Did Chamberlain's "Peace for our time" make a difference to the air war?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by buffnut453, Apr 4, 2012.

  1. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Don't know if this one's been done to death already but how would the early stages of the air war have played out if Chamberlain came back in September 1938 with a message of "We can't negotiate with Herr Hitler. War is imminent!"

    Was the German Luftwaffe ready to take on the French Armee de l'Aire? Were either the Luftwaffe or RAF ready for a "Battle of Britain" air campaign in, say, 1939?

    Lots of hypotheticals and assumptions in this type of thread but I'd be interested to hear what people think about this particular WHIF.
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    How could they be? Factories for production of DB601 and Jumo211 engines had to be built from scratch. They were still working up to full production when the war started.

    The same goes for most other German munitions factories. The Ju-88 program was half of total German airframe production but was just starting during late 1939. Except for the Panzer II light tank and some Skoda light tanks Germany had practically no armor during 1939. Ammunition stockpiles were far below requirements. Most units in all branches of the Wehrmacht were green as grass. OHLs own evaluation stated that troop training was inferior to that of 1914.

    These shortfalls are the reason WestWall border fortifications had such a high priority from July 1938 onward. France was threatening to mobilize and did so September 7th, 1938. The Wehrmacht couldn't stop a French invasion so a strong fortification system was Germany's only hope for survival. Germany was fortunate France waited a year before starting that invasion.
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I agree. A couple of points to make though.

    The French mobilisation was in response to the critical situation in Czechoslovakia.

    When did France invade Germany? The so called Saar offensive hardly amounted to much. The French ambled about 5Km forward of the Maginot line and stopped. In October they returned to their original lines. Maybe they should have taken Gamelin's advice and attacked Germany whilst she was still engaged in Poland! The Anglo-French plan was basically to meet the German attack in the low countries to keep the fighting off French soil and protect the channel ports (for the British),never to invade Germany.

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The French ambled forward until they encountered minefields that were part of the WestWall border defense system. If the WestWall hadn't been built they would have ambled all the way to Berlin.
     
  5. andy2012

    andy2012 Member

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    There is an alternate history book similar to this topic; The Big Switch by Harry Turtledove. I have never read it but it sounds interesting.
     
  6. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    The Munich agreement sounds was often made to look like a cowardly back down. In fact it was a moral correction. The whole carve up of Germany and Austria had been based on the Wilsonian principle of "Self Determination" however the 4 million Sudden Germans had been denied a plebescite because France wanted to make Germany smaller. The Suddetens had many grievences, including a massacre of unrmed demonstaitors duing 1920 council elections, the refusal of Swiss style Democratic Cantonic Government, the firing of 50,000 German speaking railways workers, the repossesion of land and its redistribution of czechs, the 1930's threat by Eduard Bennes to etnnically cleanse every single German if Germany and Austria united.

    Internal pressure by Germans for cantonic Government and support by Hitler eventually lead to scheduling of a League of Nations plebescite. Czech police immediatly began entering the houses of German activists and bashing them up. Chaimberlin complained of Hitlers haste in agressively negotiating the Suddeten issue but Hitler basically replied that it was his people that were being brutalised and he had a right to be un a hurry. The Sth African primeminster wrote to Chamberlain saying that he could not support an immoral war against Germany nor would most of the world.

    It was simple. The Suddeten Germans now wanted out after decades of mendancious administation and lip service Democracy and it was certain the plebescite would go for reunification with Germany. Only then did the cental Czech government start talking Cantonic government.

    This war was never going to happen. Incidently the German army did not invade the Suddetenland, they reoccupied it after an agreement and a plebescite. The only 'invasion' was that of Poland which invaded and anexed the Tschen region of Czechoslovakia and immediatly banned the speaking of both Czech and German.

    A bad man broke a bad treaty. Good on Hitler.

    As far as any attack on Germany: morally it wasn't possible but it was a big risk for Hitler and Germany. Technically Frances army and airforce was outmoded.

    However certainly rivers of blood could have been spilled to achieve either a minor realignment of borders on the basis of a bad vindictive treaty (Versailes).

    What would you do, bomb cities? Try an invasion?
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    So did the people of Slovakia.

    IMO Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were both mistakes doomed to fail. 1919 Britain, the USA and France didn't do those people any favor by molding them together into artificially created nations.
     
  8. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    #8 buffnut453, Apr 5, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
    To try and steer this back on track a little, Davebender made the point that the German Luftwaffe was not ready for war against the Armee de L'Aire in 1938 because it was still building up to front strength. However, the same could be said for the French and British air forces. The Dewoitine D.520 didn't enter service until 1940 and the MS.406 was only ordered in March 1938. So the French would probably have a fighter arm with as many MS.406s in 1938 as they had D.520s in 1940. Similar situation for the RAF with the first 50 Hurricanes reaching front-line squadrons in the middle of 1938 - the main front-line fighter was still the Gladiator. Then there are the bombers - Battles and Wellesleys as "light bombers" with Whitleys and Heyfords being the primary "heavy" bombers (the Wellington didn't enter service until October 1938 either).
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #9 stona, Apr 5, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
    But they had no intention of going to Berlin. French military leaders might have wanted to but the political will was not there. That's why,barely a month after the so called Saar Offensive began,the French Army returned to their start line.
    I'm not arguing the importance of the German static defences,certainly from a German viewpoint.
    My question is when did France invade Germany? You can't make a statement like that and not expect someone to seek clarification.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  10. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Guess I failed...:dontknow:
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Not really! I'm just seeking a clarification.
    I actually agree with both yourself and "davebender" that noone was ready for a 1938/39 war.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  12. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Which is probably why it didn't happen in 1938...but given that this is a WHIF, I'd still like to get people's thoughts on how the air campaigns might have played out with the equipment available at that time.
     
  13. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Can say the same about how the Ottoman Empire was divided up.
     
  14. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    Turtledove's a pretty good alternate history author, I'd like to reead that. He is generally pretty good with details. Only read his Lost Legion series set in an alternate universe style Byzantine Empire construct.
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That was decided by war. If the Ottomans had not defeated the 1919 Greek invasion Turkey would be a tiny rump state, if it existed at all.
     
  16. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #16 nuuumannn, Apr 5, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
    Bullshit. Czechoslovakia was bullied into releasing the 'Sudetenland' back to the Nazis. Sudeten Germans being beated up by Czech police reek of the invasion of Poland excuse. The beating up of Sudeten Germans happened because it was local Nazis who stirred the pot a little. In that case they got what they deserved. Emile Hacha was transported to Berlin and waited for hours in a suite in the Adlon Hotel in Berlin, when at around two in the morning Hitler (your good man), ironically watching the movie titled "A hopeless case" began to rant at Hacha, threatening to bomb the crap out of Prague unless he sign the documents. Hitler went on for a couple of hours. The whole purpose of that act was to open the Czech border defences up, which the Germans could not have defeated. Simple answer, go round them, although politically rather than resurrect the Schlieffen Plan from WW1 as in France's case. D'you honestly expect us to believe that Hitler was just honouring the wishes of the Germans?

    The sad thing is that had France and Britain stood up to Germany over Czechoslovakia, there was little Germany could have done militarily to stop them. Hitler was a master politician in that he played on both country's leaders' weakenesses at Munich and despite what we now think of Chamberlian, he did put Britain's military on a warlike footing and initiated the increase in fighter production. We often forget that the Munich Agreement was widely supported in Britain at the time and Chamberlian firmly believed in Peace, but felt terribly betrayed, along with hundreds of thousands of Czechs and Poles when Hitler invaded Poland. Chamberlain did what had to be done - against everything he stood for as a peaceful statesman - and declared war on Germany. It's no surprise he broke down later in life. At the time of Munich, Chamberlain was well aware the Britain's armed forces were unprepared for war and although he did believe in what he had signed, it was as much a stalling tactic for time as it was a declaration of intent.
     
  17. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    Starting earlier, does the war become an spur for purchae and development of some of the earlier US entrys? such as: P-36, F2A-1, B-17, SBC-4 to name a few?

    Consequences?

    Let's see. those who would have liked to have seen Curtiss P-36 development carried much further would have little reason to post "what ifs" on that as a forum topic? :lol:

    The original F2A-1/B-239 Buffalo would have become more widely used and, if adopted by the RN FAA as a replacement of the Gloster Gladiator, would have provided a deterrent or response to the Luftwaffe moves in Scandanavia?
     
  18. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    The P-36 only entered USAAF service in April 1938 and there were many teething troubles and technical issues that took a number of years to resolve. Overall, I think it unlikely that the P-36 was a viable option for going to war starting in 1938. As for the B-17, that too entered USAAF service in April 1938 so, again, I don't see that being available for the RAF and even less so for the French AF. The F2A-1 only entered service with the USN in December 1939 so that's really out of the running as an option for the starting line-up in a 1938 outbreak of war in Europe.
     
  19. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Problem is, at that stage the RN FAA was still controlled by the RAF although plans were afoot to hand it over to the navy. This didn't happen until mid 1939. In 1938 a continental war would have shaped out pretty interestingly; Germany was not in a position to carry out an out flanking manoeuvre of the sort they did in 1914 and 1940 through the Low Countries into France that couldn't have been opposed by France and GB together, so British and French troops could have crossed the Rhine, but would have met strong opposition. Nevertheless in an attrition war I'd say France and GB would have the numerical superiority, but you can guarantee the Germans would have plenty of surprises up their sleeves. You can also guarantee a naval blockade by the RN, against which the Germans would have had little answer. In the air it looks like a pretty interesting fight; 1930s biplanes versus 1930s biplanes, with the odd modern monoplane thrown in for spice. Hawker Furies and Gloster Gauntlets battling it out against He 51s and the odd Bf 109 v Hurricane battle. We can look to the Spanish Civil War as an example of how things might have panned out tactically.
     
  20. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Hi Nuuumannn,

    I agree - it would be a very different air war. Not absolutely certain on this but I think the Dewoitine D.510 was France's primary fighter in 1938. The German Luftwaffe had the early variant He111s and Do17s as bombers, and He-51s or Hs123s in the fighter role - one wonders if a "Battle of Britain" operation was even viable given the fighter resources available to the Luftwaffe. As for the RAF, entirely agree that far more biplane fighters would have been in the front line although the Chain Home system was at least partially in place in 1938 so that part of the British defence system could be included in the discussion.

    Cheers,
    B-N
     
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