Was the italien soldiers more worse soldiers then others?

Discussions on all aspects of Italy under Fascism from the March on Rome to the end of the war.
Jon G.
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Post by Jon G. » 16 Nov 2006 12:56

luigi wrote:Indeed hard to believe that the CR42 was still in production by 1943... this fact alone is a witness of the inability of Italy as a Country to deal with a war: this all at the expenses of the common soldier who later had to endure insult over pain by being painted as a coward...
The CR 42 may have been outdated as a fighter already when the war began, but it still had its uses. The good visibility offered by the open cockpit of the CR 42 may have made it a better night fighter than closed-cockpit types, considering Italy's shortcomings in radar technology.

Also, the CR 42 was the escort plane par excellence on the North African convoy routes - the relatively slow speed and fair visibility of the CR 42's cockpit may have made it a suitable aircraft for this task. It's probably easier to spot a torpedo's wake in the water from a CR 42 than it is from a high-speed enclosed cockpit fighter flying at higher altitude. Given the presence of more modern fighter planes the Italian biplanes could also concentrate on engaging Swordfish torpedo bombers and leave enemy fighters to be engaged by Macchis and Messerschmitts.

luigi
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Post by luigi » 16 Nov 2006 15:21

John, such coordination (cr42 for swordfish and modern fighters for the other) never existed... The fact that CR42 were turned to night fighters or attack planes cannot excuse keeping their production until that late.
For sweeping the shipping routes the Re2000 with its outstanding range would have been much more useful.

Fact is that FIAT-Ansaldo ruled and was able to impose his miserable piece of crap to our soldiers.

Jon G.
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Post by Jon G. » 16 Nov 2006 18:20

I take your point about lack of coordination, although it was comparatively rare for RAI aircraft to engage British fighters while flying shotgun for convoys bound for North Africa. Most of the time escorting aircraft were simply lookouts/scouts, a task which the CR 42 was suitable for also well into the war.

By comparison, the British continued building Hurricanes until 1944, the Americans built various Hawk monoplanes well after they were past their prime as fighters, and the Germans soldiered on with the Bf 109 right up to the end. I don't see why the continued production of the CR 42 should be singled out as particularly criminal.

Wargames
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Post by Wargames » 19 Nov 2006 10:54

John G. wrote:
I don't see why the continued production of the CR 42 should be singled out as particularly criminal.
Except it didn't do anything when the Macchi 200 and 202 did. The only thing more worthless than a CR.42 was a CR.32.

Jon G.
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Post by Jon G. » 19 Nov 2006 14:06

Wargames wrote:
I don't see why the continued production of the CR 42 should be singled out as particularly criminal.
Except it didn't do anything when the Macchi 200 and 202 did. The only thing more worthless than a CR.42 was a CR.32.
Well, the post-war Italian air force found use for the CR 42 well into the late 1940s, and the Spanish air force used the CR 32 until the early 1950s. In both cases the ageing biplanes were used as trainers and liaison planes.

My point was emphatically that while the CR 42 was completely outclassed as a fighter by 1943, it still had its uses. As I wrote above, the CR 42 was used extensively for escorting convoys, in the night fighter role (when nothing else was available), and in the ground assault and anti-shipping role. Later on the Luftwaffe used it briefly as a night harassment aircraft.

As I also wrote, the British continued building Hawker Hurricanes and the Americans kept building Curtiss Hawks/Warhawks/Kittyhawks/Tomahawks also after these models had been surpassed as top grade fighters. Therefore, I don't think you can identify any particular Italian ineptitude in the decision to build the CR 42 well past its peak. It still had its uses, just not as a fighter.

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Post by Mark V » 25 Nov 2006 21:15

Wargames wrote: In 1940, Macchi was building the best 840 hp fighter in the world. No other country produced anything that got so much out of so little, able to get 313 mph out of it when the Fiat G.50, with the idential engine, only got 294 mph..
You are absolutely correct. Many of Italian airframes were very good.

That didn't helped much as in 1940 all major combatants were beyond 1000hp of engine power, and by 1943 - Soviet, Japanese and Germans were about 1500-1800hp level, and US and Brits were pushing 2000hp on their fighters....

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Post by Mark V » 25 Nov 2006 21:47

About Italian surface fleet, i think that - even with calm Mediterranean waters, they should had followed the sound RN design principles on their prewar construction programmes: simple, cheap to build, heavily armed, reasonably powered, moderately armoured, lightly crewed surface assets = many economical keels afloat.


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pitman
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Post by pitman » 26 Nov 2006 18:44

I am afraid I am jumping in without reading every previous message, but I would like to say that the Italian Army contained units that were the match of any other country involved in the war. Especially the Alpini Corps--its epic in January 1943 is truly remarkable, the World War II equivalent of the USMC at Chosin in the Korean War. Also, smaller elite units like the Monte Cervino Ski Battalion or the XXX Guastatori (assault engineer) battalion were extremely good.

Wargames
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Post by Wargames » 28 Nov 2006 06:11

Jon G. wrote:
My point was emphatically that while the CR 42 was completely outclassed as a fighter by 1943, it still had its uses. As I wrote above, the CR 42 was used extensively for escorting convoys, in the night fighter role (when nothing else was available), and in the ground assault and anti-shipping role. Later on the Luftwaffe used it briefly as a night harassment aircraft.
I have my doubts that the CR.42 was successfully escorting convoys. I do admit I've heard it was tried but fighters were so short ranged that it required a large number of fighters (I think six) taking off and returning in sequence to maintain just one fighter over a convoy. As a night fighter, the CR.42 is, again, not very good. There were few Allied bombers it could even catch and, if it did, it had inadequate firepower to shoot it down.

I agree that it had a useful ground attack role, its slow speed and manueverability becoming an asset in being able to hit a ground target. In fact, I would say the best way for a CR.42 to destroy an Allied airplane would be to find it on the ground.

I'll also add (which you didn't state) that the CR.42 could provide escort to Italy's bombers. But these two uses aside, the plane was produced in too large of numbers for too long a period of time to justify its existence when Maachi's were available. I have seen arguments posted that this was due to Fiat's political influence. However, the arguments I've read were that Italian pilots prefered the CR.42 for its open cockpit (visibility) and manueverability. Given the choice between having to face a British Hurricane in either a G.50 or a CR42, I'd choose the CR.42 too. In the CR42, the Hurricane can't stay with you. In the G.50 the Hurricane can - And he'll be behind the G.50 when he does..

Jon G.
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Post by Jon G. » 28 Nov 2006 08:49

Well, my original proposal was simply that the CR 42 still was a useful airplane also after it had become obsolete as a fighter. I do not have anything to hand right with which to support my claim that the CR 42 was used extensively for convoy duty, but most secondary sources mention the CR 42 as the convoy escort par excellence.

With a range of ~775 kilometers, the CR 42 had ample range to cove the distance to Tripolitania when staging from Sicily, some 500-odd km from Tripolis.

I doubt if the Italians could have ramped up the production of Macchis and other modern fighters at the expense of terminating production of the CR 42 when it realistically should have been done - i.e. in 1940.

luigi
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Post by luigi » 28 Nov 2006 15:45

Indeed Jon G. you point the finger on another issue never adressed in the italian industrial base at the time of the war.
There was the inability of our industries to cope with new processes and techniques. It was of course easier to produce a wood and fabric covered metal frame than to mass produce a full metal light alloy covered airframe, also from the point of wiew of forming the craftmanship. OTOH, if there had been somewhere the authority to make the industries focus on few top rate models, the problem of ramping up production could have been overcome in due time. Reality is that our industrials were above all opportunists and as they faced reality of a full scale war committment being necessary, never really supported it and stood rather at the window to see who they'd have to serve next.
Back to the Cr42, its production required less strategic materials and, at the time of its adoption (but I'd stress this point "AT THE TIME OF ITS ADOPTION" very much) it was preferred by the pilots for its open canopy and the better maneuverability, the open canopy issue led to all the "serie 0" planes except the Reggiane having open canopies. I'd too choiced the CR42 over a G.50, but I'm not sure I'd do the same having a C200 at hand, or even a c.202 or 205. Regia Aeronautica pilots too realized, despite later than other, that fighting was evolving into a matter of speed: i don't think any R.A. fighter pilot hadn't preferred a c.202 instead of a CR42 by mid 1941.
I agree with you that after it had become obsolete as a fighter it still could retain usefullness: I doubt however that this usefulness justified it being kept in production istead of being used to consumption.
The allied had such immense industrial power that they could allow themselves the luxury of keeping planes in production that were outdated, just to reserve the newer model to first priority theatres keeping selling the old mortaged "junk" to the allies (I don't remember of any US unit in the european theatre still flying warhawks past 1943). Italians had to little of all not to find an act of treachery toward the Nation to keep produce "junk" instead of little more usable battle hardware.

Regards

Jon G.
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Post by Jon G. » 28 Nov 2006 19:31

I can't say that I disagree greatly with anything in your post, luigi. I think you are right that Italy's relatively weak industrial base (when compared to the USA, Great Britain, Germany and also France) is a strong factor in the continued production of the CR 42.
luigi wrote:...I agree with you that after it had become obsolete as a fighter it still could retain usefullness: I doubt however that this usefulness justified it being kept in production istead of being used to consumption.
Yes, but wouldn't the decision to still build the CR 42 biplane then be justified by Italy's limited production base? I.e. the realistic choice was between having an obsolete, but still useful airplane, as opposed to no aircraft at all coming off the Fiat production lines?

For what it is worth, the CR 42 was a popular export article also prior to the war. Assuming that the Italians never built the CR 42, they would also lack the foreign currency brought in by exporting it to Sweden, Belgium, Romania etc.
The allied had such immense industrial power that they could allow themselves the luxury of keeping planes in production that were outdated...
The luxury is not to keep obsolete (or even just slightly outdated) aircraft in production - luxury is changing production (with all the associated downtime and insecurities about the capabilities of the new model etc.) in the middle of a war.

Haudrauff
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Post by Haudrauff » 01 Dec 2006 16:45

Field Marshal Albert Kesselring has already been extensively
quoted in reference to the Italians as allies. Since he remained
in command of northern Italy after the Italian defection, he also
had to face them as enemies. Kesselring's frustration with the
situation is indicated in his post-war account:


Italy entered the war against Germany's will.
German army and navy units as well as air forces were
requested to support the cause. They arrived and
fought for Italy's life interests. The amount of
German blood spilled in Africa, Tunis, Sicily and
southern Italy was immense but it was endured. The
numerically far superior Italian army units fought
almost without exception not nearly as hard; at times
it was obvious they were holding back. Even this was
endured in view of the Italian friendship.
The situation changed, however, as soon as Italy,
with the full support of the Allies and after
withdrawing from the Axis, proclaimed "guerrilla
warfare". Its origin and its method was contrary to
international law and turned the previous conradeship
in arms to brutal murder

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ ... 88/HEG.htm

pitman
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Post by pitman » 01 Dec 2006 21:47

I am afraid the Germans were the ones who were more responsible for "brutal murder" once the armistice was announced. It was the Germans who started brutally executing Italian officers (and sometimes men) on a large scale (the most startling example being the massacre of the Acqui Division) for daring to follow the orders of their government to resist the Germans.
Haudrauff wrote:Field Marshal Albert Kesselring has already been extensively
quoted in reference to the Italians as allies. Since he remained
in command of northern Italy after the Italian defection, he also
had to face them as enemies. Kesselring's frustration with the
situation is indicated in his post-war account:


Italy entered the war against Germany's will.
German army and navy units as well as air forces were
requested to support the cause. They arrived and
fought for Italy's life interests. The amount of
German blood spilled in Africa, Tunis, Sicily and
southern Italy was immense but it was endured. The
numerically far superior Italian army units fought
almost without exception not nearly as hard; at times
it was obvious they were holding back. Even this was
endured in view of the Italian friendship.
The situation changed, however, as soon as Italy,
with the full support of the Allies and after
withdrawing from the Axis, proclaimed "guerrilla
warfare". Its origin and its method was contrary to
international law and turned the previous conradeship
in arms to brutal murder

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ ... 88/HEG.htm

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Xª Mas
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Post by Xª Mas » 01 Dec 2006 22:46

Not to get offtopic, but was that what the film, "captain Corelli's mandolin" was about? The large scale massacers of Italian troops in Greece.

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