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

Yes or No Germans take Gibralter

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by macker33, Jun 26, 2009.

  1. Centurion-Cato

    Centurion-Cato Member

    Sep 24, 2009
    Likes Received:
    I think that they could have captured it. If they could have captured that along with Malta, Britain would be weakened considerably.
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Jul 24, 2007
    Likes Received:
    How without getting the Spanish in the war? And if they get the Spanish in the war is that a plus or a minus?
  3. USMC

    USMC Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Likes Received:
    With Spain possible seizure...Without Spain I say highly unlikely. Would need air support in North Africa and extensive Naval support
  4. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

    Jul 24, 2009
    Likes Received:
    The Germans lost a huge number of Ju-52 in the drop on Crete, and subsequent supply missions to Rommel.

    Hit the RN hard? With what? The RN pretty much owned the Med from start to finish overall.

    The Germans would have to stage through Spain, thus bringing Franco into the war he didn't want to be in. Which means the RN would be bombarding the approaches to the rock right off. No way the Germans could have kept their troop movements through Spain any kind of secret.
  5. freebird

    freebird Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    Likes Received:
    There are 4 options here:
    A. Spain helps Germany or allows German Army passage.
    B. Germany attacks Spain or para-drops near Gibraltar (Algeciras)
    C. Spain stays neutral, Germany attacks Gibraltar unaided.
    D. Spain is neutral, but Germany has access to French bases.

    What are these enormous advantages that would prompt Germany to spend huge resources to take Gibraltar? :confused:

    Cuts off British convoys? Nope, the British didn't run any convoys through the Med from Fall 1940 - 1943, except for those going to Malta. Malta convoys could be run from Egypt, it's about the same distance, and it also avoids the Strait of Sicily.

    Oil? Nope, no oil in North Africa

    Vital British base? Yes, but here's the rub - if Spain helps Germany or doesn't resist a German incursion, the British respond with a substantial naval invasion of the Canary Islands in retaliation. The Canaries are a far better base than Gibraltar, as it still provides a base to patrol the Mediterranean approaches, but also provides a superb position to patrol African coast, and protect convoys on the UK - Freetown route.
    Spain would not want to risk losing the Canaries to get Gibraltar (which is partly why they refused to help)
    In addition, German action against Gibraltar would also likely result in Britain asking Portugal for access to Madeira & the Azores - a much better strategic positon in the Atlantic by far

    If Spain doesn't help it would be virtually impossible to take Gibraltar

    Passage to/from the Med for the Kriegsmarine & Italian Regia Marina?
    Nope. This gives virtually zero benefit to either nation.

    Consider the situation in late Oct 1940 at the time of the Hitler/Franco conference.
    Naval power was still measured at this time by Battleships, and in the fall of 1940 the British had 14 BB/BC, + King George V + Prince of Wales launched and almoste complete. The Italians had 6. The Germans had not completed the Bismarck yet, and both of the Scharnhorst Battlecruisers was severely damaged by torpedoes and out of action.

    The war between the UK and Germany had been describes as a battle between a Lion & a Shark, very apt description. While Germany was running roughshod over all of Europe, they were getting clobbered in the Surface Naval war

    Germany started the war with 2 Battlecruisers, 6 light cruisers and 3 heavy cruisers + 3 "Pocket" BB's

    By the fall of 1940, they have both Battlecruisers out of action, 1 pocket BB sunk, 1 Pocket BB out of action, 1 CA sunk, 2 CL sunk and 1 heavily damaged by torpedo, + about 60% of their DD's sunk . (Both Battlecruisers out of action June - Dec 1940, repairing torpedo damage)

    By Oct 1940 the Germans therefore have less than half of their starting naval assets available, while the RN has lost exactly 1 Battleship.
    After the Taranto raid of Nov 11, 1940, the Italians have half of their battleships out of action, and would be in no mood to risk sending them out in the Atlantic. (besides being short of fuel)

    So - bottom line - By Nov 1940 neither of the Axis has enough ships to have any benefit taking the Straights of Gibraltar.
    LJAd likes this.
  6. freebird

    freebird Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Big difference here ToS. In Singapore they surrendered because they were running low on supplies, and to avoid excessive civilian casulties.
    However, the problem was that in addition to the 85,000 Commonwealth forces, there were about 1 million residents of Singapore, + about a half million refugees that flooded into the city.
    So if they had enough supplies for the 85,000 military for a 2 year siege, it would last less than a month divided among ~1.5 million civilians.

    Gibraltar is a completely different situation. The British evacuated about 17,000 civilians in the summer of 1940, leaving only about 8,000 - 10,000 vital personnel, + about 22,000 - 25,000 military by the fall of '40.

    The British had stocked away at least 2 years of emergency rations in the fortress.
    Aha, but what about water?
    Well, an average adult man needs a minimum of about 1 or 1.25 liters per day. (500 ml in extreme conditions) So let's assume that each man gets 2.5 liters per day x 33,000 men x 30 days per month.
    That is 2,475,000 liters per month, or 2,475 cubic meters of water per month.

    By 1939, Gibraltar has 10 underground resevoirs

    #1 - 4 = 22,727 cubic meters
    #5 = 9091 cubic meters
    #6 = 4545 cubic meters
    #7 - 9 ~13,635 cubic meters
    (#10 was not completed before WWII, it was in use as a barracks)
    There was also a resovoir inside an old converted Moorish castle, for a further 5,682 cubic meters

    Total water stored = 55,680 cubic meters, or enough to supply the garrison for 22 months, even with no water produced.

    However, starting in 1903, the British constructed water catchement areas, by 1939 there are 37 acres collecting water.
    In addition, there is an aquifer on Gibraltar, so in 1933 an underground well was constructed, for additional supplies.
    Not to mention, there were additional supplies that could be tapped (swimming pools, water boiling facilites etc)

    In all total, there is enough water stored & collected to supply the entire garrison for at least 32 - 36 months

    A good article on the Gibralar water supply is here:
  7. freebird

    freebird Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    Likes Received:

    1.) I'm just wondering how you could determine chances of success of an attack against Gibraltar, if you don't know what the defences were? :confused:

    2.) Morrocco was neutral until Nov 1942. What artillery did you suppose that the germans had in Morrocco in 1941?

    3.) The defence of Gibraltar wasn't the ships, it was the guns & troops stationed there. The British had been improving the fortifications of Gibraltar since Napoleon

    4.) Your figures are wildly inaccurate. There were about 30,000 combat equipped troops on each side at Crete. There were about another 10,000 unarmed or poorly equipped British & Greek, including those who had been evacuated from the mainland without weapons. Far from a total force of 8,000, the Germans suffered about 6,700 casualties (including about 4,000 KIA or MIA)

    5.) The difference is that with operations at Crete, the LW had airbases in Greece 100 - 250 miles from Crete, and faced no opposition from the RAF, the last remnant of which had withdrawn the day before the landings. AA defence on Crete consisted of a single AA battery of 8 x 20mm guns.
    On Gibraltar, the attacking paratroopers could expect to face a heavy AA battalion of 28 x 3.7" AA guns, in twin mounts, 40 x Bofors 40mm in single mounts, and about 40 - 50 Oerlikon 20mm light AA. (divided between the 2 Gibraltar Brigades)
    The Germans nearest air base is 800 miles away in Sardinia. (550 miles away to Bayonne in occupied France, but only if the Axis violated Spanish airspace to fly over the Pyrenees)
    So it would be a bomber attack without supporting fighters.
    brndirt1 likes this.
  8. freebird

    freebird Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    Likes Received:
    6.) Well, since you ask... :D

    There were 2 Brigades stationed at Gibraltar, with about 3 other infantry battalions.
    There were also supporting artillery, AA, RAF, engineer battalions, and 12 Matilda tanks.

    There were also:

    8 x 9.2" Fortress guns
    2 x 9.2" mobile howitzers
    8 x 6" guns
    15 x 4" guns
    6 x 4.5" howitzers
    28 x 3.7" AA
    7 x 25 pdr
    13 x 3" guns
    14 x 6 pdr
    40 x Bofors 40mm

    In addition, the two Gibraltar brigades each had an artillery battalion (25 pdrs) and about 40 - 50 Oerlikon 20mm between the 2 brigades.

    The best map I've found from 1941 is from Areamilitar.net, which (strangely enough) is in Portugese. :confused:
    "Baterias" is for guns, "Artilharia" is howitzers and "duplas" is for double mounts. The first map is of positions of all guns of 4" or more, in 1941. The second map is of all guns less than 4", but does not include positions of the mobile 20mm guns.

    Attached Files:

  9. Hockeyman

    Hockeyman recruit

    Jul 12, 2010
    Likes Received:
    But all these big guns point at the sea they cant shoot at spain right?
  10. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

    Jul 7, 2008
    Likes Received:
    No, only some of the larger guns were sea oriented, as I understand the situation. A great many of the others were either mobile or could be turned to fire land-ward.

    Just like the story of the big British guns at Singapore not being able to fire toward land is a myth. They had full 360 rotation, but no land style projectiles on station. Firing an armor piercing shell (designed to take out ships) at a jungle landscape is pretty pointless and wouldn't have changed the outcome in the least.
  11. freebird

    freebird Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Actually all of the 9.2" guns could fire at Spain, or north towards the causeway.
    All of the 6" guns could also, except for the single one on the East side (at the Caves)

    Here is the view from O'Hara's battery, looking north towards Spain.
    (linked from axishistory.com)


    And from Breakneck battery
    (from Fortress study Group, fsgfort.com)


    And from Lord Airey's
    (also from Fortress study Group, fsgfort.com)


    As you can see, it would be hard to imagine a better firing position!

Share This Page