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What if Mussolini concentrated on North Africa?

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by Carronade, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The British may have regarded Malta as indefensible but the opportunity to take on the Italian fleet especially with superior forces would have been a huge carrot to the RN.
     
  2. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Once again, assuming that they were willing to risk Italian airpower, which is not a complete given.
     
  3. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Let's look at a few dates:
    Italian DOW 10/6/1940
    Mers El Kebir attack takes the French fleet out of the equation 3/7/1940
    RN Duilio ends trials after refit 15/7/1940
    RN Doria ends trials after refit 26/10/1940
    Veneto reached Taranto on 15/5/1940 and Littorio on 24/5/1940 after completion of trials but there is a big difference end of trials dates and the ship actually being operational, they missed the first battle because they were still shaking down only first sailed as part of the fleet during the unsuccessful hunt of force H on 31/8/1940 (operation Hats).

    Taranto raid
    11/11/1940

    British battleships at Alexandria
    Royal Sovereign
    Ramilles
    Warspite
    Malaya

    British Battleships at Gibraltar
    Hood
    Resolution
    Valiant
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm not convinced that airpower was considered that much of a threat to warships at sea during that period. Indeed the experience in Europe in early WWII would tend to support that. If the Italian fleet can be seriously damage it's a huge advantage for the British even if they loose as many ships or even a bit more.
     
  5. green slime

    green slime Member

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    I dunno, the English kept on throwing up those Swordfish; someone in the British admiralty had to believe in it. They were used even in Mers El Kebir.
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    There most effective use was against ships in harbor though. Even if it's a low probability a torpedo hit can be significant even on a capital ship. Realizing that they had some effect is not the same as saying that they will have an overwhelming one. Indeed events early in the war showed that unless things worked just right they didn't.
     
  7. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    A lot of "Battleship admirals" underestimated the capabilities of airpower, it was not until the destruction of Force Z that the lesson was rammed home that a battlefleet without air cover could not operate safely in proximity to enemy air bases, even Crete was not enough. In 1940 the air threat led to the removal of the fleet from Malta to Alexandria but would not have discouraged operations in the Central Med.
    In naval operations luck plays a huge part, ships can be crippled or survive nearly intact from very similar hits, Nelson and Vittorio Veneto both took an aircraft torpedo and survived, Bismark and Prince of Wales were crippled.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Bismarck shrugged off at least one torpedo hit as well. PoW was sunk at least in part due to damage control problems although she would have needed some significant time in a yard to be able to get up to full speed again. In 1940 and 1941 aircraft were a threat but not an overwhelming one.
     
  9. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    As with all such things, much depended upon where the bomb/torpedo hit, when it hit, the quality of the crew, the quality/age of the ship, etc. It is fair to say Bismark shrugged off one or more torpedo's, but one at a critical point, effectively ensured her doom, even if it itself was not fatal.
     
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    That pretty much sums up torpedos in general. A good hit can sink or at least guarantee the destruction of just about any ship but the odds of a hit are low and those of a "good" hit even lower. Aircraft and/or torpedos were essentially gamblers weapons early in the war. If you committed enough you had a decent chance of some success if you committed just a few you might get lucky and the risk was acceptable. As the war went on the equipment got better as did the quality of the pilots and the tactics combinded with the sorites that could be generated aircraft became dominant if air superiority could be achieved. That wasn't true in 1940-41 however nor was it viewed as such at that point in time.
     
  11. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Had the Germans/Italians thought the British would use a significant part of there fleet to defend Malta early on then I reckon there would have been some on the Axis side pushing for it so as to also remove the RN naval dominance in the Med. Who need;s to capture Malta when a 'naval invasion' would lure out the British BB's for the submarines and dive bombers?
     
  12. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    The Axis forces would still need to occupy the islands to rid them of bases for the RAF and to clean out the submarine pens the RN was using.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Except that subs and dive bombers weren't all that effective at that point in time vs well escorted battleships operating at speed. It would also take a while to get the subs there if you are talking uboats and from what I recall reading once a uboat made it into the Med it was pretty much there for the duration. Just when are you thinking about this occuring?
     
  14. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Mussolini knew there would be resistance, he just assumed that Britain would surrender after the fall of France. The last thing he wanted was an actual fight.
     
    LJAd likes this.
  15. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Never thought of it that way. You just might be onto something there.
     
  16. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    I thought he was concentrating on North Africa
     
  17. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    He wanted to add to his renewed Roman empire. He was to go after Greece and had thought of Yugoslavia, but was unsure. Mussolini was as much of a realist as he was greedy. He knew Italy was not prepared for serious fighting, but he wanted quick and easy victories.
     
  18. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    And that's probably why he failed miserably in his invasion of Greece.
     
  19. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Mussolini and his advisors was convinced Greece would not fight, there is no other possible explanation for starting an offensive with a force that was significantly weaker than the Greek army. Nothing could prevent Italy from building up it's forces, and that happened after the initial attack failed, but had it been performed before the DOW the historical chaos where units were committed piece meal to the line without supporting weapons and mixing units from different parent formations would have been avoided and the Greeks would have had much more problems. Unfortunately the job requirements for modern day dictators do not require brains or sanity, just charisma .
     

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