REDUX: Place In The Sun: What If Italy Joined The Central Powers?

How cautious could it be expected for the Italians to be from now on? Considering the numbers they’re operating with, they simply can’t afford to keep fighting this way. However hopefully this will scare the French away from trying to shell mention again.
honestly they have only lost two of their largest ships across the 2 battles the french in that battle alone lost 3 including their new fancy battle ship honestly the french should be scared away they simply from this perspective can't take that exchange rate so neither side can UNLESS the Austrians join in then well France has a massive problem. ultimately this battle swung the Mediterranean naval war massively in cp's favour which puts Britain in a bind. they can send more resources to their already established med fleet in the hope of evening the scales but doing so weakens their home fleet. or leave the med situation to decline in the hope of containing Germany. however one problem with that is the med is an important short cut of British trade they can't risk not protecting it when the med is so important for a lot of colonial resources to be transported. this battle has put the entente in a mighty bind
 
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Yep Regia Marina know that a battle of attrition is out of the question even against Marine Nationale, so she has only two real choice now:
- return to a defensive stance to protect the italian coast, know that now the French will be much more...prudent in launching another attack
- try to lure MN in a decisive battle but even if he deal with the French succesfully there is the Royal Navy and coordination with the Austrian...is difficult, so it's an option only for very desperate time.
So IMVHO Regia Marina to keep the momentum gained by this victory will step up the use of MAS and submarine to conduct raid against the French and the British as they are easier to replace
thats a really good point a lot of these battles probably proved to their italians that their investment in subs and MAS was the right call so i suspect a lot more investment into those vessels
 
They’ll still need cruiser squadrons and a strike group with BBs (preferably faster ones than Vinci or Duilio). Otherwise the French will overspec on DDs and DLs to counter.
 
Even if the Central Powers end up dominating the Mediterranean, would it still be possible for them to make up for the trade they are not getting through the North Sea? Britain still holds the Suez and Gibraltar and I find it unlikely the Ottomans could take Suez to open up that trade route.
 
I’m loving the story’s premise but I’m having trouble with some aspects of it. Italy and Habsburg had a joint naval action plan to engage in and follow in case of mutual joining in a conflict. Why is Italy acting on its own and not even requesting joint operations?

The lack of combat in Libya is a massive, and I do mean massive oversight and missed opportunity. Alps are easily defended allowing Italy to act as mobile expeditionary force at its own whim. Making a strong push in Libya would ease so much pressure from Ottomans, force France to divert more troops to protect Tunisia and force the French and Royal navy to act in the area between Libya and Sicily, allowing Italy and Habsburgs to flood the area with submarines.
 
I’m loving the story’s premise but I’m having trouble with some aspects of it. Italy and Habsburg had a joint naval action plan to engage in and follow in case of mutual joining in a conflict. Why is Italy acting on its own and not even requesting joint operations?

The lack of combat in Libya is a massive, and I do mean massive oversight and missed opportunity. Alps are easily defended allowing Italy to act as mobile expeditionary force at its own whim. Making a strong push in Libya would ease so much pressure from Ottomans, force France to divert more troops to protect Tunisia and force the French and Royal navy to act in the area between Libya and Sicily, allowing Italy and Habsburgs to flood the area with submarines.
This is a fair criticism for sure. My reasoning about the lack of a joint Italian-Habsburg fleet is as follows:

Neither Italy nor A-H like each other very much ITTL. Austria-Hungary's concerns are more or less the same as OTL- punish Serbia, protect the homeland from Russian aggression, prevent anything which could lead to a national collapse on ethnic lines, and maintain the alliance with Germany, in no particular order. Italy being an ally or at least a co-belligerent helps inasmuch as it frees up hundreds of thousands of men, and it makes the Adriatic a friendly lake, but it doesn't imply any commitment to fight side by side. Sure, that's what they had planned in the run up to war, but that was based on two assumptions: that Italy would join on Day One, and that the war would last weeks, months at the most. A year and change in and with no end in sight, Austria-Hungary has no desire to risk its navy fighting the British or French, especially not when it's taken far fewer losses than the Army. Keeping the fleet home to defend Zadar and Trieste is far, far better than going out to fight the Entente for Italy's sake. This is doubly so because to attack the Austro-Hungarian coast, the Entente will have to get past the Italians anyhow. Rome is obviously far from thrilled, but they don't have much leverage. Germany has much bigger things to worry about- insofar as they care at all, they'd rather pressure Austria-Hungary into using its submarines against enemy shipping and aren't going to waste capital pushing for a pitched naval battle. On the Italian side- and I admit, I ought to have given more detail at the time- I can't see Rome ever agreeing to put the Regia Marina under Austro-Hungarian command. Too much enmity there. Nonetheless, I fully accept your points.

Regarding the lack of action in Libya- to the best of my knowledge, the Senussi Revolt consumed both Britain and Italy in OTL, when both could coordinate on a strategy together and neither was as hard-pressed as in TTL. Neither side can risk courting the Senussi because of the risk they'll betray them the second the war is over, so this leaves both sides hamstrung, and that's saying nothing about the logistics. If they were bad in 1940-41, how much worse a quarter century prior? Nor, at the end of the day, does either side have much to gain or lose in North Africa. The Central Powers obviously could do little for their colonies in OTL, and I see no reason that would not apply to Italian Libya here, while as long as Britain's hold over the Suez Canal and ability to fight the Turks in Palestine is unhindered, it doesn't matter where the line in the sand is drawn.

Now looking back, one thing I should have discussed is a push into/from Tunisia. That would make for an interesting addition to Chapter XII, and I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.

As to the waters south of Sicily- and indeed the whole central Mediterranean- rest assured it is full of Central Powers submarines. Getting convoys from the Suez Canal to Gibraltar is an order of magnitude more difficult than OTL. Loosely analogous to the "Happy Times" of WWII.

Thanks for your feedback.
 
Some sort of combat/situation update in Libya would be appreciated. Even if it is only covering combat with the Senussi or how it is related to the ottomans now that the Italians (somewhat of a Senussi enemy) are allies of the caliph.
 
OTL there were some plan for a joint Italian- Austrian fleet that operated in the Med against the Entente...but they were quickly shelved due to the fact that neither side accepted to be under the command of the other, so at most there will be some level of coordination between the two navy (and i'm expect the bare minimum or even less frankly) and maybe the use of italian facilities by the austrians if they try some sorties out of the adriatic.

Regarding Libya, i expect that Cadorna will take in consideration this front like OTL basically he don't give a damn at anything that's not his direct enemy in this case France in the european theatre and will not send troops or equipment there because he consider it a waste and due to the difficulty as there is Malta in the middle and the entente fleet plus politically the OTL way of thinking was that the colony were lost by day one and will be get back on the negotiation table due to victory.
The entente on the other side had also the logistic problem of the italian but the British are already occupied with the Sinai front and there are the senussi, so they at most can launch some raid against the italian; the French are even in worse condition, they need men and equipment in Europe, conquering Libya will be logistically hard and really not change anything and Tunisia after the italian Dow will have been in chaos as more than an half of the european population is italian (around 90.000 italian nationals more than all the other combined) so they will probably be interned but this will have serious economic and administrative repercussion, so even the French at most will launch raid.

Ironically, this entire situation put the italians in a better place in Libya than OTL, as OTL Cadorna stripped the place of men and equipment to fight in Europe but ITTL will be much much more difficult so it will retreat early in the coastal stronghold and fortify the positions against the Senussi and the Entente, at most launching raids against both; better if the Battle of Gasr Bu Hadi is totally avoided (basically the italian commander trusted a local turncoat that well...was instead loyal to the Senussi cause), it was one of the worse defeat of the italian army and basically gave to the Senussi all the supply they need to fight their war, avoid that, stop the Ottoman support and they will be 'forced' to a political settlement later

As a note the general italian objective at the negotiation table will be (in order of importance)
- Nice
- Tunisia (well it was considered an italian colony under French administration and the 'Slap of Tunisi' still hurt)
- Malta
- Corsica
- get back the colonies
- Savoy

Nice things to have:
- enlargement of Libya
- DMZ with France
- Influence in Suez or at least very favorable terms of passage
 
Corsica should be in second position, maybe even first. While Nice is easier to "gain", Corsica is a larger region and a dagger pointed at Rome, not to mention that has always believed to be italian (even today we kind of consider them italians).

Regarding Libya, Italy barely controlled the major port cities, none of which were "that" close to Tunisia (not to mention Egypt). It was a sand box with zero infrastructure, a march from Tripoli to the Tunisian border would have been a suicide and to gain what? Another sandbox with no immediate strategic gain? Remember that in Italy the public opinion was not very positive of the cost spent on the conquest of Libya. A military inititiative in North Africa would have been politically difficult, would have wasted manpower and equipment Italy needed elsewhere. That is, if they controlled the way to the French African border...


OTL there were some plan for a joint Italian- Austrian fleet that operated in the Med against the Entente...but they were quickly shelved due to the fact that neither side accepted to be under the command of the other, so at most there will be some level of coordination between the two navy (and i'm expect the bare minimum or even less frankly) and maybe the use of italian facilities by the austrians if they try some sorties out of the adriatic.

Regarding Libya, i expect that Cadorna will take in consideration this front like OTL basically he don't give a damn at anything that's not his direct enemy in this case France in the european theatre and will not send troops or equipment there because he consider it a waste and due to the difficulty as there is Malta in the middle and the entente fleet plus politically the OTL way of thinking was that the colony were lost by day one and will be get back on the negotiation table due to victory.
The entente on the other side had also the logistic problem of the italian but the British are already occupied with the Sinai front and there are the senussi, so they at most can launch some raid against the italian; the French are even in worse condition, they need men and equipment in Europe, conquering Libya will be logistically hard and really not change anything and Tunisia after the italian Dow will have been in chaos as more than an half of the european population is italian (around 90.000 italian nationals more than all the other combined) so they will probably be interned but this will have serious economic and administrative repercussion, so even the French at most will launch raid.

Ironically, this entire situation put the italians in a better place in Libya than OTL, as OTL Cadorna stripped the place of men and equipment to fight in Europe but ITTL will be much much more difficult so it will retreat early in the coastal stronghold and fortify the positions against the Senussi and the Entente, at most launching raids against both; better if the Battle of Gasr Bu Hadi is totally avoided (basically the italian commander trusted a local turncoat that well...was instead loyal to the Senussi cause), it was one of the worse defeat of the italian army and basically gave to the Senussi all the supply they need to fight their war, avoid that, stop the Ottoman support and they will be 'forced' to a political settlement later

As a note the general italian objective at the negotiation table will be (in order of importance)
- Nice
- Tunisia (well it was considered an italian colony under French administration and the 'Slap of Tunisi' still hurt)
- Malta
- Corsica
- get back the colonies
- Savoy

Nice things to have:
- enlargement of Libya
- DMZ with France
- Influence in Suez or at least very favorable terms of pass
 
This is a fair criticism for sure. My reasoning about the lack of a joint Italian-Habsburg fleet is as follows:

Neither Italy nor A-H like each other very much ITTL. Austria-Hungary's concerns are more or less the same as OTL- punish Serbia, protect the homeland from Russian aggression, prevent anything which could lead to a national collapse on ethnic lines, and maintain the alliance with Germany, in no particular order. Italy being an ally or at least a co-belligerent helps inasmuch as it frees up hundreds of thousands of men, and it makes the Adriatic a friendly lake, but it doesn't imply any commitment to fight side by side. Sure, that's what they had planned in the run up to war, but that was based on two assumptions: that Italy would join on Day One, and that the war would last weeks, months at the most. A year and change in and with no end in sight, Austria-Hungary has no desire to risk its navy fighting the British or French, especially not when it's taken far fewer losses than the Army. Keeping the fleet home to defend Zadar and Trieste is far, far better than going out to fight the Entente for Italy's sake. This is doubly so because to attack the Austro-Hungarian coast, the Entente will have to get past the Italians anyhow. Rome is obviously far from thrilled, but they don't have much leverage. Germany has much bigger things to worry about- insofar as they care at all, they'd rather pressure Austria-Hungary into using its submarines against enemy shipping and aren't going to waste capital pushing for a pitched naval battle. On the Italian side- and I admit, I ought to have given more detail at the time- I can't see Rome ever agreeing to put the Regia Marina under Austro-Hungarian command. Too much enmity there. Nonetheless, I fully accept your points.

Regarding the lack of action in Libya- to the best of my knowledge, the Senussi Revolt consumed both Britain and Italy in OTL, when both could coordinate on a strategy together and neither was as hard-pressed as in TTL. Neither side can risk courting the Senussi because of the risk they'll betray them the second the war is over, so this leaves both sides hamstrung, and that's saying nothing about the logistics. If they were bad in 1940-41, how much worse a quarter century prior? Nor, at the end of the day, does either side have much to gain or lose in North Africa. The Central Powers obviously could do little for their colonies in OTL, and I see no reason that would not apply to Italian Libya here, while as long as Britain's hold over the Suez Canal and ability to fight the Turks in Palestine is unhindered, it doesn't matter where the line in the sand is drawn.

Now looking back, one thing I should have discussed is a push into/from Tunisia. That would make for an interesting addition to Chapter XII, and I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.

As to the waters south of Sicily- and indeed the whole central Mediterranean- rest assured it is full of Central Powers submarines. Getting convoys from the Suez Canal to Gibraltar is an order of magnitude more difficult than OTL. Loosely analogous to the "Happy Times" of WWII.

Thanks for your feedback.


France was fully commited to the western front and has mobilized its colonial troops by the mid 1915 in full and deployed them in Europe minus the policing forces. I doubt they’d be able to send much from the western front especially since they expect Italian expeditionary force to support the Germans there as well. They’d depend on Britain to deploy Indians there
 
Corsica should be in second position, maybe even first. While Nice is easier to "gain", Corsica is a larger region and a dagger pointed at Rome, not to mention that has always believed to be italian (even today we kind of consider them italians).

Regarding Libya, Italy barely controlled the major port cities, none of which were "that" close to Tunisia (not to mention Egypt). It was a sand box with zero infrastructure, a march from Tripoli to the Tunisian border would have been a suicide and to gain what? Another sandbox with no immediate strategic gain? Remember that in Italy the public opinion was not very positive of the cost spent on the conquest of Libya. A military inititiative in North Africa would have been politically difficult, would have wasted manpower and equipment Italy needed elsewhere. That is, if they controlled the way to the French African border...

In term of importance for italian nationalism, well Corsica is important...not that important (had been always 'mid-lower tier') surely more than Dalmatia but there are much more important thing, Tunisia was much more important due to the historical and economic link, the long time italian presence and the still felt humiliation not considering the strategic position...plus till the discovery of oil Tunisia was economical more important than Libya as it was not a sandbox but a much more developed place and if you have at least read my comment you will have noticed that i pointed out that at most each side will go for raid and not full scale invasion due to well the situation being a logistical nightmare
 
In term of importance for italian nationalism, well Corsica is important...not that important (had been always 'mid-lower tier') surely more than Dalmatia but there are much more important thing, Tunisia was much more important due to the historical and economic link, the long time italian presence and the still felt humiliation not considering the strategic position...plus till the discovery of oil Tunisia was economical more important than Libya as it was not a sandbox but a much more developed place and if you have at least read my comment you will have noticed that i pointed out that at most each side will go for raid and not full scale invasion due to well the situation being a logistical nightmare

Yes, I agree on the raid point, I replied to your comment because of the Terre Irredente Ranking and since you also wrote about Libya I decided to say my opinion without creating another comment.

Maybe you are right about Tunisia being more important to the Kingdom of Italy than Corsica, but more on the prestige point of view. Tunisia is simply "bigger" on a map and I think that in 1916 it was still an accepted point, plus it was a way to regain honour. However I think that Corsica has the same historical and economic links to Italy than Tunisia, if not more. Forgive if I'm wrong, but wasn't oil in Tunisia discover after WW2?

That being said I still think that while Tunis is important due to the control of the Sicilian Strait, I believe Corsica is quite simply too close to Rome or the Industrial Triangle to ignore, assuming France is going to be an hostile nation for at least the next 20 years
 
Theoretically this means no more deployment by the French Navy for bombardment operations. But.. Even with losses, the French still outnumber the Italians by 2:1 in Battleships. The two surviving Italian BB's still have damage and will be in dry dock for awhile. Two BB's is not something that they'll want to risk in further engagements for national prestige. They've had thier smashing victory - don't throw their remaining 'national heroes' back into it. Their offensive into France will still be slowed - they were hit hard by the bombardment.

The French can still counterattack if they need it - they'll be getting heavy reinforcements in the next several days and the Italians will have been ground down by their own bloody offensive. So that zone will still be a stalemate with likely no real momentum either way - but that's the way the Western front has been.

The AUstro-Hungarian Navy will (still) likely remain a fleet in being purely in a defensive role - they're still based too far away from the Med in thier home ports to want to cruise far away, and being based out of the Italian ports may not be a bit much. But Italy likely is under no more fear of bombardments.

The Royal Navy will likely have to reinforce the MEd. They have like 2:1 or even 2.5:1 superiority in heavy capital ships in the North Sea, they can easily shift a few Dreadnaughts down without worrying on the balance of power. If they desperately need escorts, the Japanese Navy can be asked. IIRC the Japanese Navy did send some destroyers to the Med so this could happen a bit earlier.

The biggest thing here for the Central Powers is.. Basically the Balkans are completley secured from Italy down to Constantinople. Greece isn't joining the war, Romania isn't joining the war. Romania might even be willnig to sell massive amounts of foodstuffs to the Central Powers, which might alleviate a lot of thier agricultrual shortage. With Bulgaria mostly standing down they can use their workers to boost their own exports. And to handle most Balkans garrisoning. Presuming Germany wants to, they can have thier Berlin Railway all the way down to Turkey, which can be used to send supplies on down.

Not sure if anyone will care, but they could send more troops to help keep the Turks from bleeding away the Middle East if they really feel like it, or more military advisors/supplies. In the east this means that everyonr eally only has one front. The Ottomans in the Middle East (no way a Gallipoli happens here). The Austrians on Russia (not that this helps much I guess). The TUrks on the British (and some garrisons in the Urals, if they feel really adventurous a push for Baku). The Eastern front should be pretty stable defensively. The Austro-Hungarians might even be able to rebuild some of their army frmo the horrific losses they've taken and have more German military help and get some organization back.

The East likely doesn't see more than limited offensives if only to keep up with the glory of the west but is pretty stable against the Russians. The Russians also aren't at the point of internal political collapse (this isn't 1917) so you won't see things desperate enough for the Brusilov offensive.
 
Theoretically this means no more deployment by the French Navy for bombardment operations. But.. Even with losses, the French still outnumber the Italians by 2:1 in Battleships. The two surviving Italian BB's still have damage and will be in dry dock for awhile. Two BB's is not something that they'll want to risk in further engagements for national prestige. They've had thier smashing victory - don't throw their remaining 'national heroes' back into it. Their offensive into France will still be slowed - they were hit hard by the bombardment.

The French can still counterattack if they need it - they'll be getting heavy reinforcements in the next several days and the Italians will have been ground down by their own bloody offensive. So that zone will still be a stalemate with likely no real momentum either way - but that's the way the Western front has been.

The AUstro-Hungarian Navy will (still) likely remain a fleet in being purely in a defensive role - they're still based too far away from the Med in thier home ports to want to cruise far away, and being based out of the Italian ports may not be a bit much. But Italy likely is under no more fear of bombardments.

The Royal Navy will likely have to reinforce the MEd. They have like 2:1 or even 2.5:1 superiority in heavy capital ships in the North Sea, they can easily shift a few Dreadnaughts down without worrying on the balance of power. If they desperately need escorts, the Japanese Navy can be asked. IIRC the Japanese Navy did send some destroyers to the Med so this could happen a bit earlier..
They have three dreadnoughts not two
They lost one I believe the Dante Alighieri (not sure on this one) in the first battle then the gullio here. Not just that they would be sailing back to a replacement because the Andrea Dorian just got commissioned a month ago and prep for it would be wrapping up so that brings them up to 4. This also doesn't include the pre dreadnought capital ships though I imagine the older ones at this point might as well be discarded

Edit: plus with the losses of three battle ships 2 courbets and the Bretagne let's just say they aren't doing well with only 4 themselves aka in rough ships they are 1-1 not including pre dreadnoughts. The benefit that France has is two of their vessels are fresh only one Italian. But that I don't think the French will factor in. Aka future will be determined by how quickly each side can repair. Now in terms of broadside it is now assuming quick repairs a 51 to 40 gun engagement Among the BB'S. It really depends on the damage taken by both sides and how frisky they are feeling. But I don't think either side is willing to risk it. But without a doubt Italian victory hands down and an incredible blow to entente naval power in the Med.

Correction: the conte di cavour was lost in the first battle not Dante. So they only have two of that specific class but they have plenty on newer ships hitting the floor
 
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Yes, I agree on the raid point, I replied to your comment because of the Terre Irredente Ranking and since you also wrote about Libya I decided to say my opinion without creating another comment.

Maybe you are right about Tunisia being more important to the Kingdom of Italy than Corsica, but more on the prestige point of view. Tunisia is simply "bigger" on a map and I think that in 1916 it was still an accepted point, plus it was a way to regain honour. However I think that Corsica has the same historical and economic links to Italy than Tunisia, if not more. Forgive if I'm wrong, but wasn't oil in Tunisia discover after WW2?

That being said I still think that while Tunis is important due to the control of the Sicilian Strait, I believe Corsica is quite simply too close to Rome or the Industrial Triangle to ignore, assuming France is going to be an hostile nation for at least the next 20 years
I do agree that the Italians are going to push for Corsica considering that they won't gain Dalmatia and Tunisia. I think it'd be the brits that allow it since it's not as important as control over the East Med and sooths over the loss of Somalia, but it requires shafting the French so badly the French probably would hate the Brits after as the Italians aren't going to take over Corsica with an amphibious operation.
 
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I will say this naval war is far more interesting than otl. The implications are very many.

Hell the situation in the med Britain wishes to keep parity with both italy and Austria it will demand a fair number of ships. If it wishes to restablish complete naval dominance then it would require a number of ships likely to panic the home fleet especially with Italy proving you can take on a larger fleet and come out smiling. Even though it would be asb to give Germany a parity with a Jutland engagement this battle will certainly look to be a lot more interesting.
 
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Italy taking Corsica would be a slap in the face to the French, what with it being Napoleon's place of origin and all. I think they'd push hard for it in the treaty.
 
Italy taking Corsica would be a slap in the face to the French, what with it being Napoleon's place of origin and all. I think they'd push hard for it in the treaty.
If Italy does indeed get Corsica, I expect the response from France to be even worse than IOTL when France re-took Alsace-Lorraine from Germany. It would be a massive jaw-dropping, "Holy crap!!" scenario I imagine.
 
... The French can still counterattack if they need it - they'll be getting heavy reinforcements in the next several days ...
😳 ... where from? ... in that shortness of time? ... 'stripping' its front against the germans? ... seems to invite catastrophe for them there.
... However ... you might have the slight chance (snowball in hell) that Falkenhayn perceiving it as a decoy might be mislead to cancel his attack. ... ... ... no way 😋
... (no way a Gallipoli happens here). ...
You DO know that the moment the italians jump on the CP bandwaggon ITTL Gallipoli invasion IS already in full swing (landings starting 25th April 04:30 CET) ?
 

pls don't ban me

Monthly Donor
It hurt seeing the Marine Nationale mauled so but history has plenty of examples of leaders throwing away their advantages and sailing into defeat.
I mean, almost 100% of the french defeats are based on the commander being arrogant rater then strategic mistakes, supplies issues or what else.
Even Napoleon fell for that in the end 🤣
 
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