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  • Afrika Korps victory?

    I'd like to hear some opinions.Was an Afrika Korps victory possible,say if they actually didn't get their supply lines interdicted,and had supplies?How important was the Suez to the British war effort,and perhaps the Germans could've pushed to the Mid East,get in on all that oil(the only large British force in the Mid East was in Egypt,so with them gone.....)possibly bring Turkey into the war.

  • #2
    If the RN lost Alex they could have still projected naval power into the Med from Gib, but how much? I think it would then have been easier to secure Malta, but then Malta needed to be secured first anyway to give Rommel all the supplies he needed.

    If the Germans secured the Med could they then go onto the Mid East proper? There would be serious risk of the US pouring a lot of force into west Africa to protect resources and maybe push up into Saharan Africa. It's certainly something I'd like to do in World in Flames.

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    • #3
      Africa Korps victory would only have been possible with extra resources all round. Two or three extra German mechanised divisions, extra Luftwaffe aircraft to attain air superiority as well as to help protect the convoys, increased supplies for the DAK. Capturing (or isolating) Malta would have been a major help. Additionally, several German divisions would have been required to stiffen defences in North-West Africa. This could not have been achieved without scaling back the war with the USSR.

      Suez and the Middle-East were not strategically important to the British. Convoys were routed around the Cape of Good Hope and around 90% of oil came from the USA. Arab oil was not as important then than it is now. However, losing the region to the Axis would have been a major blow to British morale, especially when you consider that it was the only theatre of war where they were fighting the Germans directly.

      I don't think that Turkey was important to the Germans unless the plan was for Rommel to strike into Russia from the south. 'Benevolent neutrality' would have probably been enough, especially if the Germans were struggling against the Red Army (why risk an invasion from your north by a much stronger opponent?).
      Signing out.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Full Monty
        Africa Korps victory would only have been possible with extra resources all round. Two or three extra German mechanised divisions, extra Luftwaffe aircraft to attain air superiority as well as to help protect the convoys, increased supplies for the DAK. Capturing (or isolating) Malta would have been a major help. Additionally, several German divisions would have been required to stiffen defences in North-West Africa. This could not have been achieved without scaling back the war with the USSR.

        Suez and the Middle-East were not strategically important to the British. Convoys were routed around the Cape of Good Hope and around 90% of oil came from the USA. Arab oil was not as important then than it is now. However, losing the region to the Axis would have been a major blow to British morale, especially when you consider that it was the only theatre of war where they were fighting the Germans directly.

        I don't think that Turkey was important to the Germans unless the plan was for Rommel to strike into Russia from the south. 'Benevolent neutrality' would have probably been enough, especially if the Germans were struggling against the Red Army (why risk an invasion from your north by a much stronger opponent?).

        What about the importance of the oil for the Germans at the time?
        Not lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs...the Australian army is proof that individualism is the best and not the worst foundation upon which to build up collective discipline - General Monash

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        • #5
          Interdiction of the sea lanes wasn't the critical problem it's often made out to be. Rommel was still receiving enough supplies at the ports to fuel his advance; the trouble was, that's where it stayed, since he lacked enough transport to actually get the gas and ammunition forward where it was needed.

          His failure to suit his operations to his logistic capability was a key factor in his defeat and a major strike against him on the generalship score.

          Regards
          33
          Steve 'Golf33' Long
          [/size]Airborne Assault: Highway to the Reich

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Temujin
            What about the importance of the oil for the Germans at the time?
            Well ..... Consider that a considerable proportion of Middle Eastern oil wasn't discovered until after the war had finished. Add to this the serious logistical problem the Germans would have had transporting the oil back to Germany and you can see that Arab oil was not on the Nazi agenda. Hence the focus on the Soviet oil wells in the Caucasus. Had Rommel actually broken through at Suez I would expect he would have driven north through Palestine and Syria and linked up with the armies driving south from the USSR somewhere near Baghdad. Apparently this was the plan, relying on help from nationalist uprisings in Egypt and Iraq and Vichy-French forces in Syria and the Lebanon.
            Signing out.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Full Monty
              Well ..... Consider that a considerable proportion of Middle Eastern oil wasn't discovered until after the war had finished. Add to this the serious logistical problem the Germans would have had transporting the oil back to Germany and you can see that Arab oil was not on the Nazi agenda. Hence the focus on the Soviet oil wells in the Caucasus. Had Rommel actually broken through at Suez I would expect he would have driven north through Palestine and Syria and linked up with the armies driving south from the USSR somewhere near Baghdad. Apparently this was the plan, relying on help from nationalist uprisings in Egypt and Iraq and Vichy-French forces in Syria and the Lebanon.
              Would be the the best plan, although what was in the area already would have been helpful to the Germans considering their lack of natural oil. Plus if they played the cards right they could have employed the locals to extract it, saving their own manpower propblems by not draining German or Eastern 'slave' labour. The best plan would to become the liberators of the mid east, still they could have done that in the Ukraine easy enough but the dipshit Nazi's ballsed that up.
              Not lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs...the Australian army is proof that individualism is the best and not the worst foundation upon which to build up collective discipline - General Monash

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Full Monty
                Africa Korps victory would only have been possible with extra resources all round. Two or three extra German mechanised divisions, extra Luftwaffe aircraft to attain air superiority as well as to help protect the convoys, increased supplies for the DAK. Capturing (or isolating) Malta would have been a major help. Additionally, several German divisions would have been required to stiffen defences in North-West Africa. This could not have been achieved without scaling back the war with the USSR.

                Suez and the Middle-East were not strategically important to the British. Convoys were routed around the Cape of Good Hope and around 90% of oil came from the USA. Arab oil was not as important then than it is now. However, losing the region to the Axis would have been a major blow to British morale, especially when you consider that it was the only theatre of war where they were fighting the Germans directly.

                I don't think that Turkey was important to the Germans unless the plan was for Rommel to strike into Russia from the south. 'Benevolent neutrality' would have probably been enough, especially if the Germans were struggling against the Red Army (why risk an invasion from your north by a much stronger opponent?).
                Interesting questions indeed. Full Monty's words make sense. Just a comment on the Germans allocating extra resources; perhaps not very probable considering the low priority of Africa in Berlin's view, but, would it have been possible to make the numerous Italians perform better? For exmaple by manning Italian HQs with plenty of German staff, and I mean plenty ?
                "You can't change the rules in the middle of the game."
                "Hey, you just made that rule up."


                Heil Dicke Bertha!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Golf33
                  Interdiction of the sea lanes wasn't the critical problem it's often made out to be. Rommel was still receiving enough supplies at the ports to fuel his advance; the trouble was, that's where it stayed, since he lacked enough transport to actually get the gas and ammunition forward where it was needed.
                  His failure to suit his operations to his logistic capability was a key factor in his defeat and a major strike against him on the generalship score.
                  I'd have to disagree. Interdiction of Italian shipping was a key factor. In 1943 alone 1,200 ships were sunk. Had they listened to Kesselring and taken Malta out the supply problem would have been alleviated considerably. As it was, ultra gave the exact time tables of shipping and it was not uncommon for an Italian freighter to be sunk at a harbor while waiting to be unloaded.
                  As for lacking transport we can speculate that a considerable amount of planned-on transport, trucks and other transport, was also sunk along with the other supplies. Whenever the Germans suppressed (bombed the crap out of) Malta then supplies would get thru to the AK for a while; until Malta recovered that is. Thus the ebb and flow of supplies to North Africa. Just keeping Malta supplied and operating was also very costly for the Brits as well.

                  Ironically, it was Rommel who convinced Hitler not to take out Malta before initiating further offensives. One interesting anecdote, from "On the Trail of the Fox", was that during the battle for Alamein when Rommel was in the thick of a spearhead on a flank, the panzers involved literally ran out of gas. They had to halt the offensive for about 2 hours to scrounge up more gas to contine the battle. The Brits seeing them halted dared not to counter-attack for fear of another Rommel trap.

                  As for Rommel not living within his means, well that's a difficult one to call. He knew he couldn't delay much longer for the allied build up and if he did all hope of taking the Brits out would be lost, so it was a judgement call. Keep in mind that Rommel rarely notified high command of his intentions regarding operations and so would frequently catch the British without the luxury of Ultra knowledge. In ops where he did relay comm, such as was frequently done before Alamein, he would struggle for the allies would have the Ultra intercepts to hand. Ultra played a huge role in that theater.

                  It's also easy to say, with 50+ years of armchair generalship behind us, that this was a major strike against him as a general. Considering that he kicked that 8th army all the way to Alamein in the face of stifling shortages, (with inferior numbers?) with Ultra intercepts against him and the handicap of the Italian army (no offense to any members of Italian heritage ) on his side then I don't see how that is an accurate statement. He then conducted the most difficult of operations - a lenghty organized retreat without being trapped or overrun - all the way across North Africa, I think some 1000 plus miles.

                  Here are a couple of interesting links: http://www.naval-history.net/WW2Camp...orthAfrica.htm and http://www.topedge.com/panels/ww2/na/supplies.html
                  Last edited by Lurker; 12 Jul 04, 20:32.

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                  • #10
                    Lurker wrote

                    I'd have to disagree. Interdiction of Italian shipping was a key factor. In 1943 alone 1,200 ships were sunk. Had they listened to Kesselring and taken Malta out the supply problem would have been alleviated considerably. As it was, ultra gave the exact time tables of shipping and it was not uncommon for an Italian freighter to be sunk at a harbor while waiting to be unloaded.
                    As for lacking transport we can speculate that a considerable amount of planned-on transport, trucks and other transport, was also sunk along with the other supplies.
                    The sheer length of Rommel's land supply lines was a major factor. The amount of fuel and water used up transporting fuel and water across hundreds of miles of desert was astronomical. Golf might be able to lay his hands on the statistics but I'm speaking from memory here . Until the Torch landing this had been a serious problem for the British and their Empire allies too when pushing Rommel and the Italians back into Libya. In some respects, Rommel was a victim of his own success, had he somehow been able to break through to Cairo, unless he could have captured substantial quantities of fuel and munitions he could well have found himself stranded with little of either and not much hope of re-supply.
                    Signing out.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It depends on where you read about Rommel and his supply situation. Van Creveld, in Supplying War, makes a few pretty interesting points:

                      - the main port of supply for Rommel was Tripoli. Tripoli was a lot further from the front than was practicable for an army dependent on motor transport, and as the Italians pointed out - and the Germans ignored - there was no adequate railway running east from Tripoli.

                      - the capacity of Tripoli was 45 000 ton per month; by the time 15 PzDiv arrived, Rommel's monthly requirement (including the Italians) was 70 000 tons, imposing a bottleneck on delivery even if supply across the Med was adequate.

                      - the motor-transport requirement of the DAK was 6000 tons; proportionally ten times that allocated to the armies of Barbarossa. As soon as Rommel started moving forward, even this wasn't enough, as had been forseen at OKW, who had forbidden him to launch offensive operations.

                      - Rommel's request for a total force of four Pz Divs would have required an additional 20 000 tons per month; given his needs were already exceeding the unloading capacity of his ports, and even then he was unable to move supplies away from Tripoli where they were stockpiled, his situation could well have been worse had he actually received the extra forces.

                      - despite the horrible losses, the Italians actually managed to deliver an average 72 000 tons per month from July to October 1941. In other words, he was getting the supplies he needed, he just couldn't get them to where they were needed.

                      - the length of supply lines, and the lack of railway transport, meant that Rommel's supply trucks themselves consumed significant amounts of petrol. Van Creveld estimates that anywhere between 30% and 50% of the fuel used by DAK was consumed between Tripoli and the front line.

                      - the British offensive in November 1941 succeeded in destroying many of DAK's precious trucks, and also halved the formation's transport capacity by forcing it to operate only by night. This was significant in forcing Rommel's withdrawal at that time.

                      - further evidence of the importance of extended supply lines is that once Rommel had withdrawn to Benghazi, he was able to fully supply his forces, even though by this time the British had destroyed about half his motor transport during the retreat.

                      - at the start of 1942, Rommel requested an additional 8000 trucks to enable him to resume the offensive. This was a pretty ridiculous request given that the four armoured groups operating in Russia only had 14 000 trucks in total. Given this kind of shortfall in motor transport, conducting a major offensive hundreds of miles distant from the base of supply seems foolhardy at the best.

                      There's more but I haven't got time to go through it. This is only one historian though, and not that recent a work; if other or more recent scholarship contradicts van Creveld, I'd be interested to read about it

                      Regards
                      33
                      Steve 'Golf33' Long
                      [/size]Airborne Assault: Highway to the Reich

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        - despite the horrible losses, the Italians actually managed to deliver an average 72 000 tons per month from July to October 1941. In other words, he was getting the supplies he needed, he just couldn't get them to where they were needed.
                        72,000 tons a month for 4 months doesn't really imply he got what he needed. The supply had an ebb and flow in proportion to Malta's suppression.
                        The supply problems on both sides are well documented. If you take Malta and it's sub base out of the equation could they have moved the supply lines closer? What impact did the astronomical shipping losses have? Granted that the transport may have consumed 30 to 50% of the fuel, but if you theoretically add the losses to the stockpile could the DAK have lived with that ratio? Of the 8000 additional trucks requested how many were lost with the many thousands of sunk ships? And as for a foolhardy offensive, what does Van Creveld suggest in it's stead? The Brits supply line to Cairo was a bit longer was it not - around the southern tip of Africa?

                        All in all hindsight is a wonderful thing when tons of data can be analyzed for decades and a writer can safely give assessment as to what's foolish and what isn't when he isn't personally facing desperate situations. Given the pressures and uncertainties of the moment though things can appear quite different.
                        IMO the truly massive amount of shipping losses couldn't help but have negative impact on the AK. In spite of all that he still managed to press them all the way to Alamein. If you removed Malta and it's terrific impact from the equation, how could it not have affected the outcome?

                        Speculation is always fun!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Lurker wrote

                          The Brits supply line to Cairo was a bit longer was it not - around the southern tip of Africa?
                          By sea yes, but it's the land miles that count here. If you look at the maps of the North African campaign up to 'Torch' and El Alemein the offensives by both sides ground to a halt when their respective supply lines became over-stretched. Of course the losses incurred by the Italian merchant fleet shipping supplies to Benghazi were a factor but I think their greatest significance came in the 1943 campaign that finally drove the Axis out of North Africa.

                          What shouldn't be forgotten - and I'm sure Golf could help us out again here - is the amount of captured equipment and supplies Rommel's forces used as they drove 8th Army back into Egypt. IIRC it was pretty significant but I can't lay my hands on any stats .
                          Signing out.

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                          • #14
                            An interesting debate but unresolved. I was trying to find the exact number of axis supply ship losses to North Africa but couldn't locate a source. In any case it's in the thousands and as mentioned in 1943 alone 1,200 were lost. I'm completely unconvinced that these tremendous shipping losses didn't impact the outcome of the desert war. Many of these losses had to be vehicles that were to transport the supplies to the front. Had malta been neutralized early on what then? As it stands, in spite of these great hardships he made it all the way to Egypt. I don't believe the supply line was literally a rubber band stretched to it's limits and that it couldn't have supported them thru Alamein. IMHO. In any case it makes for interesting speculation.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Lurker
                              An interesting debate but unresolved. I was trying to find the exact number of axis supply ship losses to North Africa but couldn't locate a source. In any case it's in the thousands and as mentioned in 1943 alone 1,200 were lost. I'm completely unconvinced that these tremendous shipping losses didn't impact the outcome of the desert war. Many of these losses had to be vehicles that were to transport the supplies to the front. Had malta been neutralized early on what then? As it stands, in spite of these great hardships he made it all the way to Egypt. I don't believe the supply line was literally a rubber band stretched to it's limits and that it couldn't have supported them thru Alamein. IMHO. In any case it makes for interesting speculation.

                              Regards Italian shipping losses, according to Richard Overy in 'Why the Allies Won' British submarines and aircraft sank approximately two-thirds of the Italian merchant marine (p.52) denying Axis forces around half their supplies. He also talks of Rommel being 'stretched to his logistical limit' at El Alamein. Since he doesn't give a timeline (the campaign lasted over two-and-a-half years) or the initial strength of the Italian merchant fleet it's difficult to comment on his conclusions.
                              Signing out.

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