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If you were in charge of the Regia Marina, how would've you used it to support the Axis and defeat the Allies?

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Hello!  I thought this could be an interesting discussion point. 

Personally, I love the pasta botes and they did have some very good designs during the war (i.e. the Zara-class were considered very good heavy cruisers for their time and the Condottieri-class cruisers were imitated by the Soviets because of their quality).  However, it's definitely clear that the Regia Marina admiralty squandered their ships with a mix of timidity and incompetence.

If you were the leader of the Regia Marina, how would've you used your ships?  If it was impossible to really change the naval front for the Axis in terms of the Atlantic campaign (I doubt the Regia Marina would've gotten involved in the Pacific), please explain why you came to this conclusion.

Thanks!

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Not sure it could have been done, short of Germany actually managing to capture the French fleet.  Even a coordinated strike with the combined Italian and German navies would have been too little to really challenge the Royal Navy.  That's why they were timid.

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2 minutes ago, kerensky914 said:

Not sure it could have been done, short of Germany actually managing to capture the French fleet.  Even a coordinated strike with the combined Italian and German navies would have been too little to really challenge the Royal Navy.  That's why they were timid.

To change the parameters a bit...

If the Kriegsmarine captured the French fleet at Toulon intact and worked closely with the Regia Marina, could they have struck hard at the Royal Navy?  After all, the RN was pretty spread out for the beginning of the war, though the Japanese made short work of their battleship Prince of Wales and battlecruiser Repulse.

I was thinking that the Regia Marina + Kriegsmarine can just focus on hard-core commerce raiding.  That way...they can choke the Russians and the English of American supplies, allowing the citizens to starve and die.

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1 minute ago, Battlecruiser_Yavuz said:

To change the parameters a bit...

If the Kriegsmarine captured the French fleet at Toulon intact and worked closely with the Regia Marina, could they have struck hard at the Royal Navy?  After all, the RN was pretty spread out for the beginning of the war, though the Japanese made short work of their battleship Prince of Wales and battlecruiser Repulse.

I was thinking that the Regia Marina + Kriegsmarine can just focus on hard-core commerce raiding.  That way...they can choke the Russians and the English of American supplies, allowing the citizens to starve and die.

Problem is, the RN was spread out, but just like with Bismarck they scrambled everyone to respond to threats.  And they were generally very good at intelligence.  But yes, if they managed to capture the French fleet and coordinate everything, they could have made it very interesting.  I think they would have had to force a major engagement first and have some luck, sink a good number of the RN ships without taking too many losses of their own.  Then they could have pressed the commerce raiding without being as concerned about getting their fleet isolated and sunk one at a time.

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2 minutes ago, kerensky914 said:

Problem is, the RN was spread out, but just like with Bismarck they scrambled everyone to respond to threats.  And they were generally very good at intelligence.  But yes, if they managed to capture the French fleet and coordinate everything, they could have made it very interesting.  I think they would have had to force a major engagement first and have some luck, sink a good number of the RN ships without taking too many losses of their own.  Then they could have pressed the commerce raiding without being as concerned about getting their fleet isolated and sunk one at a time.

So...kinda have an English version of the Battle at Cape Matapan? - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cape_Matapan

After all, that battle pretty much broke the Regia Marina's resolve to fight. 

But yeah...it seems like good intelligence is key in order to take out the Royal Navy battleships and carriers.  After that, the cruisers, destroyers, and smaller craft are easy pickings.

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I would have scuttled the fleet and surrendered in 1940.  Italy served no meaningful purpose in supporting Germany except inasmuch as it meant that they weren't a potential opponent... until it actually mattered in 1943.

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4 minutes ago, K538 said:

I would have scuttled the fleet and surrendered in 1940.  Italy served no meaningful purpose in supporting Germany except inasmuch as it meant that they weren't a potential opponent... until it actually mattered in 1943.

I recall that Mussolini wanted more time to prepare his forces for war, but Hitler jumped the gun.

Besides that, the Regia Marina did have a decent fleet in terms of firepower, though they did cut corners here and there (especially with the battleships). 

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This is a rather loaded question.

First thing I'd do is go back to 1938 and stockpile as much oil in as many dispersed bunkers as possible, that would help obviate some of the fuel shortages in 1943.

Then I'd take the boss of the Regia Aeronautica out to a very nice dinner, feed him all kinds of compliments, marry his hag of a daughter if necessary but just get cooperation from him at all costs.

Final easy one would be to shoot and replace whoever the head of my Submarines was.

 

As for specifically what I'd do, well bit tricky, some hindsight is unfair and it may well have been a no-win situation anyway. My instinct would be to take more risks with larger ships including potential attacks on Malta bombardments and blockships, trying to intervene in the Sicily landings - I'd need a long think about it.

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3 minutes ago, mofton said:

This is a rather loaded question.

First thing I'd do is go back to 1938 and stockpile as much oil in as many dispersed bunkers as possible, that would help obviate some of the fuel shortages in 1943.

Then I'd take the boss of the Regia Aeronautica out to a very nice dinner, feed him all kinds of compliments, marry his hag of a daughter if necessary but just get cooperation from him at all costs.

Final easy one would be to shoot and replace whoever the head of my Submarines was.

 

As for specifically what I'd do, well bit tricky, some hindsight is unfair and it may well have been a no-win situation anyway. My instinct would be to take more risks with larger ships including potential attacks on Malta bombardments and blockships, trying to intervene in the Sicily landings - I'd need a long think about it.

I like your solution for the Regia Aeronautica.  A lack of coordination with the air force doomed the Regia Marina multiple times.

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Read the history of the Royal Navy. Even when outnumbered, they turn and fight. They are very good at it, and always have been. The Regia Marina had to concentrate their best ships in an appropriate place and then, once gathered, take on Force H at Gibraltar and then the Mediterranean Fleet based on Alexandria, one at a time. The key ships for the RN are the CVs, not the BBs. The RM found that out at Taranto, where their battle line was gutted for a large and critical part of 1941 by air power. They ran away from the air attacks the day of Matapan. Take the CVs out, and with the entire battle line Littorio, Vitorio Veneto, Gulio Cesare, Caio Dulio, and Andrea Doria, supported by the CAs, Cls and DDs, you can handle the British BBs in smaller groups. The support of Fliegerkorps III for continuous air strikes against the CVs would be a must, in addition to the Regia Aeronautica's own torpedo bomber force (a very effective one, as it happens). It is not a picnic. In Force H you face Hood, Ark Royal, Sheffield, Manchester and 6 DDs. With the Mediterranean Fleet, you face Queen Elizabeth, Warspite, Barham, Illustrious, Eagle, York, Fiji, Southampton, Orion, Dido, Euryalus, Arethusa, Penelope, Galatea, Sydney and 16 DDs, and perhaps a Royal Sovereign or two on top. That's not counting whatever else the RN can rush into the Med from the Home Fleet at short notice (KGV, PoW, Nelson, Rodney, 4 CAs and 4 CLs and a dozen DDs). Not impossible nor for the faint of heart, just extremely difficult....an air-sea battle of the first order...would have been interesting. My bet would have been on the RN...

Edited by GrandAdmiral_2016

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29 minutes ago, GrandAdmiral_2016 said:

Read the history of the Royal Navy. Even when outnumbered, they turn and fight. They are very good at it, and always have been. The Regia Marina had to concentrate their best ships in an appropriate place and then, once gathered, take on Force H at Gibraltar and then the Mediterranean Fleet based on Alexandria, one at a time. The key ships for the RN are the CVs, not the BBs. The RM found that out at Taranto, where their battle line was gutted for a large and critical part of 1941 by air power. They ran away from the air attacks the day of Matapan. Take the CVs out, and with the entire battle line Littorio, Vitorio Veneto, Gulio Cesare, Caio Dulio, and Andrea Doria, supported by the CAs, Cls and DDs, you can handle the British BBs in smaller groups. The support of Fliegerkorps III for continuous air strikes against the CVs would be a must, in addition to the Regia Aeronautica's own torpedo bomber force (a very effective one, as it happens). It is not a picnic. In Force H you face Hood, Ark Royal, Sheffield, Manchester and 6 DDs. With the Mediterranean Fleet, you face Queen Elizabeth, Warspite, Barham, Illustrious, Eagle, York, Fiji, Southampton, Orion, Dido, Euryalus, Arethusa, Penelope, Galatea, Sydney and 16 DDs, and perhaps a Royal Sovereign or two on top. That's not counting whatever else the RN can rush into the Med from the Home Fleet at short notice (KGV, PoW, Nelson, Rodney, 4 CAs and 4 CLs and a dozen DDs). Not impossible nor for the faint of heart, just extremely difficult....an air-sea battle of the first order...would have been interesting. My bet would have been on the RN...

Yeah.  The RN just had a lot of toys to play with in terms of ships.

Could this build-up have been broken a bit if the English sent some of their assets to protect their Pacific colonies?  After all, they tried to show the flag with Task Force Z, but the Japanese made short work of that.  I recall that the incident drove the English to pretty much abandon the Pacific until the Americans established a good foothold in the area.

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11 minutes ago, Battlecruiser_Yavuz said:

Yeah.  The RN just had a lot of toys to play with in terms of ships.

Could this build-up have been broken a bit if the English sent some of their assets to protect their Pacific colonies?  After all, they tried to show the flag with Task Force Z, but the Japanese made short work of that.  I recall that the incident drove the English to pretty much abandon the Pacific until the Americans established a good foothold in the area.

The Admiralty would not allow Churchill to do it. They held him off due to the crap in the Med and the Atlantic (Crete and Bismarck, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, Tirpitz and two pocket battleships in the wings, and the U-boats running amock). The RN was badly overstrectched fighting in two theaters and the decision to ignore Singapore was a choice forced on them by necessity, leaving the USN to hold the ball in the Pacific. The USA knew it because the Brits were very clear on the issue at Argentia in midsummer, well beforehand. Churchill had a devil of a time getting Dudley Pound to consent afterwards, even with the Foreign Office pushing for a capital ship deterrent to make the Japanese think twice, and ordered it as a matter of policy which the Admiralty had to obey. Anthony Eden was wrong in his advice to Cabinet. As it was, the Admiralty knew that sending Repulse and Prince of Wales in without a CV to accompany them ( Formidable had run aground and required dockyard repair) put the entire force at risk if RAF air cover was lacking. The Japanese had already made their minds up about strategy and nothing of that sort, useful in peacetime, was going to work against an enemy whose mind was set on war. The die was cast before the ships arrived in Singapore.

Admiral of The Fleet Sir Henry Leach, a Midshipman in a cruiser at the time, who directed the entire Falklands Operation for the UK as CDS, said as much publicly in an ITV documentary interview on the loss of Force Z after retirement. His father was the Captain of HMS Prince of Wales, lost with his ship. He did not hide his personal feelings about it either, and criticized his own government for sending his father to his death. Tough indeed. A sailor never forgets.

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Just now, GrandAdmiral_2016 said:

The Admiralty would not allow Churchill to do it. They held him off due to the crap in the Med and the Atlantic (Crete and Bismarck, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, Tirpitz and two pocket battleships in the wings, and the U-boats running amock). The RN was badly overstrectched fighting in two theaters and the decision to ignore Singapore was a choice forced on them by necessity, leaving the USN to hold the ball in the Pacific. The USA knew it because the Brits were very clear on the issue at Argentia in midsummer, well beforehand. Churchill had a devil of a time getting Dudley Pound to consent afterwards, even with the Foreign Office pushing for a capital ship deterrent to make the Japanese think twice, and ordered it as a matter of policy which the Admiralty had to obey. Anthony Eden was wrong in his advice to Cabinet. As it was, the Admiralty knew that sending Repulse and Prince of Wales in without a CV to accompany them ( Formidable had run aground and required dockyard repair) put the entire force at risk if RAF air cover was lacking. The Japanese had already made their minds up about strategy and nothing of that sort, useful in peacetime, was going to work against an enemy whose mind was set on war. The die was cast before the ships arrived in Singapore.

Admiral of The Fleet Sir Henry Leach, a Midshipman in a cruiser at the time, who directed the entire Falklands Operation for the UK as CDS, said as much publicly in an ITV documentary interview on the loss of Force Z after retirement. His father was the Captain of HMS Prince of Wales, lost with his ship. He did not hide his personal feelings about it either, and criticized his own government for sending his father to his death. Tough indeed. A sailor never forgets.

That's very interesting.  So the RN pretty much sacrificed Task Force Z in order to stop the raiders in their waters.

I guess "stiff upper lip" really does apply to the English, especially when its their own men getting sacrificed by the Admiralty.

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Like the old poem about Sir Wilfred Grenfill's loss of Revenge, upon meeting the Spanish Fleet alone in Mid-Atlantic in the 16th century

 

''Sink me the ship, Master Gunner,

Split her in twain,

Fall into the hands of God,

Not into the hands of Spain''

 

A long tradition, indeed..

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32 minutes ago, GrandAdmiral_2016 said:

Like the old poem about Sir Wilfred Grenfill's loss of Revenge, upon meeting the Spanish Fleet alone in Mid-Atlantic in the 16th century

 

''Sink me the ship, Master Gunner,

Split her in twain,

Fall into the hands of God,

Not into the hands of Spain''

 

A long tradition, indeed..

That willingness to face the storm and take tough choices probably was one of the reasons why the Regia Marina couldn't really get headway on the Royal Navy, especially since the former isn't willing to engage and the latter is willing to fight no matter what.

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Personally, I would have thrown the RM at either Malta, or the Suez channel. Malta to subdue and occupy. Suez to try to block with scuttled ships, then harass the removal parties frequently to delay its use. 

 

Also, with the benefit of hindsight, I would change my military encryptions more often...

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32 minutes ago, Cpt_Cupcake said:

Personally, I would have thrown the RM at either Malta, or the Suez channel. Malta to subdue and occupy. Suez to try to block with scuttled ships, then harass the removal parties frequently to delay its use. 

 

Also, with the benefit of hindsight, I would change my military encryptions more often...

I think the Axis overall could've benefited from that, especially since a lot of big Axis SNAFUs (i.e. Battle of Midway) was due to cracking the code.

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10 hours ago, Cpt_Cupcake said:

Personally, I would have thrown the RM at either Malta, or the Suez channel. Malta to subdue and occupy. Suez to try to block with scuttled ships, then harass the removal parties frequently to delay its use. 

 

Also, with the benefit of hindsight, I would change my military encryptions more often...

An invasion of Malta would have brought on a general fleet action with the Axis being able to contest control of the air in the battle zone, something that is a must win in amphibous/air assault scenarios. This would level the playing field for them, and after that it is sheer grit and blood and guts to see who carries the day. It would be a must win scenario for the RN (and the RAF!), a situation they had handled many times in history. A fleet battle win but a failed invasion is a loss scenario for the Axis, as they did not have the assets for a second try at it given the Russian Front requirements.  The RN can lose the fight and still return to fight another day if the invasion fails. The Brits lose only if they are stalemated or lose in the fleet action and the invasion succeeds in taking Malta, which would give control of the air and sea in the central Meditteranean and over much of North Africa to the Axis. It would be much worse than the loss of Crete. A success is a potential war winner for the Axis before the USA can get into the fight in force. Grand Admiral Erich Raeder said as much at the time, but no one listened. At a minimum, it prolongs the war by two years, or forces a negotiated peace on terms favorable to the Axis. Churchill could not have survived in office in the event of a loss by the RA/RAF.This has been war and strategy gamed to death at every level.

As for reading the enemy's mail, the Germans were just as good at it as the Brits at the tactical level. Rommel's early success in North Africa owed everything to timely signals analysis. Enigma allowed the Brits to do a lot, but not everything. In 1942 an addition of the fifth code wheel in the Enigma system stymied the Brits for almost 8 months. The Italian RM and RA codes, changed regularly, were never fully mastered before late 1942 either in theater or by Bletchley Park. Intelligence is the highest priority before the fight starts, but once the action is joined, the winner is determined by battle. While you may have the information, you may not have the resources in hand to counter everything the enemy intends to do. You must cut your cloth to fit with the resources you have. The Brits (and the USA as well) found themselves in this situation many times during the war, especially early on. You do not fight to carry out the plan, you plan in order to carry out the fight. No plan survives contact with the enemy, and all planning, including intelligence planning, must be adjusted to the circumstances of battle once it is joined. That is why there are admirals at sea, after all!

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Hmm... a lot of misconceptions, a lot of stuff pretty head on. I'll try to answer what I can.

 

On 10/4/2017 at 6:15 PM, Battlecruiser_Yavuz said:

So...kinda have an English version of the Battle at Cape Matapan? - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cape_Matapan

After all, that battle pretty much broke the Regia Marina's resolve to fight. 

 

The idea that this, or Taranto, broke the Regia Marina's will to fight is a very misfounded one. The loss of 1a Division was a devastating blow for the Regia Marina's ability to dictate the cruiser actions in any kind of fleet battle, and thus the forces the battle fleet was judged to be able to take on fell accordingly, but there certainly was no loss of will to fight. There was a loss in what trust the Regia Marina had with their German allies, as well as the start of a long and bitter distrust on Iachino's part with aireal reconnaissance, but certainly not resolve.

 

On 10/4/2017 at 6:22 PM, K538 said:

I would have scuttled the fleet and surrendered in 1940.  Italy served no meaningful purpose in supporting Germany except inasmuch as it meant that they weren't a potential opponent... until it actually mattered in 1943.

 

My advice would be to open a history book and read. All a comment like this does is betray a profound lack of historical knowledge on what you're commenting about. 

 

Anyways.

 

The biggest issues that hurt the Regia Marina, aside from the overacting theme of Italian forces of 'not fighting the fight they were meant to fight, and fighting it too early,' are the lack of fuel, and lack of cooperation with their Regia Aeronautica.

 

The lack of fuel crippled deployment. During 1940, and 1941, much of the high command was still working under the misconception that is was going to be a short way, and there really wasn't a massive restriction on how much fuel was being consumed. This changes significantly once fuel became an issue. Because the RM was operating a constant traffic between Italy and North Africa, there was always a constant drain on fuel, which at times was only maintained by destroyers being fueled by quite literally siphoning fuel from the bunkers of the battleships. The result was the fleet having to pick and choose when it could actually send ships out, rather than when they wished.  The German invasion of Russia was disastrous to Italy in this regard, as it cut off one of the most viable future sources of oil.

 

The co-operation between air and seapower was a vital one, and although the Regia Marina rapidly advanced in tactics in many areas during the war, co-operation between the air force and the navy, although it improved, was still something that was lacking. Co-operation with the Luftwaffe was even worse. As the Japanese naval attaché to Rome wrote (Timeframe is mid-late 1942);

 

Quote

“The Italian navy and air force are sound, man for man, plane for plane, and ship for ship. [However,] there is no collaboration between the navy and the air force. Everyone is fighting on their own. This seems absurd to me. . . . About night combat the Italian navy reminds me of the Japanese navy of ten years ago."

 

The fact that the Regia Marina had a limited ability to operate its own aircraft was highly detrimental to their ability to both provide the fleet with reconnaissance, as well as provide the fleet with air cover on demand - or escort for spotters. This factor cost the Regia Marina countless opportunities, saving Force H's bacon several times over. 

 

As mofton mentioned, the submarines... oh boy. That's another conversation in itself.

 

On 10/4/2017 at 11:25 PM, Cpt_Cupcake said:

Personally, I would have thrown the RM at either Malta, or the Suez channel. Malta to subdue and occupy. Suez to try to block with scuttled ships, then harass the removal parties frequently to delay its use. 

 

Also, with the benefit of hindsight, I would change my military encryptions more often...

 

A Malta operation at the start of the war was impossible; the only battleships available were Cavour and Cesare; Campioni took enough of a risk committing both of them to battle against three 15" gun BBs and a carrier at Calabria. Leaving them in the same area for long enough to invade Malta would've invited their destruction. Suez, meanwhile, was far from where friendly fighter cover could be given, and well within reach of loads of FAA and RAF bombers. It would've never worked.

 

The encryptions is probably advice better given to the Germans, as with the exception of pre-war codes and C38M (something used after German pressures, I might add), the navy's codes remained fairly secure. German codes, not so much. On the flip side, during convoy missions such as Operation Vigorous, Iachino was receiving British orders before the intended recipients did.

 

 

The biggest question to ask is; What are my goals?

 

The Regia Marina's goals in the second world war essentially amounted to:

 

-Protect Italian traffic (Islands, Albania/Greece, Dodecanese, Libya).

-Interdict enemy traffic

-Defend the coast

 

It's almost impossible to say what should have been done, given we have the benefit of hindsight, and in the 1930s and 1940s things were not at all as clear. Britain, although a clear threat, was not considered to be a realistic opponent until the late 1930s. A war against Germany would've almost been more likely.

 

With hindsight, there's a million things one could change. For example, my personals...

 

- MOAR Fuel

- An equivalent to a 'Fleet Air Arm'

        - As part of this; effective dive-bombers would've been wonderful (to be fair they were trying). High-level bombing didn't work for anyone. A carrier would've been awesome.

- Flashless ammunition for the 8" guns. I don't know why, but apparently they were the only ones who didn't get it.

- Night fighting training (pls gib radar too!): The reality of the second world war was that battles fought in the day and good weather were simply indecisive. Neither side is going to allow the other to obtain a decisive victory in the daytime, because usually it's at long-enough range where one side can safely dis-engage. With the exception of carrier battles and overwhelming force, decisive actions were pretty much limited to night actions. The Italian navy was always going to be at a numeric disadvantage. They knew this fact. The reality was, they should've been looking for ways to engage the enemy that worked to their advantage even if the enemy had more capital ships. For example if 1a Division was trained in night combat, they'd be absolutely lethal to Royal Navy light forces. Most night actions were fought within 4-6,000 yds. The British 6"/50's would have to be within 3,000 yards to penetrate the belt of a Zara. Torpedoes would always be a threat, but against the light cruiser - destroyer forces the Royal Navy used in night actions, a force of three Zara's and their destroyer escorts would be deadly. 

 

There are many things I'd love to change if we hard an earlier start date - let's say, 1930. If we're starting on 10th June 1940... different story.

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On ‎10‎/‎6‎/‎2017 at 9:11 AM, Phoenix_jz said:

Hmm... a lot of misconceptions, a lot of stuff pretty head on. I'll try to answer what I can.

 

 

The idea that this, or Taranto, broke the Regia Marina's will to fight is a very misfounded one. The loss of 1a Division was a devastating blow for the Regia Marina's ability to dictate the cruiser actions in any kind of fleet battle, and thus the forces the battle fleet was judged to be able to take on fell accordingly, but there certainly was no loss of will to fight. There was a loss in what trust the Regia Marina had with their German allies, as well as the start of a long and bitter distrust on Iachino's part with aireal reconnaissance, but certainly not resolve.

 

 

My advice would be to open a history book and read. All a comment like this does is betray a profound lack of historical knowledge on what you're commenting about. 

 

Anyways.

 

The biggest issues that hurt the Regia Marina, aside from the overacting theme of Italian forces of 'not fighting the fight they were meant to fight, and fighting it too early,' are the lack of fuel, and lack of cooperation with their Regia Aeronautica.

 

The lack of fuel crippled deployment. During 1940, and 1941, much of the high command was still working under the misconception that is was going to be a short way, and there really wasn't a massive restriction on how much fuel was being consumed. This changes significantly once fuel became an issue. Because the RM was operating a constant traffic between Italy and North Africa, there was always a constant drain on fuel, which at times was only maintained by destroyers being fueled by quite literally siphoning fuel from the bunkers of the battleships. The result was the fleet having to pick and choose when it could actually send ships out, rather than when they wished.  The German invasion of Russia was disastrous to Italy in this regard, as it cut off one of the most viable future sources of oil.

 

The co-operation between air and seapower was a vital one, and although the Regia Marina rapidly advanced in tactics in many areas during the war, co-operation between the air force and the navy, although it improved, was still something that was lacking. Co-operation with the Luftwaffe was even worse. As the Japanese naval attaché to Rome wrote (Timeframe is mid-late 1942);

 

 

The fact that the Regia Marina had a limited ability to operate its own aircraft was highly detrimental to their ability to both provide the fleet with reconnaissance, as well as provide the fleet with air cover on demand - or escort for spotters. This factor cost the Regia Marina countless opportunities, saving Force H's bacon several times over. 

 

As mofton mentioned, the submarines... oh boy. That's another conversation in itself.

 

 

A Malta operation at the start of the war was impossible; the only battleships available were Cavour and Cesare; Campioni took enough of a risk committing both of them to battle against three 15" gun BBs and a carrier at Calabria. Leaving them in the same area for long enough to invade Malta would've invited their destruction. Suez, meanwhile, was far from where friendly fighter cover could be given, and well within reach of loads of FAA and RAF bombers. It would've never worked.

 

The encryptions is probably advice better given to the Germans, as with the exception of pre-war codes and C38M (something used after German pressures, I might add), the navy's codes remained fairly secure. German codes, not so much. On the flip side, during convoy missions such as Operation Vigorous, Iachino was receiving British orders before the intended recipients did.

 

 

The biggest question to ask is; What are my goals?

 

The Regia Marina's goals in the second world war essentially amounted to:

 

-Protect Italian traffic (Islands, Albania/Greece, Dodecanese, Libya).

-Interdict enemy traffic

-Defend the coast

 

It's almost impossible to say what should have been done, given we have the benefit of hindsight, and in the 1930s and 1940s things were not at all as clear. Britain, although a clear threat, was not considered to be a realistic opponent until the late 1930s. A war against Germany would've almost been more likely.

 

With hindsight, there's a million things one could change. For example, my personals...

 

- MOAR Fuel

- An equivalent to a 'Fleet Air Arm'

        - As part of this; effective dive-bombers would've been wonderful (to be fair they were trying). High-level bombing didn't work for anyone. A carrier would've been awesome.

- Flashless ammunition for the 8" guns. I don't know why, but apparently they were the only ones who didn't get it.

- Night fighting training (pls gib radar too!): The reality of the second world war was that battles fought in the day and good weather were simply indecisive. Neither side is going to allow the other to obtain a decisive victory in the daytime, because usually it's at long-enough range where one side can safely dis-engage. With the exception of carrier battles and overwhelming force, decisive actions were pretty much limited to night actions. The Italian navy was always going to be at a numeric disadvantage. They knew this fact. The reality was, they should've been looking for ways to engage the enemy that worked to their advantage even if the enemy had more capital ships. For example if 1a Division was trained in night combat, they'd be absolutely lethal to Royal Navy light forces. Most night actions were fought within 4-6,000 yds. The British 6"/50's would have to be within 3,000 yards to penetrate the belt of a Zara. Torpedoes would always be a threat, but against the light cruiser - destroyer forces the Royal Navy used in night actions, a force of three Zara's and their destroyer escorts would be deadly. 

 

There are many things I'd love to change if we hard an earlier start date - let's say, 1930. If we're starting on 10th June 1940... different story.

To be honest, the RM wasn't set up for a war with Britain, They designed the fleet to counter the French. Any meaningful action to change to course would have to be drastic.

The three goals you set up while true for the RM, were not realistic. Britain could at that time disrupt the RM's ability to do them thru attrition. If only the RM could have had the French's naval fleet to bolster theirs, could they have been able to stand on more equal footing.

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22 hours ago, Cpt_Cupcake said:

To be honest, the RM wasn't set up for a war with Britain, They designed the fleet to counter the French. Any meaningful action to change to course would have to be drastic.

The three goals you set up while true for the RM, were not realistic. Britain could at that time disrupt the RM's ability to do them thru attrition. If only the RM could have had the French's naval fleet to bolster theirs, could they have been able to stand on more equal footing.

 

On your first point; you are correct. For much of the struggle, Britain could face the Italian fleet with two; the Mediterranean Fleet, and Force H. Numerous times one fleet could perform a task while the other was a decoy (for example, although it didn't work in this case, Force H acted as a decoy for British operation that resulted in the Battle of Calabria. In this case Italian intelligence gave Campioni enough of a picture to realize Force H was a decoy, but you get the idea). It was a major shift back into Italy's favor once the Mediterranean fleet's capital ships were all knocked out of action.

 

The three goals were what historically Italy's goals were, and they did work until Torch happened (El Alamein was not the true turning point in the desert war. The Allied landings in Vichy French Africa were). 

 

Protecting their traffic, although there were notable dips in the war at a couple points (the British reaped enormous benefit from enigma and C38m until Italy got fed up with both despite Germany's confidence in the former), was a massive success until the African front finally collapsed, allowing Allied airpower to dominate the convoy routes. 98% of all men and 90% of all material shipped during the war by sea reached their intended targets. 

 

MEDAOrS.png

 

Interdicting enemy traffic also went well. Just through entering the war, Italy had a huge impact on where the Allies could safely send ships, and with what caliber of escorts. In effect, the Mediterranean was closed to Allied shipping for the war, and the cost in escort ships helped give the U-boats their first 'happy time.' Only eight freighters transversed the Med while Italy was at war, and none was after May of '41. The effect that was had on British shipping was clear:

 

7nAhOZ8.png

 

*both these charts come from Vincent O'Hara's The Struggle for the Middle Sea

 

Again, this was not a situation that changed until the Allies simply had hilariously overwhelming force in the Mediterranean. Before then, it took massive convoys to try and resupply only Malta. Consider the fact that Pedestal itself was called a huge success (and it, in context, really was as it did save Malta), despite the fact that most of the convoy was wiped out, never mind the cost in escort vessels. The convoy in fact would've been wiped out almost entirely in fact, had it not been for HMS Charybdis. Without her, the main force would've almost certainly been destroyed, thus making it a question of whether Brisbane Star and the crippled Ohio could still make Malta (since they'd be the only targets left). Let's face it, Kenya was already torpedoed, and Charybdis was only a Dido-class CL. Then you've got three Tribals, two P-class, two I-class, a F-class and four Hunts.

 

That would not have been enough to drive off 3a (3x CA, 7x DD) and 7a Division (3x CL, 4x DD). Aerial reconnaissance strikes again*!

 

*The surface attack was called off because German reconnaissance mis-iditntifed Charybdis as a Nelson-class BB. Given the clear weather conditions expected, it was considered a suicide mission that would not be successfully to try and fight Pantelleria again, and thus called off.

 

The final task, protecting Italian shores, is a hard one. In terms of countering invasions, had the Allies tried it before they simply had hilarious amounts of ships (before Torch for sure), I'm sure it would've failed. However, if we're talking sea-launced airstrikes or bombardments, that's a different story. On several occasions the British were successful in these attempts, so one absolutely cannot give Italy a passing grade on this, especially when you consider that their failings in aerial reconnaissance was at the core of this. Had Iachino caught Force H, it would've almost certainly ended very badly for the British.

 

Having access to French Naval Forces would've been a powerful boost to Italian forces, but as always the question lies how much fuel Italy could get their hands on. They could barely fuel themselves as it was. I don't know what Vichy fuel reserves were like before the scuttling of the fleet, but if they weren't enough.... well, Italy could barely fuel the fleet as it was. They were totally at the mercy of what Germany would give them. The death ride to Salerno would've pretty much been the last of it (because there was only one way that would ever end). 

 

You're entirely correct in your assertion that the RM wasn't set up for a war with the British. Italy couldn't take on an opponent of that caliber, not for the length of time such a war would've required. 1942 was supposed to be the year for war, not 1940.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Phoenix_jz said:

Having access to French Naval Forces would've been a powerful boost to Italian forces, but as always the question lies how much fuel Italy could get their hands on. They could barely fuel themselves as it was. I don't know what Vichy fuel reserves were like before the scuttling of the fleet, but if they weren't enough.... well, Italy could barely fuel the fleet as it was. They were totally at the mercy of what Germany would give them. The death ride to Salerno would've pretty much been the last of it (because there was only one way that would ever end).

Very nice write up. If the Italian Air force is any indication of fuel supplies, which Mussolini himself commented on having only enough fuel for three months of combat operations, I assume Italy didn't stockpile a large amount for the fleet. 

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13 hours ago, Cpt_Cupcake said:

Very nice write up. If the Italian Air force is any indication of fuel supplies, which Mussolini himself commented on having only enough fuel for three months of combat operations, I assume Italy didn't stockpile a large amount for the fleet. 

Mussolini was extremely angry at Hitler, in the aftermath to the invasion of Poland, because it had asked - and, apparently, the German had accepted[1] - for war to wait until 1943. Italy was in no way, shape or form ready for war, and only the apparent brevity of the same, in June '40, convinced Mussolini he had to jump on the bandwagon now.

 

[1] Of course, in hindsight we know that it was completely impossible, as the German economy was approaching a complete meltdown by then and it just wouldn't have survived to 1941, let alone 1943.

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1 hour ago, WeissRaben_2 said:

Mussolini was extremely angry at Hitler, in the aftermath to the invasion of Poland, because it had asked - and, apparently, the German had accepted[1] - for war to wait until 1943. Italy was in no way, shape or form ready for war, and only the apparent brevity of the same, in June '40, convinced Mussolini he had to jump on the bandwagon now.

 

[1] Of course, in hindsight we know that it was completely impossible, as the German economy was approaching a complete meltdown by then and it just wouldn't have survived to 1941, let alone 1943.

 

mqLfSqT.gif

 

 

*edit - also, like an idiot, I forgot to mention why Charybdis saved Pedestal in my prior post. I figured I'd put it here to make sure it's seen as otherwise it's hard to notice the edit. The surface attack was called off because German reconnaissance mis-iditntifed her as a Nelson-class BB. Given the clear weather conditions expected, it was considered a suicide mission that would not be successfully to try and fight Pantelleria again.

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