You are in charge of the Italian Fleet 1941.

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by vinnye, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    OK, you have the whole Italian Fleet at your disposal in 1941.
    What would be your plan to bring the Mediterranean under your control?
     
  2. Wavelength

    Wavelength Member

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    Occupy Malta, denying it to the enemy, and establishing it as an unsinkable Axis aircraft carrier.
     
  3. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    They tried to bomb and starve Malta into defeat but it did not happen.
    So what would you do differently in order to try to achieve this?
     
  4. Wavelength

    Wavelength Member

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    Don't bomb it and starve it but invade it and take over instead. This changes everything just like taking Guadalcanal and its air field put the Japanese into a very disadantagous position.
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Pulling off an amphibious invasion may not have been practical.

    While the defenses of Malta in 1941 may not have been what they were in 1942 the forces planned for "Operation Herkules" (German/Italian invasion in 1942) give a good idea of the difficulties faced in 1941, especially if an Italian ONLY operation.

    Operation Herkules - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    A lack of numbers of aircraft for the airborne troops.

    Lack of numbers of landing craft capable of landing on beaches.
     
  6. herman1rg

    herman1rg Well-Known Member

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    Surrender the fleet to the allies and allow them to use it.
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That should have happened during June 1940.

    If the Italian Navy have been sitting in port for the past year watching the world go by they probably aren't going to invade Malta during 1941 either.
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The big coast defense guns on Malta were NOT installed after 1940.

    The Royal Navy wasn't sitting in port watching the world go by in 1940.

    From WIki, for what it is worth "At the time that Italy declared war, the Regia Marina consisted of six capital ships. The four most modern of these ships were being re-equipped. Only the two oldest capital ships were in a state of operational readiness."

    IF the British decide to abandon Malta all well and good, If they decide to fight for it and are willing to accept a few lost ships from air power the Italians are in big trouble.
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    British ship losses in the vicinity of Malta would continue until the RN withdraw to Gibraltar. "Few" will become "many" if the RN hang arould more then a week.
     
  10. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    The malta invansion would be early possible, in the summer '40
     
  11. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    After Taranto - it seems the Italian fleet was vary wary of the RN and particularly the Fleet Air Arm.
    They were also at a disadvantage due to their signals not being secure so the RN knew their intentions as soon as they sent them to their ships.
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Why and how?

    Italians have no dive bombers. Level bombing doesn't work well against ships in the open sea. That leaves torpedo bombers.

    From Wiki:

    "The Sparviero began its torpedo bomber (Aerosilurante in Italian) career on 25 July 1940 when a new unit was established after several years of experiments. The "Special Aerotorpedoes Unit" was led by Colonel Moioli. After having ordered the first 50 torpedoes from Whitehead Torpedo Works, on 10 August 1940 the first aircraft landed at T5 airfield, near Tobruk. Despite the lack of an aiming system and a specific doctrine for tactics, an attack on shipping in Alexandria was quickly organized. There had been experiments for many years but still, no service, no gear (except hardpoints) and no tactics were developed for the new speciality."

    "The first sortie under way on 15 August 1940 saw five SM.79s that had been modified and prepared for the task sent to El Adem airfield. Among their pilots were Buscaglia, Dequal and other pilots destined to become "aces."

    "On 17 September, after an unsuccessful day attack, Buscaglia and Robone returned at night, attacking the British ships that shelled Bardia. One torpedo hit HMS Kent, damaging the heavy cruiser to the extent that the ship remained under repair until September 1941. After almost a month of attacks, this was the first success officially acknowledged and proven."

    "After almost a month of further attacks, a newcomer, Erasi, flew with Robone on 14 October 1940 against a British formation and hit HMS Liverpool, a modern cruiser that lost her bow and needed 13 months of repair. After several months, and despite the losses and the first unfortunate mission, the core of the 278th was still operating the same four aircraft."

    While the Italian airmen went on to perform many great feats both with torpedoes and bombs their actual effectiveness in the summer of 1940 would have been very low.

    An Italian invasion fleet could not survive for several days with a British group ( or two, Alexandria based ?) shooting it up.

    Italians don't have enough replacement shipping.


    It all hinges on how much the British want to save Malta and how fast the Italians can get an operation under way. Time is not on the side of the Italians.
     
  13. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    I think the British would want to save Malta quite badly!
    After surviving the Battle of Britain, the significance of Malta could be raised up the priority scale. It was a severe thorn in the side of the Afrika Korps - they lost a lot of material because of raids from aircraft from Malta. If the British army were to have success in North Africa, they needed to keep the disruption of Rommel's supplies as high as possible and maintain their own supplies to build their strength to go on the offensive.
    Hitler was very wary of paratroop operations after the losses at Crete, he also was unsure of the ability of the Italian Navy to keep the RN at bay if there were to be a seaborne invasion.
    By the middle of 1941 he had turned his attentions to Russia - so would be reluctant to divert aircraft and troops from there to support an assault on Malta.
     
  14. Wavelength

    Wavelength Member

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    Actually Hitler had it on his mind even in the summer of 1940. This is the point though. Invading Malta is a lot easier than invading Russia or invading Greece and requires a lot less commitment or risk. It is a lot smarter too.

    It would essentially secure the southern flank

    What was lacking on the Italian part was a lack of vision from the beginning. What was lacking from Hitler was the will and determination to see it through.
     
  15. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    From Wiki ; operation Herkules ;
    The concept was approved at a meeting between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini on 29–30 April 1942.

    So I think by this time, Malta was being reinforced with Spitfires eg Pedestal. Which showed that Britain was serious about keeping Malta out of Axis hands. Even with German air superiority, any invasion fleet could be attacked by RN forces at night where they had the upper hand over the Italian ships due to radar and the LW were not able to intervene.
     
  16. Wavelength

    Wavelength Member

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    1942 was too late. It should have been first order of bussiness for the Italian fleet in 1940 and by Jan 1941 at the latest. The Italians should of stayed out of Greece. Even by then the Germans should have assisted the Italians by whatever means necessary. Malta was that important.
     
  17. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    How about this: Germans take Crete, Italians go to Malta simultaneously?
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savoia-Marchetti_SM.79\
    There were at least 200 SM.79 bombers stationed in Italy/Sicily and Italy had almost four years to prepare. If they aren't ready to attack Malta during June 1940 they will never be ready.

    Might as well remain neutral and make money selling stuff to both Britain and Germany.
     
  19. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    A lot depends on Italian capability.

    The Regia Aeronautica got a lot better at attacking ships at time went on. It wasn't very good in the summer of 1940.

    Ships on both sides got completed/fitted out and got damaged/sunk so fleet strengths varied from the summer of 1940 to the summer of 1942.

    Having a fleet does NOT mean you can put troops ashore. You need some sort of landing/assault craft. Something the Italians seem to be lacking from day one if they were asking the Germans for 200 Sturmboote for the 1942 invasion for ferrying troops ashore. Using small motor boats that only hold 5-6 men per trip smacks a little of desperation as does using inflatable rafts powered by paddles/oars. Hopefully these were for the 2nd or 3rd wave?

    The Malta defenses and the number of troops on Malta improved quite dramatically in these two years so the forces needed in the summer of 1940 would be much less than needed later but then the forces available to the Italians are also quite smaller. Italians had troops/equipment tied up in the French Alps until the French surrender. Getting several divisions back to Sicily and prepping them for an amphibious invasion in a few weeks seems doubtful.
     
  20. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Just you because you have plane that has carried and dropped torpedoes in tests does not mean you have a stock of torpedoes ready to go or torpedo mounts, sights in your level bomber fleet or crews trained to use them.
     
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