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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/8/2007 11:58:29 PM   
Nikademus


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I do believe I mentioned that there was a real shortage at times....and one that yes, did grow worse as the Axis situation got worse in the Med. However IMO (and of that of certain authors, such as Greene and Massignani), it did not fully justify the lack of Italian initiative often shown. For example, the Italians started the war with 1,666,674 tons as a reserve. In comparison the German navy began the war with only 500,000 tons (which did not stop them from operating in major fashion as early as the Norway action). Italy received an additional 1,303,328 tons of oil from Germany from 1940 - 43 for a total of 2,970,002 tons of oil when combined with the initial reserve.

This is not to say that at times there were not shortages. For example by the end of 41, the Italian navy reported that it only had 142,318 tons left as a reserve. The Germans ended up doubling their output but remained puzzled as to why the Italian navy kept demanding 80,000+ tons of oil per month to operate less and less in terms of major unit actions as the war progressed. One interesting factor noted was that the oil shipped to Italy was not made immediately available to the navy but was distributed by the Supreme Command and an oil company called AGIP. (the latter responsible for distribution of oil to all sectors and organizations) The Germans wanted to reduce their shipments but send them directly to the navy to use but this was refused. Possible graft? maybe. Either way, while fuel shortages existed and got worse over time, not all recent scholarships agree that oil was 'the' vital factor that explained the lack of Italian action. Per Green/Mass;

"As we have shown, Italian naval operaetions were greatly reduced during the first 6 months of war, so while it might be stated that when the Italian fleet went to sea, it did have fuel, there were times when it might have gone to sea but did not because the enemy opeation was thought to be one that could not be responded too and the fuel situation restricted activities." [my italics]

If one reads between the lines, one can see how the issue of "fuel" could quickly justify decisions to not act based on other factors. i.e. "The odds don't look good and oh, by the way our fuel situation is not great so that settles it....we're not going."



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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/9/2007 12:03:43 AM   
Nikademus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Big B

One other thing to consider was that not only was the British Royal Navy a world class opponent (and no shame in losing a fight to), but outside of Italy's Pearl Harbor and Savo Island (Taranto and Matapan), the Italian Navy suffered no stinging defeats at British hands either...and by that I mean in fleet actions.


Actually they did though on the smaller scale commonly seen in the Med. Bigger skirmishes like Matapan get all the press despite being mostly that...skirmishes. The real fight was fought out along the convoy lanes between Italy and Tunisia/Benghazi and the Italians suffered the complete anhilation of several important small convoys. It was here that the Italian navy IMO suffered their greatest reverses. It should also be noted that the "lack" of major stinging defeats was a direct consequence of Supermarina's unwillingness to come to full blows with the RN which vigerously pursued a fleet action in most cases. One source (Shores) states that the major reason why Hitler would not proceed with Herkules was his conviction that "The Italians won't come." leaving Student's forces in the lurch. Given the track record I don't think he can be blamed.


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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/9/2007 5:52:08 PM   
Big B

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Nikademus


quote:

ORIGINAL: Big B

One other thing to consider was that not only was the British Royal Navy a world class opponent (and no shame in losing a fight to), but outside of Italy's Pearl Harbor and Savo Island (Taranto and Matapan), the Italian Navy suffered no stinging defeats at British hands either...and by that I mean in fleet actions.


Actually they did though on the smaller scale commonly seen in the Med. Bigger skirmishes like Matapan get all the press despite being mostly that...skirmishes. The real fight was fought out along the convoy lanes between Italy and Tunisia/Benghazi and the Italians suffered the complete anhilation of several important small convoys. It was here that the Italian navy IMO suffered their greatest reverses. It should also be noted that the "lack" of major stinging defeats was a direct consequence of Supermarina's unwillingness to come to full blows with the RN which vigerously pursued a fleet action in most cases. One source (Shores) states that the major reason why Hitler would not proceed with Herkules was his conviction that "The Italians won't come." leaving Student's forces in the lurch. Given the track record I don't think he can be blamed.


That's true by and large, the Italian Navy did loose several skirmishes which cumulatively added up. But they had their successes too, such as the Malta Convoy hammering in the battle of Pantelleria in June 42, which was a combined effort of Italian surface ships (cruisers and destroyers) Axis aircraft (German and Italian) and minefields (the Allies blundered into at night after the surface battle).
But the thing to keep in mind was that the Italian Navy kept up a serious and credible threat to Allied traffic in the Central Med throughout the war, and not without their successes as well as their reverses.

If I recall reading correctly, the Italians lost several small critical convoys during the war, but never turned back on a mission regardless of the consequences. While on the other hand, I think there were some important resupply efforts of the British that did have to turn back because major Italian naval units were discovered at sea and aggressively heading for contact at high speed. So in that regard, they can be seen as being an effective threat as "a fleet in being".

Never in this thread did I maintain that the Italians didn't loose the war, nor that they didn't have some serious shortcomings - especially in higher command echelons and coordination of forces, and their night fighting drill and equipment was not as good as Britain's. But they were proficient in daylight gunnery engagements - and very good in many cases.

Mainly, I have merely been trying to point out that there was no lack of courage and gallantry on the part of their fighting men in the navy, and that they were effective in presenting major difficulties (and in conjunction with Axis air power - at times caused desperation) for the British Navy throughout the Mediterranean war.

< Message edited by Big B -- 12/9/2007 7:50:22 PM >

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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/9/2007 9:25:53 PM   
Nikademus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Big B

That's true by and large, the Italian Navy did loose several skirmishes which cumulatively added up. But they had their successes too, such as the Malta Convoy hammering in the battle of Pantelleria in June 42, which was a combined effort of Italian surface ships (cruisers and destroyers) Axis aircraft (German and Italian) and minefields (the Allies blundered into at night after the surface battle).


Yes, like i said, the Italians scored some local successes, primarily using airpower and/or lower cost ships....often in cooperation with their Axis partners and the Regia Aeronautica. Operation "Harpoon" marked the only squadron sized victory of the war for the Italian navy and was considered a tactical victory. But like Pedastal, strategically it could not be called a victory because enough merchants made it through to keep Malta going. It should also be noted that during June, two other air replenish operations largely succeeded, while a 2nd June supply attempt was forced to abort due to lack of heavy ships by the RN.


quote:


But the thing to keep in mind was that the Italian Navy kept up a serious and credible threat to Allied traffic in the Central Med throughout the war, and not without their successes as well as their reverses.


Well the thing I keep in mind is that the Italian navy, while maintaining a "threat" was never able to carry it through in any meaningful and lasting way. I don't blame the Italian sailors for this. I don't consider them a bunch of keystone kops that jumped at the sound of a twig breaking. I primarily blame the Italian leadership at Supermarina, Superaero and Commando Supremo. In addition to lack of cooperation and coordination, CS in particular displayed a distinct lack of aggressiveness that prevented their much ballyhooed fleet and airforce prewar from accomplishing the mission of totally dominating the Med and driving the RN out as they were in the Indian Ocean for a time. A few tactical victories doesn't change that. The result was that often they were on the receiving end of UK attacks on their vulnerable convoy lines which worsened an already logistical nightmare for Rommel and his Italian army allies. A prime thorn, Malta....proved beyond Supermarina and Superaero's ability to suppress completely without Luftwaffe assistance.

quote:


If I recall reading correctly, the Italians lost several small critical convoys during the war, but never turned back on a mission regardless of the consequences. While on the other hand, I think there were some important resupply efforts of the British that did have to turn back because major Italian naval units were discovered at sea and aggressively heading for contact at high speed. So in that regard, they can be seen as being an effective threat as "a fleet in being".


Several Italian convoys were turned back as well as some that were anhilated. The fact that the British also failed in some resupply efforts is in my mind, largely irrelevent. Noone claimed that the British were invincible nor that the Italians were complete incompetants, particularily after the introduction of S-79sil and S-84sil torpedo squadrons. (not to mention He-111 torp + Ju-88 ops) The relevent fact however IMO, is that Malta...the key to Central Med dominance, survived despite this and despite RN setbacks and losses. Through much of it's time as well, Malta continued to conduct anti-convoy operations which made the Axis situation in N.A. more difficult. This is why i give the kudoes to the RN and am less generous to Commando Supremeo and Supermarina's leadership. I'm not a big fan of the "Fleet in Being" concept because it was a failed concept for the two major naval parties that attempted it in WWI. (Germany and Austro-Hungary).
It certainly gained Italy nothing in WWII nor justified the expense of building their navy.

quote:


Mainly, I have merely been trying to point out that there was no lack of courage and gallantry on the part of their fighting men in the navy, and that they were effective in presenting major difficulties (and in conjunction with Axis air power - at times caused desperation) for the British Navy throughout the Mediterranean war.


I agree that the Italians displayed much bravery and skill at times, particularily in the low cost/low risk operations using MTB and SLC craft. I disagree with the latter statements about effectiveness because ultimately they didn't succeed in any of their major goals save in part, supplying N.A. (of which some major credit must go to the Luftwaffe) These activities arguably can be considered a rather passive effort for a navy that even the UK Admiralty expected to dominate the mediterranian at war's start given the paper strength. Malta was not expected to be able to hold out either which was why initially little was done to strengthen it's defenses.

[edit corrected for bad finger typing ]


< Message edited by Nikademus -- 12/9/2007 10:20:06 PM >


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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/9/2007 9:55:20 PM   
Terminus


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Interesting side note: the Italian navy became quite good at ASW. 23 Allied submarines were sunk by surface forces, 21 by mines and 5 by aircraft. Now, obviously the Med is not a good place to be a submariner, what with its shallow depth and clear waters, but still the RM did quite well against the RN submarine arm.

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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/9/2007 10:11:17 PM   
Big B

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Nikademus
...
quote:


Mainly, I have merely been trying to point out that there was no lack of courage and gallantry on the part of their fighting men in the navy, and that they were effective in presenting major difficulties (and in conjunction with Axis air power - at times caused desperation) for the British Navy throughout the Mediterranean war. The "Fleet in Being" concept was a failed concept for the two major naval parties that attempted it in WWI. (Germany and Austro-Hungary)

...


I don't remember writing all of that

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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/9/2007 10:18:51 PM   
Nikademus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Big B


quote:

ORIGINAL: Nikademus
...
quote:


Mainly, I have merely been trying to point out that there was no lack of courage and gallantry on the part of their fighting men in the navy, and that they were effective in presenting major difficulties (and in conjunction with Axis air power - at times caused desperation) for the British Navy throughout the Mediterranean war. The "Fleet in Being" concept was a failed concept for the two major naval parties that attempted it in WWI. (Germany and Austro-Hungary)

...


I don't remember writing all of that


I'm putting words into your mouth.....good practice for the AE.


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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/9/2007 10:21:06 PM   
Big B

 

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From what I have seen on the threads to date - that's probably true!
quote:

ORIGINAL: Nikademus


quote:

ORIGINAL: Big B


quote:

ORIGINAL: Nikademus
...
quote:


Mainly, I have merely been trying to point out that there was no lack of courage and gallantry on the part of their fighting men in the navy, and that they were effective in presenting major difficulties (and in conjunction with Axis air power - at times caused desperation) for the British Navy throughout the Mediterranean war. The "Fleet in Being" concept was a failed concept for the two major naval parties that attempted it in WWI. (Germany and Austro-Hungary)

...


I don't remember writing all of that


I'm putting words into your mouth.....good practice for the AE.



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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/9/2007 10:23:08 PM   
Nikademus


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I expect a server crash any day now.....probably after Brady posts another set of pics showing midgets at play. [midget subs that is.]



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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/9/2007 10:24:02 PM   
Big B

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Nikademus

I expect a server crash any day now.....probably after Brady posts another set of pics showing midgets at play. [midget subs that is.]





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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/9/2007 10:45:29 PM   
ORANGE


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Zap

WESY
"I think it in part goes to doctrine/technology as well. Sure the Italians didn't have radar, but neither did the IJN, but they were able to win the vast majority of surface engagements against the ABD powers through late 1942. Japan was always handicapped by the lack of fuel"

Yes I agree., I believe the Italians had the ability to have made a greater impact in the war in the mediterranian. It must have been their naval doctrine.

I think it was a doctrine problem. The Italian doctrine emphasized speed over armor. I think this was a basic flaw in their ship design. In general they had very good looking ships in my opinion.

I have always had a fondness for the Littorio class battleships.

http://www.mo-na-ko.net/images4/LodINLittorio_01.jpg

I also think the Italian Army was limited by doctrine i.e. No tank but some odd little tankette thing.

http://pontstlouis.blog4ever.com/photos/39071232534072707121939.jpeg


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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/10/2007 5:17:35 PM   
mlees


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I would be interested in a link to a site where I can purchase that book ("The Italian Navy in WW2" by Bragadin, C.), Big B.

I entered that name in Amazon.com and got nada.

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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/10/2007 5:20:46 PM   
Terminus


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Here you go:
http://www.amazon.com/Italian-Navy-World-War-II/dp/087021327X/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1197299886&sr=1-4

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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/10/2007 11:04:30 PM   
mlees


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Thanks! I wonder why my search string didn't find it...

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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/11/2007 4:29:13 PM   
sprior


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quote:

ORIGINAL: mlees

Thanks! I wonder why my search string didn't find it...


It's a plot.

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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/11/2007 10:31:50 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Terminus

Interesting side note: the Italian navy became quite good at ASW. 23 Allied submarines were sunk by surface forces, 21 by mines and 5 by aircraft. Now, obviously the Med is not a good place to be a submariner, what with its shallow depth and clear waters, but still the RM did quite well against the RN submarine arm.


On the flip side, the RM's submarine arm didn't do very well. A pinprick here and there, but about the only time they inflicted serious losses was during the "Pedestal" convoy, where presumably the Italian sub captains and crew had been told to give maximum effort. IMHO this is why the Germans sent several dozen U-boats into the Med, in spite of the heavy losses passing Gibraltar as well as in combat: they knew the Italian subs weren't going to get the job done.

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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/12/2007 1:01:56 AM   
zaquex


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Italians suffered from a distinct rivalry between the different branches of there military forces, this together with a system where contacts and name where more important than skill and meritis when appointing officers where probably there biggest handicap during WWII.

< Message edited by zaquex -- 12/12/2007 1:05:38 AM >

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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/17/2007 3:43:04 AM   
Big B

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Capt. Harlock


quote:

ORIGINAL: Terminus

Interesting side note: the Italian navy became quite good at ASW. 23 Allied submarines were sunk by surface forces, 21 by mines and 5 by aircraft. Now, obviously the Med is not a good place to be a submariner, what with its shallow depth and clear waters, but still the RM did quite well against the RN submarine arm.


On the flip side, the RM's submarine arm didn't do very well. A pinprick here and there, but about the only time they inflicted serious losses was during the "Pedestal" convoy, where presumably the Italian sub captains and crew had been told to give maximum effort. IMHO this is why the Germans sent several dozen U-boats into the Med, in spite of the heavy losses passing Gibraltar as well as in combat: they knew the Italian subs weren't going to get the job done.

You do realize, of course, that all 62 U-boats sent to the Med'(good job though that they did) were lost ...

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RE: Italian Navy in WWII - 12/17/2007 10:09:21 AM   
Alfred

 

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I definitely would not describe the tonnage sunk by Italian submarines operating out of Bordeaux as a prinprick.  I also reiterate that the operations out of Yalta eventually blockaded Soviet resupply to Sevastopol, without which Manstein might not have succeded.

Alfred

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