French Navy....

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Lucky13, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Just wondering what would have happened, if Hitler had managed to get his hands on the French Navy intact....ideas?
     
  2. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    The war on the Med might have turned out differently if no RN ships could get past Gibralter because of all the German, Italian and French ships waiting. maybe.
     
  3. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    I think thats exactly what would have happened... With the addional warships, Gibralter would have been closed allowing Malta and North Africa and Italy different outcomes...

    From there its an alternate reality...
     
  4. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Hitler gets the French fleet and the balance of power shifts not only in the Med, but also in the Atlantic. For starters, the first thing he should do is get it back to Toulon. In the Atlantic, it is exposed (as the Britsh showed in July of 1940). Blow past Gibralter at night and get back to where you can get it organized and controled.

    With the French fleet in the Med, the Med essentially becomes an Axis lake. But not right away. The French and Italians have different ways of operating, different supply needs, ect. For about 6 months to a year, probably closer to a year, the Brits will still have a chance to do something. Who knows, maybe Tarranto happens ealier? Take the Italian or French fleet down by a few BBs and the Axis lake isn't guaranteed.

    The Brits have a Navy with a history of being aggressive. They won't slink out of the Med without a fight. Couple of random thoughts on the subject:

    -While the French Fleet may be under Axis control, that doesn't mean it is effective as when it was under French control.
    -Taking Gibralter from the Sea Side is going to be almost impossible. And Franco wasn't going to come into the war. Losing Gibralter is not definite until the British Fleet in the Med is driven off or destroyed.
    -Air power throughout the Med is a consideration and a factor but not to the extent it will be when the Germans show up in 1941.
     
  5. Arsenal VG-33

    Arsenal VG-33 Member

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    Highly doubtful the balance would have changed much. You can't simply take over a fleet of ships, re-crew them, then send them sailing away to fight the war. Keeping in mind that with the fall of France, many of the defense indutries needed to keep the vessels in running condition were either destroyed, damaged or ceased operations. This would have required the Germans and/or Italians to either retool some of their industries to meet requirements for the ex-French ships, and to train crews to man them. Did they have the extra manpower to do this in quick order? I highy doubt it. Just because they're ships doesn't mean they're the same things. To put a captured fleet to your own use would have been extensive work, one which is much easier said than done, especially if the logistics aren't already in place.

    Apart from being able to operate a few light ships such as frigates or corvettes, and some submarines, I highly doubt the captured fleet would have amounted to much given the work needed to man and maintain them. I don't thing either the Germans nor the Italians had the resources in any near-term to make this happen. I believe the most likely scenario would have been to either mothball the fleet, or scrap it. Perhaps some of the arnaments could have been removed to create static land defenses, but thats about it.

    The primary concern was to not allow the Allies use of them, so I think it's safe to say that the balance would have more or less stayed the same. Besides, given what happened in reality at Toulon, it's a safe bet the fleet in North Africa would have been scuttled had the French authorities seen the slightest move to capture it, if they were not prepared to take them elsewhere.
     
  6. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I have to agree with VG-33.

    While the defense industries may be a bit overblown it does address the question of logistics, which for fleets is more than just fuel supply.
    A number of British ships shot out their 4in anti-aircraft barrels both in Norway and Crete. They needed new barrels or barrel liners, not just more ammo.
    with German, French and Italian ships all using different guns with different ammo ( at least 3 different types of 37mm ammo if not more) keeping them in action after more than one or two engagements becomes a real problem if you have moved them from their normal home ports.
    Battleship guns had a service live of about 1 1/2 to 2 times the capacity of the magazines using full charge loads. Some countries did better, especially with reduced charge shore bombardment loads but that is not what we are talking about.
    Once you get into different radios, fire control equipment, and especially machinery even if the original factory making the parts is still in existence moving the parts to new bases or suppling parts to a mixed fleet becomes a real problem.

    The captured French fleet poised a real problem but it was not a long term in action problem but a fleet/threat in being problem. British had to guard against a one or two time use at critical points/targets.
    The British can also afford to trade ship for ship against the Germans, Italians and French. At least until the Japanese join the war.
    Historically the French can offer 5 battle ships to the Germans.
    The Corbet and Paris had escaped to England leaving only the demilitarised Ocean/Jean Bart which would have need much work to turn into an effective ship.
    Of the Bretagne class the Lorraine was interned in Egypt leaving the Bretagne and the Provence. These two , are at best, equal to British"R"s.
    This leaves the Dunkerque — Strasbourg pair.
    While the Richelieu might have been gotten ready without too much trouble it is rather doubtful the Jean Bart could have been operational for year or more (perhaps never with suitable delays by French dock workers?).
    While worrisome or troublesome such a number of major Ships do not really Shift the balance of power that far. With the Scharnhorst out of service for months with a torpedo hit and the Bismark not becoming operational until the spring of 1941 opportunities for coordinated actions seem remote.
    After the Battle of Taranto the Italians were not in a good position either. Combining the French and Italian battle ship fleets gets about the same numbers as either one had pre-war.
    There are more to a navy than battleships but There are reasons that many French and Italian Cruisers were referred to as "tin-clads":)
     
  7. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The issue of Hitler being a poor practitioner of naval warfare would also play a role here. The French fleet falling into German hands would have complicated things for the British though.
     
  8. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Good points Shortround, but when did the Brits take out the French Navy? If it was after May '41, then I think the whole Bismark affair might have a different outcome. With her and Prinz Eugen teaming with those French ships, the Atlantic becomes more dangerous for supplies, Malta is starved, and British supllies to NA may not get there, not to mention a possible different outcome for 'Torch'. Then again I'm no Naval expert - just quickly thinking thinking through the scenario.
     
  9. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The french Navy under german control was a problem for the british, but not a war winner. In 1940, the French Navy consisted of one old and slow aircraft carrier, with no suitable aircraft, 3 or four old battleships, under 20 knots max speed, one new battleship, with very superior systems, but still working up, two very useful armoured cruisers, but vulnerable to air attack and the 15 in guns of the RN battlecruisers, 7 or 8 heavy cruisers, only one of which was properly defended, and about 12 light cruisers, of varying capabilities. There were about 50 destroyers, some of them the large contre torpilleurs, great for the med, but struggling in the heavy seas of the Atlantic. It would have taken months or years to retro fit radar to these ships.

    I am confident the RN could have managed the French surface fleet with little difficulty, in much the same way as they managed the RM. One has to assume French crews and a French support and logistics base for the fleet to have any hope of action in the first half of the wqar....otherwise it takes years to train the crews, and re-arm the ships.

    The French subs are a big unknown. They probably were more capable that the italian fleet, but less capable than the German U-Boat fleet. Perhaps another 1.5 to 2 million tons of lost shipping....a significant blow, but not enough to force the English to surrender
     
  10. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I think it would have only made a temporary difference and would have just forced the British/Americans to deploy more carriers in the Med.
     
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