Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

What if Italy had been a capable air/naval power?

Discussion in 'Alternate History' started by Skontos1, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. Skontos1

    Skontos1 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    1
    Right, but I was trying to think of a name for this nonexistent branch of Italian marines so I took some liberties with the name. Freebird was cool enough to educate me on the numbers that would make more sense so I'm sticking with my 4 divisions :p as oppose to the 200,000 troops I had mentioned before. Sealion is actually an example of what I'd see these new Italians assisting Germany in, Sealion never came to fruition since Germany couldn't establish supremacy over the RAF or the RN I wouldn't think that this even this version of Italy could fair any better alone but maybe a combined assault from the Luftwaffe and the Regia Marina with Italy's amphibious forces to establish those beacheads for the Germans still a long shot but I think an effort like that would have gotten further than either on their own. Of course there's that hitch of the Italians taking Gibraltar in order to aid with Sealion in the first place but lets say for arguments sake that this Italian force is capable of handling that part of the job in a sort of blitzkriegian type fashion with say a smaller Italian version of the Kido Butai along with their marines to hit Gibraltar and make this combined assault on the British isles happen.
     
  2. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2008
    Messages:
    630
    Likes Received:
    3
    To improve Italy you would have to get rid of Mussolini in 1938.
    Replace him with Balbo or Farinacci.
    Some one who atleast might attempt to be serious about the ability rather than the showmanship of the armed forces.
    With either you would not likely see an invasion of Albania.
    And they would atleast likely be a plan for attacks on Malta and Tunisia in 1940.
    If we go with Farinacci we may even see the nationalisation of the Italian arms industry which should improve production levels and co-ordination.

    Binary Infantry Divisions should be abolished and standard infantry Divisions restored and much less in number until fully equipped.
    Italy should seek German help with the development of its P40 tank and hopefully by June 1940 you could see 3 Italian Armoured Divisions with P40 and M13 tanks rolling in Tunisia and a rapid attack on Malta.
    The building of a railway across Libya would also be a good idea to transfer the 3 Armoured Divisions along with 3 Mobile Divisions to attack Egypt in September 1940.
    Corsica and Nice should be asked for from the Germans (and not withdrawn in request as Mussolini did).
    Switzerland should also be threatened and divided between Germany, Italy and France the same year.

    Alexandria should fall by the end of September 1940 and the Germans be requested to send several Divisions for an attack into the Middle East while the Italians push into Sudan and link up with their East Africa Forces.

    The Italian Duce should also do his best to get Franco into the war which may work if Egypt falls.
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,238
    Location:
    Michigan
    If they are competent they will give serious consideration to joining Spain on the sidelines. They might still consider going after Albania but as it wouldn't be part of WWII they could do so with their entire army.
    Or not. Better to join Franco and avoid a lost cause than talk someone else into joining one.
     
  4. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2008
    Messages:
    630
    Likes Received:
    3
    Why? They have much to gain.

    It was a pointless act of vanity on the part of Mussolini.

    Why would anyone imagine the Germans would lose the war after the fall of France?
     
  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,238
    Location:
    Michigan
    Much more to loose and the odds are that they will loose.
    Could not the same be said of his entry into the war?
    The fact that they had no real way to defeat Britain for one. The Gallop polls still show a significant fraction of the US believed in an eventual German loss even shortly after the Fall of France.
     
  6. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2008
    Messages:
    630
    Likes Received:
    3
    Would you have bet on the Axis to lose in 1940?

    Not at all.
    Italy's historic claims to Italian lands in Nice, Savoy and Corsica could be met with entry.
    As could the desired Tunisia which they had wanted for over 50 years.
    With the reforms I suggest the dream of capturing Egypt and Sudan and creating a large united African Empire could well be a possibility.
    Or they could have sat out the war and held on to East Africa and Libya which would never make them a major world power.

    And zero way for the British to win unless the Germans did some thing stupid like attack the USSR or declare war on the USA.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,238
    Location:
    Michigan
    Up until May and after September without a second thought. During that period probably.

    And how did that work out for them? Italy wasn't ready for war. Entering a war your not ready for is rather foolish. History seldom rewards fools.
    A possiblity yes, winning the lottery is also a possibility. I wouldn't suggest putting you life savings into it though. That's essentially what Italy did.
    But they weren't going to be a major power in any case. Sitting out the war even for another year or two would have given them an opertunity to strengthen their military and better judge what was going to happen. They could also have made a fair amount of coin supplying the Germans. Even a month or two might have allowed them to salvage most of their merchant marine.
    The US was going to be in the war eventually whether Germany declared first or not. If the Japanese don't attack it would likely have been sometime in the last half of 42. At that point drumbeat isn't going to happen and the US forces can start palying a role very soon after the declaration of war.
     
  8. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2008
    Messages:
    630
    Likes Received:
    3
    And on what basis would you have saw this great Axis defeat?


    Well they could have had most of them anyway had Mussolini not withdrew his request.
    Even as unprepared they could have taken Malta in 1940 and Egypt if they build a rail line in Libya.
    However we are talking about a prepared Italy here are we not?

    Both are possibility but the lottery is 14 million to one the capture of some British and French territory is not.

    Taking what I suggested and later taking the Middle East would have made them the worlds number one oil supplier in the future.

    Even if they did come in at this point.
    Would they come in against Italy? as well as Germany and Japan.
    By this time they could be coming in against a real fortress Europe with the Axis nations from Portugal to Georgia holding North Africa, the Caucasus and the Middle East.
    Or with no intervention against the Soviets the whole of Africa, the Middle East and India.
     
  9. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    452
    It would take more than two years to reform the Italian military though there are some "quick wins". Reforming an Army that allowed a Badoglio to the top is a herculean task, the air force is possibly an even bigger mess and the darling of the fascist party making for lots of incompetent "untouchables", the navy is in somewhat better shape but needs a "reality check" and more power the the "brown jackets" (engineering branch) compared to the "white jackets" (command track), a change in basic culture hard to achive as well.
    Asking for German assistance is a political near impossibility Balbo may have gotten away with it, Mussolini with his autarchia couldn't. In June 1940 a wiser man than Mussolini could have made a better evaluation of British resolve, thoug it wasn't until Mers El Kebir (July 3) that it became apparent to the uninitiated. That would not necessarily mean sitting the war out, the outlook for the axis still looked pretty good, but planning for a plonged war woukd change the Italian initial military position significantly. There were a lot of things they could do the British couldn't do a thing about without taking responsability of a DOW.
    I have big doubts the US would be able to launch an invasion of Europe against an intact German army, the manpower requirements are enormous and joining the British Empire without Pearl Harbor, even if FDR can manage it, makes for a much weakerr "national will", after the fall of France the allies need the USSR to win.
     
  10. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2007
    Messages:
    1,079
    Likes Received:
    73
    I think Hitler wished he could have talked them into staying on the sidelines =]. At least then the German's wouldn't have expended a couple hundred thousand men on the theater or all those valuable supplies.
     
  11. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2008
    Messages:
    630
    Likes Received:
    3
    Only way to get any reform or any long term strategic vision would to replace Mussolini.
    Farinacci if leader may have even sent 20 Italian Divisions to the German Front with France in 1940 as the Germans and Italians had drew up plans for.
    He would have created a much more integrated Axis with less bombast and hollow boasting than Mussolini.
     
  12. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2008
    Messages:
    630
    Likes Received:
    3
    He did try at one point.
     
  13. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    6
    In addition, Italy would seek help from German, Czech, Swedish ordnance designers that the Italian forces would have workhorses machines in tank, tank destroyer/assault gun, fighter aircrafts, transport, bomber. These machines would well be developed with more non-German resources, say a P40 tanks with slope and wielded armor, wide tracks, hetzer tank destroyer from Czech-Romanian design, German liquid-cooled aircraft engines on existing German fighter and carrier.

    In campaigns, Malta would have been captured early on. With Romania help, Italian navies could ferry Germany-led troops across the Black Sea, beating off Soviet navy and submarines to reach the coast south of the Greater Caucasian mountain range. Then this Germany troops would just go southeast straight to Baku and oil fields. With this rapid victories, Soviet Trans-Caucasian front collapsed. Persia could survive British invasion from Iraq with Italian and German help. In return oils in Baku and Persia would be sold to Germany and Italy and transported by sea through Turkey to the Romanian Black Sea coasts. Ploiești oil facilities would process Baku, Persian and Romanian oil products.

    For airforces and special forces like the Alpini, they could be deployed in Finland where land based transport by foreigner would be difficult. Would more transport aircrafts help the Finnish cause against the Red Army ? The point was to help co-belligerents but not involved in the national but non-Axis conflicts between H and S. In sum, Italian navies would help Romania; airforces help Finland.
     
  14. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,773
    Likes Received:
    566
    Location:
    London UK
    Italy's armed forces delivered only a fraction of the performance of their paper capabilities. There are three components of military force:, the physical,conceptual and spiritual component. There were fundamental weaknesses in each of these within Italy's armed forces.

    Mussolini's armed forces were for projecting an image of power and progress under his rule. As with many third world powers, impression was more important than real capability. It was far more important to have impressive looking air fleets than a sustainable air force. Italy did not have the industry to support their war effort.

    The biggest problem facing the Regia Aeronautica was the lack of a good aircraft engine. The Italian aircraft industry produced some very fine fighter designs such as the Fiat G50 and Macci 200 but inadequate performance until re-engined with German aircraft engines as the Fiat G55 and Mc 202 and 205. The tri-motor SM 79 and 81 bombers were asnother consequence. There was a lack of spare parts and aircraft serviceability was very low. There wasn't much wrong with italian warship design, but Italy lacked the electronics industry to equip them with radar - and the ship building capacity to sustain the war of attrition across the Mediterranean.

    With regard to the conceptual component of force, Italian higher leadership was not particularly good and staff work weak, though the Italians had pioneered massed formations of airrcaft known by the British as Balbos after the Italian general. The fact that he was show down and killed by his own AA defences illustrates the kind of behind the scenes weakness.

    The core issue with the Italian war machine is that the Italians did not really have any enthusiasm for WW2 or any great confidence in their regime. They knew Mussolini and they knew Italy.
     
  15. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    4,753
    Likes Received:
    328
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    another interesting and great post.....when you say 'paper', do you mean a ''fantasy'' forecast-prediction of manufacturing capabilities and performance of the military? or with the numbers of military armament and men, they should have done better?
     
  16. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,515
    Likes Received:
    1,176
    Likely a bit of both. Italy could have created a smaller, better equipped, armed forces that would have made them a tough nut to digest, but this would come at the cost of any real imperial ambitions.
     
  17. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2015
    Messages:
    383
    Likes Received:
    44
    Italy did have a capable navy to do what they wanted it to do in the Mediterranean. They lacked radar/sonar development, air cover and natural resources for building more ships. Many of the ships were old but quite capable. Italian leadership was the issue.
     
  18. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,773
    Likes Received:
    566
    Location:
    London UK
    I mean that all Mussolini was interested in was that he could say he had X aircraft and Y divisions. He wasn't interested in the lack of training, spare parts, lack of modern artillery, effective anti tank weapons, motor vehicles or any of the intangible elements of military force. Army reserved were even de-mobilised before the invasion of Greece.

    There is a rational reason for Mussolini's grand strategy. Over the previous Century Italy had unified acquired additional territory through being on the winning side of wars, despite the lack of success of Italian forces in 1848, 1859, 1866 and 1915-18. It seemed more important for Italy to be an active participant on the winning side than than to be an effective ally.
     
  19. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    6
    Would a "baptism by fire" against a capable enemy wake Italian military to reality ? If feasible, the Winter War which took place just months after the Spanish Civil War against the Red Army would be a battleground. The outcome of the Winter War would still be the same as in history but Italy would understand and realize fast enough for much improvement when the combat or politics in the Mediterranean and North Africa began in 1941 -- where it really counted for Italy.
     
  20. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,773
    Likes Received:
    566
    Location:
    London UK
    I doubt it!.

    The Italians had provided a substantial expeditionary force to Spain, much larger than the Condor Legion. It is hard to see how an Italian expeditionary forces could have deployed to Finland. On whose side would they fight? Are they coming in on the side of Finland? If so how do they manage their alliance with the Germans, who at this point had a non aggression pact with the Soviets.
     

Share This Page