These are all valid points but the strategic picture would be changed to a much greater degree than addressed in your points.Lars wrote:If The USSR is out of the war in early 1943,
The other question which is highly speculative is what condition rump-USSR is in.
* Will Stalin remain in power, will the Communists?
* My answer is probably no to the second question, and most likely no to the first.
* At least there will be a second civil war within The USSR.
* The Communist regime will be without the gain of The Ukraine and Caucasus and left with little (but expanding) oil from the Ural area.
* Coal is also a problem without the Donbas and the Moscow area mines.
* Lend-lease will stop.
* However, if USSR/Russia manages to hold together against the odds then from 1944 the Germans will have re-stock the Eastern front with assets somewhat including some Luftwaffe assets.
The biggest issues are the MidEast and Iberia. Hitler planned to invade the MidEast through/with Turkey, including from the Caucasus. (See Halder's diary for such planning even during the preparatory stages of Barbarossa). Hitler would also have been able to force Spain's accession to Axis or to invade, which would require no more than a quarter of the OTL Ostheer. An Axis Iberia makes Tunisian logistics untenable until/unless the Allies construct massive rail infrastructure from Morocco to Tunisia.
If, as I find likely, Turkey at least allows German passage to Syria/Iraq, the W.Allied strategic position in the MidEast is untenable. As I've documented elsewhere, British and American leadership did not believe they could do much in the MidEast had Russia fallen. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=238638&start=105#p2294326 viewtopic.php?f=11&t=252647&p=2296993&h ... y#p2296993
Basically they lack the ground forces and shipping logistics to hold anything and lose Abadan and Suez sooner or later. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=238638&start=90#p2293853
But would the W.Allies really have allowed the Germans to overrun Levant and Mesopotamia without fighting? Or do political considerations force sending good money after bad, redirecting at least part of 8th Army against the German MidEast drive? If they do so, can they finish things in Tunisia?
45% of LW frontline strength - 1,671 planes - was in the east in February 1943. http://www.ww2.dk/Dan%20Zamansky%20-%20The%20Study.pdfLars wrote:* If The USSR is out of the war in early 1943, the Germans will immediately send most of the Luftwaffe to the crisis in Tunisia.
* The Germans and Italians will hold out longer, but a larger Tunisgrad is still in the cards, by say, late summer 1943.
The Germans were able to establish air superiority in Tunisia that winter with ~850 aircraft.
middle of the month, the Allies knew the Germans were moving the
technologically superior Fw 190 into Bizerte, and by mid-December at
least 850 German aircraft were operating out of the all-weather airfields
in Tunisia. The Axis air forces, although nearly equal in size, would
secure air superiority over the TORCH air forces in North Africa.
So moving just half of the Ost-LW to Tunisia/Sicily doubles German theater strength. From Sicily, a strengthened LW would do much to secure Axis supply lines.
Now what of Malta? OTL the island accounted for ~half of Axis ships sunk in the Tunisia campaign. Can Malta operate effectively against a massively strengthened LW? Might the Axis execute the long-delayed landing against Malta in this ATL?
If Malta is shut down and the LW maintains air superiority for a few more months, Rommel's forces will be significantly stronger. The Axis can also move shipping resources from the Black Sea, which were not insignificant.
Within a few months of Germany's MidEast move, Suez is gone and with it the W.Allies supply lines from the East. What then? Does the RN still try to operate from Libyan ports? If so, how supplied? The Sicilian narrows are still shut down (indeed they'd be more dangerous to W.Allies than OTL because the mine resources deployed OTL in the Gulf of Finnland are now added to the Axis barrage in the Sicilian straits.)
And let's wind back the clock to the months prior to the OP's "early '43" fall of the SU. Obviously things are going very poorly for Russia in '42 in this ATL, so might the Axis have diverted sufficient resources to take Malta in Summer/Fall '42? If they do, then the strategic picture is obviously changed significantly. Axis has more shipping than ATL (fewer losses from Malta). Probably Rommel gets an extra division or two prior to Russia's fall, as not everything will be needed on the Eastern Front against a collapsing RKKA.
Could that mean an even larger response to Torch in November/December, with the front line falling farther west in Algeria, thereby making supply interdiction more difficult? Seems likely to me.
Elsewhere I've discussed an ATL based on the SU making peace in September '42, which makes some of the above questions easier to answer. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=238638&start=45#p2292747
But even with an early '43 SU defeat, Tunisgrad is impossible given Axis Iberia and Mideast, plus more secure Axis LoC to Tunisia. The Allies would have to withdraw towards Morocco in the West and hope they can bring 8th Army with them - otherwise it's stranded between Axis forces in Tunisia and the Levant/Suez. Most likely pursuit of Rommel ends as soon as the shooting starts in MidEast and Iberia.
Even if we imagine that the Allies somehow clear North Africa despite the Iberia/MidEast issues, it's highly unlikely they'd even attempt a Sicily invasion. OTL they had trouble against 2-3 German divisions; ATL Germany can easily move 10x that force. More likely would be an invasion of Sardinia/Corsica.Lars wrote:* Given that the invasion of Sicily was less than perfectly executed, I can see a likely scenario where the much larger rested and refitted German elite divisions coupled with a much stronger Luftwaffe throws the Allied invasion back into the sea.
But again, it's likely that Gibraltar and Suez are in Axis hands by mid-'43 so there's no real prospect of doing anything in the Med.