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Rommel pursues a different strategy in North Africa

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by T. A. Gardner, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Keep in mind that the allies kept Spain on a very tight leash to prevent them being much of a "conduit" for supples and Italy likely would have been treated the same way. Spain did have tungsten and there was something of a bidding war for it between the Western allies and Germany. However when it comes to oil for instance the allies calculated how much Spain needed and delivered something less than was desireable for Spain alone. Of course since Germany couldn't even keep Italy or herself in sufficient oil adding the burden of Spain as well would have been a stretch. Some of the Spanish higher ups apparently did very well for themselves accepting bribes to do what was actually best for Spain and likely what Franco wanted as well.
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    wasn´t it so, that Italy kept asking for oil from Germany and in the end it was found out they did not use it to warfare practically at all, they just stored it and kept for asking more?
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I've read that they were taking oil from their battleships to fuel their lighter vessels so I'd find the above questionable. I suspect they did keep some reserves for emergencies though. Oil wasn't just necessary for direct military usage either.
     
  4. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Blockading a neutral Italy would be harder than blockading Spain and a pretty tough card to play for the British diplomatically. There were tens of thousands Italian immigrants in the US and South America that represented a pretty big voting/power block so if the Italian started buying Dutch oil and shipping it home with token escorts that would prevent a bloodless capture what could the British do? Blatant breach of a neutral's rights could be have wide ranging consequences.

    But given Mussolini's character steering effectively a "cowardly" course like neutrality was highly unlikely, had Italy not declared war on France in June they would still likely have found themselves at war with Yugoslavia over Istria a few months later, and that would end their status as a "peaceful neutral" in international opinion.
    With the existing officer corps any attempt at real warfare against an enemy with even minimal capacity was skirting disaster, though as Yugoslavia was exactly the sort of war the Italians had prepared for so they may do better there than in Greece or against the French. The main Italian problem in Greece was setting up decent logistics to leverage the greater available number of troops and command and control, logistics would be a lot easier without the sea leg of the communications line and with pre war forward depots as existed on the Eastern frontier and command could be better with a pre existing army structure instead of a force that was suddenly trebled in size (Greece) or was still mobilizing (France) .

    BTW no chance of Darwinian selection where the politics ridden Italian officer corps is concerned, the man mostly responsible for the biggest Italian military disaster of the modern era (Caporetto in 1917) ended up a Marshal and head of the Army, combat may produce some better low level officers but it would most likely end there.
     
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  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    My understanding was that Spain wasn't so much blockades as put under a limiting embargo. The western allies essentially controlled all the oil. That would go for the Dutch oil as well as the Dutch were operating out of Britain. Now there were some other independent sources (Mexico, Venezuala, etc) but the allies were also making an effort to buy up as much as possible. Italy was in a better position foreign exchange wise though than Germany or Spain so would have had an easier time buying materials and in particular oil on the open market. Question is could they get enough.

    If Italy was at war with Yoroslavia though would they have been pretty much ignored unless the Germans or the Soviets got drawn in?
     
  6. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The answer is obviously : no . It would even have been a very wrong decision : if he had sent, what later became 5th Pz army, earlier, it would have not been in Tunesia but in Lybia,and he would have nothing to send to Tunesia when Torch occurred .
     
  7. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I do not think it would be a "obviously no". Troops and new equipment, sent early enough, would offer the opportunity to execute a counter attack during the great retreat that possibly could check Montgomery's western advance. Such had occurred in earlier see saw battles in North Africa.

    If the check was severe enough, that in turn present a chance to redeploy to slow or shortly check the Anglo-American landings.

    Time and tide was still against Germany and eventually both Allied armies would regroup and squeeze Army Group Africa between them, but it is quite possible that the North Africa Campaign could be extended by as much as 6 months and delaying any move into Sicily and southern Italy by the same margin.

    It doesn't win the war for the Axis, but it could make the Allied road to victory longer and somewhat more costly.
     
  8. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    If 5th PzA was at Alamein on the day of Torch,it is very doubtfull that it could have stopped the 8 th Army,and if it stopped 8th Army, it could not stop Torch:there was more than 1000 km between Alamein and Tunesia .And,when it was in the OTL in Tunesia,it was defeated . if it would have been later in Tunesia (ATL) it also would have been stopped ..

    Besides, due to logistics it was impossible for 5 PzA to operate in Libya
     
  9. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    Some German tanks designs on the Internet which are present on World of Tank Tankopedia mean that Germany did drop some tank designs from production. In the bigger picture, could Italy benefit from German or Axis co-belligerent designs on armor vehicles ? I guess other posters would reply that the Italian leadeship were overlooking the opportunities to bring in unused foreign designs of weapons.
     
  10. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    In the slim book Hitler's Italian Allies by MacGregor Knox, the author details in some depth the problems with Italian production. of modern equipment. The Leadership was one element, but as great (sometimes greater) impediment. was a reluctance upon the industrialist/ manufacturers to switch to more effective designs or to build under license foreign designs .

    Their logic was that production lines would have to shut down and then retool for the new line. They claimed this would lead to worker unrest that courted revolution. In reality they simply had a better profit margin producing the less effective designs. The process was further corrupted by having serving Officers directly attached to the manufacturers then rotating back to the procurement ministry which allowed many opportunities for graft.

    Some modern designs (both homegrown and under licence did eventually get green lit, but too little, too late to make a difference.
     
  11. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Fully agree with you, and as far as tanks are concerned we must also consider Fiat/Ansaldo was the only producer and strongly resisted any action that, like license production, would allow competitors to step in a very lucrative market, I wouldn't be surprised if an M13 cost as much as a Pz III given the monopoly. The story of the close to useless L6 that was forced on an unwilling army shows the power the manufacturers had. The M13 series was inferior to most contemporaries, it was not just calling a light a medium, the German lights of Czech origin were in the same weight class, older in design and a lot better, in comparative trials results were vey unfavourable to the Ansaldo design and the Czech designs didn't require welded armour like the German ones.

    The details are well documented in the "La meccanizzazione dell esercito fino al 1943" book from the army's historical office, while I would be usually reluctant to take a single source on a controversial subject considering the publisher and the fact that one of the two volumes is just copies of original documents it would take a lot to make me change idea on that subject.

    Where tanks are concerned there were no "modern homegrown designs", the P40 was basically a scaled up M13 and still way behind the competition, there were some for aircraft and for guns, though in the case of guns the lack of a modern AT design even in 1943 is pretty shocking, the Italians first encountered 3" armoured tanks in 1940 (Matilda II) and 3 years later the AT batteries were still issued with weapons totally incapable of dealing with them.

    So while the limitations of the supply lines to NA are well known nad probably put a cap on how much could be sent to North Africa one can wonder at what would have happened if the more numerous Italians had modern equipment comparable to the Germans and British, by 1942 the gap was significant.
     
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  12. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Italian troops, airmen and sailor's could and did fight with skill and elan in the right conditions and this leads us to wonder what they could have done with better designed and produced equipment, along with modern tactical leadership of course.

    It is not that Italy lacked imagination or innovation but the collective will to field modern equipment in reasonable numbers.
     
  13. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    As a historian and analyst this made me smile, because it is a common misunderstanding. You are quite correct that "single source" analysis is undesirable in any field. However, the "single source" you are looking at is using multiple sources to come to its inferences and conclusions...they are those "just copies of original documents" you seem to be complaining about. :cool: It is actually one thing I like very much about the Italian official military histories that few histories - official or otherwise - ever bother to do. They are presenting the evidence - the primary source materiel - for their inferences and conclusions to you for your perusal so you may draw your own conclusion as to whether or not they are correct or not based upon the evidence. It is something to be appreciated in a world war most that passes for "history" is simply secondary sources masking ill-defined personal opinion.

    Cheers!
     
  14. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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  15. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    The inclusion of the primary sources is what makes that book authoritative, I'm not complaining about them at all, the inclusion of original documents is what makes the "ufficio storico" (I believe there are actually 3, one for each branch though I have nothing from the air force yet) publications something in between a primary and a secondary source. I'm collecting them whenever I can, you can still sometimes find them in second hand bookshops around Rome though those than end up at specialist stores often go for outrageous prices.
    I admit me being an amateur plays it's role here, if I was more "professional" I would go to their archives, the navy ones are within walking distance of where I live, but up to now the bureaucratic hassles have deterred me.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    There are significant difficulties in importing a foreign design and getting it ready for production. Note that the British offered the US plans for th 17lber and turret but I'm pretty sure analsys showed that the US could produce a 90mm turret for the Sherman faster and in greater quantities. Since they expected the Pershing to be ready sooner than it was they did neither but creation of new tooling, quality control procedures, even how measurments are taken can all cause dificulties in importing designs. Note that some of the occupied contries continued to produce their own designs for Germany rather than producing German designs.
     
  17. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Notably hte Czech 38t series (German designation), but that makes me wonder, what about French production? The Germans used many captured French tanks and vehicles, either as-is or adapted to things like tank destroyers or self-propelled artillery, but did French factories just stop production after the armistice? I know the Luftwaffe set up production of German aircraft like the Ju88 in France, apparently fairly successfully, but what about armored or motorized vehicles?
     
  18. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    No idea but I think the Germans looted whatever they could find but did not restart tank production, the hybrids that ended up with the reformed 21st panzer point in that direction as the were recovered not new chassis.
    French tanks designs were unsuitable to German tactics due to crew layout so were mostly used for training and second line duty. The likelihood of ending up with sabotaged equipment, that would cause more harm than good, probably also discouraged such practices, IIRC the Germans did assemble some T34 from the Kharkov factory stocks and used them is some SS units but the T34 was more compatible .with German doctrine and spares were locally available as the SS panzerkorps was operating in the Kharkov area.

    The biggest objection Ansaldo put up to German designs was they didn't have the technology for welding armour, but the Czech designs didn't required that and, stangely enough, when they copied the British "carriers" the proposed vehicles had welded armour, so it looks more like they didn't want to introduce new processes, that would have cost them, when they could get away with using the old ones. The P40 was a pretty unimaginative design, they were just a scaled up M13.
     
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  19. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I generally agree with you here. Another factor in regards to German production would be the diversion of steel for sub-optimal AFV's in German service. This would be harder to justify in the case of Italy as many French design's, flawed as they may be, were still better than what Ansoldo was producing. Then again if they weren't going to retool to produce Pzkw III's they aren't going to for a Souma, Renault or Hotchkiss.
     
  20. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    I generally understand your ideas but Ansaldo could produce Pz38t; Seeing the idea of Stug3 in the French campaign, could an Italian Hetzer be built while the the Italian ordnance industries were reformed ?

    Stug3 as a tank destroyer was successful and built in great number; would Italian Hetzer be built in great numbers and deployed in North Africa against British tanks ? Germany shall be content as long as Italy hold the frontline economically,
     

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