The MOD.28 "Tromboncino" for the Carcano 91 TS Carbine: Great Idea, Imperfect Execution
By A. Wicks & G. Tansella
By the end of World War I, the composition and role of the infantry units in the Regio Esercito (literally: the Royal Army, the official name of the Italian army when Italy was a kingdom) had changed significantly since the outbreak of war. The watershed for the high command had been the Twelfth Battle of the River Isonzo.
The people that brought about these changes were the Germans, who had rushed to the aid of their Austro-Hungarian allies on the Alpine front. They had been extraordinarily successful with modestly sized infantry formations during the Tolmino offensive.
General Luddendorf in a speech held on 30 March 1918 had stated: “What counts is not the number of men, but the available firepower.” This brief phrase helps to understand the reasoning behind the introduction of the Carcano Model 28 grenade launcher, as well as the widespread distribution of light machine guns to infantry units.
The studies on producing a grenade launcher should not be viewed as an improvement in one specific area. But rather as part of the overall restructuring and modernisation of the army both regarding equipment, tactics, and structure of the army (size of individual armies, divisions, regiments, and even squads). Initially, the high command chose to take the French Armèe de Terre as a role model before going it alone from 1923 onwards.
Infantry units had to improve their flexibility both in terms of their offensive and defensive capabilities. This involved making the units train for a more mobile type of warfare, being able to quickly adapt to the terrain, and carry as much firepower as possible. Despite these efforts, they still remained about 15-years behind the German tactical thinking, which had already progressed to mechanized units up to divisional level.
There had been several studies carried out by worthy research and design firms and individuals like Perino, Cei-Rigotti, Revelli, and Marangoni. There were plenty of companies capable of manufacturing firearms using modern technology. However, none ever equipped the combat units apart from the odd minor exception.
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