Der Adler, der Wolf, und die Sonne: Die Geschichte des Stahlpakts

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Wraith11B

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Oh noes! Himmler AND Heydrich liquidated? Who will write "Malfeasance in twelve easy steps", "Mass-crime for Dummies" and "Evil management made easy", now?

Smashing Zep picture, BTW.

Thank you, I managed to find that searching for Autobahn pictures... so it worked out in the long run! I figure that there will be other candidates for those various titles.
 

stnylan

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I am enjoying this prologue a lot. It is very well organised.
 

Bullfilter

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A great build-up, eagerly anticipating the final lead-in and start.
 

racebear75

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What a great and detailed history-report until 1933 just matched by your alternative history from 1933 on.

Glad to see some of the most evil nazis dead and partly replaced at least with right-wing-autocrats and not other nazis.

There are still A.H., Frick and Göring and probably Goebbels, that's bad enough.
 

Wraith11B

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@racebear75, thank you! I figured if they had been a bit more circumspect, the Army could have probably done away with more of their opponents in the Night of the Long Knives, given how close run that whole thing was.
 

Surt

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The Book "Evil and Incompetent Management" by Heydrich wasn't an bestseller anyway, especially after he got himself killed by stupidity.
 
PROLOGUE C: Forging the Spear: Interbellum Army Developments

Wraith11B

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CQBCV9v.png


TQ3B28h.png

General Johannes Friedrich “Hans” von Seeckt (left) was chief of the Reichsheer from 1920 to 1926 before being
forced to resign. He would go on to serve in the Reichstag from 1930 - 1932, and as a military advisor to
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek from 1932 - 1936.

Much of the work done by the Reichswehr in the interbellum period was the direct brainchild of General von Seeckt. His understanding of the nature of the Versailles Treaty would require that great emphasis be placed on making the army ready to fight on unequal terms with any enemy and that the groundwork had to be laid from the outset to develop the leadership required for a drastic and sudden expansion of the Reichswehr.

dv6vQEV.png

General von Seeckt in front of some infantry during war games in Thuringia.
His creation of operational doctrine meant that even with a subversive General Staff,
the German Army remained one of the premier fighting forces on the Continent.

Significant work was done to expand upon the doctrine demanded by combined arms and resisting the urge to directly confront hostile forces in preference for finding the weakest links or gaps in the enemy line and then exploiting that gap to strike at those locations which would provide the most rapid gain for the least amount of effort. This way, any future conflict might be rapidly brought to a violent close. Another effort was to invite the people in to observe their Reichswehr soldiers doing their duty; von Seeckt believed that a populace that was so involved would only help when the time came: either they would be better prepared to join the Heer or would be supportive if war came.

eDNeSyk.png

A German infantry squad, conducting training on their oddly-named “Squad Automatic Weapons.”
It was enough to get the machine guns that the Heer needed past international inspectors.

In this manner, the Truppenamt began to experiment with the organization of the smallest tactical units, then building upon them until they reflected the best balance of fire and maneuver. With help from the Swiss who kindly provided access to the latest MG15/17 machine guns (prohibited under the Versailles treaty), a team of four soldiers, equipped with one light machine gun and three rifles could conduct the majority of the operations demanded of them. Three of those teams, plus a sergeant and an extra machine gunner and assistant gunner formed the basic squad. This arrangement gave the basic German squad nearly the firepower of almost any other nation’s platoon; three of those squads plus a platoon commander, platoon sergeant and a pair of marksmen formed the platoon.

TeybERp.png

German mortarmen with one of the latest mortars in service.
Five others would constitute the weapons platoon of a German infantry company.

Three platoons augmented by six mortars (three weapons per section) in a weapons platoon formed the basic company; additional personnel included the company commander, assistant commander, and company first sergeant. Battalions were reduced to five companies and a headquarters of approximately 35 men which eliminated the machine gun platoons and companies many other nations relied upon in previous wars. The thinking was that those organizations were generally split up anyways and so would provide more integrated support. Three battalions and a headquarters company of approximately 70 men which included supply, signals, and other supporting elements formed the basic infantry regiment. This was the smallest formation capable of independent tactical operations. Three of those regiments combined to form the basic Infantry division. The cavalry division was almost exactly the same aside from being mounted. Until rearmament could be realized, all divisions maintained a reconnaissance regiment which was simply another cavalry regiment attached to each division.


kheltyN.png

An early Zucker rocket. Gerhard Zucker had begun experimenting with rocket-delivered mail in the
United Kingdom, and upon his expulsion from the UK, was rapidly snapped up by the
Heeresversuchsanstalt Peenemünde.​

Because of the nature of the restrictions in the Versailles treaty, German military development focused intently on developing non-standard solutions for questions regarding supporting the infantry or as a replacement for an air force. The development of rocketry as a practical replacement for artillery was one option which Germany pursued. Further developments of rifle grenades and other high-explosives were also explored. While some effort was made to develop quality gas masks and other protective equipment, no effort was made for offensive chemical warfare, as imprecise weapons would be a waste of effort.

fBEP8LF.png

New infantry kit. German designers were nothing if not demanding for any improvements to what
was given to those at the tip of the spear.

By 1932, the state of the Reichswehr were such that the old mortars were replaced with newer mortars similar in design to the French light mortars. The development of the newer MG30 and MG34s had also begun to replace the old MG15/17 in the inventory. While developments in rocketry continued and experiments showed that they were nominally ideal, the reality was that they could not react as well as ‘tube’ artillery to calls for fire and were generally inaccurate. Some engineers believed that it was merely the restriction of the size of the projectile: a massive rocket, with a significant warhead, might be able to level a large building; a flurry of such missiles could level whole factories without needing expensive bomber aircraft and priceless crews. Some extra funding was invested, but no results were actually expected from the novel idea in the near term.


8sn2kGl.png

Pzkpfw. I, after conversion into a command post. These were rapidly discharged
from service as unacceptable for anything beyond training.

Tanks, on the other hand, were the order of the day and the Panzerkampfwagon I was developed to meet that need. The belief that the mechanization of the ground forces was the future of land warfare became almost a religion in the Truppenamt, under the prophet of Heinz Guderian. Orders were drawn up for the development of motorized forces, to be used in conjunction with the tanks. With so many mounted divisions provided for, a core of well-trained mobile-minded officers were ready to man a drastically expanded armored force with offensive movement being stressed.


YmXQZ0S.png

Italian CCNN brigades under review, 1934. The
Squadristi were motivated but poorly disciplined. It
would take significant effort from German advisors to whip the Italian Army into a shape that
resembled a force that would be worth sending into battle.

For Italy, much of the interwar period was that of stagnation. Their insistence upon a binary formation for their divisions had left them with too many divisions and not enough firepower. By 1930, the Italian Army was quietly taking copious notes from the German methodology of warfare. An intense restructuring of all forces followed. Extraneous headquarters were eliminated, and a far more lean structure emerged. Infantry divisions were realigned into largely square formations. This was most obvious in the Mountain divisions in which two of the elite Alpini brigades were combined with two CCNN brigades--the development of these forces into mountain infantry was planned but had to be put on hold initially. In Africa, lighter three brigade divisions for regular leg infantry divisions were deployed. A division of motorized troops had also been raised; combined with an armored car regiment, this formed the nucleus of the future mechanized forces.

*****
 
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Surt

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So the problem for Italy is not that they don't have enough equipment but that they don't have enough manpower, not a problem I have encountered while playing ...
 
PROLOGUE D: Anchors Aweigh: Interbellum Naval Development

Wraith11B

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D61zIHD.png



5fScdTk.png

Board of the NIACC in 1922. The men that made up the board would deal with Germans who,
while treading carefully just at the lines, would never legally cross them, making their jobs almost
impossible to enforce.

The Naval Inter-Allied Commission of Control, or NIACC, initially restricted development of German naval forces in the interbellum period. The NIACC wanted any development of naval arms to be along the lines of the Scandinavian coastal monitors and not towards mighty vessels that might have been able to bring the Allies to their knees. Germany, caught in the hyperinflationary loop and economic problems, was not in any position to do anything about her surface fleet. By the late twenties, however, the situation was reversed and rearmament was more or less an open secret. The commissioning of the light cruiser Emden, Germany’s first post-war large naval construction was quickly followed by the commissioning of sixteen 1934/A-class destroyers to replace destroyers left over from the Great War. These vessels were largely unsuitable for fleet operations, even the new Emden was by-and-large a training ship. The Reichsmarine organized the destroyers into three destroyer squadrons, but a large policy argument broke out in the Reichsmarine.


MBQjgRD.png

Emden in China, 1931. Her design was nothing cutting edge, but she did serve as the first major
construction project since the end of the Great War, and a testbed for welding in order to save
weight.

On one side, the traditionalists wanted to recapture some of the--largely manufactured--glory of the Kaiserliche Marine: the fleet that had fought the British to a draw at Jutland and Helgoland Bight. A newer and growing chorus, however, wanted to play to German strengths. They argued passionately for what had actually worked in the past: kreuzerkrieg, or cruiser warfare. With surface raiders designed to draw off some of the British Home Fleet and submarines conducting long-range unrestricted submarine warfare, those captains argued that they would be of more use to the Fatherland than battleships that served no purpose other than to sit at anchor in Wilhelmshaven.


rjIC6Qs.png

Karlsruhe-class. While not ideal, these light cruisers did have long range and good performance.
The lessons from these ships would go on to inform the evolved design of the
Leipzigs.​

This argument persuaded Admiral Raeder, chief of the Reichsmarine. Though he didn’t necessarily want to sacrifice his battleships, he did convince the Weimar to spring for three light cruisers of the Karlsruhe-class and later a pair of the evolved Leipzig-class together with six more of the 1934/A destroyers. The Karlsruhe-class were more heavily armed and armored than the Emden, these were the first modern surface combatants of the budding Reichsmarine. Together with the approval from the NIACC for their over-armed heavy cruisers of the Deutschland-class, these would form the nascent core of the long arm of the cruiser fleet. The three vessels--officially called panzerschiff by the Reichsmarine but labelled “pocket battleships” by the British press--had developed German experience in the construction of large surface combatants. These ships had been developed with a similar eye to British “light battlecruisers” from the Great War, better known in the British press as “Fisher’s Follies,” referring to the former First Sea Lord’s rather bizarre ships. The Courageous-class were very fast, with a shallow draught, and had mounted four 15”/381mm in two twin turrets as their main armament. Though the British versions had been intended to operate as scouts for the Grand Fleet, the Germans were more interested in the ability of long-duration, fast, heavily armed ships which could either out-shoot or out-run opponents as needed. To escort such ships--which would be operating far from home and thus need long legs themselves--the plan necessitated a turn away from destroyers in favor of longer-endurance light cruisers.


obR79Kc.png

Scharnhorst-class from the US Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). Note that they list the ship as carrying nine 11” guns, when in fact the Kriegsmarine had consented to wait for her 15” rifles. This would prove a nasty surprise to British surface combatants once the war started.

The experience with the Deutschlands led directly to the development of the bleeding-edge Scharnhorst-class battlecruisers. Armed with nine 15”/38cm SK C/34 main guns in triple turrets (two superfiring turrets forward, one aft of the superstructure) and six 5.9”/15cm SK C/28 in three twin mounts for the secondary battery (one on either side of the bridge and the third superfiring over the aft main gun turret), these vessels were designed to be able to kill almost anything they came across. For protection from aircraft, eight 4.1”/10.5cm L/65 SK C/33 heavy AA guns were positioned on the main deck in four double mounts; a further eight 37mm L/83 SK C/30 AA guns were emplaced higher on the superstructure. Twenty 20mm SK C/30 autocannon in single mountings were liberally scattered around the ship at the outset. With their bunkerage full, these ships could cover nearly 2300 nautical miles with an average speed of 23 knots.


2So0nLa.png

Leipzig-class detail from the ONI. A major change was the rearrangement of her rear guns and
machinery, getting a better rear coverage.

To provide scouting duties and to save the guns of the battlecruisers from undue wear and tear, the Kriegsmarine began design work on an evolved Karlsruhe-classes: the Leipzig-class light cruisers. The plan for these vessels was to mount the same nine 5.9”/15cm quick-firing L/55 guns in three triple turrets: one forward and a superfiring pair aft. Anti-aircraft protection was provided by a pair of 8.8cm L/76 in two turrets on either side of the superstructure and eight 37mm L/83 SK C/30 guns higher up on the superstructure. An additional four 20mm cannons were also supplied. These ships were also designed with two quadruple 53cm torpedo tube mounts as well as 120 mines. They were able to range out over 1900 nautical miles at 27 knots in support of their squadrons.


tYc6BuA.png

The first Type IA. Not designed to be ocean-going boats at all, these were strictly classed for
training and tactical development. Of course, this did not stop them from being deployed at
outbreak of the war, to predictable results.

The surface fleet was only half of the focus for the Reichsmarine. Even though restricted from doing so, Germany had contracted with Finland to construct the Type IIA-class submarines. Only six would be produced, but these submarines were not meant for front line duties. The first, U-1, was commissioned eleven days after the signing of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, which lifted the sanctions for Germany to possess such craft. Type IIA were rapidly followed by nearly eighteen of the Type IIB. Lengthened with the addition of several additional hull sections and possessing additional fuel capacity, the range of the IIBs went from 1000 nautical miles at 8 knots on the surface to over 1800 nautical miles with a surface speed of 13 knots. By the end of 1935, nearly 12 of the boats were in commission, with six more building. The original designs for the Type VIIC had been made; however, Doenitz intervened and challenged the design crew to build the the Kriegsmarine a more powerful boat which could range far out over the Atlantic.


sUGVC4m.png

Admiral Domenico Cavagnari, Chief of the
Regia Marina during the period 1933 - 1943 with Benito
Mussolini. Largely a figurehead due to his insistence that Italian ships need not deploy with
advanced all-weather rangefinding and detection equipment, a fact that rankled Mussolini who
insisted on advances to beat the Royal Navy and the
Marine Nationale.​

In Italy, on the other hand, was focused on their likely enemy of France, with only an eye towards France’s ally, Britain. Possession of four battleships of late Great War types meant that Italy was already far behind the power curve and attempted through the development of a large heavy cruiser contingent to make up for that. One of the main concerns, however, was the insistence of the Navy Chief, Admiral Cavagnari, not to include any developmental technologies which might have increased the ability to fight at night or in bad weather. The anger towards Cavagnari led Mussolini to reassign more forward-thinking men under the crotchety old admiral and turn him into a figurehead.


3cU0rdM.png

Littorio-class battleships of the Regia Marina. These vessels were designed to be able to fight
against whatever the opponents of Italy could cruise through the Mediterranean, but the Royal
Navy’s focus on Germany meant they missed most of their chance at the pride of their opponent’s
navies.

With their dalliance with unimportant ships out of the way, the Italians sought to complete four new battleships and to replace their largely obsolete destroyer forces with ships that would compete with the Royal Navy and Marine Nationale. Despite being signatories to the Washington Naval Arms Treaty, these battlewagons were far outside of the treaty requirements at nearly 40,000 long tons displacement and armed with nine 15”/381mm L/50 Ansaldo 1934 guns as the main battery; by this time, however, the remaining Allied signatories had already invoked their ‘escalator’ clause and rendered the Washington and London treaties void.

*****
Author's Note: I altered the names of what would have been the Konigsberg-class to the Karlsruhe-class because when I was modifying the game it wouldn't recognize the umlau, and so I'd wind up with two of them, and it was just problematic. I decided to let the game handle this for me instead. Also, the ships statistics listed throughout this AAR will be modified versions of what we see in the game.

@Axe99 , as I promised, here's the first of what should be many naval-focused posts for this AAR! Hope you enjoy!
 
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stnylan

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Ahhh, I do like naval posts as well.
 

Axe99

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Love it, great work :D.
 

Wraith11B

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The Emden... wasn't she sunk by mistake by German bombers?

Not her, she was sunk by the Brits in Germany.

Ahhh, I do like naval posts as well.

Good, I'm glad to oblige!

Love it, great work :D.

High praise, sir! Glad to hear that I'm entertaining.

Scharnhorst class a little small for a WII Battleship.

Well, she's not designed to be a battleship, though I'll pull in some of my other sources for a detailed description of the development process.
 

Axe99

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Scharnhorst class a little small for a WII Battleship.

The full-load displacement of a Scharnhorst (first laid down in 1935) was 37,000 or so tons, compared with about 42,000 for a King George V (first laid down 1937). I'd argue they're more a battlecruiser than battleship (in function - Germany classified them as battleships) - which is how Wraith has classified them :). They were also designed for six 15" guns, not nine (iirc), so the displacement of Wraith's Scharnhorsts is likely more than a few tons higher than the historical ones :).
 

Davout

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Excellent work! For such a well worn path of Axis hegemania, your premise is very refreshing. I congratulate you on the quality of the writing and picture selections to entice the reader. I look forward to more installments.
 

Bullfilter

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I too like a good naval post and ship pictures and profiles. In my main HOI3 AAR, I do a picture and short profile (so far anyway ;) ) of every main surface combatant sunk in the game! As a kid, I had a model (you know, the old plastic Airfix types) of the Scharnhorst, among quite a few. You don’t have to like what they did with them to like a handsome ship profile! The late model Italian BBs were quite good to look at too. We’ll see something on the Japanese a bit later?
 

Wraith11B

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Just so everyone's aware, I'll be working on the final Prologue post today, which will focus on the Luftwaffe/Regia Aeronautica. Not a long one at this point, but it'll start the clock on my two-week normal update scheme.

The full-load displacement of a Scharnhorst (first laid down in 1935) was 37,000 or so tons, compared with about 42,000 for a King George V (first laid down 1937). I'd argue they're more a battlecruiser than battleship (in function - Germany classified them as battleships) - which is how Wraith has classified them :). They were also designed for six 15" guns, not nine (iirc), so the displacement of Wraith's Scharnhorsts is likely more than a few tons higher than the historical ones :).

I decided to have them be battlecruisers as that was originally the plan; it was only after the AGNA that they made the Bismarcks as battleships. From the political side, recall I had the Germans very convincingly combine all capital ship tonnage versus a type-class separation. Regardless, I'm pretty sure that I'll go into some detail (if I haven't already... I've been trying to redo some of what I had initially written already, which this just adds to the pile) about things.

Excellent work! For such a well worn path of Axis hegemania, your premise is very refreshing. I congratulate you on the quality of the writing and picture selections to entice the reader. I look forward to more installments.

Thank you! You should see my WWII Pinterest page... >4000 pins! Some are of course duplicates, but it's rather hard to troll through them all.

I too like a good naval post and ship pictures and profiles. In my main HOI3 AAR, I do a picture and short profile (so far anyway ;) ) of every main surface combatant sunk in the game! As a kid, I had a model (you know, the old plastic Airfix types) of the Scharnhorst, among quite a few. You don’t have to like what they did with them to like a handsome ship profile! The late model Italian BBs were quite good to look at too. We’ll see something on the Japanese a bit later?

I built a few models of several American battleships, and once in Poland had built a "working" Bismarck!

That's a good idea... I might append that to when I finally get into combat! As for the Japanese, I had originally not intended to invite them to the Axis... which means that I have no records until they finally join (and I wind up cleaning up the mess that is the AIs builds).
 
PROLOGUE E: Where Eagles Soar: Interbellum Aviation Developments

Wraith11B

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dVRF6Ad.png



DNnyqg5.png

Reichsminister Goering visits the Lipetsk airfields, 1934. Undergoing
flight testing there were the latest Messerschmitt Bf109Bs, the dominant
fighter-interceptor and fighter-bomber through the first years of the war.

With Germany denied an air force after the conclusion of the Great War, much of the development on which the Luftwaffe would come to depend was theoretical, or carried out in great secrecy in the Soviet Union. By and large, the Germans laid out four principles which would guide the development of their aviation forces.

  1. Destroy enemy aviation through offensive suppression of enemy air defenses.
  2. Interdict the tactical and operational level movement of enemy ground forces.
  3. Interdict, degrade and destroy enemy naval units.
  4. Destroy the enemy’s capability to produce war materiel.

These principles followed the dictum similar to that of the army: they would likely be fighting at a disadvantage in numbers. The recognition of the Weimar Reichswehr of such a problem was that they sought out new technologies with which to make up the deficiencies with as little cost in human lives and expensive machines as possible. That said, it wasn’t until the late twenties when the Weimar founded the Heereswaffenamt or Army Weapons Office. A subsidiary of the Truppenamt, General von Seeckt recruited the best and brightest he could with a leavening of age and experience to guide those developments. By 1935, through some severe wrangling and even some outright obfuscation, the Peenemünde Army Research Center (Heeresversuchsanstalt Peenemünde or HVP) was in operation.


lILfxxX.png

YZhcpMS.png

Junkers Ju52, “Tante Ju”, top. The Reichstag had generously subsidized Deutsche Luft Hansa to procure significant numbers of these aircraft. The Arado Ar64/5, below, was camouflaged as a “light mail plane” and armed with two machine guns, as though requiring protection from air pirates, perhaps?

The nature of the Versailles meant that creative accounting and secretive methods were needed to keep the developmental program out of the eyesight of the rest of Europe. Much was made of speed and carrying capacity of the aircraft developed by the German national airline, Deutsches Luft Hansa. Junkers had developed the W 33, a long range, single engine aircraft which could carry almost 1270 kg (almost 2800 pounds) of disposable stores, supplies or soldiers. By 1930, Junkers had also developed the Ju 52 “Tante Ju” or “Aunt Anne,” one of the most successful aircraft designs to that point. “Tante Ju” could carry 1820 kilograms (4000 pounds) of freight or disposable stores. With a range of 1000 km, most of Continental Europe was within range to the 800 examples of which were organized into eight geschwaders. On the other side, Arado was developing the Ar64/65, called a “fast mail plane,” of which nearly 100 examples were procured. These single seat aircraft provided some air defense capability with excellent handling characteristics and significant ammunition storage of nearly 500 rounds per gun. Those two fighter designs were rapidly succeeded by the Heinkel He 51; three hundred of the examples were in service with three geschwaders by the beginning of 1936. More advanced designs were also in the pipeline.


IY79Gmc.png

sB5h2ZY.png

CR.42 (top) and SM.75 (above). The CR.42 was the epitome of Italian post-Great War fighter biplanes, but they were rapidly becoming relics of the past. The Savoia-Marchetti SM.75 bore strong resemblance to the Junkers Ju 52, even following a similar developmental process from a nose-mounted single engine to three-engine aircraft.

In Italy, CR.1 biplanes, little better than what had been deployed in the Great War, gave way to the CR.20, the CR.30 and finally the CR.42. Savoia-Marchetti had developed the SM.62 to patrol the Mediterranean before developing the SM.75 for the airlift command and the SM.79 to replace the SM.62. Caproni developed the Ca.111 as a light tactical attack aircraft, which also was replaced with the SM.79 by 1936.


mz1z8Yh.png

The SM.79 was a logical development from the SM.75. A more streamlined exterior meant better fuel efficiency and range, just what Italy wanted from a tactical and naval bomber.

The main concerns about the Regia Aeronautica was the inability of the private sector companies developing the aircraft to develop advanced airframes. Though some were capable, the airframes were not setting many records (or indeed, keeping up with any), unlike the German, British or American aerospace industry. Indeed, despite Il Duce’s making the Regia Aeronautica a useful recruiting and propaganda tool, the force was ill-suited to modern aviation combat. It remained capable of operating against many of the air forces that it would likely be facing in the Mediterranean: long the dumping ground of old and obsolete aircraft of the other major powers.

*****
Author's Note: as I said, a short update just to get everyone up to speed with what the air forces have been doing. Here starts the (hopefully) two-week update cycle. I will of course be responding to you, my loyal readers. So let's get the actual game started, eh?
 
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roverS3

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Very nice prologue series overall. It's always nice to get some context. I also like the fact that you combined thematic updates from both Germany and Italy. I look forward to what you will achieve with a closely cooperating Italy and Germany.

I had a question about the Lufthansa Ju-52's, are they included in the base game? In your modified version of the game? It's been some time since I played as Germany, but I don't recall having/getting (maybe transferred to the Luftwaffe by event) 800 Ju-52s built before 1936.

Keep up the good work.