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Could Operation Sealion really have succeeded?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by GunSlinger86, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    It's interesting that to see the person who says this
    Immediately follow up with:
    I guess for some definitions of the term Narvik might be considered within "easy reach from Scapa Flow" but the control of Denmark and southern Norway has huge import on operations in northern Norway and to even use the term "sweeping south" from a lodgment in Narvik brings to question the military understanding of the person stating it.
    A couple of successful raids vs convoys and a host of failures hardly make a case for the KM being much of a player in WWII. Indeed Norway was in many ways their claim to fame except of course they got trounced.
    Since it was essentially meaningless I didn't see any point to it.
    Well you are the proponent here so you are the one that is suppose to be supporting your position when it is called to question. However in this case I'll respond although it shouldn't really be necessary if you had any reasonable understanding of what was involved in an operation like this. Disrupting the convoy has a number of effects. At the very least it introduces both "friction" and delay. For operations that require some precision this is generally considered bad. Look at what happened in the one test run the Germans made. In very benign conditions at least one barge was swamped and that was without any opposition at all in daylight and good weather and with only a few barges in the test. Now imagine the impact at night where the coordination is being conducted with bull horns. The impact is going to be damaged and possibly lost vessels even without direct damage. It's also going to result in lost time which means that the convoys will be at sea longer and subject to even greater attrition and of course the tide doesn't care that they are delayed. Compound this with multiple engagements and the result a much more confused landing if it actually occurs. Look at what happened at Omaha with a force that was better trained for the operation, had a huge numerical and logistics edge, and much better communications as well as the benefit of a much better plan.
    Source please. Not sure it's better for moral either. Defeating the Germans on the ground would have some really significant advantages moral wise.
    Six knots to cover how long a trip? The shortest distance is Calais to Dover about 20 miles. If six knots is the average speed of the barges then the convoys will be going a bit slower as they will have to proceed at a bit less than the speed of the slowest vessel in the convoy. Then there's the currents which have a considerable impact. A quick google shows current speeds of 2.5 to almost 3 knots around Dover. Those of course are peaks but the impact on a convoy going something less than 6 knots of a 3 knot cross current is considerable. The net result is to reduce the speed to something under 5 knots and possibly less than 4 knots. Then I've seen considerable discussions which put the convoy speeds at around 4 knots.. Then you have to take into account forming up the convoys and getting them moving. You also don't want to arrive early but late is even worse and then there's the problem with navigating at night. All told the convoy from Calais to the Dover area might make it at night. Of course then it's parked in day light in sight of coastal defense guns. Cherburg to Lyme on the other hand is almost 100 miles even at 6 knots that's hard to do in a single night. The LeHarve convoys are facing a similar run. In the latter cases the currents won't be as strong but they'll be exposed to them for longer compounding the navigational issues.
    Are you reading what I wrote? The above certainly brings it to question. I never claimed it was a plan or suggested that the RN would deliberately try it. However it is pretty clear that to at least some extent that's what would happen. Small groups of everything from armed trawlers up to possibly CLs would have attacked the invasion convoys as they found them. The convoys by the way wouldn't have been all that hard to find. You are talking about hundreds of barges as well as other vessels. The barges were 25-50m long and in chains of three from what I recall reading so each chain is going to be around 250m or so long a line of 90 barges is going to be over 7 km long. Start laying smoke and not only are you saying "here's something of interest" you are adding to the confusion which with the marginally trained crew of the barges could easily be lethal and is certainly going to result in confusion. Would single DDs engage the convoys? I doubt it but small groups of DDs and small groups of other boats and ships almost certainly. Note that the Germans also have issues with mine fields, coordination, and travel times.
    They were behind schedule in clearing mines along the French coast that were in areas the invasion convoys needed to go! Again they may have been stockpiling the mines but the evidence presented in another thread (on the axis history forum I believe) indicated that they didn't have enough mines for the planned fields. Furthermore laying what they did have in the time needed would have strained their resources if they didn't loose any mine layers and with the fields requiring multiple days and passes to lay that was almost guaranteed.
    Of course there's a huge difference. The convoy was near the French coast so the British would want to be clear by daylight. The convoy was also close to friendly ports and not on a time schedule so it could scatter. DDs were sent out "unsupported" many times during WWII. What kind of support did you have in mind though?
    That's what is often called a "shotgun reference" and not really considered acceptable on most history discussion boards. The preference is to actually quote the relevant part although page numbers are adequate.
    I see arguments you don't want to address are "nitpicking" and reasonable assessment of things is fantasy. In the mean time considering all the problems one side faces while ignoring those on the other is acceptable..
     
  2. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Flat-bottomed Rhine barges towed in chains, carrying horse-drawn artillery, little specialist beaching gear, almost no specialist amphibious troops, a thin screen of paras etc etc etc.
    They treated planning for the channel as if for a river. It is no river.
    No air superiority.
    No naval superiority.
    A turkey-shoot of swamped barges and drowning men would ensue almost immediately.
    Shame they never tried it, as it would certainly have put the decades of speculation about it to rest, while dumping a great deal of Nazi military potential at the bottom of the sea, or bleeding out on beaches.

    The 1974 Sandhurst/Telegraph Sealion wargame (with Galland as an umpire, no less, among others) took things a stage further. Even when Germany gained a foothold, the resupply and support of that bridgehead proved utterly impossible, leading to a 'Dunkirk' situation, but with no willing little ships and a consolidating RN blocking the escape.

    Adolf made some interfering & hubristic cock-ups.
    Finally agreeing not to launch Sealion was not one of them.
     
    Owen likes this.
  3. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Why are we even talking about this again? No matter how you wrap it, the KM was incapable of carrying out Sealion without massive casualties. See Adam's post (von Poop) for some of the reasons.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Depends on your definition of "massive casualties". By USN or RN standards the Germans could have lost all the operational ships the KM had and it would have been significant but hardly massive losses. :)

    The Germans started the planning with the requirement to gain air and naval supremacy in the area. They had no real hope of achieving either. My interpretation of the KM Sea lion effort was they were going through the motions and looking for any possible way to convince Hitler not to order the invasion. The Heer figured they were safe because they could see that the KM and Luftwaffe weren't going to be able to achieve their pre invasion requirements and when Goering stepped up and said in essence "we can do it" the KM in particular said fine and then pointed out on every possible occasion why they were having problems achieving their goals due to lack of Luftwaffe support.

    Looks like our proponent has bailed. I was looking forward to some of the rest of you punching holes in his theories. ...

    I note we have another new poster making aggressive posts based on reading a single book ... makes one wonder.
     

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