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MB_Avro_UK
04-20-2010, 11:50 AM
Hi all,

The Italian Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) in WW2 fought with both valour and honour against the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.

Wartime members of both the RAF and the RN have frequently recorded their respect for their Italian adversaries.

But I get the impression that history has in many ways forgotten this aspect of WW2.

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

M_Gunz
04-20-2010, 12:03 PM
Sadly, true. IL2 is the first combat flight sim I remember to include Italian fighters or bombers
"out of the box".

Metatron_123
04-20-2010, 12:45 PM
I agree, and in fact i'll add that the Regia Aeronautica has an unfair, bad reputation, even though its pilots were very skilled.

It is partly to do with the fact that Italy's population was never that 'into' the war, people didn't get carried away like they did in Germany, the propaganda machine in Italy had more trouble disguising greed as a national cause. People were less involved.

Kudos to Oleg for adding Italian planes to his BOB sim, I think he has renewed interest in forgotten planes.

TinyTim
04-20-2010, 12:46 PM
I get this impression too. Many air forces and air battles appear to be forgotten. It's enough already to ask people on the street what was the largest air battle in WW2 in terms of planes engaged and shot down in one single day - I doubt 1% of people would get the answer right. (in fact, it might be a neat question for our quiz! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif)

Same with RA - their operations deserve most respect. To mention just a single breadcrumb from its history - one of the gunners serving on recconaissance float planes (Cant Z.506 and Fiat RS-14) achieved an ace status after shooting down 8 RAF fighters in an utterly one sided engagements - a single twin engined floatplane attacked by multiple fighters (he claimed 9 kills, but only 8 were confirmed). On one occasion his dorsal machinegun jammed so he dismounted the ventral one during the combat and used it from dorsal position. Besides breathtaking marksmanship he must have had nerves of steel.

Ironically, he survived the war only to be killed in a civilian air crash. Imagine the odds. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/53.gif

http://www.gentedelquindicesimo.it/pri/images/stories/storici/spariamo%20accurati/bonannini.jpg

Metatron_123
04-20-2010, 12:54 PM
On weird circumstances... There are many more where that came from-Barkhorn was killed in a car accident post war.

On your question-Would that be Bodenplatte? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blush.gif

leitmotiv
04-20-2010, 01:11 PM
I would be inclined to say this was true even ten years ago, but no longer. In the last few years a great many really good publications and books have been released on the Italian Air Force in Italian and even in English. There have been many new models of Italian WWII airplanes. This month Special Hobby is releasing a model of the obscure but very good-looking Breda 88 bomber. Italeri is releasing a steady number of WWII Italian aircraft.

Now I would say the only thing keeping the Italians from recognition is the same factor which afflicts most WWII air forces---the perennial "If it isn't a P-51 or a 109, who cares?" school, which, alas, is gigantic.

There is one colossal lacuna. There is not a single modern, authoritative, single-volume reference on the Italian aircraft of WWII (note the word "authoritative") available in English. I have the only one there is, but it was published in the mid-1960's!!!!

na85
04-20-2010, 01:14 PM
what was the largest air battle in WW2 in terms of planes engaged and shot down in one single day

Kursk, isn't it? "The single costliest day of aerial warfare"

TinyTim
04-20-2010, 01:26 PM
Originally posted by na85:
Kursk, isn't it? "The single costliest day of aerial warfare"

Yup, Kurs it was! A collosal battle compared to nearly all others in WW2. I do wonder how many history enthusiasts would get it right, and how many would go for Eagle Day, Mariannas Turkey Hunt, Schweinfurt,...

ROXunreal
04-20-2010, 01:34 PM
Wasn't Kursk the biggest TANK battle of the war?


Also, *insert joke about Italians surrendering*

Wildnoob
04-20-2010, 01:41 PM
Originally posted by ROXunreal:
Wasn't Kursk the biggest TANK battle of the war?

It was as well.

Paperkite29
04-20-2010, 01:48 PM
I was thinking the raid on Polesti Romainia - IIRC 169 Allied AC , 3 Sqn's total loss of 56 AC and over 500 crew men dead-MIA. in about an 20-30 minutes time, not inclucing the German Military - Romainian- Military and civilian ( raid was on a sunday) losses in the air and ground.

leitmotiv
04-20-2010, 02:02 PM
Sorry to say, but I find that story about Kursk highly suspect (source?). It would have to be a very large air battle to be greater than the collisions between the 8th Air Force and the German day fighters in the winter of 1944. For sheer numbers of aircraft in the sky (over 1000 bombers alone) and occupying the same airspace, these battles would be hard to touch.

JtD
04-20-2010, 02:13 PM
To be fair, the Italian Air Force was only the third biggest Axis air force. In the busy Italian years, they manufactured about 30% of what the Germans did, so it is not surprising that their contribution is less recognized.

TinyTim
04-20-2010, 02:16 PM
Originally posted by ROXunreal:
Wasn't Kursk the biggest TANK battle of the war?


This fact is exactly the one that usually overshadows the fact that it was also the biggest AIR battle of the war.

MB_Avro_UK
04-20-2010, 02:19 PM
Originally posted by JtD:
To be fair, the Italian Air Force was only the third biggest Axis air force. In the busy Italian years, they manufactured about 30% of what the Germans did, so it is not surprising that their contribution is less recognized.

A valid point. But the Italians have received far,far less than 30% of the recognition awarded to the Luftwaffe.

The Italian Air Force in my view have been unfairly overshadowed by the German Luftwaffe.

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

JtD
04-20-2010, 02:22 PM
Yes, you're probably right. The whole Mediterranean campaign by now is nothing more than a footnote, while it was the major front for the UK for about two years at least, I'd say.

Insuber
04-20-2010, 02:43 PM
Hi,

Interesting point. The explanation is simple indeed, it has its roots in the war propaganda, depicting Italians as worthless soldiers, eyeties, wops, etc, and also in the small numbers of Italian airforce - only 10'000 planes were built in Italy during the WWII. I remember a page from the wonderful autobiography of an English writer, he was assigned to a squadron in Egypt, and he was told by an officer that Italian pilots where inept black-haired short guys with greasy hair, only to find soon that they were a tough match for himself and the RAF.

A quick look at Wiki brings some bibliography on the propaganda aspect:



"During and after WWII a lot of propaganda was done against the Italian military performance, usually with persistent stereotypes, including that of the "incompetent Italian soldier". These stereotypes are well entrenched in the British literature, as can be read in the following extract from a Lee & Higham's book:

Because many writers have uncritically repeated stereotypes shared by their sources, biases and prejudices have taken on the status of objective observations, including the idea that the Germans and British were the only belligerants in the Mediterranean after Italian setbacks in early 1941. Sadkovich questioned this point of view in 'Of Myths and Men' and 'The Italian Navy', but persistent stereotypes, including that of the incompetent Italian, are well entrenched in the literature, from Puleston's early 'The Influence of Sea Power', to Gooch's 'Italian Military Incompetence,' to more recent publications by Mack Smith, Knox and Sullivan. Wartime bias in early British and American histories, which focused on German operations, dismissed Italian forces as inept and or unimportant, and viewed Germany as the pivotal power in Europe during the interwar period.
Bias includes both implicit assumptions, evident in Knox's title 'The Sources of Italy's Defeat in 1940: Bluff or Institutionalized Incompetence?' and the selective use of sources. Also see Sullivan's 'The Italian Armed Forces.' Sims, in 'The Fighter Pilot,' ignored the Italians, while D'Este in 'World War II in the Mediterranean' shaped his reader's image of Italians by citing a German comment that Italy's surrender was 'the basest treachery' and by discussing Allied and German commanders but ignoring Messe, whose 'Come fini la guerra in Africa' is an account of operations in Tunisia, where he commanded the Italian First Army, which held off both the U.S. Second Corps and the British Eighth Army".

Regards,
Insuber

Insuber
04-20-2010, 02:53 PM
By the way, I'm reading an excellent book about the neglected desert airwar, freshly published. Books on this TO are very rare, this one is well documented and well structured; I recommend it without hesitation:

http://www.amazon.fr/Desert-Pr...id=1271796763&sr=8-1 (http://www.amazon.fr/Desert-Prelude-North-Africa-1940-41/dp/8389450526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=english-books&qid=1271796763&sr=8-1)

Regards,
Insuber

leitmotiv
04-20-2010, 03:15 PM
Thanks for the tip, Insuber. I believe the author has a huge rambling site on the biplane in WWII with many interesting articles.

I am getting this book which is about what is probably the most obscure theater of WWII, and involves the Italians vs. the Commonwealth.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/produ...UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1844158160/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER)

Here are some of the new volumes on the Italian AF in WWII:

http://www.amazon.com/Courage-...id=1271798430&sr=1-1 (http://www.amazon.com/Courage-Alone-Italian-Force-1940-1943/dp/1902109090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271798430&sr=1-1)

http://www.amazon.com/Regia-Ae...id=1271798491&sr=1-3 (http://www.amazon.com/Regia-Aeronautica-Italian-1940-1943-History/dp/190653702X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271798491&sr=1-3)

Here is the best source for Italian aircraft references, models, paints, and decals in the USA:

http://www.pacmodels.com/

M_Gunz
04-21-2010, 12:11 AM
Long ago to me, around 1973, a friend had told me that Italian armor in Africa was poor because Hitler had taken
so much of their best steel and resources for the panzers. I don't know how true this is though. I know that
Italian metallurgy was superb both before and after WWII by the alloys and craftsmanship of their bicycle parts
and frames. Campagnolo is better than gold, any Campagnolo, and that is one example. But without the molybdenum
and chrome and whatever other rare materials, you don't make tons of the ultra.

leitmotiv
04-21-2010, 12:58 AM
The problem with the Italian tank divisions was that the M13/40 and M13/41 medium tanks were slow, heavily riveted, thinly armored, the armor was brittle, and the tanks often lacked radios which forced them to use rigid tactics. They were vulnerable to the British 2-pounder anti-tank gun in 1940-41, and hopelessly vulnerable to the 75mm guns of the Grants and the Shermans of 1942. They still managed to put up a good show at times, like at Bir El Gubi in November 1941, where Ariete Tank Division saw off the 22 Armoured Brigade when they stupidly charged the Italians in a dug-in position. Ariete fought to destruction during the final battle of Alamein.

There are a number of excellent recent studies of the Italian tank divisions in North Africa:

http://www.amazon.com/Iron-Hul...id=1271832979&sr=1-1 (http://www.amazon.com/Iron-Hulls-Hearts-Mussolinis-Divisions/dp/1861268394/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271832979&sr=1-1)

http://www.amazon.com/Iron-Arm...id=1271833071&sr=1-7 (http://www.amazon.com/Iron-Arm-Mechanization-Mussolinis-1920-1940/dp/0811733513/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271833071&sr=1-7)

WTE_Galway
04-21-2010, 01:00 AM
A major issue was the same one faced by the US in Vietnam, the war was unpopular at home. The Italians were tired of war and Mussolini was not universally popular. In fact many Italians seemed to feel they were on the wrong side at the time. To the extent that the invasion of France was marked by peace demonstrations in places like Milan.

As far as North Africa ... Italy fielded 3 armoured divisions Ariete, Littorio and Centauro and only two truly motorized divisions Trento and Trieste but Trento was stripped of most of it's transport.

These units were, together with the Alpini mountain troops, amongst the best of the Italian army and occasionally performed well especially when under German command, though any such victories were rarely acknowledged as Italian by the allies.

Outside the elite units training was an issue with many of the conscripts coming from poor farming communities and illiterate. This also broke down any "esprit de corps" with little camaraderie evident between "elitist" officer ranks and the average soldier.

Italian troops suffered from generally inferior equipment with the situation deteriorating further after 1941. Whilst other belligerents in the war where rapidly updating armaments based on recent combat experiences the Italians faced issues like Fiat/Ansaldo refusing to licence build better tanks insisting on building the home grown obsolete M13 series.

The situation in the air was different. Yes the Fiat CR42 was still being manufactured and delivered as late as 1943. However competitive equipment actually was available and the morale and "espirit de corps" was much better than amongst the ground forces.

joeap
04-21-2010, 08:09 AM
Some excellent points made on this thread. May I recommend the following site: Comando Supremo (http://comandosupremo.com/)

Top notch and very complete site.

To add to the earlier points, Italy in WWII was a mixed bag. Very good navy but not used well, mixed army, decent air force. Poor strategic situation and resource base and lackluster support at home.

Insuber
04-21-2010, 10:11 AM
Leitmotiv,

Thanks for the links.I own the revised Chris Dunning's "Courage Alone", it has been re-published this year, but the least that I can say is that I'm not impressed. I'll check the East Africa one, a very little known theater indeed.

Regards,
Insuber

Insuber
04-21-2010, 10:34 AM
The raw materials lacked indeed, but I doubt that Hitler stole them before the capitulation of Sep 1943. I believe that the real issue were production volumes, in an agricultural country of very recent industrialization. Have a look at the industrial production figures here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M..._during_World_War_II (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_production_during_World_War_II)

Italy had a GDP roughly equal to half of the UK's one, but the industrial production figures were ranging from one quarter to one twentieth of the British ones.
Italy started to loose materials (tanks, aircraft, guns, lorries, trained soldiers ...) at an higher rate than their production, while the UK production + US supplies exceeded the losses ... if you know Age of Empires you can guess the result http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif.


Bye,
Insuber


Originally posted by M_Gunz:
Long ago to me, around 1973, a friend had told me that Italian armor in Africa was poor because Hitler had taken
so much of their best steel and resources for the panzers. I don't know how true this is though. I know that
Italian metallurgy was superb both before and after WWII by the alloys and craftsmanship of their bicycle parts
and frames. Campagnolo is better than gold, any Campagnolo, and that is one example. But without the molybdenum
and chrome and whatever other rare materials, you don't make tons of the ultra.

ilmavoimat
04-21-2010, 03:23 PM
There is one colossal lacuna. There is not a single modern, authoritative, single-volume reference on the Italian aircraft of WWII (note the word "authoritative") available in English. I have the only one there is, but it was published in the mid-1960's!!!!

Look no further!!



https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref...ix=regia+aeronautica (https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_17?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=regia+aeronautica&sprefix=regia+aeronautica)

Perhaps Team Daidalos might give us a Caproni 135???

leitmotiv
04-21-2010, 04:17 PM
Originally posted by Insuber:
Leitmotiv,

Thanks for the links.I own the revised Chris Dunning's "Courage Alone", it has been re-published this year, but the least that I can say is that I'm not impressed. I'll check the East Africa one, a very little known theater indeed.

Regards,
Insuber

I do not own it. That is bad news. I guess I will not be buying it.

Bremspropeller
04-22-2010, 01:22 PM
Has the WW2 Italian Air Force not had fair recognition?

No, and neither had the French.

Phas3e
04-22-2010, 03:58 PM
From reading a large number of RNZAF autobiographies, and a lot of kiwi pilots served in the MTO, they all had a healthy respect of the Italian airforce.

They all seem to state that the Italians were always keen for a scrap and would always attack in situations where Luftwaffe pilots would simply turn away in the other direction.
Also that the aerobatic manouvers were a favourite with Italian Pilots in combat rather than hack, slash and dive away tactics of the Germans.

larschance
04-24-2010, 11:20 AM
Originally posted by leitmotiv:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Insuber:
Leitmotiv,

Thanks for the links.I own the revised Chris Dunning's "Courage Alone", it has been re-published this year, but the least that I can say is that I'm not impressed. I'll check the East Africa one, a very little known theater indeed.

Regards,
Insuber

I do not own it. That is bad news. I guess I will not be buying it. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
While everyone is entitled to their opinion please do not go by one persons general unqualified opinion. I know several people who are delighted with it. The new reprint may not have much new content but the original was recognised as a standard reference. The new volume also in English by the same author contains the rest of the story including operations in Spain, China, and the 1943 to 45 period. This is contrary to the misinformation shown by Amazon. It also has a chapter on Capitano Ugo Drago with his personal thanks to the author for his good work. I know the people involved in producing this work and appreciate the 20 years work undertaken.
BTW it is sad that author William Green passed away in January with little mention in the press. He was the doyen of WW2 aviation authors in the sixties and seventies.
I look forward to the SOW series and much appreciate the TD efforts in updating the IL2 sim.

Insuber
04-24-2010, 11:32 AM
Originally posted by larschance:

While everyone is entitled to their opinion please do not go by one persons general unqualified opinion. I know several people who are delighted with it.

You are right, it is just my personal opinion. I intentionally avoided any specific critics, to make clear that it's just an opinion, and this despite my deception for this much awaited edition. But why should it be an "unqualified" one?

Ins

Feathered_IV
04-24-2010, 07:24 PM
Very interesting thread. Found a promotional sneak peek at Desert Prelude here if anyone is interested:

http://stratusbooks.com.pl/str/books_pdf/119.pdf

AndyJWest
04-24-2010, 08:23 PM
the aerobatic manouvers were a favourite with Italian Pilots in combat rather than hack, slash and dive away tactics of the Germans.

Probably because their aircraft were better-suited to this type of combat. Though by the end of WWII speed and firepower had become more significant, the Italians were hardly alone in emphasising manoeuvrability.

CloCloZ
04-25-2010, 03:21 AM
Italian pilots at air schools were deeply trained in aerobatics but at the expense of shooting and navigation.
I've recently read a book, "Ali d'aquila" (Eagle's wings), based on Giuseppe Ruzzin's memoirs. http://www.mursia.com/testimonianze/ali_aquila.html
Ruzzin (5 air combat victories, four Italian and one German medals) was a fighter pilot who started fighting in Spanish Civil War until armistice between Allies and Italy of September 8, 1943. He openly criticizes that training choice, which produced a lot of highly talented "virtuoso" pilots but not so many all-round fully trained airforce soldiers.

larschance
04-26-2010, 10:34 AM
Hi Insuber. I meant unspecified not unqualified. You did not specify what you thought was wrong with the book but seemed to infer the whole book was incorrect. Anyway any book is just the opinion of the author in this case based on wartime documents and interviews with former aircrew which is all susceptible to error. The role of the historian author is to eliminate those errors as much as possible. Much of what should be proved is lost as those involved pass on and records are lost. Cheers

Insuber
04-26-2010, 11:52 AM
Hi larschance,

OK no problem mate.

Cheers,
Insuber