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Thread: Operation Sealion

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twitch1
    I don't believe Sea Lion AS IT WAS cobbled up is worthy of jack either. The point stands that if a serious desire was in Hitler's soul there would have been a completely different real plan developed.
    Wrong. The Germans simply didn't have any alternative airlift or sealift assets, so whether they really did want to invade or not is irrelevant - the plan they formulated was the best they could do with the assets and knowledge available. It would also rapidly have turned into a bloody shambles.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    I suppose any counterfactual needs to find the "point of departure". My belief is that you'd have to go back to around 1937 to give the German forces time to develop the equipment and methods for large scale amphibious operations. If that happened then it's also likely that the strategy of appeasement would have been called into question (nobody could fool themselves that Hilter was just sorting out his "back door" and that the Empire could tootle along regardeless).

    A far more successful strategy would have been massive investment in U-boats to strangle the British Isles, forcing them to come to terms. If Germany had been careful not to upset the US too much this might have worked, but then you have the Japanese spoiling it all, so the end result is likely the same.

    I get the impression that most people view the Commonwealth forces of 1940 as pretty hopeless, but it just isn't true. We Brits have never really been that fond of our Army (it mutinied, after all) so they've always got the smelly end of the stick. Even so, fighting on home soil, with decent medium artillery and a handy light AT gun and heavy machine gun, it's difficult to see them being rolled over. The RAF's Fighter Command was one of the most professional and well-run military oraginisations in Europe, far less weighed down with the ego and hubris of the Luftwaffe, and with the RADAR network as the ace in the hole. The Royal Navy was a little more mixed, with a slightly ossified top layer, but the one thing we could always rely on were aggressive and skilful destroyer captains - handy in an invasion n'est-ce pas?

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monty's Double
    The Royal Navy was a little more mixed, with a slightly ossified top layer, but the one thing we could always rely on were aggressive and skilful destroyer captains - handy in an invasion n'est-ce pas?
    Ossified maybe, but the Admiralty were still better than everyone else bar possibly the US Navy (who were not themselves a whole lot better - see for instance their delaying the implementation of convoys and refusing to learn from RN experience to date).
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    I think even most people in the UK would think that the British Army was not very good in 1940.

    I'm not sure I disagree with them either, 1940-41 was not a very good time for the British army at all.

    But fighting on home soil would have been a diffrent prospect, as there was nowhere else to run I suppose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firefly
    But fighting on home soil would have been a diffrent prospect, as there was nowhere else to run I suppose.
    They would also be fighting to their strengths for a change - continuous lines, good logistics and a nearby industrial base. The Germans would also most likely be unable to fight to their strengths due to very poor logistics and lack of armour.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    Agreed pdf, it's all relative I suppose. I suspect most people have no concept of quite how big the gap between the navies was. I reckon the Kreigsmarine had 14 destroyers in May 1940, of which 10 or 11 were operational (they'd already lost half that number while they were "winning"). The RN had what, fifty destroyers in home waters? And our hopelessly under-funded Fleet Air Arm still managed to be the first naval air force to sink a major surface warship.

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    Monty- exactly what I meant. If in the mid-1930s Germany had the foresight to comprehensively develop equipment and tactics for an invasion there is no telling what would have happened. I never was assessing what else the Jerrys could have done in late 1940-early 1941 with what they actually had. The whole point of "what if" scenarios is to contemplate what it would have taken for a certain event to be altered enough for a different outcome. Their 250 U-boats would have made a vast difference in RN surface plans. With that many subs concentrated in the area I would imaging more than a few RN surface ships might have gone down.

    Look it simply boils down to "could the Germans have done it with what they had?" Of course not. "Could they have done it with on an alternate course of circumstances?"

    Great, if everyone wants to ignore alternate courses of history fine. Then there's nothing much to talk about. "December 7th. Pearl Harbor attack. Yep, it happened." Why not "what might have happened if...?" The whole idea is WHAT would it have taken to for this or that to have happened in history. Saying something "that could never happen" is just the kind of thing that kept guys like Hitler up nights figuring ways to make those things happen.

    The problem with peering backwards into the past is that we know the answers and it prejudices our perceptions. How could it not? We know what's going to happen when we read history! After the BoB NOBODY on the Isle knew what the hell was coming next and the susequent cost of bolstering defenses and diverting manpower, not knowing where to expect the next attack subtracted from Britain's dwindling strength.

    When the tide had turned and Rommel tried to upgrade Hitler's defenses of Fortress Europe it was the same story in reverse. If anyone in September 1940 sat in England and said, "don't worry about the Germans. They can't invade," they'd have been branded as looney.

  8. #38
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    I absolutely agree with that last paragraph. People back then were genuinely worried about an invasion. There is hardly a beach in the UK that didnt have some sort of defence put on it. Even as far North as Nairn. Also after Dunkirk the Army was seriously weakened and demoralised.

    I dont mind the what ifs at all. The Germans best bet to get the Brits to sue for peace was at Dunkirk. What if the Army hadnt gotten away. I think there would have been serious considerations about reaching terms then.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twitch1
    Monty- exactly what I meant. If in the mid-1930s Germany had the foresight to comprehensively develop equipment and tactics for an invasion there is no telling what would have happened. I never was assessing what else the Jerrys could have done in late 1940-early 1941 with what they actually had.
    Well, that cuts both ways. The U-boats and amphibious shipping would have come at some cost, almost certainly to the surface fleet (and note that the U-boats were the most severely restricted of all the Kriegsmarine by treaty - early rearmament would have most likely brought a much more severe response from France and the UK, one Germany could not at the time have resisted). If there is no surface fleet, the escort requirements for the convoys are greatly reduced and hence the forces available to attack the invasion are greatly increased. However, the presence of amphibious shipping makes a proper assault possible - something that was never true with Sea Lion.
    The second area is the Marines/Paratroopers. These require the best and most motivated available troops to succeed - the very troops that went to the Panzers in @. Strip out the Panzer equipment partially to equip the marines (and probably to some extent the landing craft too - at least some components will need the same industrial base, for example diesel engines) and you have a further problem. It's an open question how much further you can strip them out without failing in the Battle of France - and so the invasion becoming moot anyway.
    Finally, the Luftwaffe. In @ it was constructed almost purely as a tactical air force, to give close support and air interdiction for the Heer. Given funding and industrial capabilities, the size is pretty much fixed and the aircraft size/payload and even to an extent type is fixed. Hence, to provide longer ranged aircraft, a lot of transports and anti shipping strike you're going to have to strip out the tactical arm of the Luftwaffe. Again, this will weaken the striking power of the Panzer arm - I have no idea if this would be enough to prevent success in the Battle of France, but that is the risk you're taking.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    I'm sorry guys if I stirred you all up. If nobody cares to look at any alternate realities other than "the allies win" I won't bring it up any more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Twitch1
    I'm sorry guys if I stirred you all up. If nobody cares to look at any alternate realities other than "the allies win" I won't bring it up any more.
    Feel free to keep bringing them up - they're an interesting intellectual exercise. The problem is that it is very, very hard to come up with a plausible scenario where the allies don't win. Fundamentally, Germany cannot win if the United States enters the war - and to come up with a scenario where the US does not enter the war you have to have a point of departure from current history in 1914 at the latest IMHO.
    Once the UK was involved in WW1, the level of transatlantic trade is going to suck the US in on the Entente side. Once it enters the war on the Entente side, it isn't going to switch sides in the next war, nor is it going to return fully to it's initial isolationist policy. Hence, to plausibly keep the US out of WW1 you have to keep the UK out of WW1.
    The reason the US cannot lose is industrial - it has massively more industrial base than any other country on earth in 1940, and virtually all of the engineers who truly understand mass production. It also has a very, very large population of military age and the cash to arm and equip them. The United States had IIRC a little over half the world's war making potential in 1940, while Germany had something like 15% from memory (marginally more than the UK and Russia individually, rather less than their combined total). This explains why Germany was defeated so thoroughly, and why pretty much no matter what they do it will be defeated. In fact, the better they do earlier in the war the worse things are. If they do eventually take all of Europe, they put themselves in the frame to be destroyed by US nuclear weapons in 1947 or so.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    Yup, what he said.

    I blame the Ems telegram.

  13. #43
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    hmmm Germany and idea of airlifting supplies into invading armies???...does anyone else recall stalingrad. Especially with the RAF present at all times and them not having air superiorty, that would have never worked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Twitch1
    I'm sorry guys if I stirred you all up. If nobody cares to look at any alternate realities other than "the allies win" I won't bring it up any more.
    alternative realities are great, it can help us better appreciate the actions taken by both parties and experience a glimpse of what people were fighting for..

    eg: Operation Sea Lion was ultimately the reason for the Luftwaffe's attack on the RAF, and again the threat of Operation Sea Lion was motivation for the RAF to do its best. Every RAF pilot up in the air wouldve known that it was up to them to stop the invasion of their homeland

    In fact I'm willing to bet that the main reason Operation Sea Lion never took place was because of Hitler's blunder when he ordered the Luftwaffe to switch targets from RAF airfields to English Cities. If he had kept attacking the RAF on the ground eventually they would've run out of aircraft and pilots to fly them. With no RAF, Operation Sea Lion could've gone ahead and may or may not have been succesfull

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    In fact I'm willing to bet that the main reason Operation Sea Lion never took place was because of Hitler's blunder when he ordered the Luftwaffe to switch targets from RAF airfields to English Cities. If he had kept attacking the RAF on the ground eventually they would've run out of aircraft and pilots to fly them. With no RAF, Operation Sea Lion could've gone ahead and may or may not have been succesfull
    Well, sort of, but you have to remember how close the Luftwaffe was to the edge as well. The table below shows the daily losses - during that crucial period when 11 Group was almost knocked out of the fight, German losses were still round about double the British ones.

    http://www.brooksart.com/BoBloss.html

    Let's say that they stick with the airfields, and that by the end of August 11 Group is in tatters - the sector stations are almost all destroyed and most squadrons can only raise a few pilots and aircraft - opposition to the Luftwaffe is patchy and weak. Right, what next? Assuming Sea Lion gets the green light (and let's assume a little more work has gone into assembling barges and tugs, and that the Kriegsmarine big 'uns do a diversionary sally that keeps the RN's heavy units out of the Channel), the Luftwaffe has to quickly switch to preparing the invasion zone, including diversionary raids to stop the Brits identifying the invasion site.

    When you look at how quickly the RAF bases recovered, that 2 week slot is crucial. Every day, fighters were pouring off the production lines - the UK hit war production far quicker than Germany whose peak wasn't until 1944, which was too late. Even novice pilots would have been able to hamper the invasion to some degree. And once the invasion force lands, what do you think the RAF will do with all those fighters in 10 Group and 12 Group that have so far only played a peripheral role? Even a half-hearted defence is going to seriously weaken the German invasion, and threaten supply lines.

    BlitzKrieg, in order to succeed, needs the following:
    Air superiority/supremacy
    Lots of tanks and transport
    Space to manoeuvre
    Dependable Supply Lines

    The Wermacht also depended on a certain amount of at least tacit support from the populace - remember they were welcomed as liberators in many parts of Eastern Europe, and the French were very disenchanted with their government; for some the price of occupation was worth paying. It's hard to see them getting any of the above in Kent in September 1940.

    Looking at the evidence, it's clear that Sea Lion as we know it was a bluff to persuade the UK to come to terms. Without Churchill it had a decent chance of succeeding, and that would have freed up the Wermacht to hit Russia in April/May. That, to me, is a far more likely counterfactual. The other alternative is that Hilter decides he has to knock Britain out of the war first, and invades in 1941 - though again, every month that passes plays to the UK side, since they are producing aircraft and (crap) tanks, while German industry is still knocking out coffee pots and transistor radios for the civs in Berlin. I'll take an A13 over a Siemens teasmaid any time, mate.

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