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  • #16
    Originally posted by Michele View Post
    I'll try...

    First things first.

    1. The attack on Greece isn't going to work short of a miracle, regardless of how accurate the preparation. In actual history the preparation was worse than what a 3-grader could do, but the hard bottom line is that Albania is no staging place for large numbers of troops. Puny handling capacities in its seaports, laughable infrastructure. Logistics, as always, is the wrench in the what-if's gears. The Italians would need to begin to upgrade Albania as a staging area, but there's not enough time with the historical annexation date.
    I figured that might be a problem. From what I have read the boy scouts could have done a better job of organizing the invasion. I guess I was thinking that a few things might have produced a different result (perhaps with a longer campaign): 1) more & better equipment, including trucks; 2) more professional soldiers in much larger numbers; 3) a free hand for the RM - which might help not only with logistics (not in central Greece, but perhaps for a force moving dawn the coast) but also by blockading Greece & perhaps even shelling towns & cities. With France gone and Germany sitting this out will Britain invite itself to this war? If not, how long can Greece hold on?

    2. Again on the supply situation, but the overall one for Italy. Sure Italy can supply Germany with something the Germans need: food. Maybe bauxite (= airframes). But everything else, Italy needs to buy. Oil, coal, rubber, minerals for steel... if it's strategic warmaking material, probably Italy doesn't produce enough of it.
    In short, Italy can remain neutral and trade with Germany - if the British, who control the sea lanes, allow that. You'll remember the very meaningful accident of the Italian coalers temporarily seized by Britain up to March 1940. The ships carried German coal but they were neutral ships headed towards neutral ports (Italian ports), and Britain had no right whatsoever to stop them. Stopping them nevertheless was a very clear signal.
    Note that Britain does not necessarily have to use the stick only. The British did show the carrot at that time. Basically they said: "we will sell you the coal you need, and the oil; you pay in hard currency... no? Then you'll pay in military supplies". This would have achieved several goals:
    - making Italy dependent on Britain instead of on Germany, thus more and more unlikely to go to war as a German ally against Britain,
    - getting some military supplies (it wasn't as if the British industries were already geared up for all-out production),
    - getting those military supplies away from a potential enemy (Italy) and away from an actual enemy (Germany, in case Italy decided to sell them to Hitler instead).
    I owuld suggest that what Britain might have been prepared to do before the fall of France & what it is prepared to do after it might be very different. My bet is that there will be limits to how far Britain will go in any confrontation with Italy. This will be especially true once Japan begins to move on Indochina. Italy is the only nation that can seriously threaten the quickest route to the Far East. As you point out, there will also be ongoing attempts to keep Italy neutral or even woo it to the Allied side as there were with Turkey. I don't see Britain taking this beyond occasional harrassment. My bet is that Italy can play both sides off afgainst each other while maintaing pretty good relations with both (especially Hitler).

    In short, there aren't the resources to carry out this "other war" option, neither at the theater nor at the strategic level, unless one of the combatants in the ongoing war is in agreement.

    More later.
    Look forward to it.
    Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Michele View Post
      What would have Germany gained? An immense vulnerable southern flank for the British to harass? And the need to supply Italy with the enormous amounts of coal, oil etc. that they historically needed to stay in the war?

      To Hitler, the entire Mediterranean affair was a distraction. By the time when Mussolini jumped in, Adolf was praying Benito to stay out.

      Schwamberg has correctly pointed out up-thread that the British would have meddled with Vichy French territories eventually, but even then Germany would have had a comfortable cushion of neutral states from Lisbon to Van, with only a small breach into it (the French Med coast) to guard.

      And in June 1941, the Heer has one Fallschirmjäger, two Panzer, two Gebirgsjäger and a number of infantry divisions more for Barbarossa - the troops that had been expended, attrited, or used and now on garrison duties for Marita-Merkur.

      What am I missing that you see?
      Carl has suggested that ultimately the advantage to germany is not decisive. Do you agree? I'm wondering particularly about the troops expended in 1942-3 in Tunisia. Might they have made a diffrence anywhere? Would the allies have tried to lodge on the Continent in 1943, or would Germany still have been too strong?
      Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

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      • #18
        IN a hurry now, just a couple of remarks.


        Originally posted by BF69 View Post
        I figured that might be a problem. From what I have read the boy scouts could have done a better job of organizing the invasion. I guess I was thinking that a few things might have produced a different result (perhaps with a longer campaign): 1) more & better equipment, including trucks;
        When I say the infrastructure was poor, I mean they had no roads. The area the attack must go though is served by mules' paths. You can build roads, of course, but not over a few months.

        2) more professional soldiers in much larger numbers;
        More professional is always OK, more in numbers hits the logistical wall anyway. You need much higher seaport handling capacity to have bigger numbers deployed.

        3) a free hand for the RM - which might help not only with logistics (not in central Greece, but perhaps for a force moving dawn the coast) but also by blockading Greece & perhaps even shelling towns & cities.
        That is a possibility and a force did move down the coast (and was stopped like the rest). But if you move down the coast you aren't reaching flatter, easier-going, better terrain with better roads. You only reach other small ports with bad connections inland.
        Michele

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        • #19
          Originally posted by BF69 View Post
          Carl has suggested that ultimately the advantage to germany is not decisive. Do you agree? I'm wondering particularly about the troops expended in 1942-3 in Tunisia. Might they have made a diffrence anywhere? Would the allies have tried to lodge on the Continent in 1943, or would Germany still have been too strong?
          Unless the Allies are actively threatening one or more major invasions most of those would end up in the east. The most important item 'saved' from the African campaigns would be the 15,000 cargo trucks (more or less) sent there. All the German vehicles would be available for use in other campaigns, and the italians would be able to sell theirs to the Germans for a premium. Some of Italys railroad equipment might be of use to the desperate Germans & a fat profit made by the Italians on some older rail trucks and perhaps locomotives sold for hauling supplies beyond the Don River. In theory even Italian cargo ships might be sold to the Rumanians for carrying cargo to Rostov or other ports in the eastern end of the Black Sea. Eventually the Italians will give in to Allied pressure on these sales, but until then they can squeeze all possible from the German bank accounts.

          When Allied attacks on the continent do come the German garrisons in the west will be a bit stronger. Germany lost over 160,000 men in the African campaigns. Perhaps 2% of the total military manpower in German uniform in late 1943 (anyone have reliable numbers for this?), which on the surface does not look like a lot. More important might be the aircraft/pilot losses. The GAF suffered some 40% of its 1943 losses over the Mediterrainian. If the Allies cant force that level of loss absent a Africa/Italian battle front then the GAF is in much better shape in the East. What 4500 vs 3000 bombers and fighters might accomplish vs the Red Army I'll leave to others.

          I'll also leave to others what the Germans might have saved in submarine absent a Med front.

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          • #20
            If Italy invades Greece, she ain't neutral, its war with GB because of alliance and royal relations. The UK sent troops to Greece before the Germans invaded. In June 1940 they wouldn't have the troops right away, but they have the Royal Navy.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by zraver View Post
              If Italy invades Greece, she ain't neutral, its war with GB because of alliance and royal relations.
              That's a correct observation. I had missed the fact that the British entered a formal agreement with Greece before the Pact of Steel, not after it, so the non-existence of the latter in this ATL doesn't do away with the British-Greek alliance.
              Michele

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              • #22
                Interesting point about Greece. Were the Yugoslavians to experience a pro Brit coup as in OTL then Hitler might still decide for a Balkans campaign to 'clean things up'.

                Another Balkans point is that Italy had been dependant on Rumania for much of its oil. Gemany is likely to hijack all the oil from Rumania by 1942 at the latest, perhaps much earlier. That would give the Allies a bit more leverage over Italy.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Michele View Post
                  That's a correct observation. I had missed the fact that the British entered a formal agreement with Greece before the Pact of Steel, not after it, so the non-existence of the latter in this ATL doesn't do away with the British-Greek alliance.
                  Yup beat it by a month in 39 (April v May) with formal defensive plans by Feb 41. For Italy to stay out she has to sit still.

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                  • #24
                    I think the real difference in the time lines is that the Western Allies don't have the desert campaign to highlight their deficiencies in doctrine. This led to significant improvements.

                    The other thing is that I'd say sometime in 1943 the British retake Norway.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                      ...
                      I'll also leave to others what the Germans might have saved in submarine absent a Med front.
                      Well, here's a start.

                      As we all know, in January 1942 u-boats arrived off the east coast of the USA and caused havoc. This was Doenitz' famous Operation Drumbeat.

                      Little known is that the Drumbeat assault consisted of only 5 boats! This was because only the Type IX boats had the range to get to the US coast and have fuel left for a reasonable amount of time on station (typically two weeks).

                      In late 1941, only 12 of these boats were available. Of those, higher command had already earmarked 6 for operations off Gibraltar, leaving Doenitz with 6 boats for his Operation Drumbeat. One was unfit for sea and headed into a maintenance period, meaning Drumbeat would be just 5 boats.

                      Would operations off Gibraltar have been as critical without Italy in the war? If not, Operation Drumbeat may have had double the number of boats involved.
                      Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Roadkiller View Post
                        Would operations off Gibraltar have been as critical without Italy in the war? If not, Operation Drumbeat may have had double the number of boats involved.
                        The Med would have remained the primary sea route from the UK/US to the Middleast, India, African west coast, ect... So 'Gibraltar' would have been a real choke point for cargo ships.

                        Which of course does not tell what the German decision might have been.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
                          I think the real difference in the time lines is that the Western Allies don't have the desert campaign to highlight their deficiencies in doctrine. This led to significant improvements.
                          Some days I wonder if much of anything was learned in the African campaigns

                          Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
                          The other thing is that I'd say sometime in 1943 the British retake Norway.
                          There would certainly be incentives to invade northern Norway to secure the sea route to Murmansk. After that there might be a large sucking sound....
                          Last edited by Carl Schwamberg; 29 Jun 12, 13:53.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                            Unless the Allies are actively threatening one or more major invasions most of those would end up in the east. The most important item 'saved' from the African campaigns would be the 15,000 cargo trucks (more or less) sent there.
                            The biggest benefit is in 41 for Barbarossa. Because of tight rail lines the Germans decided to ship two panzer divisions by sea to Italy and then rail them east from there but British subs sank the transports. Add these two divisions plus the panzer divisions and light division sent to Africa plus two divisions worth of replacement tanks and your talking an extra couple of panzer corps for the invasion. Combine this with the trucks and even if everything else goes the same all the way to Typhoon you might be looking at a German capture of Moscow.

                            Also the tonnage of supplies freed up is massive

                            From June 41 619,816 tons and a further 923,985 tons in 1942 combined that is over 3000 days of combat supplies for a panzer division or about a months worth of the supplies used in Barbarossa by German divisions.

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                            • #29
                              I think the action that would have swung Mussolini away from Hitler is if the latter demanded the return of the Tyrol and Trentino that Italy got at the end of WWI. If this were to happen, Mussolini would be making rapprochement noises to Chamberlain and whoever was French PM.

                              There are several knock on effects, the first being Italy limits itself to Albania. Mussolini still has dreams about Yugoslavia and carving it up with Hungary but they stay on the back burner. Secondly, Mussolini doesn't send an army to fight in the USSR, which makes Hitler's manpower shortages even worse. Thirdly, Italy is not stripped of food to feed the Reich as payment for military assistance.

                              There are bound to be diplomatic shifts in Central Europe too - Hungary was initially closer to Italy than Germany, and Romania is in a much less exposed position if Germany doesn't have to pull Italy's irons out of the Greek fire. It may be that Romania doesn't go to war with the USSR either. Bulgaria is also less isolated and may well stay a true neutral.

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                              • #30
                                Perhaps the Italians, with no war to deal with, could have brought in the oil fields in Libya to full production and used those vast reserves to finally end their long term starvation of fuel. This would have made their navy into a much stronger, effective and well trained force, as well as their air force and army. At the same time, the Italians also could be sending the excess gasoline, oil and lubricants to Hitler's Germany to feed its fuel starved, wartime economy to the north. Mussolini really blew it when he declared war on France and the UK in 1940, because Italy could have been a major power broker in the Mediterranean during and after the war years.
                                "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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