Post by Thomas Koenig Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Which could be compared, for historical or science-fictional
purposes, with the German Blitzkrieg over Europe, which was very
successful until they reached the Channel.
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
They assumed that
crossing the Channel would be just like crossing rivers, which
they'd done all the time.
That is ridiculous, they were not that stupid.
Yes, they were. They had, after all _just done_ something quite similar when
they attacked Norway. It worked. Britain was not Norway.
Post by Thomas Koenig
The problem was that Hitler never envisioned that Britain would
fight on after the fall of France. Hence his peace offer to
Britain in 1940. (That offer was foolish. Any sane statesman
would have realized that a peace offer to _France_ on generious
terms would have left the British with nothing to fight for in the
medium term. But then again, any sane statesman would have realized
that Germany had, in effect, won World War I by the mid-1930's.
France and Britain had just shown that they could not withstand
Germany without help from other great powers, and post-WW I
Europe had none left. But "sane statesman" is probably as
wrong as you an get when describing Hitler.)
The problems were that
1 the war started before they were ready. The blitzkrieg depended on. among
other things, plentiful artillery and substitutes for artillery in the way of
air assault, notably Ju-87s. The Ju-87 was relative short-ranged and slow and
vulnerable to fighters; even bloody useless deathtraps like Boulton-Paul
Defiants could shoot them down. This meant that they needed fighter support,
which was a problem; Bf-109s were short-ranged, too, and Bf-110s quickly
proved to have been overrated. (The _concept_ of the ‘heavy fighter’ was
sound; Britain would use Bristol Beaufighters and De Havilland Mosquitos and
the US would use Lockheed P-38s to great effect. It was the _design_ of the
Bf-110 which was at fault.) There were plans for better attack aircraft and
fighters (the Fw-190 could do both) but they weren’t available, the war
started too soon. Land-based artillery had a problem reaching over the
Channel. The V-1, -2, and -3 projects would solve that problem, but too
little too late. They didn’t have sufficient naval artillery to
compensate; one of three panzerschiffs was sunk in Montevideo harbor, one of
two battlecruisers was in dockyard hands after the fight with Acasta and
Ardent, one cruiser was sunk in Oslo harbor, another cruiser was in dockyard
hands after being rammed by Glowworm, half of the Kriegsmarine’s destroyers
were sunk in Narvik fjord, victims of the ‘H’ class destroyers and
Warspite. They had no battleships, the war had started before Bismarck was
ready. Even if they didn’t lose a single ship they lacked the floating
artillery to take on Britain’s coast defenses, particularly as the best
coast defence artillery in Britain was at Dover, and the plan called for
taking Dover to serve as a port to bring in fuel, one of the other things the
blitzkrieg depended on.
2 as noted above, losses in the Norwegian campaign crippled the naval forces.
Far worse were the losses to airlanding troops in the Netherlands; in one
assault, 11 of the first 12 Ju-52 assault transports attempting a
coup-de-main at The Hague were destroyed _prior_ to offloading troops of 22.
Luftlande-Division, with a total of 18 of 24 committed destroyed or severely
damaged and most of the troops killed. A second assault also had heavy
losses; 22. Luftlande-Division was combat-ineffective as the result of those
casualties and would have to be rebuilt, which took time. 7.Flieger-Division
was also badly shot up in the Netherlands, at The Hague and attempting to
take various bridges (the Allies would try the same idiocy going the other
way in 1944) and was also combat-ineffective. Even if the two air assault
divisions could fight, the losses in Ju-52 transports was catastrophic, there
simply weren’t enough to lift even the combat-ineffective troops! And the
Ju-52 was a poor choice for an assault transport, used mostly because, well,
there was nothing else available or even seriously being worked on! The
British were (officially) scared of air assault; because by this time British
Intelligence had Ultra and were reading German communications faster than the
Germans, they _knew_ that there would not be paratroops and gliders coming
down in Kent because there weren’t any available! Hell, there were over a
thousand prisoners from the airlanding divisions in Britain, sent over from
the Netherlands prior to the final defeat of the Dutch forces!
3 as noted above, British Intelligence had Ultra, which meant that they
_knew_ what the Germans were planning... and the Germans didn’t know that
the British were reading their mail. Worse, _every single German agent sent
to Britain_, all of them, were captured or killed, and British Intelligence
would send back false information allegedly from the dead or taken agents.
German Intelligence thought that British Intelligence was incompetent to
allow all those agents to operate freely, not realizing that _everything they
were being told was faked_.
4 the Germans were preparing for an enlarged river assault, using lots of
barges. The British had a simple defence planned. Don’t shoot at the
barges, send destroyers and other fast ships in at 30 or more knots. The
wakes would swamp or capsize the barges; the British would lose ships, but
they had plenty. The Germans would lose their invasion force. The barges were
of two types: with their on motors and towed. Neither type could exceed 3
knots. That meant the the British would have 7 to 10 hours to run destroyers
past the barge fleet. The plan called for a dawn attack, so the British
destroyers would be operating at night. Ju-87s don’t fly at night, and are
even more useless against air opposition at night if they do. Dover was a
major destroyer base. The barge fleet would be sailing straight into the
heaviest defences in Britain! If the Kriegsmarine came out to defend the
barges, the Home Fleet would come south from Scapa Flow and the above-noted
already depleted naval strength would find itself looking at half a dozen
battleships and battlecruisers and numerous cruisers and destroyers.
There’d be a really big fight off the south of England, at night when the
Luftwaffe can’t do much, and when it was over Britain would have lost some
ships and Germany would have lost its navy. And British submarines would have
been active, against German submarines; Ultra was based, in part on
intelligence obtained when a British sub captured a German sub before the
Enigma machine and associated papers showing rotor settings etc. could be
tossed overboard (the USN did something similar in 1944; U-505 is displayed
at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Hollywood made a movie
combining elements from both incidents, removing all trace of British
involvement, and Hollywooding things to an embarrassing even for them
extent.) Since the _First_ World War British subs had gone in for anti-sub
operations; they’d have gone south with the fleet to engage German subs.
There would have been losses, but Britain had lots of ships.
Post by Thomas Koenig
So, the German army at the time had no plans for a war against
Britain, and no suitable resources either.
They had plans, just not good plans.
Post by Thomas Koenig
They tried to improvise, and failed.