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domfluff

Some Italian thoughts

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I'm certainly not well read on my Italian tactical doctrine, but I've been playing around with them quite a bit recently. Thought it was worth sharing some ideas, or at least being told how wrong I am.

The Italians have some bafflingly dodgy equipment. No radios and limited binoculars mean that reconnaissance is extremely difficult (C2 sharing is mostly spotting with naked eyesight, then running back a team to share that information horizontally to another unit), a complete lack of anti-tank weapons at the infantry level, and a general lack of automatic weapons.

The 20 man squads do have two LMG's (Breda 30's), with 20 round clips. That puts it more-or-less equivalent to the BAR as a suppression weapon. That's not completely terrible, but certainly worse than a Bren or MG34/42 at winning fire superiority.

The HMG's (Breda M37) are even more baffling - they also have 20 round clips, which makes their job very difficult, if not impossible.

On top of that, the Italian troops seem to be of a worse quality in CMFI in general ("Green" seems to be the default, but I could be wrong).

So, how to use them effectively?

What they *do* have is a high density of men, and large numbers of brixia mortars - they get nine of these per battalion, and each has 50 rounds, which is quite a bit. The rounds are small, but they can keep up a high rate of fire, and suppress their targets quite effectively, usually a lot more than the volume of HMG fire they can put out.

They're structured into two 20 man squads, with 40 man platoons.

A deliberate two platoon attack would
 involve leapfrogging one platoon over the other, with the squads performing similar fire + movement in and of themselves, since they have one 10 man half-squad with 2 LMG's and one half with none. Company level presumably is the same thing, but larger.

This feels almost WW1-like, in that the aim in a deliberate, set-piece Italian attack is a conceptually simple steamroller - the HMG and especially Brixia fire is vital for suppressing the targets, and the infantry will push, push, push into close range, as aggressively and swiftly as possible. In close range, their numbers and grenades (which are as good as any) can wipe out any opposing advantages.


This seems to make a lot of sense. It means that the Italians can be effective in planned, set-piece frontal attacks, preferably over a distance of 500m or less, with protected flanks. It also means that they are incredibly lacking in agility - they can't deal with unexpected outcomes very easily, and fighting in close terrain (cities, woods) will likely be a disaster.

In some ways they seem similar to Soviet infantry, in that the tactical level seems simple and brutal, but effective. The emphasis then is on the larger scale, to make sure that the small scale can succeed.

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13 hours ago, domfluff said:

So, how to use them effectively?

Have them surrender immediately. The Allies will be swamped with POWs and processing them will take up time and slow down their offensive. And providing them with rations, as they are obligated to do by the rules of war, will stress their supply networks.

;)

Michael

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The Italian's artillery is probably their only reasonably strong card, but their spotters are terrible.....I tend to drop the lot on objectives that I think I have a reasonable chance of taking at the start of the battle, then see what's actually achievable from there.

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead

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As others mentioned...Just Surrender that day. However, if you want to prolong their agony, then it's best that the WOP's dont show-up to begin with, and then can surrender another day ;) 

Edited by JoMc67

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19 hours ago, Freyberg said:

In a recon battle, their armoured cars are fierce...

Bersaglieri were good too.....I'd rate them somewhere around Regular/+1/High on average, with a good smattering of Veterans.

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead

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On 6/16/2017 at 4:50 PM, Michael Emrys said:

Have them surrender immediately. The Allies will be swamped with POWs and processing them will take up time and slow down their offensive. And providing them with rations, as they are obligated to do by the rules of war, will stress their supply networks.

;)

Michael

:rolleyes:

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Check out the Royal Italian Army Guastatori formations; combat engineers with squads of satchel charge armed infantry, machine-gun sections, and brexia mortars.  Their morale is decent enough to make them pretty effective in urban combat.  There weren't that many units of them historically but I've had fun in my games with them.

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There is a fair bit of Italian equipment that's missing, to be fair!

FM 24/29 light machine gun (French Capture)
Cannone da 90/53 (This is a big one! The Semovente 90/53 is already in game, and only has 12 rounds!)
Solothurn S-18/1000 (Mounted on As. 42 but would be valuable in ground mount)
Italian AA guns haven't been added (Once again, already have an example on the As. 42)
Flame throwers

I think that with some tweaks to the Italian OOB to bring them in line with the additions to other nations over the past years and modules, Italy would be surprisingly punchy.
 

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"The Fleeting Moment" campaign is probably the best demonstration of the strengths and weaknesses of the Italians.  You get a fairly decent force in terms of training and motivation, but with all the equipment problems noted above.  I found that in the campaign, the tanks would do about 90% of the work in the battles, and the infantry were really only good for drawing fire and exposing enemy positions to your tanks.  The Brixia mortars were the lone bright spot in what was otherwise abysmal equipment. 

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I wish we were able to split the Italian squads, maybe not in so many fashions as other forces but at least into two 5 man groups. I understand what BF wants to achieve but I think that would still be done with the organization alone and some restriction in the splitting options (no scout, assault, AT options). As the simulation / in game results suffers a bit IMHO with the squads always forced so close together. Fingers crossed.

Im really enjoying the Foiling Fustian campaign at the moment that mixes FJ and Italian forces.    

Really looking forward to Rome to Victory!

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On ‎25‎/‎06‎/‎2017 at 10:17 PM, SLIM said:

Didn't the Italians operate some Souma S35's taken from the French as well?

Well you learn a new thing every day.....Apparently they received 32 of them from the Germans.  No idea what happened to them after that though.  :unsure:

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead

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On 2017-07-19 at 6:27 PM, Erwin said:

IIRC the 2nd mission in "Foiling Fustian" with Italians and German inf and vehicles was one of the best I have played.

Indeed a great scenario!

 

Illustration of the problems that can arise when not able to split squads. Here I have some Italian black shirts that I want to take cover in a dried riverbed. Only haft the squad moves there and the other half insists on placing them selves on the top.  

36217106511_5bbd554018_o.jpg

Edited by Fizou

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On 6/16/2017 at 11:32 AM, domfluff said:

I'm certainly not well read on my Italian tactical doctrine, but I've been playing around with them quite a bit recently. Thought it was worth sharing some ideas, or at least being told how wrong I am.

The Italians have some bafflingly dodgy equipment. No radios and limited binoculars mean that reconnaissance is extremely difficult (C2 sharing is mostly spotting with naked eyesight, then running back a team to share that information horizontally to another unit), a complete lack of anti-tank weapons at the infantry level, and a general lack of automatic weapons.

The 20 man squads do have two LMG's (Breda 30's), with 20 round clips. That puts it more-or-less equivalent to the BAR as a suppression weapon. That's not completely terrible, but certainly worse than a Bren or MG34/42 at winning fire superiority.

The HMG's (Breda M37) are even more baffling - they also have 20 round clips, which makes their job very difficult, if not impossible.

On top of that, the Italian troops seem to be of a worse quality in CMFI in general ("Green" seems to be the default, but I could be wrong).

So, how to use them effectively?

What they *do* have is a high density of men, and large numbers of brixia mortars - they get nine of these per battalion, and each has 50 rounds, which is quite a bit. The rounds are small, but they can keep up a high rate of fire, and suppress their targets quite effectively, usually a lot more than the volume of HMG fire they can put out.

They're structured into two 20 man squads, with 40 man platoons.

A deliberate two platoon attack would
 involve leapfrogging one platoon over the other, with the squads performing similar fire + movement in and of themselves, since they have one 10 man half-squad with 2 LMG's and one half with none. Company level presumably is the same thing, but larger.

This feels almost WW1-like, in that the aim in a deliberate, set-piece Italian attack is a conceptually simple steamroller - the HMG and especially Brixia fire is vital for suppressing the targets, and the infantry will push, push, push into close range, as aggressively and swiftly as possible. In close range, their numbers and grenades (which are as good as any) can wipe out any opposing advantages.


This seems to make a lot of sense. It means that the Italians can be effective in planned, set-piece frontal attacks, preferably over a distance of 500m or less, with protected flanks. It also means that they are incredibly lacking in agility - they can't deal with unexpected outcomes very easily, and fighting in close terrain (cities, woods) will likely be a disaster.

In some ways they seem similar to Soviet infantry, in that the tactical level seems simple and brutal, but effective. The emphasis then is on the larger scale, to make sure that the small scale can succeed.

This sounds like the perfect RL description of the Italians in WW2!

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On ‎6‎/‎16‎/‎2017 at 6:32 AM, domfluff said:

I'm certainly not well read on my Italian tactical doctrine, but I've been playing around with them quite a bit recently. Thought it was worth sharing some ideas, or at least being told how wrong I am.

The Italians have some bafflingly dodgy equipment. No radios and limited binoculars mean that reconnaissance is extremely difficult (C2 sharing is mostly spotting with naked eyesight, then running back a team to share that information horizontally to another unit), a complete lack of anti-tank weapons at the infantry level, and a general lack of automatic weapons.

The 20 man squads do have two LMG's (Breda 30's), with 20 round clips. That puts it more-or-less equivalent to the BAR as a suppression weapon. That's not completely terrible, but certainly worse than a Bren or MG34/42 at winning fire superiority.

The HMG's (Breda M37) are even more baffling - they also have 20 round clips, which makes their job very difficult, if not impossible.

On top of that, the Italian troops seem to be of a worse quality in CMFI in general ("Green" seems to be the default, but I could be wrong).

So, how to use them effectively?

What they *do* have is a high density of men, and large numbers of brixia mortars - they get nine of these per battalion, and each has 50 rounds, which is quite a bit. The rounds are small, but they can keep up a high rate of fire, and suppress their targets quite effectively, usually a lot more than the volume of HMG fire they can put out.

They're structured into two 20 man squads, with 40 man platoons.

A deliberate two platoon attack would
 involve leapfrogging one platoon over the other, with the squads performing similar fire + movement in and of themselves, since they have one 10 man half-squad with 2 LMG's and one half with none. Company level presumably is the same thing, but larger.

This feels almost WW1-like, in that the aim in a deliberate, set-piece Italian attack is a conceptually simple steamroller - the HMG and especially Brixia fire is vital for suppressing the targets, and the infantry will push, push, push into close range, as aggressively and swiftly as possible. In close range, their numbers and grenades (which are as good as any) can wipe out any opposing advantages.


This seems to make a lot of sense. It means that the Italians can be effective in planned, set-piece frontal attacks, preferably over a distance of 500m or less, with protected flanks. It also means that they are incredibly lacking in agility - they can't deal with unexpected outcomes very easily, and fighting in close terrain (cities, woods) will likely be a disaster.

In some ways they seem similar to Soviet infantry, in that the tactical level seems simple and brutal, but effective. The emphasis then is on the larger scale, to make sure that the small scale can succeed.

Excellent post!  I just started playing some Italian scenarios yesterday evening and I found that this was the only method that yielded any success for me, albeit still with heavy casualties, much higher than I would deem acceptable with any force other than the Soviets.  The infantry platoons are so light on organic firepower that you have to plan from the start what company and battalion-level assets will be supporting which assault.  If you think you're going to recon pull and allocate supporting fires where you find the enemy you will quickly find that the rifle platoon in contact will probably not survive long enough to displace your MGs and mortars and concentrate your firepower.  Same for calling arty, the unit in contact will likely be routed or destroyed before the incoming fires can do any good whatsoever.

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If I could add one small thing, be mindful of the difference in small arms.
6.5mm is small bore, but very high velocity. These rifles the Italians use were intended for use in mountain terrain, where very long line of sight is common, I.E. from one side of a valley to another. They have a longer battlesight range, and can lay down effective fire at slightly longer ranges than equivalent rifles, like the 7.62mm. I'm only talking about maybe an extra 100 meters, but if the TAC AI is capable of recognizing it, you can expect to send and receive rifle fire at ranges you would not be used to fighting against the Germans.

I have not thoroughly tested the Carcano against the Springfield yet, but I have already noticed a difference in ballistic performance from the few battles I've fought against the Italians.

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3 hours ago, SLIM said:

If I could add one small thing, be mindful of the difference in small arms.
6.5mm is small bore, but very high velocity. These rifles the Italians use were intended for use in mountain terrain, where very long line of sight is common, I.E. from one side of a valley to another. They have a longer battlesight range, and can lay down effective fire at slightly longer ranges than equivalent rifles, like the 7.62mm. I'm only talking about maybe an extra 100 meters, but if the TAC AI is capable of recognizing it, you can expect to send and receive rifle fire at ranges you would not be used to fighting against the Germans.

I have not thoroughly tested the Carcano against the Springfield yet, but I have already noticed a difference in ballistic performance from the few battles I've fought against the Italians.

This shouldn't be.  The 6.5mm is not a particularly high velocity round, at all, throwing a 160 grain bullet that clocks in at 2,400 fps at the muzzle from a 21" barrel.  By comparison the M1 throws the 152 grain M2 ball at 2,800 fps and the Kar98k fires its 198 grain 7.92x57mm s.S. Patrone at 2,500 fps.  There is a vast discrepancy in trajectory and hitting power between the M38 Carcano and its contemporaries and it doesn't compare favorably by any measure.  Also, while it is battlesighted for 300m as opposed to the common 200 meter/yard battlesight of its contemporaries I would posit that the bullet's ballistics don't allow the rifle to shine at this range and its sights are, in my opinion, quite poor.  I am a decent shooter and I can steadily ding a steel silhouette at 500 yards all day with an M1 and, to a lesser degree, with the 98k.  I would not expect to achieve these same results with a M38 though I've never hauled mine out and tried it at that range.

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