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D-Day November 1942

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by T. A. Gardner, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. chean

    chean Member

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    And the Pz IV's? The Pz IV was still one of the most common German tanks on both the Eastern and Western fronts as late as 1944. The F2 variant could take out a T-34 fairly easily in 1942. Only a handful were shipped to Africa, but I think an invasion in France would recieve a much higher priority. Moreover the tank formations in France -even those that were refitting - would include many battle hardened veteran's with lots of combat experience, probably gained on the Eastern front. How many of the tankers going ashore on the Allied side could claim that? So, excellent tanks in the hands of seasoned veterans - not a good combination to face for green troops.
     
  2. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    On the minus side, outside the mechanized divisions most of the troops in France were as green or greener than the Allied ones they would be facing and far more poorly trained and equipped. As for the mechanized units, one thing that is a big strike against them is that in the East they learned the wrong lessons to apply against the Western Allies just as they found out in 1944. To wit:

    Attacking piecemeal.
    Attacking without proper combined arms support
    Attacking without reconnissance and intelligence on the opposing forces.
    Attacking without an operational strategic goal. Instead, basic tactical ones and a vauge operational goal were substituted.
    Leading "with your face." German panzer units often simply rushed ahead with small columns and minimal support fully expecting the shock and speed of action to disrupt the enemy. Works on the Soviets gets you slaughtered in the West.

    The Germans were good tactically, acceptable operationally and, mediocre strategically.

    You might also note that the Wehrmacht was at a low at the end of 1942. The debacle at Stalingrad is about to occur, their forces in North Africa are cornered and on the ropes. With a landing in France they cannot reinforce either to the extent they historically did. By spring 1943 they now face the inability to go on the offensive in the East, likely early defeat due to lack of reinforcements in N. Africa and are holding in France.

    What do the Germans do? Do they build up for a Kursk? Do they save their forces in N. Africa by reinforcing? Do they build up for an assault in the West? Do they do what they likely would have from historical evidence and reinforce defeat at all three instead?
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I was responding to a quote specifically about Pz-III's being adequate to take out US armor. The Pz-IV's with the short guns were inferior to the M-4 and arguably inferior to the M-3 medium. Now with respect to this thread the real problem is getting any of them on the continent.
     
  4. Anderan

    Anderan Member

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    if the allies did land in 1942, I doubt the Germans would have pulled much off the eastern front. Doing so would have abandoned the troops trapped at Stalingrad to their fate, which being as serious a blow as it was in real history, it would have been even more so if the allies had already landed in France. I honestly wouldn't be supprised if the Germans made even more aggressive attempts to relive the 6th army out of desperation and fear of losing all those troops.
     
  5. chean

    chean Member

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    Sorry didn't mean to sound aggressive :). I've just always felt the poor old PzIV always got a raw deal - it was the workhorse of the German army for most of the war and served them well, but always gets ignored for the more showy Panthers and Tigers. I'm probably a bit sensitive about it :eek:.

    In truth I still think Torch was the better idea. Africa was originally a sideshow for the Germans, a few divisions sent to help their Italian Allies. Torch forced them to commit large numbers of troops and desperately needed equipment to that sideshow, most of which they lost. It gave the allied troops much needed experience and confidence in their abilities. Control of all the North African coastline meant they could threaten not only the French coast and Norway from Britain, But also Southern France, Italy, Greece and the rest of the Balkans, all of which the Germans had to defend. Above all else It gave the Allies another, relatively straightforward victory at a time when victories had been few and far between.
     
  6. Black6

    Black6 Member

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    Interesting, but not realistic.
    The Normandy invasion in 1944 had a huge deception operation that may have been the decisive role, without this I don't see how this invasion is a surprise. The Germans even knew the Dieppe raid was coming based on the intel flights/services. So even if the US troops come from across the Atlantic, their resupply would need to first be stockpiled in the UK as well as the necessary shipping and I would venture to guess that would give the game away.
    That being said, I see the Germans holding a decisive advantage in the air here considering that NO Spitfire can operate over the invasion area due to range constraints. That in addition to the 200 fighters that JG's 26 and 2 could bring into the area from forward bases and the presence of KG's 2, 45 and 77 with enough bombers to create serious trouble for any invasion fleet.
    The main problem with this invasion is that the Allies would rely on the ocean (contested) at extended range and in bad weather with inadequate shipping tonnage for resupply while the Germans have an unmolested and efficient rail system which is inherently faster and uneffected by weather. The Allies might have local superiority initially but will undoubtedly lose the race to buildup forces in Brittany, basically a reverse of Normandy in 1944 and ending more like Dunkirk/Tunis.
    Whatever resources the Germans used to counter Torch in 1942, you can basically pencil those in for this operation (just one of those http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/501st_heavy_tank_battalion_(Germany) . Also, the large amounts of transport aircraft the Germans used to affect that reinforcement to Afrika can now be used at Stalingrad since there is no need of an "air bridge" to Brittany.
    Some idea about what forces were available and wouldn't need air transport:
    "As early as 9 November the there were reports of 40 German aircraft arriving at Tunis and by 10 November aerial reconnaissance reported 100 aircraft.[19] Two days later an airlift began that would bring in over 15,000 men and 581 tons of supplies. By the end of the month they had shipped in three German divisions, including the 10th Panzer Division, and two Italian infantry divisions. On 12 November, Walther Nehring was assigned command of the newly formed XC Corps, and flew in on 17 November".

    An Allied invasion of Brittany in 1942 would ultimately fail with massive losses of men and material, lose Vichy France to occupation, dissipate momentum in North Africa (which would now fail to bag significant Axis forces or destroy significant equipment totals) and look very bad to the Soviets who would be stung again very shortly at Khakhov to the tune of 52 destroyed divisions(and Operation Mar's failure as well). Allied airpower and seapower were insufficient to successfully execute, protect and sustain a strategic invasion of Europe in late 1942.
     
  7. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Even at this time in 1942 the Germans were being led by the nose with Allied deception operations. I'd recomend 'The Deceivers' by Holt for a detailed overview of British/US deception operations.

    The Torch operation was coverd by several deception ops. One was based on the canceled Sledgehammer plans. & in October 1942, a couple weeks before the Torch operation the Germans were moving reinforcements up to the French coast. The deceptions overall were sucessfull. The British sent two huge groups of convoys from the UK at the end of October for Torch with the Germans failing to see them as anything more than routine supply convoys. Similarly a massive convoy carrying Pattons I Corps left the US for Morroco without attracting more than a routine glance from German intellegence.

    At the same time the western Allies were befudding the Germans about Torch the Soviet military & security services had sucessfully masked their preperations for Op Uranus. It is probable a Allied Sledgehammer operation would be a stratigic and operational suprise for the Germans.


    Outlined in the earlier posts of this thread is the British strength available for this. The bottom line is US units would not be needed for the initial attack of several weeks. For Torch the US was able to rapidly deliver and build up supply in the French African ports, so that could be accomplished the same in this plan. Thats aside from the US corps and material already located in the UK before October 1942.

    It looks like you are over estimating the Germans ability to respond. Aside from deception operations threatening other attacks the German resources in terms of fuel, ammunition and other supplies were streached tight. Much of what might be committed to attacking this Allied enclave was soon sent east to counter the Soviet winter offensive. If the Germans leave it in the west this invasion has gained much for the Soviet army creating conditions for a even greater disaster in the east.

    As has been discussed at length in this thread the German ground forces in France & Belgium were not much ready for sustained combat. Only a few were at strength or near the end of their training cycle. And, as has been discussed here there is the need to deal with the Vichy army in southern France. In OTL they were ordered to surrender by Petains collaborationist government. Is that likely to happen with a Allied army fighting the Germans?

    As for German airpower, over Tunisia the Allies started from a much worse position in terms or range to the battlefield, airbases, and supply at hand, yet after several months the German airforce was shot out of the sky losing another attrition battle it could not afford.

    There are some valid reasons why this idea is risky & may not work, but too many of the objections raised are based on a exaggerated idea of the German strength in the west.
     
  8. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

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    Another issue that IMHO might affect the operation in the Allies favor is the Germans didn't really start to mobilise their armaments production till about mid-1943 right? So it seems to me it'd be much harder for them to replace any losses at this time. I'm also thinking that MK. IV tank production wasn't even at 100 per month yet.
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    They mobalized their industry pretty much as much as they could significantly earlier than that. It was more a matter of how it was mobilized, how things were allocated, organized, and planned that changed in 43.
     
  10. chean

    chean Member

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    Lets not forget what is probably the biggest flaw in the plan. It calls for landing on an occupied coast and then spending several months either holding a beach-head or attempting to drive inland - all of this during winter! Now while I grant we are not talking about your Russian winter here, nevertheless that is going to cause some major headaches.
    Winter storms in the Atlantic are renown for their ferocity, as are the storms in the Bay of Biscay, and such storms are bound to make shipping supplies far more of a headache to a European beach-head than North Africa. Convoy's will be delayed and maybe even scattered by severe gales and you may be sure there will be a number of those. The Germans on the other hand have some of the best rail systems in the world - through Germany, Italy and France. Bad weather will be no problem to them, and remember you do not have many months of bombing as you did in 44.
    Air cover? From England? In the middle of winter? Unpredictable at best. While the Germans can operate from Airfields further south of the beach-head and have much better flying conditions.
    As for the troops - months of living in tents (if they are lucky!)during gales, driving rain, frost and snow. Fields will be turned into mud, roads will be treacherous. Morale will be non-exsistent. Remember most of these troops will have been in the army for a matter have months and have no experience of living outdoors through out winter weather.
    I could go on but you get my point. Winter campaigns in WWII were always chancy things, generally done either because you had a big advantage (the Russian winter campaign of 42) or no other choice (the Ardennes in 44). So why would the Western Allies launch their most important campaign of the war at the start of winter?
    And if it fails? The culling of Generals and politicians would be almost as bloody as the battle itself.
     
  11. Black6

    Black6 Member

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    Exaggerated ideas??? The current model of the Spitfire at that time could not reach the invasion area, range insufficient. Exaggeration? There were 200 German fighter in France that were available at that time, most of which were FW190's that held a distinct advantage during this period. Is rail vs stomy contested ocean an exaggeration? German intel figured out the Dieppe raid was coming yet you don't think they would figure out one many times its size? The Germans dominated the skies over Dieppe, what makes you think an invasion point further away from Britain is better?
    What about the fundamental lack of landing craft and shipping? (confirmed in "Second Front Now-1943" Dunn).
    The Vichy French would most likely stay neutral and had just as much of a chance of siding with the Germans in 1942 as the Allies because they were actually more concerned with internal revolution and collapse (confirmed in "Vichy France, Old Guard and NewOrder 1940-44").

    And the battle of the Atlantic at the time? More exageration of German capability?
    "
    The Germans were winning the battle for production. While new U-boats were being delivered at the rate of thirty each month by June 1942, the Allies lost 173 ships that month alone. Only twenty-one submarines were sunk in the first six months of 1942. The Germans were succeeding in slowly strangling Britain.
    The German naval intelligence, B-Dienst, broke the Allied convoy codes, which was part of their success. Fortunately for the Allies, B-Dienst did not discover the Torch convoys bound for North Africa in October-November 1942. Only twenty-three of the more than one thousand transits to North Africa were intercepted and sunk by U-boats.
    Even if North Africa could be supplied, the war was lost if Britain were to lose her sea-lanes to the wolf packs. Fortunately for the Allies, Hitler kept siphoning off U-boats from the Atlantic fleet to protect Norway and increase pressure in North Africa. The Norwegian U-boats threatened the North Atlantic supply run to Murmansk and Archangel. In June-July 1942, convoy PQ-17 struggled through U-boats and bombers, losing 69% of the merchantmen when the convoy broke under the threat of the [COLOR=blue !important][COLOR=blue !important]battleship[/COLOR][/COLOR] Tirpitz sailing to attack the convoy. The Germans lost five aircraft and sank 183,000 tons.
    But the threat from the U-boats in the North Atlantic was the most serious. By March 1943, 400 U-boats were available for attacking convoys between the United States and the United Kingdom; 222 were oceangoing submarines and 114 were on patrol at any given time. The so-called “air gap” —the area where land-based bombers could not patrol—was the U-boats’ favorite killing ground. One hundred and twenty ships were sunk by the end of March, and two-thirds were in convoys. The Royal Navy began to consider the convoy system a failure. Not only would supplies for an invasion not arrive, but Britain might not be able to feed her people or build her own war supplies."
     
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  12. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Both items were true in the Tunisian campaign, yet as I pointed out the Allied airforces won that battle. Must be the other items discussed earlier in this thread?

    Nope, but in the original post of this thread this is dicussed, & discussed at length through the thread. Did miss those parts?

    As you say:
    Those several convoys or fleets passed in range of German air reconissance, in range of Germans radio intellegence stations, across the submarine routes out of the French Atlantic ports. Yet German intel analysts dismissed their importance and incorrstly estimate their size & composition.

    How and why did they “dominate”? I’ve picked over the overall all airbattles over France in 1942, the Circus operations ect... and found the ratio of British lossed to German for the year to be much more favorable that folks claim.

    Paxton ‘Vichy France’ or jackson ‘The Dark Years’ amoung others leaves me with a different impression. Some leaders in the Metorpolitan Army had plans for executing a coup de main to secure the port near Bourdeux for US use. In November 1942 part of the army commanders intiated actions to deploy into defensable areas and interfere with German actions. In OTL the Germans did not count of Vichy nuetrality, invading its territory. Would they do the same with a Allied army busy attacking French ports or decide to depend on Vichy nuetrality?

    Yes

    Thats nice, you gave numbers for the first half of 1942. Numbers for the latter two quarters show a decline in Allied losses & a rise in submarines lost. From Ellis ‘Brute Force’ The overall numbers for 1942 show -5% net between ship tonnage built and lost. In terms of tonnage of ships started - keels laid in 1942 the Germans had already lost. Over 6,000,000 tons diplacement were under cnstruction for launching in 1943. That changes the ratio to nearly +70% in the Allies favor

    Or not. In the first half of 1942 over 9% of the cargo destined for the UK was sunk. German submarine operations in US waters & the Carabeean in the first half of 1942 were tragic. By the last quarter of 1942 the loss of cargo had dropped to half the percentage of earlier. In the first quarter of 1943 the percentage of cargo destined to the UK lost to all German weapons was falling below 5%. Both Ellis and Costello & Huges in ‘The Battle for the Atlantic’ show the numbers favored the Allies before the end of 1942. There are claims the Changes in cargo ship allocation to accomodate Torch and the subsequent Tunisian campagin disrupted the flow of cargo to the UK more than the Battle of the Atlantic. it is a interesting question worth more investigation.

    And yet the US/Brit merchant fleets increase globally by over three million tons in 1943 and submarine losses of the Germans in that period rises steadily. One has to wonder how it might have been for the German submarine fleet were the Brittiany ports under attack?

    I wondered if you would approach the main problem with Allied amphibious capability for the time covered by Gardners proposal. Tho quoting Dunn my not do you well. His numbers are critized as well as his conclusions. A look at the details Allied amphibious lift for Torch & the training establishments in the US and the UK might provide a starting point.

    This suggests strongly you have not read the thread, or Gardners original posts closely. I recommend reading it all before commenting further. There is also a very similar thread wich I’d recomend as well, here:

    Axis History Forum • View topic - D-Day November 1942

    The issues are addressed in much more depth there.
     
  13. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    A sucessfull late 1942 enclave on the French coast places several different sets of pressures on the Germans in 1943. Losses in combat units will differ, the flow of resources from the occupied nations, particularly France, will change. Hitlers decisions affecting all this may differ... The Allies are going to be faced with different circumstances and choices as well. ie: once this enclave is established will they slow the construction of ampihbious equipment, or aim for other large amphibious attacks as the year passes?
     
  14. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    I'd have thought you would have read & remembered the earlier discussion better.

    Did this happen often? What % of cargo was significantly delayed by stoems in 1942-43? Was this a suprise to the Allied planners or did they anticipate it?

    Do you have weather reports to back that up? That flying conditions were significantly better at St Naziare vs Plymoth?

    Sounds like the winter campaign in Tunisia. The uplands of the Eastern & Western Dorsal were not tropical. Freezing temperatures, three months of rain & snow. Yet somehow the Axis lost.

    The culling of Generals is not a inherently bad thing. More than a few were culled in the Tunisian campaign.
     
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  15. chean

    chean Member

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    The culling of Generals is always a bad thing, since it always carries a heavy price with it. I believe the cost in Tunisia was something like 6,500 Killed, wounded or captured from the US II corps, almost 25% of their strength, lost when the Germans broke through at Kasserine. Thats not counting the British casualties (I think about 4,000) from those who were sent to their aid. Thats a lot of young lives ruined just to find out your being led by an idiot!
     
  16. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    You do realize that Fredenhal (sp?) wasn't "culled" per se don't you? Outright firing of a commanding general is a morale killer, no matter how inept he might be. Instead he was "promoted" out of the area, and replaced by Patton.

    The US used that policy a number of times, in my personal opinion not nearly as often as needed. We (America) "promoted" Colonel Fellers out of the Cario office when it was suspected his detailed reports on British strength and positions were being intercepted and de-coded by the Nazis, and they were. As soon as Fellers was out of the picture Rommel's fortunes turned from "foxy advances" to "skillful retreats".

    I have a strange feeling that it might have been advantageous to "promote" Mark Clark out of the MTO as well, but he just never "screwed up" quite enough to merit the move.
     
  17. Black6

    Black6 Member

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    North Africa held many advantages that the Brtittany coast in late November certainly does not. Your selective use of Allied advantages that pertain more to North Africa to support your position is clearly apples to oranges here. I read T.A.'s original post and he took a huge degree of latitude with Allied seaborne logistics that are fanciful to say the least. There is nothing to speculate about when it deals with the well developed French rail net, little or no French resistance activity and no Allied air interdiction. I read this thread and the AHF thread and still do not see anything to convince me that was viable enough to risk at that point of the war. An invasion of France is not in the same category of importance or threat level to Germany as North Africa, so comparing the Allied effort may have some relevance the German response would be considerably different. I stand by my original comments regarding the race between seaborne logistics vs rail. I also see many references to Brittany being at the limit of British fighter protection when it was actually out of range (check the numbers). The idea of landing and supporting construction equipment for building aviation facilities, airfields, tentage/billets, ordanance, fuel, basic parts and then continued support for hundreds of fighters in Brittany in very foul winter seas from a diminishing number of landing craft in a few weeks is beyond silly and lacks even a basic understanding of logistic functions (this happening simultaneously with landing and supporting huge numbers of Infantry divisions, a few Armored and a wealth of artillery and support units). So far your vigorously pushed argument lacks depth.
     
  18. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

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    IMHO it is feasible IF the Allies allocate their resources far differently much earlier especially in regards to preserving their logistics assets in face of the U-Boats. MHO is that the Allies would be better off using the same assets involved in the discussed operation to advance the NA operation,i.e. Torch,by just going for Tunis-Bizerte instead of Oran,Algiers and Casablanca sealing off the Akrika Korps without having to slug it out in the Tunisian Campaign. They then use the hopeful savings in time to go after Sicily in early '43 versus mid-43 historical and then maybe,maybe hope for a cross channel operation sometime in 1943.
    This way you give the US forces some battle expierence while also freeing up shipping resources by re-opening the MED to convoys which you maybe able to do without seizing Sicily since the Allies now control the NA coast .
     
  19. Black6

    Black6 Member

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    I think the more threat that the Allies create in late 1942/early 1943 the greater the effect on the dynamic of how the Germans strategically conduct the war in the east. If the Allies are firmly entrenched in Brittany or way ahead of where they were historically in North Africa/Med. in late 1942/early 1943 then I don't think the Germans launch Zitadelle but let initiative pass to the Soviets there and wait for another opportunity to hurt them with a counter-attack (Manstein's original strategic plan for 43). Meanwhile many more forces will be made available to deal with the Allied threat (if it is indeed real, such as an invasion of france).
    Bottom line is that the Torch operation didn't pose much threat to Germany directly and the Axis response was according to that, however a full scale cross channel invasion would receive a much different level of attention.
     
  20. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

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    Yes I understand what your saying..I think a late '42 Brittany operation would make the Germans re-think their allocation of forces but if the Soviets are in deep trouble it may make sense to risk it but that's anther topic.
    My alternative strategy might,repeat might enable a cross channel invasion say in mid-1943 again I would do it only if it appeared the Soviets were in dire straights. However I think I would have foregone the whole Italian Campaign,other then maybe seizing Sicily, since it seems to me it held down far more Allied then German forces. In mid-43 remember we conducted Sicily/Salerno at the same time as we were conducting the New Georgia operation in the Pacific so we may have been able to succeed if we held off in the Pacific.
    Another thing is that the two fronts are much farther apart at this time making it much harder for the Germans to pull armies out of the line in the East in order to strike a blow in the West,as per the historical Ardennes counter-offensive.
     

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