If the RAF had been defeated in the Battle of Britain

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by DogFather, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. DogFather

    DogFather New Member

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    #1 DogFather, Aug 6, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
    I watched a documentary, that suggested even if the RAF had been completely defeated during the B of B, the Royal Navy would still be able
    to stop a German invasion, or at least make it very risky. I'm sure the RN would still have attacked an invasion force, even in the face of air
    supremacy. The Germans had no good way to move their Panzers and other heavy equipment to Britain. There were going to have to use
    river barges, that had no engine and were very slow. The Germans also lacked a way to defeat the RN. Except with air power if the RN
    attacked an invasion force. I wonder how well this would have worked?

    I guess the Germans hoped to bomb and starve Britain into surrender, with their U-Boats and surface raiders. I don't remember where I saw
    the doc. But, it does sound correct to me. There was really no way Germany was going to defeat Britain, by invasion. At least not anytime soon after the war started in 1939. This is one reason for the so-called Phoney war.

    Because Britain was so concerned about preventing invasion, she didn't want to use resources to try and defeat Germany. A plan to mine
    German rivers for example, by Churchill was rejected, because it would bring reprisals. The French wanted to stay in their forts. When they
    could have attacked Germany's Ruhr industrial area. They too wanted to save their strength, for when they were attacked The moral of the
    story, to me anyway, is don't declare war if you don't really mean it.

    Anyway, is the RN being able to prevent invasion, even without the RAF accurate? Would the Luftwaffe, be able to sink or eliminate RN ships
    trying to stop an invasion?
     
  2. OldSkeptic

    OldSkeptic Active Member

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    Oh yes the RN would have done it, but the losses might have meant the Battle of the Atlantic might have been lost later.

    The only way the RAF could have lost the BoB was if Leigh Mallory had been in charge of 11 group. In '41 when, due to political moves Downing and Park had been gotten rid of, LM did a BoB war game .. he lost all his planes straight away.

    Park was the key, Dowding created the weapon, Park used it perfectly. The Bob has been war gamed by just about every air force in the World over and over ... and no one had exceeded Park's handling of it.

    However quite a few prats have lost it.....

    Read Stephen Bungey's 'Most Dangerous Enemy' for a strategic, tactical and logistical analysis.
     
  3. Dogwalker

    Dogwalker Member

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    #3 Dogwalker, Aug 7, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
    The Operations Harpoon, Vigorous and Pedestal are good examples to what could happen if the RN had to operate in places where it didn't had the air superiority (and in those cases it didn't had only for a part of the run). The conditions in a English Channel were the RAF had lost the BoB are likely to be worse. I do not think RN could sustain that sort of attrition for long time.
     
  4. JtD

    JtD Member

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    I never thought of this that way, might very well be true. On the other hand, the Germans might have lost so many ground forces, that their presence on the Balkans or in North Africa, let alone later on the Eastern front could have been in question - yet, same might be said about the Commonwealth forces.

    Eventually, winning and losing isn't a binary thing, by which margin will always matter. Both in the hypothetical win of the Luftwaffe in the BoB and the attempted invasion. There's even a chance for the invasion to fail without the participation of the RN at all, the Germans in 1940 didn't have the equipment, experience or logistics the Allies had in their late war operations. In fact, a small storm front, not unlikely to happen in autumn and hard to predict, could have meant a costly end of all invasion plans.
     
  5. pattle

    pattle Member

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    #5 pattle, Aug 7, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
    When Churchill said we will fight them on the beaches, in the streets and in the fields and hills etc and that we shall never surrender he wasn't exaggerating. Churchill forecasted a new dark age should Britain fall and again he wasn't exaggerating because as we all know now that's what would have happened. These were not just brave words and talking big, Churchill was spelling out the reality of the situation and what needed to be done. If the Germans had of tried to invade Britain by sea then the German army would have been ruthlessly butchered by the Royal Navy and what little of it that made it ashore would have been slaughtered in frenzied killings by anyone and everyone that was within reach of it with whatever they had to hand. Britain has unlike the rest of Europe in having no tradition of being invaded and the British people in 1940 had the almost unique benefit of hindsight after having seen the fate of other countries. Hitler knew all this and that's why he didn't try. Invading Britain in 1940 would have cost Hitler his army even if he had of been successful and Hitler didn't want to lose his army invading a tiny island when he could of had Russia instead. Hitler's idea was to invade Russia and then come back and finish Britain off, Churchill knew this before even the Russians did and that's why he was so willing to support them in 1941 even though he hated Stalin and all he stood for and up until that point Stalin had been helping the Germans.
     
  6. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    #6 fastmongrel, Aug 7, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
    late September there is at most 12 hours of daylight in the Channel 4 weeks later there is less than 11 hours of daylight and the weather is getting nasty. During daylight the LW can prevent the RN operating freely in the Channel. At night and in bad weather the RN rules the Channel. If anyone can find a way of supplying an invading army by moving supplies just 12 hours a day then yes the Germans could possibly have succesfully invaded Great Britain. Its no use landing an army if you cant supply food, water, ammunition and reinforcements and the longer the battle goes on the worse it gets as you lose supply vessels to the RNs night time forays.

    Not forgetting of course the RN subs which according to most Axis fantasists do nothing which is crazy your playing in the RNs submarine training ground the skippers know the Channel like there own back hand, does anyone seriously think that the Submarine service will sit in port drinking tea when they had a Channel full of targets and subs loaded with the best torpedos outside of the Japanese navy. Yes losses to mines and ASW escorts will be heavy but when has that ever stopped determined submariners they are all barmy for going underwater in a glorified oil drum anyway.
     
  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #7 stona, Aug 7, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
    The Royal Navy could and did operate in the face of enemy air superiority. A look at operations in the Mediterranean, Crete, Malta etc will show that it was possible but at a considerable cost.

    The Luftwaffe could not have protected a slow (very slow) moving invasion fleet across the Channel and the Germans knew this.

    They never had a serious intention of attempting the invasion and when the bluff was called they packed up and redeployed towards the real ideological objective which lay to the east.

    High Commands draw up plans, which many will have seen, when they are asked to. This does not mean that there was ever a serious intention to implement them. To back up a bluff you have to make a threat look real. Move barges to channel ports and issue a few life vests, it all looks good. It was as the great bard so eloquently put it "sound and fury, signifying nothing."

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  8. Dogwalker

    Dogwalker Member

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    #8 Dogwalker, Aug 7, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
    Operation Harpoon, six ships lost, seven damaged, two freighters arrived. Operation Vigorous, six ships and one MTB lost, five damaged, no freighter arrived. Operation Pedestal, 13 ships lost, three damaged, four freighters arrived.
    For how long could the RN sustain that cost?

    And, to rule the channel at night, were the RN think to spend the day? Remember that, in this scenario, the RAF had lost the BoB. The ports of south England are targets. To not be crippled, the RN, during the day, had to stay somewere out of the LW air cover.

    The Axis troops in Africa were supplied that way by the Regia Marina.
    In an heavily contended scenario (active Allied air bases at Malta and North Africa, active RN, submarines...), from 1940 to 1943 arrived:
    91.6% of the sended troops,
    80% of the fuel,
    88% of the veicles
    88% of weapons and ammunitions
    86% of other load.

    Having the control of air, and backed by the German industrial capability, Germans could probably do better (in 1940, with Malta silent and ULTRA not efficient, all the percentages are near to 100%)
     
  9. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    The whole Home Fleet would not be required as the wake from a flotilla or two of destroyers at flank would swamp the barges.
     
  10. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    So the LW as well as fighting over the Channel against the RAF even if the RAF had withdrawn north it would still have aircraft, acting as the Heers Heavy Artillery because you cant land Heavy artillery across a beach, interdicting the rail and road system of Kent to prevent the British Army moving its much bigger resources to the battle, doing ASW patrols, mining harbours, doing recce flights, transport flights, weather flights, night bombing raids of major rail hubs in the North and Midlands, bombing raids on RAF bases and chasing the RN out to sea it also has the resources to fly as far as Plymouth say and flatten the dockyards. Well the LW certainly is going to be busy when do they land to refuel or does the LW invent inflight fuel, weapons and crew replenishment.

    All that is after they have forced the RAF north which means much heavier losses of the original force.
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #11 stona, Aug 7, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
    Easily long enough to destroy an invasion fleet. It would take less than twelve hours.

    I'm well aware of the Mediterranean campaign, that lasted for years and the Royal Navy never went away.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  12. Dogwalker

    Dogwalker Member

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    The Strait of Sicily, in its narrowest point is 145 km large.
    The English Channel, only 35.
    In the last part of the Battle of Convoys, when the conditions were becoming difficult for the Regia Marina, the Strait of Sicily was colsed by two minefields (one east and one west of the narrowest point, leaving a obliged way from Sicily to Tunisia), that protected the Italian convoys from the RN.
    In the Channel this would be way easier.
     
  13. Dogwalker

    Dogwalker Member

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  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    So what. What losses do you imagine the British would be prepared to sustain to protect their home island? I can assure you it would be much more than those sustained to evacuate Crete or supply Malta.

    Aircraft were not terribly good at hitting small, fast ships. Imagine a flotilla or two of destroyers loose amongst the invasion barges.

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  15. Dogwalker

    Dogwalker Member

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    An invasion fleet would move only after the route had been made safe, with ships, submarines and minefields (see the fate of Force K)

    The RN did'nt stationed long in places were it could have been targeted by aerial attacks, and, as a result, the Axis convoys generally passed.
     
  16. Dogwalker

    Dogwalker Member

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    #16 Dogwalker, Aug 7, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
    I'm not boubting the will of substaining losses. I m'doubting the capacity of substaining the attrition required to contend the Channel under a LW air superiority for long.

    Sunked ships can be glorious, but can't stop an invasion.

    Mines are. Especially if small and fast ships try to enter in minefields steaming at full speed by night.
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #17 stona, Aug 7, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
    We're losing sight of the objective here.

    It will take an invasion fleet many hours to cross the Channel. It only has to be destroyed once.

    As for mines, where are you planning to mine? I envisage a situation with British ships amongst or close to the invasion fleet. This happened to an Italian merchant convoy in the Mediterranean on one occasion with the loss of all the merchantmen.

    The fleet would require several wide clear channels for its own passage, just as the rather more substantial allied fleet did in 1944.

    Mines do sink small ships but there were counter measures. For sure, at the very least, approaching destroyers would have streamed their paravanes. Mine laying vessels, surface and U-boats, can be interdicted and channels can be swept. Mine laying from the air had, shall we say, mixed results.

    As Cunningham both said and demonstrated., "The right range....to engage an enemy is point blank....at which range even a gunnery officer cannot miss." It is a comment, only half joking, which sums up the ethos of the Royal Navy at that time well, from Nelson's final signal at Trafalgar ("engage enemy more closely") onwards.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  18. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    For 73 years people with experience of the real thing have been in agreement that Germany could have invaded but couldn't have won the Battle due to logistical problems. How come internet amateurs think they know better.

    I always say before you start thinking it was was an easy job go and sail the Channel.
     
  19. Dogwalker

    Dogwalker Member

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    #19 Dogwalker, Aug 7, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
    Yeah. We are losing sight that, without the aerial cover, ships, in WWII, were practically only big and slow targets.

    An invasion fleet had to do only few tenths of km to pass the Channel and gain a bridgehead under LW aerial cover, while the RN, having heard the news that the invasion fleet is moving, had to steam for several hundreds of km by night, pass over minefields, the Kriegsmarine itself, and see if the invasion force had been so kind to wait for her. Then, having won the battle, have still to leave the scenario.

    This image show the position of the mines that effectively protected the RM convoys during the last part of the operations in NA.
    [​IMG]
    As I said, the Strait of Sicily is large 145 km in it's narrowest point, and, as you can see, the secure route was not even in the narrowest point.
    The Kriegsmarine, operating by day (the LW won the BoB in this scenario), can effectively block the Channel eastward and westward of the possible invasion routes posing smaller (and easier more dense) minefields than those the RM historically layed (and it layed them with the Malta air base active).
    The open water the Kriegsmarine would require for the invasion is a north-south channel (and a zone much close to the French coast to reach it). That's of no use for the RN, that had to enter in the Channel from east or west to intercept the invasion (steaming at full speed at night), so it has to pass over the minefields.
    Needles to say, with the RN gently providing to light itself, catching fire over the mines, even the fact that it's operating by night is not of great protection from the bombers.

    Yes, on one occasion.
    At that time, the RM had three convoys contemporary sailing every day in the Sicily Strait. Plenty of targets. And, on one occasion, one of them encountered the RN.

    Counter measures requires time. Not a swift action to wipe out the invasion force once. Do you checked the Force-K fate? Of 8 ships, two lost (one was a cruiser, mines are effective even to bigger ships) and one damaged (37.5% losses) to have entered in a minefield (not the vast ones of 1943), and they didn't tried to continue pursuing the RM convoy after realizing they were in a minefield. They only tried to leave it after the first explosion whit all the possible calm.

    Cannons do not defeat mines.
     
  20. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Let me see if I have this right.

    Germans have set up shop in Channel ports, they merrily proceed to place minefields across the English channel on both sides of the planned invasion route. They are doing this in view of English observers (at least in good weather), in spite of English minesweepers, in spite of English shore batteries ( or have the Luftwaffe knocked them out too?) and with little or no practical surface fleet after the Norway debacle.

    Germans have available in late summer/early fall of 1940.

    Admiral Scheer
    Hipper
    Emden
    Koln
    Nurnberg
    11 destroyers (?)
    8 older torpedo boats/small destroyers
    8-12 of the of the 1935 type torpedo boats.
    10 F type escorts
    40-60 mine sweepers ?
    40-50 S boats?

    So basically 2 heavy Cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 2 flotillas of destroyers, a flotilla of torpedo boats, a flotilla of escorts/sloops and then the odds and sods and motor boats.

    The Luftwaffe will have to do the bulk of the work but since the British can afford to loose 3-4 ships of every German one (or more if it stops the invasion) that is a tall order, especially considering the the Luftwaffe not only can't operate at night against ships effectively but there will be days when the weather prohibits flying but ships can still operate.

    The Channel could become a scene of mine, counter mine, and sweep with numerous mine losses on both sides.

    Many British destroyers were fitted with high speed sweeps and many of them ( and some cruisers) were fitted for mine laying.

    The invasion is not a long campaign. It either works in a few weeks or it doesn't, if it doesn't it will be several years before the Germans can try again. They would have to build back up the fleet of barges and landing craft.
     
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