What if the eastern front closed down in spring 43?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Just Schmidt, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. Just Schmidt

    Just Schmidt Member

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    A couple of threads right now discuss the consequences of ww2 not having happened, at least at the historical time. The problem, in my opinion, is that it is impossible to Guess what would have happened after september 39. The argument that the Germany couldn't have launched the war in, say, 45 because it was insane, dosn't cut mustard. For one thing Hitler didn't set out to launch a world war in 39, he just bargained for a little war. The problem is not only that people like Hitler, Stalin and Mussoline are considered rational agents, but also, to put it basely, that **** happens. If Hitler refrains from his attack on poland, do we expect Mussolini to sit on his hands for 5 years? How does japan react to the economic squese? Will we see another fascist coup in Europe, possibly followed by a French civil war?

    So ta make matters simpler, i suggest the following scenario: Up to november 42 everything expires as in Our timeline, but on 20th of november Paulus is killed in a soviet air raid. Von Manstaein is appointed head of 6th army, and upon experiencing the hopeless situation (especially the futility of supplying by air) he boldly ignores Hitlers stand fast order, and on christmass eve 1942 about half of the 6th army makes it out of the encirclement without most of their Heavy Equipment. Equally miraculus the german forces in Caucasus are extricated, and the front is, barely, stabilized at mius and donets rivers.

    Upon flying to Mansteins headquarters to personally sack him, hitler and other top brazz are killed when his personal Condor breaks its back in a sudden Blizzard. A military government takes over in Germany, stabilises the front in Southern Russia, but are frustrated in negotiating a general Peace by the total surrender condition. When Katyn is made Public in april, the US and british government decides that enough is enough, and threatens end of lend lease supplies unless Stalin substantially changes his polish policies.

    The outcome is that Germany and USSR comes to an understanding. The status quo of 41 is reinstated, with the exception that USSR gets predominance in Bulgaria (never at war with the USSR to start with), and common pressure is put on Tyrkey to give up Istanbul and the Straits (formally) to Bulgaria. In Return Stalin agrees to deliver Germany oil and other Strategic materials, in exchange for german Technology, including jet power and rader. USSR goes back to being neutral, and Stalin sits back and watch with considerable interest the continued world struggle, intent on this time to break the non agression pact before the Germans do.

    Now Germany, 3 years late, finally can concentrate on getting it's airpower in shape to repell the coming onslaught of the western Powers, naval Power in the meantime having provedtoo vulnerable at least near air bases, With the possible exception of Advanced enough submarines.

    Is it too late for Germany to increase and change its air force so she can at least achieve a stalemate, continuing to dominate the European continent? What course could, and should, be taken?
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    No but that's rather beside the point.

    Without Russian front 1943 Germany will have four times as many first rate divisions in the west, twice as many combat aircraft, a lot more flak weapons and they will have a lot more fuel available for both vehicles and aircraft. Supply of nickel from Finland and chromium from Turkey will be secure. Chances are Spain and Portugal will continue to ship tungsten. Millions of Ukrainian refugees will continue flooding into Germany so there will be no labor shortage.

    Under such circumstances I doubt USA and Britain can seize Sicily, much less Italy and France.

    USA Lend-Lease to Soviet Union was dependent upon an agreement which required Soviets to drive Japan from Manchuria three months after German is defeated. In this scenario Soviets have broken the agreement so Lend-Lease shipments to Russia come to a screeching halt. Without American economic assistance Soviet military production will plummet, which means they are no longer a major threat to Europe anytime soon.

    Why would USA and Britain continue the war under such circumstances?
     
  3. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Because the WAlies cannot be beaten Germany is bankrupt and there is a Bucket of Sunshine coming in 2 years.
     
  4. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    There were many who were still itching for a chance to prove air power could win the war by itself.

    Russia or no Russia, 'The Bomb' is still on its way.
     
  5. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    A couple of things here: first off, King Boris of Bulgaria was well thought of in Germany and it would be very unlikely that Germany would have just tossed Bulgaria to the Soviets. Plus, it wasn't until 1944 that Bulgaria tried to distance itself from the Axis by declaring neutrality and requesting the German military to leave. Romania switched sides in August of that same year and allowed the Red army to cross through it's territory to Bulgaria's borders. Then on 8 September, the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria and invaded.

    As far as the "bomb" goes, one of the reasons the Allies were working so hard on developing an A-bomb, is because they thought that Germany was well advanced in developing their own. After Germany surrendered, there was no longer an urgency for the program.
     
  6. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Aside from that, if Germany had been able to maintain Air Superiority with air power focused on the Western Front and improved military leadership addressing at least some of the efficiency problems hampering Germany, getting bombers into Germany ... and back out would be increasingly difficult.

    On top of that, the German Nuclear program might have improved in that period but aside from that they had very serious potential in chemical and biological weapons. Germany may have not have been willing to go that deep into breaking the Geneva Protocol during periods of conventional warfare, but if the allies went nuclear, counter-attacks with chemical weapons (be it botulinum toxin or synthetic nerve agents) were very possible.

    That Germany's alliance with Japan would complicate matters too, if they didn't break it as part of the armistice with the USSR. Still, the relative token support Germany offered Japan during the war probably wouldn't have stopped more focused Allied efforts in the Pacific ... though continued aggression over Western Europe might have eaten up more American resources and slowed progress in the Pacific. (possibly to the point that Japan might have an operational Nuclear Bomb of their own)
     
  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #7 stona, Apr 13, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
    The Germans were years from a workable weapon, no matter what nonsense conspiracy theorists have come up with in recent years. The reason the atomic research program in Germany was so minimal after 1942 is because the German scientists themselves had reached the same conclusion. The Nazis wanted quick fixes, not expensive projects that might pay off in five or ten years time.
    There were some fundamental errors made, mostly by Heisenberg, in the calculations on which they were basing their program. It's why they were all so surprised when not only did the Americans produce a weapon in 1945, but it was also small enough to be dropped from an aeroplane.

    The Japanese were probably decades away. It is telling that as the Americans prepared to use nuclear weapons against targets in Japan, the Japanese were launching primitive balloons with a small payload of anti personnel bombs into the jet stream, in an attempt to target the western seaboard of the USA.

    Take a look at the resources allotted to the Manhattan project and compare those committed by the Germans or Japanese. Whether the US would still have been prepared to build the plants and spend the money in the scenarios proposed above is a difficult question. I doubt it, but they might still have come up with a workable 'Little Boy' type Uranium based device in the 1940s. One things for sure, without such plants and investment the Germans and Japanese were not going to produce the required amounts of Uranium for a weapons programme, let alone Plutonium.

    Every 15 year old Physics student knows how a nuclear weapon works and the better ones could draw a diagram to show the operation of such a device. Actually producing the materials and making the thing work is an entirely different kettle of fish.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  8. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    #8 GrauGeist, Apr 13, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
    The Allies didn't know that at the time.

    As far as the "primative balloon" weapons go, they weren't anti-personnel bombs, they were incendiary. It was the intention to have these bombs fall among the vast forests of the Pacific Northwest, starting massive fires and in doing so, create confusion, panic at the same time consuming manpower and resorces to contain them.

    While it was a sound idea with plenty of potential, seasonal timing and unpredictable jet stream currents denied the Japanese any success.
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    It was an act of desperation and highlights the parlous state of Japanese war industries at the time. It was almost completely ineffective. 90% of the balloons never even made it to the US. At least it was relatively cheap, a fully equipped balloon cost the equivalent of about $2,000 dollars.
    By contrast, the US spent at least 2 billion dollars on the Manhattan project, but at least it worked. I reckon that's at least 30 billion of todays dollars.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    No but they can certainly go bankrupt in a futile effort to destroy Europe. Just as happened to Britain historically.
     
  11. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    And here's a little bit of irony:
    One of the balloon bombs actually landed near the Manhattan projects facility, in March of 1945, exploding and shutting down power to the reactor system. Power was quickly restored and all was well...
     
  12. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    Unfortunately, with no prospect of a ground war, this might be achieved when Britain ends up putting all of its eggs in the 'Bomber Command Basket'.

    Before the Soviet Union and the United States joined the conflict, Britain's plan was for a front-line strength of 4,000 bombers - three times what was ultimately achieved.

    After Barbarossa and Pearl Harbour the situation changed significantly.
     
  13. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    With German efforts more squarely placed towards night bombing defenses, the losses may have been unsustainable there as well. Not to mention the public/political situation building up as things progressed. (assuming a radical shift in Germany's government and corresponding diplomatic emphasis.

    You could compare the situation to Japan on the defensive, but in 1943, Germany had a LOT more area to disperse infrastructure into compared to mainland Japan in 1945, and much more hardened infrastructure for the less dispersed portions. It's a bit late to address many of the Nazi's flawed strategic/economic planning, but at very least things might have started going in the right direction logistically speaking.


    And I failed to mention it earlier, but it's a topic that's been addressed in several past threads where atomic bombing over Europe has been suggested: the sorts of architecture used in Europe would be far more resistant to the first generation nuclear weapons than Japan was (for similar reasons to firebombings being even more devastating than the nuclear bombs in Japan -at least in the short term). Fallout might have made for some potential in a scorched earth strategy, but the initial impact would likely be lesser and with potentially horrific chemical/biological weapons as retaliation. (and Germany could easily target Britain, far closer to home than anything Japan could hit)

    Terror weapons/campaigns very rarely have the desired demoralizing/demotivational effect and usually backfire, further solidifying resistance and bitterness towards the enemy. The success of the atomic bombings of Japan is one of the very few examples where terror worked in ending conflict. (granted, the Japanese were all but beaten by that point anyway, so it was more a matter of shattering a more futile drive for honor to save face and fight to the last and make invasion attempts as bloody as possible -a simplification of the political/social situation in Japan, granted, but at least partially accurate)

    It would be more like the Battle of Britain in some respects, but on a different scale and without the naval advantages. (military government with more efficient coordination of Submarine + maritime patrol aircraft might have put a more serious dent in Atlantic supply lines though)
     
  14. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    This summary of German radar tech might be more relevant for this thread, particularly in the context of a millitary run German government breaking though some of the former Nazi politics and getting stuff online in the frontlines as well as having air/land/sea cooperation.

    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/aviation/luftwaffe-vs-ija-43102-post1198344.html#post1198344

     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #15 stona, Apr 22, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
    I've been wading through a lot of Manhattan related material of late.

    First to address when the allies became aware that the German effort had failed. This seems to be around mid 1944, but the effort to develop the US weapon continued unabated until the German surrender. Some had second thoughts at this point and it was Oppenheimer of all people who persuaded his colleagues to continue. His argument was essentially that the world should know that such a weapon existed as the United Nations was founded. This was not an argument for using it against Japan, many argued for some sort of public demonstration of the new weapon that did not involve killing hundreds of thousands of people. Many of the scientists working on the project had, to put it mildly, 'Liberal' views.

    Second a sense of proportion. The German effort in 1944 was at an experimental stage, there were maybe a few hundred people involved in the project. Most of the 'Manhattan District History' is now in the public domain. This is a diary written at the behest of General Grove during the project. This isn’t a history that Groves ever intended to publish, it is an internal record keeping system for someone who knew that over the course of his life, he (and others) would need to be able to access information about the decisions made during the making of the atomic bomb, sometimes to justify them. Wading through the thousands of miscellaneous papers associated with the project would be virtually impossible. With the benefit of this and other sources estimates for the total number of people employed on the Manhattan project have been made. They all broadly agree on a figure of around 500,000.

    Here's an interesting chart showing how many plants were involved in the production of Uranium from the 'District History'.

    [​IMG]

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  16. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Regardless of whether they knew any opponent was working on a bomb (or functioning nuclear reactor for power generation -apparently a bigger priority in Germany), it seems likely the sheer war-winning potential of the weapon would be enough to drive support. Aside from that, Germany DID have alternate resources for mass death type chemical/biological weapons that would have resulted in very blatant war crimes if deployed but could be seriously considered if nuclear weapons were used against Germany.

    On the note of nuclear weapons programs, the Allies seemed totally oblivious to the fact that the Japanese had not just one but two (Army and Navy in typical lack of cooperation) projects that were making far more progress than anything the Germans did. They didn't attempt breeding plutonium, but had put much effort into a U235 based bomb and developing and initiating uranium enrichment using thermal diffusion on an experimental and later industrial scale. (bombing forced industrial Uranium enrichment to be set up in Korea, and they may or may not have actually tested a weapon before the war's end -it may have been a 'fizzle' -as in undersized critical mass or assembled too slowly and with too low a uranium concentration with the simple gun-time arrangement -lower enriched uranium grades CAN be more effectively used with the more complex/experimental implosion type mechanism, particularly with a neutron detonation 'sparkplug' ... I don't recall mention of the specific mechanism intended for their Uranium bomb, but an implosion type would merit a test firing much more than the gun type -hence why Little Boy wasn't tested before deployment, the design was felt sound enough to be foolproof and besides that the US was unable to enrich enough Uranium for a test at the time -with Japan's more limited resources, a larger amount of lower enriched -barely- weapons usable Uranium may have been plausible, especially if their test bomb didn't actually work properly -not enriched enough and/or too little material or a flawed implosion type mechanism)
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #17 stona, Apr 23, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
    The fact that the US hadn't produced enough U235 for a test shot should give a clue as to what the Japanese programme was capable of. It's just not that easy to do. Several have tried and either struggled or failed, even with substantial information from successful projects.

    The US already had its sights set on Plutonium based devices, incredible when you consider that as the Manhattan project was set up there wouldn't have been enough Plutonium 'created' in the world to cover a pin head :)

    When an unmarked Pontiac sedan pulled up at the McDonald ranch at the Trinity site on 11th July 1945 it carried the entire world supply of Plutonium, about 5 Kg. The story goes that the driver asked for a receipt, approximate value $1,000,000,000. The story is probably apocryphal, but it shows what the other projects were up against.


    Cheers

    Steve
     
  18. Just Schmidt

    Just Schmidt Member

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    I always thought it remarkable that Germany didn't use chemical weapons in the end.

    Hitlers personal experiences may play a part, as certainly the risk of retaliation would do.

    In a discussion about the decision to use the Atomic bomb against japan, I read that the USA had the worlds largest store of Chemical weapons (can't remeber which book). Using them were one of the alternatives considered to bypass the need for an invasion of the Japanese home isles.
     
  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    General Groves had an eye on history. Here is a transcript made (by me) of a filmed post war interview in which he justified the use of the first bombs against Japanese cities.

    "It would have come out, sooner or later, in a Congressional hearing if nowhere else, just when we could have dropped the bomb if we didn't use it. And then, knowing American politics you know, as well as I do, there'd be elections fought on the basis that every mother whose son was killed after such and such a date, the blood is on the hands of the President."

    Not particularly eloquent, but he made a point difficult to refute.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  20. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    There were considerable stores of chemical weapons possessed by many countries at the time and the U.S. had a stockpile of them on hand in Europe in case the Germans used theirs. Hitler did not use what they had because he knew that would bring retaliation.

    The Japanese had chemical and biological weapons on hand - this fact was known by the Allies in the Pacific.
     
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