From: Manchester, UK
There is something unsettling about these what-if discussions. I mean, what date did the Germans decide that invading Britain was a possiblity? It seems to me that the date would have been July 1940. And yet, they were at war from 1939. And probably knew that war was going to be an eventual possiblity with Britain. So why does a Sealion what-if have to use this lack of preperation and then decide to invade?
Because your alternative posits that the Reich began actively switching war production and priorities for the next war before the current one had even been won.
Put another way. With invasion of Britain a fear (if not actually realistic) and lots of strategic committments in the far east and Africa draining resources, would you have expected the British to prioritise landing craft production in 1940/41 ready for Overlord, which they knew would be required at some point?
The Germans were attempting to build a maritime capability, but it was still 5-10 years off.
Seems to me that it isnt a stretch of imagination to decide that the Germans make taking out the French then English a priority in their strategic thinking a lot earlier in history....at least in September 1939, when they where actually in war with the English. Perhaps they could have built some fast moving small craft that could reach the english coast and back during darkness.
They did, they were called E-Boats, but unless your only interest was taking and holding (for all of an hour) the Portable tourist toilets on the beaches, then they weren't an operational solution to the conundrum of invading Britain.
Designed aircraft that could carry torpedoes. More mines to block both end of the channel.
They had no real need for one, and the other is a risky strategy. Britain had plenty of minesweepers.
Whatever. Even destroying the English at Dunkirk instead of letting them flee across the water.
I've long been surprised there isn't an alternate campaign in WitE that allocates extra resources to Germany on the basis that The British were trapped at Dunkirk and made a separate peace. Churchill's position if the field Army had been captured was by no means completely secure. This is the only plausible alternate history scenario I could envisage.
Actually, thinking in general, the Germans have short-sightedness as a national trait. They never seem to learn (or learn only when forced to) from their mistakes. Most of their planned operations succeeded only against incompetant/unprepared enemies.
Case White -- unprepared Polish defending an impossibly long front.
Well, this is one of those times when you realise history and war fighting is not a map exercise. The Poles were deployed as they were because they didn't want to concede hundreds of square miles and hundreds of thousands of civilians to the enemy. It was Munich, not their deployment, which ultimately undid the Poles. Besides, German performance in this conflict was not great. Contrary to...
They never seem to learn (or learn only when forced to) from their mistakes
...they instituted a general lessons learned and subsequent Army wide training program to correct whet they felt were the highlighted deficiencies of the Polich campaign.
Case Yellow -- French don't guard the natural River defense after the ardennes (although they almost made it, Guderian called crossing the Meuse a miracle).
The French did guard it. Two of the crossings Guderian tried all but failed IIRC. The French also had opportunities to defeat the crossing by counterattack when XXI Corp arrived on the flank. The fact was the Germans were bolder and moved more quickly and with better fighting power than the French did.
Citadel - a big failure..I mean really, ignore the million russians on the other flanks and put all your eggs in one basket?
I suppose my first response re questions of Citadel is what else was there to do? You can't divorce the eastern front from the rest of the war, even if most histories tend to be campaign ones that focus on a very narrow portion of the front or timeframe. In the Spring of 1943, an Army that viewed the offensive as the only valid method of war looked for something to do in the east. They knew the Allies would attempt a landing in the west in 1943 at some point draining off armour and respources, so what was there to do whilst they were still strong enough to do something?
The only alternatives to Kursk (Manstein's mobile warfare proposals, the so called backhands) were all predicated on the Soviets breaking through operationally in one sector it seems to me. Kursk was not that draining a battle for the Germans, so look what happens afterwards. A massive assault on Orel north of the Kursk Bulge. The Germans make a fighting withdrawal but it takes most of AGC's formations to prevent collapse.
A massive assault along the Mius in the deep south Manstein manouvres his mobile forces to contain it and throw it back, and as he is in the process of doing so, out pops a million man assault (Rumantsiev) south of the old Kursk salient and into Kharkov. Any backhand blow in 1943 trapping the Soviets against the Mius (one of Manstein's schemes) would have failed when Rumantsiev exploded to the north of it, an offensive effectively into the rear area of any drive south from the region of Kharkov to the Sea of Azov.
Kursk is not an indictment of poor German war making, but an indictment of Germany's strategic and operational position in the summer of 1943.
Or the Bulge?
Again, this was an offensive alternative that offered a 5% chance of success. Had it succeeded, it would have dramatically eased the pressure in the west for 12 months. Sitting tight and allowing the Western and Eastern Allies the right to strike with massive airpower and firepower when they chose offered no prospects of success.
Tunisia, while Stalingrad was being waged.
The Tunisian campaign was necessary to buy time for Rommel. It also bought several months for Italy. You could argue the Germans should have evacuated the bridgehead once Rommel was safely back behind the Mareth line, but the Kasserine operations demonstrated that the Germans retained at least the hope of holding their own in the theatre in the short term.
Or my favourite, Operation Konrad (aka kicking out not one, but two Russian fronts from Hungary).
It's all deck chair shuffling by this stage. War is essnetially a boxing match without a set number of rounds. In those circumstances, the poorer pugilisit is always going to either give up, or attempt to land a knock out blow. The Germans weren't going to surrender, so Konrad et al was all they had left.
The allies, in contrast, learned from their mistakes. Followed reasonable strategic goals. Planned logistics..production. When a disaster happened, they figured out what went wrong and fixed it. ex..horrible paradrops in Sicily..
They weren't much better at Salerno. In Normandy, the two American divisions were scatted and had only a small effect on future operations. At Arnhem, the Allies dropped three divisions and the operation effectively failed.
Kasserine pass battle...
Only NGF saved American troops on sicily and at Salerno and arguably Anzio.
Another thing..the Germans outnumbered the allies at Normandy. Had the best formations and lots of them ( 9th and 10th SS, 1st and 2nd SS, Panzer Lehr, 17 SS PzGr, FJ , 12th SS,..even the 2nd and 21st panzer divs) and were still incapable of pushing the allies back let alone wiping a beachhead out.
Most of the formations arrived late in the battle so I don't think the Germans ever did win the battle of the build up. Additionally, in the face of Allied air supremacy and 15 inch NGF, they did about as well as they could have expected.