I've posted about this a bunch ever since we were teased with another FI module a few Bones ago:
^ Rome To Victory
^ Remaining Fortress Italy Modules
I've tried to sew some of those posts together, I apologize for the dead links.
A few things:
What I would gently suggest is a major pack for Fortress Italy filling out the Italian roster in Sicily, then moving on to add Partisans, RSI and Co-Belligerents.
This way all of the work needed to bring the Italians to North Africa is done in advance and the pack is at least making money in the meantime during the very long development time needed for maps, scenarios, campaigns and TOE and OOBs for the other nations.
All of that Italian content needs to be created anyway, why not put it in an existing product line rather than sit on it until the base game is ready for release?
Why Add Italians In Italy?
A few years ago where some bones came out for FI, there was discussion about possible roadmap.
iirc, a pack containing Commandos and partisans was mentioned as being a possibility after R2V, as well as adding the RSI, Italian Co-Belligerents and fleshing out the existing Italian roster to add dismounted Breda Model 35, Solothurn and Cannone da 90/53 as a module. Is this still possible?
I would gladly pay for a pack with partisans, commandos and goumiers and would certainly pay for a module expanding the Italians from '43-45
e: I had no idea that an Italian Co-Belligerent unit liberated Venice. They made pretty significant contributions to the Allied cause.
Catching Up To The Engine:
It's more that engine updates have left Italy behind. Italy has no AT bunkers, no AA, no flamethrowers not even tank hunter teams.
Now, I'm not sure what guns they had casemated on Sicily, or if those played any part beyond the first day, so I suppose that can be discounted.
On-Map AA would make a big difference. It would be a nice addition to scenarios where the Italians are defending a static position, and in QB both for fire support and to lessen the plastering by Allied air.
The Italians have both Pioneers and the specialized assault troops - Guastatori who had flamethrowers.
There are perfectly serviceable AA guns and AT rifles mounted on the AS.42 Sahariana. They would just need to be added in the dismounted role.
These are all small additions, more to bring Italy up to the engine standards, using much of what already exists in Fortress Italy and laying the foundations for the larger role Italy played in Africa.
Moving on from what we mostly already have:
Some of the Italian artillery in the 75mm - 105mm range would be nice to have on-map in Sicily, and crucial to have on-map in Africa. Italian Artillery was not only commonly used in the direct role (they had slow and inefficient management of indirect fires) but the Italian Artillerymen were almost uniquely courageous and competent. Field Guns were often the only component of entire Italian brigades that gave the British any trouble. They had some pretty good guns, although rare compared to museum pieces or French trophies.
The Italian Dual-Purpose AA/AT guns were also pretty good. Never as famous as the 88, they gave the allies trouble. The 90/53 is already in Fortress Italy in a SP mount.
Having a HMG would be nice, and the ballistics are already done because this is mounted in a SP mount in Fortress Italy as well.
The Parachute Division "Nembo" was present in Sicily. It would be a nice addition, but I think more importantly would lay the foundation for the "Folgore" which became famous in Africa. The best of the Italian infantry in Africa, Italian Paras were also the better units available to the RSI and Co-Belligerents.
Why Partisans in Fire and Rubble Make Revisiting Italy, and the Italian Civil War Possible
The Vehicle Pack and Battle Pack for Battle for Normandy were outstanding. What I like best is how the additions of each module and pack make it over to other titles. I think that was a really smart way to do things.
I wouldn't expect Steve to tinker away at partisans just for Fortress Italy, but the addition of partisans elsewhere helps lay the foundation for an Italian module or pack (43-45) for Fortress Italy. The way I see it a pack or module focusing on Italy would require four things: The Partisans, The Co-Belligerent Army, The RSI and the Royal Italian Army. Because of how complete Fortress Italy is due to the other titles, the work that remains to be done for an Italy pack/module is also what would be needed for Africa, or at least Tunisia.
With Soviet Partisans and Volkssturm coming with Fire and Rubble, partisans may not be as remote a possibility as it used to be. Most of the work is already being done by making partisans from scratch over in Red Thunder. Italian names and voice files are already in the Fortress Italy base game. Of course the exact organization, equipment and appearance of a partisan band in Milan would be different from one in Minsk. Luckily Stens and Brens are already in the game thanks to Gustav Line (Which is thanks to Battle For Normandy: Commonwealth Forces and that interconnected development strategy).
It's a smart way to use the work done for other titles. Allied and German equipment through the end of the war was done in Final Blitzkrieg and made it over to Fortress Italy with Rome to Victory (and the work bringing the Commonwealth to the end of the war in FI is now being used for FB). Equipment for British and Americans through the end of the war, plus the voice files, ranks and so on in the base game gets us most of the way to the Co-Belligerent Army.
A combination of the German equipment we have and the Italian Equipment already in the base game goes a long way towards the RSI. There would need to be a bit, maybe quite a bit of work done on ranks, uniforms, TOE and OOB there. Luckily that work wouldn't go to waste! Why? Because the RSI mostly used equipment and uniforms left over from the Royal Italian Army, plus some rare mid-war vehicles and equipment which could be a nice treat like the Strumtiger, Elefant and Jagdtiger (To clarify: Not that the RSI used those AFVs! Mostly Pz IIIs and IVs - which already exist in-game - Just that the P26/40 might be fun in the way those other rare AFVs are).
The field guns, AA, AT and so on needed for their TOE from 43-45, and to match the rest of the forces across titles would also complete the Royal Italian Army in Sicily.
With a change of tan uniforms for the grey, a complete Italian Army in Sicily gets you North Africa at least through 1943.
It's a good way to add more to an existing Base Game while laying the foundations for a new title.
Give The Herman Goering Division The Right Uniforms For Mainland Italy
In Fortress Italy, the troops of the Herman Goering Division display the correct white Waffenfarben in Fortress Italy, but in Gustav Line and Rome to Victory bear the green Kragenspiegel of the Field Divisions. Simply, the tropical uniform in Sicily is correct for the HG Division, but the temperate uniform for Italy and Northern Italy is, I would venture to guess, ported from Battle for Normandy or Red Thunder unmodified. The cuff title is also present in FI but disappears in the later modules.
This seems like a pretty quick fix - just a uniform option like Greatcoat/Camouflage/etc. that substitutes white collar badges for the green and adds cuff titles for Luftwaffe troops during the dates the HG was involved in the campaign. Call it "Herman Goering" or something in line with the Gebirgsjäger option added in Rome to Victory.
With Field Divisions making an appearance, will the HG Division finally get a second look? Their depiction in Sicily is great but once the fighting moves to Italy it’s fairly apparent that their uniforms are a copy-paste from CMBN. HG in mainland Italy often had cuff titles and wore SS Oakleaf camoflauge smocks. Additionally, their ranks were white and not green as in Field Divisions. This applies to both the unit skins and the unit information screen.