Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
Peter89
Member
Posts: 1614
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Spain

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by Peter89 » 08 Sep 2020 09:02

Avalancheon wrote:
07 Sep 2020 09:27

This campaign is well within their means to pull off. In terms of scale, intensity, and duration, it won't be much different from the invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece.
Hmm, hardly, the logistics of a campaign on the Balkans was VERY different. Yugoslavia and Greece shared a huge border with Italy/Albania, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, nothing comprable was present in Turkey.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

User avatar
T. A. Gardner
Member
Posts: 2845
Joined: 02 Feb 2006 00:23
Location: Arizona

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 09 Sep 2020 19:33

The success would also in part depend on how well the Germans could manage getting at least some naval support in for this operation. They'd need transport ships and at least some MFP and Seibel ferries to move stuff across the Bosporus and potentially for small landings along the Black Sea coast.
Fallschirmjäger would also be highly useful in this operation to grab bridgeheads and such ahead of advancing ground forces.

The railway engineer's biggest challenge wouldn't be repairing sections of railroad so much as replacing downed bridges and upgrading track to take more rail traffic. Both of those are far larger challenges than simply repairing or re-gaging existing lines. Adding infrastructure would also take more effort if there was an inadequate signals system, water and coal stations, sidings, that sort of thing. If the Turks were to drop bridges and blow up rail tunnels as they retreated, they could effectively shut down a rail line for weeks or even months for repairs.

Peter89
Member
Posts: 1614
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Spain

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by Peter89 » 09 Sep 2020 21:51

T. A. Gardner wrote:
09 Sep 2020 19:33
The success would also in part depend on how well the Germans could manage getting at least some naval support in for this operation. They'd need transport ships and at least some MFP and Seibel ferries to move stuff across the Bosporus and potentially for small landings along the Black Sea coast.
Fallschirmjäger would also be highly useful in this operation to grab bridgeheads and such ahead of advancing ground forces.

The railway engineer's biggest challenge wouldn't be repairing sections of railroad so much as replacing downed bridges and upgrading track to take more rail traffic. Both of those are far larger challenges than simply repairing or re-gaging existing lines. Adding infrastructure would also take more effort if there was an inadequate signals system, water and coal stations, sidings, that sort of thing. If the Turks were to drop bridges and blow up rail tunnels as they retreated, they could effectively shut down a rail line for weeks or even months for repairs.
Exactly!

Has anyone ever drawn up a credible sketch of the Operation Gertrude here (or somewhere else)?
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

Peter89
Member
Posts: 1614
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Spain

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by Peter89 » 09 Sep 2020 21:58

By the way, FallschirmJägers of 1941 jumped almost completely unarmed, with a handful of grenades and a pistol. The rifles and machine guns were dropped separately. They landed on their hands and knees (then they rolled forward), and it took them about 80 seconds to get rid of the parachute. It was a miracle and the testament of prowess of the troops landed on Crete that Operation Merkur did not end in a disaster.

Therefore, to land FJs in hostile territory - especially under long-range, and continuous fire - was a very bad idea. Deploying them to safe zones or tasking their specialized troops to secure objects was a different matter - they were experts of that.

Also, let's not forget about the gliders that the Germans liked to use (for no sane reasons). The troops inside them were better suited for combat on land, but in return, the planes were totally exposed in the air.

Long story short, we can conjure up an image from 1941 about the FJs taking a Turkish bridge, capturing a chromite ore depo near the Sea of Marmara, or supporting Turkish troops if they joined the Axis. But they couldn't stand their ground or even gain a foothold against an enemy with the minimal ability to fight. (We are talking about pistols and grenades against WW1 style rifles and machine guns.)

But yes, miracles do happen :)
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Sep 2020 06:06

T.A. Gardner wrote:The success would also in part depend on how well the Germans could manage getting at least some naval support in for this operation.
Italy was Germany's ally in WW2. It had a substantial navy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regia_Marina#World_War_II

T.A. Gardner wrote:The railway engineer's biggest challenge wouldn't be repairing sections of railroad so much as replacing downed bridges
T.A. Gardner wrote:If the Turks were to drop bridges and blow up rail tunnels as they retreated, they could effectively shut down a rail line for weeks or even months for repairs.
Does Turkey have any rivers even as big as the Desna, Sozh, Bug, Dniestr, Pripyat - let alone Dniepr and Dvina? Doesn't seem so. The biggest river east of Ankara is the Sakarya, whose mean discharge is less than all of the foregoing Soviet rivers. As only the Dniepr imposed delays of more than days in Barbarossa, I can't imagine any of Turkey's little streams being serious obstacles.

From Der Alte Fritz's great thread on German railways in the East:
They blew the bridges... the Desna constituted a serious strategic obstacle. Repairs were complicated by the fact that both bridges (respectively 8,640 meters and 9,620 meters long) rose to a height of 1,050 meters. In spite of this difficulty our railroad engineers succeeded in restoring the southern bridge in five days
viewtopic.php?f=66&t=203286&start=90#p1850647

...so German engineers repaired a 9km bridge in five days. There probably wasn't a single 9km bridge in Turkey until the recent completion of the Bosporus Bridge. Always good to check Der Alte Fritz's thread before opining on German railway capabilities.
T.A. Gardner wrote:Adding infrastructure would also take more effort if there was an inadequate signals system, water and coal stations, sidings, that sort of thing.
As I've discussed extensively elsewhere the Germans lacked all of these things in Barbarossa yet (barely) supported ~180 divisions* 1,000km deep into enemy territory. This hurt them in Barbarossa but Turkey is a different ballgame.
*inc. Axis allies

From the Sea of Marmara to Ankara is ~300km.

Germany would have 20 or so divisions instead of 180.

The total logistical burden to reach Ankara (ton-miles) is on the order of 5% of Barbarossa's. A far greater portion of that burden (all of it?) could be carried by truck.

When citing a potential obstacle one should at least address possible solutions.
Peter89 wrote:Has anyone ever drawn up a credible sketch of the Operation Gertrude here (or somewhere else)?
You commented after this post: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=251596#p2289528. Let me know which elements you find incredible.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Peter89
Member
Posts: 1614
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Spain

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by Peter89 » 17 Sep 2020 10:37

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 06:06
T.A. Gardner wrote:The success would also in part depend on how well the Germans could manage getting at least some naval support in for this operation.
Italy was Germany's ally in WW2. It had a substantial navy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regia_Marina#World_War_II
Not really... the Italian navy was kept in check by the RN units in the Mediterraneum, and they screwd up all their chances to deliver a knock-out blow in 1940, for example when Cunningham's fleet was in range of land based aviation units. Instead, the RN delivered a few punches at the Battle of Taranto and more decisively, at the Battle of Cape Matapan.

The Italian Navy, air force and army were in no proper shape of fight in your alloted timeframe. (Mid-1941-Early 1942)



TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 06:06
T.A. Gardner wrote:The railway engineer's biggest challenge wouldn't be repairing sections of railroad so much as replacing downed bridges
T.A. Gardner wrote:If the Turks were to drop bridges and blow up rail tunnels as they retreated, they could effectively shut down a rail line for weeks or even months for repairs.
Does Turkey have any rivers even as big as the Desna, Sozh, Bug, Dniestr, Pripyat - let alone Dniepr and Dvina? Doesn't seem so. The biggest river east of Ankara is the Sakarya, whose mean discharge is less than all of the foregoing Soviet rivers. As only the Dniepr imposed delays of more than days in Barbarossa, I can't imagine any of Turkey's little streams being serious obstacles.

From Der Alte Fritz's great thread on German railways in the East:
They blew the bridges... the Desna constituted a serious strategic obstacle. Repairs were complicated by the fact that both bridges (respectively 8,640 meters and 9,620 meters long) rose to a height of 1,050 meters. In spite of this difficulty our railroad engineers succeeded in restoring the southern bridge in five days
viewtopic.php?f=66&t=203286&start=90#p1850647

...so German engineers repaired a 9km bridge in five days. There probably wasn't a single 9km bridge in Turkey until the recent completion of the Bosporus Bridge. Always good to check Der Alte Fritz's thread before opining on German railway capabilities.
It's more about tunnels and viaducts in Turkey. A few of them demolished, and the operations can halt for a relatively long time.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 06:06
T.A. Gardner wrote:Adding infrastructure would also take more effort if there was an inadequate signals system, water and coal stations, sidings, that sort of thing.
As I've discussed extensively elsewhere the Germans lacked all of these things in Barbarossa yet (barely) supported ~180 divisions* 1,000km deep into enemy territory. This hurt them in Barbarossa but Turkey is a different ballgame.
*inc. Axis allies

From the Sea of Marmara to Ankara is ~300km.

Germany would have 20 or so divisions instead of 180.

The total logistical burden to reach Ankara (ton-miles) is on the order of 5% of Barbarossa's. A far greater portion of that burden (all of it?) could be carried by truck.
Hardly lol. I'll just skip the truck part, because I have the "pleasure" to drive through the Balkans with my car in the past few months as I am living in Greece now, but let me tell you, it's not a cakewalk, not even in 2020. (Also, I do not trust any road map of this region ever again, because they are marking very different kind of roads with the same signs.) Let's just put it that way, that even with the roads we have today, and the most modern German equipment of the time (Opel-Blitz 3,6-6700A), the journey from Wien to the staging grounds - not the combat zone in Turkey! - is about 1200km, so the trucks with a good 30l/100km highway consumption could do it with 360l of fuel - and the backtrip would take 360l of fuel, too. Also the wear and tear on the tires, the engines and other stuff could be potentially bringing down this logistical possibility to the level of an airlift. TODAY. Imagine it in 1941.

And we are not even talking about Turkey... and how they can get their stuff over the sea.

Long story short, to build up the forces and their equipment on the staging ground for Operation Gertrude is not easy at all, with a single, very much exposed railway running from the heartland of the Reich to the Turkish border.

Even the Balkans campaign presented quite a logistical difficulty for the Germans, and they were ready to rely on Hungarian, Bulgarian and Italian support to ease the strain on their lines.

http://dracobooks.com/The-German-Campai ... brand.html
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 06:06
When citing a potential obstacle one should at least address possible solutions.
As in OTL, the Germans could use the ports in Bulgaria, the single railway, and of course, the captured British / Greek stocks. Depending on the type of operation, the complete air, and a local naval superiority is a must as the RN was stronger in the theatre.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 06:06
Peter89 wrote:Has anyone ever drawn up a credible sketch of the Operation Gertrude here (or somewhere else)?
You commented after this post: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=251596#p2289528. Let me know which elements you find incredible.
First of all, time.

The Germans could probably, eventually conquer Turkey instead of the Barbarossa, but that would screw their chance to knock the BE out of the war.

I think you are not quite familiar with the scope of buildup of the forces in the US & BE: by 1943, the sheer amount of equipment and weapons were steamrolling the Axis, wiping them out from the air and the seas. And whether we like it or not, the disaster in Africa was unavoidable: they could not be supported via sea or air.

And as we have discussed before, no credible Turkey-based strategy can be viable without air and naval supremacy.

It could have made sense to conquer Turkey before the British send troops to Iraq and Syria, but it was simply not possible. Especially not with a comprehensive Mediterran strategy.


Second, logistics.

It was hard to supply an army of 20 divisions (especially motorized ones) in the far ends of Turkey. No viable strategy in Turkey is realistic without substantial local support. To pose a threat towards the Caucasus from Turkey alone was not realistic in 1942.

The BE captured the ME, probably a smaller version of Operation Countenance could have taken place as well to secure British interests in the region. There was simply no way to sustain a German war effort in fall 1942 on this front against the Allied armies. To push out the combined RN & USN from the Med in 1942 was simply out of the question.


Third, reasons.

There was nothing of value in Turkey for the German war machine except of chromite ore. A limited operation to raid and seize the chromite ore stocks in 1941/1942 could have made more sense, as the depos were very near the Axis staging grounds and they were hard to move or destroy in time.

Even if the Germans succeed in capturing Turkey, it does not help them at the Suez / Egypt: these locations are very, very far from each other, and they were supported via different channels.

In your scenario, the Axis might take a hold from Turkey to Morocco by the fall of 1942, but by then, the Allied superiority on air and sea ensured that Operation Torch would have taken place anyway. If you think that Gibraltar could be taken and held without Spanish help, you are either wrong or you calculate with a successful invasion against Spain as well. Even if Gibraltar was taken, the Allies could land their troops on the Atlantic coast (as they did OTL with the Western Force of the Operation Torch).

Also, the more troops the Axis has in Africa / ME in the fall of 1942, the more troops will be POWs or destroyed.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

Peter89
Member
Posts: 1614
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Spain

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by Peter89 » 17 Sep 2020 11:15

Btw it's another thread why do we keep referring the Italian navy as a credible threat in the Mediterran sea from mid-1941.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Sep 2020 12:25

Before responding to specific points, a reminder that I find the idea of attacking Turkey prior to or during Barbarossa absolutely ludicrous - as stated repeatedly in the other thread I referenced.
Peter89 wrote:Not really... the Italian navy was kept in check by the RN units in the Mediterraneum
Fine but not in the Aegean after the LW is based there, let alone in the Sea of Marmara. I was responding to Gardner's comment about naval support in the landing zones. Just a few destroyers firing on the beaches will do - and they're not even necessary given the "river crossing" nature of assaults from near Greek islands that were well within shore-shore artillery support.
It's more about tunnels and viaducts in Turkey.
Which tunnels and viaducts specifically? Follow the route of one of the railroad through the Aydin province and its large valley and show me a big viaduct in the first 200km from the coast. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Ayd%C ... 28.4863963
I have the "pleasure" to drive through the Balkans
The Balkans is a pretty big area. How much of the Anatolian Plateau have you driven through? There are mountains, sure, but there are also big long valleys in which somebody needs to stop a panzer division. https://www.google.com/maps/@37.8285869 ... 312!8i6656
the journey from Wien to the staging grounds
Why are we talking about Wien? Railroads lead to the staging grounds in Thrace; a secure sea line runs via Trieste-Corinth-Greek Isles.
Also the wear and tear on the tires, the engines and other stuff could be potentially bringing down this logistical possibility to the level of an airlift. TODAY. Imagine it in 1941.
Answer analogous to my response to Gardner: nothing you're saying wasn't 10x worse in Barbarossa. Ostheer's maps were rarely right. Yet if the RKKA had just the Turks' 25 or so poorly-equipped divisions, it'd have been over quickly.
Even the Balkans campaign presented quite a logistical difficulty for the Germans
I guess that's why Greece and Yugoslavia were long, drawn out campaigns that bled the Germans white.
no credible Turkey-based strategy can be viable without air and naval supremacy.
Then they need a strategy to master the vaunted Turkish air force and navy. Luckily they built the Turks' best ship so maybe they can come up with dastardly plan to sink her based on inside knowledge.

Unless you think the RN is going to charge into the Aegean with no air cover. That didn't go so well even in 1943. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodecanese_campaign
Even if the Germans succeed in capturing Turkey, it does not help them at the Suez / Egypt: these locations are very, very far from each other, and they were supported via different channels.
Tripoli is >twice as far from Suez as Antakya; even Tobruk is 50 miles farther. And there's actual railroads to Antakya, and then from Antakya to southern Palestine.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Peter89
Member
Posts: 1614
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Spain

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by Peter89 » 17 Sep 2020 13:56

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 12:25
Before responding to specific points, a reminder that I find the idea of attacking Turkey prior to or during Barbarossa absolutely ludicrous - as stated repeatedly in the other thread I referenced.
Okay, but then I don't know how to address your timeframe.

Are we talking about 1943, when, in your imaginary scenario, the Germans are redeploying their forces to... take Turkey?

Why? When? Are they in war with the US? Because then they're fucked, and all what we are talking about here is just a few A-bombs on major cities of the Reich.

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 12:25
Peter89 wrote:Not really... the Italian navy was kept in check by the RN units in the Mediterraneum
Fine but not in the Aegean after the LW is based there, let alone in the Sea of Marmara. I was responding to Gardner's comment about naval support in the landing zones. Just a few destroyers firing on the beaches will do - and they're not even necessary given the "river crossing" nature of assaults from near Greek islands that were well within shore-shore artillery support.
I'm interested how do you get hostile ships into the Sea of Marmara.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 12:25
It's more about tunnels and viaducts in Turkey.
Which tunnels and viaducts specifically? Follow the route of one of the railroad through the Aydin province and its large valley and show me a big viaduct in the first 200km from the coast. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Ayd%C ... 28.4863963
Sometimes I'm not sure if you're joking or not.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 12:25
I have the "pleasure" to drive through the Balkans
The Balkans is a pretty big area. How much of the Anatolian Plateau have you driven through? There are mountains, sure, but there are also big long valleys in which somebody needs to stop a panzer division. https://www.google.com/maps/@37.8285869 ... 312!8i6656
I had my fair share in Turkey too, but without the improved infrastructure of 2020, I seriously doubt that we are talking about a walk in a park geography-wise.

The terrain is full of excellent positions for guerilla warfare or nice chocke points to defend for a determined resistance.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 12:25
the journey from Wien to the staging grounds
Why are we talking about Wien? Railroads lead to the staging grounds in Thrace; a secure sea line runs via Trieste-Corinth-Greek Isles.
Because in order to support an invasion of Turkey, you have to get your matériel to the staging grounds. Even that is problematic, especially in 1943.

Otherwise, the Germans / Italians did not have the naval assets to support an invasion like that via that route. Also, the security of that route is highly questionable in 1943.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 12:25
Also the wear and tear on the tires, the engines and other stuff could be potentially bringing down this logistical possibility to the level of an airlift. TODAY. Imagine it in 1941.
Answer analogous to my response to Gardner: nothing you're saying wasn't 10x worse in Barbarossa. Ostheer's maps were rarely right. Yet if the RKKA had just the Turks' 25 or so poorly-equipped divisions, it'd have been over quickly.
Okay, please draw us a credible plan for Operation Gertrude. And please address the timeframe.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 12:25
Even the Balkans campaign presented quite a logistical difficulty for the Germans
I guess that's why Greece and Yugoslavia were long, drawn out campaigns that bled the Germans white.
Actually, the Axis had to occupy the Balkans with an amazing number of troops, just to keep their rule more-or-less intact. Besides: the Balkans was attacked from multiple directions, and from staging grounds with appropriate logistics. Turkey, on the other hand, had to be attacked on a continous front via sea, from staging grounds that were much worse supported.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 12:25
no credible Turkey-based strategy can be viable without air and naval supremacy.
Then they need a strategy to master the vaunted Turkish air force and navy. Luckily they built the Turks' best ship so maybe they can come up with dastardly plan to sink her based on inside knowledge.

Unless you think the RN is going to charge into the Aegean with no air cover. That didn't go so well even in 1943. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodecanese_campaign
You are a bit misreading the infos here. No one denies that Germany could have taken Turkey in WW2 - I simply think you are simplifying the operation as if the Germans have have to walk into Turkey. It clearly wasn't the case.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 12:25
Even if the Germans succeed in capturing Turkey, it does not help them at the Suez / Egypt: these locations are very, very far from each other, and they were supported via different channels.
Tripoli is >twice as far from Suez as Antakya; even Tobruk is 50 miles farther. And there's actual railroads to Antakya, and then from Antakya to southern Palestine.
Yes, and that's why I said that El-Alamein is far from Turkey. Very far. So if the Germans somehow manage to conquer Turkey, it does not necessarily improve their situation at El-Alamein.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

Peter89
Member
Posts: 1614
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Spain

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by Peter89 » 17 Sep 2020 14:10

I can't help the feeling we are poking the mist here.

We don't know when this invasion supposed to happen, what would be the Allies' involvement, what are the goals, etc.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

User avatar
T. A. Gardner
Member
Posts: 2845
Joined: 02 Feb 2006 00:23
Location: Arizona

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 17 Sep 2020 17:03

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Sep 2020 06:06
Italy was Germany's ally in WW2. It had a substantial navy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regia_Marina#World_War_II
Getting Italy to use it for something Germany wanted to do is another thing entirely. Italy never was a fully willing ally of Germany. They ran a "parallel" war. For example, if Germany had not committed serious troops to N. Africa, it is doubtful the Italians would have sent any troops to Russia whatsoever. Same thing here. They might see this a Germany's problem.
Does Turkey have any rivers even as big as the Desna, Sozh, Bug, Dniestr, Pripyat - let alone Dniepr and Dvina? Doesn't seem so. The biggest river east of Ankara is the Sakarya, whose mean discharge is less than all of the foregoing Soviet rivers. As only the Dniepr imposed delays of more than days in Barbarossa, I can't imagine any of Turkey's little streams being serious obstacle.

From Der Alte Fritz's great thread on German railways in the East:
They blew the bridges... the Desna constituted a serious strategic obstacle. Repairs were complicated by the fact that both bridges (respectively 8,640 meters and 9,620 meters long) rose to a height of 1,050 meters. In spite of this difficulty our railroad engineers succeeded in restoring the southern bridge in five days
viewtopic.php?f=66&t=203286&start=90#p1850647

...so German engineers repaired a 9km bridge in five days. There probably wasn't a single 9km bridge in Turkey until the recent completion of the Bosporus Bridge. Always good to check Der Alte Fritz's thread before opining on German railway capabilities.
Doesn't matter the size of the river, or the exact span of the bridge. Once a rail bridge is down it will take the Germans well more than a month to replace it. Repairs are also a matter of how thoroughly the bridge was demolished. Add to that if materials like new rails aren't available, that sort of thing, it isn't simply a matter of shipping them by rail from Germany. The supply route is more convoluted.
But, without knowing the damage that occurred to the bridge in your quote, we don't know what repairs the Germans had to carry out or it that is typical of repair times.
As I've discussed extensively elsewhere the Germans lacked all of these things in Barbarossa yet (barely) supported ~180 divisions* 1,000km deep into enemy territory. This hurt them in Barbarossa but Turkey is a different ballgame.
*inc. Axis allies

From the Sea of Marmara to Ankara is ~300km.

Germany would have 20 or so divisions instead of 180.

The total logistical burden to reach Ankara (ton-miles) is on the order of 5% of Barbarossa's. A far greater portion of that burden (all of it?) could be carried by truck.

When citing a potential obstacle one should at least address possible solutions.
On the other hand, the terrain is much more rugged than in Russia.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Sep 2020 00:49

Peter89 wrote:I can't help the feeling we are poking the mist here.
Yeah. A little bit of clarity helps.

I've been clear on this thread or the other that (1) Germany could have taken Turkey pre-Barbarossa, (2) that I think it's stupid to do so prior to defeating/disabling Russia. My view is that the Germans have should crippled Russia by Summer '42 (also the view of the U.S. Victory Program, btw) so early-Fall '42 would have been the best time to invade Turkey if it isn't already in the Axis camp (as I think it would have been).

What makes these discussions hard is you appear not to take seriously the idea that Germany could have beaten Russia. It's fine to disagree but if we're going to discuss my view of invading Turkey you have to address my actual view.

We also need to avoid conflating whether something was possible with whether something was wise. It was probably possible for the Germans to conquer Switzerland in a few months well into 1944 but probably never wise. Your comments about W.Allied material buildup in England veer into broader strategy and confuse discussions about operational/logistical feasibility.
Okay, please draw us a credible plan for Operation Gertrude. And please address the timeframe.
I will get around to presenting a more detailed plan at some point but it's hard to do so when you don't provide specific objections related to one of the foreground issues (logistics). It's not fair to expect me to present a detailed plan while you deal in generalities.

For example:
Because in order to support an invasion of Turkey, you have to get your matériel to the staging grounds.
What are your specific objections to getting, say, 10 German divisions (plus probably Bulgarians) at the Thracian border? That's exactly what the Germans did in Marita so I don't see how there's any feasible reason they can't do it in Gertrude.

What are your specific objections to moving, say, 10 German divisions to Lesbos, Rhodes, Samos etc. via Trieste and Corinth?
Sometimes I'm not sure if you're joking or not.
Fair. I have followed, via Google maps, the valley that runs from the coast, through Aydin, deep into Anatolia. I do not see anywhere in that long valley that a Panzer division couldn't role over the poorly-trained, poorly-equipped Turkish army. I also see no obstacles to truck or rail-based logistics. Likewise for the valley running Candarli-Bergama-Soma.

At the ends of these valleys are some narrowish passes; beyond is the Anatolian Plateau and many, many routes eastwards until the Tarsus range.

I was kind of joking about you taking this Google road trip with me as well but if you want to say there's some insuperable obstacle to reaching Ankara within, say, 6 weeks you should at least put some effort into pointing to places on a map. You seem to have ignored these geographical points so far.
T.A. Gardner wrote:f Germany had not committed serious troops to N. Africa, it is doubtful the Italians would have sent any troops to Russia whatsoever.
Please read your history.

Mussolini was chomping at the bit to get a piece of Eastern glory; Hitler and OKH were reluctant to add Italian logistics to the Ostheer's burden considering they ate as much but had far lower combat value.
Doesn't matter the size of the river, or the exact span of the bridge. Once a rail bridge is down it will take the Germans well more than a month to replace it.
Yeah the bridge could be 20ft long or 20km long - doesn't matter.

It could be over the Amazon or over the creek behind my house - doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter that the Germans put a blown-up 9km bridge back into service in 5 days in Russia; in Turkey all bridges take months to repair because reasons.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Peter89
Member
Posts: 1614
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Spain

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by Peter89 » 18 Sep 2020 14:19

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
18 Sep 2020 00:49
Peter89 wrote:I can't help the feeling we are poking the mist here.
Yeah. A little bit of clarity helps.
Yes, yes. So fall 1942 it is, with the US into the war.

Given the impending Allied landings in NA, and the Turkish promises of chromite deliveries (it could come from Asia too, but anyway), now it's the time to take Turkey, okay. Why not.

I never doubted your opinion that the SU could be beaten. I just said it's highly unlikely that it could have been done with minimal German losses, in a sensible timeframe (defeat the BE before the US entry into the war) and with the adequate economic gains. (A little bit funny, but Germany bought most of its chromite from China, and the deliveries stopped after Germany attacked the SU.) And that the Red Army would have retreated to the Pacific Coast if that's what it takes, and it could have been adequately supplied via the Pacific LL route. But let's put that aside.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
18 Sep 2020 00:49
Okay, please draw us a credible plan for Operation Gertrude. And please address the timeframe.

I will get around to presenting a more detailed plan at some point but it's hard to do so when you don't provide specific objections related to one of the foreground issues (logistics). It's not fair to expect me to present a detailed plan while you deal in generalities.

For example:
Because in order to support an invasion of Turkey, you have to get your matériel to the staging grounds.
First of all, I'm not sure how did you calculate the necessary number of divisions and what divisions would they be, especially after a successful campaign in the SU, but in general:

1 German Infantry Division
Inactive: 80t/d
Average: 150t/d
Fighting: 1100t/d

1 German Panzer Division
Inactive: 30t/d
Average: 300t/d
Fighting: 700t/d

So in order to support the invasion of Turkey, you must get these amount of supplies over sea, presenting a serious and vulnerable chokepoint.

Of course, not counting the occupational forces (32 Italian divisions and ~12 German divisions, plus various police and SS units) of the Balkans.

Also, the continous flow of supplies from the Reich has to be made via 2 channels: 1. River Danube, 2. Railways, then unload the barges and wagons, and load the wagons again, then unload them and load the trucks, and then unload them, too. (Grosstransportraum - Kleinkolonnenraum). In your scenario, the logistical operations (for the Army units alone) would require at least 2, but rather 3 motor transport regiments, with 6000-9000 men, 4400-6600 trucks, adding a further 19-28.6t/d food requirement and a quantity of POL requirement - not counting the estimated 20% in repair at any given time (80% availability), and yeah, the actual truck losses we know from eg. Poland (50%).

viewtopic.php?t=108967

So if the Turks can put up a determined resistance on the coastal areas, your land force of 20 divisions is likely to need 15-20,000t/d supply.

Despite the huge number of forces on the peninsula, the land-based lines of communications were not secure. The guerilla movement had an impact on the logistical operations in the Balkans by 1942: https://history.army.mil/books/wwii/ant ... N.HTM#main
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
18 Sep 2020 00:49
What are your specific objections to moving, say, 10 German divisions to Lesbos, Rhodes, Samos etc. via Trieste and Corinth?
For example, when the Operation Marita has ended, a huge chunk of the 2nd Panzer division lost to a minefield in / near the Corinthian Gulf.

https://www.feldgrau.net/forum/viewtopi ... 4&start=30
https://www.warhistoryonline.com/guest- ... -guns.html

The Allies had such a big edge in intelligence, especially in naval intelligence, that moving divisions via sea in 1941 was risky, and by the second half of 1942, it was very risky. A unit of the 7th FJD was seen in Sofia, and the British were able to assess the forces they were going to face on Crete... and that was in early 1941.

If we take one step backwards, the railroad capacity on the main railways of the Balkans were the Belgrade-Nis-Sofia and the Belgrade-Nis-Saloniki, the former could be used to transport matériel to the staging grounds.

However, in reality, the transport trains directed to Bulgaria were loaded with "Balkans capacity", so about two-thirds of the nominal carrying capacity of a train.

As for the railways in Turkey, they were singles, expected to handle 10 trains per day, loaded with 450-800t - and the railways that connected Istambul with the rest of the network, was not even the best (able to handle 17t axle weight). This 4500-8000t/d capacity was simply not enough, and the deeper the forces go into Turkey, the less enough it will become.

As for river Danube, despite many urgings, Hitler refused to allocate the necessary steel for the river transport flotilla. So the actual capacity of the river transport was good for ~26,000 tons of supply in 1941 - and of course, that would be a one-time trip given the speed and distance.

The German Campaigns in the Balkans (spring, 1941) p. 44.

Long story short, what you have for your operation against Turkey in 1942, is a single, endangered railway line working at 67% capacity, and an endangered sea route. Then you have to transport the whole stuff across a sea, put it on trains and/or trucks again. If you don't have a plan to construct a bridge over the Bosphorus, your operation is going to face some difficulties. So to say.

I was quite interested in these rail lines and transport possibilities when I was planning the NA/ME strategy, but it turned out that the Berlin-Baghdad railway was a joke, especially without Turkish cooperation. To support an army to advance after Turkey via this route was basically impossible in late 1942.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
18 Sep 2020 00:49
Sometimes I'm not sure if you're joking or not.
Fair. I have followed, via Google maps, the valley that runs from the coast, through Aydin, deep into Anatolia. I do not see anywhere in that long valley that a Panzer division couldn't role over the poorly-trained, poorly-equipped Turkish army. I also see no obstacles to truck or rail-based logistics. Likewise for the valley running Candarli-Bergama-Soma.

At the ends of these valleys are some narrowish passes; beyond is the Anatolian Plateau and many, many routes eastwards until the Tarsus range.

I was kind of joking about you taking this Google road trip with me as well but if you want to say there's some insuperable obstacle to reaching Ankara within, say, 6 weeks you should at least put some effort into pointing to places on a map. You seem to have ignored these geographical points so far.
No, I haven't, I simply do not want to go into details without any specifications.

I actually drove from Istambul to Ankara, and my personal account is the following:

1. the Istambul is a perfect city-fortress
2. the whole city is situated on a peninsula, and the neck of the peninsula is protected by a chain of hills, lakes and forests, also excellent for defense
3. yes there are plains there too... between hills
4. the distance between Istanbul and Ankara is 450km, if the Turks concentrate their forces there with this kind of terrain, the results are less likely to be favorable for the Germans
5. in your scenario (late 1942), the Wallies can help the Turks, so most likely the Turks have to hold the fort until the cavarly arrives

However, I think in 1941, when the political and military situation was more favorable, the Germans could have taken Turkey. But I still don't understand the most important question: why?
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Sep 2020 17:14

Peter89 wrote:So fall 1942 it is, with the US into the war.
Let's cabin the discussion to fall 42 for now as it's part of my broader Axis victory ATL. For many reasons, some of which come up below, I remain convinced that successful and quickish invasion of Turkey (say 2 months to reach the Tarsus) would have been possible earlier. The Soviets would determine whether it would have been wise. We can discuss re your big Med ATL.
now it's the time to take Turkey, okay. Why not.
The biggest reason why not is that Turkey would most likely end up with the Axis as Russia goes down. Let's cabin that discussion for now as well. While I believe that's the most likely outcome, as a scrupulous ATL'er I'll address what would happen if the Turks want to immolate themselves.
I'm not sure how did you calculate the necessary number of divisions and what divisions would they be
Due to time constraints, let's set up discussion for now in manageable chunks that don't lead to either of going far afield (as is our wont sometimes).

Force composition:

This is an estimate so far but it seems unlikely that more than 20 divisions in Thrace/Aegean would be necessary. We can discuss but Avalancheon provide a quote in another thread recently:
''By March 1940, the size of the army had increased to 1,300,000 all ranks. Unfortunately growth only served to highlight the armys material deficiencies. A large number of these men had been called up for no strictly military purpose. Due to lack of mechanization, there was urgent need for porters, laborers and animals. In Marshal Cakmaks opinion, even modest mechanization would decrease the requirement for men by one-third, and for animals by two-thirds, with no loss of combat efficiency. For the duration of the war, however, the Turkish army remained largely unmotorized.''
In the intervening period Turkey gained little war material from the W.Allies and produced little herself.

10-12 divisions in Thrace including two panzer corps. In the first week they encircle/destroy any Turkish forces dumb enough not to run across the Straits and/or into Istanbul.

Also a small German AOK - say 6 divisions - pushing from Armenia/Georgia into Kars province across the plain shared by those three countries. A German mountain division or two around Batumi, mostly holding the line (big mountains directly ahead). Crude illustration:

Image

In the Aegean, strikes from Lesbos, Samos, Kios, and Rhodes to take the ports, advance up the valleys towards the Anatolian plateau, and cut off any forces defending the southern side of the Dardanelles:

Image

Landings in green, initial truck-supported advances in red (first couple weeks).

Simultaneously the Heer takes Thrace - no map necessary. Istanbul can hold out a while if it wants but do the Turks really want it flattened?

Turkey loses Thrace, the Aegean coast, and Kars province in the first few weeks. Then a pause to bring up the railroads and force the Cilician and other passes, then the Heer is onto the Anatolian plateau and there's no continuous geographical barrier to stop them. They take Ankara probably 6 weeks after it all starts. Call it two months.

...I was supposed to hit "preview" not "submit." Anyway, that's enough for now. More when time allows.

I'll address your logistical points but if you want the W.Allies to save Turkey (you've mentioned their riding in) then you're going to have to explain where the shipping comes from. It took months to build up Monty's 10-division offensive at Alamein and launching Torch required rolling back the paltry 1942 Bolero buildup. W.Allies still can't ship through the Med so sending just the Torch force to Anatolia is going to require 3x the Torch shipping plus some nifty logistics through Mesopotamia and Syria. Cancelling Torch and Alamein frees up maybe 10 divisions for Turkey (Monty still needs to keep Rommel in check somehow) - if you can find the shipping to add 10,000 miles to Torch's logistics plan. Maybe cancel the Guadalcanal offensive? Maybe starve Britain of imports for a while, until American shipyards catch up to demand?
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: Could a German invasion of Turkey succeed?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Sep 2020 17:35

btw- your source contains this on the Corinth Canal:
By using this canal, the Italians were able to cut the distance from their supply bases along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas to Piraeus and Athens by some 130 miles, avoiding the open sea and British aircraft based in Egypt.
The British got lucky with a single mine-laying operation in May 41 but, as the source explains, the Germans only ran blindly into a minefield because the "partners" were in a dispute at the time and Regia Marina didn't bother to tell the Germans about the new danger after the Italians had recently sailed through the area. I haven't seen any evidence that Italian shipping via Corinth was ever meaningfully restricted.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Return to “What if”