Italian Forces: Operation Barbarossa, July 1941

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Despite being Germany’s most important ally, and despite Mussolini parading around 60 000 troops apparently on their way to the East Front through Verona on 26th June 1941, the Italian contribution to Operation Barbarossa in 1941 can be considered perfunctory. They sent only one corps, designated the Corpo di Spedizione Italiano in Russia (CSIR or Italian Expeditionary Force in Russia), in mid July. Where the Italians could have made a real and immediately significant contribution (without unduly affecting Axis operations in the Mediterranean) was in combat and transport aircraft. However this was also rather token: only 1 fighter aviation group, 1 reconnaissance/bomber aviation group and 1 transport squadron were sent east in 1941.

The Italian Army and Italian Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) Available to Support Operation Barbarossa on 10th July 1941

  • The CSIR Field Corps with 3 divisions and 62 000 personnel.
  • 2 semi-motorised infantry divisions and 1 cavalry (celere) division.
  • 61 tankettes, 104 combat and transport aircraft, 260 (47-105mm) artillery pieces (including 76 47mm AT guns), 56 20mm AA guns, 258 (45-81mm) mortars, and 5 500 motor vehicles (excluding 135 artillery prime movers and motorcycles).