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Phony War persists through 1940

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  • Phony War persists through 1940

    What were the Anglo-French plans, if any, immediate, short & long term in April 1940?

    If the Germans hadn't attacked all through the summer, would they have taken the initiative and launched their own attack against Germany? How long could that number of men be kept mobilised without fighting?

  • #2
    Long term plan was to train the French series B reserve units and new units, and rearm all units. The training was expected to require 8-12 months, the rearmament over 18 months. For the Brits it was much the same, arming and training.

    Strategy was to build on the blockade and move as many nuetral governments as possible away from strict nuetrality.

    In the latter half of 1941 rebuilding the French Army would be far enough along that limited offensives would be started. That would gradually escalate and as the British expansion of ground and air forces came to completion in early 1942 a major offensive would be launched to crush the German industrial region along the Rhine basin. The basis of the French offensive was to massive fire power, on a scale that would dwarf anything in WWI. 10,000+ aircraft were to attack the rear of the German defense, artillery outnumbering the Germans at better than 2-1 would bury the front under a mass of shells, and a wave of thirty and forty ton tanks like the B1ter or the G1 would follow.

    French economists had taken a close look at what they knew of German finances and calculated the nazi government would be bankrupt and without either currency or gold reserves by the end of 1941. Credit was already near exhaustion for Germanys business and government in late 1939. It was expected food shortages, industrial stagnation, inflation, would demoralize the German population.

    Anyway that was the concept. Probablly the most important event in the rebuilding of the French miltiary would be the retirement of Gamelin. by March 1940 Daladier the Minister of Defense had decided Gamelin was stale and fresh leadership was needed. Gamelin would have been retired in May 1940 had the Germans not attacked. that would have been followed by a ongoing retirement of the older marshals and generals and promotion of those who looked the best in training exercises and skimishes on the battle front. New generals would have led to new battle doctrines, so the French army of 1942 would have been different from that of 1940. Perhaps it would have looked more like the US Army of 1944.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Mifletz View Post
      ... How long could that number of men be kept mobilised without fighting?
      The plan was to release the older reservists, and skilled workers as soon as the new draft classes could be trained, by the end of 1940. Colonial soldiers would be brought in as well. France had reserves of gold and foreign currency, and credit sufficient to sustain their war effort into 1943. If Germany was not on the ropes by then France would have had to seek alternatives.

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      • #4
        All of the above, plus it shouldn't be overlooked that the Allies were right in thinking that time was on their side. Thus it would stand to reason that Germany had to attack. If they did not attack in 1940, they surely would in the spring of 1941. The Allies would bleed them white with the advantages of defense, then counterattack them as they were weakened.
        Michele

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        • #5
          Michele - I also wonder if the Soviets would have launched a second front in the East, if Stalin thought the Germans were being put on the back foot by Anglo-French tactics?

          It is known that Stalin was aware that Hitler had plans to 'eventually' assault the USSR.

          I suspect in such a scenario the US 'Lend Lease' might have taken off as if on steroids!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Wooden Wonder View Post
            Michele - I also wonder if the Soviets would have launched a second front in the East, if Stalin thought the Germans were being put on the back foot by Anglo-French tactics?
            I was about to mention the possibility, but I didn't because notwithstanding the subforum this is in, the question was specifically about the French and British plans. Now, they certainly hoped to enlarge the alliance, but especially given the Molotov-Ribbentrop surprise, they couldn't hinge their plans on Soviet help.

            I suspect in such a scenario the US 'Lend Lease' might have taken off as if on steroids!
            A sizable factor in the public opinion's growing favor for that was the sense of emergency following the fall of France. Without that, you'd have a lot more of what was in place before May 1940, i.e. orders to the US arms industries. That would eventually run in the same limitation as historically, of course, i.e. the bottom of the pockets of the buyers. But there wouldn't be the sense of a special exception being necessary.
            Michele

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            • #7
              A rebuilt Royal navy

              Originally posted by Wooden Wonder View Post
              Michele - I also wonder if the Soviets would have launched a second front in the East, if Stalin thought the Germans were being put on the back foot by Anglo-French tactics?

              It is known that Stalin was aware that Hitler had plans to 'eventually' assault the USSR.

              I suspect in such a scenario the US 'Lend Lease' might have taken off as if on steroids!
              What you probably would have seen was a Royal Navy adapting their carrier fleet to cover the lessons of the Norway campaign.

              A folding wing hurricane, outboard lifts from the hangar to the flight deck, coupled with 'blast walls" that would blow out, dissipating the force of any hangar area explosion.

              Prob. a use of US shipyards to do the conversion. American four stacker destroyers converted en masse to high speed transports sold to Britain and France.
              The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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              • #8
                I think one thing that would happen is that the equivalent of the Battle of Britain would occur over France instead.
                While the ground war languishes both the French and British would have started bomber campaigns. While these initially would have been tepid and ineffective they would have slowly increased.
                The Germans likely would respond in kind.
                This would have resulted in all three developing air defenses and aircraft that would make them more effective.
                The end result would be when the ground war resumed and the Germans try to invade France they would find their air support far less effective than it was originally while the Allied air forces are more effective.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Wooden Wonder View Post
                  ...

                  I suspect in such a scenario the US 'Lend Lease' might have taken off as if on steroids!
                  Lend Lease was a reaction to the dim financial prospects of Britain from late 1940. In 1940 the Anglo/French armament plan was scheduled to fit their ability to pay cash & later secured credit.

                  Originally posted by Michele View Post
                  ....
                  A sizable factor in the public opinion's growing favor for that was the sense of emergency following the fall of France. Without that, you'd have a lot more of what was in place before May 1940, i.e. orders to the US arms industries. That would eventually run in the same limitation as historically, of course, i.e. the bottom of the pockets of the buyers. But there wouldn't be the sense of a special exception being necessary.
                  The drawdown of cash reserves is one of the reasons the French expected to complete rearmament in 1942, and launch the main attack then. Other reasons as well, but getting to it an over it before the consequences took hold made sense from the PoV of the war plans made circa 1938-39.

                  Originally posted by marktwain View Post
                  ...

                  Prob. a use of US shipyards to do the conversion. American four stacker destroyers converted en masse to high speed transports sold to Britain and France.
                  Britain was working towards the what became the Liberty ship design. Absent a emergency like OTL they likely would have sent orders to US ship yards for something more like the larger & more capable Victory ship design.

                  Brit and French arms and material orders were flooding the US factories from the moment the Nuetrality Acts were laid aside in 1939. For 1940 there were French orders for 1,800+ aircraft from the US (600 were delivered to June 1940). The French Navy was sending it maintanance overflow of warships to US shipyards, the BB Richilieu was having upgrades made in a east coast shipyard. British purchases and contracts rivaled the French in 1939/40. French aircraft orders to the US for 1941 seem to have reached 3,000 aircraft and more were under negotiation.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                    I think one thing that would happen is that the equivalent of the Battle of Britain would occur over France instead.
                    While the ground war languishes both the French and British would have started bomber campaigns. While these initially would have been tepid and ineffective they would have slowly increased.
                    The Germans likely would respond in kind.
                    This would have resulted in all three developing air defenses and aircraft that would make them more effective.
                    The end result would be when the ground war resumed and the Germans try to invade France they would find their air support far less effective than it was originally while the Allied air forces are more effective.
                    Projections for German aircraft production for 1940-42 vs estimates of French, Brit, US production dont look good for Germany. OTL British production alone nearly matched German factory output. More important is the Germans OTL stuck with a less efficient pilot training program than the RAF. While the French pilots were not trained in the same tactics as the German they averaged significantly more flight hours per pilot that the German AF. That gave a long term advantage in training cadre.

                    I dont have any detailed analysis of how the two sides air forces would compare in 1941 or 1942. Back of the envelope projections show the Germans outnumbered in air combat units by anywhere from 50% to 100%. Aircraft production and pilot training would have been roughly twice that of Germany sometime in 1941.

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                    • #11
                      On the ground these two prototypes represent the likely trends in French armor. The G1 as proposed was a thirty tonner, with 65mm thick armor, and a 75mm gun, & three man crew. The dome shaped turret looks like something from the 1950s. Changes to the prototype included enlarging the crew to four.

                      The SAU vehicles were a heavily armored SP artillery weapon. These were for supporting assaults with indirect fires & long range direct fires. The turret on top had range finding and azimuth optics. Limited production of these in 1940 included a command version with extra radios and the ability to operate as a armored OP directing the fires of multiple battery groups. Armored ammunition and fuel carriers were to be part of the SAU weapon groups.

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                      • #12
                        Any experts here able to comment on German tank development from June 1940 through June 1941? How might it have gone absent the victory of 1940?

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                        • #13
                          I think the other thing to look at is the anti-tank gun.

                          The British 2 pounder was perfectly adequate to knock out any 1940 German tank but was already scheduled for replacement by the 6 pounder, designed in 1938 but losses at Dunkirk caused a continuation of production of the former which proved woefully inadequate in N Africa against up armoured Panzers.

                          By comparison the German 34mm AT gun was much inferior to the British and only the good fortune of adopting the 88mm AA (again inferior to the British AA) in an AT role gave the Wehrmacht an advantage in this area.

                          I would suggest that the 6 pounder, which would have been available by end 1941 in large numbers, would give the Allies the advantage: cheaper to produce, lower profile and more manoeuvrable than the 88mm yet still able to knock out any German tank prior to the arrival of the Tiger.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Scupio View Post
                            I think the other thing to look at is the anti-tank gun.

                            The British 2 pounder was perfectly adequate to knock out any 1940 German tank but was already scheduled for replacement by the 6 pounder, designed in 1938 but losses at Dunkirk caused a continuation of production of the former which proved woefully inadequate in N Africa against up armoured Panzers.

                            By comparison the German 34mm was inferior and only the good fortune of adopting the 88mm AA (again inferior to the British AA) in an AT role gave the Wehrmacht an advantage in this area.

                            I would suggest that the 6 pounder, which would have been available by end 1941 in large numbers, would give the Allies the advantage: cheaper to produce, lower profile and more manoeuvrable than the 88mm yet still able to knock out any German tank prior to the arrival of the Tiger.

                            And the Germans are moving to the 50/60 antitank gun.

                            The big questions are between Germany and France, not Britain. The British are not going to be the major ground force in this.
                            Another interesting point is that the Germans would have brought in super heavy artillery (like the 80 cm Dora) and set it up as secretly as possible to obliterate the Maginot Line.
                            I would think that the line is doomed to fail against direct fire large caliber AA and AT weapons, super heavy artillery, and aerial assault. It was simply technologically obsolete.

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                            • #15
                              And the Germans are moving to the 50/60 antitank gun.
                              Yes I agree - I just posted up my limited knowledge in the hope that experts would pile in.

                              I know that British Infantry units used the French 25mm AT gun (Hotchkiss from memory) but how effective this was or how good the French heavier stuff was, I don't know.

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