Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

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Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 06 Mar 2021 20:37

Anyone able to point to descriptions, or describe Italian naval strategic doctrine as it developed and why? I can see it resulted in a flotilla of new battleships and a respectable fleet of submarines. How and why did this occur?

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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by OpanaPointer » 06 Mar 2021 21:38

I would guess the surge started after October 31, 1922.
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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by DrG » 07 Mar 2021 01:25

Chapter 14 of this book: Sea Power. The Italian Way. Amazon lists it as unavailable, but maybe you can still buy it from the Italian Navy (follow the instructions in the link).

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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Mar 2021 03:22

DrG wrote:
07 Mar 2021 01:25
Chapter 14 of this book: Sea Power. The Italian Way.
Thanks

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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by EwenS » 07 Mar 2021 10:44

The Warship 2006 book had an article titled “The Breakout Fleet - The Oceanic Programmes of the Regia Marina 1934-40” by Enrico Cernuschi and Vincent O’Hara.

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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by DrG » 07 Mar 2021 18:22

EwenS, that article is extremely interesting (about the same topic there is also the Italian book "Le implicazioni navali della conquista dell'Impero" by Ernesto Pellegrini), but the "Breakout fleet" was a plan that actually was not implemented, with the sole exception of the oceanic scouts, later renamed light cruisers, of the "Capitani Romani" class.

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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by DrG » 18 Apr 2021 17:41

Since "Sea Power. The Italian Way" is out of stock and I see here that Carl Schwamberger is still looking for information about this topic, I thought to summarize it, but now I have noticed that it is covered very well by some English language sources freely available online and therefore I think it's better to refer directly to them.

If you click on "Look inside" and have a bit of patience, I think you will find chapter 1 of Maurizio Brescia's "Mussolini's Navy" a useful introdution to this theme:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mussolinis-Nav ... 00KYVDQZQ/.

Then, the policy behind the Italian battleship construction in the Thirties is explained well in chapter 1 of Erminio Bagnasco's and Augusto de Toro's "The Littorio Class" (really a must have, its Italian edition is a masterpiece and I assume it's the same for its English language one):
https://www.amazon.com/Littorio-Class-I ... B00KYVDV4C (click on "Look inside")
https://books.google.it/books?id=OR7OAw ... &q&f=false

Finally, the matter of the Italian aircraft carrier is touched by Michele Cosentino (who is also the author of the best Italian book about this topic) in his article "The Quest for an Italian Aircraft Carrier 1922-1939" (I am not sure how many pages you can read from this preview):
https://books.google.it/books?id=lo7gDw ... &q&f=false

On a broad strategic point of view, Italy was in competition, although never close to a real war, with France throughout the Twenties, then reached a decent modus vivendi, which even turned into an informal alliance in the first half of 1935 (Mussolini-Laval agreements in January and then the Badoglio-Gamelin military convention), in front of the German new political and military threat. Then the economic sanctions caused by the strong British opposition to the War of Ethiopia and the following rise to power of the Popular Front, with its support to the Spanish Republic, caused the complete failure of this Italo-French reapprochement. Meanwhile, the very serious crisis with UK caused by the Ethiopian question, followed by the short-lived and never fully implemented Gentlemen's Agreement of Jan. 1937 and the Easter Pact of April 1938, turned Italy towards an irresolute and inconstant anti-British policy. A policy, fully endorsed by gen. Pariani, adm. Cavagnari (the "breakout fleet") and Ciano, which did not turn into a new practical naval policy mostly because of its unbearable costs and because of Mussolini's hope for a return to better Italo-British relations thanks to the aforementioned agreements.
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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by daveshoup2MD » 18 Apr 2021 21:31

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
06 Mar 2021 20:37
Anyone able to point to descriptions, or describe Italian naval strategic doctrine as it developed and why? I can see it resulted in a flotilla of new battleships and a respectable fleet of submarines. How and why did this occur?
Given Italy went to war in a maritime theater in 1940 when something like a third of the Italian-flag merchant fleet was outside of the Med, one has to wonder if the concept of naval strategy had ever crossed the minds of the Italian high command...

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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by DrG » 18 Apr 2021 21:47

Given that before WW2 the loss of 50% of the merchant fleet was expected as unavoidable in case of war with UK (as happened to Germany in Sept. 1939), the outcome was a little success. There was no alternative: either order all the ships to return to Italy, giving a clear and obvious reason to the Anglo-French coalition to seize them, or let them sail, limiting their routes outside the Mediterranean, but accepting the capture of part of the fleet upon the declaration of war. And, also in this latter case, the British and French delayed the return to Italy of ships as much as possible, denying fuel, diverting them for controls to their ports, etc.
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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by daveshoup2MD » 18 Apr 2021 22:01

DrG wrote:
18 Apr 2021 21:47
Given that before WW2 the loss of 50% of the merchant fleet was expected as unavoidable in case of war with UK (as happened to Germany in Sept. 1939), the outcome was a little success. There was no alternative: either order all the ships to return to Italy, giving a clear and obvious reason to the Anglo-French coalition to seize them, or let them sail, limiting their routes outside the Mediterranean, but accepting the capture of part of the fleet upon the declaration of war. And, also in this latter case, the British and French delayed the return to Italy of ships as much as possible, denying fuel, diverting them for controls to their ports, etc.

Except that Germany, other than in the Baltic, was not operating in a maritime theater; the Italians, by default, essentially were, to the same extent the Japanese were. The obvious strategy is what the Americans and Japanese did in their short-of-war period; have the ships at sea on return voyages return home, and stop any departures, and then go to war.

It's not theoretical physics, as witness the wartime careers of - say - the transatlantic luxury liners SS Washington vs a vis SS Conte Biancamano.

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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by DrG » 19 Apr 2021 00:41

Japanese overseas trade was already nearly unexisting due to the US freeze of Japanese assets abroad, and German maritime traffic with Scandinavia (especially iron ore), which before the war was carried out also using Norwegian ships, was quite relevant, to use an euphemism (30 mln tons of minerals in 1938, i.e. about twice the total amount of all Italian imports in the same year).
In the tense international situation of May 1940, with the Anglo-Frech naval blockade of Germany applied also to neutral countries and in particular to Italy, the British and French ships were already stopping, rerouting and delaying Italian merchantment in any way, preventing them from refueling, keeping them for days or even weeks in their ports for needlessly long "inspections". The logistic miracle of trasporting 12 million tons of coal from Germany to Italy by railway per year, started in March 1940, avoided the presence of more Italian ships at sea upon the declaration of war.
The Royal Navy, in fact, did its best to delay the arrival of Italian ships, as reported in the diaries of Alexander Cadogan the War Cabinet told the Admiralty that Italian merchantmen were to be delayed on devious pretexts so that all Italian cargo could be seized in the event of war. If the Italian command had signaled to all its merchantmen abroad to return home with the advance needed, they would have been stopped or directly seized by the Anglo-French ships well before entering the Mediterranean.

There are also two matters to be taken into accout.
1) In WW2 Italian transports overseas were not stopped due to the lack of available merchantmen, so this (off topic, by the way) matter is not that relevant.
2) The Italian entry into WW2 was made on the assumption that its role would have pushed both France and UK to sue for peace in a short time. Now we know that this calculation worked for the former but not for the latter country, of course, but at the time the loss of Italian merchantmen was not regarded as a serious problem, due to the expected short duration of the war.
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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by daveshoup2MD » 19 Apr 2021 05:29

DrG wrote:
19 Apr 2021 00:41
Japanese overseas trade was already nearly unexisting due to the US freeze of Japanese assets abroad, and German maritime traffic with Scandinavia (especially iron ore), which before the war was carried out also using Norwegian ships, was quite relevant, to use an euphemism (30 mln tons of minerals in 1938, i.e. about twice the total amount of all Italian imports in the same year).
In the tense international situation of May 1940, with the Anglo-Frech naval blockade of Germany applied also to neutral countries and in particular to Italy, the British and French ships were already stopping, rerouting and delaying Italian merchantment in any way, preventing them from refueling, keeping them for days or even weeks in their ports for needlessly long "inspections". The logistic miracle of trasporting 12 million tons of coal from Germany to Italy by railway per year, started in March 1940, avoided the presence of more Italian ships at sea upon the declaration of war.
The Royal Navy, in fact, did its best to delay the arrival of Italian ships, as reported in the diaries of Alexander Cadogan the War Cabinet told the Admiralty that Italian merchantmen were to be delayed on devious pretexts so that all Italian cargo could be seized in the event of war. If the Italian command had signaled to all its merchantmen abroad to return home with the advance needed, they would have been stopped or directly seized by the Anglo-French ships well before entering the Mediterranean.

There are also two matters to be taken into accout.
1) In WW2 Italian transports overseas were not stopped due to the lack of available merchantmen, so this (off topic, by the way) matter is not that relevant.
2) The Italian entry into WW2 was made on the assumption that its role would have pushed both France and UK to sue for peace in a short time. Now we know that this calculation worked for the former but not for the latter country, of course, but at the time the loss of Italian merchantmen was not regarded as a serious problem, due to the expected short duration of the war.
There's the minor reality that in a maritime theater, there's never enough shipping (and mariners), of course; there's also the minor point that a hull that makes it "home" is one less the other side can't use, even if the one that gets home is simply swinging around the hook somewhere; same for the skilled personnel. As examples, consider the careers of USS Hermitage and USS Monticello during WW II.

Again, in terms of trans-atlantic routes, even 2-4 weeks could have gotten all the Italians home. SS Washington and her sister ship Manhattan were on the New York-Hamburg route until December, 1939, and then were on the New York-Naples-Genoa route until June of 1940. Doesn't really take tremendous foresight to get ships home safely, especially if the country involved is the aggressor.

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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by DrG » 19 Apr 2021 16:22

I still don't see how Italian ships could have entered the Mediterranean en masse, during a naval blockade with British and French warships checking every neutral merchantmen, without being seized in Gibraltar or Suez and without providing the British and the French a clear information that Italy was going to declare war on them within "2-4 weeks". And this besides the fact that the Italian entry into the war was decided on 27 May and initially scheduled for 5 June, posponed to 10 June upon Hitler's request, and that those "2-4 weeks" of international trade meant for Italy the import of hundreds of thousands of goods which instead, in presence an hypothetical stop, would have not reached its ports.
In practice, you are blaming the Italian high command for not having followed a plan which, in reality, no country fighting against UK followed in either World War.

With regards to those Italian seized ships later used by the Allies, only a handful were taken by UK and France in June 1940. The vast majority of thouse outside the Mediterranean reached neutral ports or ports under German or Japanese control. And al least the Italian ships in the USA (a country which entered WW2 18 months after Italy) were turned into floating hulls without working machineries due to the sabotage by their crews during their internment.
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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 19 Apr 2021 18:00

DrG wrote:
18 Apr 2021 17:41
Since "Sea Power. The Italian Way" is out of stock and I see here that Carl Schwamberger is still looking for information about this topic, I thought to summarize it, but now I have noticed that it is covered very well by some English language sources freely available online and therefore I think it's better to refer directly to them.
Thanks & Graci

Those look very useful.

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Re: Naval Doctrine/Stratgey Development 1920>

Post by daveshoup2MD » 20 Apr 2021 04:18

DrG wrote:
19 Apr 2021 16:22
I still don't see how Italian ships could have entered the Mediterranean en masse, during a naval blockade with British and French warships checking every neutral merchantmen, without being seized in Gibraltar or Suez and without providing the British and the French a clear information that Italy was going to declare war on them within "2-4 weeks". And this besides the fact that the Italian entry into the war was decided on 27 May and initially scheduled for 5 June, posponed to 10 June upon Hitler's request, and that those "2-4 weeks" of international trade meant for Italy the import of hundreds of thousands of goods which instead, in presence an hypothetical stop, would have not reached its ports.
In practice, you are blaming the Italian high command for not having followed a plan which, in reality, no country fighting against UK followed in either World War.

With regards to those Italian seized ships later used by the Allies, only a handful were taken by UK and France in June 1940. The vast majority of thouse outside the Mediterranean reached neutral ports or ports under German or Japanese control. And al least the Italian ships in the USA (a country which entered WW2 18 months after Italy) were turned into floating hulls without working machineries due to the sabotage by their crews during their internment.
Ships follow schedules; a ship trading from Genoa to New York that leaves Genoa on Day One is going to be on her way back on Day 20 (or whatever); if the ships that "would" have left Genoa at some point are, instead, kept at home, guess what? They are not at risk.

Likewise, the ships that are at sea when the war planning gets underway will, if given the time, get back "home" on schedule, absent any "masses" of ships have to run Scylla and Charybdis (figuratively). It's really not that challenging.

The Japanese and the Americans both managed to get the vast majority of their merchant fleets "home" before their respective balloons went up; this is basic planning and program management; it is not theoretical physics. Only the Germans and Italians were apparently unable to handle basic routing and shipping control tasks.

Please provide examples of Italian shipping that was interned in the Western Hemisphere where the crews' efforts made any difference in terms of these same ships being placed in Allied service.

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