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1940: bataille mobile vs blitzkrieg

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  • 1940: bataille mobile vs blitzkrieg

    The idea for this thread comes from the following post by Purist :

    Post WWI French doctrine was developed by a careful examination of not only the previous war but even the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. Options were discussed at the French military academies and war college where they explored all the available theories. What stood out to the French was:

    1) that "Fire Kills" and that modern firepower would kill even more effectively. Battles had to be controlled tightly so junior officers did not go off and do something rash - causing higher casualties.
    2) France was faced by a growing demographic, industrial and economic disadvantage vis-a-vis Germany so manpower was at a premium and had to be preserved (see 1), above). Penetrations were to be masked, reserves assembled and a 'methodical battle' laid on to drive the enemy back. This had been succesful in 1917 and 1918 and nothing in French experience since then had changed this view. Fighting in Spain only reinforced these views as tanks did very poorly versus defending firepower in the Spanish Civil War.
    3) The conscription laws of 1925 and 1928 saw the reduction of the service time for conscripts reduced to just 1 year. In exchange the reserves were to receive increased funding to compensate and reservists were to be further trained throughout their service period.
    4) The one year conscript saw only about 166 days of actual training for their particular job. The 1929 economic collapse saw the funding for reserve training slashed repeatedly as France went from one economic crisis to the next usually followed by successive collapses of governments (average government lasted only 6 months).
    5) By the time war was again seen as imminent most reservists had not seen much in the way of further training (sometimes none). In the case of tank units, called up reservists were often issued new kit that they never trained in. Infantry regiments were given clerks who had never fired a rifle, even in one-year service (they were supposed to be clerks).

    Back to doctrine

    5) If 'fire kills' and battles needed to be tightly controlled then tanks needed to be properly protected to help shoot the infantry onto their objectives. The crew could be smaller since the tanks were there to lend fire support and advance tactical bound by tactical bound in concert with the infantry to depth of only about 5-7 km (so as not to outrun the guns - firepower!). A small tank makes a small target and this also helps control casualties.
    6) When the French doctrine was applied as it was meant to be, it caused the Germans fits.
    http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...=161046&page=5

    The conclusions made by French were in many points logical. But let's see if other conclusions - not less logical ! - were made.

    1935. Germany rejects the Versailles treaty and Wehrmacht replaces Reichswehr. Germans introduce first tanks in their army making it clear that the times of impotent army of Weimar Republic are gone. This leads to serious discussions in French political and military circles with the following ideas discussed:
    1) France is more and more in disadvantage in demographics, economy and industry vis-ŗ-vis Germany. It means that in case of a possible war, Germany can potentially field more troops and more support for them.
    2) The geopolitical situation of France was very different from 14. No more Entente just like no more Central Powers. However if A-H and Ottomans usually acted as two cannonballs attached to Germany, Russian and British Empire were vital to survival of France. Now USSR is not an ally and Britain isnít really opposed to Germany. Italy while not yet allied with the Reich isnít an ally either just like Yugoslavia and isolationist USA. The only two possible allies for France are Poland and Czechoslovakia. But Poland didnít had the material resources to mount a successful attack on Germany while Czechoslovakia has the problem of Sudetes and a mountainous border. So basically France would take the German attack alone or with Belgium at his side.
    3) The solution to positionary crisis appeared under form of stormtroopers and tanks. The tanks also resolved the second problem of the positional war, what to do when the front is pierced but troops are to slow to advance.
    4) France cannot afford a war of attrition again, the previous weighted to heavy on the north of country and demographics.
    5) Maginot line can protect France but it need to be reinforced and continue all the long of Belgian border. This is costly and difficult from a political standpoint. Further Germans can develop super heavy artillery, super heavy tanks and anti-fortification bombs to breach the line before attacking in the deep.

    Per consequent the following conclusions are draw:
    1) French troops should expect to be outnumbered by the enemy. It means that French troops must be capable to inflict more casualties on the enemy while suffering less themselves. It applies both to infantry and armor.
    2) Best way to protect the infantry in a mobile battle, is to give it armor. Armor carriers are perfectly suited for this task and the men can get SMGs in order to have a big advantage in firepower while attacking enemy positions. Lorraine 67L and Renault UE could be used as the basis for an APC.
    3) The tanks should be assigned different tasks. Lighter tanks should be used to penetrate enemy lines and attack the supply lines plus reinforcements in the way to the front. Half of them should be armed with 75 gun-howitzers for better anti-infantry and anti-fortifications effect while the second half should get long barreled 25 - 37 mm guns in order to deal with enemy armor. Basically those are H-35 with different guns. Light tanks should also get a good speed and good operational range to conduct operations in deep. Medium tanks can be slower and with a lower range. Their main goal is to being held in reserve in order to counterattack German armor. Since they will likely be outnumbered several times, itís necessary for them to resist the majority of enemy AT weapons and being armed with powerful AT guns like the long barreled 47 mm guns. Somua S35 with a better gun and slightly thicker armor will make it. Finally, heavy tanks or assault guns should be constructed to attack German fortified positions and support infantry. In short B-1 armed with a 105 gun or howitzer.
    4) Tanks are expensive so the role of mobile AT can partially relegated to gun armed trucks that will use the roads to quickly arrive in dangerous sector.
    5) Old FT-17 should get a new life as self-propelled guns armed either with AT guns or 75 howitzers. Their role would be advancing with infantry protecting it against enemy armor and destroying German strongpoints.
    6) The tanks should organized in brigades of around 100 tanks each, supported by 2-3 battalions of infantry mounted in APC and self-propelled armored guns for direct and indirect fire. A bigger structure would be more difficult to use on a rapidly changing battlefield. If need be they could group together with other brigades and truck-mounted motorized divisions in a corps-level structure.
    7) In the first part of the war France can achieve parity and even surpass the Germans in numbers by mobilizing more men. Germany will be additionally hampered by the lack of training for the men who didnít serve in Weimar Republic. The time required to train can be used to achieve a decisive success on the front and compensate unavoidable casualties. To this goal 180-200 divisions should be raised with the mobilization.
    8) Infantry divisions should be able to stand the German assaults. For this goal they should get more MGs, AT rifles and AT cannons. Heavy artillery is of lesser priority.
    9) Legend of Maginot line should be reinforced even if in reality it will be far from what it was in OTL. The goal is to push the German attack through Belgium where it would be stopped before French tanks would penetrate the rear areas of German army. The final objective is the destruction of the main bulk of German forces in Belgium followed by a push towards German before it can mobilize more troops. The initiative should always stay in French hands, at any point there should be a return to a positional front.



    How could this have worked out ?
    There are no Nazis in Ukraine. © Idiots

  • #2
    Problem is, to do this the French needed several large armored divisions and a means to effectively control them, which it lacked in 1940. The economic situation of the Western Allies at the time prohibited rapid expansion and consolidation of the military into an effective fighting force the way the Germans did; they would need many more months to do so. Basically when the Germans attacked, the Allies simply were not ready; given another year or so things probably would have been different.
    Divine Mercy Sunday: 4/21/2020 (https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message) The Miracle of Lanciano: Jesus' Real Presence (https://web.archive.org/web/20060831...fcontents.html)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by BobTheBarbarian View Post
      Problem is, to do this the French needed several large armored divisions and a means to effectively control them, which it lacked in 1940. The economic situation of the Western Allies at the time prohibited rapid expansion and consolidation of the military into an effective fighting force the way the Germans did; they would need many more months to do so. Basically when the Germans attacked, the Allies simply were not ready; given another year or so things probably would have been different.

      This is more than uncertain : The French were at their maximum in 1940, and I don't see a BEF of 30 divisions in 1941.

      What would happen is a possible deterioration of the German economic situation due to the Allied blockade .

      There was in 1940 a French numerical inferiority and there would also be a French numerical inferiority in 1941 .

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ljadw View Post
        This is more than uncertain : The French were at their maximum in 1940, and I don't see a BEF of 30 divisions in 1941.

        What would happen is a possible deterioration of the German economic situation due to the Allied blockade .

        There was in 1940 a French numerical inferiority and there would also be a French numerical inferiority in 1941 .
        While it may be true that in terms of sheer numbers France was at the disadvantage, in terms of technology there was less of a disparity. New technology can influence new doctrine. While it can be argued whether or not this would have made a difference, it should be noted that the French military was in fact undergoing a transition between 1935-40....albeit a slow one.

        New designs in aviation and armor were probably the most interesting, with most barely going past prototype stages by May 1940. Despite the profile remaining more or less familiar, new uniforms and field equipment had begun to be issued, with yet more modifications appearing in 1941. There is also evidence that a younger cadre of officers less prone to influence by the "old school" would have probably begun to take command by '41-'42.

        Politically it is more complicated, both internally and externally. If technologically France needed an extra year or two, internal politics was always a problem if the previous 15 years were any indications. In my opinion, the two biggest obstacles making any changes irrelevant were A-Belgium's insistence on neutrality and subsequent lack of pre-war cooperation, and B- the MolotovĖRibbentrop Pact on the eve of war. Both of those historically did throw the allies in a quandary. IMO, any changes made are severely handicapped by those two events.
        Last edited by asterix; 16 Mar 16, 06:58.
        You'll live, only the best get killed.

        -General Charles de Gaulle

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        • #5
          Originally posted by asterix View Post
          (...)
          Politically it is more complicated, both internally and externally. If technologically France needed an extra year or two, internal politics was always a problem if the previous 15 years were any indications. In my opinion, the two biggest obstacles making any changes irrelevant were A-Belgium's insistence on neutrality and subsequent lack of pre-war cooperation, and B- the MolotovĖRibbentrop Pact on the eve of war. Both of those historically did throw the allies in a quandary. IMO, any changes made are severely handicapped by those two events.
          More than neutrality as such, the disparage between the French and Belgian defence plans appeared to have been a problem.

          Belgian high command defended the Meuse line with a view of giving up the Ardennes - they made no serious commitment to the Dyle line and indeed there's every indication they wanted to deflect a German attack towards Sedan.

          The French/British did in fact the complete opposite - they wanted to fight in the Ardennes and deflect the attack towards the Flemish plains as they did in WWI -

          The object of one was to protect the industrial base along the Meuse - for the other to protect the same in northern France.

          For political reasons neither was actually in a position to agree to the proposition of the other - the results were plain for all to see.

          That is of course ignoring the fact the Germans broke *both* the Belgian AND the French line - so in all likelihood it would not have made much of a difference.
          Lambert of Montaigu - Crusader.

          Bolgios - Mercenary Game.

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          • #6
            The problem for the French was that they had a long frontier to guard with insufficient forces : AG1 had to protect 300 km (Dunkerque-Luxemburg with 29 divisions and 7 RD .Between september and may (especially in 1940) the BEF arrived with 9 divisions and 3 RD .

            The Germans OTOH had 75 divisions and 43 RD (AGA 45 1/2 ;AGB 29/1/2 ).

            There were only 2 solutions :

            a ) to have a smaller front


            b ) to have more divisions

            And both were leading the French to Belgium

            A)The Dyle line was smaller than 300 km

            B) The Belgians had 18 divisions + 4 RD

            With the Belgians, the Allies had 70 divisions against 117 German divisions .

            Without the Belgians they had only 48 divisions .

            If the 22 Belgian divisions would not retreat to France, the 48 Allied divisions had to go to Belgium .
            Thus the decision was easy : the French and the BEF would enter Belgium when the Germans invaded Belgium . And there was also the false assumption that the Dyle LIne was fortified (which it wasn't) while the border between Dunkerque and Luxemburg was not fortified .


            It was all a question of maths.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
              More than neutrality as such, the disparage between the French and Belgian defence plans appeared to have been a problem.

              Belgian high command defended the Meuse line with a view of giving up the Ardennes - they made no serious commitment to the Dyle line and indeed there's every indication they wanted to deflect a German attack towards Sedan.

              The French/British did in fact the complete opposite - they wanted to fight in the Ardennes and deflect the attack towards the Flemish plains as they did in WWI -

              The object of one was to protect the industrial base along the Meuse - for the other to protect the same in northern France.



              For political reasons neither was actually in a position to agree to the proposition of the other - the results were plain for all to see.

              That is of course ignoring the fact the Germans broke *both* the Belgian AND the French line - so in all likelihood it would not have made much of a difference.

              This is not correct : And the region south-west of the Meuse and the region behind the Albert canal were quickly abandoned : the Belgian army retreated to the "reduit national" behind the Dyle line , and the fall of the Dyle Line was decisive (not Sedan),behind the Dyle Line there was nothing that could stop the Germans .

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                This is not correct : And the region south-west of the Meuse and the region behind the Albert canal were quickly abandoned : the Belgian army retreated to the "reduit national" behind the Dyle line , and the fall of the Dyle Line was decisive (not Sedan),behind the Dyle Line there was nothing that could stop the Germans .
                They retreated because the forts were taken and the Meuse line had become untenable, I doubt that was included in the pre-war plans.

                One need only look at the amount of money and effort poured into fortifications on the Meuse and compare them the glorified ditch that was the Dyle line to see where Belgian Generals intended to fight.
                Lambert of Montaigu - Crusader.

                Bolgios - Mercenary Game.

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                • #9
                  The majority of the Belgian army was at the Albert canal,because the Belgian general staff expected ,rightly, that the main German attack would happen north of the Ardennes, north of the Meuse.The Germans would not go from Charleroi to Brussels .

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                    This is more than uncertain : The French were at their maximum in 1940, and I don't see a BEF of 30 divisions in 1941.
                    Britain was not fully prepared in 1940; during the Battles of France and Britain their main concentration of forces was in fact the BEF; the stalemate phase after that was critical to building the British Army. The French too had not fully mobilized their forces and had yet to build a solid armored corps, despite physically possessing large numbers of tanks.
                    Divine Mercy Sunday: 4/21/2020 (https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message) The Miracle of Lanciano: Jesus' Real Presence (https://web.archive.org/web/20060831...fcontents.html)

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                    • #11
                      The question is : what would the French have done with a solid armoured corps ? More than probably it would have been sent to Belgium,where the French expected the main German attack ,and ,would it have made a difference ? I don't think so ,as in the OTL the French tank units were defeated at Hannut .

                      And,meanwhile, PzG Kleist would advance to the channel .

                      The French needed at leasr 20 divisions more,they hadn't these 20 divisions and where looking for the 20 Belgian divisions, which were much to weak .

                      A solid armored corps would not have made the difference .Besides, I doubt that the French could have a solid armoured corps .

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Emtos View Post
                        T
                        Per consequent the following conclusions are draw:
                        1) French troops should expect to be outnumbered by the enemy. It means that French troops must be capable to inflict more casualties on the enemy while suffering less themselves. It applies both to infantry and armor.
                        But what way does this influence doctrine? For example does it mean that each French unit should be able to defeat/disrupt/engage several enemy units in battle. Or is it just a matter of manpower and attrition? And if it is about attrition then they would have done nothing with an armored corps.
                        Wisdom is personal

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