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If Germany took Iceland

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by Ted, Oct 21, 2006.

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  1. Seadog

    Seadog Member

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    Germany could have taken Iceland and they could have supported a base there. Adding more or diverting the "Milk Cows" would have been adequate to bring in the fuel needed. It would not be important to guard all of the coast line, just key points. Rarely would there be a need for a large armada of bombers or fighters. A few sorties to locate and hit convoys. Sub pens could be built so to make them more effective against the convoys.
     
  2. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    Stalingrad had severe weather as the main factor in lack of success. April 1940 weather over Iceland not the same. plus the needs of a huge engaged army are not the same as a small garrison plus U-boat & airbase personnel. Apples & oranges.

    Correct about air use Seadog, only if attacked would they need to put up any sort of large armada, ( which could be bolstered from Norway in an emergency ), Keep a fair amount on hand, but only use sparingly as needed for recon, patrol over the odd supply ship etc.

    & then there's Bootsy!
    http://www.morethings.com/music/george_clinton-parliament/pictures/bootsy_flying-leap.jpg
     
  3. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Ok, on airlifts in the Norwegian campaign:

    The Germans used 571 Ju 52/3M g3e transports in 10 gruppen and 4 seperate stafflen along with over 100 (the aforementioned KüFlGr aircraft) to transport into Norway over a period of 10 days the following:

    986 metric tons of fuel
    2376 tons of supplies
    29,280 personnel in the following units:
    1 Fallschirmjäger battalion
    2 Fallschirmjäger companies
    1 airlanding infantry battalion
    3 battalions of infantry
    3 infantry companies
    6 airfield maintnenace companies
    Staff and administrative units including a regimental headquarters.

    After 10 days of operations most of the aircraft were placed back into reserve. For the Ju 52 portion of the operation, all of the Luftwaffe's Fliegerschule commands were stripped of all instructors, aircrew, and even many advanced students to provide crews to fly these aircraft.
    This was done again during the French campaign. This is a major reason why the Luftwaffe had a pilot and crew shortage during the Battle of Britain which followed; the school cycle was badly disrupted by previous operations.
    There is also the loss of over 100 transport aircraft (both due to enemy action and operational reasons, like accidents) to consider.
    Unlike the Norway operation which lasted just a few weeks, aircraft flying to and from Iceland will run into bad weather on a relatively frequent basis.
    So, with Norway far closer to Germany, the Germans using almost 700 aircaft were able to make a short term air assault on that country losing about 1 in 7 aircraft involved. If we go to the various air lifts in Russia the results only get worse. And, of course, there is the little problem that the Ju 52 cannot make a round trip to Iceland without refueling meaning flying in fuel for these aircraft is self-defeating as they carry as much fuel as they use for the trip.

    The Germans cannot particularly count on the Icelandic fishing industry either. Given that most of the trawlers and related vessels are likely at sea at any given time (fishing vessels not at sea are not making money so to speak) the Germans will capture only a small fraction of them in port.
    Diverting U-boats for supply runs takes away from their effort to interdict British shipping.
    If the British then simply (assuming they do not bother with simply retaking the island) move their convoy routes about 200 to 300 miles further south the German aircraft (the exception of the tiny handful of marginally available Condors..see earlier posts on this) will be out of range.

    On harbors and construction: We've been over this ground. The Germans are limited to non-mechanized means of construction simply because it is virtually their only means of construction everywhere they fought. Building "sub pens" such as existed in France is literally impossible. Also, what if the British simply run in a block ship or two of their own as they did at St. Nazerine (Brest) in order to prevent use of the harbor to the Germans?
    The German naval salvage capacity is non-existant. Nowhere during the war were the Germans capable of performing naval salvage on any large scale. Most of their efforts were minimal fixes to make a port at least marginally useful. For example, both Toubruk and Benghazi both remained of minimal value to the Germans (and Italians) simply because neither could clear the harbor of wrecks or blockships.
    The same is true of French ports were wrecks were rarely cleared and much of the French shipping and warships scuttled (particularly after the fall of Vichy France) went unrecovered for the same reason.
    Since the major harbor (Reykjavik), as Chrome himself noted, is easily blocked the British could have done this at very little cost to themselves making the whole naval side of taking Iceland essentially worthless to the Germans.

    So, the Germans take the island, accomplish nothing and then lose it when they are unable to sustain their forces there.
     
  4. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    "aircraft flying to and from Iceland will run into bad weather on a relatively frequent basis."


    Nope, aircraft operating from north Norway & Kola penninsula did not have major problems there. Don't fly on bad weather days, no problem.


    "On harbors and construction: We've been over this ground. The Germans are limited to non-mechanized means of construction simply because it is virtually their only means of construction everywhere they fought."

    Largely irrelevant as 2 developed harbors already exist. & since they exist, the equipment for that type of construction "rather obviously" was in the hands of the Icelanders, which germans would requisition for themselves. Plenty of concrete on hand to boot. Argument dismissed.

    The harbor entrance is very small in Reykjavik, the odds of the British getting a blockship that close without being blown to smithereens is nil.
     
  5. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    "Ju 52 cannot make a round trip to Iceland without refueling meaning flying in fuel for these aircraft is self-defeating as they carry as much fuel as they use for the trip."


    Not self defeating as they would drop valuable cargo, then refuel on east coast to go back & get more stuff, therefore not self defeating. Or refuel at east coast & continue on to Reykjavik, simple.

    Germans were familiar with ship to ship refueling,( Raider Atlantis ), and flying boat to U-boat refueling, and cargo ship to U-boat refueling.


    "Diverting U-boats for supply runs takes away from their effort to interdict British shipping."

    Nope, U-tankers were to be used as outlined at beginning of thread. They had 700 ton capacity ones in WW1.


    "So, the Germans take the island, accomplish nothing and then lose it when they are unable to sustain their forces there."

    Nope, Germans take island,sink transports in atlantic with U-boats & Condors & are able to be self sufficient as outlined earlier in thread making it's taking a worthwhile endeavor.
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The number of U-boats operating from Iceland , I suppose, would have to close to 10 ( minimum ), because all the time during ops you could count of these 2 going to the missions, two returning back, three or four making attacks, and about two being repaired. So that is quite a huge amount of boats. Smaller numbers would be useless. Also making a pen for them with 23 ft concrete roof would be quite a task there as well as the troops to support the U-boat crews and ship, and also the AA groups to support the action there. Plus the necessary infantry.
     
  7. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    Yah 10 or so. British submarines on Malta just hit the bottom of the harbor when Luftwaffe showed up, of course there would be much less air attack over Iceland compared to Malta or France.

    http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/wwii/Guard-US/ch18.htm

    "On 10 April, while picking up survivors from a Dutch vessel torpedoed off the coast of Iceland, the American destroyer Niblach, which earlier in the month had been given the job of reconnoitering the waters about the island, went into action against a U-boat whose approach was taken as an intention to attack. This was the first of a number of "incidents" that were to take place in the waters south of Iceland,"

    So we can see Germans were already having success near Iceland. Having a base there would obviously broaden that success. To think anything else is nonsense.
     
  8. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    So, something that has not been shown or resolved here is exactly what, in Chrome's scenario, the Germans would land in the way of forces, equipment, and what-not. Chrome has alluded to the construction of several permanent airfields, harbor improvements including a U-boat pen (ala the bombproof ones in France built somewhat later). Unspecified ground forces have been implied but never listed in detail.
    What aircraft were to be based, and whether permanently or intermittently, on the aforementioned airfields other than some vague commentary on Fw 200, Bv 138, and possibly some Ju 88, He 111, Ju 52, and Me 110.
    Naval units to include regular shipping convoys, U-boat supply runs, and the operation of about 10 U-boats directly from Iceland have also been mentioned. Exactly what is the proposed level of permanent / regular naval operations from Iceland by the Germans in this scenario?
    So, provide a TO&E for the scenario. I gave a partial one and have listed numerous Luftwaffe units in detail at various points. Without a full understanding of what is proposed for the Germans to ship to Iceland we cannot fully understand what is required to support them.
     
  9. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    Taking Iceland also denies the British arguably their 'best' maritime patrol base. So not only does it increase the U-boats & Condor striking power, it denies the British their eyes in the sky. & the north fiords of Iceland were used by British cruisers to ride out a storm when Raider Atlantis made it's foray into the atlantic.

    http://www.virtualwings.org/bf110/u8hl.htm

    I/ZG 26 received their first ME-110's in December of 1939,


    http://www.nuav.net/norwair1940.html

    The Battle between Norway’s two obsolete airforces, and the 1200 aircraft-strong “Luftwaffe”, was like WW I pilots and aircraft meeting WW II´s reality.
    After the withdrawal of the Allied forces, some of the seaplanes were flown to the Shetlands.


    HE 115 Combat radius: 1,305 mi (2,100 km)


    & bulk of Icelandic fishing fleet would be coastal vessels making it quite difficult to escape. Norway & Greenland closest shores, Greenland offering no fuel, food etc. Different story to Shetland bus. Norways whaling fleet was captured intact & if Germans captured radio at harbor, likely most fishing vessels would roll back into harbor. Some might escape though.

    http://www.lampis.homepage.t-online.de/shetlands/

    [ 06. November 2006, 03:14 PM: Message edited by: chromeboomerang ]
     
  10. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK/UK-NWE-Norway/UK-NWE-Norway-3.html

    Admiral Layton's force returning from its sally towards Bergen. Two cruisers were slightly damaged by near misses and the destroyer Gurkha was sunk. The Germans then turned their attention to the main body of the fleet and a diving aircraft dropped an 1100lb bomb on the deck of the flagship (HMS Rodney): structural damage was slight and casualties were remarkably low, but the implications of the event seemed very serious. In later attacks several more bombs fell near ships, including the Rodney, and three cruisers sustained minor damage, though there were no more direct hits. The Home Fleet's anti-aircraft barrage brought down one enemy aircraft;

    But the prime result of the German air attacks had been that the Commander-in-Chief proposed to the Admiralty an important change of plan. His 'general ideas' now, he stated, were two attack the enemy in the north with surface forces and military assistance, but to leave the southern area mostly to submarines, on account of the German air superiority in the south.

    Interesting what the British learned at Norway about German airpower. They would have similiar respect for German airpower over Iceland.
     
  11. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    All minor and insignificant to the subject, yet no proposed TO&E.

    Just some notes and additional information to make life for everyone difficult:

    The first Type XIV Milchkuh, U-459, was completed 11/15/42. After working up in the Baltic for about 90 days the U-459 deployed on her first patrol in March 1942; or almost 2 years after the proposed date of the landings on Iceland in this scenario. The total construction of Type XIV's amounted to just 10 boats over almost 2 years. At no time were more than about half in service. With regular rotation times only one or two were at sea at any given point.
    This means any diversion of this type of U-boat to making supply runs to Iceland is going to have serious impact on anti-shipping operations in the Atlantic. That is, after the Type XIV becomes available.

    Then there is Reykhavik harbor. The description on page 470 of the text listed by Chrome above at the US Army's Center for Military History site is instructive:
    The depth of the harbor at low tide is just 16 feet at the piers. The maximum depth that a vessel can dock at high tide is 21 feet. The draft of a loaded Type XIV is just over 22 feet (6.51 meters). This means that using a Type XIV for fuel and supply runs would require the use of off shore anchoring and lighters to ferry in the supplies. It might be possible to dock a Type XIV with a lighter load but then the problem becomes it must unload before the tide shifts and it grounds. As the bottom of this boat is anything but flat, the result is almost certain capsizing and loss.
    There are no pier facilites at Reykjavik. No cranes, no fuel pumping or off-loading, and no shore services for ships.
    The harbor is subject to bad weather including the occasional hurricane.
    Some side effects include, lack of depth for a U-boat to submerge in the harbor or near by outside it.
    For supply ships not capable of docking, the alternative is to use lighters and unload from anchor outside the port. The problem here is that none are available locally (the US towed their own to Iceland when they landed). Local shipping proved only marginally capable of even moving troops ashore from anchorages.
    The U-boat pens on the Atlantic coast required between 80,000 and 130,000 cubic meters of concrete per month to build, representing about half of all the concrete poured in building the entire Atlantic wall during 1942. This does not include the steel (in short supply), wood, or other materials necessary to build. Each pin also had its own oberabteilung from Organization Todt to oversee the construction with well over 1000 workers involved in actual labor. Additional naval and army fortress engineering units also were involved to ensure complaince with drawings etc. As it was, these facilities took about a year to complete.

    The existing airfields were extremely marginal. They were overcrowded with as few as 30 aircraft operating from them. The runways deteriorated very quickly under constant use. Note how on pg 504 it is recounted how a B-24 broke through the pavement of the runway simply by sitting on it overnight.

    The British and US imported over 3000 Nissan / Quonset huts to house their troops, provide warehouse space, offices, maintenance areas, and other building space. There was little or nothing in the way of locally available materials for construction. As Iceland is almost treeless there isn't even a useful source of lumber. So, constructon materials will need to be almost totally imported.

    On trawlers: The Icelandic ones were more-or-less common designs in use throughout Europe. They weighed between 125 and 200 tons with 500 to 1000 ihp recriprocating steam engines running either on coal or bunker fuel. Most of the fleet is used for what is generally termed "distant water" fishing (ie not near shore). Cod, the most important of the various fishes for this fleet are not found near shore. As a good portion of the catch is exported to Britain, it is very unlikely that most of the fleet will be anywhere near Iceland at the time of the proposed invasion.

    The range of a He 115 certainly is 1150 miles (1750 maximum). Its flight radius is a bit less than half that or about 500 to 550 miles.

    The Do 24 was not used in German service except in as an air-sea resuce aircraft, as previously noted. It served exclusively with Seenotstafflen.

    While the Bv 138 prototype did fly before April 1940, no production model did. Even then, the Jumo 205 diesel engines remained a problem for this aircraft. Among other problems the engines lost alot of performance when flown above 16,500 feet.
    On weather: From September through March Iceland experiances frequent gales, snow, rain, and generally poor weather.
     
  12. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    The existing airfields were extremely marginal.

    Not so bad that Lufthansa couldn't land there in 38. They no doubt would've been improved & made larger, no big thing. Did we forget Iceland has it's own cement?


    "The range of a He 115 certainly is 1150 miles (1750 maximum). Its flight radius is a bit less than half that or about 500 to 550 miles."

    Plenty enough to cover the distance between Trondheim & Reykjavik, 978 miles.


    & on weather, Rekjavik is usually warmer than NYC at x-mas time & 65 to 70 degrees in summer.

    http://www.southtravels.com/europe/iceland/weather.html

    but thunderstorms are extremely rare.

    Iceland's southern and western coasts experience relatively mild winter temperatures thanks to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. July and August are the warmest months and, in general, the chances of fine weather improve as you move north and east. While they're more prone to clear weather than the coastal areas, the interior deserts can experience other problems such as blizzards, and high winds that whip up dust and sand into swirling, gritty maelstroms.


    & the British landed there May 1940, so rather obviously, it wasn't a problem.


    iceland Weather
    Cooler weather lasts from October through April. Snow may fall in Reykjavik as early as September and as late as June, but the normal season is between October or November and March or April. Even in midwinter, rain is as likely as snow. A large accumulation of snow is rare. Average annual rainfall is 31 inches in Reykjavik. During winter and spring, winds in the capital can reach hurricane force.


    Did we get that? Thunderstorms are rare, & large accumulation of snow is rare. Key word there would be "rare"
     
  13. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Let's see:

    The average yearly temperatures on Iceland run from 4.1 C to 10.5 C. Average annual percipitation is 1.3 meters (51"). From roughly September through March there are frequent fogs on the eastern and northern parts of the island. From December to January ice can, in some cases, make the northern portion of the island inaccessable blocking ports etc.
    Rain and snow showers are common during this period. Overcast weather is also frequent.
    Strong winds are common year round.

    Basically, for the period under consideration this means that flying is often difficult or impossible given poor visibility and strong winds.
    At sea ocean waves often get massive and can reach heights over 20 feet in winter.
    The cold and the existance of permafrost in some portions of the island complicate construction greatly.
    Thunderstorms are largely irrelevant while rain, low clouds, fog, and generally poor visibility are. Snow on the ground is not as much a problem as it simply reducing visiblity again. High winds are a problem both for buildings and equipment, particularly when they are as strong as they frequently are in Iceland.
    Heavy seas and strong tides make inshore operations more difficult.

    On concrete: There is no cement or lime manufacturing plant on Iceland at the time in question. The raw materials for manufacture of these products (clay, silica, and limestone) are also not readily available. The majority of Iceland is basaltic volcanic rock and the soils tend to be organic peats not clays.
    Since there is no manufacture of cement or lime on the island cement must be imported. There will, of course, be some minor amount available in the local economy but certainly not anywhere near enough for major construction such as a runway or harbor. Imports are inevidable.
     
  14. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    & the American & British somehow magically made it through all this mysterious weather that the official sites mention there is little of. There's fog over the channel too, so what.
    http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/forwood/iceland1.shtml This guy rode a Harley all over the Island in December.


    Yearly average means nothing, warmer in the south where the action is.

    "A large accumulation of snow is rare." Again, rare is the word.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Iceland

    The only natural resource conversion in Iceland is the manufacture of cement. Concrete is widely used as building material,

    http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/country/1994/9419094.pdf#search='Iceland%20sea%20shell%20cement'


    As I mentioned earlier in the thread, seashells were used as additive. Also rhyolite & other minerals used as substitute for Limestone. & 28 million cubic meters of pumice formed in 1104 from volcanic activity, density being 320 kilo grams per per cubic meter, suitable for light concrete and building blocks.

    [ 07. November 2006, 09:13 PM: Message edited by: chromeboomerang ]
     
  15. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    http://www.macalester.edu/geography/courses/geog261/mahern/Hou_frames.html

    Reinforced concrete has proved the most practical and durable material for the Icelandic climate, and since 1915 concrete has been the required building material in certain parts of the city.


    The first master plan for Reykjavik, issued in 1927, called for the whole coastline of Reykjavik to be planned for industry and warehousing. This created the need for new, well-constructed roads along the coast leading to the harbor area.
     
  16. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    No, the Allies suffered from the weather too.

    That's all fine and dandy in 1994 or 2006 when the sources you list discuss this subject, but in 1939 per the 1951 Encyclopedia Britannica, vol 12, Hydrozoa to Jeremy, Epistle of, pg 45 Iceland had no cement industry which is when it is relevant to the discussion. So, unless there is some Einstein-Bose time warp, the current cement production of Iceland is totally irrelevant.

    Do note that the weather figures are also from the same source pg 44.
     
  17. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    Really? where is the source for that? It is
    enormously expensive to transport cement, why on earth would they do that when they have plenty of their own?? makes not a lick of sense.

    "Even more important was the change in industrial
    policy in Iceland that was launched in 1934 when customs duties were imposed explicitly to aid domestic industry. Thus tariffs on imports of products which were already produced, or even could possibly be produced domestically were set high enough to act as an effective discouragement to imports. In other branches of manufacturing, such as confectionery and furniture, imports were explicitly banned. This system resulted in fairly rapid growth of manufacturing,"
     
  18. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    Electricity was first introduced in Iceland in 1904 when the small town of Hafnarfjörður, near Reykjavík was harnessed with the building of an initial plant of 9 kw.

    By the 20's, an additional 20 odd plants were built all over the island. Dams built using concrete. They were obviously well versed in using it. & U-boats don't need pens to operate, British ones didn't at Malta. They'd no doubt build one at Reykjavik, but could operate without it til it was finished.

    & they would no doubt have some concrete on hand for other future construction projects, which the Germans would requisition.

    http://www.classictravelusa.com/Christine-iceland.htm

    I had the opportunity to travel to Iceland in February. The temperature hardly ever goes below freezing, so the weather is fairly mild.
     
  19. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    Here's the real numbers on Icelands fishing fleet. Steam trawlers can reach international waters. They also has 22 freeze plants by 1940.


    The first steam trawler arrived in 1904. Small motor boats, powered by diesel engines, were introduced at about the same time. By 1930 the fishing fleet contained some 40 steam trawlers and about 1 000 motor boats (Arnason 1995, 33).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trawler

    U-bootjäger (UJ-boats) -- steam trawlers equipped for anti-submarine operations.

    During World War I and World War II, many trawlers were used as minesweepers, the activities being similar, and both the crew and the equipment aboard already suited to the task.
     
  20. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    Interesting stuff from a Brit who was there. Even mentioned a German para drop, perhaps a weather team or something.

    The Icelandic people were very much anti-British. I believe they felt we had invaded their country. They would not sit next to you in the local Cinema, and as you walked in Reykjavik you could expect empty bottles to be aimed at you from the top of buildings. So we had little contact with the local population.

    After one year, I was granted 14 days home leave, and spent 4 days in travelling by sea and rail to Halifax, West Yorkshire, only to be greeted, on arrival, by a telegram ordering me to return immediately to Iceland! I found out that an invasion by German Paratroops was imminent. As it turned out, some paratroops were dropped, but were quickly rounded up and marched into BALDUR 2 under armed guards.
     
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