Avanti: Italian Forces in North Africa is our latest book for Flames Of War in our Mid War range. With the coming release and following the same format of Desert Rats and Afrika Korps they use similar formations with a few unique advantages. We’ll be seeing the Formations in the book along with some historical background on the 20th Armoured Corps
20th Armoured Corps
Corpo d’Armata Motocorazzato, the 20th Armoured Corps, took a leading part in nearly every battle in the North African Campaign from Gazala to Enfidaville. The core of the formation was the 132nd ‘Ariete’ Armoured Division, the 133rd ‘Littorio’ Armoured Division, and the 101st ‘Trieste’ Motorised Division.
Having fought in and won every major battle since their arrival, Ariete and Trieste were confident of their abilities, despite any weakness in their equipment. The arrival of new weapons, like the Semovente 75 and truck-mounted 90mm self-propelled guns, gave them a much-improved anti-tank capability that quickly showed its value in defeating British attacks against the Cauldron during the Battle of Gazala.
The newly-arrived Littorio Division had fought as infantry in the Spanish Civil War, then as an armoured division in Yugoslavia, and quickly learned the tricks of desert fighting under the tutelage of Ariete. By the time it entered combat at Gazala, it was as capable as its more experienced brethren.
The Second Battle of El Alamein shattered the Italian-German Army, and the 20th Armoured Corps along with it. After a gallant stand that held up the British pursuit long enough for the German forces to escape, the corps was reduced to a small battlegroup under the command of Ariete. This group then covered the retreat to the El Agheila position.
With the destruction of 20th Armoured Corps, a third armoured division, 131st ‘Centauro’ Armoured Division was quickly transferred to Tunisia. There it combined with the Ariete battlegroup to fight the American and British forces, taking part in the victories at Kasserine Pass and holding El Guettar until outflanked by the British at Wadi Akarit.
After these gallant battles, the remnants of the Italian armoured force fought on as a battlegroup in the ad hoc German Manteuffel Division until the eventual defeat of Axis forces in North Africa. Fighting bravely and strongly to the very end, the Italian forces expunged the calamity of defeat in 1940.