The Italian Army in North Africa, 1940-43

Luck Was Lacking, But Valor Was Not

Ralph Riccio, Massimiliano Afiero

This book examines the capabilities and performance of the Italian army in the North African campaign and its significant contributions to the Axis effort there.
Date Published :
April 2022
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
199 photos (2 are color), 5 maps, 3 tables, 10-12 color plates of vehicles & 6-9 color plates of uniforms
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781913336165
Pages : 272
Dimensions : 9.6 X 6.7 inches
Stock Status : In stock


This book begins by examining a number of factors relating to the Italian army’s performance in the desert, including assessments of the Italian soldier, leadership, training, organization and structure, equipment, the supply situation in North Africa, the ability of the Italian air force to support ground operations, and an appreciation of Italo-German relations in North Africa.

The book then describes the combat operations of Italian forces in the desert beginning with the early Italian advance from Libya into Egypt in September 1940 and ending with the final Italian surrender to the Allies in Tunisia in May 1943.

The extensive appendices focus heavily on organization and equipment, with tables comparing Italian, British and German armor and artillery in the desert.

Taken as a whole, this book presents an account of Italian ground operations in North Africa, from the time of their initial trouncing at the hands of the British Western desert Force in early 1941, through the see-saw battles of 1941 and 1942 when the combined Italo-German forces battled with the British, through the decimation of the Italian forces during the El Alamein battles in late 1942, and finally with the retreat to Tunisia and surrender of all Axis forces there in May 1943.

This book is the first English-language work to address in a systematic way the contributions of the Italian army to the North African campaign, and challenges the conventional wisdom that the German Afrika Korps was the preeminent Axis force in the desert.

About The Author

Ralph Riccio was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut and is a retired US Army officer who has been interested in military history and military equipment since his youth. He has written and co-authored a number of books on Italian small arms, armor and artillery, as well as several books on aspects of Irish military history. He has also written numerous magazine articles both in English and Italian dealing with a broad spectrum of military subjects. He has a native Italian language fluency, speaks several other languages as well, and is active in translating books and magazine articles from Italian into English for Italian authors who specialize in military affairs. In 1981 he was awarded an honorary Italian knighthood. He lives with his wife Charlene in a rural community in Pennsylvania.

Massimiliano Afiero was born in Afragola, Italy, in 1964. An information technology teacher and programmer, he has been interested in military history since his youth. He has published widely and has been involved in the editing and development of several magazines including Volontari, SGM, Ritterkreuz and The European Volunteer, and the Fronti di Guerra series. Since January 2017, he has been Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly magazine The Axis Forces.


"...this is an important read for anyone interested in the war in North Africa."

- The NYMAS Review

"It's good to offset Allied and German interpretations of Italian military history with Italian interpretations."

- Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

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