An aggressive UK player can virtually eliminate the Italians from the game on UK1. This is dependent, however, on the Germans and if they give indication of a Sea Lion or not. I typically purchase a transport, infantry and artillery for South Africa first, and use my remaining 14(global) or 15(Europe) IPCs for navy or air in the Atlantic because Germany has typically decimated the available forces on their first turn.
IF the Germans make no Sea Lion preparations you can send the entire RAF from London to strike the Italian battleship (The Taranto raid). The fighters can land on the carrier, because you will need to bring the navy parked at Egypt as well to discourage a scramble. Don’t get too attached to that Mediterranean navy because it won’t last long, but the blow delivered to the Italians makes its loss worth it. The combat strength of the UK in this attack is 15 with 6 units, and the Italians have a strength of 7 with 2 units or 19 with 5 units made possible by a full scramble supported by Germany. Not the best odds, but still a good battle for UK because you are killing valuable units. They don’t stand a chance without the scramble, so the Italians might scramble their two planes which is even better because you get to kill the Italian Air Force. Even if the Germans send planes to scramble I make this attack because it’s one of the few opportunities to chip away at the Luftwaffe which gives the Germans enormous flexibility.
With the cruiser in SZ 91 (assuming it wasn’t sunk by the Germans which in many cases it won’t be) I usually strike the Italian fleet at Malta. I will throw in the fighter from Gibraltar for good measure and land him on Malta. The Malta fighter can either support the Taranto raid or be used in an assault on Tobruk.
The Tobruk battle is perhaps the most important one on UK1. Italy has 3 Inf, 1 Art, 1 Mec, and 1 Tank to face off against the British forces in Alexandria totaling 2 Inf, 1 Art, and 1 Tank. Poor odds for the Brits. Wait a minute, you have a Mec in Cairo that can make it into the battle, and the transport in SZ 98 can’t be used for fighting the Italian fleet so load up an Inf and Art for amphibious assault! Now we have a combined UK strength of 3 Inf 1 Art 1 Mec and 1 Tank, which is equal to the Italian force. Now this isn’t enough to take the territory without exceptional dice, so we need more forces. Well here’s where the Malta fighter and the Tactical Bomber from SZ 98 come in. I’ll bet you were wondering why he wasn’t in the Taranto raid. So the UK now has a total combat strength of 20 with 9 units against the Italian force of 6 units and a strength of 13. Good odds, and as a reminder the British can replace lost forces fairly quickly, while the Italians cannot.
This is my standard opener for the UK and it effectively knocks Italy into irrelevance. They are reduced to only one weak fleet, and only 2 units in North Africa.