Airwar over France with no Operation Torch, instead 1943 invasion of France

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by wiking85, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    What would a force on force airwar over France in 1943 look like had there been no Operation Torch and therefore Tunisian/Sicily/Italy campaign, but instead the US and UK saving up forces to invade France in 1943 like in Operation Roundup?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Roundup_(1942)

    Let's say for the sake of argument that invasion comes in June 1943 in the area of the historical Normandy landings to draw off German forces before Kursk. What does the air campaign look like then if the pull a Transport Plan before doing major bombing of Germany?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_Plan

    They put all the airpower they used in Tunisia/Sicily/Italy in 1942-43 instead into Britain to be used over France, while the ground units all end up in Britain to be used in the invasion. Likewise Germany doesn't use/lose all the air units that it lose in 1942-43 in the Mediterranean. For the sake of argument let's say the North African Campaign basically ends with the Axis armies being run out of Africa in Spring 1943 by Monty and the 8th army, but then without an invasion of Sicily. Vichy is respected by both sides so far, so Algeria is not invaded by Monty and the 8th, Germany hasn't yet occupied Vichy France.

    IIRC that means about 2000 or more Luftwaffe aircraft aren't lost, including over 1000 fighters. Italy is still in the war and there is a standoff in the Mediterranean.

    How does fighting in France develop then in June 1943? I'm assuming Kursk then is impossible and the fighters transferred from the West for the offensive aren't, same with the SS Panzer divisions, meaning the Soviet launch their own offensive in the East after the Allied landings in Normandy.
     
  2. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Historical German Government was terribly worried about Anglo-American invasion of Italy. They would be far more worried about a 1943 invasion of France. You can count on Kursk offensive being cancelled. Cream of the Heer and Luftwaffe would be in France instead.
     
  4. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    Right, so without the historical air losses/commitments of 1942-43 in the Mediterranean what does that mean for the fight in France in mid-1943? I'm assuming that more air units stay in the East in the winter of 1942-43 and do damage to the Soviets, but don't fundamentally change the outcome for the 6th army or the end lines come Spring 1943.
     
  5. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Hmm - Spitfire VIIIs and P-38s to escort the bombers to the Ruhr?

    Also: with cream of the LW and Heer rushed West instead of East - who is there to defend against the Red Tide?
     
  6. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    The historical forces available in June 1943 would probably remain unchanged, its just that the June/July reinforcement of IIRC 4 gruppe of fighters wouldn't happen in this scenario. The 5th Panzer army is not lost in Tunisia and the forces used in Sicily in July are being in France instead. So added together they are a significant force along with what was already there in late 1942; perhaps the SS Panzer Corps are brought back west after the fighting in the East in winter 1943 and the paratroopers of the Ramcke brigade are not lost in Africa so are available for the fighting in France. That would leave a formidable ground force in the West in 1943 assuming the remnants of the Afrika Korps are rebuilding in Sicily after being ejected from Libya in Spring 1943.

    Edit:
    Did the Spitfire VIII have the range to escort past France? And didn't the P-38 get slaughtered as an escort? Plus wouldn't bombing in Germany be called off to make sure all bombers and fighters are available to support the invasion?
     
  7. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Even without Torch, the Germans will suffer a good deal of losses in N.Africa (as will the British, of course), both in ground assets as well as in aircraft. They have the option to send less forces there thsn historically (it makes things worse in Tunisia), or try to send morem as much as their questionable logistics allow, in hope of reversal.
    The situation for the 6th Army is set in stone, unless the Soviets don't make some big mistakes in the winter of 1942/43.

    The Spitfire VIII have had a radius of 350+ miles; range with 90 gal drop tank was almost 1200 miles, with internal fuel used for warm-up, taxying, tanke off and climb to 20000 ft (distance covered is not in that range 24.5 IMP gals used for that). Eg. 300 miles is from East Anglia to Cologne.

    No.

    No, around the clock bombing keeps LW (both fighters and Flak) being spread thin. Let's recall that Anglo-Americans will be deploying better part of the two air forces, vs. less than half of Luftwaffe, even with changes you suggested. Invasion will be supported by tactical air, indeed switching early to the 'Transport plan' would really harm the Germans most.
     
  8. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    Why wasn't it used as an escort historically then? Also 350 miles is in a straight line without leaving room for combat fuel.

    Assuming the German don't reinforce in Africa because of the threat of a 1943 invasion and allow that to play out the losses won't really matter, because whatever is there gets hurt and survivors that evacuate don't really have to worry about a British invasion. So the Afrika Korps and whatever Italians get out spend 1943 rebuilding in Sicily, while Luftflotte 2 without the late 1942 reinforcements is hurt, but still a force capable of defense in Sicily.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_P-38_Lightning#European_theater
    It was a decent fighter-bomber, but in fighter combat it didn't seem particularly distinguished compared to the P-47 or -51.


    I don't think the Allies had the numbers for that in mid-1943. Plus historically in 1944 when they had a lot more aircraft in Britain and less opposition in France due to LW losses in the Mediterranean and commitments in Italy plus early 1944 losses they called off major bombing of Germany to focus on the Transport Plan and bombing of the V-1 sites. The Transport Plan included a lot of bombing by heavy strategic bombers of France.
     
  9. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The allies did not have the logistical capabilities at that time to invade France, then actually advance from the beaches. The U-Boats were still a menace that had to wiped out. And until the Allies had air supremacy, then nothing was going to happen. Those were historical facts that SHAEF dealt with. And why a 1943 front was abandoned.
     
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  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    See it for your self and draw conclusions: http://www.spitfireperformance.com/spitfirehfviii-ads.jpg.
    The Spit VIII was not the USAF aircraft, bar token number, the heavies were to look after them per current doctrine. The USAF even used A-36s to escort the B-25s in the MTO, such was the disparity with what was needed and what was available.

    Well, unless you toss in some numbers that will compare the 'land' opponents, anything said about this is wide from the mark.

    In the best part of 1943, it is the only long rage fighter available to the USAF, so they will be used for long range work from the day one.

    The RAF already outnumbered the LW in 1941, toss in the USAF and RAF assets that don't go into Maghreb and situation is clear to me. Transport Plan was a major bombing of German war effort.
     
  11. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    The A-36 was a P-51 with an Allison engine. So why would the Spit 8 be used to escort USAAF bombers in this scenario if they weren't historically?

    Not sure what you mean. 8th army vs. Italians and Germans in Africa being chased back to Tripoli and whatever is left of the Axis forces is evacuated to Sicily in early 1943. Then because transports are needed for France 8th army occupied Italian Libya and that front shuts down. Not sure what the air units were pre-late 1942 reinforcement by the Torch forces and Luftwaffe reinforcements.

    Okay sure, but I'm not sure how well it would do.

    The Transport Plan was a 1944 plan to bomb French RRs:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_Plan
    What were RAF numbers in Britain in 1943? And what was used in Tunisia by the Allies?
     
  12. Balljoint

    Balljoint Member

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    Had Hitler not expended his strength saving the Italian bacon in the Med he would potentially have a much stronger position in France. However, since his critical oil supply was in the Soviet front these resources would have probably been lost on the Soviet front, perhaps even taking Stalingrad with much greater losses. The oil Germany needed was in the east and this was likely Hitler’s driving objective.

    Still, I don’t think a 1943 invasion of France would succeed since the inadequate German forces of 1944 would have been sufficient to throw back what the Allies could muster during 1943. The LW fighters that savaged unescorted U.S. bombers during 1943 would have been a strong force over France opposing an invasion. Among other losses, the first six months of 1944 saw U.S. long range escorts –allowed to leave the bombers and hunt LW fighters- gain air superiority over France. 1943 would have been a whole different story IMHO.
     
  13. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    There was only JG2 and JG26 in the West.
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    An interesting POD all by itself.

    North Africa employed roughly half of the Luftwaffe air transport capacity at a time when it was desperately needed in Southern Russia. Mediterranean also employed a considerable number of badly needed Ju-87 and Ju-88 dive bombers.
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Historical Germany did seize Stalingrad for all practical purposes. Problem is holding it against Soviet Uranus counter attack.
     
  16. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps then does the extra airpower and no Mediterranean commitment mean that Stalingrad can be salvaged long enough to pull back 6th army or at least break the encirclement? Perhaps much of the extra German bombers get burned up in the effort against Uranus and Saturn?

    Historically yes, but without the Tunisian/Sicily/Italy campaign much of that airpower is used in France instead. IIRC something like 900 Luftwaffe fighters were lost just in Tunisia. Some of that of course would be still lost in this scenario fighting alongside the Afrika Korps as it pulls back from Egypt all the way to Tripoli, but the majority of it was AFAIK sent into Tunisia rather than being their pre-Torch.
     
  17. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Wouldn't it be more efficient for the Western Allies to invade from the East, via land, than mount a seaborne invasion like Overlord?
     
  18. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the allies could have successfully invaded Europe without the knowledge that they gained from the previous amphibious operations.

    Operation Torch, then the invasion of Sicily, then mainland Italy, each increasingly opposed, each with problems they learned from.

    They would have had a pretty steep learning curve if they'd took on mainland Europe first.
     
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  19. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    #19 GrauGeist, Dec 5, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015
    If you look at how Germany was being pulled in all directions, you see that the multiple fronts weakened Germany by drawing their resources too thin.

    If Germany had it's assets consolidated on a single front, they would be far more formidable than you could imagine.
     
  20. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    People have put out the need to tame the U-boats prior the invasion. We can recall that Allies have launched a 3-prong invasion of N. Africa despite the still fluid situation in Atlantic. Plus invaded Sicily and Italy in 1943, obviously US supplies need to go over Atlantic in any case. Having at least half of France under Allied control in late 1943 basically expells the U-boats from Lorient and other bases.

    Less need for the Spitfire VIII in the MTO leaves them more for the ETO. Considering that RAF already provided the initial cover for the 8th AF bombers in 1943 (and already in 1942), using the VIII instead the IX seems logical to me.

    I mean how many ground units, with their tanks, arillery, manpower etc. each beligerent can muster in both sides of La Manche before the invasion and immediately after.

    Not just French, attack at Hamm, Germany was conducted by 800 8th AF bombers. Obviously, the USAF will muster less bombers in early 1943.

    Here is the account of RAF, and partly USAF assets in the MTO (among other things) in 1941-43: link. Please note that RAF nomenclature was roughly Group > Wing > Squadron, while in USAF it was Wing > Group > Squadron, basic Squadron being 16 aircraft in the time, with USAF planning to make a 25 aircraft fighter squadron. This table is of interest: link
     
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