If you try it out, you’ll see that the U.K. can’t sufficiently reinforce France, even with the additional 6 French troops, from having Germany crush it on round 2. Even if every available plane is landed there, and the strafe leaves 2 tanks plus the fighter, it’s impossible to hold. So all that landing planes accomplishes is wiping out the British airforce (and keeping France from falling to Italy). The payoff isn’t worth it.
The biggest downsides I can imagine are that (1) it is much more difficult to hold off serious landings at Normandy by the US and/or UK. Italy then has to protect Western Europe and the Med–although with Germany taking S France, they can dump ships in the Med as well if it comes to that (subs backed up by planes would be cheap). And (2) delaying the war on the Pacific side until round 3 (which would make this work much better at times, depending on the US builds) means that UK Pacific can shuttle some troops over.
The really nice thing about this strategy is that it’s more efficient to have Italy be the 1 force in the Med, and not have to worry about building enough ships off the S France factory right away to protect them from UK planes.
I think it’s going to be the standard opening in our play group for the foreseeable future.
The counter someone mentioned above about making sure to buy troops in S Africa–either mechs, or infantry/artillery to go with transports, in combination with some shuttling from India, is probably the safe response.
Grover and I just started another game, with me being the Axis, and I’ve got to say I’m enjoying the big Italian boost.