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Old 05-28-2018, 01:30 PM   #1
nothri
 
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Default Reich-5: Battle of Britain question

So on Reich-5 Britain fell in the same year as France- 1940. An isolated America did not provide any lend-lease or other support, which deprived the island nation of I believe 70% of materials and food. Which is not an insignificant handicap, don’t get me wrong. Still, 1940 is very early in the war, and implies Britain lost air supremacy and perhaps suffered a full blown Operation Sealion. But the general consensus is that Sealion was doomed to fail due to sheer logistics. So factoring in the resource crunch (meaning the longer the Battle for Britain lasts the harder it will be to fuel British planes and keep their population fed) what else goes wrong that would lose the war before 1941?
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Old 05-28-2018, 02:12 PM   #2
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Default Re: Reich-5: Battle of Britain question

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Originally Posted by nothri View Post
Still, 1940 is very early in the war, and implies Britain lost air supremacy and perhaps suffered a full blown Operation Sealion.
That isn't what happened in that history. Ken Hite knows better than that.

Page 57 of Infinite Worlds tells us that Britain was defeated by unrestricted submarine warfare in October 1940. Without the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, which as well as providing much-needed ships had the useful side effect that the US assumed responsibility for protecting those islands, freeing British forces, and had the Germans seriously applied the Luftwaffe to supporting their submarines, that victory is arguably possible.

It would have been a case of negotiating a surrender to avoid utter starvation, rather than a successful invasion. The terms might well have been like those Vichy France got.
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Old 05-28-2018, 02:41 PM   #3
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Default Re: Reich-5: Battle of Britain question

Historically, Britain and America both started re-arming around 1937-1938, which meant their war production was just becoming available by 1941 or so. Slightly more adroit German diplomacy, or another economic downtown, might have delayed rearmament another two years and might have resulted in a smaller rearmament program. Hypothetically, Britain could have gone into the war in France with half as many Hurricanes and with the factories still gearing up to produce Spitfires. The Chain Home radar stations may not have been built either, or as fully.

If Donitz had found better patrons among the German Navy, he might have gotten one of the Bismarcks removed from Plan Z in favor of another 25 U-boats.

Those two factors, plus an isolationist US not trading destroyers for bases, might have caused Britain to feel overwhelmed in the initial onslaught: U-boats prowling off the coasts while the Navy doesn't have nearly enough escorts to stop them, Luftwafte flying freely over England while the infrequent RAF interception results in more dead RAF pilots than downed German planes. Churchill would want to fight to the last, but others in the government might decide that things aren't going to get better quickly enough, and negotiate a "peace with honor" that lets England keep most of the Empire and gives Germany a free hand in Russia.
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Old 05-28-2018, 06:41 PM   #4
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Default Re: Reich-5: Battle of Britain question

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Churchill would want to fight to the last...
An obvious point of departure would be to have someone other than Churchill in charge.
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Old 05-28-2018, 07:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: Reich-5: Battle of Britain question

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An obvious point of departure would be to have someone other than Churchill in charge.
Perhaps the populace and/or parliament have a crisis of confidence and Churchill is ousted in favor of someone who will negotiate.
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Old 05-28-2018, 07:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: Reich-5: Battle of Britain question

Stuart Slade's The Big One AH series has one of its primary points of departure that Churchill gets removed in summer 1940. I don't think the mechanism that Slade uses is valid, but a more ambitious Halifax could have pushed harder to be Prime Minister in early May 1940.

Alternately, it Halifax threatened to resign at the end of May 1940 and bring down the Churchill Cabinet, but Churchill managed to keep him on board. A less diplomatic Churchill could have easily provoked Halifax into resigning, and if that caused Churchill to get replaced three weeks into his Prime Ministership, then I could see Germany managing to get a fairly decent treaty terms. Halifax wouldn't have surrendered entirely, but transferring Malta to Italy and Gibraltar to Spain might have been on the table. Halifax could make that deal, expecting to renegotiate after Britain more fully rearmed, and then decide 5 years down the road that Germany had grown in military power faster than Britain. It would just be another decade of appeasement while Germany kept chipping away at the Empire.
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Old 05-28-2018, 08:22 PM   #7
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Default Re: Reich-5: Battle of Britain question

Or just move his 1949 stroke up by a decade; he was already in his 60s in 1940, and a heavy smoker. It would hardly be surprising if he had more serious health issues earlier on than IRL.
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Old 05-28-2018, 08:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: Reich-5: Battle of Britain question

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That isn't what happened in that history. Ken Hite knows better than that.

Page 57 of Infinite Worlds tells us that Britain was defeated by unrestricted submarine warfare in October 1940. Without the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, which as well as providing much-needed ships had the useful side effect that the US assumed responsibility for protecting those islands, freeing British forces, and had the Germans seriously applied the Luftwaffe to supporting their submarines, that victory is arguably possible.

It would have been a case of negotiating a surrender to avoid utter starvation, rather than a successful invasion. The terms might well have been like those Vichy France got.
That alone doesn't explain Britain falling by the end of October. If they could make do with eggwhite and a strict ration system for years in our history they could certainly hold out for more than a few months on a stricter system in Reich-5. Also, the timeline from Alternate Earths states "1940- Fall of France and Britain to Germany; Edward VIII made Protector of German-occupied Britain after King George V “commits suicide.” " So there was some kind of occupation force in the country that before 1941 had such a tight grip on the government that they could murder the king and install their own puppet. No matter how hungry Britain was at the time I can't see them negotiating a surrender so one sided that Germany could accomplish this feat. Feels like there is more to the story.
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Old 05-28-2018, 09:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: Reich-5: Battle of Britain question

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Page 57 of Infinite Worlds tells us that Britain was defeated by unrestricted submarine warfare in October 1940.
A problem with that idea is that total Allied shipping tonnage was much larger than in WW I, which is what Donitz was basing his calculations for victory via submarine warfare on. Statistically, the Nazis never sank more than 1% of Allied shipping tonnage!

Another problem is that the UK had the loyal support of most of its former and current overseas colonies, notably Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, all of which are far from Germany and which possessed significant economic capacity. Once the full force of the British Empire got mobilized, arguably the British Commonwealth could have defeated the Axis on its own.

That means that there need to be a few more "bad things," which happen to Britain in 1940.

One simple change, already mentioned, is Churchill never becomes Prime Minister and the UK seeks a negotiated peace with Germany in 1940 following the Fall of France. Just make sure that Chamberlin (who, historically, was a well-respected PM who maintained the support of the Conservative Party even after the Fall of France) decides not to send British troops to Norway and never gets cancer.

Alternately, remove Churchill from the picture by any number of means, ranging from lucky Boer rifleman or unlucky American cab driver to premature cirrhosis, heart disease, lung cancer, or stroke. Churchill possessed an almost irrational hatred of Hitler and Naziism and insisted that Britain "go it alone" when logic might have dictated that Britain cut its losses.

A third alternative is that the US becomes far more Isolationist and/or pro-Nazi, making it clear - even to Churchill - that the US was never going to enter the war on the side of the Allies. Historically, from 1940 until Pearl Harbor, Churchill's grand strategy was "hang on until America enters the war." He knew that Roosevelt was a willing ally but had to manage extreme Isolationist/pro-Nazi sentiment by conservative Republicans and other reactionary elements of American society. So, taking out Roosevelt and/or making the political calculus for an Anglo-American alliance impossible is another option.

Simultaneously, the British Commonwealth becomes far more hostile to the "mother country," so they remain neutral when Great Britain declares war. This could range from utterly callous wastage of Commonwealth manpower during WWI, to Socialist or Fascist revolutions, to Edward VIII outraging colonial sensibilities by refusing to abdicate after marrying Wallis Simpson.

Additionally, Burma, India other large colonial possessions become far more difficult to manage. For example, India might be racked by a violent civil war which requires vast British military resources to quell. (E.g., Gandhi never gets born, gets killed as a young lawyer in South Africa, or turns out to be the Indian answer to Mao Zedong.)

If you want purely military reasons why the UK folds in October, 1940, have the RAF send all available aircraft (not just a few squadrons of Hurricanes, Bristol Blenheims, and obsolete Fairey Battles, as was done historically) to France. The Blitzkrieg takes the allies by surprise and panzers overrun British airfields just like they did to the L'Armee de l'Air in our timeline. Many experienced British pilots and mechanics are killed or captured on the ground in France, and virtually all of Britain's first line fighter and bomber aircraft are lost. That leaves Britain without an effective Air Force.

Without the RAF, Dunkirk is a disaster, with most of the BEF ground forces (and remaining RAF personnel) being killed or captured on the beach, or drowning when their transport ships are sunk by the Luftwaffe.

Then, starting in June 1940, the Luftwaffe consistently targets remaining RAF assets, airfields, and aircraft factories, rather than getting distracted by "terror bombing" London in retaliation for British air raids against German cities. All that requires is a single German bomber not getting lost and/or not dropping its bombs on the East London suburbs and/or not enough British bombers to mount retaliatory raids.

With RAF aircraft factories and airfields destroyed, by August 1940 the Luftwaffe turns its attention to Royal Navy bases and ships remaining in port.

Simultaneously, Germany manages to get its hands on far more barges and small coastal craft, and far more quickly, than was the case historically. Additionally, back in 1938, some bright light in the OKW actually created a workable ops plan for an invasion of the UK from Calais following the successful capture of Northern France.

By September 1939, Britain has no air force and its lost enough capital ships (due to Luftwaffe and/or Kreigsmarine action) that its navy is clearly no longer able to defend the coasts. Faced with the prospect of a German invasion which is very likely to be successful, due to lack of manpower, ships, and planes, the UK sues for peace.

For bonus points:

1) General Walter Wever never dies, allowing the Luftwaffe to a) have a supreme commander who was actually competent (cf. Ernst Udet or "Dicke Hermann" Goering), b) develop of at least a small strategic air force which could target far-distant British assets as well as British ships in the North Atlantic.

2) Germany captures a number of Polish code-breakers during the 1939 Blitz and/or the Poles never cooperate with the UK and France to share Enigma decryption technology. That means, a) Polish cryptographers and their prototype Enigma decryption machines never make it to the UK, b) the Nazis realize the potential vulnerabilities of Enigma and take appropriate countermeasures.

3) Karl Donitz gets his wish and Germany builds a ridiculous number of Type VII submarines which are capable of long-term deep-sea operations, plus the infrastructure and training programs to support them all and to provide high-quality crew. Additionally, the Nazis perfect surface-to-surface radar systems which can be used to detect distant ships, as well as perfecting "wolf pack" tactics from September 1939 on.

Huge pre-war losses to British merchant shipping caused by anything from commercial collapse, American dominance of merchant shipping, or a series of massive, freak hurricanes in the Atlantic massively reduce the numbers of British ships available at the start of the war.

After the war starts, boneheaded British tactics, which ignore all the lessons of WW I, plus absolutely craven refusal by Commonwealth and American merchant seamen to go into harms way, allows Donitz's strategy of blockading the UK to work. Combined with any of the other factors, by October 1940, the UK is faced with starvation if they don't surrender.
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Old 05-28-2018, 10:13 PM   #10
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Default Re: Reich-5: Battle of Britain question

Something not widely recognized is that in 1938 the National Guard effectively ceased to exist in the US. All national guard divisons were federalized and integrated into the regular US Army in 1938. This increased available military manpower enormously and ensured those personnel were equipped and trained to a consistent standard by 1941.

Had this been delayed until actual hostilities it would have reduced the ability of the US to defend itself by a fair margin for a few years, and had Britain capitualated but the Commonwealth nations fought on would have severely limited the ability of the US to assist them while defending itself on two coasts.

This, combined with Britain's fall would have severely limited or eliminated the ability of the US to send aid to Russia as well, relieving Germany of an enormous burden on that front.

If Mexico had become actively hostile the stituation might have become almost untenable and possibly no aid would have been available.

Last edited by tanksoldier; 05-28-2018 at 10:24 PM.
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