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Thread: What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

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    IrishBlood's Avatar GIVE THEM BLIZZARDS!
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    Default What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

    unashamedly inspired by this thread: http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showthread.php?t=526686


    Italy had aliagned itself with the central powers, but prior to the war (for reasons i cannot remember) they split from them. Even after the split they stayed neutral until 1915, when allied pressure and aspirations for empire building persuaded them to join against central powers.

    What if the argument that had caused the rift between the CP's and Italy had been smoothed over and Italy joined the war on the Axis side?

    I think the results would have been totally different. The 2million Austrian/german troops that invaded italy would have been sent elsewhere, most likely to russia, which im sure would have made a fair bit of difference.

    The 2 millionish Italian troops would most likely have invaded southern france, while the benifits of such an invasion would have been neglegable, it still would have pulled hundreds of thousands of french troops away from the western front.

    The Italian Navy, though small, managed to keep the Austro hungarian one bottled up in the adriatic for the duration of the war. Had the 2 been able to combine they could have proven to be a bit of a pain in the ass for allied shipping in the med, most likely drawing away allied ships from the blocade of germany. They potentially could have disrupted allied operatiosn against Turky, or potentially drawn allied attntion away from turky altogether, with the british and french invading libya and eithiopia. (obviously the Italians wouldnt want that, but in the grand scheme of things this would have been better for the central powers)

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    Manuel I Komnenos's Avatar Rex Regum
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    Default Re: What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

    I had opened a thread about that a while back and I had argued that Italy's participation in the Central Powers would have been a very useful boost, even a deciding factor for the end of hostilities. There would be 2 immediate positive effects from such an event: a) A-H would have one front less and wouldn't need to waste so many precious men. b) 1-2 million Italian soldiers would open a new front in Southern France and the French would need an equal number of troops to mount their defenses. The mountainous terrain wouldn't leave much hope for a thrust into France but by keeping a million Allied troops there, the Italians would have provided a useful service to the Germans.
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    "Steps to be taken in case Russia should be forced out of war considered. Various movements [of ] troops to and from different fronts necessary to meeting possible contingencies discussed. Conference also weighed political, economic, and moral effect both upon Central and Allied powers under most unfavorable aspect from Allied point of view. General conclusions reached were necessity for adoption of purely defensive attitude on all secondary fronts and withdrawing surplus troops for duty on western front. By thus strengthening western front [those attending] believed Allies could hold until American forces arrive in numbers sufficient to gain ascendancy."
    ~General Pershing, report to Washington, 26 July 1917

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    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar 大信皇帝
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    Default Re: What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

    Italy and Austria can do things to Serbia, Montenegro and Greece, with Ottoman and Bulgarian help that is, maybe even send troops to Palestine in order to indirectly protect Eritrea and to surround Egypt with their colony in Libya.

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    IrishBlood's Avatar GIVE THEM BLIZZARDS!
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    Default Re: What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

    Does anyone think that Italy remaining on the side of the Central powers could have won Germany the war?

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    Manuel I Komnenos's Avatar Rex Regum
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    Default Re: What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

    I can see a very likely breakthrough coming in 1918. After the fall of Russia, dozens of Austrian and German divisions return to the Western Front and together with the Italian ones break through the Allied Front.
    Under the patronage of Emperor Maximinus Thrax
    "Steps to be taken in case Russia should be forced out of war considered. Various movements [of ] troops to and from different fronts necessary to meeting possible contingencies discussed. Conference also weighed political, economic, and moral effect both upon Central and Allied powers under most unfavorable aspect from Allied point of view. General conclusions reached were necessity for adoption of purely defensive attitude on all secondary fronts and withdrawing surplus troops for duty on western front. By thus strengthening western front [those attending] believed Allies could hold until American forces arrive in numbers sufficient to gain ascendancy."
    ~General Pershing, report to Washington, 26 July 1917

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    Claudius Gothicus's Avatar Petit Burgués
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    Default Re: What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

    Quote Originally Posted by Manuel I Komnenos View Post
    I can see a very likely breakthrough coming in 1918. After the fall of Russia, dozens of Austrian and German divisions return to the Western Front and together with the Italian ones break through the Allied Front.
    I very much doubt the italians ability to wage offensive war, considering that they failed miserably at pulling such operations against the already dysfunctional Austrian Army.
    Last edited by Claudius Gothicus; March 09, 2012 at 10:18 AM.

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    IrishBlood's Avatar GIVE THEM BLIZZARDS!
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    Default Re: What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

    Quote Originally Posted by Claudius Gothicus View Post
    I very much doubt the italians ability to wage offensive war, considering that they failed miserably at pulling such operations against the already dysfunctional Austrian Army.


    Well it doesnt matter how good they are really, as long as they caused a big enough distraction. If 2 million odd Italian troops attempted to invade southern france, then the french would have to send at least a million to counter them. The french were pretty damn streched as it was, and the loss of a million men from the western front would have had serious consequences.

    Also whats to say that with the extra troops arrayed against them, that the russians might have been forced out of the war sooner then they were

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    Claudius Gothicus's Avatar Petit Burgués
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    Default Re: What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

    Quote Originally Posted by IrishBlood View Post
    Well it doesnt matter how good they are really, as long as they caused a big enough distraction. If 2 million odd Italian troops attempted to invade southern france, then the french would have to send at least a million to counter them. The french were pretty damn streched as it was, and the loss of a million men from the western front would have had serious consequences.
    Well, that's a completly arbitrary estimation. How would it be necessary for the French to send a million troops to the Alps? is the 2:1 ratio really necessary?

    Taking into account Italian incompetence, their poorly led army, the nature of the French defense(the austrians had to defend themselves in the Po valley, not in the middle of the mountains alone, something which the French could easily avoid by simply shooting italians from the Alps)and the French and British hegemony of the Western Mediterranean(enough ships to bomb major Italian ports like Genoa or Ostia to oblivion and the ability to create a counter attack through a rapid deployment over the northern Tirrene) it's pretty easy to deduce that the italian contribution would be easily neutralized in the west.

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    Default Re: What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

    You’re just forgetting a few details:
    - in our timeline the French were already manning the Italian frontier with troops, even after Italy joined was on their side. Before 1915 it was elite Chasseurs Alpins battalions, after that it was alpine Territorial formations.
    - The French and British had to send 11 divisions to the Italians after Caporetto. Those divisions become available if you change events.
    - The Franco-Italian border is much shorter than our timeline’s Italian front, and easily defensible. It also means difficult lines of communication, which implies only a limited amount of troops can be deployed on that front at any time. Not to mention the French army of WW1 is far more competent an opponent than the Austro-Hungarians.


    Well the biggest problem here is why the Italians would join the Central Powers, how they do that and what the consequences are.
    - The Triple Alliance in itself is of little value by 1914. The Italians were already secretly in talks with the French since 1902.
    - The Italian population was overwhelmingly pro-French (and pro-Greek, but that’s less relevant). Italians were amongst the majority of wartime volunteers who joined the Foreign Legion (of particular mention Giuseppe Garibaldi II, grandson of one of Italy’s main “founding fathers”, was the commander of the 4th Foreign “regiment de marche”). War against the Entente would most certainly mean a government collapse. As a matter of fact it was political activism which pushed the pro-neutral government to join war on the side of the Entente in the first place.
    - The territories claimed by Italian irredentists were for the most part in Austrian hands. Austro-Hungarian offers in return for joining the war were never considered sufficient by Italy in our timeline.

    The main issue with alternative history is that people tend to forget one big point: changing events means the protagonists will also change their strategy.
    If the Entente have to fight on two fronts in France, their strategy necessarily takes on a more defensive stance. You then have to modify or remove all offensive operations conducted by the Entente since May 1915. That’s quite a lot of bloody campaigns that suddenly didn’t happen.
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    Manuel I Komnenos's Avatar Rex Regum
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    Default Re: What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

    Quote Originally Posted by Claudius Gothicus View Post
    I very much doubt the italians ability to wage offensive war, considering that they failed miserably at pulling such operations against the already dysfunctional Austrian Army.
    That's right, my theory is that the Italians will keep plenty of enemies in their front, therefore making the Western Front thinner.
    Under the patronage of Emperor Maximinus Thrax
    "Steps to be taken in case Russia should be forced out of war considered. Various movements [of ] troops to and from different fronts necessary to meeting possible contingencies discussed. Conference also weighed political, economic, and moral effect both upon Central and Allied powers under most unfavorable aspect from Allied point of view. General conclusions reached were necessity for adoption of purely defensive attitude on all secondary fronts and withdrawing surplus troops for duty on western front. By thus strengthening western front [those attending] believed Allies could hold until American forces arrive in numbers sufficient to gain ascendancy."
    ~General Pershing, report to Washington, 26 July 1917

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    Erebus Pasha's Avatar vezir-i âzam
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    Default Re: What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

    If such a thing was to occur (don_Durandal has summed up excellently the possibilities of why the Italians allying with the Central Powers wouldn't have been as advantageous as opposing them) what about an Italian-Ottoman pincer movement on Egypt?
    Last edited by Erebus Pasha; March 09, 2012 at 12:25 PM.

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    Default Re: What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

    Considering the fact that when they did try twenty six years later, the Italians didn't manage to get far over their own border. Is Italy more of a liability in war?

    In fact, having to face an Italian-Austrian naval threat might have made Churchill send Empire troops to the boot or Sicily, rather than to the Dardanelles, and the Austrians might have faced a front on their rear in any event.
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    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar 大信皇帝
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    Default Re: What if italy had joined the war on the central powers side in ww1

    When we look at Ottoman operations in the Palestine-Sinai front you can see that the Ottomans were performing well until the Arab revolt did a few things:
    1. Significantly lower morale (Muslims vs Muslims is not ideal)
    2. There is nothing protecting you from British Somaliland and British Yemen and Oman
    3. A loss of recruitment for auxiliaries
    4. A stop in communications and supply from the few things that went from Mesopotamia into the Trans-Jordan, meaning that ottoman theatres from A to B are poorly coordinated.

    In 1915 things were going okay but the First Suez Offensive was a halt, had there been Italian troops backing them up it might have been a victory. However more likely the Italians will fight in Eritrea and Libya. It was in 1916 that things turned bad, but after or during Gallipoli would be the best time for an Italian offensive. It seems that the Ottomans would need to advance to some degree into the Palestine-Sinai area and somehow maintain a position so that the Italians can creep into Egypt (the first and second battles of Gaza for example in 1917 would probably have been an excellent point). However the Italians can probably just be defensive in Eritrea against the French and British. In Libya and the Maghreb it seems that the French are in a stance of preservation of territory and will not be willing to advance in case of an African revolt. While the British have concentrated their troops in Sinai and have a reserve in the Delta all the way to Cairo. British Sudan is poorly garrisoned so the Italians will probably just need to play defensive in Eritria since the French and British will advance from the east and not both sides, if they even choose to advance. The British have poor garrisons in the South East of Libya in the Al Jawf and will probably be easy to overrun. The Italians will then only continue into Egypt through the coast (so like WW2 then) since crossing the South Libya-Sudan-Egypt area is extremely harsh. If the Italians are able to come close to Alexandria then the Ottomans shouldn't have too much trouble and the Ottomans can send their forces elsewhere while the italians overrun Sudan and Somaliland. The British do have Malta and Cyprus with which to attack the Italians in the coast but Rhodes can serve as a defence point so that if the British hope to make an importance with Cyprus and move too many men then Rhodes will be a threat, thus rendering Cyprus even more useless.
    Last edited by Lord Oda Nobunaga; March 09, 2012 at 08:23 PM.

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