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Should Hitler have resolved the British problem at the beginning ?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by .docholliday, Jan 13, 2008.

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  1. .docholliday

    .docholliday Member

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    What if the Fuhrer completed operation sea lion and eliminated the British capacity to wage war over the channel, this would have negated the Mediterranean, north Africa and Greece campaigns while given the Axis it's much needed secured communications on Malta.

    The disposition of the British armed forces may have resulted in more troops being deployed to the eastern front Although, but would securing England be large drain on the wehrmachts manpower coupled with notorious British patriotism ?

    On the other hand If Britain was knocked out of the war in 1941, an alliance between Russia and USA would be severely difficult to initiate without the desperate British to form the basis of the alliance. Thus resulting on all attention being directed to obliterate Russia and it's ability to resist giving the Germans their much sought after Living space eastwards.
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Sea lion would have been a death trap for German soldiers, so no wonder Hitler was not interested in trying it once Luftwaffe could not wipe the RAf out of the sky.

    I think the answer in the west can be found in Dunkirk. Dont´stop the tanks, Adolf! With BEF in your hands it could be well different.
     
  3. .docholliday

    .docholliday Member

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    Quite true Hitlers first mistake of the war was at Dunkirk, Although he still believed a truce with Britain was possibly at that point in the war. How wrong he turned out to be.

    Hitler was winning albeit at a loss to his own Luftwaffe but never the less he had the British on the run until he ordered the bombing of London which resulted in the RAF deploying their northern squadrons to deal with the German bombers. Thus the Germans believed the RAF wasn't actually on the brink of annihilation as it almost was.
    Occupation of england would have been a handful and a depletion of capable manpower available for the wehrmacht. The capture of Britain I believe would have been worth the the hassle, as it would eliminate a nuisance in many theaters of war like the Mediterranean and North Africa which would have released a portion of soldiers back into Europe without an enemy in the fields. This would also allow Hitler to consolidate his forces but give the Russians more time to prepare for the impending onslaught.
     
  4. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    How bad a beating would the Wehrmacht, Kriegsmarine etc get by going full steam ahead with Seelöwe and its weaknesses? Even if it ended in success you would have won in the west but what do you have left of your army? Remember, the bear ( =USSR ) is behind your back and ready to strike when you´re weak. And Soviet Army was taught to attack not defend (which was the problem for Red Army during Barbarossa ) . The same thing happened later on for Germans, nobody knew the defensive tactics because they were not taught.
     
  5. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Yes, Hitler should have finished his war with Britain before embarking on any new military project (like Russia). Seelöwe was not necessarily needed to accomplish this either. Instead, the Germans could have reinforced the Italians and finished Britain in the Mediterrainian basin. Taking the entire Middle East wasn't necessary, just driving the British out of Egypt and taking Suez might have been sufficent.
    The air war could have been pursued long term at a lower pace than Göring's original blitz strategy. A sustained and sustainable bombing campaign was possible. Germany had the resources for it if they focused on such a strategy.
    At sea the Germans could have continued the U-boat campaign but by being more scruplious about US losses kept the US from whipping up support for joining the war at home. It didn't matter if Britain was starving. It mattered that Britain was investing far more capital into fighting U-boats that Germany was in building them.
    Combined with a loss or inavailablitiy of Middle East oil the British would be in the same position as Germany with limited fuel resources. With more U-boats operating in the Indian Ocean (control of the Suez Canal would have allowed that) and more operating off Africa in the Atlantic the British could have really suffered shortages of many vital resources.
    With the Japanese entering the war at the beginning of 1942 the British would have been in even more trouble. With no German declaration of war on the US Lend-Lease would have dried up as the US politically could not have supported its continuation.
    Britain loses in the Far East and potentially even India and Australia are threatened.
    With the very real look of losing much of their overseas empire, an unabated bombing war going on at home, their forces unable to match Germany on land, a serious commerce war at sea, and the US not coming to their aid now that they have a war of their own, Britain might just have sued for peace with Germany.
    Of course, things didn't work this way historically. But, had Hitler and the OKW been more savvy grand strategists they might have.
     
  6. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    There are those who claim that Stalin knew war was coming, just not until England fell. This would inevitably bring the U.S. to Great Britain aid. Once sides in question wore themselves out, the "hero" Stalin and his men would swarm down upon Europe like locusts and claim all.

    Theories unfortunately is all we have. ;)


    BTW....

    I too think that going to war with Russia before Great Britain was dealt with, was a catastrophic blunder.
     
  7. .docholliday

    .docholliday Member

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    From what i understand Stalin had his own designs for western Europe, it just happens that Hitler had a bit less patience. Stalin was undoubtedly was a sly one just like Franco of Spain but Hitler's mien Kampf basically prophesied the plunder and rape of eastern lands explicitly the Slavic people, Hitler's intentions were known but not heeded at any point. Hitler played an excellent game of lulling his opponents into awkward positions and keep them guessing until it's was to late and he was as entrusted the Fuhrer - Hitler was adept at manipulating politically although war strategdy was a slightly different prospect.

    Finishing off the British though in the Mediterranean I believe would place german in a worse position for the manpower as, to achieve victory in that theater the Germans would have needed to pump more troops into that arena. Eliminating the British nuisance at the roots could be achieved with much less effort (Britain is an Island thus once supplies are cut off the entire system will be distraught and desperate for an armistice with Germany) Taking Britain would negate extra troops being sent to north africa and Mediterranean and provide a wall for the britons to resist in any capacity. Strategically England was in a much worse position that the Germans who constantly worried about another two front war. The U-boats was exacting a horrifying loss to Allied shipping and if the trend continued all possibilities for the British to wage war would be removed.
     
  8. Hop

    Hop Member

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    How?

    This is of course what the Germans were trying to do. They failed, but not for want of trying.

    No, the Luftwaffe were losing throughout. They just didn't know it because of their inflated kill claims. It's worth pointing out that in the 4 weeks before the switch to London the Luftwaffe had a worse kill/loss ratio against the RAF than they had in the 4 weeks after they began attacking London.

    It still wasn't anything like good enough to win the battle, though.

    No, other way around. The Germans believed their own kill claims, believed the RAF was almost destroyed, believed they were winning the battle.

    The truth is RAF strength increased for most of the battle. From 1200 Fighter Command aircrew at the end of June to 1,396 on the 10th August to 1,381 on the 7th September to 1,581 at the end of September.

    Same for aircraft. On 17th July (earliest date for which I have operational aircraft numbers) Fighter Command had 568 Spits and Hurricanes fit for duty in operational squadrons.

    By 13th August, the start of the Luftwaffe's all out offensive, that had risen to 579.

    By the 20th August, after a week the Luftwaffe believed would destroy the RAF, they had 636.

    By the end of August they had 587, and by the 7th September, when the Luftwaffe switched to London, they had 621.

    Look at those figures again. In early July, when the battle was just beginning, the RAF had 568 serviceable single engined fighters. On the 7th September, when the Luftwaffe largely abandoned attacks on airfields and switched to bombing London, they had 621. 2 months of the best the Luftwaffe could do and the RAF had more fighters and more fighter pilots.

    Why? As soon as the Italians entered the war the British stopped running merchants through the Med. All the trade with the far east went the long way around Africa.

    The Germans taking the Med merely reduces British commitments a little.

    They did, it was called the Blitz. It was called off for the attack on Russia, but after the early phase it didn't really achieve much.

    Again, this is what Germany actually did. Again it didn't do them much good.

    Britain didn't build more ships than the Germans were sinking, but it benefited from the merchant fleets of neutral countries Germany had invaded, like the Norwegians, Dutch etc.

    In 1939 the British merchant fleet amounted to 17.7 million tons. By the end of 1941 it was 20.8 million tons.

    As to starving, food stocks in Britain were 10.53 million tons at the start of the war, 7.49 million tons by December 1939, 10.63 million tons in December 1940, 13.39 in December 1941.

    Because of the long shipping route, most of Britain's oil came from the western hemisphere, either the US or Caribbean.

    The big producers in the Caribbean were Trinidad and the Dutch West Indies, being allied there was little problem in paying for this fuel. Production in 1939 was something over 10 million tons a year, and with the pre war expansion plans would likely have increased as the war went on.

    The US was the world's largest oil producer and supplied oil, but in return for dollars or gold only, until Lend Lease cut in in 1941.

    I don't understand this. Once the Japanese declare war on the US, the US sees far more common cause with the UK.

    There's no way Japan would declare war on the UK and not the US, because it was the US embargo that drove Japan to war anyway. Their whole strategy in going to war against the US was to secure a free hand for themselves.
     
    Troglodyte, Jaeger and Martin Bull like this.
  9. john1761

    john1761 Member

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    Kai-Petri, I think Model and Von Manstien would have a thing to say that the Wehrmacht was not trained in defensive warfare.and the soviet's tried their idea of offensive war i.e. preplanned mass infantry attacks in 41-42 and failed miserable.
     
  10. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    This isn't correct. Hop has summed it up fairly well - and as for Northern RAF squadrons engaging Luftwaffe bombers, don't forget the disastrous ( and only ) daylight attack on Northern England by Luftflotte 5. This occurred on Thursday 15th August ( weeks before the attack on London ), and even German figures admit to a 20% loss-rate.
     
  11. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Later on yes, they showed how to defend, but I would not call December 1941 " not a step back" method a very developed version of defensive action. Also the Red Army´s attack method was a huge waste of man and material. Walking targets for MG´s and 88´s schrapnels....
     
  12. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Not One Step Back - Order 227..... Was issued in July 1942.


    From my knowledge, the suicidal runs were not pre-planned but were more on the lines of desperation as STAVKA desperately tried to slow the German onlsaught and win enough time to build new defenses, reinforce their lines and call up more men......

    An enormous price to pay for Stalin's blunder, but it accomplished the desired effect.

    Gregory Zhukov in October of 41' singed a decree which, explicitly forbade frontal attacks on German forces without the support of Artiller and/or Air Support...... While the armor would be concentrated on the German flanks.

    Guderian even made a note of this in his diary upon experienceing such a counter attack, at which he stated... "We took more casualties then before and even had to reinforce my flanks, they were learning".
     
  13. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Ok gentlemen, this is a what if, not a "could a". So going on the premise that Hitler did take Britain, a US/Soviet alliance would be difficult if Hitler made sure that his subs did not sink any US ships. The Americans, regardless of Hitler's tramping all over Europe, were not convinced that this was their war. The Brits would have had to move their government either to India or Australia. Egypt really did not have much to offer and would be difficult to hold if Hitler put all his energies towards the fight against the British instead of dividing his forces by attacking the USSR. At this point, Hitler should focus on holding what he had gained. By attacking the USSR, he spread his forces too thin and would not be able to hold onto anything. I believe it was von Clauswitz who said, "he who defends everything, defends nothing".

    Hitler's initial success, similar to blitzkrieg, is to focus on one point and throw everthing there. Knock out your enemies one by one. Don't force them to concentrate or put yourself in a position where there are enemy attacks from various directions. In the latter part of his reign, Hitler got over confident and threw everything to the wind. He got greedy and lost. Fortunately for us.
     
  14. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Actually, the loss of Alexandria and possibly the loss of Massawa in its wake (eg., the Axis retakes Italian Ethopia) takes away the two major ports of operation the British have in Eastern Africa. The loss of these two along with their use by the Axis as operating bases for U-boats into the Indian Ocean would represent a huge strain on Commonwealth escorting resources. Trade around the Horn would be far more difficult now running a several thousand mile long gauntlet of U-boat "infested" waters.

    What I was suggesting wasn't so much a high intensity Blitz as just a sustained campaign with possibly several raids of maybe just 20 to 50 aircraft per night with nightfighter escorts along with daylight fighter bomber raids, the occasional anti-shipping strike, etc. Enough to keep the pressure on the RAF but not sufficent to draw down Luftwaffe strength. This would make it hard for the British to withdraw RAF units to other theaters while the Germans have sufficent forces uncommitted to action over the UK to operate else where.

    In regards to U-boats:
    True enough. But, the Allies historically were spending roughly ten times the money Germany was on the U-boat war. The US could afford it. Britain alone could not. If Germany steps up their operations even slightly and adds a larger dedicated force of maritime aircraft into the mix the British are faced with a real problem. Even if they can maintain their merchant tonnage the drain on resources would be unmanagable long term if the US is not helping. British escorts were also of lower quality than US ones. The Flower Class for example was too slow to run down a surfaced U-boat, unable to fight any type surface raider should one appear, as it lacked torpedoes, and basically was a cheap stop-gap that Britain could afford. Note, how the US only used eight of this class and then only temporarily.
    But, if the Germans are more scruplious about not attacking US and neutral shipping outside declaired war zones then the US is given little reason to engage in a European war. Where ever the materials are coming from to Britain they go by sea. The Germans need only worry about tonnage sunk not where it is or what it is carrying. Eventually, this will hurt Britain's ability to pursue the war.

    I would expect both to be involved in a Pacific war (the US and UK). But, a Pacific War against Japan by the US does not translate automatically into a US declaration of war on Germany or Italy. If the US is reluctant to engage in a European war then Britain is likely to only receive war supplies from the US that go towards winning the Pacific War.
    It would be difficult for US politicians to justify giving Britain war material to fight Germany while the US was at war with Japan. This could easily be political suicide in the US.
    In fact, I would expect the US to even limit their own shipping in the Atlantic to own needs telling Britain that they have to ship all of their goods in British hulls simply because the US needs their shipping for the war with Japan.
    You would have definitely seen a drop in US naval strenght in the Atlantic far greater than was historically done once it became clear Germany was not going to go to war with the US. So long as the US is fighting Japan and Germany will not get involved I cannot see Britain getting any great amount of help from the US to fight Germany.
     
  15. von Rundstedt

    von Rundstedt Dishonorably Discharged

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    Actually in the regards to fight number claims the RAF were very much guilty of exponentially over inflating victory kills themselves, many pilots claimed shooting down aircraft but could not substantiate if they crashed, but were credited with kills anyway, many of the so called kills managed to limp home, the higher kill claims were of propaganda value.

    If the British had lost the Med then the "around the Cape" route is far more dangerous to shipping than you realise, the seas of South Africa are dangerous and unpredictable, plus the convoys would have to run the entire west African coast from constant harrasment from U-Boats that could be deployed along that route, and whats more it add valuable time for the convoys to get to Britain.

    Britain build more ships, please help me to understand this, for more merchant ships to be built, some RN naval programs would have to curtailed or cancelled, pray tell which RN ships would suffer to bolster the Merchantile Marine. And you mentioned starving, how much of the food was locally grown and produced and how much came from Commonwealth nations. I am not sure how much an WWII vintage oil carrier carries in weight in oil but i bet if several hundred are sunk through the early phase of the war that would put severe pressure on Britain available fuel stocks.
     
  16. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Good points posted. These are roughly the same views I have. I completely agree with these points.
     
  17. Hop

    Hop Member

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    The RAF claimed about 2400 German aircraft, actual German losses on operations were about 1,800. Not all those were actually shot down by the RAF, of course, but those are claims vs operational losses.

    I don't have full Luftwaffe claims, but the Jagdwaffe alone claimed 2000 single engined fighters, the RAF lost just under 1,000 on operations.

    That means total RAF claims were about 1.3 - 1.4 German operational losses, Jagdwaffe claims were about 2 times RAF losses to all causes. Throw in the German bomber claims and you have Luftwaffe claims about 3 times RAF losses.

    I don't think you understand. As soon as Italy entered the war in 1940, all traffic went around the cape anyway. The only exception were convoys headed for Malta, and occasional warship transits.

    The Med was effectively closed from 1940 until late 1943 or 1944.

    No, I'm pointing out what actually happened. British merchant tonnage went up, because more ships were acquired for the British merchant fleet.

    What I gave were the historic figures, what actually happened in the war.

    Certainly you can make a case the Germans could, for example, put more resources in to U boats, and sink more ships. But the question then becomes what areas the Germans sacrifice to achieve this, and what the British counter is. None of that seems to have been done on this thread.

    Well, this is where I think we are stretching reality too far.

    Let's just magic away the German supply problems in North Africa, and assume the Germans take the Med. How does that give them Ethiopia?

    Massawa is about 1200 miles from Alexandria. If the Germans have Egypt, they then have to push a thousand miles down the coast, even assuming Suez is left intact. As the British were bringing their troops around the cape, this reduces British supply lines by a thousand miles, and adds a thousand on to the German lines.

    I just can't see the Germans maintaining any capability that far south. The lesson of WW2 is that German logistics weren't very good. In the real world, the British sent their supplies all the way around Africa, the Germans sent theirs across the Med, and the British still won the supply battle.

    The Luftwaffe did many smaller raids like this, along with much larger ones, so that's a reduction in Luftwaffe effort. The night fighters would make no real difference, German bomber losses were not high until right at the end of the campaign, when RAF radar equipped night fighters began to make a difference. German night fighters had no radar at the time, so weren't going to be very effective escorts at night.

    Which is what they did.

    The RAF were sending fighter reinforcements to North Africa in August and September 1940. Nothing the Luftwaffe could do after that was going to prevent the RAF buildup.

    In terms of fighter production, Britain produced about 470 - 490 fighters a month during the height of the BoB, and still had enough to send some to North Africa. In the late winter and early spring of 1941, they were producing 530 - 600 a month. In terms of pilots, Fighter Command exceeded authorised pilot strength in late October, early November 1940. The numbers of pilots being trained was actually accelerating, for example the Commonwealth air training programme turned out less than 1,000 pilots in 1940, but about 9,000 in 1941.

    Even if the Germans had committed their entire air force, as they did in the BoB, the RAF had an excess of pilots and aircraft going in to 1941.

    I don't think so. U boats were not exactly cheap, the Germans built about 1,100 of them during the war.

    If you look at the historical performance you see just how long a campaign this would have been for Germany.

    The British merchant fleet amounted to 20,854,000 tons at the end of 1940. At the end of 1941 it was 20,693,000 tons.

    That's a reduction of just 161,000 tons, 0.77%, in a year of operations.

    It's going to take the Germans a long time to win at that rate. And if the Germans are being more careful about the ships they sink, then losses would actually go down.

    I suspect that both countries being allies against Japan would mean closer links in 1942 than 1941, and the US passed Lend Lease in 1941. The US was also producing far more equipment than could reasonably be deployed in the Pacific.

    Yes but if the US was not at war with Germany then no happy time in 1942.
     
  18. Weisenwolf

    Weisenwolf Member

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    When did this great German defensive training programme start then?

    because to my knowledge the momment the Heer needed to defend they did it just fine and dandy without any new defensive training as many an 8th Army vetran will testify.
     
  19. Weisenwolf

    Weisenwolf Member

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    Even if the RAF had been badly mauled it is debatable whether an invasion would be succesful.

    You only have to look at 'D' day. This was achieved with total control over the channel and the air, not just air superiority but air 'supremacy'. Massive access to Naval firepower, specialy designed landing vessel's and engineering vehicles, modern mechanised formations with huge kit reserves and the ability to land and supply more that half a million men in the first few weeks without access to proper port facilities.

    The German army at this time was not equipped to conduct such an operation: Furthermore aside from the Invasion itself the UK would have been a hard slog (like Italy in some respects) before it capitulated and it would not have been possible to supply the German Army in the meantime with the Royal Navy sinking all your 'Invasion barges'.

    They stood about as much chance as Napoleon more than a century earlier.

    The only option available was the one taken and when the air war was not won that was the end of Sealion.
     
  20. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Not to mention that at the time of the invassion, the majority of the German troops were fighting the Russians....... The Brits did not have this problem and Churchill would not be sleeping either :D
     
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