Can you make Italy great for once?

Nov 2013
574
Kingdom of Sweden
#1
Italy has become the laughingstock of World War II for their performance (or lack thereof), but did they truly have to be?
Imagine that you are the head of the Italian Armed Forces, promoted as early as 1922 immediately after the fascist takeover. Mussolini grants you supreme authority to reform, (re)organize and (re)equip the Italian Armed Forces however you desire, so long as the Italian economy can bear it. What will you do differently from our timeline, in order to ensure the maximum effectiveness of the army, navy and air force? And how do you think your improved Italian military would affect World War II?

Please keep in mind:
- All changes must be within the realm of possibility (e.g. Italian economic and industrial limitations must be taken into account).
- Italian politics may not be changed (e.g. Italy must remain fascist and ruled by Mussolini, must align with the Axis and must join World War II - though you may advice Mussolini on when and how to do so).
- Military campaigns and war strategies are yours to decide, but the end goal remains Italian supremacy in the Mediterranean Sea.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,531
Dispargum
#2
The biggest obstacle is lukewarm support for the war by an Italian population haunted by lingering memories of WW1. France and to a lesser extent Britain had similar problems. Surprisingly, Germany did not. Was it all Hitler with his nationalism, patriotism, and his rabble-rousing? Maybe the same also applies to Britain - they had Churchill while France had no one similar. Could Mussolini have done the same thing - manipulating public opinion to shore up more support for the war?
 
Aug 2016
847
USA
#3
The biggest obstacle is lukewarm support for the war by an Italian population haunted by lingering memories of WW1. France and to a lesser extent Britain had similar problems. Surprisingly, Germany did not. Was it all Hitler with his nationalism, patriotism, and his rabble-rousing? Maybe the same also applies to Britain - they had Churchill while France had no one similar. Could Mussolini have done the same thing - manipulating public opinion to shore up more support for the war?
With the Versailles treaty's conditions, I think the Germans were more afraid of peace than war.
 
Apr 2018
726
France
#4
Considering that Italy in the WWII has done everything wrong, it is easy to do better.
- Less journalists and more technicians
- More investment in technologies and science
- Experimental method together with the theoretical doctrine (Italian air attack tactics were absolutely useless, instead of wasting huge resources in an aviation outdated, try to experiment different approaches to the naval bombing)
- Italy "is not" a carrier in the mediterranean sea (2 carriers and 2 Littorio instead of 4 Littorio)
- The war is not win with the rifle and the mule
- You have Libya, instead of cry that there you have no oil, try to do some exploration
- Ethiopia: perfect you want the Empire. If you are happy in this way... good for you. But why wasting all that men to keep Ethiopia (without industries and supplies)? All that men were more useful in the mediterranean.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
2,869
Las Vegas, NV USA
#5
The obvious place to improve is reform of the promotion process in the military. As a monarchy, the titled aristocracy dominated the officer class. Most were incompetent. Britain encountered this in the Crimean War and initiated needed reforms. That's not to say there were no more problems, but the situation was much improved by WWI.

In 1940 an Italian army of 250,000 was destroyed by a British force of about 30,000 near Egypt's western border. Actually a British reconnaissance in force of about 7000 started an enemy stampede back to Libya and rest of the British force had to catch up.
 
Last edited:
Apr 2018
252
Italy
#6
-improving heavy industry, building and extend factories

-aquiring raw material that Italian lacks, expecially oil in Libya and metal from Sweden though Germany.

-putting more emphasis on new battle tactics and military doctrine
-A lot of attention on air force, to create a large and modern air army.
-For a Mediterranean war, searching an alliance with Greece that had similar regime, than attaccking and landing Malta immediately, bmbing Gibraltar and Alexandria, than invasion of Aegypt from Libya.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,266
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#7
Italian historians tend to underline some pivotal mistakes that Fascism did before of entering WWII. We can agree or not, but substantially the points make sense.


From a pure military perspective Italy didn't prepare itself to enter a world war. Nothing more simple than this. It was a general situation and almost all the forces need improvements.


For example, considering that WWII would have meant to project the power to far war theaters carriers were important. Both Italy and Germany didn't pay attention to this aspect in time [Italy and Germany actually built carriers, but too late, after realizing their importance].


Good tanks were too few and the equipment of the troops was far from the standard of the better armies.


So ...



1. better tanks [and more numerous], carriers for the Navy and better equipment for the troops = better military industry. The planes weren't that bad, honestly.


2. more attention to scientists ... Fermi wasn't far from realizing a nuclear reactor when he left Italy [theoretically ... Fascism didn't finance him!]. But to keep Fermi in Italy [since her wife was a Jew], Rome had to reject the Nazi racial laws. Imagine if around 1942-43 Italy would have produced the first nuclear bomb ... So ...


3. not to be an ally of the Nazis. With better armed forces and staying "on the right side" Italy would have seen its colonial Empire even protected by the other great powers, the "winning powers". Not impossible that US, UK and France would have treated Mussolini like they did with Franco, leaving him in peace.


4. introducing democracy after winning WWII. The Republic was a necessity to gain more advantage from the alliance with the winning powers.


Italy, during the Cold War, would have been the power of reference for the Mediterranean region and with its nuclear arsenal a world power of reference.


In good substance the "point 0" was ... not to allow Fascism get the power.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,603
Australia
#8
While the popular theme is that the Italian military was ineffective during WWII, it was far from a laughingstock. Decima Flottiglia Mas for example led the way in maritime commando tactics. The overall poor performance can probably be related to the lack of enthusiasm for Mussolini and his alliance with Hitler. Italian POWs in Australia were so well regarded they were often allowed to come and go as they pleased from the camps, often worked on on farms and lived as part of the family and could be seen drinking in the local pubs.
 
Oct 2016
1,051
Merryland
#9
I don't know if Italy had the industrial resources for a large modern military.

probably more emphasis on planes than ships. honestly, what did the Italian Navy do in WWII? not being sarcastic. they couldn't maintain a supply line across the Med to their forces in North Africa? those frogmen achieved more than half the rest of the navy.

maybe more torpedo boats. cheap and sometimes they get lucky against the big boys. lots and lots of potential bases on their peninsula.

avoiding war with Britain would have been helpful. how much of Africa could they have taken control over? maybe French Africa?

I'm no expert; I'm told Italian tanks weren't very good. of course if they kept to fighting third-worlders in Ethiopia etc. basic tanks and armored cars would be quite adequate.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,266
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#10
I don't know if Italy had the industrial resources for a large modern military.

probably more emphasis on planes than ships. honestly, what did the Italian Navy do in WWII? not being sarcastic. they couldn't maintain a supply line across the Med to their forces in North Africa? those frogmen achieved more than half the rest of the navy.

maybe more torpedo boats. cheap and sometimes they get lucky against the big boys. lots and lots of potential bases on their peninsula.

avoiding war with Britain would have been helpful. how much of Africa could they have taken control over? maybe French Africa?

I'm no expert; I'm told Italian tanks weren't very good. of course if they kept to fighting third-worlders in Ethiopia etc. basic tanks and armored cars would be quite adequate.
Historically the Italian Kingdom had fought only local sea battles [against Austria overall and not obtaining great results]. This explains why the perspective of the Italian admiralty was a bit "limited". Since the Italian Air Force was able to give air coverage to the fleet in Central Mediterranean without troubles, the Regia Marina never felt a real need for carriers. Simply they didn't realize that to face the British Empire they had to be able to project the force of Italy beyond Central Mediterranean Sea.

Furthermore, historians here tend to underline that at Rome they had an obsession with battleships [big battleships ... in this Italians were similar to Germans!]. Hitler was impressed by Italian battleships when he saw them at Naples, just to say.

The point is that, once Italian admiralty understood not to have enough air coverage, Italian battleships fought a very little for real. The battleships of Littorio class were outstanding, but they didn't record unforgettable deeds ... [a note: as for range of the cannons the Littorio class was better than the American South Dakota].

An other great limit was the prehistoric mindset of Mussolini: before of entering WWII he still talked big about Italy having 7,000,000 of bayonets [???:zany:].

Regarding armored vehicles, Italy had quite good tanks, but they were a few, the great mass of Italian armored division was made by not exceptional tanks.

A note overall: when the war begun the common tank of Italian armored division was the M11/39 which was quite poor [of course produced by FIAT ... ]. It took only a year to see it substituted by the M13/40.
 

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