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Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts: Mussolini's Elite Armoured Divisions in North Africa

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The campaign in North Africa during World War Two was one of the most important of the conflict. The allies fought for control of North Africa against the German Afrika Korps led by Rommel. But the part played by Mussolini's Italian troops, and in particular the armored divisions, in support of the Germans is not so well known. The campaign in North Africa during World War Two was one of the most important of the conflict. The allies fought for control of North Africa against the German Afrika Korps led by Rommel. But the part played by Mussolini's Italian troops, and in particular the armored divisions, in support of the Germans is not so well known.


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The campaign in North Africa during World War Two was one of the most important of the conflict. The allies fought for control of North Africa against the German Afrika Korps led by Rommel. But the part played by Mussolini's Italian troops, and in particular the armored divisions, in support of the Germans is not so well known. The campaign in North Africa during World War Two was one of the most important of the conflict. The allies fought for control of North Africa against the German Afrika Korps led by Rommel. But the part played by Mussolini's Italian troops, and in particular the armored divisions, in support of the Germans is not so well known.

30 review for Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts: Mussolini's Elite Armoured Divisions in North Africa

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manray9

    Praise is due to Ian Walker for exploring a neglected aspect of World War II – the Italian armored forces. The first half of his book is a valuable assessment of the development, organization, training, tactics, armaments and order of battle of the Italian armored units from their inception. It is noteworthy for its detail and insight. Unfortunately the second half of the book deals with the campaign in North Africa and is best described as pedestrian. One impressive feature of Iron Hulls, Iron H Praise is due to Ian Walker for exploring a neglected aspect of World War II – the Italian armored forces. The first half of his book is a valuable assessment of the development, organization, training, tactics, armaments and order of battle of the Italian armored units from their inception. It is noteworthy for its detail and insight. Unfortunately the second half of the book deals with the campaign in North Africa and is best described as pedestrian. One impressive feature of Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts is the bibliography. Avid readers of World War II history see the same bibliographical entries again and again. This is not so with Walker’s book. I discovered a dozen new references, which appear to be difficult to locate in the U.S. I’ll keep looking. Ian Walker’s effort is worthy of a strong Three Stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John Somers

    An account of the performance of the Italian armoured divisions in North Africa during World War II, some of the most under-rated troops in history. This book shows them as brave men let down by second rate equipment, poor pre-war planning and incompetence in the high command. They were rarely credited with successes which were seen as the result of their German Allies brilliance but often blamed for the failure of joint operationsbut as this book shows during the battles in which Rommel made hi An account of the performance of the Italian armoured divisions in North Africa during World War II, some of the most under-rated troops in history. This book shows them as brave men let down by second rate equipment, poor pre-war planning and incompetence in the high command. They were rarely credited with successes which were seen as the result of their German Allies brilliance but often blamed for the failure of joint operationsbut as this book shows during the battles in which Rommel made his reputation his army generally contained more Italian troops and armour than German. The disastorous reputation of the Italian army was created when 130,000 surrendered to the British in 1940 but as the author states 30,000 Britich surrendered at Tobruk & 85,000 in Singapore in 1942, while over a million soviets surrender to the Germans in 1941. When properly led and with a possability of victory or at least survival the Italian armoured troops proved themseles the equal in courage of those they fought with and against. An excellent book on an often overlooked aspect of the war.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John Robertson

    Excellent book, yes I am biased as I have a soft spot for the Italians in WWII, particularly their tanks! However, this is a very valuable, if not essential, contribution to the re-evaluation of the performance of Italian armoured divisions in the North African campaign of WWII. It is not for the uninitiated to the campaign, the book assumes are certain knowledge of events and only focuses on particularly instances in actions that include the Italian armoured units, so the narrative hops from ev Excellent book, yes I am biased as I have a soft spot for the Italians in WWII, particularly their tanks! However, this is a very valuable, if not essential, contribution to the re-evaluation of the performance of Italian armoured divisions in the North African campaign of WWII. It is not for the uninitiated to the campaign, the book assumes are certain knowledge of events and only focuses on particularly instances in actions that include the Italian armoured units, so the narrative hops from event to event. The main narrative of the book describes events chronologically, but there is an introductory chapter setting the context of the conflict as well as some details on the specs of the various armoured vehicles- this perhaps could have been extended to include the L6 and the Semovente 47/32. Highly recommended!

  4. 4 out of 5

    John

    A look at a subject rarely covered, at least in English: the contribution of the Italian armored divisions in North Africa during WWII. Both the Germans and British tended to downplay the contribution of the Italians in the official histories. The British in particular were often guilty of identifying every tank as German, and claiming that every setback was caused by the Germans. Having depicted the Italians as incompetents in propaganda, there was a real incentive for the British to not admit A look at a subject rarely covered, at least in English: the contribution of the Italian armored divisions in North Africa during WWII. Both the Germans and British tended to downplay the contribution of the Italians in the official histories. The British in particular were often guilty of identifying every tank as German, and claiming that every setback was caused by the Germans. Having depicted the Italians as incompetents in propaganda, there was a real incentive for the British to not admit to any successes that the Italians achieved. One of the things this book does is attempt to set the record straight by identifying those encounters where it was the Italians and not the Germans that repulsed the British.

  5. 4 out of 5

    John

    The title of this book is a translation of the Italian tanker's motto during WWII. Like many things associated with Fascist Italy and Il Duce during this period it is a bit camp and over the top. Walker in this book attempts to correct a prevalent problem with most histories dealing with the war in North Africa. While Italian forces made up 80% of the axis forces they are rarely mentioned in the epic clash between Monty's Desert Rats and Rommel's Afrika Korps. Easy read, technical without being The title of this book is a translation of the Italian tanker's motto during WWII. Like many things associated with Fascist Italy and Il Duce during this period it is a bit camp and over the top. Walker in this book attempts to correct a prevalent problem with most histories dealing with the war in North Africa. While Italian forces made up 80% of the axis forces they are rarely mentioned in the epic clash between Monty's Desert Rats and Rommel's Afrika Korps. Easy read, technical without being dry, poor maps.

  6. 5 out of 5

    James Yee

    An excellent read to fill-in the gaps often left in other historical studies of the Italian war efforts in North Africa. Also provides interesting insight into what most Italians thought of their German allies. Considering the supply chain constraints and the uncompetitive tanks they had to work with, it's amazing their armored divisions were able to accomplish as much as they did in World War 2. An excellent read to fill-in the gaps often left in other historical studies of the Italian war efforts in North Africa. Also provides interesting insight into what most Italians thought of their German allies. Considering the supply chain constraints and the uncompetitive tanks they had to work with, it's amazing their armored divisions were able to accomplish as much as they did in World War 2.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Russ Spence

    well worth a read if you want a more balanced account of what exactly the Italian armed force did and did not do in the Western Desert in the Second World War. There were far more Italians fighting in the desert than German soldiers, however most histories focus on the British & German forces. This is partly because both sides tended to denigrate the Italians for whatever reason, the British focused on the acres of prisoners paraded in newsreels in 1940 whilst the Germans from Rommel tended to s well worth a read if you want a more balanced account of what exactly the Italian armed force did and did not do in the Western Desert in the Second World War. There were far more Italians fighting in the desert than German soldiers, however most histories focus on the British & German forces. This is partly because both sides tended to denigrate the Italians for whatever reason, the British focused on the acres of prisoners paraded in newsreels in 1940 whilst the Germans from Rommel tended to see them as a burden rather than an ally, but didn't hesitate to blame them for his failures as a commander & effectively steal their transport at El Alamein, leaving them to the British whilst the Germans made off... This attempts to redress the balance & reports on Italian successes, but still doesn't gloss over their failings; they were badly equipped for an industrial war & their tanks, whilst useful in 1940-41, were hopelessly obsolete by 1943, so they suffered great losses in a war few of them wanted, to build a personal empire in the desert for a bombastic but also incompetent fool.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    A must read for anyone interested in the North African campaign, or Italy, in World War II. Walker deftly debunks the old British-German stereotypes of incompetent/cowardly Italian troops (at least in the case of the armored divisions) in a succinct, well-organized, clearly written volume. My only complaint is that there could be a little more life to the narrative, but it is very readable and accessible to general readers as well as military history buffs. The author makes good use of maps, il A must read for anyone interested in the North African campaign, or Italy, in World War II. Walker deftly debunks the old British-German stereotypes of incompetent/cowardly Italian troops (at least in the case of the armored divisions) in a succinct, well-organized, clearly written volume. My only complaint is that there could be a little more life to the narrative, but it is very readable and accessible to general readers as well as military history buffs. The author makes good use of maps, illustrations, and first-hand accounts, which help make up for his somewhat dry narrative style.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    While some parts are a bit dry, they are broken up by Italian firsthand accounts of the Desert War which are fascinating. Overall the book does a great job of dispelling the myth of Italian cowardice and lack of fighting spirit. They too had their ebb and flow in the desert just like their German allies.

  10. 5 out of 5

    MadMat

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nick

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elos

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Cherpeski

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nando

  16. 4 out of 5

    Arnaud

  17. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Bartholomew

  18. 4 out of 5

    george hermann

  19. 5 out of 5

    John Redmann

  20. 4 out of 5

    Riccardo Pella

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dana Rudko

  22. 4 out of 5

    James Wallbank

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Itterly

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emil Emilsen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pete H

  26. 5 out of 5

    Edward Lengel

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael Romo

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rob Cooper

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mark Mirabello

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dawne

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