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The French had blocked the thrust through the Ardennes in 1940

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by dasreich, Jan 6, 2005.

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  1. Ali Morshead

    Ali Morshead Member

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    T.A says that.
    "In the end, the whole Norway scenario is really a secondary theater with little actual strategic value to either the British or Germans outside the issue of Swedish iron ore"
    It would be interesting to see Bomber Command setting up in Norway, this would broaden the front to be covered.
    The RN based in Norway would increase the range and scope of their cover.
    The effect of interdicting the Straits would be a further hassle, Naval units could still use the Kiel Canal but with less ease.
    The British would stop Iron Ore shipments for 3-4 months, and what if they offered the Swedes more money than the Germans for the Ore?

    I see the Swedes moving into the Allied camp faster than joining the Axis.

    Back to the Original question, given the German tactical superiority, could they have masked the French units in the Ardenne, moved their Mobile forces into a late hook through Belgium and repeat their WW1 thrusts.
     
  2. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Yes, the British did have greater ship building capacity than the Germans but they didn't have twice as much or more. The problem here is that their build times are roughly about double that of the US and Germany. German light cruisers took about 14 to 18 months to complete. British equivalents were running 24 to 36 months. I already mentioned ASW corvettes. The same holds true right up the line.
    The question then becomes one of simply how much resources each nation commits to naval construction. Here, the British are likely the winners.

    The Guerre de Course with submarines alone, regardless of type (and note that the Type XXI requires many parallel developments besides simply hull and propulsion design like new sonar technology with the GHG array) the problem still is that submarines are highly vulnerable to air attack, can control only a small fraction of ocean at any time and, if operating primarily submerged, are largely on their own with regards to communications and intelligence.
    On the other hand, a carrier battle group can control thousands of square miles of ocean, can attack all targets including those on land and, as a result, effectively exert sea control rather than simply wage a commerce war.
    Note that TF 38 /58 (the fast carriers) in the Pacific War sank nearly one million tons of shipping and attacked numerous Japanese air fields on various island bases virtually sweeping anything bigger than a row boat and all Japanese air activity from the mid Pacific Ocean in just under the first 90 days of 1944. They accomplished what 2 years of submarine warfare failed to do....eliminate the Japanese Navy from the central Pacific along with Japan's merchant fleet.
    Now, submarines in conjunction with such a naval force can be a great force multiplier. Each supports the efforts of the other. Hence, change suggested.
    Even if the Germans managed to have a slight inferiority in carrier numbers they would at least be competitive rather than handing the initiative in naval warfare to the British.
    Another suggestion would be for the Germans to adopt the Japanese Long Lance technology in torpedos. It was at least a decade ahead of anyone else in 1940. Here is a torpedo that can literally substitute for medium caliber and even heavy caliber naval guns. It gave Japanese destroyers and cruisers the ability to take down the biggest Allied ships afloat. One would sink or severly cripple any destroyer afloat. 2 or 3 would take down any cruiser or cripple a battleship. With a 40,000 yard range they could be launched from distances few naval guns could fire to.
    I would have also suggested the Germans simply purchase rights to Japanese technology in millimeter radar technology and cavity magnetrons seeing as how they were ahead of British developments in this field by several years. (Yes, the Japanese were. Their Tachibana Mandarin type M2 and M3 10cm microwave water cooled cavity magnetron tubes were available in limited production in early 1939 and first began development in 1932 with the first successful experiments being conducted in 1937 by Captain (IJN) Dr. Yoji Ito.)
    This would have given them the capacity to produce accurate fire control radars that would make full use of Japanese torpedo technology. Coupled with carriers they would have been seriously dangerous in battle.
    Aside from the obvious benefits of such developments, they are far less obvious to an observer than many others would be. A single, expected, technological innovation like the Type XXI would have quickly been countered. It is far more difficult to counter a multi-spectrum set of developments as well.
     
  3. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    As far as the bomber offensive goes, Norway does nothing for it. A major route of entry for Bomber Command raids originally was via the North Sea and then turning into Germany over Denmark. Defending these bases once established would have also diluted RAF Fighter Command stengths in England, a detriment.
    As far as the Swedes and neutrality, I don't know enough of their politics to say one way or the other on what they might do.
     
  4. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    The strategic value of Norway is an interesting question. I wouldn't say it had little strategic value. Hitting the convoys headed to Russia is pretty strategic. Also providing extra naval bases for forays into atlantic has value. I would also be curious as to how many cargo ships Germany retrieved from Norway. Many did escape to England I have read. There were other raw materials Germany got from Norway. Fish oil was used in explosives & vitamin cubes for u-boat crews. Remember Germany was starved in WW1, (Starved of food & raw materials).so food would perhaps also be a valuable commodity from Norway,particularly fish. Timber & heavy water were other commodities worth consideration to some degree,well heavy water did not amount to much as germans were off the track on A bomb research.

    & last but not least, the northern half of Norway gave German ships a safer haven against British aircraft than home ports could offer.

    Anyway, again I say it is an interesting topic, more an open question than an assertion. worth further study particularly regarding amounts & types of raw materials taken from there & relevant value to Germanys war economy.
     
  5. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Looking at Norway using my hindsight telescope, I don't see much advantage.

    Russian convoys? Tonnage through the Murm/Arch. route was 1/3 of the amount sent by the Persian and Vladivostok routes. The Canadian and US Lend-lease supplies could be redirected and a lot of good blood could have been spared. A large amount of traffic (targets) would disappear from the North Atlantic, making the German air & naval bases in Norway somewhat redundant.

    I also think the question of the Swedish iron ore tends to be exaggerated, as there were other sources of iron ore; there was also a huge pile of scrap iron that could be - and was - recycled all over occupied Europe. Besides, the Allies could always do a better offer, precluding sales to Germany. At least that's what they did to Portugal concerning the tungsten ore - we were made an offer we could not refuse and took it gladly!

    A much more serious problem was when Turkey cut off the only supply of chromium available. Now for this there was no ersatz.

    I'm not seeing Norway being much of a breadbasket for the Germans, foodstuffs were coming from other places better able to generate agricultural surpluses. As for the Norway fishing industry, again I do not know whether they were that important as well, but if deemed so, nothing a couple Beaufighter sweeps couldn't cure, if I may sound callous.

    Overall, I can't consider the German occupation of Norway as an asset. "Better have them on our side then theirs, but..."
     
  6. Tony Williams

    Tony Williams Member

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    You're not kidding. Control of the North Atlantic was a 'nice to have' for the Germans, an 'absolutely-must-have-at-all-costs' for the British. They would have thrown everything at a German carrier group, regardless of any other considerations - it would have taken absolutely top priority. And the disadvantage of CBGs is that you can't hide them (unlike submarines). And you can practically only afford very few of them (unlike submarines). And once lost they take a very long time to replace (unlike submarines).

    IMO a German CGB would have been as useful as the Bismarck, on a grander scale (i.e. even more waste of resources).

    TW
     
  7. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    Mini carriers, ( jeeps ) would have been a much better expenditure of steel for the Germans. But hindsight is 20/20 & Hitler never had as much naval interest as land interest.
    They had some seaplane tenders, but they didn't accomplsh much of anything. Too slow I suppose.

    With the invasion of Norway Hitler sent all the heavy guns up to Norway instead of completing pocket battleships. I bad move.

    The 6 P's, previous planning prevents piss poor performance did not exactly take place with Germany's pre war naval construction plans.
     
  8. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    I took a bit of time with the carrier scenario in the last few days as it intrigued me as to what might have been possible.
    This scenario does more than is simply apparent in numbers. It changes the entire dynamic of naval warfare between Britain and Germany. In a surface naval war where guns (and torpedoes) are the primary weapons even a small numerical superiority equates to a large advantage when one considers how gunfire slowly reduces each side's firepower. In fact, quantity is far more important than quality in such a scenario. Thus, building a few really good ships is not any advantage to having alot of average ones.
    Carriers change this dynamic entirely. Each carrier's airwing delivers its firepower in what is essentially one single salvo. Given historical evidence from early WW II carrier actions one carrier air group (or its equivalent in land based aircraft) could be expected to sink or cripple one enemy carrier in an air attack lasting just a few minutes.
    So, in early carrier warfare Lanchester's Linear Law (dx/dt = -ky, dx/dt = -qx or variants thereof) can be applied directly to the results with great precision (unlike land warfare). The primary determinant of unequal outcomes becomes scouting and sensor performance. Otherwise, in equal outcomes the side with more carrier equivalents wins.
    So, if the Germans were, in addition to building carriers, in the interwar period to improve and maintain their early lead in radar technology over the British (and yes, pre-war the Würtzburg, Freya and Seetakt were superior radars to British technologies) along with development of commensurate C3I systems utilizing them, their original ommission, they could have the potential to make unequal outcomes in carrier actions more often than the British.
    Convencing the Germans to follow such a strategy would have been relatively easy too. Räder argued U-boats could only achieve strategic success if used in conjunction with a battle fleet in the early 30's. Vice Admiral Günther Guse, likewise, saw the U-boat as a limited weapon. Dönitz shared much of their views as well.
    Commander Hellmuth Heye of the KM Operations Department concluded from gaming (on Räder's direction) that submarines could not achieve victory arguing: "Warfare against commercial shipping according to prize rules is impossible." He also concluded that "improved anti-submarine measures" would inevidably cause a U-boat campaign in isolation to fail. He argued for "surface" raiders and more Panzerschiffe.
    So, our futurist needed only point out convencingly the dual advantage of carriers in a commerce war and in rendering the vast advantage in surface combatants that the Royal Navy possessed largely irrelevant. It would have been something even Hitler could have understood.
    For the Royal Navy this is a much more difficult change to manage. First, there is the previous heavy investment in a surface combatant navy. Being asked to neglect or scrap many of these vessels in favor of new construction or, having to bear the burden of cost for massive new construction in addition to these ships would have slowed any changes considerably.
    Nest, the existing Washington Naval Treaty limits Britain to 135,000 tons of carrier construction including existing vessels. With about 80,000 tons of existing carriers (Furious, Glorious, Courageous, Eagle and, Hermes) this leaves room for about 2 new large carriers within the treaty period.
    Then there is the problem of interservice rivalry. The RAF would have serious problems with the massive increase in FAA pilots, crews and, aircraft. While, the Germans, no doubt, would have had some similar problems they would have been less virilent than the fight the RAF would have put up as Göring and the Luftwaffe were not so nearly entrenched as the RAF was in 1935.
    This alone might, at once, limit carrier growth and aircraft quality. If the RN's penchant for requiring navigators on all aircraft, even when there was an otherwise unacceptable penality in weight, size and performance as with fighters, they likely would have had far inferior aircraft to deal with as well.
    So, would the British, even with prodding from their futurist readily recognize the threat posed by a German carrier based fleet with good C3I? This question becomes more difficult when RN Admirals coudl argue parity in hulls from the apparent building program (see below) the Germans might have opted for.
    The bottom line is that building a carrier centered fleet gives the Germans the potential to win in a war at sea with Britain where none of their other alternatives do so. If such a war is inevidable, then this option is only strengthened.

    A German carrier fleet building plan:

    1935 lay down 2 carriers: Graf Zeppelin, Peter Strasser. Completion would run about 30 months
    1936 lay down 2 additional carriers.
    1937 lay down 2 additional carriers.
    All of these would be operational in September 1939.
    Continue laying down 2 per year thereafter.
    Additionally, select 6 or 8 large merchant hulls of 20,000 to 30,000 tons for quick conversion shortly before the war begins. Materials for conversion along with preparitory work would be done in advance and stored. Conversion would require about 6 to 8 months.
    In addition, 12 to 18 light cruisers and about 40 - 50 destroyers would be required. These should be armed primarily for AA and ASW work. About 30 U-boats, primarily intended as scouts and radar pickets would need to be built.
    The available Panzerschiffe would be retained. If there was available ways for building one or two more proceed with construction of these for incorporation into battlegroups with the merchant conversions.

    On the flip side, the British were taking about 36 to 48 months to build a carrier. The Washington Naval Treaty would allow only about 2 to be laid down initially. Say, two similar to Ark Royal. The follow on class would have to wait until 1938 and the end of the treaty period to commence construction as occured origianlly.

    This would give the British 7 hulls to 6 German ones but a practical equivalent of 4 1/2 carriers to 6 in terms of airwing size as the older British carriers had small air wings. The British would also have to spread their existing carriers among more regions than the Germans. Therefore it is possible that the British might be looking at a 2 - 1 disadvantage in carrier strength against Germany.
    Of course, the French might build one or two carriers to alleviate some of this too. But, given France's original build times etc, wether or not these would be ready and how useful is problematic.
     
  9. Tony Williams

    Tony Williams Member

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    You are ignoring the British response to such German moves. Treaty or no treaty, they would not stand by and watch them build up such a formidable force without making an appropriate response. After all, there is only one thing that Germany could want such a powerful commerce-raiding force for.

    And I don't believe that a brand new carrier fleet would be fully operational as quickly as you suggest. It takes a deal of practical experience to build up the bank of knowledge about how to operate carriers and their planes to best effect.

    As for this: "Commander Hellmuth Heye of the KM Operations Department concluded from gaming (on Räder's direction) that submarines could not achieve victory arguing: "Warfare against commercial shipping according to prize rules is impossible." He also concluded that "improved anti-submarine measures" would inevidably cause a U-boat campaign in isolation to fail. He argued for "surface" raiders and more Panzerschiffe."

    Warfare against commercial shipping according to prize rules was also impossible with carrier planes. In fact, the prize rules rapidly went out of the window when war started, so the basis for his assessment ceased to apply. Also, the RN was sadly disappointed in the efficacy of their anti-sub measures when they were tested for real, and that was against basically WW1-era subs. Against the Electroboats (which Germany could have had in service at the start of the war) they stood no chance whatsoever.

    Note that Heye is not asking for aircraft carriers - like all good traditional navy men of the period, he took it as an article of faith that real warships had big guns!

    Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website and Discussion forum
     
  10. us11thairborne

    us11thairborne Member

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    Well if the Ardennes plan failed, the Germans probably would of continued fighting for the Ardennes considering the remaining border with France was heavily defended by the Maginot Line, and it would of proved a formidable defense and a match for the Wehrmacht. Luckily for the Germans the Ardennes plan worked and all was good for them, at least up until 1943 until they met the AMERICAN ARMY!
     
  11. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    At the time it was no exaggeration, Miguel. Tell that to Hitler and his huge efforts to hold Romanian oild fields, the coal Donbas, the Caucasus or Hungarian oil fields… :rolleyes:

    Not to mention that, doctrinally, Grand Admiral Raeder was one of the most conservative naval leaders of WWII, as well as many of his officers, who still believed in a Jutland-like decisive battle.

    Yes, they had a picnic in the eastern front from 1941-1943, with no Moscows, Khárkovs, Stalingrads or Lieningrads, nor millions of casualties; nor the RAF did anything in 1940 and the British VIII Army in 1941-1942… :rolleyes:
     
  12. TheRedBaron

    TheRedBaron Ace

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    Would this be the American Army they gave a bloody nose to at Kasserine in 43? :rolleyes:

    Yup... The Germans had it all their own way till the US army arrived...

    Er... Stalingrad? Kursk? El Alamein?
     
  13. us11thairborne

    us11thairborne Member

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    What, one lousy freaking battle in the middle of the desert, the American army soon turned around and kicked some Krauts around, making the hun retreat back to the mainland and Sicily. The Russian army would of lost a lot more men and land if it wasnt for the lend lease program thanks once again to the generous Americans.
     
  14. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    For goodness sake! That's one of the worst assertions I've ever read in this forums! [​IMG]

    For your information, that battle deprived the Axis from 70.000 of its best soldiers and broke the backbone of Rommel's forces, which wouldn't be able to recover and ultimately lose their foothold in Africa.

    It too was one of the greatest morale boosters of the war, since it gave the British Empire its first and last single-handed decisive victory in WWII, after 3 years of continous disasters.

    There were hundreds of thousands of British, Canadians, French, Polish, Indians, Kiwis and many others involved on that too.

    Yes, they would have. But hadn't the USSR killed, wounded or captured 13 million Axis soldiers in WWII, the US couldn't have invaded Europe again.

    The invation of Sicily and Italy would have been nice if those 200 German divisions that were fighting or perished fighting in the eastern front had been available to face the 'mighty' American Army.

    (And let it be noticed that I am not bashing the great American Army nor underrating the sacrifices of its brave soldiers, but I'm responding to a very disrespectful and false assertion.)
     
  15. us11thairborne

    us11thairborne Member

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    One Im not referring to El Alamein, I'm referring to Kasserine Pass. Just cool down lad, nothing to get in ruffle about. I simply am trying to create a debate, not start a war. Trust me, I was not trying to exclude the Britons are anything other allies in this situation. God bless them, I was simply referring to the Americans campaign in this situtaion. Again I acknowledge the Russian help, however I believe it was the Americans AND BRITONS who helped secure a victory for the reds, by supplying them with arms, and resources. Therefore it helpd jumpstart the Russian industrial arm.
     
  16. TheRedBaron

    TheRedBaron Ace

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    It didnt jump start the Soviet industry.

    The Soviet Five Year programs did that...
     
  17. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I´m afraid that as we know up to 70-80% losses for the axis took place in the eastern front. So I think it´s better to say that the reds helped secure a victory for the Americans and Britons, actually.

    The Lend Lease program was helping the Red Army alot, things like armoured cars, trains, clothes, food especially. That the Russians cannot deny.But after the Russian Colossus woke up after the brutal awakening in 1941 it would have been a question of time that Stalin won with or without Lend Lease. It just would have taken longer.
     
  18. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    OK, sorry. I got carried away.

    Now I get the point. And yes, Kasserine pass was a little battle indeed.

    Lend & Lease started reaching the USSR in substantial quantities in December 1941, when marshal Zhúkov was already counter-attacking and depriving the Germans from any possibility of victory.

    It helped through the Great Patriotic War, but it did not decide the outcome, since the thousands of men, tanks, planes, guns and the millions of men were entirely Soviet. And they killed 4,5 million German soldiers, in comparisson to the 500.000 killed in the West.
     
  19. FramerT

    FramerT Ace

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    Had not the 'purge' of Soviet officers happened, I wonder how far the Germans would have advanced.
    Zhukov still be 'in charge'?
     
  20. TheRedBaron

    TheRedBaron Ace

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    I would imagine that Tuchaevsky would be somewhere in command given his pre-war 'Blitzkreig' style theories...
     
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