From: Manchester, UK
RCH Nice post, but it neatly sidesteps the basic question of historical determinacy. In other words, most people would agree that in most wars, results sometimes hinge on a knife edge and some insignificant detail has turned the tide of battle.
I think that could sometimes be said about battles in the age of musket and sabre, but not as much in the 20th century. Once armies reached millions strong, it was less and less likely that a single moment or tactical event would change the course of a war.
So although almost everyone would agree that historical accuracy meaning the same equipment and circumstances as you say is desirable; some including me would disagree that the result was always foreordained.
Case by case, for me. To my mind, Germany had probably lost the second world war on 23.06.1941. It just took four years to prove it. She had certainly lost it by November 1941.
For example, few would argue that had Eisenhower guessed wrong and the D-day invasion and the unpredictable weather not favored the invasion, D-day could have been a huge disaster.
I would argue the point. The German's only chance perhaps lay in the scenario where the Allies crossed at Pas de Calais. Given the strength of the German defences, that was always unlikely. Once they were ashore, it was just a question of time. Given how much coastline they had to choose from, given absolute air supremacy, given they had plenty of 15 inch guns that would give any counterattacking Panzer Commander a bad day, it's hard to see the Allies being stopped given the quality of their planning. I can just about see Omaha failing if 12th SS Panzer had been deployed in Normandy and a company or two of Pzgr and a few stugs had made it to the beach before the Americans got up the bluffs, but that aside the ability of the allies to interdict German reinforcements to any bridgehead area made success pretty likely.
Other factors like Hitler refusing to release the Panzers for 3 days ensured that the US invasion fronts would not face any Panzer divisions for the first week (despite Hollywood movies to the contrary), thus greatly favoring the invasion.
Well, US fronts rarely faced Panzers until Mortain anyway. By the end of the first week, 3 Panzer Divisions, a Pzgr Division and a Tiger battalion had reached Normandy. Of the other Units that would eventually make it, 9th and 10th SS were in Russia, SSLAH was not comabat ready having incorporated huge numbers of replacements recently, SSDR and 116th were hamstrung by lack of motor vehicles and 9th Panzer was not combat ready either.
Given how difficult it was to shift large motorised units along the French road and rail network in Northern france, i don't think they did too badly. They also felt this may have been a diversion. Given Dragoon, such a suspiscion is understandable.
What would have been the result of Midway and some other battles had not the Allies broken both the German and Japanese codes or had the US Carriers been in Pearl Harbor as the Japanese expected when they attacked?
I don't know much about the PTO, but my understanding was the Japanese were actually out there hoping the American flattops would turn up. Had the Americans lost a couple of carriers in 1941, I'd have put the effect at lengthening the war by maybe 6 months to a year. Once the Americans started pumping out the Hellcat and the essex class, the game was up for Japan.
Had Hitler allowed 6th Army to break out of Stalingrad earlier, it is fairly certain that they could have done so, so I would argue that any game that absolutely prevents 6th Army from breaking out when the German Army is controlled by a human player may suffer from historical "Political correctness".
I disagree. 6th Army was home to a collection of shattered infantry units. In some divisions the casualties amongst the combat arms were horrendous. Several weeks before encirclement, the Germans had sent their horses out of the city as they weren't required and could be better fed and cared for further back. When he was surrounded, therefore, Paulus lacked the muscle to move anywhere fast, and certainly wouldn't have been able to move the bulk of his artillery or wounded.
Moving beat up infantry formations into the open in poor weather with Russian mobile formations milling about was a big ask. Throw in the fact that he saved Germany from defeat in the south in 1942 by tieing down Russian troops that could have been sealing off the Caucasus forces, and breakout was a pipedream IMHO.
My preference is for games that allow some amount of "what-if" conditions: what if Hitler had allowed the early release of the Panzers?
No real difference. Releasing them and actually geting them to Normandy in a combat ready state are two completely different things.
What if Patton had been replaced by an inferior General who had not planned the Bulge relief in advance and had taken two weeks to reach Bastogne?
The Germans had bypassed the town and were stopped short of the Meuse by other forces. Whilst welcome to the brave defenders of Bastogne (except for the 101st who felt they didn't need him by all accounts) the Germans didn't fail because of Patton. They failed because they set themselves an impossible task with forces incapable of achieving it in the weather, geographical and operational conditions that were prevalent.
All that said, my respect for the Avatar. Lee Marvin is one mean looking warrior.