Image of Fascist Italy state flag

Although it was the first country to come under Fascism, Italy was the weakest member of the Tripartite Pact.  Its Air Force developed some excellent aircraft, and its Navy launched some innovative ship designs, but the troops performed poorly; it seems that most Italians never really believed in the Axis cause.  Italy also lacked the economic power for total war. She would eventually switch sides (after surrendering to the Allies on 8 September 1943) and fight at least as poorly for the Allied cause as she had for the Axis.

The arrangements surrounding the Italian surrender caused considerable controversy, particularly in Russia, which played no role in the negotiations. Eisenhower was anxious to take Italy out of the war as cheaply as possible, and on this basis he supported negotiations with Badoglio in spite of the fact that Italy was included in the unconditional surrender demand from the Casablanca conference and Badoglio was a former Fascist. The Americans never regarded Mussolini or the Italians with the same loathing they felt for Hitler and the Germans and Japanese, whereas the Russians saw little difference between the reactionary regime in Italy and those of the other Axis. The seeming retreat from the principle of unconditional surrender had no discernible effect on Germany but may have influenced Japan in the final diplomatic exchanges just prior to her surrender.

The Italians maintained a small presence in the Pacific and Indian Oceans in the form of a few submarines operating out of Penang. Five Italian submarines operated in this manner during the war. Otherwise, Italy was not significantly involved in the Pacific War, either as part of the Axis or after her declaration of war on Japan on 15 July 1945.

Italian order of battle

SS Commandante Alfredo Cappellini
Arrived 1943-7-9 (Sabang

Taken over by Germany as UIT-24 in late 1943. Taken over by Japan as I-503 1945-5.
SS Reginaldo Giuliani

Arrived 1943-7-26 (Singapore)

Taken over by Germany as UIT-23 1943-9-10. Sunk by Tallyho 1944-2-14 in Straits of Malacca
SS Luigi Torelli     
Arrived 1943--8-26 (Sabang

Taken over by Germany as UIT-25 1943-9. Taken over by Japan as I-504 1945-5.


Carpenter and Polmar (1986)

Gilbert (1989)

Gunston (1988)

"Penang Submarine Base 1943-1945" (2011-5-4; accessed 2012-3-17)

Smith (1985) (accessed 2011-3-17)

Worth (2001)

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