Kingfish wrote: ↑
10 Nov 2018 01:21
Not if you consider it in the context of what my quote was in response to - the altering of the German u-boat strategy in the Atlantic. A shift in resources away from the U-boats would lessen the threat to the convoy routes, and aside from a direct invasion of Gibraltar there is nothing the French fleet could do to offset that strategic blunder.
You are correct that the German U-Boat crews would not be needed for the French or Italian surface warships, and it would be an unnecessary shift in resources.
I still think it would be wise for the Germans to send a contingent of new U-Boat recruit/trainees to operate in a joint-crew environment with the French and Italian subs. This will allow the Axis to stack their subs with more experienced sailors per sub than normal (this would be a real advantage), and the German crews would be tasked to handle the more mundane operations of the ship.
The Germans would receive real-time training and invaluable wartime experience as a result, and this would only be a temporary arrangement, it would last at least until Gibraltar fell (late-1940). By then there would be enough German U-Boats to absorb the returning (more experienced) German crews.
In this WI scenario an invasion of both Gibraltar and Malta would be expected. Since the Axis would get 137 submarines to use around the regions of the Strait of Gibraltar (Portugal, Spain, Morocco) they could set up a formidable blockade against British warships and supplies. British radar/sonar is not as big of a threat in 1940, so the advantage is definitely in the Axis favor, especially if they remain in a tight area to the West of the Straits.
Kingfish wrote: ↑
10 Nov 2018 01:21
Hitler had already given the green light on the riskiest endevour the German army would ever undertake - Op Sealion. Why would he bother with nipping at the peripheries when he could go for the jugular?
By having the Axis Armada in the Mediterranean Hitler's agenda would have been changed; remember he also had Operation Felix (invasion of Gibraltar) planned for 1940 as well. With the fleet he does not need to send soldiers through Spain, they can move in a protected convoy system to assault the peninsula.
By having this new fleet as his disposal he would have attacked Gibraltar first, further demoralizing the British and saving his forces from a more costly and highly improbable invasion of Southern England. Political victories gained by taking Gibraltar and Malta would have huge implications for how the British conduct the rest of the war, perhaps even cost Chamberlain support among his own government and sue for a multi-year cease-fire arrangement (similar to what the USSR and Japan did).
An invasion of Gibraltar would probably resemble a smaller Mediterranean version of the Battle of Iwo Jima, and Malta would be similar to the Battle of Tinian. Assaulting both of these British fortresses will require all of the Axis Armada surface warships to act as naval artillery for the invading soldiers. Also, since Crete had not yet occurred we should also expect the use of Fallschirmjäger to conduct airborne drops during the invasions.
With the British removed from Gibraltar, the French and Italian subs could then use it as a base to operate their subs from. They can also move to other bases in the French colonies so they can more effectively harass Africa, South America and Indian Ocean convoy routes. The German U-Boats could also move freely in the area as well to coordinate joint-service Wolf Packs.