German heavy ships

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alecsandros
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Re: German heavy ships

Post by alecsandros » Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:41 pm

lwd wrote:But would a carrier have been all that useful for the Italians? Indeed I would think she would have been something of a bomb magnet.
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Francis Marliere
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Re: German heavy ships

Post by Francis Marliere » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:57 pm

lwd,

a carrier would have been very usefull for the Regia Marina because it would have given the fleet the air cover that the Regia Aeronautica was never able to provide during the air. One can easily imagine that the outcome of the battle of Mapatan would have been very different if there was a CAP protecting the Italian fleet.

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Francis Marliere

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by phil gollin » Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:16 am

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RF,

Another play of the vague "it was all IlDuce's fault" card.

Two main points ;

1: No back-up, no facts, lots of vagueness. You try to claim that only Il Duce had the ability to think and that the Naval High Command did not look out of its windows to see what was going on.

2: Are you seriously trying to claim that an Army dictator would have to give specific, detailed instructions on how a Naval High Command should order every aspect of what it did ? If so, you have condemned the Naval authorities as a bunch of weak willed dilletantes already. Building infrastructure and ships and training men merely as some sort of keynsian exercise in spending public money ?

PLEASE, remember that these people were meant to be highly skilled professional with the power, responsibility and money to run the navy. Yes, I am quite happy to agree that if Il Duce had wanted all Italian ships painted purple that is probably what would have been done, but he did not. Likewise he did not interfere in the line item running of the navy. THAT is why the Naval High Command should be held responsible, and that is why the modern historians are so bad.

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by RF » Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:55 am

The use of carriers by the RM brings the issue back to strategic planning and applying the resources necessary to achieve the strategic goals.

Asking whether Italy needs carriers at all is rather like asking whether Germany or Japan needed carriers. If both cases the answer is ''yes' if they are to win a war based on seapower. Because Italy is in a central position in the Med, together with Rhodes and other islands in the eastern Med, may give an impression of Italian airpower extending over all of ''Mare Nostrum'' but it is a misleading picture that Mussolini was focussing on. It is a mistake based on an ignorance of logistics and the difficulties of inter-service co-operation, particulary manifest in the time lags between when aircraft are needed and their actual appearance for combat operations. The further away from the italian land based airfields the more critical the issue becomes. This is particulary so at the western and eastern extremities of the Med, where Italian targets such as Suez and Gibraltar lie.

Had I been in charge of Italian operations in June 1940 I would have spent the previous six years building up the military forces and their supply logistics to support a modern European war against both France and Britain, taking into account also the possible involvement of the USA as well. My focus for expansion would be Africa and the Middle East and not the Balkans or Greece.

The initial moves at the point of declaration of war - with France on the verge of defeat against the Germans - would be a surprise airborne and seaborne invasion of Malta. But the main priority would be seizure of the Suez Canal intact in order to maintain direct links with East Africa. Carriers would be needed to support a seaborne assault on Alexandria and Suez, together with paratroop landings along the Canal. This would have to take place in the face of a full RN opposition which would have been fully alerted by the build up of invasion shipping.

As for the issue of Italian carriers being bomb magnets it shouldn't be any more of a problem than it was for the British. A much stronger air arm would be expected to provide the air cover.
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Re: German heavy ships

Post by RF » Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:17 am

phil gollin wrote: RF,

Another play of the vague "it was all IlDuce's fault" card.

Two main points ;

1: No back-up, no facts, lots of vagueness. You try to claim that only Il Duce had the ability to think and that the Naval High Command did not look out of its windows to see what was going on.

2: Are you seriously trying to claim that an Army dictator would have to give specific, detailed instructions on how a Naval High Command should order every aspect of what it did ? If so, you have condemned the Naval authorities as a bunch of weak willed dilletantes already. Building infrastructure and ships and training men merely as some sort of keynsian exercise in spending public money ?

PLEASE, remember that these people were meant to be highly skilled professional with the power, responsibility and money to run the navy. Yes, I am quite happy to agree that if Il Duce had wanted all Italian ships painted purple that is probably what would have been done, but he did not. Likewise he did not interfere in the line item running of the navy. THAT is why the Naval High Command should be held responsible, and that is why the modern historians are so bad.
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This is a complete misrepresentation of my views.

I have explained in full how the naval staff are supposed to work in conjunction with the foreign policy and strategic objectives set out by the political leaders of a country. That applies to all countries. The specification of those objectives are necessary for the military staff to do their job. Mussolini failed to give that leadership or proper direction. To say that is not being vague it is a description of the situation. I certainly did not say that the naval staff had no ability to think or see what was going on. What is required is that the staff are allowed to do their job. That means being given some idea of where the country is going. And that is only the starting point.

For the record, the military staffs of all three Italian armed forces were well aware of Italy's unpreparedness for war in May 1940, as they warned Mussolini of that situation. That in itself shows that the staffs were fully aware of the situation and status of their forces capabilities. If the dictator simply overules them they are left with the situation they are stuck in.
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RF
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Re: German heavy ships

Post by RF » Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:26 am

phil gollin wrote:.

PLEASE, remember that these people were meant to be highly skilled professional with the power, responsibility and money to run the navy. .
They run the Navy and not the country. The countrys' leaders specify what their objectives are and define what is needed from the Navy. The countrys' leaders also specify the money and resources to be given to the Navy. That is the basis upon which the naval staff deal with the detail of the day to day operation of the navy. I can't be clearer than that.

I don't think modern historians are bad. More likely they have accurately pinpointed who was to blame for Italys' unpreparedness.
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Re: German heavy ships

Post by Francis Marliere » Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:41 am

Italy was not prepared for a full scale war. The army was designed for small colonial wars and the armed forces as a whole had more a political role (ie consolidate Mussolini's power and the country's prestige) than a true military one. Hence, many officers, including most senor ones, were not selected because of their competence but for their connections with the regime. This affected more the army and the air force than the navy. The consequence was that there was many officers who were clearly not up to the task. They performed poorly both in planning the war and in making it.

One should keep in mind that in Italy the distinction between military and politics is not as clear as in Britain, USA or France. Military were deeply involved in politic as politics (ie Mussolini) was also deeply involved in military planning and leadership. In these conditions, trying to judge who is responsible of Italy's impreparation for war is difficult, to say the least.

I'd rather think - but it's just an opinion - that the bulk of the responsability falls on Mussolini's shoulders. The admirals in charge of Regia Marina were not perfects - indeed they were not - but were professionals (the navy was the service which was the less affected by political promotions) that did their best with what they had. They were limited by insuficient budget, weak industrial and technical capacities, absurd politics and their own mental limitations.

One should also consider that they did not fail because they build a powerfull navy, which was seen as a major threat by France and Great Britain. I don't think that in 1940 nobody though that the Regia Marina was a failure.

Regards,

Francis Marliere

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by lwd » Thu Oct 20, 2011 2:02 pm

Francis Marliere wrote:a carrier would have been very usefull for the Regia Marina because it would have given the fleet the air cover that the Regia Aeronautica was never able to provide during the air. One can easily imagine that the outcome of the battle of Mapatan would have been very different if there was a CAP protecting the Italian fleet....
But one carrier even if it isn't subject to special attention by ones opponents isn't going to be operational all the time and as I pointed out it would become a prime target of the RN once the war started. In all likely hood it's going to be damage very early in the war (it might inflict damage on the RN in return) and be laid up with damage for most of the war. There's also the question of when the Italians could have had a carrier. There have been numerous discussions of how long it takes to work the bugs out of carrier operations and the general consensus seems to be over a year with some suggesting several years.

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by lwd » Thu Oct 20, 2011 2:05 pm

phil gollin wrote:....
1: No back-up, no facts, lots of vagueness.
Pot calling kettle.
2: Are you seriously trying to claim that an Army dictator would have to give specific, detailed instructions on how a Naval High Command should order every aspect of what it did ? If ...
I don't think anyone has made that claim. Please substantiate or reread previous posting for a better comprehension of what is being said.

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by lwd » Thu Oct 20, 2011 2:09 pm

RF wrote:...As for the issue of Italian carriers being bomb magnets it shouldn't be any more of a problem than it was for the British. A much stronger air arm would be expected to provide the air cover.
The Italians have a much harder time finding secure anchorages than the British do. Thuse their carriers will always be at some risk. If they only have one carrier they are also a bit short in critical mass. Now a stronger air arm in concert with better coordination with the Italian airforce could help a lot but interservice cooperation might be viewed with supsion by the powers that be. Witness Hitlers setting various factions at odds with each other to make sure none got too powerful.

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by Francis Marliere » Thu Oct 20, 2011 2:33 pm

Well I said that a carrier would have been usefull for the RM, not that the RM could easily have one. There was many difficulties and it is not surprising that none were commissioned.
First problem is political. The Regia Aeronautica owns all the aircrafts, like in Germany, and is not really inclined to give up some of its prerogatives to the navy. Then the RM has to find the ressources and the technical skills to build a carrier. The money, steel, workers and shipyard place used in carrier construction cannot be used to something else. Hence building a carrier means cancelling a battleship or some other warships. Since the RM is a traditional big-guns club and not really air-minded, it is really unlikely that the naval staff would choose to sacrify a battleship or some other warships for an unproved and vulnerable carrier. Finally, the RM had to purchase planes for the carriers and I am not certain that the insufficient Italian aircraft industry could provide in time enough planes with good enough performances.

Best regards,

Francis Marliere

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by phil gollin » Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:29 am

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RF you really are confusing me.

You admit to the Naval High Command being responsible and then, somehow, just blame Il Duce for Italian non-preparedness for war. Those positions can't both be true. The Naval High Command knew it had responsibility, it knew Italy's foreign policy, it had the budget , power and responsibility to organise and run the naavy and it knew how long things take to build and commission. Where did Il Duce stop them from thinking ? Where did Il Duce interfere in the line-item expenditure ? If the Italian navy misused its budget the vast majority of the blame for that MUST go to the Navy's High Command.

As I have said many times, I just want Italy judged on the same basis as other countries. I gave the example of a mere Fleet Commander who DID do some of the thinking and doing that was required, in stark contrast.

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by phil gollin » Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:39 am

Francis Marliere wrote:
.......... I'd rather think - but it's just an opinion - that the bulk of the responsability falls on Mussolini's shoulders. The admirals in charge of Regia Marina were not perfects - indeed they were not - but were professionals (the navy was the service which was the less affected by political promotions) that did their best with what they had. They were limited by insuficient budget, weak industrial and technical capacities, absurd politics and their own mental limitations.

One should also consider that they did not fail because they build a powerfull navy, which was seen as a major threat by France and Great Britain. I don't think that in 1940 nobody though that the Regia Marina was a failure.
I am quite happy to be insulting about Il Duce's interference TO A LIMITED SENSE - but one cannot look at what the Navy did ( to summarise - 4 modern battleships built/building but too few escorts, too little intrastructure, poor training) without blaming the Admirals and their staffs for not being professional.

It is a measure of how badly the Italian navy did by looking at what the British thought it might/should be capable of (totally controlling the Med/taking Malta and possibly chasing the British out of both Gibraltar and Alexandrai - obvious with the help of the other Italian armed services) and what it did actually manage (it failed in its main role of the merchantile war).

The Italian Naval High Command bears the main responsibility for that.

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by RF » Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:53 pm

As I have said twice before we seem to be destined to go round and round and round in circles with Phil's posts.

What Phil seems unable to understand is how a tinpot dictatorship works.

Supermarina, the naval staff is subordinate to the political leadership - Mussolini. That is who decides policy and ultimately decides on the allocation of resources, namely what the navy gets. The naval staff have to operate and plan around that. If they aren't told where Italy is going, or what the Duce needs from the navy, then they are in the dark. They can't plan properly. They can try to second guess about what they think the policy is and what is needed, but they almost certainly won't be able to do very much because the resources are inadequate. They can complain about the lack of direction and the lack of resources, and be ignored.

Logically from the point of view of any service staff officer in Italy in the late 1930's Italy is clearly unfit to take part in a major European war. The prospective enemies are France and Britain which between them effectively have Italy hemmed in, even though the homeland is in a central Med position. The only sane policy therefore is to keep out of any war that Germany starts. So staff officers would anticipate Italy remaining neutral in spite of the bellicose noises the state propaganda machine makes. If Italy faces no prospect of success against a combined British/French coalition then the only tactics and strategy that could be planned for at a staff level is the defensive posture that was adopted.

The fault ultimately lies with the person who makes the military and foreign policy decisions. If Italy is going to war, the staffs need to be told that Italy is going in that direction years before the dictator plans to move. They need to be told the grand strategy and where the expansion is expected to be. Hitler made it crystal clear that Germany was heading for war right from 1933, telling the military chiefs in February 1933 that he wanted the size of the Reichswehr trebled by October 1934. From then on he personally directed the rate of expansion of the Heer. In Italy there was no such leadership from Mussolini - with one exception. The planning for the invasion of Abyssinia began in early 1933 as Mussolini told his military chiefs he wanted to invade before the end of 1934. In that instance the staffs delivered because they were told that this operation was to happen. No such foresight was offered by Mussolini in 1939. In May 1940 when it first became apparent that Italy would declare war, Marshall Badoglio as head of the Army staff told Mussolini exactly what Italy's position was. That was his job and in the circumstances all he could resonably do.
Staffs serve their leaders. They can't wave a magic wand or be mindreaders.

I can't be clearer than that
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Re: German heavy ships

Post by phil gollin » Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:38 am

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RF,

The reason we are going arond in circles is because you seem to imagine that the "tinpot dictator" would be involved in anything other than major items and also, and more worryingly, that the naval staff never took an interest in their navy.

An RN Fleet Admiral DOES look out of his window. He takes what money and resources that he already has and prepares for war (as HE sees it post-Munich) and he asks his High Command for what he feels is necessary to increase the preparations - more ships, more money for infrastructure and more training.

Now, what were the Italian High Command doing ? Somehow you seem to think that they didn't have a window to look out of. The idea that Italy would sit out a war is laughable - it is the Italians which are trying to provoke a war as far as the reat of Europe (indeed the world) is concerned.

As I said at the begining - where is there any evidence that the Italians did all this "looking out of the window" ? It is not presented in the histories publically printed. You "forget" what Italy was doing and what, more importantly, what the rest of Europe was doing because of Italy's actions and those of her ally, Germany.

Your ideas that the Naval High Command somehow just sat their twiddling their thumbs might match their apparent actions, but it doesn't explain why they didn't think and act professionally as any other nation's naval staff would.

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