What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

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Darthmalgus
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What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby Darthmalgus » 16 Jul 2017 22:04

So, its widely know that Hitler held a rather odd opinions in relation to Britain. Specifically, his belief that some kind of peace deal could be reached with the British once the Continent was secured ( ignoring even recent history demonstrating that Britain was willing to fight fiercely to prevent a continental hegemony arising).
Lets say then that Hitler arrives at a different position in relation to Britain from 1933 onward and orders that serious contingency planning be put in place to deal with Britain in the event that it decides to fight on following a potential defeat of the French.
Realistically, what can Hitler do to maximize preparation for a siege of Britain without prematurely provoking the Anglo-French in the 30s?

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Sheldrake
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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby Sheldrake » 16 Jul 2017 23:26

Darthmalgus wrote:So, its widely know that Hitler held a rather odd opinions in relation to Britain. Specifically, his belief that some kind of peace deal could be reached with the British once the Continent was secured ( ignoring even recent history demonstrating that Britain was willing to fight fiercely to prevent a continental hegemony arising).
Lets say then that Hitler arrives at a different position in relation to Britain from 1933 onward and orders that serious contingency planning be put in place to deal with Britain in the event that it decides to fight on following a potential defeat of the French.
Realistically, what can Hitler do to maximize preparation for a siege of Britain without prematurely provoking the Anglo-French in the 30s?


#1 Not invade Poland. The outbreak of war was regarded in Berlin as a failure of Hitler's policy.

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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby maltesefalcon » 16 Jul 2017 23:41

In 1933 Germany had a pitifully small navy, a 100,000 man army and no air force to speak of. There was no contingency plan to fight anyone at that point.
I was also under the impression that although Franco-German relations were very strained by 1933, the UK was on reasonably cordial terms with Germany at this time. Why poke the hornets nest if you don't need to?

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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby pugsville » 17 Jul 2017 03:25

Well the only things I can see is the development of longer range aircraft and more u boats.

Building more U Boats would certainly provide a response from Britain as they were very sensitive to naval matters, more destroyers and escorts would have been built, perhaps more focus on anti submarine warfare, or Costal Command getting a higher priority in getting aircraft.

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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby maltesefalcon » 17 Jul 2017 03:42

pugsville wrote:Well the only things I can see is the development of longer range aircraft and more u boats.

Building more U Boats would certainly provide a response from Britain as they were very sensitive to naval matters, more destroyers and escorts would have been built, perhaps more focus on anti submarine warfare, or Costal Command getting a higher priority in getting aircraft.


The Kriegsmarine had exactly zero U-Boats in 1933 as the Allies had banned them in the Treaty of Versailles. So Hitler can hardly have considered using them vs Britain in a contingency plan from the start per original post because the first one would not exist until two years later.

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Sheldrake
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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby Sheldrake » 17 Jul 2017 08:16

I suspect Hitler's key assumption was that the British and French lacked political will to oppose him with military force. The peaceful occupation of Pol;and would have given Germany a land border with the Soviet Union and the opportunity for his main project a German empire in the East. Britain and France had far stronger economies and could draw on imperial resources to win a long war.

If the Germans knew they were going to have to fight the British (and French) they could have invested in a different mix of weapons and organisations before 1939 or delayed provoking a war until they were better prepared.

The French Army was widely seen as the most powerful in the world. The Germans were lucky to face a co-operative enemy in 1940 and had not expected France to fall quickly or easily.

Whilem the Germans could have had a bigger armed force with more substyantial equipment in 1941-2 The British and French were rearming fast in the late 1930s. A war delayed until 1941 would not have found the British and French as under equipped. E.g. the British army rashly doubled in size would have had more tanks, anti tank and anti aircraft weapons and wireless communications. The French air force would have had a chance to re-equip with modern aircraft and develop a radar based C2. It would have been harder to win the air or land battle for France if the French had the Dowding system and there was a reserve of five British infantry and two armoured divisions.

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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start.

Postby maltesefalcon » 17 Jul 2017 13:33

Hitler could have tried something else. He said more than once that he respected the British and considered the Empire a stabilizing influence on the world. But he only paid lip service to that respect.
He would have been better off in trying to split the UK away from its allies ie France. Special trade agreements, cooperative industrial projects, mutual and frequent diplomatic visits and above all no overt manouvres to threaten their interests.
Hitlers only real tactic immediately after Battle of France was to hope Britain would sue for peace and re-establish diplomatic relations, if he promised to leave them be. That is not enough. Roosevelt said in one of his speeches the only way to get a friend is to be one.

(Not beyond reason. After all he managed to culivate a working relationship with the USSR until 1941, despite his previous animosity to the regime. Much of the weapons development that the Nazis obtained was due to cooperative ventures in Russia, beyond the eyes of the West,)
Last edited by maltesefalcon on 17 Jul 2017 17:07, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby Paul Lakowski » 17 Jul 2017 14:06

From what I read, Hitler believed the British were part of his mythical Aryan race and hated the jews as much as he did. They would sit by and let Germany get on with the slaughter.

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sitalkes
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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby sitalkes » 18 Jul 2017 00:21

Well it's kind of weird that Germans blamed Britain for causing most of the problems that Germany had in WW1 (starvation etc due to the blockade) and also for starting World War 2 (it wasn't a world war until the British declared war on Germany and of course Hitler thought the British would not live up to their pledges to protect Poland). The most popular music in Germany from the start of the war was "We March Against England" and Hitler made speeches at the start of WW2 blaming Britain for the war - but he did nothing about preparing for a war with Britain. Before the war he went through stages of loving Britain, being afraid of Britain, and not being afraid of Britain - leading to the naval negotiations and the removal of all spies from Britain.

So the least that could have been done before the war was to build up an efficient intelligence network and to make more efforts to gain intelligence about the location of British factories, air bases, radar etc - the information used by the Luftwaffe in 1940 was often years out of date (they mapped England from the air prior to the war) and the lack of any useful intelligence was a major reason for the loss of the Battle of Britain. All that could be done without unduly provoking Britain, as all nations engaged in espionage activity. German generals even went on tours of Britain before the war, including British air bases, but there was no co-ordinated effort, in fact not much effort at all to gain the requisite intelligence.

Another thing they could do without provoking Britain was to use the OKW as it was intended - as a co-ordinating body that was supposed to promote combined operations. OKW was setup in response to German experience of combined operations in WW1 (principally Operation Albion). Instead OKW was used as Hitler's secretariat - setup another body to do that job and let OKW sponsor better inter-service co-operation. That might also help reduce the friction between the navy and the air force - which would have a major effect on operations against Britain. Germany could then build its aircraft carriers without provoking Britain as they were allowed by treaty. Also they could give their equivalent to Coastal Command more modern aircraft and more torpedoes without provoking Britain (since the British assumed they had those anyway and had no idea how stubborn and pig-headed Goering was, and how bad his relationship with Raeder could be). The experience with Operation Albion led to experiments with landing craft - they had a horse landing craft/lighter in WW1. Those could be speeded up and expanded without provoking Britain, so that a modest amphibious capability (co-ordinated by a functioning OKW) could be built up prior to the war, probably using wooden boats, and then expanded after the war started.

The Germans could also develop a long range patrol aircraft that was better than the Condor - which was developed as an afterthought - fixing the He 177 would do. They could build a coastal navy without provoking Britain or violating any treaty - lots of S-boats, coastal U-boats, and destroyers. S-boats don't require huge slipways and are made of wood so the resources were probably available. The British didn't get on top of the S-boat threat until 1942, ad they remained a danger right up to 1944. The torpedo problem was discovered during the Spanish Civil War but dismissed as crew failure by the guy in charge of torpedo development and testing - if that guy was sacked or the problem taken seriously it might have been fixed by the start of WW2 and the British fleet would have taken huge losses during the Norwegian campaign (including loss of the flagship, Churchill and the naval high command when the flagship was hit by three torpedoes that failed to explode). What U-boats were built could be built better using Dutch technology- Dutch submarines had schnorkels in 1940. So you don't build anything bigger than a light cruiser and also build lots of merchant ships that can be easily converted into hilfskreuzer or hilfskreuzer/U-boat support ships. Oh, and you build milch cow U-boats plus the odd sea plane tender disguised as a passenger ship with sea plane catapault.

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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby pugsville » 19 Jul 2017 02:37

sitalkes wrote: They could build a coastal navy without provoking Britain or violating any treaty - lots of S-boats, coastal U-boats, and destroyers.


I do not think much could be done naval wise without attracting very close scrutiny of the British. Building lots of anything would bring a British response in some fashion. More destroyers and MTB/MGBs or whatever. But any German Naval development would have been looked at. And German concealed armaments plans were often detected.

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sitalkes
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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby sitalkes » 20 Jul 2017 01:33

They could still get much more useful numbers of light naval ships and comply with the treaties (especially if they lied about displacements) and Britain would still be way ahead. Also if Britain had battleships, battlecruisers, and heavy cruisers but Germany didn't I think that they would think that they were pretty secure.

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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby pugsville » 21 Jul 2017 06:01

sitalkes wrote:They could still get much more useful numbers of light naval ships and comply with the treaties (especially if they lied about displacements) and Britain would still be way ahead. Also if Britain had battleships, battlecruisers, and heavy cruisers but Germany didn't I think that they would think that they were pretty secure.


The British and others were in general well aware of many of Germany's treaty evasions, just because they didn't arc up does not mean they were always deceived. German air training in the Soviet union for example was well known to the British.

Any naval development would be closely examined by the British and reposted to. There is no type of craft the Germans could build that the British would not look at closely. Germany building large numbers of small ships of whatever kind would be responded to.

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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby thaddeus_c » 23 Jul 2017 17:20

pugsville wrote:
sitalkes wrote:They could still get much more useful numbers of light naval ships and comply with the treaties (especially if they lied about displacements) and Britain would still be way ahead. Also if Britain had battleships, battlecruisers, and heavy cruisers but Germany didn't I think that they would think that they were pretty secure.


The British and others were in general well aware of many of Germany's treaty evasions, just because they didn't arc up does not mean they were always deceived. German air training in the Soviet union for example was well known to the British.

Any naval development would be closely examined by the British and reposted to. There is no type of craft the Germans could build that the British would not look at closely. Germany building large numbers of small ships of whatever kind would be responded to.


fail to see logic in GB changing their naval plan to counter smaller German ships if they are conforming to AGNA? this is assuming they are not building some other design that blurs categories or lies about tonnage beyond which British were willing to tolerate.

be well within limits to have built '39 & '41 classes of Torpedo Boats, scrapped the experiment with "Super Destroyers" and built light cruisers instead of Admiral Hipper-class heavies?

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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby T. A. Gardner » 23 Jul 2017 19:22

To have any real chance to defeat Britain, Germany had to have a navy that could seriously challenge the Royal Navy. Without that, beating Britain isn't going to happen.

The only way I can see this happening is the Germans have an early epiphany that results in a paradigm shift in naval technology with respect to Britain. That is, they are able to achieve something in naval warfare like the move from old-style battleships to dreadnoughts where the scale between the two is reset to essentially zero.

In this case, they adopt two technologies very early, opting for a completely new style fleet.

The first technology is a higher speed underwater submarine. Maybe not the Type XXI boat, just one that can sprint at say 12 knots or so for a short distance. This is sufficiently fast that it can avoid something like a Flower class corvette attacking it entirely. Even if a Flower drove the boat down, it couldn't attack it as the boat is fast enough to sprint out of the way each time.
It would also allow the U-boat to submerge and sprint into a convoy (and torpedo position) from any direction while submerged. This greatly complicates the convoy escort problem and makes slow convoys far more vulnerable to destruction.
Countering it would have a near crippling effect on British ship construction because the hulls and machinery for faster escorts with longer ranging ASW weapons would have consumed much of the capacity.

The second technology is the aircraft carrier. The Germans pay attention to the Japanese, or observe US, etc., carriers early on. Here, they begin covertly building these after getting one in service. The first one doesn't have to be great. It has to be functional so the crew and pilots can learn how to operate one.
From there, they lay down several more as "cruisers" along with other actual cruisers and destroyers. There's no intention to build capital ships. They also develop plans for the rapid conversion of several fast passenger liners and merchant ships into carriers. The Luftwaffe is told either to get on board with this, or give the aircraft production to the KM. Göring is likely to want control, but is forced to build a large carrier air fleet and train pilots to operate from carriers at sea. The visible program(s) in all this are kept small and quiet to keep the British from responding in kind during the 30's.
Maybe many of the German pilots are sent to Japan and allowed to learn on Japanese carriers, or a German leased one that is still publically "Japanese." This way the FAA remains impotent with obsolete aircraft in small numbers on mostly mediocre carriers.

When war breaks out, the KM has say 4 "real" carriers with 60+ aircraft each on them, another 2 or 3 building, and has converted or is converting a half dozen merchant ships / liners into additional carriers with these being well advanced or in the water training already.
In addition, the KM has say a dozen plus 6" cruisers and 30 + DD in service as escorts for these ships. They still build excellent support ships to refuel and resupply their carrier groups, just as they did for their surface fleet historically.

Two KM CV operating 100+ first-line aircraft between them would be going up against similar numbers of British carriers flying obsolete or obsolescent aircraft in smaller numbers. The Germans could have taken out the available British carriers in this scenario rendering the RN largely incapable of operating in the Atlantic with just surface units. That is, the RN's large number of battleships and cruisers (designed primarily for commerce protection) are rendered almost useless in the face of a KM equipped for carrier warfare.

At the same time, the U-boats are unleashed against British commerce as they were, only this time they're sufficiently fast that building cheap, slow escorts like the Flower are nearly worthless.

Britain is faced with a dilemma. The RAF can defend Britain, but does nothing to stop a naval war far out to sea. The RN is equipped to fight the wrong war at sea, so their greater numbers mean nothing. Germany has a "real" fleet capable of beating the available RN carriers who are badly let down by the FAA and RAF's procurement policies and designs of naval aircraft.

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Re: What if Hitler made fighting Britain a serious consideration from the start..

Postby Paul Lakowski » 23 Jul 2017 19:59

They should do what they planned from the early 1930s- to build a large number of surface raiders to lead and reinforce the Wolf-pack war. Historically 'naval plan 1928-1932' called for Aircraft carrier plus 6 [9] more PBS & 6 [12] more Kreuzers. By early 1930s the naval plan for 6 PBS had expanded to 8 heavier Pzschiffe & ~ 5 Kreuzers with 3 aircraft carriers . By the mid 1930s this had expanded to dozen larger Pzschiffe plus 3 aircraft carriers & some light Kreuzers.

It looks like KM laid down 23 large warships during these years and if the size and displacement were limited to PBS size & Pzschiffe size warships, about 16 of the 23 could be finished by the end of that decade, with the follow on 7 completed in 1940/41.

The above is doable with the existing industry and financing .It could also be staffed & fueled ; provided the planned coastal defence fleet was scrapped instead for a WW-I style coal based minesweeper/patrol ship fleet.


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