Battle of Britain

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
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Christoph
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Post by Christoph » 01 May 2003 01:32

I voted that th Germans would have beaten the Brits but only in the long run at a great cost to themselves because as has been pointed out their landing craft were anything but. One must also keep in mind the paratroops which were the bst in the world up until Crete where most were killed and couldn't be replaced. As for supplies the Germans would have done anything that they had to do because of the old rivalry between Europe's best navy(England) and army(Germany) they had to win. On land an army will alaways beat a navy.

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Andy
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Post by Andy » 01 May 2003 06:43

Britain would have crushed any invasion force with their navy. The Germans did not stand a chance. Even if they had control of the air, they still would have lost.

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David Brown
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IF THE LUFTWAFFE KEPT UP THE BOMBING OF BRITISH AIRFIELDS.

Post by David Brown » 01 May 2003 23:14

Andy wrote:Britain would have crushed any invasion force with their navy. The Germans did not stand a chance. Even if they had control of the air, they still would have lost.
How? The Royal Navy would have been the sole defender of the British Isles. Ships cannot be used on land. The Army had nothing in the way of equipment after Dunkirk. The Royal Air Force would have been completely wiped out as a pre-requirement of invasion.

While the Royal Navy was the strongest of our military arms, it could not possibly have taken out every aircraft in the Luftwaffe; and let's not forget that although the Kreigsmarine suffered badly in the invasion of Norway, the U-boat arm was still running riot in the Atlantic and could easily have been diverted to support.

During the execution of Operation Dynamo, General Kurt Student pleaded with Hitler to authorise airbourne landings in Dover and other harbour areas in the region to stop the evacuation of troops trapped on Dunkirk Beach. Hitler refused, but his General's believed they could do it. It would have been the same during a full scale invasion of Britain.

The barge landings would only have been one strand of invasion and that had the Luftwaffe stayed with attacking the RAF airfields, the Germans would have landed and they would have gone through us like a hot knife through butter.

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Lord Gort
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Post by Lord Gort » 02 May 2003 14:57

David, you say the U-Boats were running riot in the atlantic, this is ofcourse 1940, at what point did the Kriegamrine runn their subs from the west of France. As I understand it Winston Churchill was quite happy in the first months of 1940 with the rate of ships lost, something like 250 in the firast six months. He was even happier that 90% of those losses ahd been lone ships, not travlelling in convoy.

Please elaborate how the U-Boats would have supported.

If I understand properly their were three planned invasion points in the south. The Royal Navy would have lost everyshop it had to prevent an invasion in my opinion. But it was still a dammnably close run thing! :)



regards,

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David Brown
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BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Post by David Brown » 03 May 2003 00:24

Hello Lord Gort.

U-boats like the surface fleet of the Kreigsmarine had to take the long way around to get into the Atlantic, from bases like Wilhelmshaven in the north of Germany into the North Sea and over the top of the British Isles. Hitler always feared that if the British secured Norway; the route to the Atlantic would have been lost to them.

I understand the point you are making about U-boats operating out of France but the fact of the matter is that they were already operating in the Atlantic prior to the fall of France.

I think it was expected that after the fall of France the German war machine would immediately begin to rain bombs down on us. The fact that it didn’t work like that created the phrase “The Phoney War” because nothing happened on land or in the air until 1940. However it was a very different story in the Atlantic. By the end of August 1939, Donitz already had 21 U-boats positioned in the North Sea and the Atlantic.

On the very day war was declared, the Athenia was sunk by a U-boat. On the 18th September 1939, U-29 attacked and sank the British aircraft carrier HMS Courageous. 22,000 tonnes of ship and aircraft gone in one attack.

The message was rammed home in no uncertain terms on the 13th October 1939 when U47 slipped into Scapa Flow and sank the Flagship, the Royal Oak. On the 3rd September 1939, Donitz had at his disposal just 57 U-boats. It was on the strength of the Scapa Flow attack alone that Hitler realised just how good a weapon the U-boat could be and production went into overdrive.

Churchill was far from happy with the shipping losses. I believe that where the idea of him being happy about it was derived from the fact that out of the 215 ships that were sunk by U-boats in the first nine months of the war, only 22 of them were travelling in a convoy protected by the Royal Navy. I think the “pleased” point comes from the knowledge that it was proven to be safer travelling in a convoy rather then a lone ship as you point out.

Churchill wrote somewhere in his memoirs that after five years of bloody conflict in Europe the only thing that frightened him was the U-boat peril.

To answer your question about elaborating how they would support, I think you have gone some way to answering it yourself. The French naval ports were in German hands before the Battle of Britain started, and by this time, as I mentioned earlier, Donitz had a damn sight more then just 57 U-boats.

Please excuse me if this sounds simplistic but I believe that had an invasion took place in 1940; Britain would have been quickly overwhelmed. During this time the convoys would either stop sailing from America or the Kreigsmarine would have let them through so that the freight would go directly to a Britain that would soon be occupied. This would free up virtually the entire U-boat arm of the Kreigsmarine to assist in the support of the cross-Channel invasion aspect of the invasion.

I agree with you when you say that the Royal Navy would have lost every ship it had to prevent an invasion, but I fear that is just what they might have done because I cannot accept the argument that they would have prevented it on their own.


Goodness me! I've just read back through this post. Sorry that it's so long winded.

Dave[/i]

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Post by karltrowitz » 04 May 2003 07:18

the Luftwaffe would have gained air superiority and a successful invasion could then have been launched.The Royal Navy,even though it would have caused the Germans a few anxious moments would have suffered heavily at the hands of the Luftwaffe in uncontested skies.The war in the Pacific proved how vulnerable surface fleets were to air attack.

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 04 May 2003 18:33

Can someone give me some detail on Germany's amphib capabilities in 1940.

As far as I'm aware they had no ability to land tanks onto beaches, they had few if any proper infantry landing craft and an extremely weak merchant fleet that would struggle to supply any forces landed given the gauntlet of RN sgips it would have to pass, and I'm not talking about the Channel area but the merchant ships that would have to come via the North Sea.

Andy

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Lord Gort
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Post by Lord Gort » 04 May 2003 20:57

The losses to the U-boat in 1940 were indeed great but in comparison to the hard years of the Great War and as said the losses reflected merchant men who did not travel in convoy.


I was looking at some sources which say that the initial plans envisaged landing 13 divisions in three days. At D-day their were five divisions in the first wave and two in the second.

Six from Army group A between Rmasgate and Bexhil, four from Army group A between Brighton and the Isle of Wight, and another three, from Army group B, farther west in Lyme Bay. They expected to occupy the entire country within a month.


regards,

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David Brown
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BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Post by David Brown » 04 May 2003 21:57

Lord Gort wrote:The losses to the U-boat in 1940 were indeed great

Hello Lord Gort

U-boat losses in 1940 were 25 in total.
10 were depth charged.
6 hit mines
3 collided
2 were destroyed in air attacks
1 was destroyed in a submarine attack
3 were destroyed but it isn't known how

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Lord Gort
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Post by Lord Gort » 04 May 2003 22:56

Sorry, I mean losses inflicted by the U-Boat. But 25 U-boats lost at this point in the war is considerable isnt it?

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 05 May 2003 00:23

Another great German deficency was in the area of Mine Counter measures and Mine Sweeping. As of May 1940 Germany posssed less than 2 dozen Minesweepers. This force wouldn't be enough to counter the growing British minefields defending the shores of Britain.

Andy

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Lord Gort
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Post by Lord Gort » 05 May 2003 12:46

Yes Andy, I was thinking about mines, not only would they have to sweep em but they would have to lay them to prevent the Royal Navy attacking at certain points.



But I found a reference in book I have saying in a memorandum by Reaeder in july that he belived that with sufficient air cover he could clear the mine fields! I'd like to know how?






regards,

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 05 May 2003 17:16

The ideal time for the Invasion of Britain was in the July of 1940, when the tides & weather should be on Germany’s side. After the Norwegian campaign the Kreigsmarine would only have the heavy Cruiser Hipper available for combat op’s plus several smaller vessels, not a lot against the RN! Much is made of the U-boat threat, well let’s look at that in some detail.

Germany had 27 ocean going subs available in the summer of 1940. Of which 20 saw action in the N.Atlantic between May-June’40, the remainder were undergoing repairs etc. In addition there were a number of older U-boats that were only fit for op’s in the North Sea. This period in the Atlantic saw the continuing rise in Allied vessels being sunk, but the German torpedo crisis wasn’t going away with the % of defective torpedo’s increasing, and causing morale problems amongst the U-boat crews.

So by July’40 the number of actual subs available for support op’s was 5 ocean-going subs and around 17 older subs. The remaining ocean-going subs were on there return legs home from the Atlantic or heading for Germany for repairs and two were undergoing supply missions to Norway.

Raeder & OKM acknowledged that the Navy had no landing craft, no means of transporting troops, tanks, artillery, trucks, ammo and the other impedimenta across the channel, except for using barges from the European rivers which weren’t suited to the open sea.

The whole Seelowe idea was only a contingency plan that had no real chance of success given the obvious deficiency’s in Germany’s naval and amphib capabilities at the time.

Andy

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Post by Gen.Graf » 05 May 2003 22:09

Why the hell does everyone seem to think the Royal Navy would help them? Germany didn't need landing crafts to get across the channel. All they had to do was use air transports to get the troops there. Then they would fly the supplies in. Now how is the Royal Navy going to stop that?

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Sam H.
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Post by Sam H. » 05 May 2003 22:13

The Luftwaffe did not have enough transport aircraft to bring in more than a couple of divisions (at best), with minimal supplies and equipment. With only air transport, they would never be able to supply the troops with enough ammunition and food for more than a couple of days (a week at best).

Plus, those Luftwaffe transports are slow, pondurus contraptions, easy prey for the British fighters.

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