What if: The Italians actually attacked early on

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What if: The Italians actually attacked early on

Postby von_noobie » Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:11 am

Being doing a bit of reading, And i have wondered, What if the Italians with superior numbers, weapons and equipment took advantage of it, With a half million men between Libya and East Africa and the strongest naval force in the med as well as strongest air force they could have wiped out the British counterparts,

Even if they suffered heavy losses and with poor commanders, Continuous attacks from both fronts towards Egypt would have overcome even the best defence with the numbers they had,

If the Italians had attacked so vigorously and captured Egypt what would the result for the Med be in the Short, and Long term, As well as what other battles/fronts might open up due to such a victory?
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Re: What if: The Italians actually attacked early on

Postby ljadw » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:03 am

1)The Italians had no superior equipment
2)The Italians could not attack earlier
3)If the Italians had captured Egypt ,nothing would change
4)Why should the Italians capture Egypt?
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Re: What if: The Italians actually attacked early on

Postby lwd » Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:24 am

Well in regards to 4. Capturing Egypt would pretty much secure North Africa and the Eastern Med. It would also link up various Italian colonies and was a rather valuable piece of realestate by itself. So if practical there was incentive the means on the other hand ...
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Re: What if: The Italians actually attacked early on

Postby von_noobie » Sat Dec 03, 2011 1:36 am

@ljadw

Actually, at the start even tho there equipment was poor by what the allies had, It was superior based on what the allies fielded Egypt/Sudan/Kenya as well as a numerical superiority.

By capturing Egypt/Sudan it allows the Italians to concentrate there resources on Malta and Gibraltar, which secures the safety of the Med. It also opens up the Middle Eastern oil fields.

And not so far fetched, allows for joint missions with the Japanese in securing control over the Indian ocean, As the 1942 Indian ocean raid by the Japanese forced the British fleet to Kilindini in Kenya, Well with in range of Italian and German bombers flying from Italian Somiland.
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Re: What if: The Italians actually attacked early on

Postby ljadw » Sat Dec 03, 2011 3:06 pm

The mythical ME oil fiels were limited to Iraq:2.5 million,on world scale(293 million),insignifiant .Britain did not need ,and was not using the oil of Iraq,while the Axis never could use it .
There also is the fact that the Italians were incapable to advance in Sudan and Egypt,if they attacked earlier,this would not change.
Btw,as the Italiand never attacked seriously in Egypt,your what if is flawed .
The importance of Gibraltar and Malta also are mythical:they did not secure the safety of the Med.They only were important for the western Med.,but,as the Med.was not important for Britain?...
An Italian attack on Gibraltar was of course impossible (Franco would oppose) and,if it happened,it would be a disaster.
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Re: What if: The Italians actually attacked early on

Postby ljadw » Sat Dec 03, 2011 3:15 pm

lwd wrote:Well in regards to 4. Capturing Egypt would pretty much secure North Africa and the Eastern Med. It would also link up various Italian colonies and was a rather valuable piece of realestate by itself. So if practical there was incentive the means on the other hand ...

The capture of Egypt would not link Lybia with Abessynia.
It also would not secure the Eastern Med and Lybia,because,the British would still be on the other side of the canal,waiting on the first opportunity to counterattack ,this means that a big Italian army would be committed in Egypt,resulting in the fact that the usefulness of Italy would be exhausted,and,that still the Germans would have to intervene.
If in the winter of 1940/1941 a big Italian army of 200000 men was eliminated by a very small Commonwealth force (that suffered only a few hundred of dead),the chances that an Italian army could defend the canal (without the Germans)against British counterattacks,were insignifiant .
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Re: What if: The Italians actually attacked early on

Postby lwd » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:11 am

ljadw wrote:
lwd wrote:Well in regards to 4. Capturing Egypt would pretty much secure North Africa and the Eastern Med. It would also link up various Italian colonies and was a rather valuable piece of realestate by itself. So if practical there was incentive the means on the other hand ...

The capture of Egypt would not link Lybia with Abessynia.

Actually it rather does. True Sudan still sits between the two but it's just a short coastal hop from one to the other even if the Italians don't go on to take a corridor through Sudan.
It also would not secure the Eastern Med and Lybia,because,the British would still be on the other side of the canal,waiting on the first opportunity to counterattack

Perhaps but where's the British navy going to be and how is it going to be supplied?
If in the winter of 1940/1941 a big Italian army of 200000 men was eliminated by a very small Commonwealth force (that suffered only a few hundred of dead),the chances that an Italian army could defend the canal (without the Germans)against British counterattacks,were insignifiant .

Which is completely irrelevant to my point which was that the Italians did have some very good reasons for wanting Egypt. I agree that they had a vanishingly small chance of siezing it.
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Re: What if: The Italians actually attacked early on

Postby ljadw » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:25 pm

I will repeat my question :why should Italy attack Egypt ?
The fact is that the Italian DOW was a total improvisation,nothing was ready,if Mussolini planned to join the Germans and to attack Egypt,preparations would have been made .
it is was the bandwagon effect :the Germans were winning,and Mussolini decided to join,hoping that a litte fighting against the French would give him a lot of booty.He was hoping to get Egypt without fighting,at the peace conference .
Returning to the OP:what is early? Before 5 june (Italian DOW)? That would imply an early Italian DOW,when it was not sure that the Germans were winning and,when the French could invade Lybia,from Tunesia (the capture of Tripoli would not last)
BTW,the short coast of Sudan still is some 500km,and,then,the Italians would be ..in the Egyptian desert and,900 km away from Alexandria
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Re: What if: The Italians actually attacked early on

Postby lwd » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:37 pm

ljadw wrote:I will repeat my question :why should Italy attack Egypt ?

Well that's not quite a repeat. What you stated in a post that made it look like a rhetorical questions was:
4)Why should the Italians capture Egypt?

In either case I pointed out the advantages of the Italians holding Egypt. Now the next question would be could they come up with a plan that gave them a reasonable chance of succeeding in that goal? I think we both agree that that would be unlikely.
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Re: What if: The Italians actually attacked early on

Postby von_noobie » Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:11 am

Under Italian leadership, No it is not likely as the biggest flaw I see th Italians having very early on was there failure to learn from the Germans, Fast swift armored and mobile forces were the key to success. But they chose to build forts for temporary safety rather then taking a gamble using there larger number's and at the time better equipment.

And the fact that did they have the resources to reach Egypt from Ethiopia in wartime conditions could very well be irrelevant, At the time in the Sudan as well as Egypt every British commander was just waiting fr the Italians to come rolling through, But they never came because they chose not to advance from there early gains. The British commander in the Sudan said himself that there was nothing stopping the Italians driving all the way through Sudan to Egypt. Just a false army that made the Italians overly cautious. An attack from Both points that was large enough could very well scare the British into pulling back there troops across the Suez canal with out a fight.

More then a few battles in history have been won just from mistakes made about the enemies capabilities.

But in any case this is a what if and we shall never know, But thank you lwd and ljadw for your points of view.

Cheers, von_noobie.
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