As far as I know, the Castillo de Olite had been modified to operate as a landing ship and the operation was studied by Italian military advisors, causing a serious change in the minds of the Regia Marina high command. Cavagnari and Mussolini lost their faith in the Italian amphibious operations doctrine, based upon the use of few and large ships, soon thereafter, as noted by Ciano in his entry of 15 March 1939 of his diary.Ironmachine wrote: ↑30 Jan 2019 06:58This is the first time I see any reference to a significant Italian involvement in the Cartagena landing operation. Can you explain what you mean by "Italian-sponsored"?
But anyway, as I said in a previous post in this thread, the Cartagena landing was totally improvised in about 48 hours. There were no real preparations, the National merchant vessels involved in the operation (not only the Castillo de Olite, there were many more) sailed as soon as they had their assigned troops onboard, and they were not adapted as amphibious ships because it was in no way an amphibious assault against an enemy coast. Cartagena, probably the best defended coastal area in Spain, was supposed to be under friendly control by forces that had rebelled against Negrin's government; thus, no opposition was expected and the ships were simply to dock in the harbour, and the troops would then disembark in a normal way. It was to be just a naval transport operation, not an amphibious invasion. Its value as an "empirical proof" regarding an amphibious landing against a defended enemy coast was highly questionable.
I was wrong, instead, about an Italian sponsoring: the operation was analysed by Italian officers, not planned or supported by them.