Much increased co-operation within Axis countries in technical and tactical matters?

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tomo pauk

Creator of Interesting Threads
Apr 3, 2008
Or, in other words, a better and earlier co-op instead of it's sloppy & belated historical counterpart as we know it.
The 'cut off' date is 27th September 1940, the day Tripartite part is signed. The 'minor' Axis countries, whether the ones that wanted or the ones that were pressured into the Axis sphere are also included.
Scope of cooporation include: electronics (radios, radars, underwater detectors, other 'supportive' electronics), aircraft (whether whole A/C or parts and components), armament (from SMGs to torpedoes), other ship-, aircraft- and AFV-specific systems, etc, plus the means to employ the weapons of war. Vehicles - from trucks to tanks. Timing is very important - Germany has yet to defeat UK and very soon the USSR, Italy has to do a lot of catch up in mids of the war, while Japan is in big expansion in Asia both in 1940 and 1941. Minor countries need their gear and tactics updated, lest they will be a burden to the 'major' countries.

To start the ball rolling - radar technology & actual sets, from Germany to Italy and Japan.
Japanese expertise on aircraft carrier design, construction and operation to Germany. German pilots, RLM staff and designers from Messerschmidt, Arado, etc. travel to Japan to fly off IJN carriers, observe and learn about naval aircraft design. Carriers Graf Zeppelin and Peter Strasser complete on-time, without a list, silly catapult trollies, etc. Japan has no catapult tech, so they‘ll likely recommend omitting this feature. In return, Japan gets drawings and examples to license build the BMW 801, including the Fw 190’s cowling and cooling fan.

Also, there needs to be cooperation of cryptography and signals. The Finns are ahead of the game. Finnish Defence Intelligence Agency - Wikipedia
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The Japanese received five Bf109Es and one Fw190A-5 for evaluation and they (for some reason) weren't impressed.
They also had about 15 other German types, some were used and others never made it past evaluation.
The Japanese also evaluated both the Caproni Ca.135 and the Fiat Br.20 and of the two, decided to purchase about 70 Br.20s for their Chinese campaign.
Germany/Japan: OK, we have the goods, how to deliver them?

In the nightmarish (for the Allies) scenario the most efficient Axis East-West cooperation would be achieved with USSR remained "neutral" as it was until 1941 but with more German/Japanese transit allowed through the Soviet ports and rail network. So not just blueprints, manuals, and occasional prototypes but regular and more substantial shipments are sent forth and back.
Probably, the "division of labor" could become the apex of such cooperation, when whole aircraft and engines and other equipment are shipped. For example, eastbound: jet/rocket engines and aircraft airframes, radars, missiles. Westbound: the best piston-engined airframes and (probably) engines, torpedoes, rocket bombs. This list will rise considerably if we go beyond aviation. Such a high level of cooperation, however, would require USSR to get involved as another "partner in crime".

If we remain in real history, a reliable logistics system (subject all political and diplomatic issues are settled) remains as one of the pre-conditions. U-boat voyages are long and perilous. Berlin and Tokyo need to work hard to organize safe air routes, several of them to provide some redundancy. Refuelling stations are a must, some of them in the enemy territory, other in the ocean (weather permitting).
An opportunity for some less known aircraft to shine? Ju 252, Bv 238, Ki-92 later. A sensible chance for Me 264?
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Germany/Japan: OK, we have the goods, how to deliver them?
IMO, most useful cooperation will occur prewar. It‘s pre-Sept 1939 that Germany needs help on carrier warfare, Japan needs aero engine advancement, and the beginnings of (whatever is then available) shipboard radar from Germany to Japan.

After the shooting starts its more about sharing IP and technological advances, such as Germany and Japan sharing fuel refining, radar tech, signals/cryptography,
Does Germany really need aircraft carriers? Hear me out. I’ve been reading up on the RN carriers. They needed armoured (see what I did there?) flight decks because they operated within hostile land based air. That same reason should then hold true for the DKM. They were the “hostile”.
Surface units of the DKM were bottled up by the RN. It seems that the German surface fleet had operated mainly as a fleet-in-being, rarely able to sortie. Torpedo tech and Kate torpedo bombers would be very useful. Italy, however, would be a better recipient of a couple of flight decks.
Italy had a respectable navy. Add quality radar sets for the capital ships and you have a potent navy. Fighters for the Italian carriers could be the A5M if the IJN wanted to keep quiet about the A6M.
Having an Admiral Cunningham for the Italian Navy would probably have been best.
German carrier aviation is a dead end. Very useful for the allies as a sink/toilet for the Germans to pour money and effort into for very little result.
The Germans could not outbuild the British in WW I and could not do it in WW II.
British find out the Germans are building more carriers than the Graf Zeppelin, or completing ship # 2 faster or even trying to convert Ocean Liners/ fast fighters and the British respond by building/converting more of their own.
Germany, while not land-locked, has a difficult time getting access to the open ocean. Investing in large numbers of ships that may or may not make it past the British Isles into open Ocean (and returning) seems like a dubious investment. Enough investment to make the British invest even more but there was never going to be a decisive battle between the The RN and the German navy, carriers or no carriers, that the Germans were really going to come out ahead on. A couple of carriers is going to make about zero difference to operations in Northern Russia/Baltic/Gulf of Finland that land based air couldn't do better.
Carriers tend to be submarine magnets, unless the Germans change their destroyer designs they have no good A/S escorts for the proposed carriers. (Their existing destroyers were short ranged and had somewhat fragile machinery).

It is not enough to have the plans/prototypes for many electronic devices of the late 30s and early 40s. You have to have an industrial base that can actually make the stuff in large quantities. If you are having trouble supplying existing aircraft (and tanks) with reliable radios then building hundreds of radar sets seems a bit of a stretch. Especially building sets for use in ships at sea for long periods of time or sets in aircraft hundreds of miles away from the factories that make the sets/spare parts and operating in areas where the climate is not friendly to electronic equipment.
The Italians had two carriers under development in WWII: RM Sparviero and RM Aquila, neither of which were completed.
They did come under German control after Italy capitulated and they did nothing with them.
Same goes for the French carrier MN Joffre, which the Germans captured. Even though it was close to a third of the way completed at the time, the Germans ignored it.
Does Germany really need aircraft carriers?
Absolutely they do not. Nor do the Germans need battleships.

The Nazi philosophy is all about conquering the east, but their military planning and procurement missed the mark. The Germans need the right stuff and in massive quantities to take the USSR. Anything else, like aircraft carriers is a distraction. So, yes it’s tanks, artillery tractors (instead of tens of thousands of horses), halftracks, fighters, strike, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. But also a massive increase in logistical capabilities, all-terrain trucks, fuel transports, all-weather kit, engineering, and a huge improvement in fuel production and transport capabilities. Plus U-Boats, lots more boats to slow Wally aid to the USSR. Nothing else matters, if the USSR is not defeated by the end of 1941 all is lost.

Basically, unless the Italians or Japanese have something to contribute to Barbarossa it‘s a big danke nein. If there’s one thing the Italians can do to help the Germans it’s not to get bogged down in Greece and North Africa and thus causing a delay of Barbarossa and a reduction in available troops. So that’s the question here.... what technology or equipment can the Germans offer the Italians so that the latter can win in Greece, the Mediterranean and North Africa without direct German participation?
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Germany: Hey Japan! Can you offer military assistance?
Japan: Of course! We got suicide planes, suicide torpedoes, suicide anti tank weapons.....
Germany: you have any weapons that don't involve suicide?
Japan: Nambu Type 14 pistol?
Germany: Hell's bells.
A few points

A lot of the desirable gear is secret squirrel stuff and highly unlikely to be given away freely. A Mauser K98K is not radar.

Naval strategy is built strategy so 1940 is not the time for a helping hand. Had the Japanese helped in 1933 then yeah different story.

The Japanese would often import single examples of western designs of aircraft to be nosey and see how it compares to their own crates. They may take ideas but with the Me 109 or Fw 190 they had their own fighters either flying or on the books which matched either. Japan and Italy has limited industrial capacity so building a German tank or fighter was going to be a tall order.

By 1942 the IJN needed radar and lots of em. So that would be top on the wish list.
The Germans could have been given complete plans of the Hiryū or even the Shōkaku class in 1938. It would have done them little good. Even two Shokaku's would have been little more than white elephants in the German Navy as the Germans had no way to escort them without an extensive tanker network.

The Graf Zeppelin was designed with some rather strange Ideas like being able to duke it out with enemy cruisers in a gun battle or being able to shoot up merchant ships with its 15cm guns. However they did specify (there is no way to know if the ship could actually do it) a range of 8,000 miles at 19kts which is not too bad a benchmark, however the German Destroyers of the time had ranges of 2000-2600 nm at 19 kts.
The Japanese carriers are credited with 9,700nm at 18kts. The Japanese expected to escort their carriers with cruisers and destroyers so the Carriers would ideally not have to deal with enemy surface ships. The Fubuki class is supposed to have gone 5,000nm at 14kts. later classes varied but there is no doubt that Japanese Destroyers had much longer range/endurance than German Destroyers.
Germans had no light Cruisers to accompany carriers. The Nurnberg was good for 3900 nm at just 10kts. That is using the Diesel engines on the center propeller shaft.
They never had more than two heavy cruisers operational at the same time. The Pocket battleships have range but are lacking a bit in speed and are hard pressed to defend themselves against either air or submarine attack.
The Germans, for an effective carrier group (even of just two carriers) need a different construction program of different types ships (Cruisers and Destroyers) in order to have a semblance of an effective carrier group. Their destroyers could go about 5 days at 19kts before emptying the fuel tanks and since no captain or group commander wants to be caught much below half fuel that means refueling every 2-3 days or designing/building much longer ranged destroyers.

Such a program would have a significant effect on the U-boat building program.
A German carrier would have been a giant piñata and have the life expectancy of an egg sandwich.

The Blücher would have had stiff competition for shortest naval career.

Scharnhorst had to have 11 inch guns so maybe with Japanese support maybe have it's 15 inchers. And the Type 93 torpedo.

Can you imagine selling the Kongos to the Kriegsmarine? The RN would have had a coronary.
I did not know Italy was working on aircraft carriers.
The Germans were also wirking on two other carriers, Jade and Elbe, which were to be converted from liners. Neither got very far but in a twist of irony, their sister ship was converted to a carrier by the Japanese. It was the Shinyo.
The Dutch Navy also had two carriers, which were merchant ships with a flight deck for ASW aircraft to operate from.
Germans were least in need of help with working gear. It were Italians and Japanese in need of help, plus the 'minors'.
German aircraft carrier is a pie in the sky for this topic, but perhaps not for the topic of it's own?
What Germans will need from their allies are some raw materials, like nickel, cobalt and chromium, and even copper.

My favorite German-Japanese love child is the Fw 190 airframe outfitted with Japanese engine and guns. All made in Japan, for obvious reasons.
Italians - they certainly need help with increase of production of the DB 601s there. So ship them a good chunk of machines from the captured Hispano Suiza factory to speed up the setting up of their production lines. French workers might find working in Italy much more appealing than working in Germany. Italians might use French tanks, upgunned with Italian guns.
Barter captured gear, especially if it fits logistically, with the 'minors'.
The Germans were also wirking on two other carriers
The surface fleet was a total waste of time, talent and treasure. No, it’s not a perfect one for one conversion, but the steel that went into Bismarck and Tirpitz could have instead made thousands of tanks or hundreds of U-boats.

Nazi doctrine is about taking the USSR, battleships and carriers don’t contribute to that. U-boats? Yes, because in greater number they’ll effectively subdue convoys to the USSR so it can be defeated. >200,000 tons of additional u-boats will be a lot more effective than the four capital ships the Germans built and the planned carriers.

Did the Japanese or Italians have any submarine tech the Germans could use? Japanese Long Lance of course, but what of construction, materials, propulsion, batteries, radios, habitation, endurance, etc?

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