Vichy France had a refinery in Tripoli, with the oil flowing from Kirkuk, it could support a way larger force than they did OTL.
Besides, the Iraqi air force had a very good, formerly RAF base, the Rasheed Air Base / RAF Hinaidi, that supported over 50 planes with no fuel problem.
Moreover, the Germans transported a miniature aviation fuel refinery and ground crew, etc. to Iraq.
Student had about 500 Ju-52 at his disposal, and given their 18-men capacity, in a single roundtrip they could have doubled the Iraqi forces and secure Iraq. Also, Ju-52s could carry fuel too (even if it was very, very uneconomical, especially on long trips), but it wasn't the point, because a few roundtrips could have built up enough stocks to enable the transfer of the mentioned troops to Iraq.
DeGaulle and Churchill were working on the French colonies since August 1940, while Germany was entertaining the idea of the Battle of Britain (which was doomed to fail) and Barbarossa (doomed to fail as well) when the critical moment came, the divided their airborne / airlifted troops between Crete and AGS.
It's not quite correct.Gooner1 wrote: ↑08 Sep 2020 14:09The Germans didn't have any troops in the area because they didn't have any allies in the area. The nearest they could get to Iraq was the Italian colony of Rhodes - about 1,300 kilometres from Mosul. They could, I suppose, have tried to inveigle Vichy Syria to grant them access earlier .. but that would just have prompted an earlier reply from the British.
The Germans could have used the opportunity to cooperate with the Italians and attack Greece on 28 October 1940, gaining access to the Athens airport sooner. And they could have shipped their stuff via Ju-52s with lighter load directly into Iraq until the Vichy agreement arrives. Again, this is very much uneconomical, but we are talking about an expeditionary operation.
By the way, the Germans did not need to rush much more than they did OTL - they simply needed a shift of strategic focus. Without local support by Rashid Ali and the Golden Square, they did not stand a chance, and the whole operation didn't make any sense. So if the Germans were able to complete the occupation of Greece about a month earlier (which they could have done easily) and / or struck the deal with the Vichy a month before, they could have supported the Iraqis substantially better.
Also, with German assistance, it is very unlikely that Operation Compass could have been so successful, effectively destroying the Italian Army in Egypt.