Why did Italy suck in WW2

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    • Why did Italy suck in WW2

      Before the actual war broke out Italy was extremly mobilized and on paper had one of the most powerful armies in the world. They had a naval fleet that had potential to match the British fleet and a statistically stronger ground and air force than USSR and even Germany. My theories are that Italian leaders and generals were corrupt and Mussolini was giving away high ranking positions to his friends and/or selling them off to the highest bidder. I also think that Italy, just like France and UK, were expecting a repeat of WW1 and prepared for trench warfare and just never adjusted to modern types of fighting. I'm not sure if my theories are correct so what do you guys think?
    • I'd say the problem was mostly in the morale of the ordinary troops. Leadership wanted a role on the world stage and be an imperial power to match the greatest, but this ambition wasn't shared by the common people. They just didn't understand why they would go fight and die over some Albanian mountains or a Libyan desert. So when fighting started to get serious, they would rather surrender than put up a fight. Italian army has by far the highest ratio of PoW's to KIA of any nation in the war.
      When the enemy is driven back, we have failed. When he is cut off, encircled and dispersed, we have succeeded. - Aleksandr Suvorov.
    • K.Rokossovski's point is a good one. I also believe a big part of the underlying mentality of the majority of the Italian people was that of a carry-over of horror and war-weariness from World War I, in which Italy lost over 300,000 of her young men for relatively small territorial gains in the north. In this, the Italians were no different than a majority of Americans, Brits and Frenchmen, none of whom were excited at the prospect of fighting another major war. And unlike the Germans, many of whom felt that Germany had been unfairly and harshly treated by the victorious Allied nations following World War I, most Italians were not motivated by a sense of vengeance or righting past wrongs. I might also add that most Italian units fought well enough when they were led by Rommel in North Africa, which I believe points directly to the Italian military's biggest problem: leadership.

      I would also not characterize Italy's military leadership problem as one of "corruption," as much as one of competence. Italy's fascist regime simply did not produce any great general officers who were well versed in modern maneuver warfare like Guderian, Rommel, Patton or Montgomery, and the Italian army was not particularly well trained or equipped for it. Whereas the Americans war-gamed maneuver warfare in the 1930s, and they, the British and the Soviets learned hard battlefield lessons in the first year or two of the war, the best German generals literally wrote the book on maneuver and the best combined use of modern tanks, motorized/mechanized infantry, artillery and tactical air support in modern warfare, and they had two years of practical experience by the time the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

      As for "corruption," I have only recently read about one of the best kept German secrets of the war: virtually all of the senior German general officers were receiving the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year from a secret N@zi slush fund designed to ensure their loyalty to the regime. H*tler retained ultimate control of the funds. While it is often said that "German/Prussian field marshals/generals do not commit treason," etc., to justify their failure to rebel against the N@zi regime, it is also crystal clear that most of the senior Wehrmacht leadership had a direct and rather substantial financial stake in the regime.

      The post was edited 2 times, last by MontanaBB ().

    • Darth Anor wrote:

      Before the actual war broke out Italy was extremly mobilized and on paper had one of the most powerful armies in the world.
      Italian armor was often referred to as mobile coffins. Weak armor and poor fuel protection made them very incendiary targets.
      "A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week." - General George S. Patton, Jr.

      "Do, or do not. There is no try" - Yoda
    • Peter Mat is quite right. The problem was Italy prepared for war a little too early. While she had some tanks that served well, quite a lot weren't really tanks.... they were tankettes. Then what good tanks they did have were crewed by men who wiggled in fear liked cooked spaghetti when they saw the British.

      I've also heard a story that an Italian unit refused to fight because they didn't have any water to boil their spaghetti in, but this is questionable, albeit quite humorous.
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    • The General Staff were afraid and grossly untrained. The fact that their leader was fond of handing out powerful positions to political allies other than capable officers. Mussolini was a romantic leader. He or his new coalition was never prepared for an industrial conflict in Europe in 1940.

      Corruption in the country was out of control and manpower resources limited. His alliance with Germany was based on the territorial needs of the Axis powers in the Med and Africa. Italy was the weak link and a soft target for the allies. Opening a second front in Africa and Italy proper drained German resources to a great degree. It took less than a year for allied nations to destroy them and gain the vital ground necessary to move into Europe.
      It is what it is....
    • I feel as though Italy was largely unprepared for the terms of modern war.
      Mussolini believed in a romanticized victory of restoring the Roman empire, something that was damn near impossible, the country wasn't very large in size and suffered from the recent depression. If you check out tank encyclopedia, you can see that the Italians were lacking greatly when it came to armor, something that was greatly needed fighting the British in Africa.

      Basically, Italy was more than unprepared and founded on an unreal goal, and ended up biting off more than they could chew, which of course resulted in them calling of German aide.
    • MontanaBB wrote:

      K.Rokossovski's point is a good one. I also believe a big part of the underlying mentality of the majority of the Italian people was that of a carry-over of horror and war-weariness from World War I, in which Italy lost over 300,000 of her young men for relatively small territorial gains in the north. In this, the Italians were no different than a majority of Americans, Brits and Frenchmen, none of whom were excited at the prospect of fighting another major war. And unlike the Germans, many of whom felt that Germany had been unfairly and harshly treated by the victorious Allied nations following World War I, most Italians were not motivated by a sense of vengeance or righting past wrongs. I might also add that most Italian units fought well enough when they were led by Rommel in North Africa, which I believe points directly to the Italian military's biggest problem: leadership.

      I would also not characterize Italy's military leadership problem as one of "corruption," as much as one of competence. Italy's fascist regime simply did not produce any great general officers who were well versed in modern maneuver warfare like Guderian, Rommel, Patton or Montgomery, and the Italian army was not particularly well trained or equipped for it. Whereas the Americans war-gamed maneuver warfare in the 1930s, and they, the British and the Soviets learned hard battlefield lessons in the first year or two of the war, the best German generals literally wrote the book on maneuver and the best combined use of modern tanks, motorized/mechanized infantry, artillery and tactical air support in modern warfare, and they had two years of practical experience by the time the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

      As for "corruption," I have only recently read about one of the best kept German secrets of the war: virtually all of the senior German general officers were receiving the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year from a secret N@zi slush fund designed to ensure their loyalty to the regime. H*tler retained ultimate control of the funds. While it is often said that "German/Prussian field marshals/generals do not commit treason," etc., to justify their failure to rebel against the N@zi regime, it is also crystal clear that most of the senior Wehrmacht leadership had a direct and rather substantial financial stake in the regime.
      Interesting, I have not heard of these payments to senior German staff members, It certainly explains alot in the realm of their loyalty to Hitler. I'll certainly be snooping around looking for more information on this. I would bet those funds were possibly stopped or reduced around the time of the bomb attempt on Hitler... Research needed here.
      It is what it is....