Question on composition of Italian forces in NA without...

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JeffreyF
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Post by JeffreyF » 04 Nov 2004 22:18

Lupo Solitario wrote:
JeffreyF wrote:75/18 was a mountain howitzer, iirc so besides on semovente it would not be present in NA, no? 75/32 was the version for motorized troops and would be the one I would expect to be present in both places. Although as usual I'm probably in the wrong I will admit.
No Jeff they were two different weapons:

the 75/18mm was an howitzer; it existed in two version: model 34 packed for mountain artillery and model 35 towed for motorized artillery.

the 75/32mm was a field cannon, used mainly in AT role, towed for motorized artillery.

Either had been mounted on M tank hulls but while semoventi 75/18 appeared in late 1941 (and fought at Alam Halfa, Alamein, etc.), semoventi 75/32 appeared only in 1943.

I'm sure that:
no 75/32 towed was ever used in NA
no 75/18 towed was used in NA before Alamein; I'm not sure about Tunisia
bye
My fault I forgot about the motorised version of the 75/18. I was under the impression that the 75/18 and 75/32 never actually saw service as field pieces in NA but was hoping I was wrong. I had figured that basically the 75/27, 100/17 and 105/28 were the main field pieces used in NA. The same with the forces in Russia, just that they had a better percentage of modern 75mm field pieces augmenting the artillery. I'm starting to get curious about Italian production of field pieces because it seems like there was an extremely small percentage of new artillery as compared to the Allies. I would have thought this was an area where production would have been of good quantity.

Does anything exist that shows quantity of artillery in army service, by type if possible, before June 1940 and subsequent production by type? ex: 75/18mod34, 75/18mod35, 90/53, etc. Or what book might be purchased to cover this as I'm asking a bit much.

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DrG
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Post by DrG » 05 Nov 2004 01:51

JeffreyF, there would be F. Cappellano, "Le artiglierie del Regio Esercito nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale", Storia Militare - Albertelli, but it's out of print (I'm looking for it too). There are good data in "Storia Militare" n. 74 and 75 (a long article by N. Pignato and F. Cappellano), but not complete (but almost), focusing mostly on the Ansaldo factory (if you are interested, please ask me by email ;)). Other info are in F. Cappellano, N. Pignato [again!], "Il Regio Esercito alla vigilia dell'8 Settembre 1943", Storia Militare - Albertelli.
Re-reading that book just now I think I have found proofs that your assumption about a German indirect control over the front of use of their artillery given to Italy is correct, in fact when the authors talk about the German help there isn't the slightest reference to Italian decisions, but that "The German Army [...] strenghtened the Italian troops operating in the desert with a small number of towed heavy AA guns, with obsolete 25 and 37 mm AT guns and only a regiment of 149/28 heavy artillery." and that "Also in Russia the German help was very limited, concretized into a few 5 cm and 7.5 cm AT batteries and in two groups [battalions] of 149/28 artillery.".

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JeffreyF
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Post by JeffreyF » 05 Nov 2004 02:21

DrG wrote:JeffreyF, there would be F. Cappellano, "Le artiglierie del Regio Esercito nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale", Storia Militare - Albertelli, but it's out of print (I'm looking for it too). There are good data in "Storia Militare" n. 74 and 75 (a long article by N. Pignato and F. Cappellano), but not complete (but almost), focusing mostly on the Ansaldo factory (if you are interested, please ask me by email ;)). Other info are in F. Cappellano, N. Pignato [again!], "Il Regio Esercito alla vigilia dell'8 Settembre 1943", Storia Militare - Albertelli.
Re-reading that book just now I think I have found proofs that your assumption about a German indirect control over the front of use of their artillery given to Italy is correct, in fact when the authors talk about the German help there isn't the slightest reference to Italian decisions, but that "The German Army [...] strenghtened the Italian troops operating in the desert with a small number of towed heavy AA guns, with obsolete 25 and 37 mm AT guns and only a regiment of 149/28 heavy artillery." and that "Also in Russia the German help was very limited, concretized into a few 5 cm and 7.5 cm AT batteries and in two groups [battalions] of 149/28 artillery.".
I believe I have told you I've been looking for that book as well. ;) *sigh*

Iirc the Solothurn AT-rifles were produced in factories controlled by the Germans? How did Germans go about allowing the purchase of these weapons to various "allies"?

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Post by Jon G. » 05 Nov 2004 12:56

David W wrote:This is a very interesting question. I will be keen to hear what others have to say.
F.W.I.W, I think the biggest problem is going to be adequately supplying any additional Italian forces in the North African theatre. Bear in mind that of the three ports used by the Axis, only one (Tripoli) was in their hands for the entire campaign. Also look at the ports capacities, and compare them with the requirements of a typical Italian or German Division.

Tripoli: 45,000 Tonnes per Month maximum.
Benghasi: 24,000 Tonnes per Month maximum.
Tobruk: 18,000 Tonnes per Month maximum.

Typical Monthly requirements of an Italian Division: 8,000 Tonnes per Month MINIMUM. German Division: 11,000 Tonnes per Month MINIMUM.
Do the sums and you will see how stretched the Axis were in supplying the existing forces, never mind having to cope with even more.
It is true that the limited capacity of Libyan ports set a definite, and very modest, upper limit to how large forces the Axis could maintain in North Africa. Shipping supplies across the Mediterranean was overall done with acceptable losses, at least when ships were destined for Tripolis.

I think the definite upper limit to force sizes was acknowledged both by the Comando Supremo and the OKH - so sending more troops across would not have been done I think, even if they had been available or if the priorities had been different.

For the supply requirements you mention, bear in mind that they wax and wane depending on what kind of activity the divisions in question are doing. The average requirement of a Panzer Division, for example, is stated as 350 tons a day, including water, but can actually be as little as 30 tons a day for periods of inactivity, up to 700 tons a day for heavy fighting. Interestingly enough, infantry divisions use more supplies than Panzer divisions do - no doubt because at least early war Panzer divisions did not have much artillery, instead relying on air support.

Maybe the artillery component of Italian forces was trimmed to reduce supply requirements?

The additional bottleneck was the distance from the supply ports to the front, and at least for North Africa, that bluntly translates into number of trucks available. It's not only a question of shipping the average 350 tons a day over, but also a question of bringing the supplies up to troops that could well be more than 1000 miles away.

It's interesting how the 7000 trucks for the Italians keep cropping up as an almost sacred number - surely the number of trucks must have fluctuated, or were the 7000 trucks simply a target number deemed acceptable by the Comando Supremo? More likely, I suspect, English language books are all relying on the same source :)

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Post by DrG » 05 Nov 2004 15:21

Jeffrey, I've just sent you an email that will make you happy. ;)

About the matter of logistics of the Regio Esercito, I know there are the books by Ferruccio Botti "La logistica dell’Esercito Italiano (1831-1981)":
- Vol. I (1831-1861) Esercito Piemontese
- Vol. II (1861-1918) Dalla nascita dell’Esercito Italiano alla Prima Guerra Mondiale
- Vol. III (1919-1940) Dalla Guerra Totale alla Guerra Integrale
- Vol. IV (1940-1981) Dalla Guerra Integrale alla Guerra Nucleare (tomo 1-2-3).
Has anyone read them? :? I would like to know an opinion before buying them.

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David W
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Post by David W » 05 Nov 2004 15:25

DrG & other interested parties...

Italian Artillery in North Africa July/August 1942.

This was a more difficult undertaking than I had at first imagined.

What I present is not a finished work, but it is the best I can do. I have layed it out so that corrections will be easy to insert by others.
Any unqualified statistics will be followed by a "?".

I haven't added up the totals of each weapon type. I think this would be more profitable when others have had their input, and we have a more accurate document.

(JeffreyF. B.T.W there were at least 700 25pdrs alone in North Africa at this time)

O.K here goes.....................




132nd Artillery Regiment.
I Gruppo: 12 x 75/27.
II Gruppo: 12 x 75/27.

V Gruppo: 8 x Semovente 75/18.
VI Gruppo: 8 x Semovente 75/18.?

205th Artillery Regiment.
I Gruppo: 12 x 100/17.
II Gruppo: 12 x 100/17.
III Gruppo: 12 x 75/27.
IV Gruppo: 12 x 75/27.

1st Celere Artillery Regiment.
I Gruppo: 9 x 75/27.
II Gruppo: 8 x 75/27.
III Gruppo: 12 x 100/17.
IV Gruppo: 8 x 100/17.? poss destroyed by 8/42



136th Artillery Regiment.
XIV Gruppo: 12 x 65/17.
XV Gruppo: 12 x 65/17.
XVI Gruppo: 12 x75/27
XVII Gruppo: 12 x 100/17.

133rd Artillery Regiment.
I Gruppo: 12 x 75/27. Poss destroyed by 7/42
II Gruppo: 12 x 75/27. Poss destroyed by 7/42
CCCXXXII Gruppo: 12 x 100/17.
554 Gruppo: 8 x Semovente 75/18.
556 Gruppo: 8 x Semovente 75/18.

26th Artillery Regiment.
I Gruppo: 12 x 75/27. Poss destroyed by 7/42
II Gruppo: 12 x 75/27. Poss destroyed by 7/42
III Gruppo: 12 x 75/27.? Poss destroyed by 7/42

3rd Artillery Regiment.
I Gruppo: 12 x 75/27.? Poss not in theatre until 11/42
II Gruppo: 12 x 75/27.? Poss not in thetre until 11/42
III Gruppo: 12 x 100/17.?
IV Gruppo: 12 x 105/28 Poss not in theatre until 11/42


CCLXXXIII Gruppo: 12 x 75/27
CCLXXXIV Gruppo: 8 x 75/27
CCCXL Batty: 4 x 65/17

46th Artillery Regiment.
I Gruppo: 12 x 100/17.
II Gruppo: 12 x 100/17.
III Gruppo: 16 x 75/27.? (some sources list 12x)
IV Gruppo: 16 x 75/27.? (some sources list 12x)

21st Artillery Regiment.
I Gruppo: 12/16 x 100/17.
II Gruppo: 12/16 x 100/17.
III Gruppo: 12/16 x 75/27.
IV Gruppo: 12/16 x 75/27.

Frontier Guards Artillery.
CCCLIV Gruppo: 12 x 77/28? (poss destroyed by 7/42)
CCCLV Gruppo: 12 x 77/28? (poss destroyed by 7/42)
CCLXLI Gruppo: 12 x 77/28.?
CCCXXXII Gruppo: 12 x 100/17.?



16th Corps Artillery.
XV Gruppo: 12 x 105/28.
XLIX Gruppo: 12 x 105/28.
? Gruppo: 12 x 105/28.
CXLVII Gruppo: 12 x 149/28

24th Corps Artillery.
I Gruppo: 12 x 105/28. Poss destroyed by 7/42
II Gruppo: 12 x 105/28. Poss destroyed by 7/42

8th Raggrupamento D'ariglieria
CXLI Gruppo: 12 x 149/28.?
LII Gruppo: 16 x 152/37.?
CXXXI Gruppo: 12 x 149/28.?
CXLVIII Gruppo: 12 x 149/28.?
CXLII Gruppo: 12 x 149/28.?
XXXIII Gruppo: 12 x 149/40.?


5th Raggrupamento D'artiglieria D'Armata
XIX Gruppo: 12 x 149/35
XX Gruppo: 12 x 149/35
XXI Gruppo: 12 X 149/35
XXII Gruppo: 12 x 149/35


3rd Celere Reggimento Artiglieria
I Gruppo: 8 x 75/27
II Gruppo: 8 x 75/27
III Gruppo 8 x 100/17

My Roman numerals aren't too clever, so ask for an interpretation before posting an "error" :wink:

Regards. Dave.

P.S I can't get rid of those emoticons on the3rd Artillery Regiment post. It should read 105/28 in both cases.
Last edited by David W on 17 Feb 2005 20:28, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by DrG » 05 Nov 2004 16:58

DavidW, many thanks for your data. :)
As we can see, there were 48 149/28 German-made howitzers in N. Africa, more than the 36 in Russia (unlike what is told by Jeffrey's source). The number of 149/40 (12) instead confirms that source.
The guns, all 75mm or larger, listed by DavidW are a total of 608 (624 counting 16 guns per group of the 21st Art. Reg.), if I've not done mistakes. This total alone is larger than that of 588 guns of the ARMIR, and this latter total includes every caliber, not only the 75mm+. Moreover at el-Alamein the front was about 70 km long (including the German held zones), along the Don it was 300 km.
Given that of the artillery sent in Russia only the 32 75/32 were truly modern weapons (I don't count German weapons given to Italy becase I have the strong suspect that their use was intended only on that front by the Germans, and I have my doubts that the 75/18 howitzer would have been terribly better than the older 75/27 gun, that anyway, AFAIK, could be towed too) and that the Britons had 700 (!!!) 25 pounders (87.6 mm) it's a bit difficult, in my opinion, to think that those 32 guns would have changed history, not counting that instead in Russia they were absolutely needed, lacking the full German support present in N. Africa.

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Post by JeffreyF » 05 Nov 2004 22:17

There is a pdf(actually 2) put out by the Italian armed forces website.
Conferenza El Alamein Web.pdf
Immagini Dominioni El Alamein Web.pdf

For the first battle of El Alamein it lists
530 artillery pieces for the Italians and Germans.
700 for the British.

By the time of second El Alamein it lists:
522 artillery pieces for the Italians and Germans.
1451 for the British.

I'm guessing that the article is probably quite wrong. However it might indicate that while the Italians had quite a bit of towed artillery that it was spread out on garrison duties, etc. Although this might fall under artillery under milmart and others control. In which case recouping an additional 30 artillery pieces, especially if the 75/32 and even 100/17 could be used to augment anti-tank defenses would have been extremely useful. Although I imagine in the case of the El Alamein line the need is for something long range to provide counter-battery fire to keep the British from decimating Italian infantry divisions?

Of which we are now talking the 149/40 of which only a few are available and they will become prime targets for the Allied air force. Hmm how many 20mm aa guns where freed up? :lol:


Once again since I lack proper documentation to support what I say I must admit in advance that I am probably comically wrong on this.

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David W
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Post by David W » 18 Jan 2005 18:03

Recently found more Italian & Allied artillery if any one is interested in the details, post here and they will follow.

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Post by Michael Emrys » 20 Jan 2005 06:55

David W wrote:P.S I can't get rid of those emoticons on the3rd Artillery Regiment post. It should read 105/28 in both cases.
To get rid of the emoticons in that post, type a space betweent the '8' and the ')', thus: 8 )

:D

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David W
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Post by David W » 20 Jan 2005 10:14

That did it Grease-spot. Thank you.

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Post by JeffreyF » 09 Feb 2005 23:09

David W wrote:Recently found more Italian & Allied artillery if any one is interested in the details, post here and they will follow.

Post! Post! Post!

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David W
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Post by David W » 17 Feb 2005 20:30

Original list edited 17/02/05

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JeffreyF
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Post by JeffreyF » 17 Feb 2005 20:49

Thanks for the update.

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Post by Martyn R » 18 Feb 2005 22:12

David W wrote:
Perhaps the Italians best plan would be to keep the size of the force in North Africa much the same as it was. But to ensure it had the best quality units, with the best quality equipment. Most especially exchanging non mobile infantry units with motorised ones or armour.Whilst at the same time, making the increase in port capacity a priority job.
More high quality units, and a committment to not advance beyond Tobruk until adequate German forces arrive would have been a good (if politically unacceptable) Italian strategy.
Dave

I agree with your most of your points but I think the issue of the port capacity is overplayed!

It was only a major problem if you had a long term campaign in the desert. If the Italian invasion in late 1940 had been part of properly developed strategy over the course of late 1939-40 enough time existed to move all the stores, fuel and ammunition to forward supply areas for a small 5-6 division strong force using all the suitable vehicles the Italians had backed by a single German armoured division. A sustained campaign in late 1940 would have taken Alexandria - and in terms of port capacity the problem would have solved (the RN may have had other idea!). A second German or third German division could have then been landed at Alex to create in early 1941 a force capable of taking the rest of the Middle East or at least create of tactically more defensible posistion than the Egyptian/Libyan border along the Suez Canal.

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