At its peak the Italian Army contributed 2.5 million troops to the Axis war effort of World War II (1939-1945). English-speaking readers tend to think of this army in terms of the North African campaign; but far more Italian troops served in other theatres. They invaded, and later bore the major burden of occupying, the Balkan countries; and Italy sent 250,000 troops to fight on the Russian Front. In this, the first of a three-part study, Philip Jowett covers the European theatre - including Russia - from 1940 to Italy's armistice with the Allies in 1943. Many interesting uniforms, a number of them new to most readers, are meticulously illustrated by Stephen Andrew.