WI: Free Italy - a.k.a. Kingdom of Italy in exile as an Allied nation

Good revision. The tweaks make it read much more believably now



Now that's dedication to a TL! On the ground research!

Indeed I'm a serial poster, major update in the following post (lunchtime posting - the chapter has been ready since last week :) )
 
04 - It escalated quickly
DISCLAIMER: edits in red to ensure more realistic historical facts. Thanks to all who suggested some variations !

Italian military preparations

Prime Minister Badoglio, backed by the King, opened to the new reform of the Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazioni, with the reinstatement of the Camera dei Deputati during the very first months of 1941. This measure opened again to the organization of several small bourgeois parties like the former Liberals circles and the Catholic Popular Party. New elections would be held in the Summer, despite some resistance from Balbo.

Italy was slowy de-fascistizing itself, growing more and more moderate and conservative leaning, with strong influence from the Catholic establishment. The worrying siding of both France and Yugoslavia with Germany created an almost full encirclement of Italian metropolitan borders (Switzerland excluded). During the preparation for the boost of the fortifications on the Vallo Alpino, an assassination attempt was executed in Franzensfeste/Fortezza when Minister of War Balbo was visiting an Alpini barracks, leaving Balbo lightly injured (an Alpini conscript put himself between the bullets and the Minister). The attack was claimed by the Befreiungsausschuss Südtirol, a terrorist organization aiming to detach South Tyrol from Italy and willing to join the Third Reich.

The repressive machine led by Balbo as Minister of Interior rushed to South Tyrol: in a couple of weeks over 10.000 persons were arrested and deported to Italian Lybia, all the former Optanten were strictly guarded and several were stripped of Italian citizenship and deported to the Third Reich. Additional “Operazioni di Polizia” were carried out in Italian Karst, Istria, and Fiume, where thousands of Slovenes and Croatians were rounded up and deported.

Escalation was behind the corner, when the TIGR (the Slovene resistance organization) managed to derail a train in San Pietro del Carso/Pivka, effectively disrupting the rail communication between Trieste and Fiume. Formal protests for the treatment of both the South Tyrolean and the Slavic minorities arrived from the German and the Yugoslavian embassies in Rome. Balbo scoffed the letters.

Ciano, instead, was more and more worried about the diplomatic encirclement: he could not commit to the British because the King and Emperor asked to stay out of the War, and the prospected advantages were indeed scarce (promises on Tunisia and Djibouti were not appealing). Moreover, the German preparations for Barbarossa involved Italians as contributing with at least a motorized Army Corps. Ciano, after meeting Ribbentrop, clearly stated that Italy would have not been ready until late 1942 for War, and in that time frame will definitely throw its weight against the Soviets at the side of the Reich.

The reality was indeed a mixed bag: the Regio Esercito slightly recovered its resources stockpile and finished its reorganization; the strategic focus was finally defined:

Alpes were to be the main defensive line, manned by

  • Gruppo d’Armate Ovest holding French Border
    • 3 Alpini divisions, 6 Mountain infantry divisions and 4 Infantry divisions
    • Around 200k manpower strong
    • Commanded by HRH Umberto II (sided by General Guzzoni) – HQ in Bra
  • Gruppo d’Armate Centro holding Swiss and Tyrolean border
    • 2 Alpini divisions, 3 Mountain infantry divisions and 4 Infantry divisions
    • Around 150k manpower strong
    • Commanded by General Ambrosio – HQ in Trento
  • Gruppo d’Armate Est holding Eastern border
    • 1 Alpini division, 2 Mountain infantry divisions 3 Infantry divisions + 1 Bersaglieri division
    • Around 120k manpower strong
    • Commanded by General Grossi – HQ in Cervignano
These troops would have to balance the possible tide of German invasion through Tyrol passes and Carnia passes, hold the Isonzo valley to avoid penetration on Po Valley. Fall back lines in case of invasion from the East were recognized to be on Tagliamento, Livenza, Piave and finally on Adige. In case of invasion from the South Tyrol, the fortifications of Franzensfeste, Bozen and Salorno would have to slow the advance, with the retreat line on Adige and the holding of all the major passes towards Lombardy (Stelvio, Tonale and the access to Brescia from Giudicarie).

Strategic mobile reserves were then deployed in Piedmont and Veneto to counter any possible German breakthrough. Additional troop garrisoned Sicily and Sardinia and a understrength Army, the 3rd, with HQ in Rome acted as additional strategic infantry reserve.

  • In Albania, preparations were made for the Comando Albania (around 80k strong) to defend the access to the ports of Vlore and Shkoder and to repel any attack from Kosovo or Montenegro. The troops under the command of General Visconti Prasca (HQ in Tirana) were to stay on absolute defensive stance.
  • Comando Nord Africa (under the orders of General Gariboldi from Tripoli HQ), was split between the 5th Army (in Tripolitania, around 70k strong) to counter any French ambition and 11th Army (in Cyrenaica, around 40k strong) to guard the Egyptian border. The grand strategy would have been to try to seize Tunisia in case of French invasion of Italy with the fast moving of troops from the 11th Army. No actions or plans were studied for British intervention.
  • Comando Africa Orientale, led by Duke of Aosta Amedeo, was 260k strong, primarily composed by local colonial troops (190k) and for the remaining part by metropolitan troops (70k). The strategic goal was to seize Djibouti in case of French declaration of war and then to link with the Italian troops in Lybia.
In terms of equipment, the focus on mountain war stopped the motorization of the troops with the remarkable exception of P.40 Medium tank starting to be mass produced by Ansaldo and Fiat substituting the lightly armed M13/40. Focus was put more and more on divisional and regimental artillery and in reinforcing natural barrages with casemate and antitank guns.

Royal Navy, in case of entry in war against Germany, France and Yugoslavia would have to deal with the interruption of supply flow to French North Africa and to keep open the communication in the Adriatic. The sheer superiority in terms of tonnage and ships after the semi-destruction of Marine Nationale, and assuming not to have to fight against Mediterranean Fleet. New Chief of Staff Inigo Campioni pushed strongly in the direction of collaboration with Regia Aeronautica due to the lack of Italian carriers more than in OTL, being slightly more effective than in OTL.

Regia Aeronautica was in the worst shape: the program of renewal was deeply undergoing, and the strategic focus was to defend the industrial capabilities of Po Valley and keep air superiority overall Eastern Mediterranean and Africa.

Suddenly, it’s war !

Barbarossa start on 22nd June was disrupted by the no notice aggression of Italian forces at the Lybian-Tunisian frontier. On June 29th, French Troops, with 15 divisions from Algeria and Tunisia, mainly composed of colonial troops and a few èlite units (e.g. Légion Etrangère), launched themselves against the forces of Italian 5th Army.

The French, still thinking how to bring the war on British soil, thought that the Italians would have been a piece of cake in Northern Africa to bring the war towards Egypt and Suez. Germans military advisors strongly disagreed but even so OKH planned to detach a couple of Panzergrenadier divisions in North Africa under the command of General Rommel. The overwhelming numerical superiority of the French allowed to overcome the lightly fortified border in Brega and to overtake Gadames fort on July 6th.

The French vanguard was stopped close to Zuara (50 km into Lybia), where a major pitched battle saw the Italians suffering heavy casualties but stopping the French advance.

Despite the several reports from italian intelligence about the French buildup in airbases scattered from Corsica to Rhone-Alpes and an alert dispatched by the British directly to Minister Balbo, the Italian readiness is not as effective at expected, allowing the air bombings from France and Corsica to almost annihilate at soil the Regia Aeronautica in northern Italy, caught completely off guard by the sneak attack. Responsibilities on the disaster are still to be understood, but the Air Marshal Ettore Muti seems to be unreachable in the past few hours after the bombings. French troops begin a slow push around the Western Alps in the first weeks of July, being blocked by heavy artillery fire and the stiff resistance of the Alpini on Moncenisio and Monginevro pass.

Reports of Yugoslavian commandos infiltrating in Isonzo Valley were dispatched to the command of Gruppo d’Armate Est on July 2nd, unfortunately, being quickly dismissed. Also in this case, the Italian military seems to underestimate the threat, thinking that the infiltration is more like an operation to supply the TIGR partisans and aimed to disrupt italian communications. A few days after, on July 7th, Yugoslavian 4th and 7th armies attacked on all the front line, supported by TIGR partisans, obtaining tactical successes like the seizure of Postumia/Postojna and the surrendering of Zara after a street by street gunfighting.

The Germans still thought that the French were fool in involving the Italians, despite Laval’s assurance on the war remaining a Franco-Italian affair and that the Italians will just wave up white flag after few casualties in Africa, the situation wasn’t so good:

  • the French did not manage to rout the Italians from Tripoli within the first two weeks and not even to gain any meter of Italian metropolitan soil,
  • the greedy Yugoslavians joined in invading Italian Istria and Karst without German permission,
  • Italians were fighting back heavily; they have a strong navy to be used upon to transform Mediterranean in an actual Mare Nostrum. Moreover, not being anymore a Neutral state, Italy would not act as a proxy for German supplies purchasing.
In a matter of fact, the French opened a new front directly bordering Germany in the South. OKH and Hitler obviously shit their pants when King VE III removed Badoglio appointing Balbo as Prime Minister of the new Governo di Unità Nazionale on July 14th that also included Liberals, Populars, Radicals and some Laburists elements. First official act of Balbo’s government was to sever diplomatic relationship with Germany, considered as an allied country to Italian invaders. The Germans already got wise: they knew that the British and the Italians were already discussing about the deployment of a British Army Corps in Italy to both repel the French and the Yugoslavians, and possibly, to try to invade Tyrol and Carinthia.

Despite Barbarossa was going very well at the moment and the Soviets were suffering what were thought to be unbearable losses, the Germans diverted part of their reserves to amass manpower in Austria.

Mass scale revolts surged in Italian-held Southern Tyrol in the end of July, effectively draining Italian garrison troops towards the repression of the rebellion. On 29th July, carpet bombing of Milan, Turin, Genoa and Trieste was carried out, while surgical dive bombings disrupted Italian railways network between Firenze and Bologna, north of Verona and in Alessandria by the Luftwaffe. German troops flooded through Brennerpass and Reschenpass, that after a couple of days of resistance were overcome by dive bombing and artillery fire. Tarvisio border crossing was stormed from three different directions (Coccau by the Germans, Fusine by joint German-Yugoslavian forces and Predil by the Yugoslavian). German pushed also through the Isonzo Valley taking quickly Plezzo/Bovec on the first day and reaching Tolmino/Tolmin on the third day, forcing the Italian retreat from Idria/Idrija.

Balbo, officially relayed through Ciano the declaration of War to Germany, France and Yugoslavia and on August 1st, the Kingdom of Italy formally joined United Kingdom in an alliance.
 
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Considering the strong pro-italian lobbies in the US, I don't think it would be hard to get US help at this time; if not actual troops, at least easy access to equipment.
 
Update is intriguing but it has a bit of a problem, I'll struggling to see where the resources the French are using are coming from. OTL the Germans rather ruthlessly stripped France bare to get the needed resources for Barbarossa. There is just no way for example for France to have the oil its burning up and Germany still have sufficient to drive its Panzers into the USSR.

OTL Vichy had a few remnants of the French forces from 1939 but not even enough fuel to keep those at a decent level of training. 15 Divisions in Africa where everything has to be basically either motorized or static due to terrain/climate/distance is way more than could fielded even if the French think its going to be over in weeks.
 
Air bombings from France and Tunisia almost annihilated at soil the Regia Aeronautica in northern Italy, caught completely off guard by the sneak attack.
I feel the Italian Navy and Army codebreakers, who both were very good at their job, should have seen the buildup activity. They had broke the French and Yugoslavian Military and Diplomatic codes, Their Spies were very good at stealing codebooks
 
A French attack in Libya with a diversionary offensive in the alps for both regain the honor of France and to attempt have access to Suez trough Libya, as Jugoslavia joining for being greed both nation believing that with just German diplomatic/logistic support the italian will fold easily...well is duable/credible.
Just not that succesfull, as other pointed out the Vichy military forces in OTL were not in any good shape and even if ITTL they are a full Axis member they will lack oil (as OTL Italy) and many of their original equipment is now in Russia fighting with the Werchmatch; sure just having to deal with Greece and no North African campaign mean resources saved, so a limited build up for the French is possible, only not enough to put a serious fight against Italy, their air forces (both french and jugoslavian) don't have the capacity to wipe out all Regia Aeronautica assets in North Italy...especially if the French need to cover themselfs against the RAF and the Jugoslavian don't have the capacity for any serious offensive in Istria even if helped by TIGR, occupy Fiume and Zara is OK bypass the defensive line on their own extremely difficult, even because their entire equipment is even more dated than OTL Italian.

As other have pointed out, italian codebreakers and more importantly the British will have noted any build up, especially in a moment of diplomatic tension like that.
Honestly the most probable event is something like the OTL Italian invasion of France and Greece at least till the Germans don't decide to intervene to support their allies even if they consider the entire affair idiotic and at the wrong time.

Regarding the reinstatement of the Camera dei Deputati, maybe is a little too son (at the beginning of the chapter) and can be something that the King want to do for the reason stated but there is strong opposition from the PFI and for now nobody want to rock the boat too much due to the situation in the rest of Europe. Once the Governo di Solidarietà Nazionale is created, things will quickly change and the Camera dei deputati can be much more easily reinstated
 
As someone correctly stated: Vichy is this TL Axis Italy mirror. With all the related blunders and foolishness.

About the 15-division in North Africa for the French, almost all light infantry, moroccan and senegalese (mixed bag of second rate troops and elite troops), the Army invading Italy from the Alps instead is made up of Chasseurs Alpines and Infantry. Equipment is, like the OTL Italians, scarce.

I didn't know about the spy games behind, maybe I'll edit, I've some ideas about it. Next update will be an overview of how the war actually goes.
 
I didn't know about the spy games behind, maybe I'll edit, I've some ideas about it. Next update will be an overview of how the war actually goes.

Basically the moment Enigma read the French and Jugoslavian comunication and an attack is considered sure, the British will communicate to the Italians as it's the perfect occasion to sign Italy as an ally and frankly even the italian will be on alert so annihilate Regia Aeronautica like the Israelian with the arabs during the 6 days war will be almost impossible, especially with the general situation of the French air force. Naturally once the Luftwaffe enter in the game, things will change drammatically and Regia Areonautica will be in the fight for her life but said that remember that the RAF had not steamrolled the italians in 5 minutes.
 
annihilate Regia Aeronautica like the Israelian with the arabs during the 6 days war will be almost impossible, especially with the general situation of the French air force. Naturally once the Luftwaffe enter in the game, things will change drammatically and Regia Areonautica will be in the fight for her life but said that remember that the RAF had not steamrolled the italians in 5 minutes.

I will edit accordingly the update with some major details on the French military status. I enjoy the fact that indeed (except for some foolish things I wrote) that the TL is considered "plausible"...

Piave92
 
I will edit accordingly the update with some major details on the French military status. I enjoy the fact that indeed (except for some foolish things I wrote) that the TL is considered "plausible"...

Piave92

Honestly my only serious doubt is VEIII having the guts to fire Benny; after that is generally on spot
 
Hello, sorry for the disappearance but I had BIG issues to look forward in these past few months.

I would like to reassure that this ATL isn't dead. I hope to perform some edits and post an update in a couple of days

Piave92
 
05 - Italian front heats up
Northeastern Italy theatre
The German attack from Carnia and Tyrol, although widely anticipated by the Italian General Staff and carefully studied in a series of simulations, did not include French and Yugoslavian participation in the same. The impossibility to send troops to the second defensive lines of the Tagliamento river because of the pressure exerted on the Western Alps delivered, practically by the first week of August, the entire Italian provinces of Pola and Fiume, to the Yugoslav troops, in overwhelming numerical superiority.

A pocket of Italian resistance was created between Trieste and Gorizia, after the German Gebirgsjaeger forces, supported by dive-bombers and Yugoslav infantry, managed to break into the Natisone valley on August 6th after having overcome the Italian resistance entrenched on the Matajur hills, proceeding towards the flatlands, this time with a small armored complement of 1 Panzer Division and 1 Panzergrenadier Division to Cividale del Friuli.

In Cividale del Friuli, there was the first armored (and pitched) clash of the Italian Campaign: the 132nd Division "Ariete" and the 133rd Division "Lupa". (renamed in this sense from the previous name "Littorio"), quickly rushed from the strategic reserve allocated between Vicenza and Cremona, faced the German-Yugoslavian forces, being defeated and disorganized after the massive use of Stukas and anti-tank weapons. Such defeat, allowed the German forces to reach the Adriatic Sea already on August 10 in Monfalcone, closing in a pocket the almost totality of about six Italian divisions, concentrated in the Karst.

The advance from the north, along the Canale Valley, was temporarily arrested by some units of the "Julia" Alpine Division in the surroundings of Moggio Udinese, while reinforcements flowed to the strongholds of Tolmezzo and Gemona, in order to deny the access to the Friuli flatlands. A daring operation conducted by the German Gebirgsjaeger, however, made it possible to reach Tarcento, through the Tanamea Pass from the Resia Valley, overcoming a weak counterattack conducted by the 13th Infantry Division "Re" near Lusevera. With this difficult operation, the Germans had in fact opened a gap behind the bulk of the Italian forces in Carnia, directly threatening Udine.

Italian Chief of Staff immediately understood the looming disaster that was developing in Friuli, ordering the general retreat on the Tagliamento. The only problem is that the order was issued too late, only on August 13th, when the German vanguards were entering Tavagnacco, at the gates of Udine. In the north, the Italian forces, still consistent and almost in numerical parity in Carnia, found themselves cut off. The retreat chaotically conducted and continuously harassed by dive-bombings, determined a great strategic Italian defeat, with over 150,000 losses (of which two-thirds were prisoners of war). In spite of the destruction of the bridges on the Tagliamento of Cornino, Pinzano, Spilmbergo, Casarsa della Delizia and Latisana, the German avant-garde managed to cross the river at Madrisio on August 17, transforming the retreat into an endless rout up to the Livenza, reached on August 20th by some advanced German patrols at Portogruaro.

In South Tyrol, the situation was slightly less compromised: despite the support of the Fifth Column formed by the South Tyrolean separatists, the Italian defensive device was still effective in the barrages of Fortezza/Franzensfeste, desperately held after the rapid destruction of the barrages in Val Pusteria/Pustertal and of Merano/Meran, in Upper Isarco valley/Eisacktal, threatened by Val Passiria/Passeiertal, and of Malles Venosta/Mals, to protect communications with Valtellina via the Stelvio Pass. The campaign quickly turned into a complicated battle for every meter of territory, soaked in German and Italian blood. Already after only two weeks the Germans complained more than double the losses compared to the well-entrenched Italians, forcing the OKH to foresee further reinforcements, coming from Greece.

Northwestern Italy theatre
In the west, the Italians obtained an unexpected success with a rapid counter-offensive from the Colle di Tenda they managed to occupy first Saorge/Saorgio on July 30th and Sospel/Sospello on August 1, directly threatening Menton/Mentone. On the rest of the Alpine front, a further French offensive was launched on August 3rd, from the Colle della Scala towards Bardonecchia, to relieve the pressure on the Maritime Alps sector, obtaining minimal successes, overcoming the watershed in some points but then being destroyed by the accurate Italian artillery fire from the positions of the Western Alpine Wall.

Regia Marina/Regia Aeronautica operations in Mediterranean
The Regia Marina immediately crossed the routes between Marseille and Toulon towards North Africa, obtaining an important success against a large French convoy bound for Annaba off Menorca. The Italian heavy cruisers Zara, Pola, and Gorizia, supported by the escort of several destroyers and submarines, collided on August 5th with the French convoy, led by the heavy cruiser Foch and some destroyers, obtaining a great victory, thanks also to the intervention of flocks of English torpedo bombers coming from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. Offensive actions of the Regia Marina included the repeated bombardment of Cannes, Bastia, and Marseille, supported by British air raids and the Regia Aeronautica itself.

Invasion of Corsica
The first real offensive action, excluded the assault from Tenda, towards France, was the Invasion of Corsica: parachutists of the Folgore and Nembo regiments launched themselves on the island the week of August 11th, supported by the fire of the Regia Marina and the air cover given by the British aircraft carriers of the Mediterranean Fleet. The non-sense attack, with the Italians having few resources to spare, was strongly pushed by Balbo, who aimed to achieve three different objectives:

- Grab an easy victory, since the isolation of Corsica and the few French forces stationed here
- Remove an enemy base directly in front of Tuscany and Liguria, disrupting Regia Marina's operations and harassing Italian skies with aerial sorties
- Achieve the conquest of territory with, in a fascist and irredentist perspective, a full Italian population

The paratroopers managed to obtain some successes, obtaining the control of aerial bases in Bastia and Solenzara. There, the Italians, supported by the British naval and aerial cover, landed reinforces via airlifts. The French pressure on the two small Italian pockets was continuously disrupted by RAF and Regia Aeronautica, in control of the Tyrrenhiian sea, providing air-strikes on the battle's most heated areas. Only in the week of August 18th, the Italians managed to land reinforces in Bastia (the 20th Friuli Infantry Division) and between Bonifacio and Figari, in Corse-du-Sud (the 44th Cremona Infantry Division). The overwhelming Italian superiority began to emerge in the few days following the landings, with the continuous expansion of the bridgeheads. Italian troops advancing south from Solenzara met with their fellow countrymen in the outskirts of Porto Vecchio. In the north, the French offered serious resistance, being disorganized only after the battle of Ponte Leccia, on 25th August. A few days after, the major Corsican towns are occupied: Corte and Sartene on the 26th, Ile Rousse on the 27th, and Ajaccio on the 28th. Only Calvi, supported by some French reinforces flown from Toulon, manages to resist until September 1st. Corsica is fully in Italian hands.

Assessment of the situation
Despite the Corsican success and the stalemate on the Alpine front, the situation remained very complicated: in the East, Venezia Giulia, Istria, and a large part of Friuli had been lost. The barrage in South Tyrol began to show signs of yielding due to the difficult influx of reinforcements due to the bombardments of the Brenner railway and the continuous sabotage carried out by the South Tyrolean Fifth Column. This criticality also afflicted the Friuli front, the reserves were adequately armed and trained, but could not effectively reach the front because of the railway interruptions and the low degree of motorization, forcing very long marches.

At a strategic level, moreover, the Livenza was not an effective barrage, so much so that German troops were able to pass it in several points already around the 20th of August and then withdraw. In a difficult meeting with VE III, Balbo, Ciano, and Badoglio agreed to prepare a further retreat on the Piave line and to maintain the line as much as possible, even at the cost of remove forces from the French front, where the conformations of the territory allowed to concentrate the defense with fewer troops.
Under the command of Balbo, as Ministry of War, flanked by Badoglio and Soddu, a new reserve army began to reconstitute in late August with HQ in Verona, starting from the skeleton of the asphyxiated 3rd Army. The evolution of the war on national soil, with continuous German bombardments, only partially stopped by the Regia Aeronautica, supported by RAF, had already unsettled the delicate logistic balance reached in the first months of 1941. The Regio Esercito had already lost about 200k men, beyond those imprisoned in the pocket of Trieste, in a phase of continuous narrowing and supported by the Regia Marina, and those captured in the precipitous retreat beyond the Tagliamento, including the flower of its own motorized and mechanized forces, just now that the war was moving towards modes similar to that of movement.

African Front (August 1941)
The defensive victory in the battle of Zuara and the official declaration of the alliance with the British allowed the 11th Army to move along the Via Balbia to Tripolitania and to double the available forces under the command of General Gariboldi, promptly replaced by Graziani. The latter, strong of the numbers under his command, relaunched an offensive operation that will penetrate up to the Mareth line, beyond the Tunisian border, being stopped only on August 27th, when a short French counter-offensive disrupted the advancing front of the Bologna Division, who suffered tremendous losses. On this front, reinforcements of the Commonwealth from Egypt, commanded by General Wavell, soon began to flow in from Egypt, who soon joined the Italians in putting even more pressure on the French forces.

In the meantime, the forces of Ascari were quickly right of the French garrison of Djibouti in the first days of August, allowing the forces of the Duke of Aosta to flow partly to French Central Africa (controlled by Free France) and partly to Egypt.

I'm back as promised, what do you think ?
 
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Finally come back to home from the hospital and now:

- make the loss ratio for the German in Tyrol 3-1 and i'm still very generous towards the nazi, yes the terrain is that favorable to defense and the Germans strogpoint there are weakness, basically shooting in the head all the troops sent there will more or less obtain the same result that sent them against the italians line; honestly the moment the locals try something of funny, it will be a one way ticket for Abyssinia for everyone.
- Stukas are good and nice if there is no coherent air forces against them, even the old fiat biplane will be enough to blow out from the skies...basically, yes they can make their job but i expect a lot of loss; plus frankly i expect the RAF to lend an hand to the italians in protecting their troops so i doubt that the italian troops will be without cover basically people had learned the lesson of the invasion of France.
-Please retcon the French almost annihiliating the italian air forces, the Germans can't do that and surely the French don't have the capacity...it's WWII not the 6 days war. They can launch a series of diversionary attack and severerly damage the base enough to make the job much more difficult but take it out? Out of question.
- The moment the war start i expect that the entire bomber fleet of Italy will be used against the French, Germans and Jugoslavian cities.

Basically...hi Adolf, see Operation Barbarossa? Now kiss her goodbye, the loss for the italian campaign will make it possible maybe the next year
 
06 - Looming disaster in Sudtirol
Evolutions on Eastern Front (Q3 1941)
The German thrust proceeds in steamrolling the Soviet troops, in Smolensk over 300k Red Army personnel is encircled and captured on August 5th. The advance towards the Baltic manages to separate the Red Army lines in two when the Germans stop their tank tracks on the shores of the Gulf of Finland.
In a matter of weeks, the Germans and their Finnish allies push on Leningrad, effectively starting the siege on September 1st. Less than a week after, Kyiv is also surrounded and finally occupied on the 19th with massive Soviet casualties.

Also, Army Group Centre begins Operation Typhoon aiming directly at Moscow, throughout October, the Germans manage to encircle additional 670k Soviet troops east of Smolensk. Germans try to move on quickly towards Moscow, before the mud and the heavy snowing stop them from reaching the outskirts of the Soviet “brain”. Germans are stopped by the resolute, last stand of the newly rushed fresh troops, the few motorized divisions sent to punish Italy would have made a difference, as General Von Bock noted in his diaries from that days.

The German advance into the Soviet Union scared deeply the Western Allies, with the hard decision taken by Roosevelt to extend the Lend-Lease agreements to the Soviet Union.

Aerial Campaign (Q3 1941)
Retaliatory bombing from the Regia Aeronautica is executed in the major cities of Yugoslavia. Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana, and Novi Sad. The large Italian bomber fleet executes the bombing targeting the main clusters of the population with incendiary devices aiming to both scare and inflict massive payback on the Yugoslav population.
Air Marshal Muti is still missing after the French aerial blitz of July 8th, but Prime Minister Balbo immediately asks General Pricolo (Chief of Staff of Regia Aeronautica) to push hard on more daring actions. The Yugoslavs suffered around 20k civilian losses and heavy damages to their infrastructure. The RAF already tried to hit Germany from the north with significant losses. The Italians decide to take a stride in the show, planning a massive terror bombing on Munich with S.M. 79 departing from airbases in Lombardy and Emilia. The bombing has minimal effects, but the effect on Italian morale is quite good.

Fall of Trieste pocket (September 1941)
The pressure on Trieste pocket becomes unbearable despite the efforts made by Regia Marina to properly supply the 150k + troops encircled in the Julian city. Yugoslavs are already encroaching on the Italians, taking Muggia and Sesana on September 22nd while the Germans entered Aurisina with motorized troops and supported by dive bombers and divisional artillery placed into the interior (Comeno/Komen, Dutovlje/Duttoglie).

General Grossi, in charge of the Trieste stronghold, is forced to surrender when the Germans issued an ultimatum reporting that in case of continued resistance, the city would have been razed to the ground. To avoid hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and massive destructions, Grossi surrenders to the Germans on September 24th while his troops try to keep the Yugoslavs outside from the city. The Germans seize the city with the Swastika being raised on Piazza Unità d’Italia. Tensions immediately start to arise between the Germans and the Yugoslavs, who were eager to occupy the city.

The Trieste pocket is eliminated, with over 100k prisoners and 50k + casualties for the Italians vs around 40k casualties for the Yugoslavs and 5k casualties for the Germans in a two-month-long battle.

Probing of Yugoslav force in Montenegro and Kosovo (September 1941)
At the command of General Visconti Prasca, the Italian forces in Albania try to divert part of the Yugoslav effort towards Trieste with some probing attacks towards Ulcinj and Podgorica. 19th Mountain Infantry Division Venezia passes the border on the shores of Shkoder/Scutari Lake, taking Drume on September 12th and reaching unopposed Rogame on the 14th (just 5 km to Podgorica).

Albanian insurgents revolt in the Kosovo region, supported by Italian weaponry and the token support of some elements from 53rd Infantry Division Arezzo. The insurgency has some success, with the capture of Prizren on September 21st. Despite the attempts of Visconti Prasca, Trieste has already fallen and the Yugoslavs can bring back their troops south.

Italian forces from East Africa join the Mediterranean Theatre (October 1941)
At the command of Duke Amedeo of Aosta, the Italian and Indigenous troops from Italian East Africa reach Egypt. Instead of being committed on the Tunisian frontier, they are assigned to the Syrian Front against the starkly resisting French troops. The rivalry and hatred between General Graziani and Duke Amedeo stopped the chance for the Italians to attain the numerical superiority required to outmaneuver the French on the Mareth Line.

Collapse of the Sudtirol line (October 1941)
Signs of the difficulties, the Italians entrenched into Franzensfeste/Fortezza, start to go out of ammunitions and provisions, being under German artillery attack for months and with the heavy disruptions on their supply lines due to the continuous operations of pro-Nazi, ethnic German sympathizers. The Germans attempt a different strategy to strike using the difficult route of the Val Badia/Gadertal. The force buildup in Toblach/Dobbiaco throughout late September was noticed by the Italians, who thought of the obvious German attempt to pass into Cadore from Val d’Ansiei and Cortina d’Ampezzo to take the rear of the Italian assets, still on the Livenza.
Instead, the German deceived the Italians, and taking advantage before of the start of the proper Winter season, they pushed with highly trained and specialized Gebirgsjaeger troops through Val Badia, occupying San Martino in Val Badia on October 3rd and rushing into the Würzjoch/Passo Erbe the day after, paving the road to Chiusa/Klausen, reached on October 5th.

The Italian resistance in Franzensfeste/Fortezza lost any momentum since now is also surrounded on its rear by the Gebirgsjaegers. An Italian counterattack from Bolzano/Bozen, headed by 5th Alpine Division Pusteria battalions Trento and Bolzano supported by the 49th Mountain Infantry Parma were repulsed by the Germans in the battle of Kastelruth/Castelrotto on October 9th. The other attempt to disrupt the German actions in Val Badia was the attack on Campolongo Pass, led by the gallant 7th Alpine Regiment who managed to reach Badia on the 11th and being close to cut off the way of the Val Badia/Gadertal towards Val Isarco/Eisacktal. Unfortunately, the Alpine troops find themselves isolated from the straggling regular infantry and the Germans managed to overrun them on the 13th.
Franzensfeste/Fortezza garrison attempts a desperate sortie on the 15th, aiming to reach Bolzano/Bozen and reinforce the resistance there. Their heroic assaults manage to break the encirclement, but the retreat transforms itself into a complete rout when the local populace starts to shoot as franc-tireurs and the Germans use aerial support, deeply contested by the Regia Aeronautica.

The stronghold of Meran is abandoned on the 19th and the Italian morale on the front seems to be crumbling when also the Malles Venosta/Mals barrage is neutralized by the Germans on the 22nd, with the Italians retreating deep into Val Trafoi/Trafoital to guard the access towards Bormio.
Panic erupts when the overstretched Alpine troops cannot manage to block the German infiltration behind the Passo Gardena/Grodner Pass on the 25th and in the following day with the breach into the already snowed Passo Sella and Passo Pordoi, penetrating deeply into the Italian defense until Predazzo (in Fiemme Valley) on the 28th and Alleghe on the 29th.

The route towards the Veneto plains is open on the East, starting from Alleghe following the Cordevole river and then the Piave, while both Bozen and Trento are menaced (Bozen directly by the advancing forces coming from Meran and Brixen, Trento from the Val di Fiemme and then through the Val Cembra). The army is on full retreat except for the Bozen stronghold, leaving the German advance quite unopposed. The hateful knowledge of the impending doom on the Livenza (with its rear now deeply menaced) urged War Minister Balbo to deploy his strategic defenses in the Val Belluna, in Valsugana, Primiero, and around Valdobbiadene and Conegliano to cover the main front left flank.

A general retreat order is issued on the 4th November, the day of Vittorio Veneto's 23rd anniversary: the Italians retire on the Piave line and abandon Bolzano, entrenching themselves into the makeshift barrage of Auer/Ora and the Trento stronghold.
 
I'm back, now unfortunately I'm not working due to COVID-19 reduction in work hours so I've got more time to post ;)

Ehy glad to have you back and sorry for the work situation.
Back to business IMVHO there are two things to point:
1- While at the time the Red Army general performance made the OTL Italians look professional and the Stalin military leadership was nothing to write about; Germany will be very hard pressed to be so succesfull as the italian campaign is an enourmous waste of men, equipment and supply, just the battle of Trieste has been costly as the OTL invasion of Greece and Jugoslavia put together...honestly i doubt that the Wermatch will have the possibility to launch Operation Typhoon.
2- With this level of loss, the troops of the Duke of Aosta will be sent in Italy or at least the British will have sent a contingent to help the italian war effort (the minimum effort is something equivalent of what sent in Greece OTL) and Land-Lease will quickly include Italy.
3 - The Axis invasion of Libya will soon run out of steam, if Italy had a lot of difficulty in supply his troops OTL, France it's even in a worse situation as Marine Nationale has been gutted
 
Ehy glad to have you back and sorry for the work situation.
Back to business IMVHO there are two things to point:
1- While at the time the Red Army general performance made the OTL Italians look professional and the Stalin military leadership was nothing to write about; Germany will be very hard pressed to be so succesfull as the italian campaign is an enourmous waste of men, equipment and supply, just the battle of Trieste has been costly as the OTL invasion of Greece and Jugoslavia put together...honestly i doubt that the Wermatch will have the possibility to launch Operation Typhoon.
2- With this level of loss, the troops of the Duke of Aosta will be sent in Italy or at least the British will have sent a contingent to help the italian war effort (the minimum effort is something equivalent of what sent in Greece OTL) and Land-Lease will quickly include Italy.
3 - The Axis invasion of Libya will soon run out of steam, if Italy had a lot of difficulty in supply his troops OTL, France it's even in a worse situation as Marine Nationale has been gutted
Thank you @lukedalton

I try to answer to your remarks below:

1 - At the moment, Italy is facing in my scenario around 2 German Army Corps, one in Sudtirol (chiefly Gebirgsjaeger and regular infantry with divisional artillery) and one in Friuli-Giulia sector (let's say a Panzer corps plus some spare infantry). The numbers engaged are pretty much around 200k. Add in around the same Yugoslavs (infantry and crackpot units). On the French border, it's the very same Armeé des Alpes. German casualties are high (at least 50k troops since the start of the invasion, most in Sudtirol) but the Italian ones are staggering (300k +)
Italian campaign will be costly in the TL, for sure, but something is cooking behind the scenes.
2 - Likely that we will see some Zaptié fighting on the rivers of Veneto soon, but at the moment Duke of Aosta will have to demonstrate his own fighting skills in Syria and then, against a certain Desert Fox. Lend-Lease will be absolutely provided also to Italy (Free France had it around the very same time in OTL). Brits are still reorganizing after the hits in Greece and their battle in Syria against the French and the general, widespread revolt of the Arab populations is draining their manpower at the moment.
3 - At this moment, foolish Graziani and Wavell are just outside the Mareth Line in Tunisia without the intelligence to seize the moment. They will be hit soon in the face
 
Thank you @lukedalton

I try to answer to your remarks below:

1 - At the moment, Italy is facing in my scenario around 2 German Army Corps, one in Sudtirol (chiefly Gebirgsjaeger and regular infantry with divisional artillery) and one in Friuli-Giulia sector (let's say a Panzer corps plus some spare infantry). The numbers engaged are pretty much around 200k. Add in around the same Yugoslavs (infantry and crackpot units). On the French border, it's the very same Armeé des Alpes. German casualties are high (at least 50k troops since the start of the invasion, most in Sudtirol) but the Italian ones are staggering (300k +)
Italian campaign will be costly in the TL, for sure, but something is cooking behind the scenes.
2 - Likely that we will see some Zaptié fighting on the rivers of Veneto soon, but at the moment Duke of Aosta will have to demonstrate his own fighting skills in Syria and then, against a certain Desert Fox. Lend-Lease will be absolutely provided also to Italy (Free France had it around the very same time in OTL). Brits are still reorganizing after the hits in Greece and their battle in Syria against the French and the general, widespread revolt of the Arab populations is draining their manpower at the moment.
3 - At this moment, foolish Graziani and Wavell are just outside the Mareth Line in Tunisia without the intelligence to seize the moment. They will be hit soon in the face

the problem for Germany are his allies, France army will lack almost everything in term of heavy equipment, Hitler can't give it back to them as it's vital to Barbarossa and the invasion of Italy (Nazi war effort was an enourmous Ponzi scheme). Sure the french can try to build them but as OTL Italy they will face problem in getting the resources necessary and they will face even more bombardment than Italy by the RAF so i expect them to be heavily underequipped.
The Jugoslavian Royal Army is by no shape capable of waging an offensive war of this type, thing of OTL Italian army but with even worse equipment and training and the addition of ethnic tension.
The situation in Algeria will be very problematic sure...but for the Axis, as said before, with Marine Nationale no more a factor in the battle of the Mediterrean the effort of supply whatever Axis force are there will be much much more problematic than for OTL Italy as frankly both Regia Marina and Royal Navy can actively interdict any ships that try to go there (frankly together they have absolute control of the Mediterrean) as whatever left of lifting capacity has been used for Syria. Basically at most the French had one shot and even if wildly succesfull the British counterattack will make look Compass a fair fight.
Basically i'm not saying that what you wrote is not possible, just that the Axis ITTL it's even more lucky than OTL, by now the Jugoslavian loss will have been staggering and anyone in command of the Germans force will basically sell his wife and mother thanking any god in existence for having just 50k casualities in this theatre after months of warfare in that terrain.

The general problem for the German is that France and Jugoslavia put together don't compensate the change of side of Italy, especially if we are talking of a defensive war and USA and UK resolving overnight any supply problem of Italy and Petain making the same mistake of Mussolini in wasting resources in fighting everywhere...anything sent in Syria is for all pratical purpose lost and everybody knows (French troops included ) that they will not last long
 
the problem for Germany are his allies, France army will lack almost everything in term of heavy equipment, Hitler can't give it back to them as it's vital to Barbarossa and the invasion of Italy (Nazi war effort was an enourmous Ponzi scheme). Sure the french can try to build them but as OTL Italy they will face problem in getting the resources necessary and they will face even more bombardment than Italy by the RAF so i expect them to be heavily underequipped.
The Jugoslavian Royal Army is by no shape capable of waging an offensive war of this type, thing of OTL Italian army but with even worse equipment and training and the addition of ethnic tension.
The situation in Algeria will be very problematic sure...but for the Axis, as said before, with Marine Nationale no more a factor in the battle of the Mediterrean the effort of supply whatever Axis force are there will be much much more problematic than for OTL Italy as frankly both Regia Marina and Royal Navy can actively interdict any ships that try to go there (frankly together they have absolute control of the Mediterrean) as whatever left of lifting capacity has been used for Syria. Basically at most the French had one shot and even if wildly succesfull the British counterattack will make look Compass a fair fight.
Basically i'm not saying that what you wrote is not possible, just that the Axis ITTL it's even more lucky than OTL, by now the Jugoslavian loss will have been staggering and anyone in command of the Germans force will basically sell his wife and mother thanking any god in existence for having just 50k casualities in this theatre after months of warfare in that terrain.

The general problem for the German is that France and Jugoslavia put together don't compensate the change of side of Italy, especially if we are talking of a defensive war and USA and UK resolving overnight any supply problem of Italy and Petain making the same mistake of Mussolini in wasting resources in fighting everywhere...anything sent in Syria is for all pratical purpose lost and everybody knows (French troops included ) that they will not last long

Yep, indeed France ITTL is Italy on steroids, with all the grandeur problems in a bombastic fashion. The fight is for sure one-sided also ITTL both in the Middle East and in North Africa. Concerning the losses, consider that it has been just a 3 months campaign for the Germans, and they've actually exploited gaps into Italian forces (e.g. the breakthrough of Tanamea towards Tarcento, the lucky pocket of Trieste and so on...) and only in Sudtirol they had the teeth to teeth battle in which their losses, until the collapse of Italian moral after the exploitation of Val Badia operation plummeted, were painful. 50k losses on the German side (let's say 80% in Sudtirol and 20% in Julian/Friuli front) are reasonable.

Concerning the Yugoslavs (or Yugoslavian what the heck I've never learnt it well in English), they're incensed for the missed occupation of Trieste after they've had indeed the heavy lifting let's say in terms of manpower losses. They will be for sure only cannon fodder and occupation troops to the Germans.

French delusions will arrive soon to reality after a couple of swan song in North Africa and in Soviet Union.

Italy is in a better place than OTL in terms of weapons, reserves, training, general staff and planning, but it's still Fascist Italy. They lost their easternmost provinces in a buff, suffered tremendous casualties and had their troops continuously outmaneuvered and their commanders outsmarted by the Germans. Indeed morale is underground after the general retreat, on the very same day of Vittorio Veneto's victory...
 
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