Why couldn't the Germans build an underwater tunnel to Britain?

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maltesefalcon
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Re: Why couldn't the Germans build an underwater tunnel to Britain?

Post by maltesefalcon » 23 Apr 2021 00:22

Rather than re-quote the whole chain yet again I will just add....
My focus should have been more on the wording in this text "Because the Germans couldn't even build a paved all-weather highway from Berlin to Moscow." (My emphasis added)

To me it seems to imply that while building a tunnel is quite difficult, building the Berlin-Moscow highway is not. It may indeed have been easier for the US and Canada to construct a roadway to Alaska. But as mentioned, they had more and better mechanized equipment and the area was not in the middle of a combat zone.

Besides it is a bit of a stretch to call this route a highway in 1942-43. It was a rough road and could never have supported the kind of traffic that a Barbarossa style campaign would require.

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Why couldn't the Germans build an underwater tunnel to Britain?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 23 Apr 2021 01:34

maltesefalcon wrote:
23 Apr 2021 00:22
Rather than re-quote the whole chain yet again I will just add....
My focus should have been more on the wording in this text "Because the Germans couldn't even build a paved all-weather highway from Berlin to Moscow." (My emphasis added)

To me it seems to imply that while building a tunnel is quite difficult, building the Berlin-Moscow highway is not. It may indeed have been easier for the US and Canada to construct a roadway to Alaska. But as mentioned, they had more and better mechanized equipment and the area was not in the middle of a combat zone.

Besides it is a bit of a stretch to call this route a highway in 1942-43. It was a rough road and could never have supported the kind of traffic that a Barbarossa style campaign would require.
Actually, what I was implying was German civil engineering was so poor at producing output that they couldn't build that highway, which would be much simpler than building the tunnel, that there was no way to do the tunnel for them.

I also was showing that the US was exponentially ahead Germany in civil engineering and even they likely couldn't have built a cross Channel tunnel in a reasonable amount of time.

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Re: Why couldn't the Germans build an underwater tunnel to Britain?

Post by john2 » 23 Apr 2021 02:41

In a previous post I had mentioned I had done a "what if" on this before. My idea was that the tunnel had been built earlier - to improve transportation across the channel and the Germans were trying to capture it. Building it in wartime conditions seems less plausible.

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Re: Why couldn't the Germans build an underwater tunnel to Britain?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 24 Apr 2021 22:45

john2 wrote:
23 Apr 2021 02:41
In a previous post I had mentioned I had done a "what if" on this before. My idea was that the tunnel had been built earlier - to improve transportation across the channel and the Germans were trying to capture it. Building it in wartime conditions seems less plausible.
Considering the history of civil transportation infrastructure being destroyed during wartime in order to deny said infrastructure to an enemy, seems rather unlikely the French and British would not have solved that problem. Of some 40+ roadway and railway bridges over the Rhine in 1939, there was exactly one left standing and captured by the Allies (US 9th Armored Division) in 1945, and even that was very much a near-run thing.

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Re: Why couldn't the Germans build an underwater tunnel to Britain?

Post by ManfredV » 25 Apr 2021 10:51

It was impossible to build a tunnel in war times. But in peace it would have been possible for Germany. In 1930ies high developed nations had both technical knwoledge and industrial efforts.

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Re: Why couldn't the Germans build an underwater tunnel to Britain?

Post by maltesefalcon » 25 Apr 2021 15:25

daveshoup2MD wrote:
24 Apr 2021 22:45
john2 wrote:
23 Apr 2021 02:41
In a previous post I had mentioned I had done a "what if" on this before. My idea was that the tunnel had been built earlier - to improve transportation across the channel and the Germans were trying to capture it. Building it in wartime conditions seems less plausible.
Considering the history of civil transportation infrastructure being destroyed during wartime in order to deny said infrastructure to an enemy, seems rather unlikely the French and British would not have solved that problem. Of some 40+ roadway and railway bridges over the Rhine in 1939, there was exactly one left standing and captured by the Allies (US 9th Armored Division) in 1945, and even that was very much a near-run thing.
AFAIK the bridges across the upper Rhine (i.e. between France and Germany) were all blown by the French in the early stages of the war. In fact, the one near Rastatt was still not completely rebuilt when I lived nearby in the early 1970s.

Remagen (Ludendorff) survived this process, as it straddled German territory at both ends.

Most of the surviving Rhine bridges were blown by the Germans themselves in the late months of the war.

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Re: Why couldn't the Germans build an underwater tunnel to Britain?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 25 Apr 2021 21:24

Consider the counter question: Can the British & US Army do any better tunneling under the Channel, starting say, in mid 1941. If they can get done in three years it makes capturing a port right away less important. Instead of depending only on prefabricated Mulberry Harbors Monty also has railway delivery direct to France.
Last edited by Carl Schwamberger on 25 Apr 2021 21:30, edited 1 time in total.

daveshoup2MD
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Re: Why couldn't the Germans build an underwater tunnel to Britain?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 25 Apr 2021 21:30

ManfredV wrote:
25 Apr 2021 10:51
It was impossible to build a tunnel in war times. But in peace it would have been possible for Germany. In 1930ies high developed nations had both technical knwoledge and industrial efforts.
From France?

Again, it took four years for the Holland Tunnel, which goes under the Hudson River from NYC, to be built. The Holland is roughly 2 km long; the Chunnel is roughly 50 km. Very roughly (even setting aside the rather questionable surface road and rail net of northwest France in 1940 in comparison with Manhattan) that means that at the same pace (.5 km per year), the Germans will break through in England in roughly 100 years; so, maybe 2041?

Do we really need to wonder?

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Re: Why couldn't the Germans build an underwater tunnel to Britain?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 25 Apr 2021 21:34

maltesefalcon wrote:
25 Apr 2021 15:25
daveshoup2MD wrote:
24 Apr 2021 22:45
john2 wrote:
23 Apr 2021 02:41
In a previous post I had mentioned I had done a "what if" on this before. My idea was that the tunnel had been built earlier - to improve transportation across the channel and the Germans were trying to capture it. Building it in wartime conditions seems less plausible.
Considering the history of civil transportation infrastructure being destroyed during wartime in order to deny said infrastructure to an enemy, seems rather unlikely the French and British would not have solved that problem. Of some 40+ roadway and railway bridges over the Rhine in 1939, there was exactly one left standing and captured by the Allies (US 9th Armored Division) in 1945, and even that was very much a near-run thing.
AFAIK the bridges across the upper Rhine (i.e. between France and Germany) were all blown by the French in the early stages of the war. In fact, the one near Rastatt was still not completely rebuilt when I lived nearby in the early 1970s.

Remagen (Ludendorff) survived this process, as it straddled German territory at both ends.

Most of the surviving Rhine bridges were blown by the Germans themselves in the late months of the war.
Yep. By the end of 1944, there were all of four functioning rail/roadway bridges across the Rhine; by the time the Allies closed up, three had been blown by the Germans and the Remagen was set to go; it took a fair number of elements of random chance and true courage by the soldiers of the 9th AD to seize the bridge in a useable form.

Rather unlikely a Chunnel could be seized by force, especially given that it is roughly 50 km long...

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Re: Why couldn't the Germans build an underwater tunnel to Britain?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 25 Apr 2021 21:35

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
25 Apr 2021 21:24
Consider the counter question: Can the British & US Army do any better tunneling under the Channel, starting say, in mid 1941. If they can get done in three years it makes capturing a port right away less important. Instead of depending only on prefabricated Mulberry Harbors Monty also has railway delivery direct to France.
At the same pace the Holland Tunnel was built in peacetime in the the US in the 1920s, the Chunnel will finish in 2041.

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