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Some Considerations Regarding Italian Armored Doctrine Prior to June 1940

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This article complements John Sweet's Iron Arm: The Mechanization of Mussolini's Army, 1920-1940 (1980). It summarizes and comments on contemporary reports by Italian officers concerning three conflicts: the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the German-Polish war (1939), and the German-French war (1940). It also discusses reports by Italian military intelligence and analysis of field exercises by commanders of Italy's armored corps. These reports and analyses demonstrate that Italian officers who provided information regarding the use of armor and other modern weaponry were careful and critical observers who sought to learn not only from their own experiences, but from those of others, and their observations and conclusions suggest that Italian armored doctrine was influenced both by Italian experience and the developments and assumptions of the era. The text does not discuss the extent to which such reports influenced the formulation of doctrine nor how effective Italian doctrine was on the battlefield, but it does show that those Italian officers most directly concerned with the development and implementation of armored doctrine understood the importance of modern weaponry and it suggests that factors other than a flawed doctrine contributed to Italy's inability to field large, well-equipped armored formations during World War II.

Keywords: armored doctrine; armored warfare; Blitzkrieg; Corpo d'Armata Celere; Corpo d'Armata Corazzato; Corpo Truppe Volontarie; Fascist Italy; German campaign in France (1940); German-Polish war; guerra di rapido corso; Italian Army; Spanish Civil War; tanks

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-06-01

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  • Global War Studies (GWS) is the leading international peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of the Second World War, 1919-1945. Published three times annually, GWS features articles and book reviews that explore a broad range of topics, including military, air power, naval, intelligence, and diplomatic history. Additionally, the journal publishes original research on weapons technology, geopolitics, home front studies, the Holocaust, resistance movements, and peacekeeping operations.
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