One thing worth mentioning here is that Africa is essentially a trap for the Axis. Â Whether the Italian fleet survives or not, it is very hard to make much of an income difference or gain any NOs before America enters the war and takes it back, or without compromising some other more critical front. Â
Italy only risks 2 IPCs by losing Africa. Â In our Game 92 on Saturday, I had the entire Italian navy survive because my opponent did exactly what you suggested, and attacked Tobruk rather than Taranto. Â The counter is quite favorable to the Italians, to send in their entire fleet on the attack and clear the med for your NO. Â Even with the gigantic navy, I was still boxed in as I couldn’t control either Gibraltar or Egypt in the long term though I took both of them once. Â Â
Buying more ships is a trap, and you can’t really hold Gibraltar. Â I spent all my $$ on strategic bombers and mechs to help Germany on the eastern front and using Italy to protect the Atlantic Wall or help leapfrog Germany in the East is stronger than trying to take the Maghreb or the Levant. If you keep any transports, the most effective thing to do with those is threaten/cover/block/rush out of Gibraltar but its going to be hard…
One of my buddies said that far from wanting to reinforce the Italian stack on Tobruk, he wanted to evacuate it from Africa. Â Its ineffective and trapped on a good day and easy to annihilate on a bad one.