French vs Italian navies World War 2, who would win?

I find it hilarious that the Italians can't knock out even the British out of the Mediterranean despite having all the technical and numerical advantage there
You would not be laughing; if Bennie the Moose sent you out there to face an enemy who has some things you do not;

a. Training in night fighting.
b. RADAR.
c. SONAR.
d. Jutland lessons learned fixes for ammunition, damage control procedures, and fleet command and control.
e. aircraft carriers.
f. better aircraft.
g. all the oil he needs.
h. a big bully of a friend who will take in his battle-damaged ships, fix them better than when new and not charge him a red farthing for the joy of the doing.
i. in reference to {h.) supplies him with MIDVALE UNBREAKABLES made to specifications, the forerunners to Superheavyweights, so the enemy's guns hit even harder than with Greenboys.
j. and about those airplanes? (f.)



Hi, cousin! My name is RIKKO. I hail from Santa Ana, California. Beautiful country, just like Savoia in the old country. Going to bomb you now...
 
Last edited:

nbcman

Donor
I find it hilarious that the Italians can't knock out even the British out of the Mediterranean despite having all the technical and numerical advantage there
And neither one of those is true in 1940. The link is inaccurate on the number of RM BBs that were available / operational since there was only 2 available in June 1940. By November 1940, the RM got gobsmacked with Op Judgement.

From a prior post of mine:

The RN BBs outnumbered the RM in June 1940 not the other way around. The RN Med fleet had 4 BBs (one in dry dock) plus Lorraine was at Alexandria. The RM only had 2 old BBs available.

LA SPEZIA Battleship - CAIO DUILO (comp 10 May 15) refitting until 15 Jul Unavailable
NAPLES 9th Battleship Squadron – LITTORIO at Ansaldo bldg to comp 2 Aug Unavailable
TARANTO 5th Battleship Division (Ammiraglio di Divisione Brivonesi) - CONTE DE CAVOUR (comp 1 Apr 15), GUILIO CESARE (14 May 14) 9th Battleship Division - VITTORIO VENETO at Trieste bldg to comp 2 Aug Unavailable
TRIESTE Battleship - ANDREA DORIA (comp 13 Mar 16) refitting until 26 Oct Unavailable

So there are two old BBs at Taranto available immediately in June with another old BB available in July. The two new BBs aren't available until August at the earliest and both new BBs had extensive issues with their sea trials.
So the RN BBs outnumbered the RM BBs 3:2 in early June and the RM wouldn't gain a numerical advantage when those 4 RM BBs became available because Force H formed at Gibraltar which added 2 BBs and 1 BC to the mix.

And with respect to the RM's technical advantage, witness their OTL performance which typically involved Sir Robin abilities.
 
You would not be laughing; if Bennie the Moose sent you out there to face an enemy who has some things you do not;

a. Training in night fighting.
b. RADAR.
c. SONAR.
d. Jutland lessons learned fixes for ammunition, damage control procedures, and fleet command and control.
e. aircraft carriers.
f. better aircraft.
g. all the oil he needs.
h. a big bully of a friend who will take in his battle-damaged ships, fix them better than when new and not charge him a red farthing for the joy of the doing.
i. in reference to {h.) supplies him with MIDVALE UNBREAKABLES made to specifications, the forerunners to Superheavyweights, so the enemy's guns hit even harder than with Greenboys.
j. and about those airplanes? (f.)
You forgot "and the friend you do have refuses you promised air cover and feeds you false intel they know to be false".
 

nbcman

Donor
You forgot "and the friend you do have refuses you promised air cover and feeds you false intel they know to be false".
And the crypto machines that your friend is selling you have been broken by the enemy and will lead the RN to get ambushed on multiple occasions.
 
Also, assuming somehow everything possible is thrown into the battle, the Italians only have Conte di Cavour and Giulio Cesare for BB's, Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio will be rebuilding for the next few months, which means they have two BB's, the French have 3 Bretagnes and 2 Dunkerques, so they can send 1-2 BB's to the Atlantic and still have numerical superiority
 
Also, assuming somehow everything possible is thrown into the battle, the Italians only have Conte di Cavour and Giulio Cesare for BB's, Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio will be rebuilding for the next few months, which means they have two BB's, the French have 3 Bretagnes and 2 Dunkerques, so they can send 1-2 BB's to the Atlantic and still have numerical superiority
Until late May 1942 the French Mediterranean Fleet was split with the three older battleships in Alexandria with other assorted cats and dogs. In late May they were ordered to concentrate with the French Twins and other units in Algeria to deter the Italians. Noodling on a couple of pods and looking at the OBs to get some sort of engagement in the eastern half the Med, not sure how realistic it is but given who was where and when it is probably the best option.
 
I find it hilarious that the Italians can't knock out even the British out of the Mediterranean despite having all the technical and numerical advantage there
With what fuel? They did win several naval engagements. Their biggest weaknesses were a lack of fuel and reliable air cover. War is complicated. You can’t just boil it down to numbers.
 
Last edited:
Until late May 1942 the French Mediterranean Fleet was split with the three older battleships in Alexandria with other assorted cats and dogs. In late May they were ordered to concentrate with the French Twins and other units in Algeria to deter the Italians. Noodling on a couple of pods and looking at the OBs to get some sort of engagement in the eastern half the Med, not sure how realistic it is but given who was where and when it is probably the best option.
@Zheng He I think you mean May 1940, no May 1942. On the 20th May 1940, Provence and Bretagne sailed from Alexandria for Mers-El-Kebir, but Lorraine stayed there with the rest of Force X (the French squadron in Eastern Med, with 4 cruisers, 3 destroyers and 1 sub).
If the Uk isn't at war with Italy, most of Force X will need to sail back in Western Med, as France don't have any base capable to support anything bigger than a destroyer in the region.

The "Force de Raid", comprising Dunkerque and Strasbourg, are in the Western Med from the end of April.

As a side note, the last two Courbet class battleships, Courbet and Paris, which are of marginal value (at best) in a battleship fight) are based in Brest, covering the Atlantic since the end of 1939. France will probably need to deffer to the UK to counter the KM in the Atlantic.

The French have an advantage in battleships from 1939 to mid-1940 when the Italians commission their 2 Littorio and recommission the 2 Andrea Doria.
Richelieu have been commissioned the 15th June 1940 apparently, but she won't be totally operational until the end of of 1940. Jean Bart won't be operational until mid-41, at the earliest. So, the Italians have the advantage until then. And if it come to that, in 42, the Italians will probably commission the Roma before the French commission the Clemenceau.
For the Impero, Genoa (where she is constructed) is basically right next to the border with France, so if a war breaks before her completion, the French might be able to disrupt her construction/fitting up with aerial and/or naval bombardment.

For the aerial front, the Italians were notoriously bad when it comes to coordination between the navy and the air force. Here, France have probably the upper hand because they have a naval air arm (OTL, they sacrificed themselves in May-June 40 against the German in a highly contested environment). France also have aircraft carriers in construction.
Plus, despite the disorganization of OTL, France was (too) slowly catching up in war production, including in aircraft. France, at the time, have the possibility to out produce Italy, by a 2 to 1 margin or more. And that's before taking into account that France, contrary to Italy, have the cash to buy war material in the US or the UK. France can also block whatever Italy is buying outside of Europe and Italian industrial heartland (Milan, Turin, Genoa) is right next to the border with France, ideally placed for aerial bombardment.

All in all, I think that, at the start of the war, Italy is in a better strategic position than France, simply because the bases in Sardinia are really useful to attack convoys between France and Algeria, forcing France to run convoys West of the Balearic Islands or in the Atlantic. At the same time, Tunisian bases are less ideally placed to attack the convoys between Italy and Libya.
But, as time goes on, France will take the advantage, simply because of the difference in industrial capacity.
 
Yes I meant 1940, thanks for catching that.

The scenario I am working on is that Provence and Bretagne don't go to Algeria. So when Italy enters the war Force X is three battleships, four cruisers, and five destroyers (two destroyers went to Algeria as well). Prior to Italy's entry into the war Force X is ordered to sortie to cover a French convoy bound for the Levant that is escorted by some mix of cruisers and destroyers. Italy declares war when the convoy is about 100 miles east of Malta and Force X is about 100 miles east of the convoy and steaming west. Two Italian task forces sortie from Taranto - one based around two battleships (GIULIO CESARE, CONTE DI CAVOUR) plus cruisers and destroyers to intercept Force X and another force of cruisers and destroyers to intercept the convoy.

That's the best I can come up with to get an engagement between the MN and the RM before France surrenders.
 
You would not be laughing; if Bennie the Moose sent you out there to face an enemy who has some things you do not;

a. Training in night fighting.
b. RADAR.
c. SONAR.
d. Jutland lessons learned fixes for ammunition, damage control procedures, and fleet command and control.
e. aircraft carriers.
f. better aircraft.
g. all the oil he needs.
h. a big bully of a friend who will take in his battle-damaged ships, fix them better than when new and not charge him a red farthing for the joy of the doing.
i. in reference to {h.) supplies him with MIDVALE UNBREAKABLES made to specifications, the forerunners to Superheavyweights, so the enemy's guns hit even harder than with Greenboys.
j. and about those airplanes? (f.)



Hi, cousin! My name is RIKKO. I hail from Santa Ana, California. Beautiful country, just like Savoia in the old country. Going to bomb you now...
Unrelated to topic but makes you wonder how fucked Italy would be had the bulk of the Marine Nationale remained in the war, since OTL the Italians got trashed by the British.
 
Unrelated to topic but makes you wonder how fucked Italy would be had the bulk of the Marine Nationale remained in the war, since OTL the Italians got trashed by the British.


Things you might be missing (^^^): (5 months in the Brooklyn Navy Yard).

-US AAA artillery.
-US rangefinders.
-US armor plate and hull metal to repair the holes.
-Jean Bart's artillery tube spares installed to repair MA after the British shot Richelieu up and torpedoed her. (It was the Jean Bart the Massachusetts trashed. My error.)

And what you will not see.

-Gun pits and slides completely rebuilt
-shell hoists and ammunition stowage and handling revised to best existent Allied battle lessons learned practices. This includes a complete electro-mechanical overhaul.

Radar and optical fire control upgrades somehow was smuggled out of France and was French and "decent" as in rather damned good.

The "big bully" did a 4.0 job on her.

A lot of other "free French ships" got the same treatment. She would have gotten US radar and computers but de Gaulle rubbed FDR the wrong way and King was not happy either. That's all right, the French stuff was quite good.
 
Unrelated to topic but makes you wonder how fucked Italy would be had the bulk of the Marine Nationale remained in the war, since OTL the Italians got trashed by the British.
Did they get trashed by the British? They lost some battles, but thet continued operating throughout the North African campaign, sunk hundreds of thousands of Allied tonnage and forced the Allies
 


Things you might be missing (^^^): (5 months in the Brooklyn Navy Yard).

-US AAA artillery.
-US rangefinders.
-US armor plate and hull metal to repair the holes.
-Jean Bart's artillery tube spares installed to repair MA after the British shot Richelieu up and torpedoed her. (It was the Jean Bart the Massachusetts trashed. My error.)

And what you will not see.

-Gun pits and slides completely rebuilt
-shell hoists and ammunition stowage and handling revised to best existent Allied battle lessons learned practices. This includes a complete electro-mechanical overhaul.

Radar and optical fire control upgrades somehow was smuggled out of France and was French and "decent" as in rather damned good.

The "big bully" did a 4.0 job on her.

A lot of other "free French ships" got the same treatment. She would have gotten US radar and computers but de Gaulle rubbed FDR the wrong way and King was not happy either. That's all right, the French stuff was quite good.
Those would have still happened anyway had France not fallen or the bulk of the Marine Nationale had defected to the Free French. OTL at the start of the war, France ordered US shipyards to refit their ships, which did happen anyway (with Free France). After Operation Torch, even more French ships were refitted at US shipyards due to the 1939 orders. Also, not all of the French navy was at Mers El Kebir or scuttled at Toulon. A large part of the French Navy was in Britain, Alexandria, or scattered among French colonies. Those ships joined the Free French. Free France still had a significant navy during and after the war (although not the juggernaut navy the US and Royal Navy were, plus the French navy was never a juggernaut anyway).
 
Those would have still happened anyway had France not fallen or the bulk of the Marine Nationale had defected to the Free French. OTL at the start of the war, France ordered US shipyards to refit their ships, which did happen anyway (with Free France). After Operation Torch, even more French ships were refitted at US shipyards due to the 1939 orders. Also, not all of the French navy was at Mers El Kebir or scuttled at Toulon. A large part of the French Navy was in Britain, Alexandria, or scattered among French colonies. Those ships joined the Free French. Free France still had a significant navy during and after the war (although not the juggernaut navy the US and Royal Navy were, plus the French navy was never a juggernaut anyway).
The Marine National in 1945 was a polyglot mess, with 40% of their equipment (complete ships) supplied by the Americans and British. In some respects, immediately postwar and to this day, the MN has taken their bitter WW II experience to heart and has lessons learned far better than many other navies. People who dismiss their WW II performance and their postwar efforts are frankly "stupid".

Did they get trashed by the British? They lost some battles, but they continued operating throughout the North African campaign, sunk hundreds of thousands of Allied tonnage and forced the Allies (to some severe setbacks.).
What I wrote about the French applies equally to the Italians. They were a mess in 1945. They learned and rebuilt from the keel up. The Italian navy continues its deadly traditions of naval special operations, submarine warfare and ASW expertise. They remain good practitioners of fast attack boat warfare and their naval technology *(Sea Sparrow was a reaction to ASPIDE), like the French remains a world gold standard.
 
The Marine National in 1945 was a polyglot mess, with 40% of their equipment (complete ships) supplied by the Americans and British. In some respects, immediately postwar and to this day, the MN has taken their bitter WW II experience to heart and has lessons learned far better than many other navies. People who dismiss their WW II performance and their postwar efforts are frankly "stupid".

What I wrote about the French applies equally to the Italians. They were a mess in 1945. They learned and rebuilt from the keel up. The Italian navy continues its deadly traditions of naval special operations, submarine warfare and ASW expertise. They remain good practitioners of fast attack boat warfare and their naval technology *(Sea Sparrow was a reaction to ASPIDE), like the French remains a world gold standard.
I’m not contesting that they’d lose of course. They certainly would. I just think that saying they were trashed goes a bit far. Their primary mission was running supplies to Axis troops in North Africa, and they did so for the better part of 3 years. Libyan port facilities Were undeveloped, which limited the amount of supplies that the Italian Navy could deliver to German and Italian troops fighting North Africa. And their Naval engagements were often indecisive. The first clash of the Battle of the Mediterranean took place of the coast of Calabria and it was fairly even. There’s no disagreement about the superiority of the British though. I’d probably rank their Navy the 3rd strongest during the war.
 
Last edited:
I’m not contesting that they’d lose of course. They certainly would. I just think that saying they were trashed goes a bit far. Their primary mission was running supplies to Axis troops in North Africa, and they did so for the better part of 3 years. Libyan port facilities Were undeveloped, which limited the amount of supplies that the Italian Navy could deliver to German and Italian troops fighting North Africa. And their Naval engagements were often indecisive. The first clash of the Battle of the Mediterranean took place of the coast of Calabria and it was fairly even. There’s no disagreement about the superiority of the British though. I’d probably rank their Navy the 3rd strongest during the war.
Every navy went through a WW II period when it got trashed.



EVERY navy.




How it emerged shows how it did and how it would do in the future.

The Italians took 13 months to repair and come back for round 2. It took the Americans 2 YEARS.
 
Last edited:
Every navy went through a WW II period when it got trashed.



EVERY navy.



How it emerged shows how it did and how it would do in the future.

The Italians took 13 months to repair and come back for round 2. It took the Americans 2 YEARS.
You way that you said trashed indicated was pretty general. Like I said. It was a clear loss, but they were running supplies for the better part of three years while fighting the Allies. It’s not as if their ships were sunk in 1940 or 1941 and the Germans and Italians in Africa were left to rot.
 
Unrelated to topic but makes you wonder how fucked Italy would be had the bulk of the Marine Nationale remained in the war, since OTL the Italians got trashed by the British
You way that you said trashed indicated was pretty general. Like I said. It was a clear loss, but they were running supplies for the better part of three years while fighting the Allies. It’s not as if their ships were sunk in 1940 or 1941 and the Germans and Italians in Africa were left to rot.
"I" just realized that "I" never originally was first to write the Italians were trashed. I wrote and I thought carefully, that the Italians were struggling against massive odds.

I find it hilarious that the Italians can't knock out even the British out of the Mediterranean despite having all the technical and numerical advantage there
You would not be laughing; if Bennie the Moose sent you out there to face an enemy who has some things you do not;

a. Training in night fighting.
b. RADAR.
c. SONAR.
d. Jutland lessons learned fixes for ammunition, damage control procedures, and fleet command and control.
e. aircraft carriers.
f. better aircraft.
g. all the oil he needs.
h. a big bully of a friend who will take in his battle-damaged ships, fix them better than when new and not charge him a red farthing for the joy of the doing.
i. in reference to {h.) supplies him with MIDVALE UNBREAKABLES made to specifications, the forerunners to Superheavyweights, so the enemy's guns hit even harder than with Greenboys.
j. and about those airplanes? (f.)



Hi, cousin! My name is RIKKO. I hail from Santa Ana, California. Beautiful country, just like Savoia in the old country. Going to bomb you now...
In my own defense, it might seem that "trashed" might be inferred, but I never intended or actually wrote that intent except (^^^) as an explanation for a naval disaster that was a nadir from which to recover.
 
Last edited:
Top