in that thread sums up my thoughts. Argued it myself several times. Am embarrassed to admit I'd never thought of the benefit of Italian cargo ships fro the Allies. But, there are so many other benefits neglecting one hardly seems to matter.
A neutral Italy means a successful Barbarossa, so it's a very bad trade off for the Allies.

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Re: Could Italy have won the war in 1940?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 19 Apr 2021 17:56

Different thread, several actually.

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

Post by AnchorSteam » 01 Jan 2022 08:08

Thanks for saying so, and I am sorry I missed this post!

C. A. Fleischer wrote:
10 Apr 2021 21:50
Having read the entire thread and much impressed by AnchorSteam's research and nose for opportunism which the Italians could have done much more of in 1940, I will go as far back as post #16. No matter how successful the Italians could realistically have been in the Mediterranean and Africa in 1940, it was not going to end in Axis victory. However, efforts could still be decisive for the longer war. Four focused steps in June 1940 would be needed:

1. The key to control the central Mediterranean is Malta and Tunisia. These could possibly have been taken in 1940, but it would require major re-deployments and an Italian aggressiveness and risk-taking not seen in OTL. Had it succeeded, the necessary stage would have been set for any remote chance of success when moving towards the Suez canal, the Middle East and link-up with East Africa. The downside would be smaller chance of direct German support however.
2. A successful attack on metropolitan France would not gain anything to win the war and at worst reduce the chance of setting up Vichy France. As a side note, French and British Somaliland should be attacked without delay with necessary forces needed to succeed. It would have freed up Italian forces for the later showdown in East Africa.
3. Let Greece and Yugoslavia alone. They would not have bothered the Axis and would, as in OTL, tie down huge Italian forces that instead could be used to fight the British (and French, for a short time before the armistice).
4. The key to win WW2 was the Battle of Britain and the Battle for Russia. Italy could not play a remotely meaningful role in the former. Any talk of Franco and let the Italian fleet pass Gibraltar is fantasy. In Russia, an earlier, better equipped Italian 8th Army could play a decisive role at i.e. Leningrad (attack) or Moscow (defence) in 1941 if the Italians were not occupied in or having to recover from the conquest of the Balkans. If they enabled the conquest of Leningrad in 1941, that would free up German forces for Moscow. In the winter of 1941, the four Italian Alpini divisions and especially prioritized infantry divisions could have made a difference, with a dense company of German advisors. They would be on foot, like the bulk of their companion Wehrmacht infantry divisions.

It is nearly 700km from the Libyan-Tunisan border to Tunis. It is a stretch to reach to cover this in two weeks from 10 to 24 June in 1940, even if the two Italian armoured division, two motorised divisions and an amalgation of the Celere and auto-transportable divisions were used. It all depends on the strength of the French. However, the armistice date of 24 June is not given in ATL. Alternatively, even a partially successful invasion of metropolitan France could serve as a bargaining chip, where the Italians could agree to withdraw if Tunisia were allowed to be occupied until the war with Britain was ended somehow.

Is there any data on French defences in Tunisia in 1940 other that a generic OOB on division and regiment level, which I alreadu have?
1; True, getting German support means Italy was already blowing it, so I did my best to avoid that even coming into the picture.
and IMHO, Malta and Tunisisa are half of the key, the other half is Sicily. The Axis were making a hell of a mess out of allied convoys headed for Malta from Gib by 1942, before theyhad Tunisia. Just having one or the other ( Malta/Sicily) seems to turn out like a nautical version of the Ypres Salient.

2; Agreed. That is one of the most delicate calculations in this whole thing, given the vast distances and terrible communications, once committed it is very hard to re-direct land units from one front to the other.
in fact that was my main motivation for landing at Aden right away, it starves Birt Somaliland of help.

3; Speaking of that, why the hell did Italy even pick a fight with Greece in the first place? It makes no sense at all.
None,

4: In my scenario, those Alpini Divisions would have had to occupy the positions in the Italian Alps they had trained to defend. After all, once Italy flips back to a neutral status after it's opportunitic strike, it might have some "issues" with their Fascist allies up north...

And speaking of that, I think that Italy not being involved in Russia would have been a very negative thing for the Axis. What they sent in 1941 was not much by the standards of the front, but they were good troops and did not cause great strain on the supply lines compared to the service rendered.

But, the critical thing was the Black Sea naval war. The Italians came with a jaunty attitude worhty of the RN and with a few midget subs and MTBs made a grat impression on the Red Fleet, so much so that Yalta was bombed just to get at their boats.
And, unlike the Germans, they had torpedoes that worked most of the time. 8-)

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