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Rommel pursues a different strategy in North Africa

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by T. A. Gardner, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    The Hetzer was designed in 1943, and did not enter service in Germany till 1944, so it would not be available till after the Italian surrender. In any event Italy produced their own version of a Stug III type vehicle called Semovente 75/18. One Italy's better designs
    it was built in small numbers overall, and used differently than the Stug generally.
     
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  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Are you sure about that? If so how long do you think it would take to retool and get production up and running? When I've seen this sort of thing looked at in detail it often takes much longer than one would think. The US for instance didn't produce the Firefly because it was determined that it would be quicker to produce a Sherman with a 90mm gun in a new turret than it would be to start producing 17lb'ers in the US. There are all sorts of "minor" issues that can cause significant problems and delays especially if they aren't recognized right away. Look for instance at how measurements are defined. Different countries use slightly different definitions of how to measure the length of a barrel for artillery or just what constitutes "penetration" in the shell vs armor realm.
     
  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    or as the US did when they tried to copy the bofors gun based on metric system technical drawings they screwed up some of the parts. Many of the copies of vehicles and equipment made in the Britain or US or Canada ended up using different production techniques and modifications. I am told the Packard merlin is different engine to the British built version.
     
  4. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    TiredOldSoldier's comment refered to a Czech design light tank did not need wieding armor and was Ansaldo capable to built Semovente 75/18 without wielding armor ? How farther this idea can be extended is beyond this post.

    If Semovente 75/18 adopted German design ideas and was better in the battlefield against British tanks, why did Ansaldo, Fiat and other Italian tank makers not produce a state-controlled joint-controlled company -- like the Russian United Aircraft Corporation today -- that produce ONLY what battlefield basic ordnance needs, including Semovente 75/18 and Macchi C.202 Folgore ? In the bigger picture, as long Italy could hold the North African frontline economically and effectively against British tanks and delay American advances from the West, Germany could buy time. Italian could then deploy their infantry more effectively; even a Malta campaign could be launched. Rommel's strategy -- I think -- relies on effective weapon to beat the British at critical combat engagements on battlefield. So when Italian effective performance improved, the chance of Rommel's startegical success shall raise.

    Meanwhile given all have been commented and if time can be retracked further, could Italian ordnance companies produce innovative designs that would be tested in mountainous landscape in Spain during Spanish Civil War and in Ethiopia ? One thing concerns me is Italian leadership: Erich von Manstein suggested the idea for Stug; Finnish leadership contributed to the gallant combat against the Red Army. Mikhail Kirponos -- a Red Army high-level (Front level) commander's leadershp -- might have contributed to stiffer Soviet resistance againt German Army Group South. Maybe due to Italian field army overall weak performance, Semovente 75/18 had not been recognized as an equal to stug3. That is totally fine because it is history. However, if Rommel push the British away from Egypt and hold west of the Suez Cannal, Semovente 75/18 would in some way contribute more; and thus it would be upgraded like stug3 from an assault gun to a tank destroyer -- an economical but effective vehicle to deal with British tanks. More time would be bought; what Italian companies adapted to battlefield demand versus profit is also beyond this post.

    One minor idea is whether Italian military companies -- a large group smaller than German ones -- could produce weapons for minor Axis co-belligerent. Say Finland have always been in need of weapons: would Semovente 75/18 appear in the Continuation War ? Then with Finnish experience of Sevomente 75/18 against T-34, 4- men crew, sloped armor and wide track could also be adopted. Or to Romanian, could a slope armor-Christie suspension-wide track-4 men crew Sevomente 75.18 be built ? The answer is going to lead back to how Italian companies adapted.. which is beyond this post.

    If using different product techniques and modification still produce an effective weapon on battlefield, Italian infantry shall still be content.
     
  5. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, production of armored vehicles and artillery in Vichy were expressly forbidden by the Germans. The Armisitice provisions disarmed all French forces and turned their weapons and equipment over to the Germans. The Vichy Army as recreated was extremely limited in its armement and consisted of just eight infantry divisions with 24 battalions of artillery and no armored vehicles, while all armaments depots were subject to German control and inspection. Some minor armor development continued in secret, but was limited by the need for secrecy and the dire economic situation in Vichy.

    Add to that the ecomonic provisions of the armistice ensured the Germans were able to requisition at will raw materials and manufacturing equipment from France, stripping much of the capacity of French industry. What remained was haphazardly turned to component manufacture. This was especially true WRT aircraft manufacture, which was allowed to resume in June 1941, with five-sixths being turned over to the Germans. By 1942, Messerschmitt completely turned over production of the Bf-108 to French manufacture, while Focke-Wulf used SNCASO to produce their civilian aircraft, then later FW-190 components and finally complete FW-189 aircraft. Production of the FW-190 in French plants was planned, but Allied bombing led to the decision to relocate the factory underground, delaying things until the Allied invasion rendered it moot. See Daniel Uziel's Arming the Luftwaffe: The German Aviation Industry in World War II, pp. 40-46.
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The US also had problems with their version of the 20mm aircraft cannon due to similar issues I believe. One reason they stayed with the 50 cal for the most part.
     
  7. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    No they did not "screwed up some of the parts". The difficulties in converting the Swedish version of the Bofors were considerable, especially since Sweden refused to license production. The USN got around it by using Dutch production drawings, then converting them to US measurements. However, it didn't stop there. The Swedish design was hand crafted from over 1500 parts which were assembled by "file to fit" methods. So it was redesigned for mass production. The USA version was built from plans acquired from the British, which had been converted from the metric, but which were also too complex for mass production. Chrysler decided not to simplify the design, but instead redesigned the parts for mass production. Those obstacles meant from contract issue to first production took about a year, but the guns were all perfectly functional...and there were TWO different versions of them. So the next step after that was standardizing the two designs - Army and Navy - which was also done by Chrysler.

    Similarly, the Packard Merlin is not the original Merlin engine, which was so complex that Ford refused to even attempt to produce it when they were first approached. Packard accepted, but redesigned the engine to the more exacting manufacturing tolerances they were used to and to utilize American manufactured subcomponents such as carburetors, magnetos, and spark plugs.
     
  8. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The "problems" were the same as for the Bofors and Merlin, the Oerlikon wasn't suited to US mass production techniques. Initially in 1934 the Oerlikon was rejected by the USN as having too low an Mv and ROF. As NAVWEAPS notes "It should be mentioned here how unsuitable the original Oerlikon design of the Mark 1 was for mass production. Each weapon needed to be tailor made with a great deal of hand fitting during each stage of assembly. Likewise, the manufacture of individual parts was a long and labor-intensive process. BuOrd and private USA manufacturers completely redesigned almost every part of this weapon in order to speed up production. To give just one example, the barrel spring casing as designed by Oerlikon started as a 56 lbs. (25 kg) solid alloy steel forging. This casting required a great deal of machining in order to produce the finished part which weighed only 6 lbs. (2.7 kg). BuOrd experts redesigned this piece to consist of a hollow forged base to which a tubular steel extension was welded, thus reducing the starting weight to only 14 lbs. (6.5 kg) with a correspondingly large savings in man-hours, machine tools and costs in making the finished piece. As a result of such redesigns, production time in the USA dropped from 428.4 man-hours per gun in 1941 to only 76.2 man-hours in September 1944."
     
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  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Thanks for that. I do think it helps make the point that moving production from one country to another is not always as simple as it would seem.
     
  10. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. The attamempt to reproduce the MG-42 didn't work as well. That was a case where the designers "screwed up some of the parts". OTOH, given the length of time required to get the actual production running it likely wouldn't have mattered anyway.
     
  11. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    So in essence, Rommel's fortune was sealed with prospects to defeat no matter what strategy the Italian or German could have employed in North Africa. Even if Matla would be Italian, its central local could delay the British and American advance but both African West Coast and Egypt were still beyond Axis reach -- fortune was still in the Allied's hands. In other words, could the invasion of Malta have been one of the most possible campaign to be lauched and successful ?
     
  12. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Malta would have been a really tough nut to crack. Early on it was poorly defended but by the time the Axis powers considered going after it that was no longer the case. The topography would also have been difficult for a either air or beach landings. The fact that the Axis didn't have control of the seas around Malta would have also been a bit of sticking point. A lot of discussion on this has taken place over on the axis history forum.
     
  13. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    In essence yes, Germany could not defeat all three great powers, fighting them at the same time. This is especially true about attempting to operate at the end of a long maritime line of supply. Great Britain and America was always going to win a naval war over the Axis.

    Then again it is good to keep in mind Rommel's original marching orders, to stabilize the situation in North Africa and prevent a Italian collapse. All he had to do was keep the British off balance long enough for events elsewhere that (hopefully) would provide the strategic victory. Granted this was very unlikely to come to pass, but that was his original mandate.

    Rommel, and later Hitler, became a victim of both their initial success and their personal hubris. A better option, in my mind, would be to be aware of logistical limitation's (both in consumables and material/manpower) and concentrated on parrying British attempts to take Libya and fight close to his supplyheads, and in the 'open' desert where Germany's maneuver tactic's gave them the advantage.

    Eventually the Anglo-American's would put enough troop's, under a competent commander and with troops having enough battle savvy to overwhelm Axis forces, but it likely would take longer and be less costly to the Axis, thus fulfilling his mandate
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If Romel does this does Torch still land where it did? Or does it occur somewhere else? Or not at all?
     
  15. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Since Torch was conceived well before the German retreat from El Alemein, I can see little credible evidence for a different action for the first deployment of US troops. There were other credible reasons for a landing in NW Africa such as a expansion of Free French forces, a greater constriction of U-Boat operations and forcing Germany to engage on multiple fronts.
     
  16. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    NO : the German intervention in NA had as aim to delay as long as possible the loss of Libya,there was no chance for Hercules to succeed,besides to launch Hercules would have been a big mistake .
     
  17. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Rommel had a very different view compared to Hitler and his staff, Rommel wanted to go as far as possible. And as fast as possible. Holding Italy in war might be Hitler´s first idea,but Rommel´s success at times made him think differently, I think. And wasn´t Il Duce already with a white Horse waiting to get to Alexandria behind the lines when Rommel was going fast forwards after the capture of Tobruk?
     
  18. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    C3 would probably succeed, there was simply too much the Axis could throw at the defenders in mid 1942 if they were determined, and it could have wide ranging consequences as it's possible the Germans or Italians would discover evidence of ULTRA amongst captured documents. The Italians were well aware the British Malta based subs had too good information for it to be coincidence, but believed they had a traitor, so were going to look in depth.
     
  19. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The Italian navy could NOT at the same time support the Axis forces in North Africa and support Hercules .
     
  20. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    IF the Italian Navy had done at least something instead of hiding....
     

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