Battle of Britain

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James Patrick
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Post by James Patrick » 07 May 2003 16:52

The argument is that the Channel is an amazingly difficult obstacle to contend with, however the Allies did it. Why would not the same feat be possible for the Germans?
The English Channel IS an amazingly difficult obstacle to contend with. The Channel isn't some river you can hop over. Going over the Channel is paramount to going across the Atlantic. That's one of the big reasons why southern England doesn't speak French. Remember that Operation Overlord had to have the greatest amphibious assault force ever assembled. Furthermore, it was conducted with almost total air and naval superiority in the AO. The attacking force had near 100% accurate, up-to-date intelligence while running a highly successful counter-intelligence operation to mislead the enemy. The leaders and planners were experts in amphibious ops and their plan was years in the making, using doctrine written back in the 30's. The forces that took part spent months, if not years conducting rehearsals, with some of them in real combat. All of the landing craft and support craft were specifically designed for amphibious ops, with the British refitting a whole armored division with task-specifcally designed tanks to support operations on the beaches. You just can't say, "well if the Americans, British, and Canadians can do it, then the Germans surely can". An operation like this requires a total, 100% combined arms, combined services effort (none of this Lufftwaffe won't talk to Navy, Navy won't talk to Army BS) and leadership that has the concentration of Zen f*cking masters. Looking at how sloppy some of the German ops were, IMO German leadership didn't have the Right Stuff. Look, if I proposed that the Allies were to conduct a poorly planned, poorly supported version of Overlord everyone would agree it would fail, right. Well that ill-concieved plan would still be 10 times better than what the Germans had in mind. [sarcasm]Geman troops on garbage barges being towed by French fishing boats while being protected by U-boats[/sarcasm], gimme a break!

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David Brown
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BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Post by David Brown » 07 May 2003 22:44

Hello James

So tell me how did they manage it in Norway AND keep the supply lines going?

The difference between the D-Day landings of 1944 and the planned invasion of Britain in 1940 was four years of increased armaments production for the British. As I said in an earlier post - the Britsh Army had left all of its equipment on Dunkirk Beach.

The belief that the Germans ONLY had the barges to cross the Channel is a fallacy.

My argument is that with no Royal Air Force, a prequisite of Nazi invasion; an Army with no equipment; and the Royal Navy being the only defence Britain had being stretched to the limit, there would be nothing preventing the Germans from launching an airborn invasion against Britain as another means of attack.

Dave

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Post by James Patrick » 08 May 2003 02:42

Hello Dave,
Just because the BEF left all of their heavy equipment at Dunkirk, doesn't mean the British Army didn't have any vehicles, artillery pieces, tanks, and AAA in England. The time it would have took Germany (at least a year) to plan the invasion, conduct rehearsals, build landing and support craft, marshall troops, and rally the fleet, the British would have built a helluva alot more (not including the reinforcements that come in from Canada). The British Army and its Commonwealth allies wouldn't need to defend the whole island. Unlike Overlord, every British soldier, sailor, marine, homeguardsman, policeman, man, women, cat, dog, etc. knows where the point of attack would be. The British Army would be able to put more armor, vehicles, and artillery on the battlefield than the Germans would be able to bring across the Channel. The ability to transport an invasion force across the English Channel requires landing craft, and lots of them. Germany had very few, and they were of very poor quality. Rhine river barges had to be used to supplement the force and would be the primary transport of the few panzers the German army would commit to the operation. The barges would prove useless at this task in the rough waters of the Channel. There would never be "NO RAF". If the Germans won the Battle of Britain, they would have forced those RAF fighter groups involved in the fighting to more northern bases out of the range of the Luftwaffe. They would join the other RAF fighter groups that were already based up north for the purpose of resting pilots, repairing aircraft, etc. As spread thin as the RN was, the home fleet still consisted of one aircraft carrier, half a dozen to a dozen or so battleships and battlecruisers, and over a hundred smaller vessels such as destroyers, cruisers, and frigates around Scapa Flow (again out of the range of the Luftwaffe). Also remember the Luftwaffe wasn't a naval fighting airforce. They had no torpedo bombers, a slow dive bomber, and little success in attacking convoys, let alone attacking heavily defended carrier and battleship battle groups. Both the northern RAF and RN would sortee to stop any invasion. So what if the Germans launched an airborne invasion. What ever force got through would be wasted. As few vehicles, tanks, artillery pieces, and AAA the British had, it would still be 1000 times greater than what a German airborne/airland force would have. Norway is a drop in the bucket compared to Op Seelion. Seeing how this "success" left almost all of their fleet either destroyed, or having serious damage needing repair, it doesn't inspire too much confidence.

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Erik E
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Post by Erik E » 08 May 2003 19:13

Hallo Sam H!

I posted this story on this forum a few months ago.
If you would like to read it, here it is:

http://www.thirdreichforum.com/viewtopi ... highlight=

to capture and hold an airfield can hardly be compared to capturing and conquering the British Isles
oh yes, I agree! My answer was only directed to one of your lines :wink:

Regards
Erik E

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 09 May 2003 17:23

Hi Dave

No one is doubting that Germany could launch an Airborne invasion, but how would they back that up, without using heavy lift equipment such as ships-which they didn't have?

Andy

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David Brown
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BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Post by David Brown » 10 May 2003 00:37

James Patrick wrote: There would never be "NO RAF". If the Germans won the Battle of Britain, they would have forced those RAF fighter groups involved in the fighting to more northern bases out of the range of the Luftwaffe. They would join the other RAF fighter groups that were already based up north for the purpose of resting pilots, repairing aircraft, etc.
This debate is getting really good...so I'm going to take on all comers :D

Firstly, Hello James. You make some excellent and very valid points, but I have to disagree with the statement as quoted.

The advantage the Royal Air Force had over the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain was the same advantage that the Luftwaffe enjoyed during the Battle of France when the Germans gained control of the air fields that had previously been occupied by the Royal Air Force after Dowding had persuaded Churchill not to send more R.A.F. squadrons to defend France because as he put it, France was a lost cause.

That advantage being flying time. I'm working off the top of my head here but I think that Royal Air Force fighters over Dunkirk having to fly across the Channel could only spend something in the region of 20 minutes before having to return home to refuel. It was the same for the Luftwaffe fighters during the Battle of Britain. Their time was limited to about the same.

Assuming that the Royal Air Force did what you are suggesting, then we have to agree that the Luftwaffe would have control of the airfields like Kenley, Tangmere, Biggin Hill, and Hawkinge to name just four of them. This would in an instant put the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force on a level playing field, and the numbers would play a significant role in determining the final outcome of the battle.

Because of this, I believe, that the Royal Air Force would not move north. Apart from the level playing field, in doing so they would be relinquishing the entire radar network that was so crucial to early warnings. Without this it would be more of the same that happened in France with Luftwaffe fighters, and bombers, being able to over-run the British bases in the north because they would not have the eyes to see them until they were on top of them.

Secondly, Hello Andy H. You know that you have found the Achilles Heel of my argument but I'm going to argue the toss anyway. :D

Raedar was already scouring the Merchant Fleets that the Germans had "inherited" in Belgium, Holland, and France for suitable vessels.

On July 10th 1940, Hitler ordered that all heavy ordinance moved to the Channel coast to provide covering fire for the invasion. Gun placements were set up along the coastline between Calais and Boulogne. So already we have another line of defence against the possiblity of Royal Navy intervention, other then aerial assault.

Jodl was concerned about Britains shore defences rather then the Channel itself. He believed that the only way to counter this problem was to deploy an invasion across an "extended front". 40 Divisions, including 6 Panzer Divisions, and 3 Motorised Divisions were already earmarked.

Because Raedar had (yes I admit it) inordiante difficulties in finding the Merchant transport that he would require, the invasion plan was scaled down in favour of indentifying a single landing point in the vicinity of Dover. This was intended to reduce the amount of shipping that would be needed to cover the "extended front" because the invasion force would be reduced from 40 to 13 Divisions.

Raedar convinced Hitler that this narrowing would be easier to defend for the already battered Kreigsmarine with costal artillery, mine laying, anti-submarine defences, in addition to aerial attacks being combined to subdue anything that the Royal Navy would throw at them.

This indicates to me Andy that Raedar had already procured enough heavy shipping to push forward with the invasion. I understand that it was also intended to land artillery on the British side of the Channel for further defence against seaborn attack.

My figures might be wrong but I think the numbers were something like 90,000 troops during the initial assault with heavy equipment and reinforcements bringing the total number of men to 260,000 by the end of the third day. There was also a secondary plan to land an assault unit of around 7,000 troops backed up by 4,500 Luftwaffe Paratroopers that were to be dropped by a fleet of Junkers Ju52's. These too were ready and waiting.

The key is, and always was, the elimination of the Royal Air Force, not just in part, but TOTAL, before any of the main body of invasion left France.

And while we are on the subject of the Royal Navy, is it not concievable with the defeat of the Royal Air Force, that there may be a line of military thought that it would be better to fall back, re-group, and strike from American naval bases with the warships that we had rather then risk losing them, or worse still, allowing the Kreigsmarine to get their hands on them...Just a thought :wink: .

Dave

PS -I hope I haven't bored you all to sleep with the length of this post :D

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 10 May 2003 09:33

Hi David

I will leave the RAF question to James and others.

I will pass at present on the Coastal Gun Line question until I can find out more info on it's feasibility, but just to say that at this stage of the war they would be in open field emplacments and so subject to effective air strikes.

Returning to one aspect of the naval side of the invasion, that of Heavy lift capacity. The procurement of "suitable" merchant vessels from occupied countries. Well firstly you will need trained crews for the ships and secondly and more importantly you will need a working harbour/dock from which they can inload there cargo. Now i'm sure were all in agreement that plans existed for the destruction of the major harbour/dock facilities on the Southern coast in the evnet of a German assault. This still means that the Germans have no beach landing capabilities bar for the barges so often cited.

The inability of the KM to defend any shipping lines supplying an established B/H places the success of the invasion on very dodgy ground, which was in fact the truth to which the KM faced and noted in reality back in 1940

Andy

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Post by Lord Gort » 10 May 2003 12:05

Although in the event it was the Luftwaffe's failure to achieve a breakthrough which foiled the invasion plans, it was not just the RAF which saved Britain. If there had been no British army, the Germans could have afforded for a much smaller invasion force than the 13 divisions envisaged in first 3 days. Above all it was the weakness of the German navy - weak in 1939, crippled after the Norweigian campaign, which made from the beggining the full scale invasion plan a non-starter. And the very need for air superiority, upon which the modified plan depended, arose from the dominance of the British Navy, the original Sea Lion plan had to be modified until it was a mere appendage of the air war. Just as Napoleon's invasion from Boulogne was made impossible by the battles of Aboukir, Cpoenhagen, and Trafalgar, so Sea Lion foundered, along with half of Germany's destroyers, in the actions at Narvik and Trondheim.



regards,

James Patrick
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Post by James Patrick » 10 May 2003 18:16

Hello Dave
If the Luftwaffe did achieve total air superiority over Southern England, they still don't have control of those southern airfields and radar installations (I take it that British radar was mostly ground and not airbased). The Germans could attempt to seize these installations with airborne/airland forces, but they would be very hard pressed against a larger, more heavily armed and equipped British Army in England. The attacking force would also have to deal with an extensive and impressive AAA network and the remnants of the Royal Air Force from the Battle of Britian (still in range of most of Southern England) which would hamper the initial assault and follow on support operations. While you and I may disagree on what the size of RAF reserves would be, I think we would both agree that any successful German airborne/airland opertations would depend on the eventual link-up with a larger, better equipped, more conventional ground force. I wouldn't give too much credence to the Raeder plan (like who am I to argue with him :)). To work, his plan would need a near zero presence of the RAF over the landing areas, annihilation of the Home Fleet by the Luftwaffe (which would never happen no matter how much smack Goering talked), the seizure of a major, undemolished port facility to disembark all heavy equipment and most of the troops (which all desirable southern English cities would be overflowing with armed BEF and Free French troops), total lack of resolve by British soldiers and sailors (German leadership loved to underestimate their opponents capabilities and determination), and tons of luck. In my opinion this is the crux of the problem. For any airborne assault to be successful, it needs a realistic follow-on amphibious invasion. To achieve this would require from the Germans more planning, training, resouces, and most importantly time (which sides with British). WWII demonstrated for this time period that even with total domination of the air by the enemy extensive defensive preparations can still be made (Atlantic Wall), war industry can thrive, and reinforcements can be brought in from other theatres of operations.
You brought up a good point about the Royal Navy possibly not taking part in defense of the southern coast so as to be able to fight another day (which by the way contradicts your belief that the RAF would destroy itself in the BoB). While this is possible, IMO I don't think the RN would reposition itself in safer waters. The battle for the Channel would be the dominant naval battle of the war in the Atlantic. The British politicians and citizenry would want to see some return for their young men and women and billions of pounds invested into this institution. Whereas the Army and RAF may have seemed to have failed, the RN, the preeminent arm of the British Forces, would be given the prominent role in the defense of the home islands IMO.
Jim

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David Brown
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BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Post by David Brown » 10 May 2003 23:56

Andy H wrote:
Now i'm sure were all in agreement that plans existed for the destruction of the major harbour/dock facilities on the Southern coast in the evnet of a German assault. This still means that the Germans have no beach landing capabilities bar for the barges so often cited.
Hello Andy.

I agree absolutely. I know for a fact that the British and French armed forces wrecked the ports and harbours as they were leaving to get to England. It left an enormous amount of work for the German engineers (I think the correct name to call them was "Pioniers") to do before they could even set about building up the defences.

BUT the Germans invasions barges were not intended to sail into the docks and harbour facilities. It was only in the assault on Brighton that they would have need of the harbours and by this time the Germans would be ashore on the beach between Beachy Head and Dover.

Dave

If there had been no British army, the Germans could have afforded for a much smaller invasion force than the 13 divisions envisaged in first 3 days.
Hello Lord Gort.

This is my point but not in the same words. The British Army was (for want of a better word) intact, it's just their equipment that wasn't. I accept that they did have some but nothing that would have matched the Germans equipment, or even given them something to seriously worry about.

Dave.



Hello Again James.

Total air superiority was not what was expected of the Luftwaffe as the precursor to invasion. It was total air supremacy. In other words, nothing in the air from the Royal Air Force.

British radar was located all along the southern coast of England from Lands End to Kent; from Kent all the way up the east coast to Scotland; and there were radar stations based on the most south-western point of Wales. The initial effort of the Luftwaffe was to attack them with Stuka's but unlike in Poland and France they were proven to be so desperately vulnerable to the Hurricane and Spitfire defenders and were very soon withdrawn from use in the Battle.
I think we would both agree that any successful German airborne/airland opertations would depend on the eventual link-up with a larger, better equipped, more conventional ground force.
I definately do agree with you. I think where we differ though is that I believe that the British Army, although armed, would not have the fire power to cause the Wehrmacht much of an obstacle.

My suggestion about the Royal Navy falling back to re-group and strike from American naval bases with the warships that we had rather then risk losing them was just a political thought. I don't think it contradicts my belief that the Royal Air Force would fight to the very last aircraft to defend Britain. The aircraft we had would not be able to fly across the Atlantic so the goal would surely be to hit the enemy for as long as possible with all the things we couldn't get out.

I appreciate what you say about wanting to see a return for the lives of the young men and women that were lost, and you are right, but the same was true of every Polish and French soldier, sailor, and airman who made it to Britain. They too wanted the same return but staying in their own country was not the best way of achieving it. It is the point in time where defence is no longer a viable option; internal resistance by those who were unable to get out to wreak havoc from within; and external regrouping by those who were able to get out to reform and attack the invader from the outside.


Take care - speak to you all again soon

Dave.

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 11 May 2003 08:58

Hi David

I think we may be speaking at cross-purposes here.

Basically any merchant ship German or otherwise would need the use of a Harbour or Dock to offload it's cargo etc-Which as we agreed they wouldn't have due to British demolitions of such facilities. The barges would be the prime mover of men and maybe equipment to any beach landing but again they wern't ideal.

Andy

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Post by Yngwie J. » 11 May 2003 12:52

No way the Germans could have won the Battle of Britain!

I´ve seen that some of you use the Germans operations in Norway as an argument for German victory.
In Norway, the Germans enjoyed total air supremacy ( Well, three RNoAF Gloster Gladiators actually managed to shoot down four German aircraft before they ran out of gas ).
Please explain to me how the Germans could have gained, at least, air superority, which without an invasion would never succeed!

Yours truly,
Yngwie J.

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 11 May 2003 18:31

The main problem the RAF encountered during the BoB was not the actual plane losses but the lack of trained pilots. Though a full training programme was in full swing, it would take time for the fruits to be born. Only in that way was Germany ever going to gain air sup over Britain.

Andy

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David Brown
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BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Post by David Brown » 11 May 2003 19:52

Hello Yngwie J. and welcome to the Forum
I´ve seen that some of you use the Germans operations in Norway as an argument for German victory.
I think you may find that I have been the only one who has mentioned Norway in this debate, but you are right about the Luftwaffe’s air supremacy during this invasion.

My argument is that it was a pre-requirement of any German invasion plan to secure just that over Britain, total air supremacy. Had the Luftwaffe continued attacking the airfields of the Royal Air Force instead of switching to attacking cities, they would have eroded the Royal Air Force’s capabilities to the extent that air supremacy would have been quickly achieved.

When Air Vice Marshal Keith Park mooted to Sir Hugh Dowding the R.A.F. Fighter Command Chief that he felt sorry for the people in the cities who were on the receiving end of the Luftwaffe's bombing, Dowding is reputed to have retorted "As long as they leave my bloody airfields alone we'll beat the bastards". How right he was.

The main thrust of the debate though is whether or not the the Wehrmacht could open and maintain a supply line to support the planned invasion of Britain. As I have already mentioned, in order for a a land invasion to take place, the Luftwaffe would have had to secure air supremacy.

I sincerely believe that if the Luftwaffe had not changed their tactics from attacking the airfields to attacking the cities they would have achieved air superiority.

Andy H has also added weight to my argument in his last post on this subject.

Take care.

Dave

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Post by Yngwie J. » 11 May 2003 22:39

Thanks for welcoming me Dave!

I see your points, and they are good points too.
We agree that air supremacy, or at least air superiority, would be a pre-requirement for a German invasion.
However, I can´t see how the Germans would have gained that, even if they had continued to attack R.A.F. airfields.

The battle was taking a heavy toll on the crews and aircraft of the Luftwaffe. We have to take into account that while German crews who had to jump, more often than not ended up as POW´s or in the English Channel, while their R.A.F. counterparts often was back in their Hurricanes or Spitfires within days.
In my opinion the Luftwaffe didn´t have the resources to a prolonged battle.

At the end of the battle Fighter Command had eight more squadrons in the front line than at the beginning, and replacement pilots were arriving from the training schools twice as quickly.

Best regards,
Yngwie J.

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