Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

The German Armed Forces had not been so inept

Discussion in 'What If - Other' started by bigiceman, Sep 13, 2005.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. bigiceman

    bigiceman Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Messages:
    811
    Likes Received:
    3
    What if the German Armed Forces had not been so inept?

    Pick your favorite gripe with the German Armed Forces and their leadership; Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, SS. Tell us your opinion on one engagement, a campaign, or the entire war. Was it their equipment, their officers, their staff, their training, their logistical organization? Let's leave Hitler pretty much out of the discussion. We all know that he had the biggest role in the defeat of Germany during the war.

    What would the forces themselves and their command have done that would have saved them from being considered inept?

    I'll get it started with an opinion or two below. ;)

    Might even play devil's advocate just to see if I can ge tsome juice flowing.
     
  2. bigiceman

    bigiceman Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Messages:
    811
    Likes Received:
    3
    The Kriegsmarine would not have been so inept if they had used their U-boat fleet to hunt down the British Royal Navy and destroy it.

    With the Royal Navy being such a dominant force in the North Atlantic it is hard for me to understand why the Germans didn't use their technological superiority in submarines to hobble the Royal Navy the same way the Royal Navy hobbled the Argentinian Navy in the Falklands. The submarines should have been able to sink the capital ships and escorts with their wolf pack tactics and ability to coordinate vessels. Early in the war before the further advancements of ASDIC made it even harder to maneuver against the fleet. Then once they have killed the shepards the wolves get to go after the rest of the flock unhindered.
     
  3. bigiceman

    bigiceman Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Messages:
    811
    Likes Received:
    3
    The Heer would not have been so inept if thier general staff were not so confident about the ability to perform the blitzkrieg. This overconfidence led them to poorly plan the support of their troops in the persecution of the compaigns in Russia.

    Blitzkrieg is fgreat (not a mis-spelling I am starting a new convention, I'll see if it catches on, sure you can figure it out) when it works, but you have to plan on what your enemy is capable of doing not what you think he will do. Not having the logistics in place to support the troops in the effort if the lightning war was held up was inept. How can you plan on going into one of the most inhospitable winter landscapes on the Asian continent blithely expecting that everyone will be safe and warm indoors when Winter arrives? The winter gear should have been sitting boxed up in the warehouses before the spring thaw and put into the rail cars by the end of Summer. The weapons systems should have been evaluated in severe winter weather. When the first snowflake hit the ground the mechanics and armorers should have been putting in the adapters needed to keep the lubricants working. The Russians were smart enough to figure this out.
     
  4. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    48
    I'd rather say that, as T. A. supperbly post some while ago, Admiral Raeder's Kriegsmarine made the unforgiveable mistake of playing 'conservative', unlike the Army and Air Force.

    I've been reading much about the Pacific War lately and, let me tell you, the decisiveness of aircraft carriers was evident since day 1.

    The German fleet was un-existant, and, at a similar, though faster, ship-building rate, there was no way it could have achieved naval surface superiority in the Atlantic with expensive and obsolete battleships (which not even were that wonderful).

    If Raeder, instead of building the Bismarck and the Tirpitz, would have build an aircraft carrier fleet (equipped with sea Stukas and sea 109s) of three or four capital ships by 1940, the Royal Navy would have been doomed: Home Fleet and convoys, all gone.

    The submarine effort recquired immense efforts and a far-reaching co-operation (unexistant between the Luftwaffe, the Kriegsmarine and other services), large amount of resources, good intelligence (something the Germans almost never had) and lots of blood and sweat.

    Raeder could have learnt a couple things from Yamamoto and the Japanese, whose 'Eastern Blitzkrieg' makes the German one look like a kid's game.

    About the Army, I think it would have helped having a C.-in-C. with some character. A Manstein or a Bock, perhaps, instead of Brauchitsch. At the planning of 'Barbarossa', he had many General Staff officers and generals making up strategic invasion plans; none of which he took the effort to choose, nor did he make a single and homogenous plan out of them (along with clear obejctives) to submit to the C.-in-C. of the OKW. He never urged for the increase on ammunition production, for a logistical build up, for an efficient tank-repair system, for efficient engineer teams, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… :rolleyes:
     
  5. Bish OBE

    Bish OBE Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2001
    Messages:
    762
    Likes Received:
    1
    But i don't think the problem was so much building carriers rather it was actually operating. And the major problem, one i believe which also affected the armt and air force, is the Nazi hirgher archy. Bigice said we can mention Hitler as we all know he was Germanies biggest draw back. But i don't believe you can have a discussion like this without mentoning him. Without him asnd the croonies around him many of these problems may not have exsisted. Witout Goering insisting that everything that felw belonged to him, they may well have had a carrier. They may well have had beter co-operation between U-Boats and aircraft, instead of useing different Enigma codes. Dornitz may well have had the U-Boats he needed. Without the high archy as it was, Germany may not have had just a diversification of effort, including air force field divisions, a vast range of uniforms and vehicles and a constant air of back stabbing and one upmanship, that was encouraged by Hitler.
     
  6. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    48
    The problem was lack of long-term vision. Not even one of all the German armed forces were designed to fight a long attrition war, because their ranks, from generals and admirals all the way down to privates and sailors, believed they were so good that, if there was a war, they would crush their inferior enemies and go back home for Christmas.

    Hitler can, indeed, be taken out of the equation, because, 20 years earlier, Hindenburg, Ludendorff, Falkenhayn, Moltke or Schlieffen all made the same mistakes. And Hitler was not there.
     
  7. bigiceman

    bigiceman Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Messages:
    811
    Likes Received:
    3
    Okay, what I am hearing so far is that it was less the individual unit or army officers that were inept, overconfident as you say Friedrich, but competent. The ineptitude came in at the highest levels where the services branck leadership lacked the vision to provide unified plans, and spent too much time trying to prove thier branch's superiority. Oh yes, and sucking up to der Furer!

    Lets hear from some of the rest of you though, I know there is no shortage of opinions out there.
     
  8. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,521
    Likes Received:
    139
    I actually think, that given its resources the Kriegsmarine did as well as it could have been expected to do.
    While German submarines were very good designs, they didn't have any technological superiority over any other nations designs until the very last days of the war.
    You also cannot compare a WW2 U-boat, with a nuclear powered Hunter-Killer submarine of today.
    Unless you knew where the allied warships were heading, and the exact course they would be taking the U-boats cannot 'hunt' the warships because they are far too slow.
    Also in attacks on warships the U-boats depended on surprise to succeed. Once the element of surprise had been lost, it was the U-boats which became the 'hunted'.
    So if you used this form of tactic on warships, it would not only be unlikely to achieve much, but when on the few times the wolf pack did make contact, it is highly likely that the U-boats would have suffered the higher losses.
     
  9. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    48
    Did submarines attacking just warships succeed anywhere in WWII? No. Ask the Japanese I boats, not at all inferior to the German U ones, or the Yanks, during 1942-1943.
     
  10. Bish OBE

    Bish OBE Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2001
    Messages:
    762
    Likes Received:
    1
    Would the sinking of HMS's Royal Oak, Barham or Eagle by U-Boats count.
     
  11. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    Gottfried you are quite correct about the non workable solution of the Kreigsmarine the Luftwaffe especially concerning the U-boot waffen although there was some success's that we do not even here of with the two staffeln and stab of FAGr 5 and the U-boots from 43-44 as they took over the recon duties of KG 40 and their Fw 200's. This reluctance to operate efficiently and at close proximity with one another was a major pitfall for the control of the Atlantic.......the eyes of the U-bbots were then blinded
     
  12. bigiceman

    bigiceman Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Messages:
    811
    Likes Received:
    3
    Was the German naval intelligence really so poor that they did not know which harbors the Royal Navy was using? Screens of U-boats could not haunt the approaches? I know they were nothing like the nuclear submarines of the modern navies. The WWII era navies were not that great at finding the submarines either. In the long run wouldn't it have been more effective to destroy the same amount of combatant shipping than maritime? It doesn't seem the maritime losses hurt the effort of the British anyway.
     
  13. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    48
    Yes, tactically, they could be sunk. But, strategically, they were not even close to decide any thing in the Atlantic.

    Yes, maybe the USS Lexington and USS Indianapolis were sunk by I boats, but the Japanese took some 85% losses in their submarine arm and sunk, in 3 1/2 years, only 900.000 tons of enemy shipping. Did they help much to turn the balance of the war on Japan's favour? No. :rolleyes:
     
  14. bigiceman

    bigiceman Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Messages:
    811
    Likes Received:
    3
    I don't think that the Japanese used their submarines to the best tactical advantage in WWII. I have not done any specific research but the few articles that I have seen spoke very poorly of the Japanese Navy and how they used their submarines. There was some sort of cultural or organizational block. They used them mostly as stealth cargo ships according to what I read.
     
  15. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,521
    Likes Received:
    139
    The Japanese actually considered that, like your theory on U-boats hunting the RN, the major targets for their submarines should be warships. However except for one or two successes, this tactic was almost totally unsuccessful. The Japanese naval high command never seemed to grasp the importance of the convoys which helped to keep the Allied forces supplied in the Pacific, and how much a campaign on these ships might help delay the build up of Allied forces in this area.
    The US Navy also started the war believing that the major target for their subs should be Japanese naval vessels. However after achieving very little, they soon changed their tactics to attacking the Japanese supply lines, and quickly started to have a decisive effect on the Japanese war effort.


    This was probably the most effective use the Japanese subs were put to
     
  16. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,521
    Likes Received:
    139
    Trouble was the harbours were highly protected with defensive minefields and patrol aircraft/ships. Attacking ships coming out of these areas was highly dangerous, especially RN harbours who were the greatest experts in ASW during WW2
    U-boats didn't have a chance in hell of destroying the same amount, a warship, with its higher speed, and detection equipment was a far harder target. They also, unlike merchant ships, could fight back, and the U-boat losses would have probably been as worse or even worse than the RN's.
    Even if you give the U-boats an equal loss rate, the German navy would quickly run out of submarines, long before the RN noticed its own losses.
     
  17. bigiceman

    bigiceman Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Messages:
    811
    Likes Received:
    3
    Help me put this into perspective someone. How many combat ships of destroyer escort or larger did the Royal Navy have, at say Jan 1 1940 (exact date not important just a starting point), compared to the number of Kreigsmarine U-boats?
     
  18. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Messages:
    5,945
    Likes Received:
    760
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona
    Destroyers? About 150. Escorts had just begun production and only a few were around at that point.

    On other submarine stuff: The reason WW II submarines (US, British, Russian, German, anybody's) were relatively ineffective at attacking warships and fast transports was that they were essentially self-propelled intelligent mines. That is, they could move to a location, and attack anything that came within say, about 5,000 to 10,000 yards of their position. However, if submerged, they could not operate offensively in the sense of stalking down a target and torpedoing it. High speed targets had to virtually run over the submarine for it to be effective.
    This is one reason Dönitz was so adamant about wolf pack tactics and using surface attacks were possible. Operating on the surface gave a submarine the ability to operate offensively. Night was originally assumed to be effective as a means of cover for such attacks. Of course, with the widespread introduction of radar night surface action was rendered superfluious.
    Convoy escorts it might be noted were almost as effective in just driving a U-boat to dive deep and staying on its position for half an hour or so until the convoy moved on. Doing this was sufficent to disrupt the ability of a submarine to attack for as much as a day or more afterwards.
    Essentially, the diesel submarine is only truly effective in coastal waters and at choke points as an offensive weapon. In open ocean against determined opposition it is doomed to failure most of the time.
     
  19. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2000
    Messages:
    8,386
    Likes Received:
    885
    Location:
    Jefferson, OH
    From the tactical sense, the Wehrmacht (kriegsmarine,Luftwaffe,Heere,Waffen SS) were competent. It was the strategic directives that were faulty due to inept leaders. Hitlers divide and conquer way of leading caused the Wehrmacht many a headache. I believe it was Sepp Dietrich who said about the battle of the bulge, all he had to do was cross a river on one road during the worst winter to get to Antwerp. Had Von Manstein, Rommel, von Richtofen, Doenitz, Raeder, Paulus, etc. been given a free hand I fear a much longer and more costly outcome.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page