Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

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Re: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

Post by Kingfish » 29 Oct 2018 11:07

Volyn wrote:
29 Oct 2018 03:08
We can consider this - if Germany has the French Fleet, will the use of U-Boats, and the overall strategy to build them, be entirely altered?
I don't believe so. Germany went full bore with it's U-boat strategy when it became apparent it's surface fleet wasn't up to the task of cutting Britain's SLOCs. Adding the French ships into the mix - which weren't designed for commerce raiding to begin with - would only beef up the Axis numbers but not the capability.

At best the French navy would alter the balance in the Med, but Germany never really had that theater in mind. It was only due to Italian incompetence and the surprise coup in Yugoslavia that dragged them down in that direction.

One other thing to consider in terms of numbers: mid 1940 means no British commitments to lend lease or the Indian/Pacific. The full weight of the Royal Navy would be available to counter the French volte-face.
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Re: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

Post by Volyn » 29 Oct 2018 11:47

Kingfish wrote:
29 Oct 2018 11:07
Volyn wrote:
29 Oct 2018 03:08
We can consider this - if Germany has the French Fleet, will the use of U-Boats, and the overall strategy to build them, be entirely altered?
I don't believe so. Germany went full bore with it's U-boat strategy when it became apparent it's surface fleet wasn't up to the task of cutting Britain's SLOCs. Adding the French ships into the mix - which weren't designed for commerce raiding to begin with - would only beef up the Axis numbers but not the capability.

At best the French navy would alter the balance in the Med, but Germany never really had that theater in mind. It was only due to Italian incompetence and the surprise coup in Yugoslavia that dragged them down in that direction.

One other thing to consider in terms of numbers: mid 1940 means no British commitments to lend lease or the Indian/Pacific. The full weight of the Royal Navy would be available to counter the French volte-face.
Can the British Navy deal with the French ships if the Luftwaffe protects them in Southern France? Remember the British never attacked Toulon (the bulk of the fleet resides there), and this would be during the necessary re-training period for German crews.

Also, in terms of affecting the U-boats - the crews who were destined for those German boats in 1940-1941 would need to be re-directed to the French ships instead. Another possibility, maybe the crew from the smaller surface ships of the German Baltic Fleet could be combined and sent to Southern France to take over the larger capital ships as a first wave of new crews?

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RE: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940 - (WHAT GAUL!).

Post by Robert Rojas » 29 Oct 2018 21:58

Greetings to both brother Volyn and the community as a whole. Howdy Volyn! Well sir, in respect to your posting of Sunday - October 28, 2018 - 3:30pm. once again, old yours truly would like to convey my appreciation for your insightful perspectives on the geopolitical fractiousness of this wonderfully expansive topic. As the old and battered adage goes, THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS. Speaking of the demonic, in terms of citizen Thaddeus_c's posting of Saturday - October 27, 2018 - 4:00am, since there might be a question about the fealty of the French crewed vessels of the Marine Nationale, then old Uncle Bob would like to assume the role of Devil's Advocate and suggest that Italian Naval Personnel might be assigned to crew the principal combatants of the Marine Nationale. Given the now escalating conflict with the British Commonwealth out on the greater Atlantic Ocean, National Socialist Germany cannot afford to have the ANY aspect of its submariner program being disrupted with the staffing and training of the Marine National's principal combatants. Now, where National Socialist Germany could provide immediate and practical maritime support to the Mediterranean Basin would be, in theory anyway, the proportional reassignment of long range reconnaissance and antishipping aircraft of the Luftwaffe under the guise of the Focke-Wulf Model 200 Condors. Eventually, this specialized aerial force would be supplemented with the Piaggio Model P-108 aircraft of the Regia Aeronautica. It's just some speculative food for thought. Well, that's my latest two Yankee cents worth on this expansive topic of interest - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day over in your corner of the Peach State of Georgia.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it" - Robert E. Lee

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Re: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

Post by Kingfish » 29 Oct 2018 22:54

Volyn wrote:
29 Oct 2018 11:47
Can the British Navy deal with the French ships if the Luftwaffe protects them in Southern France?
You're forgetting this WI occurs around the time the Germans are prepping for Sealion. With air superiority being such an absolute necessity I doubt the Germans would allocate a portion of the Luftwaffe to a static role in a theater of war they really had no interest in.
Also, in terms of affecting the U-boats - the crews who were destined for those German boats in 1940-1941 would need to be re-directed to the French ships instead. Another possibility, maybe the crew from the smaller surface ships of the German Baltic Fleet could be combined and sent to Southern France to take over the larger capital ships as a first wave of new crews?
I must have missed something somewhere in this thread. I thought this WI assumed the Vichy navy joining the Axis, not the Vichy turning over the navy to the Germans.
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Re: RE: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940 - (WHAT GAUL!).

Post by Volyn » 29 Oct 2018 23:08

Robert Rojas wrote:
29 Oct 2018 21:58
Uncle Bob would like to assume the role of Devil's Advocate and suggest that Italian Naval Personnel might be assigned to crew the principal combatants of the Marine Nationale.
Bob that is brilliant!

This is precisely the kind of versatility that "might" make it possible. How about the Axis cherry-pick the boats and crews based on a prioritization of ships and mission? For example, you do not need every ship on each mission, but you can staff ships with skeleton crews in-transit to the next staging area - then you can use the most important ships for each mission with a reliable crew.

If the Armada can make it to the Black Sea, there would be a few realistic Turkish ports that could act as maintenance and repair facilities and fueling depots, etc. This puts them even closer to the Caucasus and they can be used like a naval pincer raiding the coastline with the opening of that front. Remember those facilities need to be staffed by Turkish logistics, do they have wherewithal to support food, fuel, infrastructure, communications, etc. to be useful?

Istanbul should be able to meet that criteria for the 1941 version of Barbarossa, but as they press further East there are only a few locations that could be supportive along the way. We can be certain the Soviets defense strategy for Odessa will also change; which would potentially free Axis forces to move East faster, since they will not deal with a protracted siege of the city. The Soviets would not be able to be supplied from the sea as they were before.

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Re: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

Post by Volyn » 29 Oct 2018 23:21

Kingfish wrote:
29 Oct 2018 22:54
Volyn wrote:
29 Oct 2018 11:47
Can the British Navy deal with the French ships if the Luftwaffe protects them in Southern France?
You're forgetting this WI occurs around the time the Germans are prepping for Sealion. With air superiority being such an absolute necessity I doubt the Germans would allocate a portion of the Luftwaffe to a static role in a theater of war they really had no interest in.
Also, in terms of affecting the U-boats - the crews who were destined for those German boats in 1940-1941 would need to be re-directed to the French ships instead. Another possibility, maybe the crew from the smaller surface ships of the German Baltic Fleet could be combined and sent to Southern France to take over the larger capital ships as a first wave of new crews?
I must have missed something somewhere in this thread. I thought this WI assumed the Vichy navy joining the Axis, not the Vichy turning over the navy to the Germans.
You are correct they did join, but the question of having trained crews is important since there would need to be serious coordination between the French, Italian and German objectives. Therefore, in the event that these ships need to be crewed quickly, would Germany allocate crews from U-boats or Baltic Sea Fleet (not all of them) South to be trained to work on the ships in a Joint-Crew effort (German/French and German/Italian)?

There would be technical challenges, language barriers, culture clashes, but in the end after one year of training, it is feasible that they could make it work. Remember they are cooperating together, so that needs to count for something.

Also, the aircraft needed for the protection of Toulon would be the He-111 and the Fw-200 since these would be anti-ship patrol and a couple regional fighter squadrons (perhaps provided by Italians), it is the British Navy they need to worry the most about, not necessarily the RAF. They do need to be aware of potential surprise air attacks, but with things as precarious as they were with the Battle of Britain, you probably wouldn't expect much from from the air for awhile; for sure the port will also be filled with 88mm AA guns and other weapons of the sort.

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Re: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

Post by Kingfish » 29 Oct 2018 23:43

Volyn wrote:
29 Oct 2018 23:21
You are correct they did join, but the question of having trained crews is important since there would need to be serious coordination between the French, Italian and German objectives. Therefore, in the event that these ships need to be crewed quickly, would Germany allocate crews from U-boats or Baltic Sea Fleet (not all of them) South to be trained to work on the ships in a Joint-Crew effort (German/French and German/Italian)?
But they already had trained crews. Unless I am mistaken the French fleet was fully operational, or very near so, in terms of manpower. In any event, what would be the urgency that would require German crews? Even if only half the fleet is available it still represents a significant force to be reckoned with, at least on par with the British Eastern Med fleet.
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Re: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

Post by Volyn » 30 Oct 2018 00:02

Kingfish wrote:
29 Oct 2018 23:43
Volyn wrote:
29 Oct 2018 23:21
You are correct they did join, but the question of having trained crews is important since there would need to be serious coordination between the French, Italian and German objectives. Therefore, in the event that these ships need to be crewed quickly, would Germany allocate crews from U-boats or Baltic Sea Fleet (not all of them) South to be trained to work on the ships in a Joint-Crew effort (German/French and German/Italian)?
But they already had trained crews. Unless I am mistaken the French fleet was fully operational, or very near so, in terms of manpower. In any event, what would be the urgency that would require German crews? Even if only half the fleet is available it still represents a significant force to be reckoned with, at least on par with the British Eastern Med fleet.
Yes you are correct again, but remember the problems from WW1 at the Battle of Gallipoli during the initial naval assualts - French and British ships did not communicate well with each and there were huge disasters as a result (plus they ran into an unknown minefield). It was not just a lack of technology, but the level of coordination that was really required for that campaign was beyond their abilities because they were not able to act in concert throughout the effort. Foreseeing a multi-year effort, the Axis crews will need to be rotated and trained during the Armada's existence.

The issue needs to be taken into consideration for this scenario to work - If the Italian and French fleets sail around together who is to say that one group will not leave a battle prematurely or even coordinate their efforts correctly? Therefore, foreign sailors are not needed to sail the ship, but the crews need to be cohesive in their daily shipboard efforts, especially in battle. So based on Bob's suggestion I think Joint crews are necessary, maybe 20% of each crew would be represented by German or Italian composite crews?

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Re: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

Post by Kingfish » 30 Oct 2018 10:23

Volyn wrote:
30 Oct 2018 00:02
The issue needs to be taken into consideration for this scenario to work - If the Italian and French fleets sail around together who is to say that one group will not leave a battle prematurely or even coordinate their efforts correctly? Therefore, foreign sailors are not needed to sail the ship, but the crews need to be cohesive in their daily shipboard efforts, especially in battle. So based on Bob's suggestion I think Joint crews are necessary, maybe 20% of each crew would be represented by German or Italian composite crews?
Coordination can be achieved without having to resort to composite crews. Consider the multi-national allied forces used in the Italian and NW European campaigns. Poles, Czech, French, Brazilian, Nisei, Belgian, Mexicans - All were able to coordinate together via the use of liaisons. These allowed the lines of communication to flow but more importantly kept the cohesion that came with troops/crews that spoke the same language, came from the same country, and had trained on the same equipment for months/years.
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Re: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

Post by thaddeus_c » 30 Oct 2018 11:59

this concept WAS a serious concern of the British, witness their attack(s) on French fleet, but the idea of huge joint Armada rather ridiculous? as soon as French navy told they would be in close operations with Italians? all sorts of mechanical problems would occur (at least)

browse thru the books of what was actually done or proposed as guide to realistic plan?

even a disabled BB kept Dakar from being invaded? so the French need to retain their capital ships to hold the colonies (the primary aim of collaboration with Vichy regime from German perspective)

what ships did the Axis actually WANT? they seized merchant marine and operated a French submarine (and planned for French to build them more of same class)

they wanted to operate aircraft from Morocco and Syria.

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Re: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

Post by Volyn » 30 Oct 2018 13:39

Kingfish wrote:
30 Oct 2018 10:23
Coordination can be achieved without having to resort to composite crews. Consider the multi-national allied forces used in the Italian and NW European campaigns. Poles, Czech, French, Brazilian, Nisei, Belgian, Mexicans - All were able to coordinate together via the use of liaisons. These allowed the lines of communication to flow but more importantly kept the cohesion that came with troops/crews that spoke the same language, came from the same country, and had trained on the same equipment for months/years.
Good so we can show two possible routes to achieve appropriate staffing of the Armada warships.
thaddeus_c wrote:
30 Oct 2018 11:59
this concept WAS a serious concern of the British, witness their attack(s) on French fleet, but the idea of huge joint Armada rather ridiculous? as soon as French navy told they would be in close operations with Italians? all sorts of mechanical problems would occur (at least)
Remember they are trying to cooperate with each other, so these forces are not psychologically or physically coerced into support; thanks to Kingfish's idea we have two routes to work with for joint-fleet coordination. We need to consider the British reactions to a fleet like this getting mobilized in 1940. We can use Operation MB8 (Battle of Taranto) as a major lesson about how the Armada needs to be protected in port and at sea. The Axis do not have aircraft carriers at their immediate disposal, therefore, this fleet has the same issues to deal with that the Japanese fleet ultimately found itself in later in the war. The one advantage the Axis Armada has vs. the Japanese Navy, is the smaller area of operation to work in compared to the size of the Pacific Theater.
thaddeus_c wrote:
30 Oct 2018 11:59
what ships did the Axis actually WANT? they seized merchant marine and operated a French submarine (and planned for French to build them more of same class)

they wanted to operate aircraft from Morocco and Syria.
What the Axis want vs. what they need will be considered on a mission to mission basis. Sometimes they will need Battleships to pound British or Soviet land positions, other times it will be more useful to use destroyers, cruisers, etc. in the make up of the force. The Armada would probably be separated into a series of Task Forces that would be used in coordinated assaults for each operation.

Also, they have 137 submarines to use at all times in the Med and Black Sea (perhaps with some German liaisons aboard). These would be used much the same way the Americans employed their submarine force throughout the Pacific and the Germans in the Atlantic - hunt and kill, show no mercy.

Here is a brief article explaining the American side. https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_ ... e/sec6.htm

As for the aircraft operations - in this WI scenario the Germans will have use of the airfields in French North Africa to operate their He-111 and Fw-200 anti-ship patrols. Gibraltar will now be effectively harassed, and any British warships or merchant marine in the area would be under serious threat of attack.

One reason that Operation MB8 was a success against the Italians was because the British could form their Task Force off the coast of Greece without any real threat of being contested by the Italians. Either Gibraltar or Malta would be the logical staging area to begin an operation like MB8 against Toulon, so the Axis would employ the main force of their anti-ship aircraft near those regions.

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Re: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

Post by magicdragon » 07 Nov 2018 23:11

Volyn wrote:
29 Oct 2018 11:47
Kingfish wrote:
29 Oct 2018 11:07
I don't believe so. Germany went full bore with it's U-boat strategy when it became apparent it's surface fleet wasn't up to the task of cutting Britain's SLOCs. Adding the French ships into the mix - which weren't designed for commerce raiding to begin with - would only beef up the Axis numbers but not the capability.
I agree but capability can be just a threat of action - take for example Force H operating from Gibraltar. In addition to offering a role in the Atlantic and the Western Med convoys to Malta- real and active combat with French Med fleet has to lead to a) diminution of its role in performing its historic tasks b) redeploying other ships from other stations - this has to have a negative impact on RN operations elsewhere?
At best the French navy would alter the balance in the Med, but Germany never really had that theater in mind. It was only due to Italian incompetence and the surprise coup in Yugoslavia that dragged them down in that direction.
Correct but Hitler was also a person who would like to take risks and might have gone for it. While the Med had little potential impact on the Nazi strategy - defeats in The Med would have a real impact on the UK both strategic and political terms.
One other thing to consider in terms of numbers: mid 1940 means no British commitments to lend lease or the Indian/Pacific. The full weight of the Royal Navy would be available to counter the French volte-face.
If the RN was that well off and had spare resources why do the Destroyers for Bases Agreement with USA in Sept 1940?
Also, in terms of affecting the U-boats - the crews who were destined for those German boats in 1940-1941 would need to be re-directed to the French ships instead.
Again true but the Germans lost from Sept 1941 to May of 1944 9 U-boats trying to enter the Med and 10 more had to break of their run due to damage plus all 62 U-Boats dispatched to the Med never made the journey back - whatever the difficulties and cost re-training German crews on French subs they still come out on the plus side!

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Re: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

Post by Kingfish » 10 Nov 2018 01:21

magicdragon wrote:
07 Nov 2018 23:11
I agree but capability can be just a threat of action - take for example Force H operating from Gibraltar. In addition to offering a role in the Atlantic and the Western Med convoys to Malta- real and active combat with French Med fleet has to lead to a) diminution of its role in performing its historic tasks b) redeploying other ships from other stations - this has to have a negative impact on RN operations elsewhere?
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.
Correct but Hitler was also a person who would like to take risks and might have gone for it. While the Med had little potential impact on the Nazi strategy - defeats in The Med would have a real impact on the UK both strategic and political terms.
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?
If the RN was that well off and had spare resources why do the Destroyers for Bases Agreement with USA in Sept 1940?
I'm not suggesting they were well off. Rather, I am pointing out that in the time frame of this WI those two significant commitments were not in play.
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Re: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

Post by Volyn » 10 Nov 2018 17:11

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.

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Re: Vichy France Navy Joins The Axis - 1940

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 10 Nov 2018 20:25

At this point I'd want to see hard numbers on fuel requirements, and some serious calculations (not Axis wanking) on the amount of bunker fuel actually available for such a fleet 1940-42.

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