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


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#1 Mussolini

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 02:06 PM

I was recently just thinking that, for the most part, the Italian troops during WWII were poorly under equipped, often using weaponry from WWI, and were poorly undertrained. There are, of course, several examples where this was not the case, and there were several Italian units whose performance was on par with that with other elite troops during World War II.

So, my question is this: How different would things have been if the Italian Armies were on equal footing as the German Warmachine in regards to a universal level of training and quality of equipment?

Now, this topic is not open to the debate that 'the Italians were never capable of producing such modern arms in time for their entry to WWII' etc - that is the beauty of the What If, that we can make believe and focus on the specific question at hand.

My own thoughts are the following:

-The Italians initial offensive in North Africa goes according to plan, quickly pushing the British back, rendering them incapable of forming a solid line of defense until Tobruk.

-The Italians do not get hung up for nearly as long in Greece, capable of dealing with everything the Greeks throw at them. (I am not as well versed into the British move to help the Greek, but would imagine this either hastens it or causes it to never occur).

-Reinforced by Rommels Afrika Korps for that final push, the Italians are able to pass Al Alamein and into Egypt, putting the Suez Canal at high risk.

Your thoughts?

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#2 PzJgr

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 03:19 PM

It has been shown that the Italian soldier was a good fighter if properly led. In this scenario, I can see Mussolini obtaining his African empire with out the help of Hitler and causing headaches for the British. Perhaps, even closing the Med. If the Germans would have shared their radar technology later on, their navy could pose a serious threat. Even without it, their air force would. Now Mussolini (the original) would have gotten more ambitious at this point. Where he would head out I would not be able to guess. The smart play would be to consolidate and not overextend the army as Hitler did.
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#3 LRusso216

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 03:26 PM

Where he would head out I would not be able to guess. The smart play would be to consolidate and not overextend the army as Hitler did.

I think Musso is on to something. If we can ignore the poor training and equipment, then there is no reason to believe the Italian army couldn't be successful. My question revolves around Ike's comment. Mussolini (I) was almost as big a megalomaniac as Hitler, and his ambition far outstripped his generalship. If he left the military to its own leadership and consolidated his holdings, there was a real chance that the invasion of Italy doesn't occur, or occurs much later in the war. However, I'm not convinced that he was capable of leaving well enough alone. His ambition was going to get him in trouble.

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#4 brndirt1

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 03:33 PM

I agree with the other posts here, it wasn't the individual soldier who was at fault, and if as Lou suggests the equipment is left out of the equasion then it is only something which may not be reparable.

Leadership. Not that Mussolini wasn't just as much of a dolt as Hitler in the long-view of military needs, but his officer corps was also bloated with "honorary" officers whose rank was determined by family position rather than study and ability.

The officer corps, as a whole, not specific officers, were NOT inclined toward military education pre-war, they fielded some good officers, but not in the overall. That cannot be a good thing. So if you eliminate the lack of training, the poor equipment, poor logistics, poor leadership, and a meglomaniac in charge, then you don't have the Italian Military of WW2 do you?

Edited by brndirt1, 15 October 2009 - 03:38 PM.
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#5 PzJgr

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 03:49 PM

The danger would have been in coordination between Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo. Luckily, they did not and even with superior weapons and training, they would not go far. Compare the coordination between the allies versus the axis. The Axis did have a lot going for them especially the Europeans.
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#6 Mussolini

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 03:53 PM

The Japanese were on the other side of the world from the Italians and Germans, whereas all the Allied countries were not 'isolated' from each other, which makes it much easier to coordinate.

I think had the Italians taken the Suez, and with control of Morocco, they could effectively bottle the Med. Sea and inflict severe damage with minimal loss on anyone trying to come through Gibraltar. With the Suez under control, I think India would be in real danger (at least its supply routes) since the British would be very stretched having to travel around the cape of Africa to head that way. I think with Mid-Eastern oil secured for the Axis (ie. Iraq and that area) it'd be very possible to start supplying Japane, even with metals.

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#7 brndirt1

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 04:03 PM

I think had the Italians taken the Suez, and with control of Morocco, they could effectively bottle the Med. Sea and inflict severe damage with minimal loss on anyone trying to come through Gibraltar. With the Suez under control, I think India would be in real danger (at least its supply routes) since the British would be very stretched having to travel around the cape of Africa to head that way. I think with Mid-Eastern oil secured for the Axis (ie. Iraq and that area) it'd be very possible to start supplying Japane, even with metals.


On must remember that at the outbreak of the war the Suez was NOT used for commercial traffic to and from the British Isles. The British did exactly what you are proposing as a problem. Over 90% of all traffic went around the Cape.

The mid-east oil was for the most part, undiscovered and a non-factor in British supply. Even if captured, the fields, refineries and pipelines are far too easily destroyed and far too difficult to repair in the middle of a war to make much of a difference for the POL supplies if diverted to the Axis.

Capturing the Suez does little except embarass the British, and if lost to the Axis could be rendered worthless with a few well positioned ships scuttled in place. Remember what happened to it in the wars between the Israelis and the Egyptians?

A few scuttled ships, and it took almost six years to clean up after the fighting stopped and re-open to full capacity.
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#8 lwd

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 04:09 PM

...Leadership. Not that Mussolini wasn't just as much of a dolt as Hitler in the long-view of military needs, but his officer corps was also bloated with "honorary" officers whose rank was determined by family position rather than study and ability....


Even more may be laid at Mussolini's feet as far as the Italians military performance goes. It seems to me that he basically failed to get the military leadership to really "buy in" to the war. IE they weren't convinced that it was in their or Italy's best interest and so they weren't willing to take any great risks in prosecuting it. I could be off base here but ...

#9 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 06:51 PM

-The Italians initial offensive in North Africa goes according to plan, quickly pushing the British back, rendering them incapable of forming a solid line of defense until Tobruk.
.....


Just how did O'Connor manage to capure Tobruk in the first place given a better Italian defence ;) ?

A better led and equipped Italian force can probably get to Suez without any need for German help, the British are under threat of invasion in mid 1940 and cannot afford to reinforce Egypt heavily. I assume the Regia Marina and air force will also receive up to date equipment and better training (Italian fighter aircraft were a generation behind the British and the navy lacked critical equipment like radars, sonars and decent AA guns). So the British position in the Med is reduced to Gibraltar (Malta cannot hold if Alexandria falls) and the Italians open some sort of supply route to the Italian forces in Somalia/Ethiopia and to the Vichy forces in Siria.

To continue with this axis wet dream they are then in a position to support the Iraq anti British coup and while they may not capture the fields intact they can probably deny them to the British and deal a heavy blow to British prestige that may well have heavy rconsequences in the rest of the Empire. We then go back to the often discussed "southern strategy" what if.

Not having had a southern front to worry about means the Germans will have the equivalent of an additional army available for Barbarossa (adding the Afrika Korps, losses in Greece, Crete and Yougoslavia, and the garrisons left in the Balkans), don't know if that will make a difference though, the main issue East in 1941 was German lack of strategic plans not troops but then an Armee is a significant force even by eastern front standards.

#10 Chesehead121

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 07:21 PM

Lwd, I think you're at home plate. (pardon the pun, please.) From what i've read (which could be inaccurate, and my memory could just be off) Mussolini was into the war, and the rest of the country..... well. Yeah. And TiredOldSoldier, that army may have decided whether the Germans took Moscow or left it there. However, through all of this, cooler heads usually will prevail. And guess whose flaming Reich was about to be snuffed out by cold Red winds? I'll give you 3 guesses.
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#11 marc780

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 06:50 PM

"There are no bad troops, only bad officers." I can't attribute that quote to anyone but it is probably older then world war 1. The Italians did fight very well in world war 1, but by world war 2 alot of important elements were missing to make them fight very well in world war 2.

Italian leadership varied from brilliant (occasionally) adequate (sometimes) to terrible (all too often). This leadership manifested itself from Mussolini on down and was worse at the top. Certainly the Italians had plenty of experience and tradition at war but the enemies Mussolini chose for them, and the dubious reasons for fighting, failed to stir the Italians into bringing out the best in their soldiers and officers. Bad leadership at the top and middle led to poor morale at the bottom of the armed forces.

The Italian Air force and Navy were first class in many ways, but inadequate in numbers of aircraft, ships and pilots to make much difference in the Mediteranean, or anywhere else. The italians persisted in designing and building tanks, ships, aircraft and almost everything else using old-world craftsman methods that were far too slow for churning out large amounts of equipment in war (such as the Russians did with the T-34 and ppsh submachine gun and the Americans with the Sherman, and the m1 garand).

anyway the Italians could have been better trained and motivated but Mussolini had no Dr Goebbels to stir up the people to fight. Nor did he have many officers the caliber of Manstein, Guderian, Kesselring et. al. to lead them either. If he had, the Italians could have been much more effective, captured much more territory in Africa (if Mussolini had chosen to do so) and even perhaps prolonged the war by a few months, at the very least they would certainly have given the allies quite a headache in the mediteranean and caused many more losses.

#12 Mussolini

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 07:08 PM

I guess I should have mentioned 'motivation to fight' etc in the beginning, though assumed it would be taken for granted given by 'scenario' (basically a reverse of historically correct).

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#13 Sloniksp

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 07:27 PM

Aside from leadership and equipment flaws, a motivation of an army is a strength of its own. From what I have gathered many Italians simply did not want to fight. Perhaps if they fought for a cause and did so with the pride, motivation and determination of their northern allies?

After all, a reason to fight can go a long way.
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#14 surfersami

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 06:26 PM

What if this Mussi-baby decides Africa isn't his thing and splits France with Hilter? Adds his early air force to the Battle of Britain, and actually uses his navy in a practical way?
Just kickin' around another direction in this "compotent italian" campaign.

#15 Mussolini

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 07:18 PM

No need to get snide with your comments. We're all above that here.

France was a no-go, I believe it had already been agreed as to who-got-what-parts of France and the Vichy French wouldn't have stood for it.

Again, with the Navy, had they had the updated equipment (like radar) I think things would get pretty interesting for the British, especially in the Eastern Half if both Alexandria and the Suez fall to the better equipped/trained/motivated Italian armies.

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#16 ozjohn39

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 07:45 PM

A personal experience of mine.

My father in law was in the 18th Brigade of the 7th Division at Tobruk.

I was often invited to 'Rats of Tobruk' social evenings, and spent many happy and funny hours over a cleansing ale, talking to him and his mates.

One evening the subject of the German and Italian soldiers and their performance came up. The clear opinion of the men was that the German was a determined and brave soldier, and that the Italian was the opposite, as simple as that.

On one occasion in Tobruk, my FIL was assigned to escort a large group of Italian POWs back to the rear, in company with one of his comrades. An Italian rolled a small hand-grenade towards Bob and it exploded, lodging bits of metal in his back, but doing no other damage. The act earned the Italian a .303 in the head.

John.
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#17 Jaeger

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 08:14 PM

I was recently just thinking that, for the most part, the Italian troops during WWII were poorly under equipped, often using weaponry from WWI, and were poorly undertrained.


You mean like the British and Commonwealth forces?
No snideness intended.
In my opinion the Itallian soldier didn't fancy a roughhouse with top opponents, colony-campaigns in Ethiopia and such was another story.
'We march. The enemy is retreating in transport. We follow on foot.' Lt.Neil McCallum 5/7 Gordons 19th November 1942

#18 Mussolini

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 12:46 AM

Have people forgotten what a WHAT IF... scenario involves?

Italian equipment is always noted for being WWI-Era or even older, from artillery pieces to rifles and not up to snuff with the equipment that was fielded against them. The last two posts in this thread are completely irrelevant and off topic. Reread the What If... rules gents, and then post here.

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#19 Jaeger

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 06:44 AM

Musso

As stated in the previous post I don't think that the outcome would be different if the Ities trained all year and used modern tanks and APC's. They had nothing to fight for, and the leaders were rubbish.

They didn't have a dolchenstoss legende to fuel them, nor any of the other facets that helped the germans.

But IF the ities found an inner motivation to fight, and did well early. They would still be knocked the hell off their perch.

Why?

OP Compass was a great operation for the British, but it's strategic effect was horrible. The French debacle was saved by O'Connors brilliant campaign and the possible lessons learned from France was done to "It was the French's fault, nothing wrong with training, equipment or leadership"
'We march. The enemy is retreating in transport. We follow on foot.' Lt.Neil McCallum 5/7 Gordons 19th November 1942

#20 stevenz

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 09:41 PM

A personal experience of mine.

My father in law was in the 18th Brigade of the 7th Division at Tobruk.

I was often invited to 'Rats of Tobruk' social evenings, and spent many happy and funny hours over a cleansing ale, talking to him and his mates.

One evening the subject of the German and Italian soldiers and their performance came up. The clear opinion of the men was that the German was a determined and brave soldier, and that the Italian was the opposite, as simple as that.

On one occasion in Tobruk, my FIL was assigned to escort a large group of Italian POWs back to the rear, in company with one of his comrades. An Italian rolled a small hand-grenade towards Bob and it exploded, lodging bits of metal in his back, but doing no other damage. The act earned the Italian a .303 in the head.

John.


I have to agree with you my Grandfather was with the 2nd New Zealand Division and he rated the germans but not the Italians and as far as the Italians poor leadership and equipment goes we suffered from the same things on Crete but our soldiers still fought hard.

It is just a reality that the Italian soldier for the most part wasn't up for what they were doing.

#21 Black6

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 03:55 PM

Respectfully I would have to disagree to a point. In the heaviest fighting in North Africa at El Alamein Two of Italy's best formations (Folgore and Ariete) fought as hard and with as much determination as any other nations best troops.
If the rest of the Italian Army were trained to their standard and equippned like German units there is no reason to believe they wouldn't perform like Folgore and Ariete.
I would agree with the point made earlier that Italian victories in Africa and the Balkans would have a beneficial effect on Operation Barbarossa, and I would also offer that the effectiveness of the Italian 8th Army in that theatre(during Blau) would add a 2nd effective Armee in 1942 in addition to the German one in 1941.

#22 PzJgr

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 05:50 PM

Rommel had written that the relations between the Italian officers and enlisted men were strained and that would be a liability in the battles to come. He wrote that the trust in leadership was missing and officers did more to distant themselves from their men unlike that in the German Army where officers ate, slept and lived alongside the men. One could put up a good fight with inferior equipment if properly trained and led. If one has superior equipment but led poorly.................well.
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#23 lwd

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 06:00 PM

My impression also is that few of the Italians either officers or men really "bought into" the war. When well led and motivated their quality was second to none. Fortunatly for the allies that was a rare event.

#24 Black6

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 06:39 PM

Something to consider is that the German Army didn't exactly "buy into the war" either, the key differences between German and Italian units was level of training, equipment and the all important espirit de corps that comes from tough training.

#25 lwd

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 07:07 PM

Something to consider is that the German Army didn't exactly "buy into the war" either, ....


That certainly isn't the impression I've got. Care to present some greater detail on it?




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