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Operation Sea Lion 2.0

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AnchoriticSybarite View Drop Down
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    Posted: 30 Nov 2017 at 10:13
While going over the latest post on whether Hitler could have won, I decided to post a concept that's been rattling around in my brain for some time.

Operation Sea Lion, the proposed invasion of England proposed a straightforward cross channel invasion of England. The problem was that Germany did not have the fleet to cover the invasion nor merchant marine to carry the invasion force.

Now I assume that if Hitler was really in a gambling mood he could have ordered an immediate airborn assault on England, seizing airfield to which he could have mounted reinforcements, taking one or more ports from which to bring a main army with equipment. It is possible that given that the British Army was in almost complete disarray, lacking even rifles to fight with; there would have been some possibility of success. But a gamble nonetheless.

Here's my alternative plan, based on a National Geographic magazine article of many, many years ago. They described a huge canal system throughout most of Europe built before the advent of RR's. Take advantage of it.

Step one. Divert all barge traffic to the Atlantic coast. Move the German Army in camps in the general vicinity. Locate fighter/bomber bases in the same area where they could easily support a cross channel effort. Encourage your officers and men to talk about the coming invasion. Strip the embarkation areas of all but military personnel.

On D-Day (or whatever title the Germans would give it. Have the barges set sail into the channel. Simultaneously order the Bismark and all the other German capitol ships to sail in the direction of the Channel to support the barges. Concentrate the entire German U boat force to interdict the passage of the Royal Navy from Scapa Flow to the Channel.

The RAF would have to attack the barges from their bases in England and the Battle of Britain would be fought over the Channel not over England proper. This would negate the tremendous advantage the RAF had over the Luftwaffe. Planes shot down would be over water and survivors would not immediately return to the fight within hours. German planes would not suffer because of fuel shortages and limited engagement time.

As the fleet hones in on the German invasion force, it would suffer debilitating losses from not only the surface fleet but u boats waiting in ambush.

Finally as the RN enters the channel and begins destroying the barges one by one they suffer even more crippling losses from German Air.

The final result is that not one barge successfully completes the crossing. All are sunk. At a cost of all their large surface warships and possibly half their uboats and a few hundred (maybe as many as a thousand) sailors manning the OTHERWISE empty barges they have effectively put the RN out of the war.

Their surface navy really played no significant part in the war anyway. Their loss would have been more than made up for by losses on the part of the RN. Their air losses could have been made up for in a few months and their uboats replenished in just a little more time.

Even if they suspected a trap or a ruse, the British would have no alternative but to take the bait. Even the smallest possibility that the Germans were mounting a real invasion could not have been ignored.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Dec 2017 at 00:46
So you destroy the possible means of invasion in order to destroy the British Navy.  How does that get you closer to invasion?  Of course, you could just focus on the airways and RAF, like they did, before in response to the British attack on Berlin, they switched to bombing cities and civilian targets (which saved the RAF).  In addition to the air war of the battle of Britain, the RAF bombers attacked the surface transport, forcing the Germans to disperse it, make it a harder target, but also disorganizing it.  I don't know why the same wouldn't be true for barges.

In hindsight it is obvious that the Germans made certain mistakes, attacking civilian targets, released the pressure on destruction of RAF.  They also made medium range bombers, which didn't have much of a range for maneuvering and selecting targets.  But considering that what they were doing would have worked better, if they hadn't gotten sidetracked (but they did get sidetracked), I don't see how a more complicated plan would have worked.  Maybe it would work, but why wouldn't they have gotten sidetracked again?  But, they had a plan and didn't stick with it, why do you think that they could have done a more complex plan and stuck with it this time?  I also don't know what you mean by barges, it sounds like a good storm could wipe them out.  Wouldn't reconnoissance be able to tell the barges were empty?  I don't know military history that well, but it seems like what you are doing is inviting destruction in detail.  imho, more moving parts, more chance of things going wrong. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AnchoriticSybarite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Dec 2017 at 09:48
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

So you destroy the possible means of invasion in order to destroy the British Navy.  How does that get you closer to invasion?  Of course, you could just focus on the airways and RAF, like they did, before in response to the British attack on Berlin, they switched to bombing cities and civilian targets (which saved the RAF).  In addition to the air war of the battle of Britain, the RAF bombers attacked the surface transport, forcing the Germans to disperse it, make it a harder target, but also disorganizing it.  I don't know why the same wouldn't be true for barges.

In hindsight it is obvious that the Germans made certain mistakes, attacking civilian targets, released the pressure on destruction of RAF.  They also made medium range bombers, which didn't have much of a range for maneuvering and selecting targets.  But considering that what they were doing would have worked better, if they hadn't gotten sidetracked (but they did get sidetracked), I don't see how a more complicated plan would have worked.  Maybe it would work, but why wouldn't they have gotten sidetracked again?  But, they had a plan and didn't stick with it, why do you think that they could have done a more complex plan and stuck with it this time?  I also don't know what you mean by barges, it sounds like a good storm could wipe them out.  Wouldn't reconnoissance be able to tell the barges were empty?  I don't know military history that well, but it seems like what you are doing is inviting destruction in detail.  imho, more moving parts, more chance of things going wrong. 



Everything you cite makes perfect sense. As a matter of fact the Luftwaffe did destroy the RAF. In the last great daylight raid before Hitler ordered the switch to nighttime raiding, they had unknown to themselves put the Chain Low radar system out of commission and incapacitated a large part of the RAF bases. An immediate follow up the next day very likely begun a death spiral of falling losses for the Luftwaffe coupled with steadily increasing losses by he RAF. With Chain Low down the RAF defense would steadily degrade.

The problem was not that the Germans god sidetracked or allowed themselves to be sidetracked; they just did not realize how effective they had been. All they knew for certain was that they were suffering intolerable losses in planes and men.

As for barges, haven't you ever seen river or canal traffic. Flat bottomed, long, rectangular self propelled water craft.

If you remove the civilian population around the embarkation zone and erect simple canvas tarps, air recon of the day would have no clue as to whether they were full or empty. In fact you actually want reconnaissance to see troops embarking; you just don't want them to see them DIS-embarking. You want diplomats in neutral countries having extremely loose lips. You might arrange for spies to successfully steal the invasion plans (as the Allies did repeatedly).

But to address your primary concern--WHY.

Both the Luftwaffe and the RAF fought the Battle of Britain with superb fighter planes, the Spitfire/Hurricane and the Me 109. Both of them suffered by the simple fact that they were extremely limited in range. The Brits did not have to worry about that limitation because they could take off vector on the incoming planes, fight them with full tanks for as long as needed. Then land and within minutes go back up if necessary to intercept more enemy aircraft. If the worse happens and the Brit is shot down chances are 50-50 that he can parachute down and go back up in another plane.

The Germans on the other hand fought at the extreme range of their escort fighters. When they were intercepted they hand minutes at most to fight off attacks. Furthermore if they were shot down they were either dead or captured. And it takes 18=19 years to raise another pilot.

Under my plan the 2 sides would operate under equal conditions Neither side would have any inherent advantage. Best of all for the Luftwaffe the effectiveness of Chain Low in vectoring in the RAF would be severely limited.

But even that is not the primary goal of my plan. The ultimate defense of the British Isles was the RN. It was the last resort, willing to accept almost complete destruction to prevent a seaborn landing in Britain. The RN heading for the Channel at a dead run, having to pass through a gauntlet of the German surface fleet, a layered defense of U-boats, and finally a pounding by the entire Luftwaffe would suffer losses, I truly believe, of a minimum of 50% and very possibly much greater.

Now I suppose you could undertake an airborn invasion a la Crete. But with both the RAF and the RN crippled, the remaining U-boats could starve Britain into submission. Especially given that at this time the US had not begun Lend Lease and convoying merchantmen halfway across the Atlantic.

But I truly believe that no invasion would have been necessary. Losses on that large of a scale would have almost certainly brought down the Churchill government. Not even his charisma would have deflected the call for a negotiated settlement.

Edited by AnchoriticSybarite - 03 Dec 2017 at 09:53
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Dec 2017 at 21:54
I am not sure I would consider river barges sea worthy, except under the best of conditions.  I don't know what happens when you take all the river barges away from what they are doing in the first place.  The British did bomb surface vessels which were to be used in a crossing, forcing the Germans to spread them out to protect them.

Would U-boots be effective in narrow straights, or would the destroyers?  Would the Bismarck be more effective in a limited area, or would she have just been easier to pick off?  I don't know.  But your suggestion seems too busy and optimistic to me, then again I confess I don't know military strategy well.  The German fighters would be useful in defending the barges, but the German bombers would be useless it seems.

I don't think the words you are looking for are "negotiated settlement," I think the word your looking for is capitulation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AnchoriticSybarite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Dec 2017 at 09:25
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

I am not sure I would consider river barges sea worthy, except under the best of conditions.  I don't know what happens when you take all the river barges away from what they are doing in the first place.  The British did bomb surface vessels which were to be used in a crossing, forcing the Germans to spread them out to protect them.


For purposes of the plan it doesn't matter if the barges are seaworthy or not. They are not supposed to make it across the Channel anyway. Their goal is to draw the RAF into combat over the Channel.


Would U-boots be effective in narrow straights, or would the destroyers?  Would the Bismarck be more effective in a limited area, or would she have just been easier to pick off?  I don't know.  But your suggestion seems too busy and optimistic to me, then again I confess I don't know military strategy well.  The German fighters would be useful in defending the barges, but the German bombers would be useless it seems.



The Uboats would not be operating in the Channel per se. Possibly half a dozen would be prepositioned at the exit of Scapa Flow where they would flush their tubes as the RN begins its sortie. The rest would be prepositioned at intervals down the North Sea as a literal gauntlet. Assuming they would be clustered at specific intervals, the German surface fleet would plan to rendezvous with the subs at one or more of those points to give the uboats the best possible chance of sinking British ships while they are forced to give their full attention to the Bismark and her brethren.

Don't forget while the surface to surface and sub to surface war is going on, possibly as much as a third of the Luftwaffe including all of the bomber force is raining fire and brimstone down on the RN.

One point I realized I never made clear, is that the primary targets would not be the British capitol ships. Given a choice between a battleship and a cruiser, the latter. Between a cruiser and a destroyer; the destroyer. With the enormous losses the RN would incur, and the fact that a great deal of the Uboats would survive; the RN would not be able to keep the sea lanes open.

I don't think the words you are looking for are "negotiated settlement," I think the word your looking for is capitulation.




Potatoe...potahtoh. Either way hostilities between Germany and UK would rapidly come to an end.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Dec 2017 at 11:03
Quote Everything you cite makes perfect sense. As a matter of fact the Luftwaffe did destroy the RAF. In the last great daylight raid before Hitler ordered the switch to nighttime raiding, they had unknown to themselves put the Chain Low radar system out of commission and incapacitated a large part of the RAF bases.
Not true at all. RAF airfields in SE England were never out of action for more than a week, and many radar masts weren't attacked because German intelligence thought they were civilian radio masts. The fact that airfields were temporarily inactive did not stop the RAF - something the Luftwaffe learned to their cost, as squadrons quickly relocated to subsidiary airfields if necessary.
 
As useful as the Chain Low system was, the British also had the Observer Corps, which despite having a much lesser range of warning (Chain Low could detect for up to a hundred miles) performed excellent back-up service during the battle.
 
Quote The problem was not that the Germans god sidetracked or allowed themselves to be sidetracked; they just did not realize how effective they had been. All they knew for certain was that they were suffering intolerable losses in planes and men.
On the contrary. Their intelligence was incredibly optimistic about their results and the Luftwaffe were continually baffled by the resistance the RAF continued to put up.

Quote As for barges, haven't you ever seen river or canal traffic. Flat bottomed, long, rectangular self propelled water craft.
Tests performed on these craft found them surprisingly able to cope with cross Channel waters. In fact, some of these vessels were used in invading Baltic Sea islands in 1941.

Quote Both the Luftwaffe and the RAF fought the Battle of Britain with superb fighter planes, the Spitfire/Hurricane and the Me 109. Both of them suffered by the simple fact that they were extremely limited in range. The Brits did not have to worry about that limitation because they could take off vector on the incoming planes, fight them with full tanks for as long as needed. Then land and within minutes go back up if necessary to intercept more enemy aircraft. If the worse happens and the Brit is shot down chances are 50-50 that he can parachute down and go back up in another plane.

The Germans on the other hand fought at the extreme range of their escort fighters. When they were intercepted they hand minutes at most to fight off attacks. Furthermore if they were shot down they were either dead or captured. And it takes 18=19 years to raise another pilot.
it took a year to train a new pilot from scratch in that era. However, about range - I should point out that a Bf109 was much longer ranged than London (One landed in the west of England having gotten lost). The problem is combat. Once a pilot engages high throttle settings, those big inline Daimler Benz V12's are going to drink fuel like it was going out of fashion. When the Germans describe this, note how they say that had ten minutes over London under combat conditions.

Quote But I truly believe that no invasion would have been necessary. Losses on that large of a scale would have almost certainly brought down the Churchill government. Not even his charisma would have deflected the call for a negotiated settlement.
Large losses never did. Not even the Fall of Singapore, the worst military disaster ever recorded for the British Armed Forces. It was recognised by both sides that if the Germans reached as far north as Northampton and surrounded London, the game was up. That was the point when Churchill could have been forced to surrender. As it was, despite his leadership, he was not a popular politician and regarded with some dread for his clumsy dealings in the past. He was able to survive a vote of no-confidence during the war.


Edited by caldrail - 11 Dec 2017 at 11:04
http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AnchoriticSybarite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Dec 2017 at 08:23
Not true at all. RAF airfields in SE England were never out of action for more than a week, and many radar masts weren't attacked because German intelligence thought they were civilian radio masts. The fact that airfields were temporarily inactive did not stop the RAF - something the Luftwaffe learned to their cost, as squadrons quickly relocated to subsidiary airfields if necessary.
 



I believe we've had this conversation before. Neither one of us is going to budge, so I respect your opinion and for purposes of this particular thread it isn't that relevant anyway.



[/quote]
On the contrary. Their intelligence was incredibly optimistic about their results and the Luftwaffe were continually baffled by the resistance the RAF continued to put up.


If they were so optimistic about their success against their targets, why did they feel compelled to go over to nighttime raids.




.[/quote]
it took a year to train a new pilot from scratch in that era. However, about range - I should point out that a Bf109 was much longer ranged than London (One landed in the west of England having gotten lost). The problem is combat. Once a pilot engages high throttle settings, those big inline Daimler Benz V12's are going to drink fuel like it was going out of fashion. When the Germans describe this, note how they say that had ten minutes over London under combat conditions.



Does this mean that we are in agreement then that the Luftwaffe would have a tremendous advantage over the RAF in combat over the North Sea and the Channel. During combat range is meaningless as far as pure distance covered. As you said a German had only 10 minutes before he had to break and run and hope his fuel held out long enough to get him home. By contrast an RAF pilot expended hardly any fuel taking off and intercepting his opponent. Furthermore he could literally keep fighting until his tank went dry, making an emergency landing if possible; parachuting if not.




[/quote]
Large losses never did. Not even the Fall of Singapore, the worst military disaster ever recorded for the British Armed Forces. It was recognised by both sides that if the Germans reached as far north as Northampton and surrounded London, the game was up. That was the point when Churchill could have been forced to surrender. As it was, despite his leadership, he was not a popular politician and regarded with some dread for his clumsy dealings in the past. He was able to survive a vote of no-confidence during the war.

[/QUOTE]


Let me see if I can make my point more clearly regarding the concept behind my starting this thread.

I don't think anyone has ever considered a seaborne invasion by the Germans in '41 a serious possibility. Slightly more plausible though still a huge gamble was the idea of an airborne invasion a la Crete.

The purpose of a fake invasion is to bring the one thing that Britain could not under any circumstances afford to lose, the RN into a position where it could have been either destroyed or so degraded that it would loose its effectiveness.

You mention the fall of Singapore. It was a position of enormous geo-political importance and I would argue that the noise heard when the surrender documents were signed was the death knell of the British Empire. But in terms of WWII only it was just another spot on the map.

If and I freely admit this is a huge if, anyone in the German High Command had any insight into things naval they would have realized that death by suffocation is just as dead as a bullet in the heart.

In the Pacific war the Japanese submarine fleet was self limiting because they thought it beneath them to spend a torpedo on a freighter when they could go after a warship. In my projected campaign the general orders for all units air, surface fleet and subs would be attack destroyers first, cruisers second, the BB's last.

After this battle is over. The barges are sunk. The RN returns to Scapa Flow. The RAF and Luftwaffe have suffered comparable losses. The German surface fleet is gone totally. But the majority and probably the overwhelming majority of the U-boat fleet is intact. Within a week or 10 days they are back on station cutting off supplies to England, against a defenseless merchant marine. America is not yet escorting freighters to the mid point. The larger ships left to the RN are not suitable to conduct anti-sub warfare. Churchill's government falls.

Edited by AnchoriticSybarite - 15 Dec 2017 at 08:28
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Dec 2017 at 11:31
Quote If they were so optimistic about their success against their targets, why did they feel compelled to go over to nighttime raids.
German intelligence was always optimistic. Nonetheless, the Luftwaffe were very aware of their continued losses and the costs/resources required to support day time bombing on a strategic scale was becoming prohibitive. Since the objective of the Battle of Britain had already been lost (The RAF were not destroyed or suppressed over SE England in three months of campaigning as opposed to the original intent of taking four days to do it), the continuation of bombing was, basically, continuation of aggression against Britain which had not surrendered nor offered terms. It was not supposed to force the British capitulation alone but to act as further interdiction of the British economy and morale on top of U-Boat blockades - which Churchill had always considered the greater threat. To operate at night merely meant opportunity for bomber survival in a much longer term scenario.
 
Quote Does this mean that we are in agreement then that the Luftwaffe would have a tremendous advantage over the RAF in combat over the North Sea and the Channel. During combat range is meaningless as far as pure distance covered. As you said a German had only 10 minutes before he had to break and run and hope his fuel held out long enough to get him home. By contrast an RAF pilot expended hardly any fuel taking off and intercepting his opponent. Furthermore he could literally keep fighting until his tank went dry, making an emergency landing if possible; parachuting if not.
The loss of fuel was not limited to tale-off but also the climb to interception altitude. Given this was always going to be an emergency situation the need to run engines at high power settings was important, but also bear in mind that neither the Hurricane or Spitfire were long range aircraft anyway, having been designed for a defensive role against German aggression.
 
An RAF pilot squandering an otherwise undamaged pilot by deliberately running out of fuel and wrecking it, either by jumping out or by crash landing, would face serious questioning and possibly a court martial. Even today, if I run out of fuel so carelessly in my ordinary light aeroplane I am deemed to be flying in a manner liable to loss of property or life and might well face prosecution. Whereas the Russians contemplated such losses provided the Luftwaffe lost more in exchange, the RAF did not operate on that basis and could not afford to waste airframes. The Air Ministry was worried whether supplies of Spitfires and Hurricanes could be maintained as it was. That was why the Miles M.20 was designed, as a back-up cheap fighter though in the event it wasn't needed, and also the reason that the RAF - until mid-1941 - built a stockpile of 140 odd Curtiss P-40's in reserve (they were sent to Russia).
 
 There's an anecdote of a Mosquito squadron whose losses on take off and landing due to ground looping (basically losing directional stability and spinning around uncontrollably) were unaaceptable. The C/O, under pressure from senior officers, berated his men. "Mosquito's do not ground loop!" He asserted. "It's you lot who cause ground loops and you will stop causing them now!". The accident rate decreased impressively.
 
Quote You mention the fall of Singapore. It was a position of enormous geo-political importance and I would argue that the noise heard when the surrender documents were signed was the death knell of the British Empire. But in terms of WWII only it was just another spot on the map.
You think so? The British certainly thought it most important in 1942. But strictly speaking, WW2 as a whole spelt the end of the British Empire (which since 1926 had co-existed with the British Commonwealth anyway) and the loss of India in 1948/9 is the end of the empire to all intents and purposes, a move inspired not only with dissatisfaction with British rule but also the confidence of indian troops returning home after the war.
 
Quote After this battle is over. The barges are sunk. The RN returns to Scapa Flow. The RAF and Luftwaffe have suffered comparable losses. The German surface fleet is gone totally. But the majority and probably the overwhelming majority of the U-boat fleet is intact. Within a week or 10 days they are back on station cutting off supplies to England, against a defenseless merchant marine. America is not yet escorting freighters to the mid point. The larger ships left to the RN are not suitable to conduct anti-sub warfare. Churchill's government falls.
The Americans were escorting vessels on an expedient basis. Even in 1940, some USN escorts went as far as Iceland. Bear in mind that ASW warfare was not restricted to the RN. The vulnerability of U-Boasts to interdicting aircraft of the Coastal Command would increase throughout the war as methods and equipment improved, though in fairness, CC in 1940 were undermanned and finding that many long range types were assigned elsewhere as a priority.
 
Churchill was never popular as a politician, despite his admirable leadership, and faced at least one major attempt to oust him (which failed as the British politicians decided it was better the devil you know, though Churchill was out in the first post-war general election). Even if Churchill had been removed, the British Government still existed and the war was still going on. A surrender was possible of course, but what government would survive that sort of strategy in Britain of 1940? In any event, the British were well aware of the threats the Third Reich posed and this was never going to be a simple nor easy question.


Edited by caldrail - 29 Dec 2017 at 11:34
http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AnchoriticSybarite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec 2017 at 09:11
Originally posted by caldrail caldrail wrote:


Quote ,


The loss of fuel was not limited to tale-off but also the climb to interception altitude. Given this was always going to be an emergency situation the need to run engines at high power settings was important, but also bear in mind that neither the Hurricane or Spitfire were long range aircraft anyway, having been designed for a defensive role against German aggression.


The rate of fuel consumption for both RAF and German fighters taking off will be approximately identical. Ditto for consumption from takeoff to intercept point. The only difference is that at point of intersection the RAF fighter has a relatively full gas tank; the German very little reserve for combat operations. If the RAF was forced to engage not over England but out over the North Sea the ratios change greatly. To defend targets over land they do not have to waste fuel to get into position. Going out to defend the fleet they will have to run at high power settings to make sure they get there in time to intercept German attacks. For every mile they have to travel further the RAF's effectiveness declines while the Luftwaffe's increases and would be reflected in greater losses of planes and pilots. It really sounds like you're agreeing with me.



 
An RAF pilot squandering an otherwise undamaged pilot by deliberately running out of fuel and wrecking it, either by jumping out or by crash landing, would face serious questioning and possibly a court martial. Even today, if I run out of fuel so carelessly in my ordinary light aeroplane I am deemed to be flying in a manner liable to loss of property or life and might well face prosecution. Whereas the Russians contemplated such losses provided the Luftwaffe lost more in exchange, the RAF did not operate on that basis and could not afford to waste airframes. The Air Ministry was worried whether supplies of Spitfires and Hurricanes could be maintained as it was. That was why the Miles M.20 was designed, as a back-up cheap fighter though in the event it wasn't needed, and also the reason that the RAF - until mid-1941 - built a stockpile of 140 odd Curtiss P-40's in reserve (they were sent to Russia).


I couldn't agree more. Except where do you get anything about squandering planes deliberately. And I can guarantee that the Russians would have been absolutely livid if they thought one of their pilots had deliberately destroyed a perfectly good plane for no reason. In fact if I had been a pilot parachuting to safety and even had a glimmer of a thought that a commissar might think I wasted a plane, I would just go ahead and cut my parachute cords and hope for a quick death.


You think so? The British certainly thought it most important in 1942. But strictly speaking, WW2 as a whole spelt the end of the British Empire (which since 1926 had co-existed with the British Commonwealth anyway) and the loss of India in 1948/9 is the end of the empire to all intents and purposes, a move inspired not only with dissatisfaction with British rule but also the confidence of indian troops returning home after the war.



Singapore fell and the Empire continued on (until as you note 48/9.) I recently read a scenario where the Japs inspired by their success at Singapore followed with a full scale invasion of India and controlled most of the subcontinent except Ceylon and Britain (with US backing) still won in the end.


.
The Americans were escorting vessels on an expedient basis. Even in 1940, some USN escorts went as far as Iceland. Bear in mind that ASW warfare was not restricted to the RN. The vulnerability of U-Boasts to interdicting aircraft of the Coastal Command would increase throughout the war as methods and equipment improved, though in fairness, CC in 1940 were undermanned and finding that many long range types were assigned elsewhere as a priority.
 


Yes the US was doing some escort duty in 1940, but it was very sub rosa. Possibly less than one American in 1000 was aware of this fact. Taking over escort duty completely would have been another thing entirely. It could not have been kept under wraps. Once public it would have required a Congressional act of war to continue. I have a better chance of winning gold at the Olympics than FDR of getting a declaration of war. Even such a benign thing as approving Selective Service only passed by 1 vote. Plus the German/American, Italo/American and the Irish Americans were largely pro Axis and in the case of the Irish vehemently anti British.


Churchill was never popular as a politician, despite his admirable leadership, and faced at least one major attempt to oust him (which failed as the British politicians decided it was better the devil you know, though Churchill was out in the first post-war general election). Even if Churchill had been removed, the British Government still existed and the war was still going on. A surrender was possible of course, but what government would survive that sort of strategy in Britain of 1940? In any event, the British were well aware of the threats the Third Reich posed and this was never going to be a simple nor easy question.



Chamberlain did not survive the debacle of the Battle of France. Churchill as you said almost lost a vote of confidence, what makes you think he could have survived following a catastrophe such as I propose? And seriously was there anyone else who could have stiffened British resolve to continue against seemingly hopeless odds other the Churchill?



But you still don't address the main point. Could the RN have survived as an effective entity following my scenario. I just did a quick check about the size of the RN entering WWII. 20 BB's, 89 cruisers, 236 destroyers, and 53 escort/patrol craft. Given dispersal to the Pacific, the Med and the S Atlantic assume 10 BB, 35 cruisers, 120 destroyers and 30 smaller ships available to stop the German "invasion". Suppose a 25% loss by the RN. Take the historic losses of the RAF and Luftwaffe. Increase losses by the RAF by 25--35% and decrease losses by the Luftwaffe by 10-15%. What would that mean to the ability of the British to keep their supply routes open?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jan 2018 at 16:49
Quote Chamberlain did not survive the debacle of the Battle of France. Churchill as you said almost lost a vote of confidence, what makes you think he could have survived following a catastrophe such as I propose? And seriously was there anyone else who could have stiffened British resolve to continue against seemingly hopeless odds other the Churchill?
There were one or two strong voices in parliament and trade union circles. Sadly the British nobility was less inclined to show any real open leadership but a fair number of them admired Hitler anyway. Politics abhors a vacuum - it's almost a certainty that someone would have seen an opportunity to embrace the situation, lead Britain, and inspire a page or two in the history books. Nonetheless, much depended on the situation. It was understood by both sides that had the Wehrmacht advanced north as far as Northampton, the game was up and Churchill would have announced a surrender. Who officiated over that was a question almost irrelevant. 
 
Quote But you still don't address the main point. Could the RN have survived as an effective entity following my scenario. I just did a quick check about the size of the RN entering WWII. 20 BB's, 89 cruisers, 236 destroyers, and 53 escort/patrol craft. Given dispersal to the Pacific, the Med and the S Atlantic assume 10 BB, 35 cruisers, 120 destroyers and 30 smaller ships available to stop the German "invasion". Suppose a 25% loss by the RN. Take the historic losses of the RAF and Luftwaffe. Increase losses by the RAF by 25--35% and decrease losses by the Luftwaffe by 10-15%. What would that mean to the ability of the British to keep their supply routes open?
The statistical approach is not always the best means to approach such a question. In terms of dry numbers, it wouldn't look good for Britain in the situation you describe. However, the fact America was the 'Arsenal of Democracy' at all was testimony to Churchill's success in diplomacy, better yet that he would get America to come in one the Allied side, agree to the Lend-Lease deal, and give the European theatre priority despite the rather more heartfelt 'Day of Infamy' initiated by the Japanese. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Churchill - always the loose cannon - would be looking for ways to get around a more desperate situation, ways that would be hard to speculate upon now.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AnchoriticSybarite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Jan 2018 at 00:48
Originally posted by caldrail caldrail wrote:


There were one or two strong voices in parliament and trade union circles. Sadly the British nobility was less inclined to show any real open leadership but a fair number of them admired Hitler anyway. Politics abhors a vacuum - it's almost a certainty that someone would have seen an opportunity to embrace the situation, lead Britain, and inspire a page or two in the history books. Nonetheless, much depended on the situation. It was understood by both sides that had the Wehrmacht advanced north as far as Northampton, the game was up and Churchill would have announced a surrender. Who officiated over that was a question almost irrelevant. 


Come on now. Wishful thinking does not replace logical thought. In the first place Churchill was not even the first choice to replace Chamberlain; Halifax was. But give Churchill his due. He had been the lone voice in the wilderness for over a decade decrying Germany, Nazism and Hitler and in his time at the top he inspired the British people to continue their lone resistance to a victorious Germany.

But given what would have been the most crushing defeat in the annals of British military history, no prime minister who had ever held the title could have survived or even made a plausible argument to continue the war. It wouldn't be just the sheer numbers of ships lost (2-5 BB's sunk, 20-30 cruisers, 100+ destroyers) but the fact that the single institution (the RN) that every Briton slept soundly every night knowing they were, there keeping them safe had been savagely mauled would have led to mass panic.

Further it would not be hard to imagine Hitler offering extremely generous terms. There has been speculation that the Dunkirk halt order was his quiet signal to Britain that he did not want to crush the Empire, merely free his army to turn and deal with the Soviets. Additionally to placate the US and allay the concerns that Churchill would later raise with FDR about British Caribbean bases falling into German hands, they could have been ceded to the US as a condition of peace.

Quote
The statistical approach is not always the best means to approach such a question. In terms of dry numbers, it wouldn't look good for Britain in the situation you describe. However, the fact America was the 'Arsenal of Democracy' at all was testimony to Churchill's success in diplomacy, better yet that he would get America to come in one the Allied side, agree to the Lend-Lease deal, and give the European theatre priority despite the rather more heartfelt 'Day of Infamy' initiated by the Japanese. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Churchill - always the loose cannon - would be looking for ways to get around a more desperate situation, ways that would be hard to speculate upon now.


I would beg to disagree. In war the statistical approach is usually the best available. Assuming the fake invasion was undertaken sometime between late June and mid August, America had not yet become the "Arsenal of Democracy". The destroyer for bases deal was not struck until Aug 30, 1940, Lend Lease did not become law until March '41, and all 3 Neutrality Acts were still in effect. FDR was in the middle of a contentious election campaign where he could not afford to offend an American public that was solidly against becoming involved in "another European war".

Even had FDR been so inclined as to completely take over safeguarding merchant traffic to the UK, to do so he would have had to ask Congress for a declaration of war. It would have not been forthcoming.
http://www.worldhistoria.com/edit_post_form.asp?PID=104659&PN=1" width="1px" height="1px" style="display: none;">

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jan 2018 at 14:17
Quote Come on now. Wishful thinking does not replace logical thought. In the first place Churchill was not even the first choice to replace Chamberlain; Halifax was. But give Churchill his due. He had been the lone voice in the wilderness for over a decade decrying Germany, Nazism and Hitler and in his time at the top he inspired the British people to continue their lone resistance to a victorious Germany.
Halifax was not the first choice, more accurate to say the preferred choice of Chamberlain. However, a noble leading the House of Commons was not a desirable situation and Halifax went to see Chamberlain alongside Churchill, who was asked whether this was acceptable. Realising an answer would trap him, Churchill refused to comment, thus Halifax was able to refuse the position (He didn't want to be Prime Minister anyway) and Churchill basically got the job by default.
 
Quote But given what would have been the most crushing defeat in the annals of British military history, no prime minister who had ever held the title could have survived or even made a plausible argument to continue the war. It wouldn't be just the sheer numbers of ships lost (2-5 BB's sunk, 20-30 cruisers, 100+ destroyers) but the fact that the single institution (the RN) that every Briton slept soundly every night knowing they were, there keeping them safe had been savagely mauled would have led to mass panic.
Colourful and dramatic but quite unenglish. Your speculation does not necessarily fit the mood or motions of the time. A move to oust Churchill simply because Britain had been defeated would be rather silly anyway, given the uncertainty it would create and the lack of movement open to British politics under surrender terms and Nazi domination. Loved or loathed, Churchill would have been necessary to lead Britain in defeat, although what the Germans would have done with him is another matter. They were far more likely to dispense with the troublesome Brit than the British.
 
Quote Further it would not be hard to imagine Hitler offering extremely generous terms. There has been speculation that the Dunkirk halt order was his quiet signal to Britain that he did not want to crush the Empire, merely free his army to turn and deal with the Soviets. Additionally to placate the US and allay the concerns that Churchill would later raise with FDR about British Caribbean bases falling into German hands, they could have been ceded to the US as a condition of peace.
The fate of Britain in surrender was already sealed. The Germans had made plans to disassemble British society, export working class males as slave labour to the continent, and redistribute property to senior Nazis. Generous terms? The Germans had other ideas. Bear in kind we declared war on them.
 
Quote
I would beg to disagree. In war the statistical approach is usually the best available. Assuming the fake invasion was undertaken sometime between late June and mid August, America had not yet become the "Arsenal of Democracy". The destroyer for bases deal was not struck until Aug 30, 1940, Lend Lease did not become law until March '41, and all 3 Neutrality Acts were still in effect. FDR was in the middle of a contentious election campaign where he could not afford to offend an American public that was solidly against becoming involved in "another European war".
On the contrary, a statistical approach dehumanises history and reduces events to numbers. It clouds or ignores issues, makes no allowance for peripheral influence, nor does it encompass those pesky potential twists and turns of fate. It's merely one measured speculation among others that makes no allowance for human performance or motives.
 
I was pointing out that the various stages of American involvement were, or rather, would be, driven by Churchill's diplomacy. Roosevelt had no reason to comply other than goodwill or economic opportunism. It wasn't just the attitude of the Americans against involvement in another European war - there was also the Neutrality Act which rendered it illegal. Roosevelt was on newsreel in the election making promises that none of their boys would be sent to fight in Europe. He would have followed that priority too. Churchill made the possibility of profit attractive to him - to assist America strategically, and to speed recovery from the Depression. It worked. America ended the war twice as wealthy as it had begun, with surpluses in steel, rubber, textiles, grain, superior strategic force, anmd a new role as a global superpower in place of Britain to all intents and purposes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jan 2018 at 10:23
By chance I stumbled on a film shown on an obscure tv channel yesterday. The Lion Has Wings was made in 1939, a flag waver for the British public facing war, and like you 'd expect, contained some pretty dire acting, contrived scenes, and patriotic emotion. But there was also some extraordinary cultural info from the film as it followed the crew of a Bomber Command Vickers Wellington on an anti-shipping raid on the German coast, stated as a 'legitimate target'. The sequence was acted out, but not by thespians. The remarkable thing was that it was filmed using the crew of a bomber that had flown the raid a couple of weeks earlier. I watched as a crowd of airmen assembled as the voice over gave the usual stirring speech, noting the behaviour of those young men of whom the majority would not survive the next few years. Some looked calm, others apprehensive, even haunted by the danger they knew they were in. Yet the most remarkable aspect of the film for me was watching a depiction of the Battle of Britain almost a year before it happened.
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Forgive me for seeming rather critical, but none of the above takes into account the reality of the situation in 1940.

 

Firstly, in August 1940, there were only 226 operational Luftwaffe transport aircraft. Even assuming every one was used, these could deliver, at most, only 3000 lightly armed parachute troops. Even if these aircraft sustained light losses, there were still far too few to fly in additional troops and/or supplies, and they were, in any case, incapable of bringing in the heavy weapons that would be desperately needed.

 

Secondly, even if you divert barge traffic to the ‘Atlantic coast’ the barges cannot be used in unmodified form, but need to be converted. On 20 June, Raeder advised Hitler that the German navy had no landing craft at all, but hoped to have converted 45 barges by early July. The earliest that the Kriegsmarine could have been ready would have been mid-September. In point of fact, the Germans assembled a large surplus of barges, but as these were intended to cross the Channel in trains consisting of a tug, a powered barge, and an unpowered barge, the critical factor was the number of tugs, and by late September, 1940, they had only assembled 397 towing vessels, almost all of which would need to be committed to the first wave. There was, literally, no reserve of tugs. Any such vessel lost could not be replaced. As the Kriegsmarine estimated that it would take 11 days to land the first wave, even without tug losses, the probability would surely have been that losses in reality would have been heavy, especially since every night the Royal Navy would have a free hand to wreak havoc.

 

Thirdly, there was no German surface fleet worthy of the name. Bismarck in September, 1940, was some seven months away from being operational, and Gneisenau, Scharnhorst, and Deutchland were still repairing torpedo damage. All the Germans had in September 1940 was one heavy cruiser (Hipper), three light cruisers (Nurnberg, Koln, and Emden), five destroyers, and a small number of torpedo boats of the Wolf, Mowe, & Elbing classes. Concentrating the ‘entire’ U-boat fleet to attack the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow doesn’t work either, because the Home Fleet (other than one battlecruiser, one carrier, four cruisers, and seven destroyers) wasn’t at Scapa. The bulk of it (two battleships, one battlecruiser, three light cruisers, and seventeen destroyers) was at Rosyth.

 

In any case, the Admiralty had no intention of sending any heavy ships into the invasion area, as substantial anti-invasion forces had already been assembled at the Nore (24 destroyers and 2 light cruisers), Portsmouth ( 16 destroyers, 5 French torpedo boats, and 2 light cruisers), Plymouth (11 destroyers and two light cruisers) and Hull (5 destroyers and 3 light cruisers). The ‘entire’ U-boat force in September, 1940, by the way consisted of 61 boats. 34 of these were either older boats used for training or new boats being worked up. There were only 27 ‘frontboote’ of which, on any given day in September, only 13 were on patrol.

 

Fourthly, the RAF would not need to attack the barges at sea, or risk attrition from the Luftwaffe. Bomber Command would, as they historically did, attack the barges in their ports, at night.

 

Finally, the Royal Navy would not have to ‘take the bait’ as they would simply continue to do what they historically did, which was to patrol the Channel every night. Had any substantial German forces ever put to sea, these would have been reported at once, and the vast resources referred to above could have been brought to bear within hours.

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2018 at 15:19
Your points are valid but remember that none of the German senior command were under any illusions of the potential difficulties, not even Goering. Indeed, this was why Hitler demanded four conditions of authorising the invasion at all. Goering offered to satisfy one, to destroy of subdue the RAF to claim  air superiority over SE England, and he probably believed the Luftwaffe could do it given how easily European air forces - including the British in France - had been swept aside, and thus claimed a few days were all that was necessary. However, Goering was less inclined toward actual invasion than another chance to please his Fuhrer and win kudos for himself and his command (He had already tried to have the Luftwaffe destroy the British at Dunkirk, but the RAF were enough to thwart the worst of that although the troops on the beaches were not impressed as German air attacks continued - note that the Wehrmacht had stopped short of closing in for the kill.
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