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1940 - Hitler adopts Britain First strategy

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  • 1940 - Hitler adopts Britain First strategy

    It is July 1940. Hitler has basically two options: finish off GB or strike east to conquer the USSR.

    Britain's land forces are so meager and with the heavy equpment left at Dunquirk Wehrmacht should have an easy task overwhelming them - provided of course it can get to Britain somehow first.

    The Soviet army is also weakened by Stalin's purges, has performed poorly against the Finns and is badly dislocated along the new German-Soviet boarder.

    Historically Hitler did try to make Sealion possible but his resolve soon faltered as on the verge of wiping the RAF out he changed the strategy and despite Goering's advice began to terror-bomb London instead of continuing to strike the remains of the British air force bases and equipment. Here is when the history ends.

    -----

    Now let us suppose before the Battle of Britain begins Hitler is strongly determined to get Britain out of the way before striking east (or countering Stalin's first strike for that matter). He might assume Stalin will not be ready to strike, even if he plans to, before 1942 (Soviet unreadiness is evidenced by many facts that made the real Barbarossa very successful initially). So he has almost 6 months in 1940 and the whole 1941 to undertake Sealion, take Malta and Gibraltar (after Britains's fall that could be well possible - perhaps Franco would finally agree to give the Germans free passage through Spain), then Egypt and Middle East including the Iraqui and perhaps Saudi oilfields. Then Turkey is boxed in and might agree to join the Axis (at least making it possible for the Wehrmacht to use its territory to install some expeditory corps at the boarder with the USSR).

    During the first months at least he might still use Stalin's generous supplies (granted to him in the Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty). The USA remains neutral and the only thing they can do to help Britain is supplying them as long as it is possible - until the ports are taken.

    Now
    1. What chances do you see for Germany to gain air supremacy over Britain assuming they take the best possible strategy of prioritizing wiping the RAF AFBs out first (or any other strategy you might see).
    2. If they achieve objective 1 what are the chances of successfully crossing the Channel in force sufficient to conquer Britain? What happens to the Royals and the government - is a British Vichy formed in the even of failure or is collaboration rejected out of hand?
    3. If objective 2 is achieved is securing the Mediterrinean and the Middle East feasible before Stalin strikes? If he strikes does his army succeed in overwhelming the battle-hardened Germans?
    4. If all the 3 objectives are achieved is there any reason Germany could not win WWII or at least achieve supremacy in Europe for many decades?

    Looking forward to hearing from you on that.

    Piotr

  • #2
    Mostly what you are describing here is what the nazis actually tried. Britian was the priority from July thu October 1940. I cant recall the exact date Hitler changed the policy. But I think you are actually getting at committing to a long range plan and not changing policy in late 1940. Correct?

    Originally posted by panzer3 View Post
    Historically Hitler did try to make Sealion possible but his resolve soon faltered as on the verge of wiping the RAF out he changed the strategy and despite Goering's advice began to terror-bomb London instead of continuing to strike the remains of the British air force bases and equipment. Here is when the history ends.
    There area wide variety of books that adress this. Even before the bombing policy was changed in September German Air Force leaders were starting to realize they were in danger of losing the fighter battle. Post war the survivng leaders were even less optimistic when they learned what the actual British fighter & pilot strength was.

    -----

    Originally posted by panzer3 View Post
    Now let us suppose before the Battle of Britain begins Hitler is strongly determined to get Britain out of the way before striking east (or countering Stalin's first strike for that matter). He might assume Stalin will not be ready to strike, even if he plans to, before 1942 (Soviet unreadiness is evidenced by many facts that made the real Barbarossa very successful initially). So he has almost 6 months in 1940 and the whole 1941 to undertake Sealion, take Malta and Gibraltar (after Britains's fall that could be well possible - perhaps Franco would finally agree to give the Germans free passage through Spain), then Egypt and Middle East including the Iraqui and perhaps Saudi oilfields. Then Turkey is boxed in and might agree to join the Axis (at least making it possible for the Wehrmacht to use its territory to install some expeditory corps at the boarder with the USSR).

    During the first months at least he might still use Stalin's generous supplies (granted to him in the Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty). The USA remains neutral and the only thing they can do to help Britain is supplying them as long as it is possible - until the ports are taken.

    Now
    1. What chances do you see for Germany to gain air supremacy over Britain assuming they take the best possible strategy of prioritizing wiping the RAF AFBs out first (or any other strategy you might see).
    To beat the RAF nazi industrial production policy has to be altered so that adaquate replacement aircraft are available. That requires a realistic apprsial by Goering & his staff of probable losses, something they were incapable of doing until after they had already suffered severely. If you replace Goering with someone competent & replace a portion of the senior staff then they might be better able to cope. But, that has to be accomplished months before attacking Britian. By September or October the British aircraft production and pilot training were outpacing Germanys.

    Pilot training for Germany was a larger problem. The GAF had retained most of the methods suitable for peacetime training, and they had nearly shut down the pilot schools for the May attack. Instructors were sent to combat units to boost front line strength. This created a decline in pilot replacements when the were most needed. Conversely the British had increased the number of instructors and students in the fighter pilot schools, and streamlined the ciriculum.

    Originally posted by panzer3 View Post
    2. If they achieve objective 1 what are the chances of successfully crossing the Channel in force sufficient to conquer Britain? What happens to the Royals and the government - is a British Vichy formed in the even of failure or is collaboration rejected out of hand?
    There are some incredilby long threads on this part. After the war the German plans were examined by a group pf British and German military officers and they judged them very weak.

    As for the Royal family, they were to move to Cananda with the government. There were plans laid out for evacuating all key leaders, critcal engineers and physicists, and any thing else of value that could be got aboard a ship. A plan for setting up shop in Cananda was in preperation.

    Originally posted by panzer3 View Post
    3. If objective 2 is achieved is securing the Mediterrinean and the Middle East feasible before Stalin strikes? If he strikes does his army succeed in overwhelming the battle-hardened Germans?
    Stalins policy was to wait until his military had been rebuilt before risking war. At least 1942 or 1943. As for the seconf part the Soviet mlitary beat Germany even as unprepared and weaks as they were in 1941. Wait a couple more years can shift the advantage.

    Originally posted by panzer3 View Post
    4. If all the 3 objectives are achieved is there any reason Germany could not win WWII or at least achieve supremacy in Europe for many decades?

    Looking forward to hearing from you on that.

    Piotr
    Mostly Hitlers stupidity and the incompetence of his nazi comrades. the longer they were in power the more they wrecked traditional German efficiency and quality with their weird Facist/Socialist ideas and corruption.

    Comment


    • #3
      Bottom line.
      Even if Hitler adopts a 'Britain first' policy, both the RAF and Royal Navy are too powerful for any attempt at invading to be successful.

      The most that he could realistically attempt was a long term campaign to force the British to accept a neigotiated peace, through a combination of submarine warfare, and military action with the Italians against Britain's middle east territories, but even this is not certain to succeed.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by redcoat View Post
        Bottom line.
        Even if Hitler adopts a 'Britain first' policy, both the RAF and Royal Navy are too powerful for any attempt at invading to be successful.

        The most that he could realistically attempt was a long term campaign to force the British to accept a neigotiated peace, through a combination of submarine warfare, and military action with the Italians against Britain's middle east territories, but even this is not certain to succeed.
        Precisely.

        Everytime this question comes up it seems to revolve around the German airforce and defeating Britian in a fighter battle & aircraft bombs. I've only noticed a few people approach it as a naval problem, and even fewer look at the possibilitys in a combined sea & air operations as a naval campaign.

        It is still a long shot but placing the Navy in charge of defeating Britian has room for discussion, if the airforces are made to cooperate fully. goering may not like this at all, but if he cant get with the program then he can voice his compliants from retirement at his farm in Prussia, or from a Gestapo execution site.

        It not a simple thing and there are a lot of difficultys or points of friction where things can go wrong. Briefly - The airforces must take on two roles. One is to bomb the British airfields and inland industrial sites, but as a secondary mission. Tis is to keep the British gusessing and dividing their attention between the air defense of the inland targets and the naval targets. The primary focus of the airforce must be supporting the interdiction of British cargo ships. While the Geman submarines do their thing the airforce must: conduct substantial long range reconissance patrols, conduct long range fighter patrols to interdict British ASW aircraft, antiship strikes both at long range and near the ports, bomb the ports, minelaying missions.

        One of the failures of the German national command was in not forcing a better cooperation between the different arms. The German navy and airforces fought two nearly seperate wars against their enemy and were defeated seperately. Goerings ego & general incompetence created a airforce that could do only one thing well and which was second or third rate at other tasks like acting in combination with naval units. While it would be difficult to remedy this from July 1940 proper combined arms operations are usually better than various departments all following seperate illcoordinated plans.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for your ideas, Carl. Here are my comments
          Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
          But I think you are actually getting at committing to a long range plan and not changing policy in late 1940. Correct?
          Right


          Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
          To beat the RAF nazi industrial production policy has to be altered so that adaquate replacement aircraft are available.
          OK, as I indicated - I assume - for the purpose of this alternate timeline - the Germans were capable of seeing their errors and correcting them, doing anything historically reasonable that would increase their chance of success. Otherwise it would not be an 'alternate history', right? ;-)

          So let us assume German leaders were bright enough to see in time their training system was wrong and they found a way to fix it and Albert Speer was given the resources and priorities to produce enough planes to match or outmatch the RAF. In short I assume German leadership is competent enough and fully determined to finish off Britain before facing the USSR. Any reasonable and historically feasible strategy to achieve this is OK in this thread.

          Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
          Mostly Hitlers stupidity and the incompetence of his nazi comrades. the longer they were in power the more they wrecked traditional German efficiency and quality with their weird Facist/Socialist ideas and corruption.
          This is partly right - ideology was perhaps the most important factor that isolated Germany politically and made any kind of outcome for WWII except unconditional surrender hardly possible. Hitler's obssession with power prevented the more talented German leaders to be more efficient. However if Britain fell Germany would be a superpower even with their weird ideology (communism weird as it was lasted some 80 years) and Hitler's obsessions (see Stalin's brilliant example).

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
            Precisely.

            Everytime this question comes up it seems to revolve around the German airforce and defeating Britian in a fighter battle & aircraft bombs. I've only noticed a few people approach it as a naval problem, and even fewer look at the possibilitys in a combined sea & air operations as a naval campaign.
            This is a very good point. Combined with other remarks made in this thread it seems Luftwaffe was not that close to beating RAF in September/October 1940 and even if it was that supposed victory would not fully resolve the naval issue.

            So I suggest the German leadership does look on defeating Britain as a more complex and long-term task that it actually did and combines the Battle of Britain with a very determined fight on the Atlantic (to cut the supplies off). In doing that the different German forces (navy, air force and Wehrmacht) act in close cooperation. Germans are ready to keep up the highest military and industrial effort and concentrate it on Britain for a prolonged time (at least until late 1942 when Stalin may become a seriuos threat). Also as Wehrmacht is largely idle during the first stages of this multilayered operation Rommel could be sent to Africa to divert the Commonwealth's resources from the scene of the main battle and save the precious time. Perhaps an assault on Malt could be enterprised as well.

            If this more sophisticated and determined approach succeeds in early 1943 Hitler can face the Soviet army with a huge, experienced and efficient army and good supply of resources.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by panzer3 View Post

              OK, as I indicated - I assume - for the purpose of this alternate timeline - the Germans were capable of seeing their errors and correcting them, doing anything historically reasonable that would increase their chance of success. Otherwise it would not be an 'alternate history', right? ;-)

              So let us assume German leaders were bright enough to see in time their training system was wrong and they found a way to fix it and Albert Speer was given the resources and priorities to produce enough planes to match or outmatch the RAF.
              What makes you assume that the Luftwaffe was not given the maximum resources and top priority before Speer?

              For increased resources to have any effect on the battle of Britain would have required allocating them before the war started. Since Germany was rearming to the maximum that would have required reallocating resources from the navy or the army - which would have jeopardised their victories in the west.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Gooner View Post
                What makes you assume that the Luftwaffe was not given the maximum resources and top priority before Speer?

                For increased resources to have any effect on the battle of Britain would have required allocating them before the war started.
                I think Hitler attempted the conquest of Britain half-heartedly and was not consistent enough. He ordered bombing ports and RAF bases then without completing this he switched to London then abondoned the whole idea altogether. I think if Hitler was detemined to deal with Britain first and left his eastern plans for later he could have relocated the resources he used for preparation for Barbarossa. For Barbarossa he had to upgrade his land forces. Instead some of the resources could go to the navy (mainly submarines), some to the Luftwaffe - he did not need to boost Wehrmacht tooo much to crash the British land forces.


                Regards,

                Piotr

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by panzer3 View Post
                  I think Hitler attempted the conquest of Britain half-heartedly and was not consistent enough. He ordered bombing ports and RAF bases then without completing this he switched to London then abondoned the whole idea altogether.
                  How do you 'complete' the bombing of ports and airfields? Its impossible. Craters in airfields can be filled-in in hours, ports can be continually repaired. Just look at the tremendous bombing Malta suffered - the RAF kept flying the RN operating, even if only just. Even the vastly greater Allied bombing forces later in the war could only hope to temporarily neutralize airfields, radar sites, naval bases etc.

                  I think if Hitler was detemined to deal with Britain first and left his eastern plans for later he could have relocated the resources he used for preparation for Barbarossa. For Barbarossa he had to upgrade his land forces. Instead some of the resources could go to the navy (mainly submarines), some to the Luftwaffe - he did not need to boost Wehrmacht tooo much to crash the British land forces.
                  Reallocating resources from the army to the navy is exactly what Germany did after the fall of France. The huge expansion in U-boat numbers did not show-up until more than a year later.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Actually the issues was much more complicated... if you read the xcellent two book series on the luftwaffe (Phoenix Triumphant and Phoenix Aflame) tyou will find that many luftwaffe officers were not opposed to bombing london has a mena to force fighter command to battle (Kesserling had advocated such a move from the start). Luftwaffe was tied to a battle of attrtin over england it was not equipped to fight and before it was fully rested after the campaign on the west. AS Carl has pointed out training and replacements had been jeopardized by the "cash now" policy (and the losses incurred in multiengine transport school used as ersatz transport units).

                    Even if the Luftwaffe had won the air battle (difficult but not impossible with a better strategy in summer 1940) it still would have left open the royal navy problem. Operating under daylight in enemy arizone was difficult, but the british did that for lesser target like Crete... probably they woould have done a Maximum Effort if the German somehow managed to launch the invasion in september. And the Kiregsmarine was desperately short fo destryers after norway. Also many cmmentators had pointed out that Seelowe had been planned more as a river crossing than as a proper amphibious assault. Even if the first wave was able to land it wasn't assured reinforcements and supplies would have still made the crossing.

                    But Hitler was supporting seelowe at best of his available resuorces. Given the late start of the planning and the lack of resurces (and log range plannning before the war) I do not think that until october he wasn't fully committed. Only after the inability to bring a quick victory he started to change approach.

                    As far the soviet are concerned... I doubt that any offensive would have been succesful even in 1943... The soviet army was wrecked in 1941 and rebuilt for 1942 and wrecked-rebuilt again. Even in 1942 and even Zukhov (Mars docet) were still subpar... and they had been through barbarossa. Wthout Barbarossa the Red Army would have still filled with less than capable commander (no one kenw how bad were Budenny and company until tested) and with mixed equipment (mass of lgith fast tanks, two man turretted t34 maybe even some monster like T-35, SMK and the fantasy multiturretted KV... Sturmovim and SU2 would have shared the air support role as equal partner and the like. Probaby a soviet western assault would have ended in disaster...
                    the real credit goes to the little ARVN soldier. He is just tremendous, just magnificent. He stood in there, took all that fire and gave it back. General James F. Hollingsworth USA.

                    Bomben, Bomben, Bomben auf Hamasland!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here is a Britain First strategy for you;
                      A joint German/Soviet attack on Persia, India and the Mid-East.

                      I know its a little off the wall, Italy still seemed a viable ally, until the end of 1940, but a lot of the troops massing for Barbarossa thought that this was why they were transferred to Eastern Europe in Early 41.

                      It would have to be a very economical force, the supply routes leading south from the Caucasus and through Afghanistan are rudimentary, at best. However, the forces available to stop them are barely worth talking about.

                      Stalin gets India and Persia, Hitler gets everything between the Gulf and the Nile, and Mussolini gets to rescue his army trapped in Ethiopia. Just one problem; how do you get all these evil bastards to trust each other?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The Airforce and Navy aside, i reckon a lot of people underestimate the numbers of land forces we had.
                        Bare in mind that although there was a great deal of heavy stuff lost at Dunkirk, most brought back there rifles etc.

                        That matters most, due to the fact Germany had nothing with which to transport tanks across the channel etc.

                        The canadians blessed souls that they are had sent both kit and men in this time, and the Home Gaurd was in full swing.
                        If we look at one county, and as im a semi expert on the Wiltshire home guard, lets look at that county.
                        Its two counties from the sea, so by the time of this they would have to fight through dorset to get to this county.

                        Wiltshire Home Guard had at about this time (give or take depending upon dates but roughly accurate)

                        13000 volunteers, each man had a weapon was trained to use his weapon and one other.

                        300 handguns (donated) 1084 shotguns(donated)

                        2 60 pounders.

                        over 300 machine guns, 400 sub machine guns, 7000 rifles, 3000 pikes.
                        80 phosphorus bottles launchers.
                        132 tonnes of ammunition.
                        This is just one county remember and just the home guard, far from a grandads army.

                        To win air superiority one must also take into account that we had plans to bring our planes up northward out of range of ground attacks but in range to respond to bombers etc.
                        Then there is AA command, its a little known fact but for the first two years of the war for every 7 planes shot down, AA command was to thank for one of them.
                        When looking at the difficulty of targeting the height, speed and the tragectory from not much more than judgment, thats pretty good shooting.
                        All the time Germany is losing planes they can replace and pilots which they cant at the same rate they are losing them.
                        An RAF pilot gets shot down and he may bail out and fly again, the german has two choices, a watery grave or the POW camp.

                        Facts are Germany cannot win in the air or at sea.
                        On land they cannot deliver enough men and goods fast enough, nor protect what they are sending, and what gets there has more than enough waiting waiting to deal with it, coastal defences, regulars, home guard, pill boxes, gas, mines, stop lines, barbed wire etc.
                        Hitler went east because the west was closed for business (a bit like today if you change the word Hitler for wealth)

                        The Barges they planned to use were death traps, i reckon the channel would have done half our job for us imho.

                        Just my thoughts but if i was German knowing all this at the time, i would not fancy the trip very much.
                        Last edited by UGLYGUTS; 09 Jan 09, 15:36.
                        Sealion would have failed..............runs,

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I can't believe I'm doing this but this link might give you some good research material and alot of differing veiwpoints.

                          Read with care...TTTSNBN ("The Thread That Shall Not Be Named" for you newer guys.)

                          http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...ight=sealion:(
                          If you can't set a good example, be a glaring warning.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Arrigo View Post

                            Even if the Luftwaffe had won the air battle (difficult but not impossible with a better strategy in summer 1940)
                            No. What better strategy? The battle was not there for the Luftwaffe to be won. Only the British could, conceivably, have "lost" it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by freightshaker View Post
                              I can't believe I'm doing this but this link might give you some good research material and alot of differing veiwpoints.

                              Read with care...TTTSNBN ("The Thread That Shall Not Be Named" for you newer guys.)

                              http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...ight=sealion:(
                              Agreed.
                              Sorry, im a moth to a naked flame sometimes.
                              Sealion would have failed..............runs,

                              Comment

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