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Operation Sea Lion 2.0

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AnchoriticSybarite View Drop Down
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    Posted: 30 Nov 2017 at 10:13
While going over the latest post on whether Hitler could have won, I decided to post a concept that's been rattling around in my brain for some time.

Operation Sea Lion, the proposed invasion of England proposed a straightforward cross channel invasion of England. The problem was that Germany did not have the fleet to cover the invasion nor merchant marine to carry the invasion force.

Now I assume that if Hitler was really in a gambling mood he could have ordered an immediate airborn assault on England, seizing airfield to which he could have mounted reinforcements, taking one or more ports from which to bring a main army with equipment. It is possible that given that the British Army was in almost complete disarray, lacking even rifles to fight with; there would have been some possibility of success. But a gamble nonetheless.

Here's my alternative plan, based on a National Geographic magazine article of many, many years ago. They described a huge canal system throughout most of Europe built before the advent of RR's. Take advantage of it.

Step one. Divert all barge traffic to the Atlantic coast. Move the German Army in camps in the general vicinity. Locate fighter/bomber bases in the same area where they could easily support a cross channel effort. Encourage your officers and men to talk about the coming invasion. Strip the embarkation areas of all but military personnel.

On D-Day (or whatever title the Germans would give it. Have the barges set sail into the channel. Simultaneously order the Bismark and all the other German capitol ships to sail in the direction of the Channel to support the barges. Concentrate the entire German U boat force to interdict the passage of the Royal Navy from Scapa Flow to the Channel.

The RAF would have to attack the barges from their bases in England and the Battle of Britain would be fought over the Channel not over England proper. This would negate the tremendous advantage the RAF had over the Luftwaffe. Planes shot down would be over water and survivors would not immediately return to the fight within hours. German planes would not suffer because of fuel shortages and limited engagement time.

As the fleet hones in on the German invasion force, it would suffer debilitating losses from not only the surface fleet but u boats waiting in ambush.

Finally as the RN enters the channel and begins destroying the barges one by one they suffer even more crippling losses from German Air.

The final result is that not one barge successfully completes the crossing. All are sunk. At a cost of all their large surface warships and possibly half their uboats and a few hundred (maybe as many as a thousand) sailors manning the OTHERWISE empty barges they have effectively put the RN out of the war.

Their surface navy really played no significant part in the war anyway. Their loss would have been more than made up for by losses on the part of the RN. Their air losses could have been made up for in a few months and their uboats replenished in just a little more time.

Even if they suspected a trap or a ruse, the British would have no alternative but to take the bait. Even the smallest possibility that the Germans were mounting a real invasion could not have been ignored.
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franciscosan View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Dec 2017 at 00:46
So you destroy the possible means of invasion in order to destroy the British Navy.  How does that get you closer to invasion?  Of course, you could just focus on the airways and RAF, like they did, before in response to the British attack on Berlin, they switched to bombing cities and civilian targets (which saved the RAF).  In addition to the air war of the battle of Britain, the RAF bombers attacked the surface transport, forcing the Germans to disperse it, make it a harder target, but also disorganizing it.  I don't know why the same wouldn't be true for barges.

In hindsight it is obvious that the Germans made certain mistakes, attacking civilian targets, released the pressure on destruction of RAF.  They also made medium range bombers, which didn't have much of a range for maneuvering and selecting targets.  But considering that what they were doing would have worked better, if they hadn't gotten sidetracked (but they did get sidetracked), I don't see how a more complicated plan would have worked.  Maybe it would work, but why wouldn't they have gotten sidetracked again?  But, they had a plan and didn't stick with it, why do you think that they could have done a more complex plan and stuck with it this time?  I also don't know what you mean by barges, it sounds like a good storm could wipe them out.  Wouldn't reconnoissance be able to tell the barges were empty?  I don't know military history that well, but it seems like what you are doing is inviting destruction in detail.  imho, more moving parts, more chance of things going wrong. 
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AnchoriticSybarite View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AnchoriticSybarite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Dec 2017 at 09:48
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

So you destroy the possible means of invasion in order to destroy the British Navy.  How does that get you closer to invasion?  Of course, you could just focus on the airways and RAF, like they did, before in response to the British attack on Berlin, they switched to bombing cities and civilian targets (which saved the RAF).  In addition to the air war of the battle of Britain, the RAF bombers attacked the surface transport, forcing the Germans to disperse it, make it a harder target, but also disorganizing it.  I don't know why the same wouldn't be true for barges.

In hindsight it is obvious that the Germans made certain mistakes, attacking civilian targets, released the pressure on destruction of RAF.  They also made medium range bombers, which didn't have much of a range for maneuvering and selecting targets.  But considering that what they were doing would have worked better, if they hadn't gotten sidetracked (but they did get sidetracked), I don't see how a more complicated plan would have worked.  Maybe it would work, but why wouldn't they have gotten sidetracked again?  But, they had a plan and didn't stick with it, why do you think that they could have done a more complex plan and stuck with it this time?  I also don't know what you mean by barges, it sounds like a good storm could wipe them out.  Wouldn't reconnoissance be able to tell the barges were empty?  I don't know military history that well, but it seems like what you are doing is inviting destruction in detail.  imho, more moving parts, more chance of things going wrong. 



Everything you cite makes perfect sense. As a matter of fact the Luftwaffe did destroy the RAF. In the last great daylight raid before Hitler ordered the switch to nighttime raiding, they had unknown to themselves put the Chain Low radar system out of commission and incapacitated a large part of the RAF bases. An immediate follow up the next day very likely begun a death spiral of falling losses for the Luftwaffe coupled with steadily increasing losses by he RAF. With Chain Low down the RAF defense would steadily degrade.

The problem was not that the Germans god sidetracked or allowed themselves to be sidetracked; they just did not realize how effective they had been. All they knew for certain was that they were suffering intolerable losses in planes and men.

As for barges, haven't you ever seen river or canal traffic. Flat bottomed, long, rectangular self propelled water craft.

If you remove the civilian population around the embarkation zone and erect simple canvas tarps, air recon of the day would have no clue as to whether they were full or empty. In fact you actually want reconnaissance to see troops embarking; you just don't want them to see them DIS-embarking. You want diplomats in neutral countries having extremely loose lips. You might arrange for spies to successfully steal the invasion plans (as the Allies did repeatedly).

But to address your primary concern--WHY.

Both the Luftwaffe and the RAF fought the Battle of Britain with superb fighter planes, the Spitfire/Hurricane and the Me 109. Both of them suffered by the simple fact that they were extremely limited in range. The Brits did not have to worry about that limitation because they could take off vector on the incoming planes, fight them with full tanks for as long as needed. Then land and within minutes go back up if necessary to intercept more enemy aircraft. If the worse happens and the Brit is shot down chances are 50-50 that he can parachute down and go back up in another plane.

The Germans on the other hand fought at the extreme range of their escort fighters. When they were intercepted they hand minutes at most to fight off attacks. Furthermore if they were shot down they were either dead or captured. And it takes 18=19 years to raise another pilot.

Under my plan the 2 sides would operate under equal conditions Neither side would have any inherent advantage. Best of all for the Luftwaffe the effectiveness of Chain Low in vectoring in the RAF would be severely limited.

But even that is not the primary goal of my plan. The ultimate defense of the British Isles was the RN. It was the last resort, willing to accept almost complete destruction to prevent a seaborn landing in Britain. The RN heading for the Channel at a dead run, having to pass through a gauntlet of the German surface fleet, a layered defense of U-boats, and finally a pounding by the entire Luftwaffe would suffer losses, I truly believe, of a minimum of 50% and very possibly much greater.

Now I suppose you could undertake an airborn invasion a la Crete. But with both the RAF and the RN crippled, the remaining U-boats could starve Britain into submission. Especially given that at this time the US had not begun Lend Lease and convoying merchantmen halfway across the Atlantic.

But I truly believe that no invasion would have been necessary. Losses on that large of a scale would have almost certainly brought down the Churchill government. Not even his charisma would have deflected the call for a negotiated settlement.

Edited by AnchoriticSybarite - 03 Dec 2017 at 09:53
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Dec 2017 at 21:54
I am not sure I would consider river barges sea worthy, except under the best of conditions.  I don't know what happens when you take all the river barges away from what they are doing in the first place.  The British did bomb surface vessels which were to be used in a crossing, forcing the Germans to spread them out to protect them.

Would U-boots be effective in narrow straights, or would the destroyers?  Would the Bismarck be more effective in a limited area, or would she have just been easier to pick off?  I don't know.  But your suggestion seems too busy and optimistic to me, then again I confess I don't know military strategy well.  The German fighters would be useful in defending the barges, but the German bombers would be useless it seems.

I don't think the words you are looking for are "negotiated settlement," I think the word your looking for is capitulation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AnchoriticSybarite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Dec 2017 at 09:25
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

I am not sure I would consider river barges sea worthy, except under the best of conditions.  I don't know what happens when you take all the river barges away from what they are doing in the first place.  The British did bomb surface vessels which were to be used in a crossing, forcing the Germans to spread them out to protect them.


For purposes of the plan it doesn't matter if the barges are seaworthy or not. They are not supposed to make it across the Channel anyway. Their goal is to draw the RAF into combat over the Channel.


Would U-boots be effective in narrow straights, or would the destroyers?  Would the Bismarck be more effective in a limited area, or would she have just been easier to pick off?  I don't know.  But your suggestion seems too busy and optimistic to me, then again I confess I don't know military strategy well.  The German fighters would be useful in defending the barges, but the German bombers would be useless it seems.



The Uboats would not be operating in the Channel per se. Possibly half a dozen would be prepositioned at the exit of Scapa Flow where they would flush their tubes as the RN begins its sortie. The rest would be prepositioned at intervals down the North Sea as a literal gauntlet. Assuming they would be clustered at specific intervals, the German surface fleet would plan to rendezvous with the subs at one or more of those points to give the uboats the best possible chance of sinking British ships while they are forced to give their full attention to the Bismark and her brethren.

Don't forget while the surface to surface and sub to surface war is going on, possibly as much as a third of the Luftwaffe including all of the bomber force is raining fire and brimstone down on the RN.

One point I realized I never made clear, is that the primary targets would not be the British capitol ships. Given a choice between a battleship and a cruiser, the latter. Between a cruiser and a destroyer; the destroyer. With the enormous losses the RN would incur, and the fact that a great deal of the Uboats would survive; the RN would not be able to keep the sea lanes open.

I don't think the words you are looking for are "negotiated settlement," I think the word your looking for is capitulation.




Potatoe...potahtoh. Either way hostilities between Germany and UK would rapidly come to an end.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Dec 2017 at 11:03
Quote Everything you cite makes perfect sense. As a matter of fact the Luftwaffe did destroy the RAF. In the last great daylight raid before Hitler ordered the switch to nighttime raiding, they had unknown to themselves put the Chain Low radar system out of commission and incapacitated a large part of the RAF bases.
Not true at all. RAF airfields in SE England were never out of action for more than a week, and many radar masts weren't attacked because German intelligence thought they were civilian radio masts. The fact that airfields were temporarily inactive did not stop the RAF - something the Luftwaffe learned to their cost, as squadrons quickly relocated to subsidiary airfields if necessary.
 
As useful as the Chain Low system was, the British also had the Observer Corps, which despite having a much lesser range of warning (Chain Low could detect for up to a hundred miles) performed excellent back-up service during the battle.
 
Quote The problem was not that the Germans god sidetracked or allowed themselves to be sidetracked; they just did not realize how effective they had been. All they knew for certain was that they were suffering intolerable losses in planes and men.
On the contrary. Their intelligence was incredibly optimistic about their results and the Luftwaffe were continually baffled by the resistance the RAF continued to put up.

Quote As for barges, haven't you ever seen river or canal traffic. Flat bottomed, long, rectangular self propelled water craft.
Tests performed on these craft found them surprisingly able to cope with cross Channel waters. In fact, some of these vessels were used in invading Baltic Sea islands in 1941.

Quote Both the Luftwaffe and the RAF fought the Battle of Britain with superb fighter planes, the Spitfire/Hurricane and the Me 109. Both of them suffered by the simple fact that they were extremely limited in range. The Brits did not have to worry about that limitation because they could take off vector on the incoming planes, fight them with full tanks for as long as needed. Then land and within minutes go back up if necessary to intercept more enemy aircraft. If the worse happens and the Brit is shot down chances are 50-50 that he can parachute down and go back up in another plane.

The Germans on the other hand fought at the extreme range of their escort fighters. When they were intercepted they hand minutes at most to fight off attacks. Furthermore if they were shot down they were either dead or captured. And it takes 18=19 years to raise another pilot.
it took a year to train a new pilot from scratch in that era. However, about range - I should point out that a Bf109 was much longer ranged than London (One landed in the west of England having gotten lost). The problem is combat. Once a pilot engages high throttle settings, those big inline Daimler Benz V12's are going to drink fuel like it was going out of fashion. When the Germans describe this, note how they say that had ten minutes over London under combat conditions.

Quote But I truly believe that no invasion would have been necessary. Losses on that large of a scale would have almost certainly brought down the Churchill government. Not even his charisma would have deflected the call for a negotiated settlement.
Large losses never did. Not even the Fall of Singapore, the worst military disaster ever recorded for the British Armed Forces. It was recognised by both sides that if the Germans reached as far north as Northampton and surrounded London, the game was up. That was the point when Churchill could have been forced to surrender. As it was, despite his leadership, he was not a popular politician and regarded with some dread for his clumsy dealings in the past. He was able to survive a vote of no-confidence during the war.


Edited by caldrail - 11 Dec 2017 at 11:04
http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AnchoriticSybarite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Dec 2017 at 08:23
Not true at all. RAF airfields in SE England were never out of action for more than a week, and many radar masts weren't attacked because German intelligence thought they were civilian radio masts. The fact that airfields were temporarily inactive did not stop the RAF - something the Luftwaffe learned to their cost, as squadrons quickly relocated to subsidiary airfields if necessary.
 



I believe we've had this conversation before. Neither one of us is going to budge, so I respect your opinion and for purposes of this particular thread it isn't that relevant anyway.



[/quote]
On the contrary. Their intelligence was incredibly optimistic about their results and the Luftwaffe were continually baffled by the resistance the RAF continued to put up.


If they were so optimistic about their success against their targets, why did they feel compelled to go over to nighttime raids.




.[/quote]
it took a year to train a new pilot from scratch in that era. However, about range - I should point out that a Bf109 was much longer ranged than London (One landed in the west of England having gotten lost). The problem is combat. Once a pilot engages high throttle settings, those big inline Daimler Benz V12's are going to drink fuel like it was going out of fashion. When the Germans describe this, note how they say that had ten minutes over London under combat conditions.



Does this mean that we are in agreement then that the Luftwaffe would have a tremendous advantage over the RAF in combat over the North Sea and the Channel. During combat range is meaningless as far as pure distance covered. As you said a German had only 10 minutes before he had to break and run and hope his fuel held out long enough to get him home. By contrast an RAF pilot expended hardly any fuel taking off and intercepting his opponent. Furthermore he could literally keep fighting until his tank went dry, making an emergency landing if possible; parachuting if not.




[/quote]
Large losses never did. Not even the Fall of Singapore, the worst military disaster ever recorded for the British Armed Forces. It was recognised by both sides that if the Germans reached as far north as Northampton and surrounded London, the game was up. That was the point when Churchill could have been forced to surrender. As it was, despite his leadership, he was not a popular politician and regarded with some dread for his clumsy dealings in the past. He was able to survive a vote of no-confidence during the war.

[/QUOTE]


Let me see if I can make my point more clearly regarding the concept behind my starting this thread.

I don't think anyone has ever considered a seaborne invasion by the Germans in '41 a serious possibility. Slightly more plausible though still a huge gamble was the idea of an airborne invasion a la Crete.

The purpose of a fake invasion is to bring the one thing that Britain could not under any circumstances afford to lose, the RN into a position where it could have been either destroyed or so degraded that it would loose its effectiveness.

You mention the fall of Singapore. It was a position of enormous geo-political importance and I would argue that the noise heard when the surrender documents were signed was the death knell of the British Empire. But in terms of WWII only it was just another spot on the map.

If and I freely admit this is a huge if, anyone in the German High Command had any insight into things naval they would have realized that death by suffocation is just as dead as a bullet in the heart.

In the Pacific war the Japanese submarine fleet was self limiting because they thought it beneath them to spend a torpedo on a freighter when they could go after a warship. In my projected campaign the general orders for all units air, surface fleet and subs would be attack destroyers first, cruisers second, the BB's last.

After this battle is over. The barges are sunk. The RN returns to Scapa Flow. The RAF and Luftwaffe have suffered comparable losses. The German surface fleet is gone totally. But the majority and probably the overwhelming majority of the U-boat fleet is intact. Within a week or 10 days they are back on station cutting off supplies to England, against a defenseless merchant marine. America is not yet escorting freighters to the mid point. The larger ships left to the RN are not suitable to conduct anti-sub warfare. Churchill's government falls.

Edited by AnchoriticSybarite - 15 Dec 2017 at 08:28
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