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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Rensslaer

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LOCARNO

What if Benito Mussolini, of Italy, believed Germany’s Adolf Hitler was the most terrible threat to the peace of Europe, and resolved to oust him before his plans could be realized?

In 1925, Germany had signed the Locarno Pact, guaranteeing the borders of Europe, and demilitarizing the Rhineland – French troops left, and German troops were never to re-enter. Hitler, of course, violated this agreement, to which he would never have agreed in the first place. When he did, Locarno was supposed to trigger a reaction among the signatory powers and military action was authorized to rectify the situation.

In real life, the Locarno Treaties broke down in the wake of Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia, and Mussolini, who really did see Hitler as the greatest threat to European peace, eventually decided the Allies were going to oppose Italy’s aggression, and he had best throw in his lot with Hitler.

What if Britain and France had seen Hitler as a greater threat, and had decided to look the other way on Ethiopia and maintain relations with Italy over the Locarno Pact?

 

Slan

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You are seriously overstretching yourself, don't you think? :D
 

Avindian

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Sweet! I'm getting in on the ground floor of a Rensslaer AAR! (Is somebody an RPI grad? :D)

He is nearly done with Siam, methinks, so it's not that much of an overstretch... for him, anyway :D
 

Piktoonis

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I once tried to this way and it all ended very badly. Hope you will do better.:)
 

Rensslaer

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LOCARNO


For briefers, this will be an HPP AAR (Historical Plausibility Project mod), version 1.8.1 for Semper Fi. It’s the same version as my previous AAR Kriegsgefahr, so I won’t be as detailed describing the differences between the mod and vanilla HOI or SF as I was in the other one. Difficulty will be Normal.

Here’s the world I’ll be dealing with. In January 1936, Italy had recently invaded Ethiopia, and to be honest more European powers were probably looking at Italy as an aggressive nation that might need to be dealt with than were looking at Germany. But that’s not entirely true – Ethiopia was a minor conquest not on the European continent, and so didn’t register very high as a sign of aggression (many major powers of Europe had engaged in aggressive colonization in decades previous). And even in 1936 it was relatively obvious that Hitler was a different breed of dictator, and some recognized him at least as a potential threat. Many probably didn’t give him enough credit and figured he would be gone soon.

Historically, Benito Mussolini was one of those people. Hitler’s National Socialism was a weird cousin to Italy’s Fascism, full of racialism and lacking any sense of humor.



Fortunately for Italy, many of the governments of Europe had been transformed into the image of Fascism, not of National Socialism. If the game can be played correctly, much of southern Europe, and perhaps western and central Europe, could be brought into alignment with an anti-German, anti-aggression alliance.

Also good is that Italy’s relations with France are not dead. Mussolini, having been around since 1922, was one of the original signatories to the Locarno Treaties, and so he represented a line of continuity with the original treaties against German aggression. Ironically, he held most of the continuity himself, other heads of government around Europe – the other signatory powers – did not have the same leadership, and in fact some had been replaced by those who might be inclined to allow Germany to resist and break free of at least some of the bonds of the Versailles Treaty. Mussolini’s job would be to prevent that from happening, by revitalizing the Locarno understandings.



Italy was, in 1936, a regional power capable of holding her own on the continent, and projecting its power into Africa to a degree. With 63 Infantry brigades, it was certainly not an impotent power. At that time it had no organized armored units, though Italy had retained a small contingent of light tanks since the First World War. With 6 Cavalry brigades and an Armored Car brigade (essentially a faster, better protected, and more heavily armed equivalent), it had a slight ability to scout and infiltrate. Three brigades of Motorized Infantry was insufficient to constitute a “mobile offensive capability”, but it was a starting place. Nearly 10 divisions worth of Militia (organized in probably 15 divisions, not all full strength) rounded out her capability – these were useful on defense, and in Ethiopia, where they were stronger than the native Infantry.



In terms of air power, Light Fighters and Medium Bombers (the HPP equivalent of Interceptors and Tactical Bombers) were the majority of Italy’s air arm, with some Naval Bombers too, which were like poor-man’s medium bombers – marginally useful except at sea, but better than nothing.

We would need to improve both, air and land strength, in order to capably oppose Germany. Obviously, a good set of allies could make up for a shortage of land or air power.

The one real advantage Italy had was its 10 brigades of Mountain troops, which could come quite in handy when you considered that any conflict between Germany and Italy would surely be fought out first in the mountains of either northern Italy or Austria. These had serious advantages defending in mountainous terrain, and had special advantages while attacking into mountains. There wasn’t anything else that could really be better in this first frontier.



The HPP mod uses “doctrines” to lay out certain hard-coded directions of emphasis through the tech tree. Considering Italy’s advantages and liabilities, it made the most sense for her to choose Grand Battle Plan for Operational Doctrine, Combined Arms for Tank Doctrine, and Infiltration for Infantry Doctrine.



The “Firepower Foci” made no sense for a country without a lot of IC for building new units, and without a significant armored force (or the capability to realistically build one), the Blitzkrieg/Schwerpunkt doctrines made little sense. Italy’s Manpower limitations, especially compared to Germany’s, were insufficient for a “Shock” focus.

At 79 IC, Italy just wasn’t an industrial nation, and had little hope of becoming one. Any “IC whoring” strategy would leave us little improved by 1938 and without any of the military units we would need to fill holes in our strategic military situation. We’d improve IC slowly, gradually, and would hopefully be able to reach the 100 IC threshold (important in HPP for mobilization purposes) in time for it to be useful. Our other IC would go into upgrades and new military units.



We wanted at least one division of Light Armor to provide a little extra punch when and where it was needed. Armor would be especially helpful once (read: if!) Italy broke out of the mountains and into the forests and plains of Germany. Until then, there were other priorities. Note that I have two units of Convoy Transports building – note the “0 (+10)” designation in the Available Transports section for why. Italy would need to build stockpiles, as this might be a long war (unless I’m really lucky), and I couldn’t do that without extra Convoys – they’ll be done by March, leaving me with that 6 IC to direct elsewhere.

The screenshot above was taken in February 1936, so it shows the situation after I’ve already arranged for some key trades with the USA and France and the Soviet Union for necessary Resources. Early on, I’m also building up stockpiles of Supplies, and really focusing on Upgrades (because I’m unlikely to Research quickly enough to have much to Upgrade later on – that IC can then be directed toward unit production).



With limited IC, research into Industrial Production and Industrial Efficiency (one at a time) is likely to be as useful, or moreso, than actually producing new IC onesy-twosy. During peace, such a huge proportion of my IC is devoted to Consumer Goods that I’m unlikely to be able to expand my IC through production in a meaningful way, but the research can improve a percentage of my whole (including that which is currently devoted to CG). The Computing Machine research and Coal Processing will be helpful, but I’ll only have time to research one level of either. Agriculture and Education are useful for almost anyone. We’ll work on improving our airplane techs slowly, and our light tank techs slowly (one tech/level at a time – when one is achieved, switch to the next tech and improve that a level also). This is “budget research strategy”! The two types of research which I cannot skimp on are defensive Infantry techs, like Small Arms and Defensive Support Weapons. Offensive Support tech is more useful to me than the Man-Portable Anti-Tank tech because Germany at this point still doesn’t have a huge number of Armor units, and even those which exist will be marginally useful in Mountain terrain. I’ll worry about anti-tank techs later, if I get to go on the offensive into southern Germany.

I have two options with regard to Ethiopia. Either I fish, or I cut bait. The “sore spot” which Ethiopia has become with the other European powers can’t be improved – the damage has been done. But I need those troops for the defense of northern Italy, and so I want to get them back quickly. Either I end the war, and back away in defeat, or I can try to end the war quickly.



I’m the kind of player who’s inclined to try to end the war successfully, but quickly. And so I set out to do that. Two quick offensives, one in the north, and another out of Italian Somaliland in the south.
 

TheBromgrev

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Good start. I see you haven't taken advantage of Italy's unique position in '36 in that it has transport planes in the OOB and can build paratroopers. Only the USSR and Italy can build paratroopers in '36. As behind as Italy was overall, Italy was the first nation in the world to train paratroopers, with the first training drops occurring in 1927. The USSR followed suit in the '30s, with Herman Göring witnessing as a guest observer one such exercise, leading to the creation of the Fallschirmjäger. While the Germans and Americans took the spotlight in this area, the Italians were still the first to field such soldiers and used them in North Africa. Unfortunately in '36, there weren't enough paratroopers for either Italy or the USSR to warrant giving them even a single paratrooper brigade in-game, which is why you have the transport plane but no paratroopers.
 

Rensslaer

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sounds like a good idea, im following
Welcome, TheCheeseMaster! Should be a lot of fun!

You are seriously overstretching yourself, don't you think? :D
:D Well, Avindian is correct -- I am almost done with Siam, so I will have another "slot" (I'll go up to 5 active AARs, then will finish Siam, and go back down to 4 active AARs). Plus, it's actually quite a nice pattern I've gotten used to, switching from one AAR to the other... Lastly, I've been playing the game, and if I let it get too far ahead of the AAR I'll start forgetting stuff, so I'd better get it down. I came to a good "transition point" in my gameplay the other day, and thought to myself, "Okay, this'll be fun to write about -- better get to it!" :) Welcome, Slan!

He is excited with the HPP :)
Indeed! :) I quite like HPP. Welcome, MnPlastic!

Another AAR! :eek:

Of course I'm in, though at this rate half of my bookmarks are going to be Rensslaer AARs! :p

This sounds like an interesting alternate history scenario. I can't wait to see how it develops.
Only 5! ;) Welcome, Nuarq! It's an alt-history thing that I've long wondered about -- moreso since I read about it in more detail not long ago (about the complicated interplay between Hitler and Mussolini in the '30s).

I was thinking the same, but, on the other hand, this might becoem an interesting read :D
Welcome, HecNev! I do hope it's an entertaining read!

Sweet! I'm getting in on the ground floor of a Rensslaer AAR! (Is somebody an RPI grad? :D)

He is nearly done with Siam, methinks, so it's not that much of an overstretch... for him, anyway :D
Yaay! :) Welcome, Avindian! No, not RPI -- the backstory of the name is pretty complicated. Rensselaer is the name of a street near where I grew up, and I'm also a fan of Alexander Hamilton, who was friends with the Van Rensselaer family (of RPI fame). Then it became the name of a character in a story, then later a character in a MMORG called DragonRealms, all this before I came to the Paradox Forums.

I once tried to this way and it all ended very badly. Hope you will do better.:)
Welcome, Piktoonis! Well, I can't guarantee this won't end the same as yours! But that's half the fun, right? Not knowing how it will turn out? I'm hoping I'll get into the war early enough that Germany won't be prepared... Course that means Italy doesn't have much time to prepare either. We'll see!

Good start. I see you haven't taken advantage of Italy's unique position in '36 in that it has transport planes in the OOB and can build paratroopers. Only the USSR and Italy can build paratroopers in '36. As behind as Italy was overall, Italy was the first nation in the world to train paratroopers, with the first training drops occurring in 1927. The USSR followed suit in the '30s, with Herman Göring witnessing as a guest observer one such exercise, leading to the creation of the Fallschirmjäger. While the Germans and Americans took the spotlight in this area, the Italians were still the first to field such soldiers and used them in North Africa. Unfortunately in '36, there weren't enough paratroopers for either Italy or the USSR to warrant giving them even a single paratrooper brigade in-game, which is why you have the transport plane but no paratroopers.
Welcome, TheBromgrev! Hmm.... I was aware of the USSR's early interest in it, but not of Italy's. Thanks for your suggestion -- I may throw a couple Paratroop units into the production queue where I am. Italy doesn't have many advantages, and this might just be one of those that would be both, cheap and helpful! :) I guess I must have assumed I couldn't get Paras without research, because I probably would have taken note of them among my buildable units if I'd bothered to look.

Plan on joining the allies?
Welcome, Led Zepp! Actually, there's a pretty hard-coded bias toward the Axis in HOI 3 which isn't changed in HPP. I have little hope of getting out of the Axis corner and joining the Allies, but other methods are possible.

Thanks to all who are already reading! Thanks for your comments. I won't be "rushing" this AAR -- it may take a while to develop, at least until I finish my Siam AAR -- but I wanted to get it going.

Rensslaer
 

sprites

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You can at least stay neutral ... until axis threat goes through the roof and pushes you afar!
 

Avindian

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I played Dragonrealms too, back in the day -- many many different character names, couldn't give you just one :) Anyway, enough OT stuff, I await your next update with bated breath.
 

Tallfellow

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Another Rens AAR, something more to follow :) I'm looking forward to the next update!!! (Also looking forward to seeing what's going to happen in your German AAR)
 

Hardradi

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Welcome, Piktoonis! Well, I can't guarantee this won't end the same as yours! But that's half the fun, right? Not knowing how it will turn out? I'm hoping I'll get into the war early enough that Germany won't be prepared... Course that means Italy doesn't have much time to prepare either. We'll see!
Rensslaer
Hi Rensslaer,

I read your Portuguese AAR the other night and thoroughly enjoyed it. A brilliant use of scarce resources. This is one is going to be mad, battleground - the Alps :D

Good luck
 

J. Passepartout

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You know what annoys me is that it seems like it would have been pretty easy for the king to prevent Mussolini from rising to power in the twenties, but it didn't happen.
 

gigau

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An AAR by Rensslaer, a very interesting idea,... two huge reasons to be following this !