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Italian Navy effective?

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by BB45Colorado, Jan 28, 2007.

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  1. BB45Colorado

    BB45Colorado Member

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    All right, I have a what if! This particular what if keeps me up at night and gives me fits and starts! So, I wish to present it to you and hear what you have to say.(And possibly spread the staying up at night.)

    I have done some light studying of the Italian Navy during WWII. They had a fine core of modernized battleships(Conte Di Cavour Class & Andrea Doria Class). Ahead of this, they had an impressive new battleship line(Vittorio Veneto Class). They had a good mix of cruisers and destroyers as well. With such an impressive mix of ships, it is so hard to believe they really made very little impact on the war. (Although a aircraft carrier would have went a long way!)

    So I ask:

    1) If the Italian's had competent Admirals could we have seen a different direction in North Africa?

    2) If less than competent, but still full of fight, at least a few good sea battle's worthy of at least 3 or 4 pages in a WWII history book.

    3) Add to this the what if they had an Aircraft Carrier! That could be interesting!

    It just irritates me so that they were so ineffective. They had decent ships, but no will to fight! Of course, this was actually for the better.. As the war may have turned out very differently!


    Bill

    [ 29. January 2007, 09:32 AM: Message edited by: BB45Colorado ]
     
  2. Shadow Master

    Shadow Master Member

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    Heh heh, I wonder who would have gotten my vote for most inactive Italian of French? Your right, their navy was pretty useless during the war.

    I think I remember something about the Italians telling the Germans that they couldn't sail as they didn't have enough fuel. Then the Germans were [*upset*] when they discovered the Italians had plenty. :eek:

    I'm in the process of working on a couple of 'What If's' right now [that might have made a huge difference both in the med and N. Atlantic]. If you want to collaborate, just PM me.

    And oh yes, welcome to the forums!
     
  3. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The biggest problem for the Italian Navy was lack of fuel. Most of the larger ships remained in port much of the time simply because there was insufficent fuel to allow them to steam.
    Italian destroyers on the other hand had very active careers escorting convoys to North Africa. They were frequently engaged by both the Royal Navy and Allied air forces. On the whole they performed their tasks well.
    It also didn't help that they lost alot of their larger units early in the game. Sinkings at Cape Matapan, Taranto (Italy's 'Pearl Harbor') and, let's not forget Massawa in Ethiopia. These cost the Italians most of their battleships, heavy cruisers, and a good portion of their light cruisers.
    The lack of either a naval air arm or a carrier or two to cover the fleet also limited large operations against the British.
     
  4. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Even if they had sufficient fuel, their lack of radar most certainly made them obsolete. There is no way to compete with a modern navy if you are completely blind. Look at the battle of midway. The ships never saw each other. Granted, the attacks were made by planes but the Italian Navy did skirmish with the RN with disasterous results.
     
  5. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    Couple skirmishes that didn't go well, & gunshy after that. Even in battles where ships in plain view where radar not really a factor.
     
  6. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Lack of radar alone is not crippling, particularly in 'cluttered' waters. The Japanese did quite well off Guadalcanal without it versus US ships often with sets superior to those the Italians faced on British ships.
    Aside from that, the Italians did manage to develop and deploy some basic shipboard radars during the war. The one of operational significance was the EC 3 Gufo set. This was a pulsed operation radar using seperate transmit and receive antennas shaped as pyramidial cones arranged one above the other with the transmitter on top. Pulse power was 1 Kw with a prf of 75 KHz. The set used Dutch Philips triode tubes for wave modulation with a superheterodyne receiver using an A scope display. This set was sufficent as a surface warning set giving detection, a rough bearing, and range.
    An improved version appeared in late 1941.
    A total of 50 sets were ordered for manufacture from RIEC with an unknown but low number actually delivered by the time Italy surrendered.
    Most of the larger Italian naval units eventually got a set installed so at least a dozen or more were actually built.

    On the other hand, the inclusion of a carrier and some sort of naval air arm would have been most useful for the Italians. A handful of long ranged patrol aircraft that were dedicated to scouting for the fleet would have been particularly useful early in the Mediterrainian campaign when British air power was anything but top notch and plentiful.
    At battles such as Calabria the inclusion of an Italian carrier with a mere handful of aircraft of reasonably modern design say Fiat G 50s or such would have had impact far beyond their modest numbers.
    At the time, the only British carrier in the Mediterrianian was the Eagle. She carried just 17 Swordfish and 2 Sea Gladiator fighters. A half dozen G 50 fighters could have made short work of such aircraft negating one of the RN's biggest advantages. Naval aircraft trained in attacking naval targets would have also been far more effective than the level bombing in formation Regia Aeronautica that occasionally did show up for naval actions only to do little but scare the fish.
     
  7. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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  8. chocapic

    chocapic Member

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    Agree with Chrome.
    Mussolini, who very often said stupid things about war and strategy, did not "believed" in aircraft carriers.

    Italy started to build one carrier well into the war, based on a liner, but too late to be delivered before war's end.

    [​IMG]

    And as TA says, the total lack of Italian naval airpower allowed the UK to rule the sky over Mediterranean sea with very limited means, along with the fact the Italian navy never recovered from Taranto.
     
  9. BB45Colorado

    BB45Colorado Member

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    Ok, Ok, so, let's refine the parameters a little, eh?

    1) They have sufficient fuel for this what if.

    So, is their leadership competent enough to destroy the RN in the Mediterranean?

    TA, you seem to have done a lot of reading, any suggestions on where to find information on the Italian navies leadership?

    Bill
     
  10. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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