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The engineers of the Atlantic wall went with a different design

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by T. A. Gardner, Jun 29, 2008.

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  1. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    What if the Germans had decided early on to copy the French Maginot Line design for the Atlantic wall instead of using reinforced field fortifications? This is actually a real possibility even if the Germans had to scale down some of the fortifications and "luxuries" that the original had.

    Here the Germans would build heavy fortifications that were capable of withstanding virtually any bombardment. The main artillery defenses would no be sited to defend the beaches but not to the front of the fortifications but rather to each side. Artillery would primarly fire along the beach from fortifications that were built with nothing facing the sea.
    The forward defenses would primarily be small positions that had very heavy cover and would be used for machineguns and observation.

    Turrets or other similar systems that allowed guns to be protected from the heaviest fire would be the norm too. Maybe the Germans could have simply stripped the Maginot Line itself of much of the necessary weaponry and materials to accomplish this.

    By putting the field forces in a position behind a very heavily fortified, and largely untakable line close to the beach the Germans could have bought more time for the mobile forces to coallese behind the fortifications. With the Allies facing a series of very hard or impossible to take forts and a field defense in depth to support it they may have found themselves trapped on a narrow shingle of land and unable to move inland anywhere as easily as they historically did.
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    Interesting idea, but if that were to have occurred, the allies would have included more BB's and CA's to take care of them.
     
  3. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    Nice idea, but Andre Maginot's plan practically bankrupted the French Economy throughout the 1930's. Hitler had enough problems just in obtaining all of the reinforcing steel and concrete that was used in building the Atlantic Wall.

    IIRC, many of the German heavy artillery batteries continued to fire for several days after D-Day, so maybe the German plan wasn't so bad afterall..

    For the record, from what I've read, the Atlantic Wall was but a shield, like any defensive fortifications are, built to take the first blow from an enemy. What was needed was for the "offensive sword" of the panzer and infantry divisions to be in closer proximity to the invasion beaches, not scattered throughout metropolitan France, or up in the 15th Army Sector.
     
  4. von Rundstedt

    von Rundstedt Dishonorably Discharged

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    German defeat in WW2 by 1945
     
  5. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    Another interesting What if mate:)

    Ignoring this totally for the sake of this being a what if, and lets say the Germans were able to build enough of this new Atlantic wall to cover the entire atlantic then occupied europe really would become Fortress Europe. With being unable to land forces on the ground Germany could push more troops east against Russia, and even put more production into aircraft to hope to hold the Allied air amarda's, or at least remove their complete supremacy. As well as Germany being able to better hold and even halt the allies advancing up Italy at possibly the Austrian Heights, and the mediterrain being to wide to stage a proper landing force into southern France\North Italy due to any luftwaffe units stationed there or uboats that could certainly cause choas into such a force. Perhaps an invasion into Denmark or Norway, putting pressure onto Germany to reinforce their norther flank, effectively surrounding her on all fronts. Or maybe moving troops towards Russia into a combined Anglo-Russo-American, Army pushing through east france.

    In the end I think it would delay but not halt the ending of ww2 with the allies being the victors.

    Oh thanks Von Runsteadt for that insightful and well throughtout answer, you clearly took some time on it.
     
  6. wwcharles

    wwcharles Member

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    they still would have had a problem with the airbourne and possibly the whole operation would have been airbourne
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    When did the Germans really start the job other than Pas-De-calais? When Rommel took the job was it late 1943? At least the Germans should have started alot earlier but you know Hitler, he thought this was only a defeatistĀ“s attitude to prepare defences...

    Hitler was the best help the Allied could get....
     
  8. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Excellent points. My copy of Kemps book on the Maginot Line describe how it took some seven years to install the main fortresses. Even if the Germans copy the French plans and build it on a emergency rather than peacetime basis it is hard to see how they can do more than cut the time requred in half to three or four years. That means if they start when the US enters the war in Decmber 1941 the fortresses will be ready in the winter of 1944 at the earliest. Six months after the historical landing at Normandy. Note that the several French fortification programs of the 1930s only built about 100 kilometers of the Maginot or CORF superforts. The remainder of the frontier, the Rhine River, and other sectoers were covered by small bunkers and other improvments that were weaker than many of the German works on the Atlantic wall.

    IIRC, many of the German heavy artillery batteries continued to fire for several days after D-Day, so maybe the German plan wasn't so bad afterall..[/QUOTE]

    Many of those batterys were French cannon taken from the Maginot forts. The tank obstacles on the beaches were often made from steel taken from the French tank barriers on the Geman frontier. So in that sense the Gemans were rebuilding the 'Maginot Fortresses' on the coast.
     
  9. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Anyone know of the German artillery batteries whether they directed their fire to the beaches or the cruisers, destroyers etc trying to catch their attention? I recall reading that the Germans were mostly shooting at the ships and actually they were doing a very lousy job in stopping the invasion.
     
  10. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    Didnt the one German counter attack (on D-Day) against the Brits fail completely due to naval gun fire support?
     
  11. Joe

    Joe Ace

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    Well that is what happened at Anzio (or was it Salerno?).
     
  12. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Like the Maginot Line, the Allies would have penetrated or bypassed the fortifications all together. Static defenses are only good for slowing down the enemy. To hold them back altogether, not a chance. The allies had enough resources to overcome a Maginot type defense. I also agree that such an endeavor would have bankrupt the Germans in money, time and most valuable of all.....resources (man and material).
     
  13. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    There was some fire at the ships, by long ange artillery. Most of the seagoing vessels stayed out of range while the landing craft and destroyers went into harms way. There was at least one destroyer sunk off Utah beach. Cant recall now the name or how its was sunk.

    Most of the German artillery followed the pre set fire plans and hit the landing craft near the beach and pounded the beach. Fortunatly for the Allies many of the German artillery forward observers were killed in the first two hours and the artillery was steadily blinded. Some target information was passed along via the other defense communications circuts, but those telephones and radios failed as well as the Allied naval fires saturated the defense and infantry advanced. The German Col responsible for the defense of Omaha beach reported at about 8:30 that many of his defense positions were no longer in communication.
     
  14. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    I should have said "Maginot-like" fortifications. That is, they build their concrete fortifications to withstand all but the heaviest bombardment; say 8" shells and 500 or 1000 lb bombs. This would mean only heavy bombers using the heaviest bombs and battleships or monitors could possibly knock out such fortifications.
    Next, these would be sited so their exposed faces were parallel to the beach or facing away from the sea. This would have two desirable effects. First, the fortifications would not be easily identifiable from the sea and if partially buried with earth difficult to spot from the air. The second is that fire directed against them could not hit the exposed face or guns in the installation. This would make knocking them out extremely difficult.
    If such positions were then sited to fire down long stretches of beach the beaches themselves could be raked by artillery fire. Placing mortars in fortified positions where they were under armor or concrete would also have been deadly. These could be zeroed in on areas like the beach shingle or seawalls where the Allies typically got pinned initially. Near vertical mortar fire would eliminate much of the safety of such locations.
    Beaute Soviet 82 and 120mm mortars could have been used for this purpose along with what German mortars were available. There were also a good number of 5 cm automatic fortress mortars available to the Germans from their own production. These could throw dozens of bombs a minute to about 500 meters.

    Machinegun positions should have been likewise sited to fire primarily along the beach rather than directly out to sea. A sweeping cross fire by several positions on a beach would have had more effect than firing directly at a thin line of men advancing on the gun. Using water cooled machineguns would have also been a big advantage. These could pour many times the rounds an air cooled gun could onto targets without break.

    Adding turrets and burying many of the heavier fortifications would have been a big plus too. Here it might have been possible to use some of the Maginot turrets or others from places like Metz to supplement the line.
    Putting communications lines in deep trenches protected from most fire would have helped too. Having the artillery already zeroed in for many fires could have been done to help prevent loss of communications or observers.

    As it was, the Germans did a really lousy job of coordinating their artillery fires and using their machineguns to best advantage.
     
  15. McMark

    McMark Member

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    DD USS Cory Sunk 6 June, hit mine or by enemy fire
    DD USS Meredith hit mine 7 June, sunk 9 June
    DD USS Glennon hit mine 8 June, destroyed 10 June by shore batteries
    DE USS Rich hit mine and sank 8 June
    USS Osprey (Minesweeper) hit mine enroute 5 June
    USS Tide (Minesweeper) Mine, 7 June
    Sub chaser PC 1261 Sunk 6 June
    Twenty LCT sunk, vast majority 6 June
    Eight LCI(L) ditto
    LST 314 and LST 376, sunk 9 June
    LCT 209 Sunk 10 June
    LCT 244 Sunk 8 June
    Two Tugs sunk early June
    Coast Guard 83415 and 83471 both sunk 21 June

    Even after June 6, the Normandy Coast was a dangerous place. I assume that the majority of losses were mines, but the Glennon shows that shore artillery was active for some time.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If the allies think that the Atlantic coast is too strong they can always land in the Med. That's what Churchill wanted anyway.

    From some of the postings below it looks like their comms were one of the weakest links. Tougher gun emplacements don't necessarily help that.
     
  17. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    The allies would have known about the gun emplacements and how they were built and the lines of fire.

    The invasion plan would have been changed to reflect that, either by bringing in the cruisers and battleships up close, or avoiding the emplacements in the first place.
     
  18. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    The Germans may have went around the Maginot Line in 40' but they did have to and successfully attacked the Dutch Fort Eben Emal with fallshirmjager. The Allies could do the same with a much larger airborne forces at their disposal.
     
  19. FramerT

    FramerT Ace

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    I doubt it. The Belgians didn't have radar or had even seen a glider before. The gliders were
    on top of the forts before the Belgians could do anything.
    Parachuting would have had troops spread out to kingdom come. And then have to lug 100 pound hollow charges to their objectives.
    The "low tech" German panzers were already on the move while this was happening. While in this what-if, the allies would still have to get their armor ashore hoping their DD Shermans would actually do something except sink.

    Had they had someone like Model to set up a defence network earlier than when Rommel arrived, maybe. Still, they didn't know what part of France the invasion would come and thus put their best emplacements. And plus, I don't think German high command figured on such a vast invasion force as they originally did.
     
  20. wwcharles

    wwcharles Member

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    yeah but the germans expected the attack to come from the sea a massive allied paradrop would have created confusion and enemy units would have undoubtley been cut off and things would have fallen apart ;)
     
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