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What if the Italians were equipped like the Germans in ww2.

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by Mussolini, Oct 15, 2009.

  1. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Equipment wasn't nearly the problem leadership, training, and organization were for Italy. First, the Italian infantry division was, in a word, organized like crap. The binary organization was far too weak for anything but occupation duty. The organization at battalion and company level remained much as it had in WW 1 making these units clumsy and inefficient.
    The same goes for artillery. Italy was still practicing WW 1 techniques for fire direction for the most part. Without more flexible artillery fire direction and technique they were really, again, only useful on the defensive.
    The Italian armored divisions were tank heavy, infantry light formations without adequate artillery and engineering support. Giving them better tanks won't change the organizational failure of their units. In 1940 the M13/40 was a adequate tank. It performed miserably much of the time because the crews and commanding officers didn't know how to utilize it properly and lacked the combined arms support the Germans had.
    In terms of leadership, there was a massive gulf between officers and men in the Italian army. In many units the men had little confidence in their officers and were often poorly trained as well. There were some Italian units that performed brilliantly and with incredible bravery, but were let down more by poor doctrine and organization than poor equipment.
     
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  2. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    Instead of asking how Italy's war performance could have been different, I suggest how Italian equipment would have changed given some contexts from different sources. To start, I used. "Hitler's Italian Allies" by MacGregor Knox for 2 points: how new designs of equipment and secondly how existing designs of equipments and would-be's could be probable -- not necessarily possible.

    p.41-42: FiAT M13/1940's riveted plates shattered like glass in combat. One individual at Ansaldo designed all Italian tanks and armored cars between 1933 and 1943. Only 75mm assault gun was a result from researching Soviet T-34. Skoda -- Czech military vehicle manufacturer -- offered a medium tank design in 1941. Germany and H in person intermittently offered designs, patents, and even machine tools to FIAT on Panzer3 and Panzer4.

    So could Italy take slope and wielded armor from T-34 to develop a better self propelled gun, tank destroyer hybrid ? Would manufacturing a TD-SPG hybrid be more economical to coordinate armor and infantry warfare ? Engagement with British and American tanks were expected and given that Semovente 75/18 destroyed M3 Grant and Stuart in North Africa, a better vehicle could hold the tide of Shermans until Italian industries could not produce enought to cope with the flood of Shermans.

    Furthermore, could Czech, Hungarian, Italian and Romania co-produce a general purpose tank that would take a role like Shermans and Panzer4: a light-to-medium tank in categorization, cheap to be manfactured, machine parts could be independently manufactured in various nations and still be assembled to one piece in factory and on field. In use, its widespread use and machine parts manufacturing allow refits on field, and engineering vehicles in clearing mines, for example.
     
  3. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZFPB0spgOw

    If the ideas that cheapness, fastness from design to mass production of the so-called Hetzer can be incorporated, the likes of Semovente da 75/18 assault gun/tank destroyer hybrid could have mount a powerful gun loadable with anti-tank or high explosive shells, sloped armor from captured BT series tanks, which had appeared in the Spanish Civil War when Italian troops had involved...

    Imagine many Hetzer appearing for Hungary, Romania and Italy in the Balkans and North Africa.

    According to Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semovente_da_75/18, Semovente 75/18 can defeat British Shermans and Grants by shot penetrating their armors.From the video, a group of Hetzers can defeat T-34 frontal armor at 700 meters, or IS tanks if crews had been killed. For the record, a company of Hetzers destroyed 20 enemy tanks with no loss in the Eastern front.

    Not that a better, cheaper, fast to be mass built from design could turn the tide for the Italians, a better assault gun/tank destroyer hybrid could help Italian infantry demonstrate their combat effectiveness in combined arms of armor, fortifications of artillery and infantry.
     
  4. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    With reference to this what-if topic, how could Italian troops be better led, trained and organized ? German troops in general was portraited in media of the West that they are of high quality for fighting for a losing and evil course.
     
  5. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Both Germany and Italy relied upon conscript soldiers, the important difference was Germany employed a professional officer (and commissioned) corps rather than one predominately operated as a patronage system.
     
  6. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    The post contents seem to point out that Italy lacked good command structures.

    Regarding Italian equipment and Co-belligerents' in general, how useful reverse engineering would help more than it did historically ? The German jerrycan, the American Bazooka, Swedish Bofors 75 mm Model 1929 were all reverse engineered.

    Italy lacked effective armor vehicles and infantry weapons.

    Besides Italy, how would other non-great powers perform better if more if not all captured weapons were reversed engineered ? I am thinking of Finnish effort in BT-42. Just like the 75/18, both vehicles were not truly reversed engineered.
     
  7. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

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    Getting back on topic, in this very very old thread, and instead of creating a new one...

    I've been reading a bit about the Italian M13/40. It was a pretty decent tank through 1941. It had decent armor and a better gun than most other tanks of that early-war period. It also had one of the first Diesel engines, though it was underpowered as it was designed for an earlier, lighter version. The tracks were also designed for more rugged, mountainous terrain - which is where it was originally thought to be used, not the sands of Africa - though it lacked radios and crew training prior to combat.

    I think we are all agreed that the Italians lacked training and command structure. The more 'professional' units, like the Ariete and Trieste, still performed admirably so the Italians certainly had it in them, if they had the proper guidance.

    I am assuming that lack of materials is why the Italians failed to improve upon the M13/40. It was capable - against British Light Tanks and Cruisers, but not the Infantry Tanks or later medium tanks. If the Italians were like everyone else in the war and responded to battlefield situations, then I imagine they would have been able to produce a newer, better version of the M13/40 that could compete with the Shermans etc it was now encountering post-1941.

    Would it have made more sense for the Italians to design and produce their own upgraded Medium Battle Tank to compete with the Allies, or for them to adopt the Panzer IV, which was a pretty reliable and moddable tank for the Germans? Keep in mind we are giving the Italians the proper training, command structure and radios - would such a thing have turned the tide in North Africa?
     
  8. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    The Italians had the numbers so if they had a proper training and leadership foundation, they could have turned the tide. I believe Rommel proved this once he arrived at the scene. Easier for them to adopt the Mk IV but either way they went, solid training and leadership was needed.
     
  9. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    I think the numbers game still stacked against the Axix powers, which was one reason why those power sought war at the first place. Besides better training, leadership, one of my idea has been that the Italian armor vehicle designers -- not just one or few persons -- follow the Soviet footsteps in incorporating good and up-to-date features of a vehicle. Using tank as example, Italy knew
    1) the performance of German stug's in the battle of France
    2) radio communication among tank crews among different individual tanks, and tanks crews for air fire support in the battle of France
    3) good diesel engine M13/40
    4) BT series tanks in the Spanish Civil War

    From these 4 criteria, Italian designers shall know about
    1) Welded armor is better than riveted
    2) infantry field guns can be mounted on existing chases
    3) foreign designs can be superior to domestic, such as the Christie's suspension
    4) battle performance defined usage of vehicles

    So Imagine a Italian tank destroyer that would be manufactured en masse, like the German Stug3,
    1) It can fire armor piercing and anti-personnel shots
    2) 4 crews: commander/radio operator, gunner, loader/rear machine gunner, driver
    3) at least a 75 mm main gun
    4) It is effective and economical to destroying Allied tanks
    5) the equipment is given to tank crews with the best or elite training. Combining with the DFK, they are the tactical crack armor divisions against the British, say in El Alamein

    Soviet T-34 was designed in incorporating past designs.

    Plus,
    1) seasoned but tired tank crews were cycled to tank crew training schools and on vacation.
    2) diplomatic communication with nations which have been involved in tank battles for intelligence: Germany -- the obvious one, Finland, Romania, Hungary. The Knox' book mentioned that Germany donated a Soviet T-34 to Italy.
     
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The physical dimension of equipment and training is merely one component of military force.

    German tanks and aircraft would have made a significant difference only if the conceptual and moral components were in place. Even then most of the German army was non mechanised and "German standards of equipment" are likely to have left most of the troops in Libya with no better logistics than historic.

    Graziani had enough physical assets to invade Egypt. It was a will and tactical ineptitude that led to their defeat in 1940. The air war might have been different. A well equipped Italain air force might have pulled the RAF fighter assets from the Uk to the med after June 1941, which would have ended the weasteful leaning into France.
     
  11. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    This is not correct :in september 1940 there were in the whole of Libya 193000 men of the Italian army + 34000 Libyans,of which less than the half on the border with Egypt . The Italians never had the intention to start a big invasion of Egypt,because they had not the strength for it : there were in the whole of Libya(from Tripoli to the border with Egypt) only 7000 trucks,this made an Italian advance almost impossible .
     
  12. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    There is no reason Italy could not have produced better equipment for her Army and Air Force prior to the opening of hostilities, her Navy on the other hand is another matter I think.

    The crux is Oil. Heavier armor and high performance aircraft will use more fuel to operate and for the Italians to improve their manpower they need to train extensively in their new equipment. This must impact the numbers deployed, by how much I don't know, but it would be significant. I gravely doubt they could have done, or at least attempted to do, as much as they did historically. Quite possibly they would be limited to one adventure only, most likely North Africa alone. Ironically this would serve Italian and German interests much better than the historical time line.

    As to the Navy, they lacked the fuel to get proper sea time as it is, so slapping on radar alone would not solve their problems. They needed proper coordination with the Air Force to operate effectively and that would require more fuel expenditure to achieve. The only way for that in my opinion is to operate a smaller fleet. Thing is that severely impacts their ability to be a major player in the Med unless they further reduce Army/Air Force assets.
     
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  13. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    This crux was applied to all three major Axis powers but Italy had already discovered oil in Libya before the War. Had Italy developed Libyan oil extensively, the Africa Korps would have been assigned to guard it. Then German troops in the SU might not be that eagar to get Caucasian oil.
     
  14. green slime

    green slime Member

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    But the Italians couldn't develop the Libyan oil, as has already been discussed.

    Logistically, technically, it wasn't feasible for them in the time frame between the remote predicted discovery and the advent of war.
     
  15. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

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    I was always under the impression that they were not aware of the Oil in Libya during the War? I thought its discovery didn't occur until the 1950's?

    Back OT, the North Africa campaign can certainly be debated until we've beaten it to death a dozen times over. I am of the opinion that the invasion of Egypt needed to happen - to get to the Suez and cut off that route to the Med. Sea. Yes, Malta needed to go too, but by taking Egypt/Sueze, it would pretty much start to starve out - supplies etc. It would not have been feasible to maintain it as a base. It would also have been a tough nut to crack, especially with the RN in the area.

    But, as the OP - lets get back to the original course of discussion.
     
  16. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    When entering the war, Italy attacked in the South of France, North Africa and Albania but forget to capture an almost undefended Malta. This was one of their major mistakes at the start of the war, another one was the loss of a third (?) of their merchant fleet, which couldn't return to Italy.

    Supplying troops in North-Africa would have been a lot easier then and maybe it would have been enough to reach the Suez with german support.

    Spain refused to enter the war alongside Italy and Germany due to missing control of the Mediterranean Sea, so a captured Malta may have caused the loss of Gibraltar too in 1941.

    Japan did almost the same, they could easily capture Midway on their way home from Pearl Harbour,
     
  17. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The importance of Malta and Gibraltar have been restored to their original condition on this forum,and this was :trivial .
     
  18. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    Then could Italy keep upgrading and modifying that AFV so that they are more effective, cheaper to produce ? Panzer3/4 was an attempt to merge the two widely used vehicles. Instead of Italy doing it on their own, could they join effort with Hungary, Czech and Romania. For example, sharing the production of Hetzer which on the historical time line used Czech chasis, borrowed a Romanian idea at around DoW on France. As on the historical timeline, Hetzer took a few months from the design to production. While before operation Barbarossa, by 1941, Italy would have some Hetzer in North Africa. Similar to stug's role Germany later in the war, tank destroyer would take over the combat duties. Old Italian tanks would be return to factory. Germany seemed on the historical timeline abandoned quite a few medium tanks project, would German unfinished designs be helpful to Italy, Hungary and Romania in developing a general purpose medium tank, like that in Panzer4 for Germany ?

    For aircraft, could they join effort with Finland, that wanted better aircraft than AFV according to posters on this forum. Maybe one dedicated single seated fighter by Finland and Italy using German engine, then that aircraft would then be developed into ground attack, night fighter and fighter-bomber. For more heavier duties in bombing and transport, could Finland fetch DH Mosquito from UK so Finland could produce it as a twin engine general purpose aircraft in transport and tactical and torpedo bombing. Would removing its role as a fighter for Finland demand a less robust wooden frame, that then could use locally sourced wood product in Finland ?

    I ask quite a few questions. They are not intended to be asked but to suggest.
     
  19. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    "Maybe one dedicated single seated fighter by Finland and Italy using German engine" - Folgore?
     
  20. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    A few months for the Hetzer? IIRC, the "identifying the demand-design-prototype-production-combat" process was 16 months. So, you are looking at about October, 1941, before an Italian Hetzer might even hope to see combat. That would also be a conservative estimate, given Italy's lack of industrialization concerning tanks.

    What gun will the Italian Hetzer mount?
    What Italian engine will it use?
    What Italian facilities will produce it?
    What will you be "robbing" from Peter?


    I still don't understand this Finland fetish.

    Given that it took Finland till 1943 to get 109s from Germany. The Finns aren't very likely to get any aircraft from Italy.

    As to Finnish wooden aircraft, they don't have the glue necessary to make this dream a reality. Look at the problems the Finns had with the Myrsky and Pyorremyrsky. The wood glue was not very capable of holding up in the Finnish environment.
     

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