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Could The Germans Have Successfully Propagated Sealion Without Air Supremacy


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9 hours ago, Argus said:

That was the whole basis of my post Glenn. In the absence of sufficient MAS to make any sort of difference

So no MAS boats would make the Sealion screening forces stronger than two dozen of them?  And VAS boats that didn't exist were a better option than the torpedo aircraft squadron that did?  

 

Edited by glenn239
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Glenn, seriously.

A few MAS one way or the other... would it make a difference? yes. Would it make enough of a difference to make a difference?

At the end of the day Sealion was an assault into prepared defences lacking; any real degree of surprise, air superiority, naval superiority, fire superiority, armour, effective logistics, superiority in numbers or concentration of force - and there was nothing short of a properly prepared campaign that is going to change enough of those problems around to make a convincing case. 

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4 hours ago, Argus said:

At the end of the day Sealion was an assault into prepared defences lacking; any real degree of surprise, air superiority, naval superiority, fire superiority, armour, effective logistics, superiority in numbers or concentration of force - and there was nothing short of a properly prepared campaign that is going to change enough of those problems around to make a convincing case. 

All which applied to Crete, and Germans did pull it off B)

But that said I agree and I can only repeat my earlier position: Germans did succeed in unlikely seaborne invasions with minimalistic forces and preparation, operations which the Allied would have never even tried: but they were generally at places where the Allied also at the end of their logistical tether. It would have been quite different to go directly in the belly of the beast, so to speak.

Germans themselves didn't think Sealion could succeed, otherwise they would have attempted it.

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2 hours ago, Yama said:

All which applied to Crete, and Germans did pull it off B)

Not quite. Most of the Commonwealth defenders had been on Crete for less than three weeks, after being evacuated from the mainland. They had zero air cover, minimal AA defenses, their few tanks were worn out and unreliable, and they had effectively no coast defense artillery...not, as it turned out, that they needed it.

 

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But that said I agree and I can only repeat my earlier position: Germans did succeed in unlikely seaborne invasions with minimalistic forces and preparation, operations which the Allied would have never even tried: but they were generally at places where the Allied also at the end of their logistical tether. It would have been quite different to go directly in the belly of the beast, so to speak.

Germans themselves didn't think Sealion could succeed, otherwise they would have attempted it.

Which seaborne invasions did the Germans succeed at besides WESERUBUNG and in the Dodecanese?

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51 minutes ago, RichTO90 said:

Not quite. Most of the Commonwealth defenders had been on Crete for less than three weeks, after being evacuated from the mainland. They had zero air cover, minimal AA defenses, their few tanks were worn out and unreliable, and they had effectively no coast defense artillery...not, as it turned out, that they needed it.

 

Which seaborne invasions did the Germans succeed at besides WESERUBUNG and in the Dodecanese?

I think we could stretch a point that MERKUR, an operation over a sea might count especially in the context of a cross channel invasion.  Of course MERKUR had more airlift and troops than were available in September 1940 and didn't have the radar directed fighter defences of southern England.  I don't see a stream of slow Ju-52 getting to DZs unmolested or faring as well as Heinkels and Dorniers when Hurricanes attack.  I don't see any logistical follow up.  I do see more mobile troops better equipped and readier than the forces on Crete with available reinforcement, excellent logistics, air support, and lots of manoeuvre room.

Maybe if they could airlift Seibel ferries?

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9 hours ago, RichTO90 said:

Which seaborne invasions did the Germans succeed at besides WESERUBUNG and in the Dodecanese?

What, aren't those enough? :) But there was also Beowulf, invasion of the Estonian archipelago in 1941. It wasn't very challenging as distance was short and Germans had naval and air superiority. Defenders had considerable numerical superiority, however. There may have been some operations on the Black Sea, I'm not very familiar with that theatre.

Of course there is also at least one notable disaster, Tanne Ost. But what's the point of presenting contradictory evidence, anyway?

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6 hours ago, Yama said:

What, aren't those enough? :) But there was also Beowulf, invasion of the Estonian archipelago in 1941. It wasn't very challenging as distance was short and Germans had naval and air superiority. Defenders had considerable numerical superiority, however. There may have been some operations on the Black Sea, I'm not very familiar with that theatre.

Sure, naval and air superiority are pretty important... 😁

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Of course there is also at least one notable disaster, Tanne Ost. But what's the point of presenting contradictory evidence, anyway?

😁

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On 1/14/2022 at 8:34 AM, Argus said:

Glenn, seriously.

A few MAS one way or the other... would it make a difference? yes. Would it make enough of a difference to make a difference?

When Joffre was asked before WW1 how many troops minimum the British could send, he responded one, and that he would make sure he was killed.  

In your previous post, you implied that the Italians would send gondoliers because the request was silly.  But Joffre did not say that the British should send one clown, he said one soldier because he understood that the  act of the sending of even a token force was the  acknowledgement that the strategy of a British army in France was the correct decision for the Anglo-French alliance.  The tokenness of the force was not nearly so important as the strategic orientation of Great Britain that even one soldier sent implied.

Sealion 1940 was not going to work as intended.  But whether Sealion 1941 would fail is not so clear.  Either way, if the Italians are involved in Sealion 1940 then the Axis strategic orientation for Sealion 1941 is set, and that was the key factor.

 

Edited by glenn239
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45 minutes ago, glenn239 said:

When Joffre was asked before WW1 how many troops minimum the British could send, he responded one, and that he would make sure he was killed.  

In your previous post, you implied that the Italians would send gondoliers because the request was silly.  But Joffre did not say that the British should send one clown, he said one soldier because he understood that the  act of the sending of even a token force was the  acknowledgement that the strategy of a British army in France was the correct decision for the Anglo-French alliance.  The tokenness of the force was not nearly so important as the strategic orientation of Great Britain that even one soldier sent implied.

Sealion 1940 was not going to work as intended.  But whether Sealion 1941 would fail is not so clear.  Either way, if the Italians are involved in Sealion 1940 then the Axis strategic orientation for Sealion 1941 is set, and that was the key factor.

 

Of course, you didn't know that the Italians were involved in Sealion 40

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpo_Aereo_Italiano

 

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2 hours ago, RETAC21 said:

Of course, you didn't know that the Italians were involved in Sealion 40

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpo_Aereo_Italiano

Yes I did.  We're talking Italian naval participation in Sealion, not aerial participation in the BoB.  What I didn't know until today was that the Italians were forming airborne units in 1940.   Too weak to have much, if any, impact on Sealion, (RIch will no doubt know the details) but another area of possible cooperation all the same.

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In your previous post, you implied that the Italians would send gondoliers because the request was silly.  

No 

I neither said nor implied anything of the sort - I specifically called out powered craft not gondolas, and mentioned that it was funny but in the context of also being practical and useful.  
 

That single British soldier...

A/ the French were to have sent him directly to the front and made sure he got killed. Hard luck on the token.
B/ it served FRENCH interest, nothing was said about his death serving BRITISH interests.
C/ as much as the French wanted British support, they HAD NO CLUE how properly employ British support. The French could only encompass British support within their own paradigm in terms of economics, industry and manpower.  Despite having been on the receiving end of it more than anyone else, the French had zero idea of how to employ maritime power against a would be continental hegemon - or if they did there was a cold blooded calculation in Paris not to use the British efficiently at the cost of my hundreds of thousands of lives.  

So I don't draw the same vibe from that analogy. 

 

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Sealion 1940 was not going to work as intended. 


Excellent!

 

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But whether Sealion 1941 would fail is not so clear. 


Agreed that is a different argument. 

I don't think the conclusion is going to be too different,  or not without some very very radical shifts. The Italians have the only feet capable of contesting naval control of the channel, and not without a total commitment, sacrificing any power at sea in the Med.  

 

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Either way, if the Italians are involved in Sealion 1940 then the Axis strategic orientation for Sealion 1941 is set, and that was the key factor.


I would beg to differ, the Anglo-French 1914 analogy rested ultimately on public opinion in an open society, the outrage at the death of the poor token soldier. I think we can be confident those forces would only be at play in Italy if the party/Musso desired it, and instructed their propaganda arm to that effect. So Italian needs would need to be 'served' and served lavishly. 

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On 1/14/2022 at 6:16 PM, RichTO90 said:

VAS were intended as ASW craft, not inshore minesweepers or harbor defense craft.

HDML's and Fairmile B's were not intended for most of the roles they ended up filling either. The VAS would have been adaptable enough to be handy in an amphibious operation, probably more useful than they were as ASW platforms :D

 

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As to using vaporetto, the Venetian water buses were designed to steam a simple transportation route inside the lagoon of Venice. They are not seagoing vessels in any sense of the term. They have no cargo space, just a simple deck and weather cover. The oldest were coal-fired steamships, the newest were diesels, which makes the logistics of fueling the short-legged vessels interesting to say the least (it would take days to just shuttle them from Venice to a staging area on Sicily, likely Pozallo, Syracuse, and Licata). The larger vaporetto were typically 22 meters long and could carry 50 to 75 passengers (not armed and equipped troops). The first was put in service in 1881 and in 1955, after 74 years, the first since the war were built, numbers 66-73. So at most there were only 65 to work with, assuming the 19th century ones could still be put into service. As a troop transport they are even less useful than the peniche the Germans planned to use for SEELÖWE.


You got me - I was using 'Vaporetto' carelessly, I had meant to indicate most motorised craft over about 40' long.

However I'll stand by the rest of it in good humour. 
- As in I believe the bulk, if not all of these craft can be moved by rail, even if they have to use plate wagons.
- I do not think the logistics of supporting them within the invasion force are unreasonable. The Germans were already dealing with coal, kero, petrol and diesel powered craft.  
- I did not envision using them to move much across the channel, rather doing ship to shore work on the British side +/- local running about in the Comms/Liaison role.
- As a broad generality a vessel built for the Venetian lagoon is going to be no less seaworthy than a river barge.  The lagoon may well be fairly calm most of the time, but vernacular craft are not adapted to the best of local conditions but the worst of them. When the weather does turn ugly the lagoon can be quite vicious and even in mild conditions the surface can be have a nasty chop from wakes of other vessels. 

:)
 

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5 hours ago, Argus said:

HDML's and Fairmile B's were not intended for most of the roles they ended up filling either. The VAS would have been adaptable enough to be handy in an amphibious operation, probably more useful than they were as ASW platforms :D

Fair that. I just get a bit tired of the lame-assed glennism's that hold that if it floats in water it is exactly the same as anything else that floats in the water. Thus, a kempenaar and an LST are the same, and an M1935 minesweeper is the same as a Leander-class cruiser...🤔

 

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You got me - I was using 'Vaporetto' carelessly, I had meant to indicate most motorised craft over about 40' long.

However I'll stand by the rest of it in good humour. 
- As in I believe the bulk, if not all of these craft can be moved by rail, even if they have to use plate wagons.
- I do not think the logistics of supporting them within the invasion force are unreasonable. The Germans were already dealing with coal, kero, petrol and diesel powered craft.  
- I did not envision using them to move much across the channel, rather doing ship to shore work on the British side +/- local running about in the Comms/Liaison role.
- As a broad generality a vessel built for the Venetian lagoon is going to be no less seaworthy than a river barge.  The lagoon may well be fairly calm most of the time, but vernacular craft are not adapted to the best of local conditions but the worst of them. When the weather does turn ugly the lagoon can be quite vicious and even in mild conditions the surface can be have a nasty chop from wakes of other vessels. 

:)
 

Technically, only about one-half to one-third the barges assembled by the Kriegsmarine were river and canal designs. The larger kempenaar and its German, French, and Belgian relatives were also designed for coastal trade.

Mostly though, I was just curious how the addition of 50 or so laguna would make a difference to the 2,000+ similar craft already assembled? And, to be fair, the Italians did have a good number of Motorbragozza, the motorized fishing boats, which they planed to use at various times if they ever developed sufficient stones to attempt a Malta operation, but again how a few dozen more such types would tip the balance in the Channel is beyond me, unless, of course, they decided to mount 8-inch guns on them, then it would be party over!

I have ridden the vaporetto system quite a bit, but would not want to be on one in poor weather.

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On 1/14/2022 at 6:56 PM, RichTO90 said:

Not quite. Most of the Commonwealth defenders had been on Crete for less than three weeks, after being evacuated from the mainland. They had zero air cover, minimal AA defenses, their few tanks were worn out and unreliable, and they had effectively no coast defense artillery...not, as it turned out, that they needed it.

Parachuting in... daylight? Has it ever been tried before?

Not in a major drop.

You think there might be a reason for that?

Let's hope not.

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8 hours ago, Argus said:

I neither said nor implied anything of the sort - I specifically called out powered craft not gondolas, and mentioned that it was funny but in the context of also being practical and useful.  

Understood.

The German navy was stretched to man and equip the invasion fleet.  The Italians could have in theory in 1940 provided manpower and material.  For one example, the old Italian cruiser San Giorgio around the time of Sealion was being used as an AA platform in North Africa.  Had they laid it up for Sealion, that would have freed up 700 trained crew,  4 twin and 1 single 4" naval turrets, and 12 x 37mm and 20mm AA guns.  

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So I don't draw the same vibe from that analogy. 

You asked why even a scratch Italian force in Sealion was meaningful.  The answer is that it would create Sealion as an Italian naval front in the war as well, perhaps even the primary theatre.

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I don't think the conclusion is going to be too different,  or not without some very very radical shifts. The Italians have the only feet capable of contesting naval control of the channel, and not without a total commitment, sacrificing any power at sea in the Med.  

I think that most dismissals of the 1941 situation start with an unrealistic appraisal of the scale of German options.  For example you indicate that the Italians had the only additional fleet capable of contesting Channel waters.  The Italians had the only additional Axis fleet, that is true.   But the French, Swedish, Soviets, and Spanish also had fleets.  Whereas the Italians could be induced to cooperate for Sealion on the basis of being a German ally, these others may (or may not) have been susceptible to horse trading or coercion.  The point, politically, is that the decision for Barbarossa had an enormous impact on German political strategy in Europe aimed at coalition war in the USSR, whereas a decision for Sealion would have had an equally large, but completely opposite, political impact in Europe aimed at coalition war against Great Britain.

On the material front, the war with the USSR according to Tooze caused an industrial response to prepare the German army for that conflict.  The German navy in particular suffered from resource allocation because of this.  If it goes the other way, then the German navy and air force would have received top industrial priority, and the German army would have been relegated to third place.  

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I would beg to differ, the Anglo-French 1914 analogy rested ultimately on public opinion in an open society, the outrage at the death of the poor token soldier. I think we can be confident those forces would only be at play in Italy if the party/Musso desired it, and instructed their propaganda arm to that effect. So Italian needs would need to be 'served' and served lavishly. 

The single British soldier would be to the purpose of defeating the enemy and winning the war.  For the Italians, participation in Sealion amounted to the same thing - if Sealion succeeded then Gibraltar and Egypt would be made theirs by default.

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4 hours ago, Nobu said:

Parachuting in... daylight? Has it ever been tried before?

Not in a major drop.

You think there might be a reason for that?

Let's hope not.

Sure, in Denmark and Holland and they got their asses handed to them. If it wasn't for the advance of the ground forces, 7. Flieger-Division would have been even in worse shape than it was in August-September 1940. The drop at Oslo was smaller and late in the evening, but was still twilight.

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Glenn any contribution to Sealion would hold exactly the symbolic value the Italians wanted to place on it, as they saw it serving their interests. 
 

From the Axis perspective, I agree, the front against Britain is/was the decisive one (pre-Barbarossa), the war was never going to be won in the Mediterranean in that sense. However for the Italians the Med is their front lawn, their arse on the line.

They are not going to let their fleet try and break out past Gib to go fight in the English Channel any more than the UK would send the Home fleet off to fight some distant campaign.  It may be in line with rational strategic thought, but its not going to happen. Because if you strip away the Italian Fleet and Air Force there is nothing stopping the RN from sailing up the metaphorical Tiber for tea with the Pope. 

Oh but its OK, any harm Italy suffers in the short term will be made up to it after London falls and it'll all be good in the end. Which is an argument that only sounds good from the outside, but worse is based on an assumption of success in the absence of any guarantee. You are asking Italy to go 'All in' to back a hand of cards held by Germany, with no fall back and no security.

But alright, lets say they DO throw their fleet into the pot. It has to get up there, which is not easy. The last time someone wanted to use a fleet from the Med to tip the balance and secure the channel for an invasion, it all ended in tears off Cape Trafalgar.  And yet, let's wave them past Gibraltar in a magical fog, let them find enough fuel in Spain and an immunity idol that prevents the RN from ruining their stay in Coruna with air strikes. There's still going to be a naval battle in the Western Approaches, a fleet battle pitching a BB line against a combined BB-Carrier fleet... and after that battle the RN is still going to have enough strength to contest the channel whatever the result, because they are not going to throw everything on a single roll of the dice. Nelson was only the first line at Trafalgar, behind him there was still another fleet of about the same size in the Channel. 

I said the Italians had the only real fleet that could threaten the RN, and it did. I never said they would be enough to win... and the Italians would know that.

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We've now seen the idea of a 1941 invasion come up both on these forums and in Forczyk's We March on England.  However, I have not seen any data indicating (without hand-wavium) that German naval and air production by the spring of 1941 would be sufficient to give them a better chance than 8 months earlier; in fact, I have not seen anything to indicate that there was any way it would outpace the new production/training by the UK, on land, air and sea. 

I know it has been proposed here that Germany could shift production priorities from land forces to air and sea -- but how realistic is that?  Was aircraft factory capacity under-utilized during the winter of 40-41? 

I realize that a number of major fleet units were delayed/cancelled at the start of the war, but off hand it is likely that only CV Graf Zeppelin might have been completed (and the less said about that design, the better...)  H-Class BB H & J had begun construction in 1939, but work was halted on the outbreak of war.  Assuming a July 40 restart, they are still multiple years away from service.  On the cruiser front, it would be possible to get Seydlitz into service, in all likelihood, with a July 1940 restart (she was near completion, but obviously fitting out and training a crew would have taken time).  

For smaller craft, the Type 1936a destroyers Z24, 25, 26 and 27 would likely have been available, while Type 37 torpedo boats T13 and T14 might also have been.  

The challenge here is that construction time on these torpedo boats generally ran 2.5 - 3 years -- and even if you could radically accelerate that, cutting a year off production started in the summer of 1940 won't do you any good prior to 1942.

On another note, with regard to Italian MAS boats, it is important to remember that these are not E-Boote, Vospers or PTs -- they are significantly smaller.  The early makes were all around 13-15 tons displacement, while the later were in the 20-25 ton range (compare to 35-40 for other nation's PTs and 95 for early E-Boote)

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11 hours ago, Nobu said:

The fighting ability of the British Army in 1940 on one side of the channel versus the other notwithstanding. I do not subscribe to the home field advantage theory being a factor against the Wehrmacht at its zenith.

It is when they had the worlds largest Navy between them and the bad guys....

People insist on making this purely a matchup between Armies and Armies, or even RAF vs Luftwaffe, when it was really a matchup between the Royal Navy and the Kriegsmarine. And the Kriegsmarine, even though it scratched through with a win, didnt exactly do a bang up job in Norway. Read up on the loss of the KMS Blucher, about as boneheaded as any navy ever behaved. Yes, the Royal Navy made mistakes like HMS Glorious and Courageous, but within reason they had the numbers to absorb those mistakes and learn. The Kriegsmarine did not.

Why does anyone assume that it would be any different in the Channel? Its not even as if the Lufwaffes bomb aiming against ships had improved, as you can see from video footage of them attacking convoys in the channel. You have  got battleships against against coastal barges, and you dont need to be a World of Warships fan to figure out how that goes.

 

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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