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#41 KingSargent

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 1602 PM

Narrower than some of the rivers they crossed in Russia, with less current.

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Is true, but I don't believe that PanzerArmee Afrika included bridging columns... :D
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#42 KingSargent

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 1654 PM

Argus/Shane: The formatting IS getting a bit weird so I'll just try to cover your points.

On the questions of "blockading" the Med, I believe you are envisioning the Allies controlling the whole Med Basin. They didn't need to. Until the Axis went into Tunisia after TORCH, the only port in Libya was Tripoli. And Tripoli's docking facilities could only service 3-4 ships at a time (depending on size) and Tripoli's cranes were unable to handle 60-ton loads, which is why the Germans had Tigers in Tunisia but Rommel never had any in Libya/Cyrenaica.
Benghazi and Tobruk are marked on maps as ports (especially in wargames where they have infinite capacity to supply armies :D ) but they were very small affairs with very limited capacity. If the Allies can deny access to Tripoli they will strangle Axis North Africa. So submarines and mining a/c could block one port and in effect "blockade" the entire coast. Axis ASW sucked - at least in comparison with the RN and USN - and all fuel for North Afrika had to be brought in through Tripoli; so airborne ASW operations would have to fly from Sicily/Italy once Tripoli's stocks of avgas are gone. And Italian warships had very short range, so their 'loiter time' in the Gulf of Tripoli would be limited, and their navy was perpetually starved for oil anyway.
Naturally if the Allies are pushed across the Suez they will be unable to block Tripoli; but the Axis will have a very long supply line until they can get Alexandria and Suez operational, and very limited capacity at the Tripoli end.

Allied supply after the loss of Suez would not necessarily have to come overland from the Persian Gulf, there is Aqaba. I'm sure it had very limited capacity, but it could help, and the Allies were much better at building and improving ports than the Axis was (and better at building/repairing pipelines ;) ). Access to food stocks and water in the ME would lessen the supply burden, except in Sinai.

Like you, I think that if the Axis got as far as Suez there would be a 'major reassessment'. Turkey might join the Axis in which case the Allies would really be in trouble in the ME. Or the CW might quit... :(
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#43 swerve

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 1740 PM

Is true, but I don't believe that PanzerArmee Afrika included bridging columns... :D

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Ah. Got me there :lol:
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#44 larrikin

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 2338 PM

The real reason for the RNs desire to keep the Canal was Haifa. That was where their oil refinery was.
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#45 Argus

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 0341 AM

Sarge.

I do take your point on Tripoli and the ports in libya. Not meaning to get snotty but I am aware (in rough terms) of their historical capabilities and issues such as crane capacity and berthing. My point was that Libyan ports become almost irrevelivent as soon as the Axis gets Alex working. I know the RN can blockade the western Med from Gib, and we agree they cannot do much in the eastern basin without Alex/Haifa etc. So the loss of the eastern Med ports make the blockage of the western med ones much less critical - Untill the land battle moves back to the western end with TORCH or the equivilent.

To blockade the Axis in North Africa when they hold both Libyan and Egyptian ports requires an operational base in the Eastern Med and that would have to be supplied overland if Suez was in axis hands.

As far as bridgeing equipment for the AK, I did see that point comming <pats self on back ;) > and I really don't think the lack of specialist kit would hold back the Germans for any great length of time. You said it yourself, the Canal is pretty useless for the Axis, so there would be little penalty to them in blocking it off for a period of time. Say sinking a couple of coasters and bridgeing across them. Improvision with local materials is something engineers tend to be pretty good at.

ASW and Avgas - air bridge? If they could do it historicaly for the AK's tanks as a suppliment to the tankers, then I'm sure they could keep a few ASW planes flying, Aunty Ju to the rescue.

Ports I agree they will have a long supply line untill they get Alex working, but then they will also have un fettered use of all the minor ports as well, Tripoli, Benghazi, Torbruk, Bardia, Matruth. They might not be worth much individually, but together that add up to a reasonable capacity. Look if historically the Axis could reach El Al and 'just' support the combined army, under active interdiction by air and sea. Is an extra hundred miles in the face of less interdiction really so impossiable? If all eslse fails hey can float drums over the beach I suppose.

Look as I said earlier, I can't see the axis blitzing straight across Suez, no doubt they would push if only to keep the CW off ballance, but I would expect a strategic pause in de Nile valley untill they could get Alex and Port Said up and working. So they would face a week or three on 'life support,' dependant on the long line back across the desert. But then in the same period the Cw is not going to be much of a position to counter attack in force is it? They have to establish a new line back to where ever, reorganise the forces that escaped from Eqypt etc.

Sinai is hardly a market garden, but then its also a damn sight closer to Egypt than it is to Tripoli. Those local resource that the Axis can use in Egypt are still going to be an advantage to them in crossing the Sinai and still be valuable into palestine and beyond. Food and water are both portable, they don't turn to dust as soon as they cross the canal :).

Aquaba - cue Peter O'Tool on a camel. It might be useful for a little while, but it is rather close to Egypt and axis airpower once it moves forward to those nice RAF fields around Cairo (and gets a supply of fuel of course). Anyway I'm prety sure the road net from Aquaba up into the Sinai isn't much to write home about.

shane
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#46 Ken Estes

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 0406 AM

Even if the long shot worked and Rommel defeated the CW at Alamein, the push to the Nile, Alexandria, Cairo, Suez [and these are serious populated areas] would leave the German-Italian African Army perilously stretched out. If the Med Fleet [less heavy units I suppose] decided to hole up in Haifa, backed by the Desert Air Force, all supplied via Acaba, there is not a clear LOC to keep the Axis supplied. Even before that happens, I wonder what Auckinleck's last defense scheme was for the Nile and how well the 8th Army might have extricated itself from Alamein to man it...certainly Rommel had no resources for a pursuit. A bit dodgy for the Axis, as the Brits call it?
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#47 KingSargent

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 0457 AM

Sarge.

I do take your point on Tripoli and the ports in libya. Not meaning to get snotty but I am aware (in rough terms) of their historical capabilities and issues such as crane capacity and berthing. My point was that Libyan ports become almost irrevelivent as soon as the Axis gets Alex working.

Well, depending on how far the Allies are from Alex. If they can base planes just east of the Suez Canal, they can interdict the port. And they can base subs in Cyprus and Haifa to keep contesting the Axis use of Alex.

I know the RN can blockade the western Med from Gib, and we agree they cannot do much in the eastern basin without Alex/Haifa etc. So the loss of the eastern Med ports make the blockage of the western med ones much less critical - Untill the land battle moves back to the western end with TORCH or the equivilent.

My point is that it will take the Axis much longer to recondition Alex than the Allies did for Cherbourg, Brest, Naples, etc. WE had special engineering units for just that task, when they weren't rebuilding damaged ports they were improving or building new ones.

To blockade the Axis in North Africa when they hold both Libyan and Egyptian ports requires an operational base in the Eastern Med and that would have to be supplied overland if Suez was in axis hands.

Well, if the Axis gets as far as Alex, it will be pretty obvious the RN and RAF won't be able to interdict the whole coastline from thr Nile to Tunisia, so it becomes moot at that point.

 

As far as bridgeing equipment for the AK, I did see that point comming <pats self on back ;) > and I really don't think the lack of specialist kit would hold back the Germans for any great length of time. You said it yourself, the Canal is pretty useless for the Axis, so there would be little penalty to them in blocking it off for a period of time. Say sinking a couple of coasters and bridgeing across them. Improvision with local materials is something engineers tend to be pretty good at.

Well, I neglected it before, but before the Axis gets to Suez they have to cross the Nile. It's fairly wide at Cairo, but trying to cross the Delta between Alex and Suez would be a real trip. Several trips actually, they would have to build a bunch of bridges to get across all the little drainages of the Delta, and the ground won't support vehicles, it's like gluey gumbo.
As for sinking a couple of coasters and using them to bridge the Canal (under fire), where will they get the coasters? The Brits would be very careful to remove or blow in place everything that floated. And Egypt is rather short of bridge-building materials.

ASW and Avgas - air bridge? If they could do it historicaly for the AK's tanks as a suppliment to the tankers, then I'm sure they could keep a few ASW planes flying, Aunty Ju to the rescue.

And what happened to the "air bridge" when the Allies got fighters within range of it? I refer to the one to Tunisia.

Ports I agree they will have a long supply line untill they get Alex working, but then they will also have un fettered use of all the minor ports as well, Tripoli, Benghazi, Torbruk, Bardia, Matruth. They might not be worth much individually, but together that add up to a reasonable capacity. Look if historically the Axis could reach El Al and 'just' support the combined army, under active interdiction by air and sea. Is an extra hundred miles in the face of less interdiction really so impossiable? If all eslse fails hey can float drums over the beach I suppose.

That didn't work out too well when the Japanese tried it on The Enema Place. :blink: :P
Oh yes, I agree that the Axis could build up their supply. If determined enough and if they got enough support from home they could probably get across the water obstacles and push forward again. But they'll have a long way to go, and it won't be a walkover.
I'm not saying it was completely impossible, I am explaining how wrong the armchair strategists are when they blithely say, "Just cross the Canal and go the Persian Gulf!" Sure. Right... :unsure:

Look as I said earlier, I can't see the axis blitzing straight across Suez, no doubt they would push if only to keep the CW off ballance, but I would expect a strategic pause in de Nile valley untill they could get Alex and Port Said up and working. So they would face a week or three on 'life support,'

Probably a lot longer than that unless Hitler and Mussolini were really interested in improving the support sent to Africa. That would probably depend on how things were going in Russia.

dependant on the long line back across the desert. But then in the same period the Cw is not going to be much of a position to counter attack in force is it? They have to establish a new line  back to where ever, reorganise the forces that escaped from Eqypt etc.

They wouldn't be running any offensives any time soon, but I think they could make it very hard for the Axis to attack themselves.

Sinai is hardly a market garden, but then its also a damn sight closer to Egypt than it is to Tripoli. Those local resource that the Axis can use in Egypt are still going to be an advantage to them in crossing the Sinai and still be valuable  into palestine and beyond. Food and water are both portable, they don't turn to dust as soon as they cross the canal :).

Water they would have. Food would be problematical at first, depending on how much the British left. If they have to wait for Egyptian farmers to plant, grow, and harvest, they could be hungry for a while.

Aquaba - cue Peter O'Tool on a camel. It might be useful for a little while, but it is rather close to Egypt and axis airpower once it moves forward to those nice RAF fields around Cairo (and gets a supply of fuel of course). Anyway I'm prety sure the road net from Aquaba up into the Sinai isn't much to write home about.

shane

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Aqaba is actually a fair distance from the Egyptian side of the Canal, and I doubt the Germans had air charts to navigate across one of the most desolate places on Earth. I know: "Fly straight East until you hit water. Try to miss the mountains. Turn left and follow water until there is no more water. The port is around there someplace. Sieg Heil!"
As for the "nice RAF airfields" the Axis would probably be better off building new ones than trying to repair the demolitions. Of course if the RAF handled the demolition as well as they did in Malaya, the Germans and Italians would get nice ready-to-go airfields... just like the Japanese did... :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
As for Aqaba's transit net, it had connections to Amman, and Amman had connections to Palestine and Palestine had roads down into the Sinai. I don't know what shape they were in. There were some railroads too, but I don't know the capacity.
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#48 swerve

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 0655 AM

If the Med Fleet [less heavy units I suppose] decided to hole up in Haifa, backed by the Desert Air Force, all supplied via Acaba, there is not a clear LOC to keep the Axis supplied.


Aqaba ia one of the most easily blockaded ports in the world. You can see across the straits on a clear day. Axis air, plus a few U-boats (they're small: they can get through a mostly blocked canal), could limit the use of Aqaba rather severely. They don't actually need to bomb the port: just sink ships. Also, there were a few crap roads & exactly one single track railway running north from there. I doubt it would contribute much in the way of supplies.

The land route from Iraq looks much better. Also lousy roads (Tarmac? What's that?), & a solitary single-track railway, but more roads, & assuming continued Turkish neutrality, that railway is not subject to Axis air interdiction, plus ports at the other end safe from both U-boats & Axis bombers.

However, any route would be very thin.

One question is, how far up the Nile would the Axis go? It's likely British forces would hold on in Sudan, supplied via Port Sudan & the railway.

I think King overstates the difficulties of crossing the Nile delta. There are - and were - roads & railways from Alexandria (west of the delta) to Cairo (south of it) & Cairo to Suez (done that route :) ), Ismailia & Port Said, & several railway lines through the delta, as well as numerous roads. The British army would have to do a lot of bridge demolition. The main railways in 1935 are shown at -

http://mikes.railhis...n.net/r050.html

which also mentions train repair works.

Edited by swerve, 19 September 2005 - 0715 AM.

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#49 KingSargent

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 1335 PM

I think King overstates the difficulties of crossing the Nile delta. There are - and were - roads & railways from Alexandria (west of the delta) to Cairo (south of it) & Cairo to Suez (done that route :) ), Ismailia & Port Said, & several railway lines through the delta, as well as numerous roads. The British army would have to do a lot of bridge demolition. The main railways in 1935 are shown at -

http://mikes.railhis...n.net/r050.html

which also mentions train repair works.

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Having been on a bus from Alex to Cairo, to Suez, it is not necessary to cross the Delta. You take a road on the West bank of the Nile from Alex to Cairo, cross the Nile at Cairo after looking at pyramids, and go to Suez on the East bank. To go straight east from Alex to Suez is another game.
Yes there are routes and there are lots of bridges.
As for demolishing bridges, US Engineers blew up many Belgian bridges during the Battle of the Bulge. I see no reason Royal Engineers would be less efficient.
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