Italy invading Malta in 1940

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pugsville
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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by pugsville » 08 Nov 2018 08:15

Wargames wrote:
08 Nov 2018 05:15

You mean the two 9.2" guns facing seaward at Fort Madeliena that were removed in 1913?
And which direction did the Marfa Ridge battery face?
been trying to get the locations of the coastal defense guns,

"Some 70+ concrete block houses and machine gun posts were also built along the beaches as a result of that threat."
"By 1940 the coast defences of Malta consisted of 7 x 9.2-inch, 10 x 6-inch and 9 x twin 6 pdrs."

https://www.victorianforts.co.uk/redan/mario.htm

the twin 6 pdrs were like 49mm bofors, rapid fire , but I gather around Valletta,

2 * 6 inch guns where in fort Campbell over looking both beach bays.

There's 60 odd old 18 pdrs (ww1 field guns) scatter around, about half as "beach guns" and given the relatively few locations a serious landing can happen the two bays are going to have their share. So a fair few 18pdrs, 2 6 inches, battalion of troops with pill boxes and machine guns defends the landing beaches. 4 land ships , and steamers for beaching with troops marching on the beach are going to lose badly without significant support.

Options -

(a) land with tankettes.,

Well not that scary, boys At rifle would actually be effective 18pdr as well, and a very liited number could be deployed.

(b) close naval support destoroyers in close

given general naval dominance, possible but concealed 18 pdrs a real threat, destroyers are not armored, see the Dardanelles, field guns v warships experience.add some thing, with some risk

(c) close air support

British have some air defenses, there's radar and a squadron of hurricanes

MarkN
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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by MarkN » 08 Nov 2018 10:15

Wargames wrote:
08 Nov 2018 05:01
Please read the section you're in. It's for "What if" scenarios. Please explain why I cannot posit a "what if" scenario where just one of Mussolini's choices wasn't followed and which he was advised to do by all?
For starters, your what if assumes both of the decisions are not followed.... :roll:
Wargames wrote:
08 Nov 2018 05:01
Even Germany's Admiral Raeder supported it and Hitler immediately reamed Mussolini for invading Greece and not Malta. If you have a problem with my doing this take it up with the moderators.
As the creator of this fantasy non-historical event, you can write the storyline in whatever way you want. You can have the Italians supported by intergalactic troop transports from the Planet Blob if you so wish. But, as you may expect, not too many others will take you very seriously if you did. What you seem unable to appreciate, is that some of your assumptions are not far removed from that - and thus other posters are not treating your story very seriously. And why should they?

From my side, you have made two key assumption errors or simply got your historical facts wrong. Those errors take your storyline into the only slightly less ridiculous than the Planet Blob scenario.

First. your claim that the British were expecting the Italians to invade Malta in late August 1940. Second, it was a credible strategy to invade Malta, Egypt and Greece concurrently. The two are separate issues but linked in their impact on your storyline.

Dealing with the second issue first. You have yourself highlighted that Grazziani and Mussolini were at loggerheads as to whether they should invade Egypt OR Malta - not both. And now you have highlighted that the German High Command was also not impressed with the decision not to drop the invasion of Greece from the table. You claim that Mussolini was "stupid" for not attempting all 3 and yet your own words indicate that nobody seemed to consider this a credible option. Nevertheless, your storyline is based upon all three invasion being carried out: your fantasy non-historical invasion of Malta on 28 August 1940, the invasion of Egypt on 9 September 1940 and the invasion of Greece on 28 October 1940.

As regards the first issue, documentary evidence demonstrates that the British were NOT anticipating an Italian invasion of Malta at the time.

Both of these issues affect your storyline in a similar way. If the British were expecting an invasion of Malta, their strategy and military dispositions (air, land and sea) in the Mediterranean area would have been different to that historical documented. If the Italians set the ball rolling with an invasion of Malta, their subsequent invasions of Egypt and Greece will surely be compromised - and thus the British response would be different to that historical seen. Your storyline, probably due to laziness, just assumes NOTHING CHANGES to the wider British strategy and effort both in preparation and after the firing begins. That is laughable. Laughable to a similar level as the idea of an intergalactic troopship from Planet Blob.

If the Italians had chosen to invade Malta - the essence of your fantasy non-historical event - they would need a period of time to build up and train their invasion fleet and landing force. The chances are that the British would detect that and alter their strategy and military dispositions. It is precisely because they were not doing this that the British historically did not expect an invasion.

The start point for all the British forces is therefore going to be different to the one historically documented. It will be different to the start point that you have assumed in your storyline. It is pointless trying to establish what speed a ship steamed and in which direction if the start point you have proscribed is probably irrelevant.

Now, since you are the creator of this fantasy non-historical event you can, of course, stipulate that the Italians managed to keep the entire build up secret and thus the British were taken completely by surprise on 28 August and all three invasions were commenced. So be it. But do you realise you have turned "stupid" on its head? Your storyline is based upon the British being "stupid", Hitler and Raeder being "stupid" as well as Grazziani and Mussolini being "stupid". The only person considering this a credible storyline is you.

It is you lack of willingness to engage with these contradictions that lead you to propose reinforcements for Malta that are not even in the Mediterranean!!! They were no more available to Cunningham than the troopship from Planet Blob was available to the Italians.

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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Gooner1 » 08 Nov 2018 12:06

Wargames wrote:
08 Nov 2018 05:30
I guess you missed this:
https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPho ... Malta.html
Guess you missed that that's on the south coast.

Image

Richard Anderson
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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 Nov 2018 16:55

pugsville wrote:
08 Nov 2018 08:15
Wargames wrote:
08 Nov 2018 05:15

You mean the two 9.2" guns facing seaward at Fort Madeliena that were removed in 1913?
And which direction did the Marfa Ridge battery face?
been trying to get the locations of the coastal defense guns,
Sigh...

Malta 9.2" guns.

Benghisa
1903 2x Mk X on Mk V
1943 Care and maintenance
1949 Guns removed

St Leonardo
1898 2 x Mk IX on Barbette Mk III
1912 2 x Mk IX.c on Mk V.a
1929 2 x Mk X on Mk V
1943 Care and maintenance
c1955 Guns removed

Bingemma
1904 1 x Mk X on Mk V
1943 Care and maintenance
Early 1950s Guns removed

Madliena
1906 2 x Mk X on Mk V
1944 Care and maintenance
1954 Guns removed

The 9.2" guns were not removed from Madliena until 1954, despite what your Wiki search says. All the Mark V mounts allowed essentially 360 degree traverse, which is why a number of the old towers were demolished in order to free up the fields of fire.

It is unclear where the Marfa Ridge 12-pdr battery was, although as part of the old Victoria Lines trace it was likely somewhere between Fort Madliena and Fort Mosta. As to the location of the 6-inch Battery, since it was at least in theory mobile, it could have been emplaced at any one of the seven howitzer battery positions built along the lines. All "faced" more or less west-northwest, north, northeast, and east-northeast.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 Nov 2018 17:05

Wargames wrote:
08 Nov 2018 05:40
Please quote where I said they were Vaporetto's?

Because I can can quote where I didn't, and it it follows the very words you quoted "As for the vaporettos..." I'm wondering how you missed that?

Nice try.
You mean where you said...
As for the vaporetto, I looked them up afterwards as the translation seemed similar. However, when I saw a picture of one I saw where it didn't fit the description I had. The 80 boats were described as "one way". The Venice steamers are very shallow (check the depth of the canals). They likely draw a meter or less. They could come in very close to a beach. I don't know how that would make them "one way" unless, with that foot of free-board, they all sank on the way. "One way" implies running it up on a beach. The Italians knew how to blow the bow off a beached vessel to unload it. And, once you blow the bow off, it's "one way".

My guess would be they were a random selection of small coastal vessels of no particular class or design. It's probably why no troop capacity was specified.
In the Italian versions of the Malta invasion plans, they are variously described as "vaporetto" or the plural "vaporetti", which indeed can be taken as "steamer" and could be applied to any coastal steamer...as long as they were powered by steam engines. However, traditionally the Venetian vaporetti have always been known as such, despite what type engines they utilized. Otherwise, they are referred to as "lagune" referring to the lagoon of Venice. It is pretty clear the Italian planners did intend to use the vaporetti, but likely would have supplemented them with various other, barely adequate, conversions.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by MarkN » 08 Nov 2018 18:21

Just trying to get my head around this....
Richard Anderson wrote:
08 Nov 2018 17:05
Wargames wrote:
08 Nov 2018 05:40
Please quote where I said they were Vaporetto's?

Because I can can quote where I didn't, and it it follows the very words you quoted "As for the vaporettos..." I'm wondering how you missed that?

Nice try.
You mean where you said...
As for the vaporetto, I looked them up afterwards as the translation seemed similar. However, when I saw a picture of one I saw where it didn't fit the description I had. The 80 boats were described as "one way". The Venice steamers are very shallow (check the depth of the canals). They likely draw a meter or less. They could come in very close to a beach. I don't know how that would make them "one way" unless, with that foot of free-board, they all sank on the way. "One way" implies running it up on a beach. The Italians knew how to blow the bow off a beached vessel to unload it. And, once you blow the bow off, it's "one way".

My guess would be they were a random selection of small coastal vessels of no particular class or design. It's probably why no troop capacity was specified.
In the Italian versions of the Malta invasion plans, they are variously described as "vaporetto" or the plural "vaporetti", which indeed can be taken as "steamer" and could be applied to any coastal steamer...as long as they were powered by steam engines. However, traditionally the Venetian vaporetti have always been known as such, despite what type engines they utilized. Otherwise, they are referred to as "lagune" referring to the lagoon of Venice. It is pretty clear the Italian planners did intend to use the vaporetti, but likely would have supplemented them with various other, barely adequate, conversions.
So, the original documentation in Italian uses the word "vaporetto" and "vaporetti". But your background and comments regarding such boats, where they come from and their limitations, are not welcome because:

a) those words are not used in the translation being used by Wargames, or
b) after reverse translation, the words don't suit Wargames' interpretation of the English translation and his what if wargame, or
c) since this is Wargames' fantasy non-historical story, he gets to decided what they were and what they weren't.

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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Wargames » 08 Nov 2018 19:34

Gooner1 wrote:
08 Nov 2018 12:06
Wargames wrote:
08 Nov 2018 05:30
I guess you missed this:
https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPho ... Malta.html
Guess you missed that that's on the south coast.

Image
:oops:
You have no idea how many times I've looked at that photo and thought that was Gold Beach on St. Paul's Bay. Thanks for that correction.

From the small size of the boats at Xemxija Bay I'm guessing that's too shallow. The Italians must have been thinking Bugibba or maybe Mistra Bay. The British assigned a lot of coverage to Mistra and likely for a reason.

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by jwsleser » 08 Nov 2018 19:50

I have been following this discussion.

May I ask what Italian documents/sources are being cited to inform this discussion. Wargames and Richard Anderson have both indicated that they are referencing Italian sources. I would like to know what they say. Reading Italian is not a problem. I am always looking for sources.

Pista! Jeff
battaglione Alpini sciatori Monte Cervino (Reenacted)
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9th reggimento bersaglieri

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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Wargames » 08 Nov 2018 22:48

pugsville wrote:
08 Nov 2018 08:15
2 * 6 inch guns where in fort Campbell overlooking both beach bays.
Plus 40mm Bofors
There's 60 odd old 18 pdrs (ww1 field guns) scatter around, about half as "beach guns"
I may be wrong but I have the number as 24 and they’re all listed as coastal guns.
So a few 18pdrs, 2 6 inches, battalion of troops with pill boxes and machine guns defends the landing beaches.
I found only one 18 pound battery in the landing area and it may not have existed on August 28, 1940. You’re correct there are 2x6” guns and pillboxes as well as barbed wire, land mines, and both bays were mined. But pillboxes with machineguns? If you mean the 8 pillboxes of Fort Campbell, I agree. They received their allotment (including HMG). Where is your evidence the pillboxes were supplied with their Bren light machineguns? And where is your evidence the King’s Own 1st Malta battalion was ever allotted theirs? I suggest you look at what HMS Valiant unloaded at Grand Harbor on September 2, 1940.
4 land ships, and steamers for beaching with troops marching on the beach are going to lose badly without significant support.
Options -
(a) land with tankettes.,
Well not that scary, boys AT rifle would actually be effective 18pdr as well, and a very limited number could be deployed.
The Army added L3’s when the Navy informed them they could only land 30,000 men versus the 40,000 men the Army wanted. Apparently, the Army believed the L3’s would make up for the missing division. The Navy could land 13 (More could be parachuted but the Regia Aeronautica makes no mention of this.). I expect the L3’s were to be used to cross the Victoria Line, likely positioning them at night so the British did not see where they planned to hit it. However, they might have found just getting these underpowered pop cans off the landing beach a serious challenge. It’s uphill. But three of the other landing ships carried 57 mules a piece. Maybe they planned to pull them up the tough spots?
(b) close naval support destroyers in close
given general naval dominance, possible but concealed 18 pdrs a real threat, destroyers are not armored, see the Dardanelles, field guns v warships experience. add some thing, with some risk
The Italians did have close support destroyers. However, their idea of “close support” was “over the horizon” as they were to come no closer than 11,000 yards. Their three battle-cruisers were even further out, so far out they probably could have seen Greece before they saw Fort Campbell. All naval fire would have missed and the Italian Navy knew it, stating the ships were simply giving the troops “morale support”.
(c) close air support
British have some air defenses, there's radar and a squadron of hurricanes
The hurricanes were worthless. At the time it was British practice to get all planes aloft on radar warning. Then climb to altitude to organize as a single attacking unit. By the time they accomplished this the Italian bombers had dropped their bombs and the Italian fighters were still above the hurricanes. Want proof? Check Italian aircraft losses over Malta for all of 1940. Now figure what they’d lose over 5 days. Oh! And check how many Hurricanes the British actually have on August 28.

Thanks for your reply. However, I have never asked any questions on how to get the Italians ashore. They had that problem solved. Yet I have obtained the answer I needed. Thanks to all!

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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by pugsville » 08 Nov 2018 23:59

Wargames wrote:
08 Nov 2018 22:48
Plus 40mm Bofors
I think there were 8 bofors 40mm and 32 3,7 inch AA guns but airfields, Valletta, port ares would have been almost all of those.
Wargames wrote:
08 Nov 2018 22:48
I found only one 18 pound battery in the landing area and it may not have existed on August 28, 1940. You’re correct there are 2x6” guns and pillboxes as well as barbed wire, land mines, and both bays were mined. But pillboxes with machineguns? If you mean the 8 pillboxes of Fort Campbell, I agree. They received their allotment (including HMG). Where is your evidence the pillboxes were supplied with their Bren light machineguns? And where is your evidence the King’s Own 1st Malta battalion was ever allotted theirs? I suggest you look at what HMS Valiant unloaded at Grand Harbor on September 2, 1940.

as I posted before 70 odd concrete block houses were built around the beaches, there was a battalion allotted to the northern sector beeches,

"Some 70+ concrete block houses and machine gun posts were also built along the beaches as a result of that threat."
"By 1940 the coast defences of Malta consisted of 7 x 9.2-inch, 10 x 6-inch and 9 x twin 6 pdrs."

https://www.victorianforts.co.uk/redan/mario.htm


Wargames wrote:
08 Nov 2018 22:48
It’s uphill. But three of the other landing ships carried 57 mules a piece.
Just moving supplies, ammunition from teh beaches inland to fighting for the infantry would need some transport, mules would be useful just as general logistical support if they fighting lasts more a few hours., fighting at the "Victoria lines" , for exmplae if attacking Valletta from teh land side.

Wargames wrote:
08 Nov 2018 22:48
The Italians did have close support destroyers. However, their idea of “close support” was “over the horizon” as they were to come no closer than 11,000 yards. Their three battle-cruisers were even further out, so far out they probably could have seen Greece before they saw Fort Campbell. All naval fire would have missed and the Italian Navy knew it, stating the ships were simply giving the troops “morale support”.
Well we can write of close naval support,
Wargames wrote:
08 Nov 2018 22:48
The hurricanes were worthless. At the time it was British practice to get all planes aloft on radar warning. Then climb to altitude to organize as a single attacking unit. By the time they accomplished this the Italian bombers had dropped their bombs and the Italian fighters were still above the hurricanes. Want proof? Check Italian aircraft losses over Malta for all of 1940. Now figure what they’d lose over 5 days. Oh! And check how many Hurricanes the British actually have on August 28.
And the Italian high level bombing was basically worthless. Any attempt at close air support the kind that might actually make a difference would need low altitude work.

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RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Robert Rojas » 09 Nov 2018 01:58

Greetings to both citizen pugsville and the community as a whole. Howdy pugsville! Well sir, in reference to your posting of Thursday - November 08, 2018 - 2:59pm, old yours truly observed that you touched upon the not so inconsequential matter of aviation over the air space of the Island of Malta at the conclusion of your entry. Oddly enough, I broached this very topic with brother Richard Anderson concerning the potential vulnerability of Fort Campbell and Fort Madliena to aerial bombardment. Brother Richard Anderson dismissed such an event as somewhat unlikely for he was of the school of thought that the Regia Aeronautica lacked the wherewithal to successfully execute such a mission. So, in light of your exchange with brother wargames, old Uncle Bob is wondering where "TRUTH" ultimately lies with the overall aerial bombing skill of Regia Aeronautica. The Italians cannot be as bad as all of that - OR CAN THEY!? Well, that's my latest two Yankee cents worth on this expansive topic of interest - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day no matter where you just might happen to find yourself on Terra Firma.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it" - Robert E. Lee

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Richard Anderson » 09 Nov 2018 04:35

jwsleser wrote:
08 Nov 2018 19:50
May I ask what Italian documents/sources are being cited to inform this discussion. Wargames and Richard Anderson have both indicated that they are referencing Italian sources. I would like to know what they say. Reading Italian is not a problem. I am always looking for sources.
Hi Jeff,

I should have been more careful in my posting this morning instead of thinking about getting out of the house, so my shorthand got too short. WRT the use of the term "vaporetto" and "vaporetti" that was brought up by wargames as part of the original terminology he referenced for the Italian planning. I suspect the etymology of the word is well known to you, as are the likely limitation of trying to use them as a landing craft...after some seven or so visits to Venice since 1968, I am very familiar with those craft.

The second source I referenced to the Italian use of "lagune" craft, actually "lagune motorboats" is from the Italian, but not in Italian. It is from the SAMS paper by Major Alessandro Vivarelli, "The Axis and the Intended Invasion of Malta in 1942: a Combined Planning Endeavor" and actually references the planning for the operations in 1942, which built on the prewar planning. He references the "Italian primary sources highlight characteristics and capabilities of the different types of crafts. Letters n.15164 and 15719 dated 16 May and 15 July 1942, Comando Supremo to Regio Esercito, “Operazione C-3: Mezzi di SbarcoTedeschi,” in AUSME" and "Table n.5-6, “Mezzi Speciali da Sbarco 1^ ondata,” in AUSME."

Assuming that the Italian prewar and 1940 planning did reference "vaporetto" I maintain they might have been referring to "steam vessels" in general, but I doubt that is the case, especially given that so many coasters - and the majority of the Venetian lagoon vessels - were actually diesel-powered "motorizzate" by this time.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Richard Anderson » 09 Nov 2018 04:40

Robert Rojas wrote:
09 Nov 2018 01:58
Oddly enough, I broached this very topic with brother Richard Anderson concerning the potential vulnerability of Fort Campbell and Fort Madliena to aerial bombardment. Brother Richard Anderson dismissed such an event as somewhat unlikely for he was of the school of thought that the Regia Aeronautica lacked the wherewithal to successfully execute such a mission. So, in light of your exchange with brother wargames, old Uncle Bob is wondering where "TRUTH" ultimately lies with the overall aerial bombing skill of Regia Aeronautica. The Italians cannot be as bad as all of that - OR CAN THEY!?
Dearest Uncle Bob,

I was not commenting on the ability or skill of the Italians, but rather on their capability. Gun batteries of this type...and those at Corregidor and elsewhere...were point targets, potentially vulnerable to point targeting, which was the purview, at this time, of the dive bomber. However, the Regia Aeronautica possessed no dive bombing capability at this time, but rather relied on level bombing, which was a singularly inefficient and ineffective means of attacking such a target.

So it is not a question of the Italians being "as bad as all that", but rather of the Italians not having the capability of all that.

Cheers!
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Robert Rojas » 09 Nov 2018 06:09

Greetings to both brother Richard Anderson and the community as a whole. Howdy Richard! Well sir, I respect to your posting of Thursday - November 08, 2018 - 7:40pm, old yours truly would like to convey my appreciation for setting myself straight on the clear distinction between the ABILITY and the CAPABILITY of Il Duce's Airedales. I stand duly corrected on this matter. Speaking of capability, if my faltering memory serves, it has been my "understanding" that the Regia Aeronautica actually acquired the JU-87 Dive Bomber Aircraft courtesy of Mr. Congeniality up in Berlin. However, I do not recollect what the actual time frame might have been when Fascist Italy took delivery of these machines. Undoubtedly, the possession of the JU-87 Stuka by the Italians would have made life somewhat "interesting" for the British Commonwealth defenders of the Island of Malta. Such is life. Well, that's my latest two Yankee cents worth on this expansive topic of interest - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day up in your neck of the woods of the Evergreen State of Washington.


Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :oops: :|

P.S. - By the way, I still recall when the U.S.S. Missouri was moored in Bremerton way back yonder in 1978. Edmonds was my domicile at the time.
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it" - Robert E. Lee

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Ironmachine » 09 Nov 2018 08:15

Robert Rojas wrote:Speaking of capability, if my faltering memory serves, it has been my "understanding" that the Regia Aeronautica actually acquired the JU-87 Dive Bomber Aircraft courtesy of Mr. Congeniality up in Berlin. However, I do not recollect what the actual time frame might have been when Fascist Italy took delivery of these machines.
Actually, the Italians did have a dive bomber unit, the 96º Gruppo Bombardamento a Tuffo (BaT), established on 20 March 1940 with two Squadriglie (236 and 237) totalling eighteen Sm 85s and one Sm 86. Based on Pantellaria Island, the unit only took part in one combat sortie against British ships, but they failed to even find them. The Sm 85 was a disappointment, and they were soon withdrawn as unserviceable.
The first Stukas (52 aircraft) arrived in Sicily on 21 August 1940 to reequip the squadriglie of the 96º Gruppo.

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