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A fully intact French navy for the Germans

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by Hands, Apr 15, 2006.

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  1. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    Except that most of the ships of the French Navy at that time were in poor condition and long overdue for serious overhaul and yard work. Even in a best case scenerio, it would have taken well over a year to put many of these ships to sea with semi-trained, green, German crews.

    The German crewed ships would have had to be trained on a foreign ship, with foreign machinery and armament, largely without any "how-to" booklets that would enable them not only to propel and sail them, but to fight them effectively against an aggressive, well trained enemy.

    My guess is, that having a larger fleet of German crewed, former French ships would have caused far more problems for the Germans than it solved, because the time element soon comes into play.

    One only has to look at the Italian experience for an example. When the Italians surrendered in 1943, many sizable Italian warships fell into German hands, but few of them ever performed with German crews in a manner that made their existance worthwhile, before they were sunk, scuttled or otherwise disabled.
     
  2. Machine Gun Nest 1985.

    Machine Gun Nest 1985. Member

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    what was bigger Royal navy or French navy.?

    what was more powerful the Royal navy or French navy.?
     
  3. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    To quote from http://www.naval-history.net/

    The Royal Navy, still the largest in the world in September 1939, included (not counting the rest of the Commonwealth navies):

    * 15 Battleships & battlecruisers, of which only two were post-World War 1. Five 'King George V' class battleships were building.

    * 7 Aircraft carriers. One was new and five of the planned six fleet carriers were under construction. There were no escort carriers yet.

    * 66 Cruisers, mainly post-World War 1 with some older ships converted for AA duties. Including cruiser-minelayers, 23 new ones had been laid down.

    * 184 Destroyers of all types. Over half were modern, with 15 of the old 'V' and 'W' classes modified as escorts. Under construction or on order were 32 fleet destroyers and 20 escort types of the 'Hunt' class.

    * 60 Submarines, mainly modern with nine building.

    * 45 escort and patrol vessels with nine building, and the first 56 'Flower' class corvettes on order to add to the converted 'V' and 'W's' and 'Hunts'. However, there were few fast, long-endurance convoy escorts.

    The French Navy had 7 battleships, 1 sort-of-carrier, 17 cruisers, 60 destroyers, 36 submarines.

    Now you tell me which one do you think was more powerful.
     
  4. Machine Gun Nest 1985.

    Machine Gun Nest 1985. Member

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    I thought so but,

    What about the airfore raf vs french airforce whos is bigger.?
     
  5. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    I'll leave it to you to google yourself a reply to that, or else in a few weeks I'll still be looking up comparisons between the Luxemburg and Nepalese armies for you :D
     
  6. Machine Gun Nest 1985.

    Machine Gun Nest 1985. Member

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    Interesting stuff I cant wait for those comparisons.

    Would you be able to include data on global ballbearing production between the dates 1939 to 1945.?
     
  7. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Now that you mention it I'm looking at Milward's War, Economy and Society '39-'45, Berkeley CA 1979, and it contains some very interesting statistics. Extremely interesting, you'd be surprised.

    Highly recommended.
     
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Seems like Oran was more successful than expected:

    " Some months later Harry Hopkins visited England and was a guest at Chequers. " It was Oran ", he said , " that had convinced Roosevelt that, in spite of Ambassador Kennedy´s defeatist opinions, Britain would continue to fight, as Churchill had promised, if necessary for years and alone." ...If Britain was prepared to do this to her ally, what might she do to her enemy?"

    From " Invasion 1940 " by Derek Robinson
     
  9. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    If you really think about it, Hitler did a smart thing by not touching the French navy. If there was any doubt about the Gemans making a move towards getting their hands on the French ships, the French would merely sail away and join the Brits. But this way, Hitler guaranteed the size of the Allied navy not growing with the addition of the French ships. Whether this was his intent, who knows but being that he had no REAL intentions to make any kind of ocean crossing with his armies, this was a smart thing.

    Though, he would later regret it with Mussolini's (no offense Matt) North Afrikan bumbling.
     
  10. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    And what would the impact be on the outcome ot the war if La Réale went to the Allies early?
     
  11. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Unless the French willingly gave up their fleet to the Germans they (the Germans) were not going to get their hands on the majority of it in any case. All of the French battleships were in North Africa or already in England. The only carrier was at Martinque in the Caribbean.
    Most of the cruisers and destroyers were also in North African ports.
    The only way the Germans could forcibly get these ships was to invade Vichy France, something they were not particularly inclined to do (ie restart hostilities with the French).

    The British on the other hand probably over-reacted in blowing most of the capital units out of the water. Their actions could have precipitated a French decision to switch sides and start hostilities. While unlikely, it is a slim possibility.

    For the most part the French ships would have needed alot of work and support to make them really useful in any case. On the whole, both sides were probably best off letting the French simply demilitarize their vessels.

    Here's an article I did with details on the capital ship actions like Mers el Kiber:

    http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/wwii/articles/capitalshipsurfaceactions.aspx
     
  12. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    The Germans would never have successfully acquired the ships but by now asking for them in the surrender terms, the Germans were able to keep them from joining the allied effort.

    At this time, Britain was indeed alone and if she was willing to accept 50 obsolete destroyers from the US, then I am sure she would gladly accept what the French had to offer.
     
  13. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    The numbers vary according to the book you read. My best guess is after the Armistice in late June 1940 the French air Force had maybe 300 fairly modern fighters capable of combat operations and perhaps 150 bombers. There quite a few more flyable machines, but the remainder were the older models.

    There were at least another 500 (possibly 1000) aircraft that could have made combat capable, if French industry was used to sustain the pre defeat production of parts and ground support equipment. However many of these aircraft were also obsolete models of marginal value.

    There also some 300 modern US bombers that had just been delivered to France. These had arrived by ship and were not yet completely assembled. Without parts from the US their combat use would have limited to a very few missions. Simply training the crews might have used up all the spare parts available and left them useless.

    In the closing weeks of the campaign, in June, the French Air Force leaders begain evacuating their best remaining aircraft to Africa to keep them out of German hands. Perhaps half of their combat worthy aircraft were outside France by the end of June.

    Again these numbers are subject to variation, depending on who did the counting.
     
  14. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Here is my 2cents.

    The entire French Navy in the Hands of the Germans, Well all i got to say is it may have changed the fate of the Bismarck.

    The Germans at the start of the war were going fall out in surface warfare but after the loss of the Bismarck they remained near home, but with all those extra ships the Bismarck could have been victorious or atleast been escorted back to port.

    8 Battle ships, 16+ Cruisers, 48+ Destroyers Out in the Atlantic and Mediterranian and plentty more in reserve or being built, not mentioning there sub fleet.

    They could have easily secured Gibralta and Malta early in the war and could have made all the difference in the BoB.
     
  15. Balderdasher

    Balderdasher Dishonorably Discharged

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    That's a great question.
    That's also why even despite Vichy assurances, the British risked war with Vichy too to destroy them.

    But had Hitler made the Fleet part of his armistice with Vichy, then we would've been in serious trouble.

    Combining the French and Italian Fleets, our older Mediterranean fleets would be defeated. They might even make it out to the Atlantic through Gibraltar.

    But even if only ruling the Mediterranean, that could result in Rommel's victory and with his victory and contol of Suez, then you've got the French and Italian battleships, cruisers, destroyers maybe even eventually aircraft carriers out into the open seas. Maybe even support an Operation Sealion invasion of England someday?

    When France went Vichy and 'neutral' and we (the Allies) lost all that French Naval power to help guard the seas, it was a huge blow to the Allied naval effort just not having them for us to use anymore, even if not used by the enemy.
     
  16. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    First, the entire French Navy would not have fallen into German hands. The French had ships in foreign ports, overseas possessions, and elsewhere as a matter of course. But, even if the Germans did manage to capture a substancial portion of the French fleet (or have it handed over to them) there would still have been major obstacles to its use.
    Topping the list would be trained crews. Assuming an all-German crew the Germans would have to come up with thousands of men just to man the ships. Training would take at least a year or more.
    Then there is the problem of compatability and maintenance. French ships would require refitting with some German equipment to make them compatable with the German navy. Radios are an example. Gauges and instruments would have to be relabled in German. Technical manuals would have to be translated.
    After this is the problem of parts and supplies. There might be some in the French economy but long term the Germans will have to make alot of this stuff themselves.
    As an example of this problem, the British interned two older French battleships in England when France fell (they were already there in Plymouth in port....Paris and Courbet). Both were not used as active fleet units. Instead, the Paris became a barracks ship while Courbet was used in antiaircraft and radar training. This was due to a combination of inavailability of parts and crews for their use otherwise. Even after many of the French ships ended up in Allied hands they remained unused although the Allies had many times the shipyard capacity the Germans did.
     
  17. Balderdasher

    Balderdasher Dishonorably Discharged

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    Some are attacking the question as written rather than answer it.

    He's not asking the feasibility of the Germans controlling the French fleet, he's asking 'what if' given they did(for whatever reason) have control of the French fleet.

    If you like, 'assume' that the hand-over was part of the surrender like the Japanese and Italian fleets to the Allies upon surrender. That they all obeyed orders, where-ever they were, just like when the Spanish changed sides and joined Napoleon, and were placed under immediate German control.
     
  18. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    I think I did address the original question.

    First, it was not possible for the Germans to "aquire" the entire French fleet. It was simply too spread out for that. The French did have ships in British ports (an example was given), others were on overseas stations. For example, those at Martinque, including the carrier Bearn were de facto interned by the US. Those in French Indochina (Vietnam) remained on station there.
    As for the rest, the notes still apply. Possession does not equate to use in this case.
     
  19. Balderdasher

    Balderdasher Dishonorably Discharged

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    Sorry, but yet again, you aren't answering his question as asked. He doesn't give deployments or even time-table, just the statement that the Germans, (however it was done) DID have the French fleet.

    Personally, IF we go by the surrender time-table and said, ok, all French ships have to come home to France by order of the French gov't...then worse than when the Spanish switched sides on the British in the Napoleonic wars, the Allied fleets would be scrambling all over the globe to try to intercept these ships from assembling back in France to be handed over to the Germans.

    I believe his question is not IF it could be done, but what the effect would be HAD it been done.

    IF it had been done, not IF it could be done.

    But I agree with you, it would have been better if he spelled out the parameters of his 'scenario' and question better.

    My answer is it really would have hurt us, possibly even turn the tide of the war theoretically.
    It's not so much us losing ships, its the other guy gaining ships.
    Like a Poker Pot.
    And he is right, the French had a very admirable fleet and some remarkable builds in the works too.
    In a way, Vichy terms helped us in that respect.
     
  20. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Ok, taking the absurd position that somehow the Germans gain the entire French fleet I would say that within days the Royal Navy would have attacked and sunk or severely damaged the bulk of the useful units as they sat in port with skeleton crews either German or French.
    Even with their French crews who were trained, the bulk of the French fleet was blown out of the water (eg., Mers el Kebir etc.). Without those crews these ships stand no chance whatsoever of surviving a pummeling by the British.
     
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