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the size of Italian infantry units


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#1 Andrew Burton

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Posted 25 December 2010 - 03:28 PM

I am moving in to the desert part of world war II in North Africa. I am coming off the Russian Front been there forever and a year, and still love it there as the Russians. But was looking at the Italians infantry units and saw that their units were like 2 units of 2 rifle stands and one light machine gun. As a Russian player the Russians had 3 units of 2 rifle and one machine gun stands. Were the Italian infantry units that small or is this a misprint. Was just curious, were the Italian infantry units that smaller than everyone else infantry units? I like doing what would consider underdogs becasue when you win a battle you can really rub it in on the opposition.Andrew Burton

#2 Mark 1

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 03:44 PM

andrew wrote:

But was looking at the Italians infantry units and saw that their units were like 2 units of 2 rifle stands and one light machine gun. ... Were the Italian infantry units that small or is this a misprint.

Andrew:Can you cite where you saw that description of the Italian units? It does not appear that way in the Infantry Battalion organization described in the current Italian Chapter of the MP Equipment Book, at least not so far as I have been able to find.That said, what is in the book is also not the full story. I have been gaming Italians for a few years now, and studying them as a result, and find that the story on Italian infantry small-unit organization is not a simple one to tell.The primary platoon organization with which the Italians entered the war was this:Platoon HQ: one officer, and one attendant. May have served as a shoe-shiner, or as a runner. Don't know for sure.Two squads each with: Rifle section of 9 men, armed only with rifles (and grenades).LMG section of 9 men armed with 2 LMGs, 2 pistols, and 5 rifles (each gunner having only his LMG, the gunner's #2s having pistols, 2 ammo carriers per gun with rifles, and the section NCO with a rifle).What you will see here is that, rather than being a smaller infantry platoon than most other nations, the Italians had a slightly larger infantry platoon with more LMGs. But it was organized closer to a WW1 infantry formation (half-platoons being the manuever unit), and they found this organization to be somewhat unwieldly in combat. In particular, the Italian infantry squad doctrine was to set-up a fire base with the LMG section, while the rifle section maneuvered to close with the enemy. While it was formally organized into two large Rifle+LMG+LMG squads, it more often operated as 1 large Rifle+Rifle squad and 1 large LMG+LMG+LMG+LMG squad. The commander typically moved with the rifles, and the rifles often became so far separated from the LMGs that coordinated action was no longer possible.To impliment this platoon organization in MP, I use two rifle stands, and four LMG support stands. I mark one of the rifle stands to also be my command stand, as the very thin command structure of the infantry platoon did not allow for much flexibility, and I find a seperate command stand under MP gives more flexibility to a platoon than I want it to have.

I am moving in to the desert part of world war II in North Africa. I am coming off the Russian Front been there forever and a year, and still love it there as the Russians.

So the question then is not how I impliment my Italians, but how you might want to impliment YOUR Italians. It seems that the rather archaic infantry platoon organization was often modified by units in the field. Particularly in the Western Dessert campaign (against the Brits) the experienced Italian infantry formations tended to re-organize in a structure closer to what the Bersaglieris used. That platoon structure was far more conventional -- based on each squad having 8 to 10 men with rifles and an LMG. This structure was first adopted for the convenience of motor transport (one squad could fit in a small truck, or one whole platoon could fit in a large Lancia truck), but it also was found to be easier to handle in combat.This new scheme was formalized some time in 1942 (the AS42 TOE). But as I understand it this was specifically a Western Desert forces modification, and continental formations were not re-organized to the new scheme.In Tunisia a lot of units present were continental forces which came over as re-inforcements, and so most were organized under the old scheme, while only some had re-organized themselves into the new scheme. While in Sicily most formations appear to have been continental forces, and so under the old scheme. Most experienced / re-structured formations did not escape from Tunisia.And on the Eastern Front, from what evidence I have been able to find, most operated under the old scheme. It seemed to work well enough in positional warfare, failing most noticeably only when combat was fluid. By the time things got fluid on the Eastern Front, the flow consisted mostly of the remanents of the 8th Army trying to escape back to Italy.This is my understanding at the moment. It has gone through much development over the past few years. I don't pretend that I have it all correct, just that this is the best I've got so far.Hope that helps.-Mark(aka: Mk 1)




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