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Tags alternate history , Nazi Germany history , World War II history

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Old 12th November 2012, 11:35 AM   #561
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Why, in the name of Heaven, did neither the Germans nor the Italians think to provide themselves with aircraft carriers, when modernising their fleets between the wars? After all the UK had carried out a carrier borne air raid in 1918, as the Germans must have remembered to their cost. (wiki)
Except that no one really appreciated that carriers were going to topple the supremacy of the battleship prior to World War II. Their primary role in the fleet was seen as scouting and possibly softening up the enemy for the real fight between the battle lines. Add in that as other have said they were of no use in the Baltic or for commerce raiding in the Atlantic and its hardly surprising the Germans only had one under construction at the outbreak of war.

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Old 12th November 2012, 11:36 AM   #562
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Segnosaur: thanks, I was maybe too doubtful to the efficiency of A to N warfare in this war. Not too familiar with Midway or the Bismarck sinking.

To go back on the original question, I find that history amateurs (such as me) do tend to be somewhat deterministic in general. Things didn't happen out of luck, but because of A, B, C, D, each of those having their own causes... so you end up with a massive pyramid where a piece is not easily changed.

History is also filled with what appears to be freak accidents or unexpected twists, even in wars. But it is hard to imagine such a complex series of event as WWII going off-rails, much more so than say much older wars that were "smaller" and sometimes were decided on a roll of the dice (Great Armada, Mongol invasion of Japan... this sor of thing).

I actually read an interesting suggestion in regards to the problem we discuss that the premature death of several key figures (Churchill by heart attack: he already had some during his tenure, FDR to sickness and a third one I do not remember, likely Stalin) may have changed the Allied stance considerably. It only work if you believe "great men" do shape history and not the contrary, and it is maybe too obvious of a choice -obviously leader changes during the war...-, but maybe it is actually a more sensible type of proposition than trying to change the overwhelming strategic odds.
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Old 12th November 2012, 12:17 PM   #563
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Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
Except that no one really appreciated that carriers were going to topple the supremacy of the aircraft carrier prior to World War II. Their primary role in the fleet was seen as scouting and possibly softening up the enemy for the real fight between the battle lines.
Ummm... I think you meant to say that no one knew that the aircraft carrier would topple the supremacy of the Battleship.
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Old 12th November 2012, 01:09 PM   #564
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Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
Except that no one really appreciated that carriers were going to topple the supremacy of the aircraft carrier prior to World War II. Their primary role in the fleet was seen as scouting and possibly softening up the enemy for the real fight between the battle lines. Add in that as other have said they were of no use in the Baltic or for commerce raiding in the Atlantic and its hardly surprising the Germans only had one under construction at the outbreak of war.
Italian escort carriers might have more effectively protected Axis Mediterranean convoys and kept the Afrika Korps supplied with fuel. Not to mention increasing the pressure on Malta. As shown already, the UK made good use of carriers in the Med.
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Old 12th November 2012, 01:21 PM   #565
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
Ummm... I think you meant to say that no one knew that the aircraft carrier would topple the supremacy of the Battleship.
It says battleship well it does now anyway
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Old 12th November 2012, 01:25 PM   #566
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Italian escort carriers might have more effectively protected Axis Mediterranean convoys and kept the Afrika Korps supplied with fuel. Not to mention increasing the pressure on Malta. As shown already, the UK made good use of carriers in the Med.
Except I doubt Italian carriers would have fared any better than the rest of the Italian fleet, and attaching them to Afrika Corps supply convoys would just have turned them into big fat targets courtesy of Ultra. And again no one foresaw how useful carriers would be pre WWII, I don't see Il Duce cancelling BBs for CVs.
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Old 12th November 2012, 03:07 PM   #567
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Originally Posted by Magico07 View Post
Germany put a lot of resources into an attempted Atlantic blockade, primarily with U-boats. It was largely ineffective. Not because of the events depicted in U-571, but mainly due to a whole lot of work from the many staff at Bletchley Park (the British code-breaking factory). Armed with accurate intelligence, Naval & Air forces were able to successfully attack German forces with great proficiency.

It certainly helped. But then so did having sufficient numbers of escorts, better radars, better RDF, better ASW weapons, and plenty of long range patrol aircraft. There were periods when the British were unable to read German messages and the battle was not lost. The battle was also aided by German mistakes, such as not having nearly enough U-boats to accomplish its goals and being plagued with faulty torpedoes for the early part of the campaign. When one adds to that how the U.S. was able to mass produce merchant ships there was no hope of Germany ever isolating Britain. More than 2,500 Liberty ships—over 35 million tons of shipping—were built during the war.


Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
The targets in Perl Harbor were stationary. However, the Bismarck was hit by multiple torpedoes while it was at sea. (Although it was eventually scuttled by her own crew, the damage from the torpedo planes played a big part in rendering it useless.)

The Bismarck was caught because of what was essentially a lucky hit: a torpedo which jammed its steering gear. Had that torpedo missed, or had that damage been quickly repairable, the ship would have escaped British forces.
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Old 12th November 2012, 03:11 PM   #568
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While Ultra was useful in diverting convoys around U-Boats it was improvements in weapons and sensors that turned the tide against them.
Long Range Liberators and Escort Carriers closed the air gap over the atlantic.
Centimetric and Microwave Radar allowed the U-Boats to be detected by aircraft and coupled with the 'Leigh Light' they could be attacked when they surfaced at night to charge their batteries. The Radar could even see a Snorkel tube or Periscope.
Escort ships got forward firing 'Hedgehog' mortars that allowed the attacker to stay in contact with a target and Radio Telephones that allowed commanders to co-ordinate attacks. Plus the number of escorts increased.
Most U-Boats ended up being sunk by aircraft on their way in and out of their home ports.
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Old 12th November 2012, 03:13 PM   #569
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Originally Posted by Corsair 115 View Post

The Bismarck was caught because of what was essentially a lucky hit: a torpedo which jammed its steering gear. Had that torpedo missed, or had that damage been quickly repairable, the ship would have escaped British forces.
It wouldn't have escaped for long though. It was a doomed ship as soon as it left port.
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Old 12th November 2012, 03:55 PM   #570
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
It wouldn't have escaped for long though. It was a doomed ship as soon as it left port.

In the long run, sure. In the particular action being discussed, however, only as a result of some lucky breaks for the British. (On the other side of the coin, the Bismarck got lucky with its critical hit on the Hood.)
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Old 12th November 2012, 04:07 PM   #571
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Originally Posted by Laeke View Post
Aircraft carriers are of little use in the Baltic or the Med, aren't they? Large choice of airfields covering most of the area at disposal...
The Wasp came in handy once or twice, but in general, I agree.
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Old 12th November 2012, 05:03 PM   #572
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Originally Posted by Laeke View Post
Segnosaur: thanks, I was maybe too doubtful to the efficiency of A to N warfare in this war. Not too familiar with Midway or the Bismarck sinking.

To go back on the original question, I find that history amateurs (such as me) do tend to be somewhat deterministic in general. Things didn't happen out of luck, but because of A, B, C, D, each of those having their own causes... so you end up with a massive pyramid where a piece is not easily changed.

History is also filled with what appears to be freak accidents or unexpected twists, even in wars. But it is hard to imagine such a complex series of event as WWII going off-rails, much more so than say much older wars that were "smaller" and sometimes were decided on a roll of the dice (Great Armada, Mongol invasion of Japan... this sor of thing).

I actually read an interesting suggestion in regards to the problem we discuss that the premature death of several key figures (Churchill by heart attack: he already had some during his tenure, FDR to sickness and a third one I do not remember, likely Stalin) may have changed the Allied stance considerably. It only work if you believe "great men" do shape history and not the contrary, and it is maybe too obvious of a choice -obviously leader changes during the war...-, but maybe it is actually a more sensible type of proposition than trying to change the overwhelming strategic odds.
It might have made a difference to things if Hitler had died sooner.
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Old 12th November 2012, 09:17 PM   #573
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So no one likes the idea of Hitler invading North Africa? Yes there were logistical challenges involved, but these challenges were far less severe than anything they faced on the eastern front.
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Old 12th November 2012, 09:58 PM   #574
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Originally Posted by L.Y.S. View Post
So no one likes the idea of Hitler invading North Africa? Yes there were logistical challenges involved, but these challenges were far less severe than anything they faced on the eastern front.
Anything would have been more sensible than invading Russia. But he needed to secure the convoy routes across the Med to take Egypt - which would indeed have been a heavy, but by no means fatal, blow to the British Empire.

Consider the case of Napoleon. He failed in Egypt because his fleet was defeated by Nelson. Later he invaded Russia ... plus ça change!
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Old 12th November 2012, 10:32 PM   #575
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Anything would have been more sensible than invading Russia. But he needed to secure the convoy routes across the Med to take Egypt - which would indeed have been a heavy, but by no means fatal, blow to the British Empire.

Consider the case of Napoleon. He failed in Egypt because his fleet was defeated by Nelson. Later he invaded Russia ... plus ça change!
Yeah, I think "it's a better idea than invading Russia..." is a little bit of a low bar.

Hitler made a lot of bad decisions in the course of his stupid life. Stupid Nazi.
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Old 12th November 2012, 11:27 PM   #576
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Originally Posted by L.Y.S. View Post
So no one likes the idea of Hitler invading North Africa? Yes there were logistical challenges involved, but these challenges were far less severe than anything they faced on the eastern front.
I like the idea. It's a completely different Mediterranean strategy. It doesn't seem to further Hitler's crazy plan of enslaving slavs and creating an empire in the east, though. But if the idea was simply to knock the Brits out of the war and negotiate a peace based on 1940 gains - why not? Maybe he could have taken Malta with paratroops. That would have made Egypt much harder to defend. Gibraltar would gave been good, too (but maybe not feasible). All the time though, the soviet union would be getting more powerful.
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Old 12th November 2012, 11:33 PM   #577
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I think it's actually a tad trickier to postulate on what would have happened if Hitler died, just for the fact that the succession process in the Nazi party could have been as cryptic as any other aspects of the regime.
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Old 13th November 2012, 01:51 AM   #578
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Originally Posted by anglolawyer View Post
I like the idea. It's a completely different Mediterranean strategy. It doesn't seem to further Hitler's crazy plan of enslaving slavs and creating an empire in the east, though. But if the idea was simply to knock the Brits out of the war and negotiate a peace based on 1940 gains - why not? Maybe he could have taken Malta with paratroops. That would have made Egypt much harder to defend. Gibraltar would gave been good, too (but maybe not feasible). All the time though, the soviet union would be getting more powerful.
The idea is to attack Britain first, defeat them, gain their resources, and use them on an all out single front war. It would've been extremely difficult for the Soviets to win an all out frontal assualt, though not impossible since the Soviets were willing to take high casualties.

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Old 13th November 2012, 01:53 AM   #579
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Old 13th November 2012, 02:29 AM   #580
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Originally Posted by L.Y.S. View Post
The idea is to attack Britain first, defeat them, gain their resources, and use them on an all out single front war. It would've been extremely difficult for the Soviets to win an all out frontal assualt, though not impossible since the Soviets were willing to take high casualties.
If by 'defeat them' you mean force them to negotiate a peace then fine, but to conquer Britain would have taken years and while that was happening the Soviet Union would be morphing into the super power that emerged during the war. So I can see the sense behind an all out assault on Egypt in late 1940, instead of the Battle of Britain, to bring the Brits to the conference table but I don't really see how Britain could be 'defeated' in the same way France was.
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Old 13th November 2012, 02:40 AM   #581
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None of you have enough imagination. I say we work this until we get a German victory even if it requires a new timeline starting with a failed Anglo-Saxon invasion of the British Isles.
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Old 13th November 2012, 02:56 AM   #582
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Originally Posted by anglolawyer View Post
I agree too. This knocks on the head the idea Germany could just halt operations after knocking out Poland. All pretence of a foreign policy limited to righting the wrongs of Versailles (a policy which had its sympathisers, certainly in GB) was gone.

How about this: after the fall of France, don't commit any resources to invading Britain, conduct a limited defence in North Africa, aimed at tying up the Brits on the safe side of the Med, deploy a few subs by all means to screw up the shipping lanes and then pile all effort into launching an assault on the soviets starting in about March/April 1941 - with a view to knocking them out before winter or neutralising them, leaving the Brits with no allies and no practicable strategy. Then either cut a deal or tool up with the newly freed resources to aim a major blow at some imperial jugular, like suez.
Strategic bombing had a lot of supporters, the Bomber Offensive could still have gone ahead. This required significant German resources to counter and affected production of war material. I suspect that without Britain neutralised in some way, intimidation, treaty, no Lend Lease, it'd still tie up significant German resources.

Originally Posted by Magico07 View Post
The only way I can see for Germany to win WW2 is if one of their major war aims is achieved.

Germany put a lot of resources into an attempted Atlantic blockade, primarily with U-boats. It was largely ineffective. Not because of the events depicted in U-571, but mainly due to a whole lot of work from the many staff at Bletchley Park (the British code-breaking factory). Armed with accurate intelligence, Naval & Air forces were able to successfully attack German forces with great proficiency. Also Merchant convoys were sent along routes, which allowed them to avoid U-boats for the most part.

Apparently, I'm still not allowed links, so those interested but unaware will, I'm afraid, have to do their own googling.

One of the main players in the organisation & setup of Bletchley, was Alan Turing, who happened to be homosexual. At the time, homosexuality was a criminal matter.

Consider a scenario where some religious nozzle, insists that Mr Turing be arrested & imprisoned for being "an abomination unto God". As a result, Bletchley becomes politically toxic, as an idea, and is NOT setup.

British code-breaking goes forward in a much less effective piece-meal fashion. U-boat codes are NOT broken frequently or reliably. North Atlantic convoys cannot be directed through to the UK or Soviet Union with any confidence. The German North Atlantic blockade becomes largely effective.

Food & fuel grow increasingly scarce in the UK. Other material needed for war manufacturing is limited too. Reserves are used up. The entire prosecution of the war is compromised for the British. Also the build up of forces from the US, for the D-day landings would have faced massive personnel losses at sea, and may not have gone ahead as a result. If it did go ahead, the US force would have been reduced by those losses, and have received less British support due to the reduced resources available. A continental campaign, handicapped in that way, would hardly be a guaranteed success. If nothing else, the losses would have been much higher on the Allied side than they were, due to the more evenly matched forces.

I think some form of stalemate, or stalled offensive would have been most likely. That would lead to pressure for a diplomatic settlement, which as discussed would count as technical victory for Nazi Germany.
There's a AH scenario out there somewhere about Turing being arrested before WW2.
However I think that even without his genius the codebreaking would continue. Now if the Germans seriously suspected that the Engima system was broken and replaced it, for example if they captured the Polish efforts, the Ultra project would have been far less useful. However even with breaking the codes the centralised German control of submarine operations created a lot of radio traffic and allowed RDF to track submarine positions to a degree.

Originally Posted by Krikkiter View Post
I'd have to agree with this.

And as an aside, it annoys me that Dunkirk is generally described as a "miracle" as if the hard work of so many people is worth less than some kind of perceived providence.
Including one man who was interned soon after under Defense Regulation 18b.........
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Old 13th November 2012, 03:10 AM   #583
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
But see the account of events provided by the German Foreign Ministry translator, Paul Schmidt: http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/ultimatum.htm: This would suggest that Hitler didn't want to fight in the West until the Polish operation had been completed, and that he did not undertake the latter in order to provoke the UK and France - on that occasion, at least.
I suspect that Hitler simply didn't believe the Entente wuld declare war over Poland. Bit of a mistake.

Originally Posted by Tolls View Post
It's one of the reasons Hitler was happy to be all chummy with Mussolini. One ready-made navy, at least in his view.
OK, stuck in the Med...can't have everything.
But quite capable in theatre, especially given the limited British forces there. Alas the Italians didn't have the oil for naval operations.

Originally Posted by Tolls View Post
Well, Germany did attempt to build a carrier...
Graf Zeppelin.

Does sort of highlight the limits of their industrial capacity.

Anyway, carriers is where the alliance with Japan comes into it.

Honestly, that's the sort of thinking he did.
Italy also experimented with carriers, e.g. the Aquila, but limited resources, focus on France as the main enemy and inter-service rivalry hampered them.
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Old 13th November 2012, 03:21 AM   #584
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Originally Posted by Corsair 115 View Post
The Bismarck was caught because of what was essentially a lucky hit: a torpedo which jammed its steering gear. Had that torpedo missed, or had that damage been quickly repairable, the ship would have escaped British forces.
Or if the British torpedo bombers hadn't attacked HMS Sheffield first..........

During the hunt for the Bismark, Swordfish from HMS Ark Royal attacked HMS Sheffield thinking that it was the Bismark. However their torpedoes (equipped with a magnetic detonator) didn't detonate. This lead to the use of contact fused torpedoes against the Bismark.
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Old 13th November 2012, 03:25 AM   #585
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
The Wasp came in handy once or twice, but in general, I agree.
It was used to fly planes to Malta wasn't it?
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Old 13th November 2012, 03:26 AM   #586
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Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
Strategic bombing had a lot of supporters, the Bomber Offensive could still have gone ahead. This required significant German resources to counter and affected production of war material. I suspect that without Britain neutralised in some way, intimidation, treaty, no Lend Lease, it'd still tie up significant German resources.
True I suppose. Maybe the Germans could have tightened up their air defences though. Big heavy bombers operating several hundred miles from base without fighter escort ought to have been vulnerable. Was there no way for the Germans to inflict unacceptably heavy losses on them?
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Old 13th November 2012, 03:39 AM   #587
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Originally Posted by anglolawyer View Post
True I suppose. Maybe the Germans could have tightened up their air defences though. Big heavy bombers operating several hundred miles from base without fighter escort ought to have been vulnerable. Was there no way for the Germans to inflict unacceptably heavy losses on them?
I'm not sure. The Bomber Offensive required a lot of British resources, without Lend Lease or with no perceived direct German threat it might not have happened as it did. Or perhaps the early war policy against targeting civilians might have persisted.
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Old 13th November 2012, 03:50 AM   #588
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Originally Posted by Travis View Post
None of you have enough imagination. I say we work this until we get a German victory even if it requires a new timeline starting with a failed Anglo-Saxon invasion of the British Isles.
You'll get a lot of Welsh enthusiasts for that idea, as well as many Irish, and Highland Scots.
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Old 13th November 2012, 05:11 AM   #589
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Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
It was used to fly planes to Malta wasn't it?
Yep. "Who says a wasp can't sting twice." WSC.
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Old 13th November 2012, 05:44 AM   #590
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Originally Posted by Travis View Post
None of you have enough imagination. I say we work this until we get a German victory even if it requires a new timeline starting with a failed Anglo-Saxon invasion of the British Isles.
So, the regional Romano-Britons don't bring in the Germanic mercenaries to defend against other Germanic tribes and the Scots?

It would be a world without the King Arthur stories for one. But I'm still not seeing this as a win for Nazi Germany.
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Old 13th November 2012, 05:56 AM   #591
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
So, the regional Romano-Britons don't bring in the Germanic mercenaries to defend against other Germanic tribes and the Scots?

It would be a world without the King Arthur stories for one. But I'm still not seeing this as a win for Nazi Germany.
The Anglo Saxon invasion WAS a German victory over Britain. Just not a Nazi one. Without it, no King Arthur. No Gododdin.

ETA. I mean no heroic stories. Arthur and the Gododdin might in fact have survived, but would not have been required to perform mighty feats worthy of poetic elaboration.

Last edited by Craig B; 13th November 2012 at 06:02 AM.
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Old 13th November 2012, 03:47 PM   #592
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
So, the regional Romano-Britons don't bring in the Germanic mercenaries to defend against other Germanic tribes and the Scots?

It would be a world without the King Arthur stories for one. But I'm still not seeing this as a win for Nazi Germany.
Simple, the still unoccupied British Isles turn their backs on all modernity. They remain a backwards society with little technology. When the alternate timeline Nazi's rise to power in 1857, the year they build their first space station, they decide to finally invade those pesky islands because their space sailors keep picking up nasty STD's that originate there. They then efficiently exterminate the indigenous population. Because they are still evil Nazi bastards even though their leader isn't Hitler but some guy named Utterolland.
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Old 13th November 2012, 04:41 PM   #593
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
ETA. I mean no heroic stories. Arthur and the Gododdin might in fact have survived, but would not have been required to perform mighty feats worthy of poetic elaboration.
I'm sure that they would have found someone to fight
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Old 13th November 2012, 07:11 PM   #594
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Originally Posted by Aber View Post
I'm sure that they would have found someone to fight
OK, but nobody would have given a toss, if they had spent their time merely fighting among themselves.

Last edited by Craig B; 13th November 2012 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 14th November 2012, 09:12 AM   #595
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Originally Posted by anglolawyer View Post
True I suppose. Maybe the Germans could have tightened up their air defences though. Big heavy bombers operating several hundred miles from base without fighter escort ought to have been vulnerable. Was there no way for the Germans to inflict unacceptably heavy losses on them?
They did inflict unnaceptable losses, that's why bombing was witched to the night when fighters couldn't see them.
Night Fighters aren't anywhere near as effective even with Radar as they have to be spaced out into their own 'boxes'
Casualties in Bomber Command were still very high.
When the US 8th Air Force first started daylight operations they suffered as well. effective long range fighters and the attrition of German resources helped them to get through.
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Old 14th November 2012, 09:18 AM   #596
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
AIUI, Operatin Barbarossa failed on a number of counts.

1. It started at the wrong time of year. Instead of June, it should have started earlier, perhaps March or April 1941, so that the German troops were fighting into weather that was improving rather than deteriorating.

2. It progressed too quickly (500km is the first seven days) and outrunning its own supply lines. A policy of advance and consolidate (which would have been likely with an earlier start) would have had the German forces well advanced and with stronger supply lines by the actual start time in June 1941

3. Poor intelligence. The Germans didn't have any real idea of the conditions inside Russia, e.g. the poor state of the Soviet transport infrastructure and the Soviets ability to mobilize huge armies of men and equipment, which the grossly underestimated.

4. The Soviet railway system used a different rail gauge which mean that they were unable to efficiently use their own locomotives and rolling stock for supply. In any case, the German system was too dependent on horse and cart.

5. The lack of long-range fighters and heavy bombers. Stukas, He111s and Ju 88's were never going to be enough in a battle where their 4000 aircraft were outnumbered by over 3 to 1.
1 no the spring is = mud
russia has three seasons winter, mud at thaw and rain, summer and mud again in the fall with more rain
with almost no paved improved roads no real mass movement is possible in mud seasons

2 no see #1

3 granted add in hitlers unreal and unfounded expectations of USSR falling apart quickly with poor arms and supply and troop regeneration ability
and the nazi attitude not allowing captured troops to be recruited/used
a major error
but really the nazi attitude was the reason they did not play well with others
and there for lost the war

4 yes not really planned for see A#3

5 well the air war went the nazi's way at first
and germans were not able to plan for a long war see #3 again

and every 4 engine aircraft takes out 4 fighters or two twin engined bombers
as engine supply was a major bottle neck
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Old 14th November 2012, 12:35 PM   #597
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Originally Posted by nota View Post
5 well the air war went the nazi's way at first
and germans were not able to plan for a long war see #3 again

and every 4 engine aircraft takes out 4 fighters or two twin engined bombers
as engine supply was a major bottle neck
It has been pointed out that the Soviet arms factories which had been evacuated to the Ural Mountains were outside effective German bomber range, and remained more or less immune to damage from the Luftwaffe. Would the development of a heavy long range "Uralbomber" have been useful, or were the Soviet factories too dispersed in that large region to have been vulnerable to a bombing campaign?
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Old 14th November 2012, 06:09 PM   #598
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they had no intel about what went where off in deep russian woods
not like bombing berlin with known factory locations and red spys

but nobody on the eastern front did deep raids much
they bombed troops and front line supplys
kill what is a threat today
no time to worry about next months production
too busy killing the troops trying to kill your troops
got a little to spare bomb supply columns or dumps
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Old 15th November 2012, 05:00 AM   #599
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Which is why the Germans lost. It's like a game of Canyon Defence, you can't destroy whatever 'factory' off screen is building all the tanks that keep trundling past your turrets.
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Old 15th November 2012, 05:09 AM   #600
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The SU was a big place.
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