It sounds like this may have softened the German attacks on Russia, which is probably a good thing, balance wise.
I finally got around to trying A&A Europe with Italy placed between Russia and Britain. I haven't actually finished the game, but it's about 5-6 rounds in and the Allies really seem to be winning this one. The US has taken France, the Allies totally rule the Atlantic, the Italian Navy just got whacked and Russia is building steam on the Eastern Front. Plus, the US and Britain have strong invasion forces ready to go on England and their transports are out of range of the Luftwaffe, or what's left of it. I figure another 3-4 rounds max and the Axis will be finished.
However, I don't think this has to do with the turn setup. Rather some pretty decent strategy on the Allies side and a few rather unlucky dice rolls for the Axis (particularly on the Eastern Front).
As for placing Italy after Russia in turn order, I don't think it really made much difference in the overall Axis gameplan. With this game, Italy is not really affected by Russia and mostly tangles with British forces, although I did manage to send a few Russian units to back up the British in North Africa. Also, except for the island of Crete and Morocco, Germany really has no presence anywhere in the Mediterranean and they spend their time duking it out with Russia while trying to keep the British at bay.
My next idea would be to put Italy after England and before the USA. With England getting the chance to move first in North Africa and the Med, that would probably drastically change Italian strategy. I don't know when I will get to try this though since AAE40 is released now and my copies from FMG are already with UPS and on their way here. So, I'm going to be busy with that for a while, not to mention trying out the massive Global game.
By the way, that is another interesting idea you had about Germany and Italy sharing a portion of their IPCs. Italy could sure use that since even starting with 10 it is not much to build forces with. Their only advantage is that it is hard for Britain to get more troops and equipment down there. It seems to me though that Germany has too much trouble with Russia and needs ALL of their money to fight that battle.