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Armed forces in World War Two - Italy

Written by Sakhal

Italy 1939 - Army

Individual weapons - Pistols: Beretta Model 34 caliber 9 mm (a)
Individual weapons - Rifles: Rifle 91/38, carbine 91/38 and 91/38 TS, all of caliber 6.5 mm (b)
Individual weapons - Hand bombs: Breda 35, OTO 35 and SRCM, all of offensive type

Automatic weapons - Submachine guns: MAB 38 caliber 8.8 mm (9 mm long) (c)
Automatic weapons - Automatic rifles: Breda 30 caliber 6.5 mm
Automatic weapons - Machine guns: Fiat 14/38, Breda 37 and 38, all of caliber 8 mm (d)

Mortars: Brixia 35 of 45 mm and Model 35 of 81 mm

Antitank weapons - Light: Solothurn carbine and Breda 35 machine gun, both of 20 mm; Model 39 cannon of 47/32 mm
Antitank weapons - Heavy: At the outbreak of the war no cannons of caliber larger than 47 mm, specifically designed for antitank role, were in service
Antitank weapons - Self-propelled: At the outbreak of the war no self-propelled pieces, specifically designed for antitank role, were in service

Artillery - Cannons: Of 65/17 mm, 75/32 mm, 105/28 mm and 149/40 mm; antiaircraft cannons of 75/46 mm, 76/40 mm, 90/42 mm, 90/53 mm and 102/35 mm
Artillery - Howitzers: Model 32 of 75/13 mm, Model 32 of 75/18 mm, Model 35 of 75/18 mm, Model 35 of 210/32 mm (e)

Armored vehicles: Tanks Fiat 21 and 30 of 6 t (f), Carri Veloci 33, 35, 35/L and 38, of 3-3.2 t, and little more than a hundred of tanks M 11/39 of 11 t, for a total of approximately 1600 tanks

Chemical weapons - Flamethrowers: Models 35 and 40

(a) Not mentioned the old pistols Glisenti 1910 nor the revolver Brixia-Glisenti Model 74 and Model 89 from the Great War, which were sometimes used for second-line duties.
(b) Around 1938 it started the construction of weapons of caliber 7.35 mm instead of 6.5 mm, and the conversion of the already existing 6.5 mm, but this operation was interrupted by the war which, due to practical reasons, made preferable the return to the former caliber.
(c) Only in the Italian Police of Africa; the Army would not adopt the MAB until 1941.
(d) Not included the Fiat 14 caliber 6.5 mm from the Great War and the Schwarzlose of war bounty which served in the colonies, nor the Hotchkiss and St. Etienne acquired from France before the Great War, which were assigned mainly to the Territorial Antiaircraft Defense. Also they were given to the Army the Breda RM 31 caliber 13.2 mm, of naval design, the Breda 39 caliber 37 mm, the Scotti 39 caliber 20 mm and the Oerlikon caliber 20 mm, of Swiss production.
(e) Not mentioned the naval artillery, that of coastal defense and the cannons "of attrition" from the Great War, such as the howitzer of 149/12 mm, or even older, such as the 75/27 CK (Commissione Krupp), from which an antiaircraft piece had been obtained.
(f) Built in 1920 based on the Renault FT from 1918.

Italy 1939 - Navy

Battleships: Cavour, Cesare, Doria and Duilio of 25000 t, Littorio and Vittorio Veneto of 35000 t (a)

Cruisers: 4 Zara class, 2 Trento class and 1 Bolzano class, all of 10000 t, 1 San Giorgio class of 9232 t (b), 12 "Condottieri" class (2 of 9000 t, 2 of 8500 t, 2 of 8000 t, 4 of 5069 t and 2 of 5008 t), 1 Taranto class of 5100 t, 1 Bari class of 4600 t

Destroyers: 3 Leone class of 2283 t, 12 "Navigatori" class of 2010 t, 4 Oriani class of 1950 t, 12 "Soldati" class of 1620 t, 4 Grecale class of 1449 t, 4 Dardo class of 1450 t, 2 Mirabello class of 1383 t, 4 Folgore class of 1220 t, 8 Borea class of 1092 t, 4 Sauro class of 1058 t, 2 Sella class of 935 t

Torpedo boats: 4 Palestro class of 1076 t, 1 Audace class of 1000 t, 4 Curtatone class of 966 t, 4 Orsa class of 855 t, 7 Cosenz class of 810 t, 4 Sirtori class of 669 t, 4 Lupo class of 690 t, 30 Perseo class of 640-680 t, 6 "Generali" class of 635 t, 7 Abba class of 615 t, 2 Cortellazzo class of 562 t, 1 Albatros class of 340 t, 1 Giovannini class of 182 t

Oceanic submarines: Several units of the classes Balilla, Fieramosca, Brin, Galilei, Liuzzi, Marconi, Micca (c), Calvi, Foca (c), Glauco, Marcello and Galvani, for a total of 42 units

Coastal submarines: Several units of the classes H (c), X, Settembrini, Squalo, Bragadin (c), Adua, Bandiera, Pisani, Mameli, Argo, Argonauta, Sirena and Perla, for a total of 75 units

(a) Doria, Duilio, Littorio and Vittorio Veneto entered service in the first months of the war.
(b) Used in the colonies as antiaircraft cruiser.
(c) Minelayer submarine.

NOTE: Some units were bounty from the Great War, such as the cruisers Bari and Taranto. Others were of national construction, but belonging to that period, such as the destroyers of the Mirabello class or the torpedo boats of the Cortellazzo class. The list does not include some hundreds of lesser units, such as patrol torpedo boats, gunboats, minesweepers or seaplane support ships.

Italy 1939 - Aviation

Fighter aircraft: Fiat CR 32 and CR 42, Fiat G-50, Macchi MC 200, Romeo Ro 44 (maritime hunt aircraft)

Bomber aircraft: Fiat BR 20, Savoia-Marchetti SM 79 (bomber and torpedo plane), SM 81 and SM 85, Cant Z 506, Z 1007 and Z 1007 bis, Breda Ba 88

Reconnaissance aircraft: Ro 37 and 37 bis, Caproni Ca 311 at disposal of the Regio Esercito; Cant Z 501 and Z 506, Ro 43 at disposal of the Regia Marina

Transport aircraft: Savoia-Marchetti SM 73, SM 74, SM 75, SM 79, SM 82 and SM 83, Fiat BR 20, Fiat G 11 and G 12, Macchi MC 94 and MC 100, Junkers Ju 52 (of German construction), Douglas DC 2 (of American construction)


Armed forces (equipment) of Italy in 1939.

Italy 1943 update - Army

Individual weapons - Pistols: Sosso Model 41 caliber 9 mm long
Individual weapons - Rifles: Rifle 91/41 caliber 6.5 mm (b)
Individual weapons - Hand bombs: Breda 42 (a) and OTO 42 (b)

Automatic weapons - Submachine guns: MAB 38/42 caliber 9 mm long

Antitank weapons - Self-propelled: Of 47/32 mm on L6 hull of 6.5 t, of 75/18 mm on M13, M 14 and M 15 hulls of 14 t, of 75/34 mm on M 43 hull (c) of 15.7 t

Artillery - Cannons: Of 47/40 mm (d), 75/34 mm (d), 105/25 mm (e) and 155/25 mm
Artillery - Howitzers: Model 41 of 149/19 mm

Armored vehicles: Light tank L6/40 of 6.7 t, medium tanks M 13/40 of 14 t, M 14/41 of 14.5 t and M 15/42 of 15.5 t, heavy tank P/40 of 26 t (f)

Chemical weapons - Flamethrowers: Models 41, 41 for assault and 42 on wheels

(a) High-explosive antitank.
(b) Incendiary antitank.
(c) The M 43 hull was an enlarged M 15/42 hull.
(d) Antitank for self-propelled vehicles.
(e) Self-propelled on M 43 hull of 15.7 t.
(f) Produced only 24 exemplars before the 8th September.

NOTE: Not included the materials taken as war bounty, nor those acquired from Germany, such as the Mk IV tanks of the M division, apart from the nine submarines of the S class.

Italy 1943 update - Navy

Battleships: Roma of 35000 t

Aircraft carriers: Aquila and Sparviero of 28000 t (a)

Cruisers: Attilio Regolo, Scipione Africano and Pompeo Magno of 5420 t

Destroyers: 5 "Soldati" class of 1620 t

Torpedo boats: 15 Aliseo class of 1652 t, 11 Spica class of 800 t (b)

Corvettes: 29 units of 750 t (c)

Oceanic submarines: 4 Saint Bon class, 2 R class, 9 S class (d)

Coastal submarines: 9 Tritone class, 13 Platino class, 7 FR class, 20 CB class (e)

(a) Not put into service due to the Armistice. The 8th September the construction of the Aquila was finished in a 90 percent.
(b) Of these 11, only one launched and armed, the Ariete, had time to take part in operations before the 8th September.
(c) Another 31 units were in the shipyards, in advanced stage of construction.
(d) The S class was composed of modified German submarines.
(e) Of pocket type.

NOTE: Not included the units incorporated to the Regia Marina, as war bounty, from the French and Yugoslavian navies.

Italy 1943 update - Aviation

Fighter aircraft: Reggiane 2000 and 2005, Macchi 202 and 205, Fiat G-55, Imam Ro-57, SAI-207

Bomber aircraft: Reggiane 2001 (a) and 2002 (a), SM 84, Piaggio 108, Cant Z 1018

Reconnaissance aircraft: Fiat RS-14 (b)

Transport aircraft: Fiat G-12

(a) Attack aircraft.
(b) Seaplane.


Armed forces (equipment) of Italy in 1943 (update).

Italy 1945 update - Army

After the events of the 8th September 1943, a rather complex situation was created in Italy. In the north, the government of the RSI decided to continue the war alongside the German ally. In the south, the Kingdom of Italy decided to start a war for the liberation of the territory under nazi-fascist control, supporting the action of the allied armies. Naturally, both governments, to be able to achieve their goals, had necessity of means with which demonstrate in a material way their sovereignty upon the controlled regions. In other words, they needed their own Armed Forces. Well known are the difficulties that both governments faced to achieve their goals, but this review focuses only in the technical aspects of the subject. Rather let us look at the technical-logistic situation that the reorganized units of the north and the south faced. Undoubtedly, from this standpoint the Republican Army was the most favored. Almost all the of industries which supplied weapons, ammunitions and technology to the Army were located in northern Italy. The Army of Salo had therefore a markedly national physiognomy, even if very influenced by the presence of the Wehrmacht, given the circumstances. This review, unlike which previous ones showed, takes into account the most important and essential of the German weapons which, during the vain and desperate fight of the Republican Fascism, would support the Italian Armed Forces. But in the Regio Esercito, having been reconstituted with an almost total lack of weapons and equipment, almost all of this material was provided by the Anglo-American. Hence, while in the north even some new weapon would be produced (which is included in this review), the south would be based in war supplies from the Allies. In the Aviation and the Navy this would be different, but this will be addressed apart. The only positive note, if it can be said like this, of this tragic panorama, was that the Italian troops of opposite sides never faced each other in the battlefield, saving at least this horror from the civil war.

National Republican Army (Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano)

Automatic weapons: Walther 41 W (a) and ZK 391 (b) caliber 7.92 mm, MAB 38/44 caliber 9 mm (c), FNA-B 43 (d) and TZ 45 (d) caliber 9 mm

Antitank weapons: Panzerfaust 60 and 100, Panzerschreck 54 and 54/1

Artillery: Cannons of 75/34 mm (e) and 75/46 mm (f)

Armored vehicles: P 40 of 26 t (g)

(a) Semiautomatic of German construction.
(b) Semiautomatic produced under Czechoslovak license.
(c) Automatic carbine of national production.
(d) Submachine guns of national production.
(e) Self-propelled on M 15/42 hull.
(f) Self-propelled on M 43 hull, only in 11 exemplars.
(g) Only 101 exemplars, 40 of them used as fixed artillery pieces after burying their hulls; almost all of the rest, seized by the German.

Partisan formations

Automatic weapons: Variara (a) caliber 9 mm and several models of the Sten (b) submachine gun produced in artesanal workshops

(a) Submachine gun named after a partisan fallen in combat.
(b) Of British design, caliber 9 mm.

Italy 1945 update - Navy

When, complying with the rules of the Armistice, the largest part of the Italian fleet arrived to Malta, same as it had happened in the Aviation numerous cases of change of mind were registered among commanders and crews, who in diverse occasions preferred to turn the prow towards ports which were not under control from the Allies. Thus a division within the Regia Marina and the birth of the Marina Nazionale Repubblicana took place. This latter would be in operation until the last days of the war with almost all of its elements, whereas in the Regia Marina only the lesser units, the light boats and the submarines took active part in the operations.

National Republican Navy (Marina Nazionale Repubblicana)

Numerous units would be part of the Marina Nazionale Repubblicana. Many, which were docked when the Armistice took place, had been sunk by their crews, and later retrieved and put into service. Others had remained under control from the onboard personnel who did not want to move to the south, and others had reached the bases in northern Italy by navigating along the coasts of the peninsula. In total they would be part of the Marina Nazionale Repubblicana, as operative units, nine cruisers, eight destroyers, 25 torpedo boats and 27 submarines, accounting for a total of 69 units, not counting an imprecise number of patrol torpedo boats, gunboats and small fast units. The data refers only to the units which took part in war actions, and because of that they were not included ships such as the two aircraft carriers Aquila and Sparviero or the battleship Impero which, despite being docked in northern ports, were never operative.

Royal Italian Navy (Regia Marina)

When the Italian fleet arrived to Malta under command from Admiral Oliva (successor of Bergamini after the sinking of the battleship Roma), it comprised five battleships, seven cruisers, seven destroyers, twelve torpedo boats, six corvettes and 23 submarines, plus seventeen light units. This was, at least, the organization of the naval force until the 20th September. To these units they were later added two cruisers, five destroyers, thirteen torpedo boats, thirteen corvettes, fifteen submarines and another torpedo boat flotilla, until reaching a total of 108 units (excluding the torpedo flotilla). With exception of the battleships, which remained in their berths with their main armament disabled, the other units would still take part in the operations in missions of escort, antisubmarine hunt, transport, dredging and training, apart from some war sorties and strike actions performed by the torpedo boat flotilla.

Italy 1945 update - Aviation

Contrarily to the situation created in the other two different military branches, the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana and the Regia Aeronautica started, so to speak, from a point of parity. Numerous aviators, and sometimes entire units, arrived after the Armistice to the destinations which seemed fairer for them, setting so the basement of an embryonic reconstitution of the aerial weapon. The two different aviations would be later provided with aircraft acquired from their respective allies, which are included here as they were not, unlike which had happened prior to the Armistice, aircraft for testing or granted due to particular reasons, but dozens of aircraft incorporated to regular units. Also in this case, fortunately, there were never fratricidal encounters.

National Republican Aviation (Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana)

Fighter aircraft: Macchi 202 and 205, Fiat G 55, Me 109 (a), Me 110 (a)(b)

Bomber aircraft: SM 79 (g), SM 81 and 82, Fiat BR 20, Cant Z 1007

Reconnaissance aircraft: Several aircraft Savoia-Marchetti, Fieseler 156 (a), Bucher 131 (a)(e), Me 108 (a)(e), Klemm 35 (a)(e)

Transport aircraft: SM 81 and 82

Royal Italian Aviation (Regia Aeronautica)

Fighter aircraft: Macchi 205, Reggiane 2000, Supermarine Spitfire (c), Bell Airacobra (d)

Bomber aircraft: SM 73 and 82, Cant Z 1007, Martin Baltimore (d)

Reconnaissance aircraft: Cant Z 501 (f) and 506 (f), Fiat RS 14 (f)

Transport aircraft: SM 82, Cant Z 1007

(a) Of German manufacture.
(b) Heavy fighter.
(c) Of British manufacture.
(d) Of American manufacture.
(e) Training aircraft.
(f) Seaplane.
(g) Torpedo bomber.


Armed forces (equipment) of Italy in 1945 (update).

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Categories: Statistics - World War Two - 20th Century - [General] - [General]


Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2015-09-23

Article updated: 2021-03-01

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