Fantasy: Of course, in most games, your Italian fleet in SZ 95 performs heroically and handily defeats the vainglorious British attempt to dominate the Med on UK1, which then on I1 goes on to destroy all the surviving French and UK ships giving your side a +5 NO for the rest of the game, stymying Allied attempts to sink your precious Italian transports through a never-ending series of battleship 4s.
Reality: Okay, so the UK just bombed your capital ships to hell and gone, and you’re sitting with:
2 FIGs in Italy and a DD, CA in SZ 97
The French DD/CA, with the UK’s loaded CV (probably with 2 FIG) in SZ 93, and with really bad luck you may even have a UK CA surviving in SZ 95…
What’s a fascist Italian to do on I1? Probably scream and cry for Hitler to come bail them out.
Germany is literally forced to come into play at this point, and probably sacrifice most of what’s left of their airforce (at least 3 planes, if not more) killing SZ 93 on G2 for Italy. Which they may or may not wish to do, as it softens (if not cripples) their airpower needed for Sealion, if they wish to take that route, not to mention it simply saps them of a lot of expensive air units they’ll need later. Germany probably doesn’t want to bail Italy out entirely just so Italy can possibly get a +5 NO for a few rounds later (not to mention Italy’s NO is completely unable to be maintained once the US/UK show up off Gibraltar/Egypt in force).
Usually with Italy I’ve thrown what I’ve had available at SZ 93 plus the FIGs to soften it up for the German strike on G2, so its not so unfair. But it still seems like a waste, and I’m left with virtually zero supporting pieces on the FIRST FRICKING TURN. As most people have seen, armies with a lot of 1s and 2s but no 3s or 4s tend to go nowhere fast. 1 ARM and 1 ART in Africa without air support or more reinforcements is a BAD idea, and generally Italy’s African forces are trapped and killed by the UK even before the US enters the war. But how to reinforce if you can’t have a working navy?
Rather than trying to compete navally on I1, with minimal resources available, why not just build a fighter, and move everything to Alexandria, including 2 more INF on the surviving TRN? Italy usually has enough local superiority with starting troops to take Egypt for at least one turn on I2, and once its taken German and Italian planes landed there can prevent the UK from trying anything for at least a few more turns. By then Italy can have a minor IC in Egypt to maintain the balance against incoming UK forces from India and S. Africa, with Egypt as the bottleneck preventing Indian fleet getting into the Med.
Germany can build a minor IC in Yugoslavia on G2, and with subs produced in the Med can probably clear it without spending too much, especially if they control the Atlantic off England/Gibraltar to keep reinforcments from coming in (well, at least till turn 4 when the US shows up). As long as Italy has some capability of reinforcing Egypt to match UK’s input from India and S. Africa, Italy can force a stalemate with the extra NO income without needing to buy too many naval units. And if Italian carriers become necessary, you should still have some fighters lying around to land on them.