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Could The Germans Have Successfully Propagated Sealion Without Air Supremacy


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#1 On the way

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 0628 AM

I have always wondered why the Germans thought that they needed air superiority over Great Britain to successfully conduct Operation Seelowe and invade the UK.

 

If they had launched their planned invasion fleet from France, the RAF would have send bombers to attack the fleet, as well as escorts for these bombers. Rather then fly all over the UK attacking British airbases and targets at the limit of the 109's endurance, the British would be coming down to the English Channel. The Luftwaffe would have a shorter distance to travel to engage the RAF, and hence could fight for a longer time. As well, it would be the Germans who would be choosing the time and location of the engagement. Any German planes damaged would have a better chance to crash land in France and not have the pilots taken POW by the British if they had done the same over the UK. As well, any Germans shot down would have been over the Channel where they stand a 50-50 chance of being rescued.

 

The added bonus would be that it would also force the Royal Navy to enter the Channel to engage the German invasion fleet. In the Channel, the RN will be vulnerable to Luftwaffe dive bombing attacks from Stukas and possibly torpedo attacks from the Junker 88s and Heinkel 111. A serious blow could be delivered against the RN by experienced Luftwaffe ground attack units. At this time in the war, I believe the RN grossly underestimated the effectiveness of air attacks against ships, and hence they were vulnerable if they came within range of Luftwaffe units. Loss of several RN capital ships from a Channel battle would effects other battles down the road, especially in the Battle of Atlantic and the battles with other German capital ships like the Bismark, Graf Spee, Tirpitz, etc. 

 

Would the Germans has suffered losses in their invasion fleet? No doubt they would. And these losses might have been higher if there was RAF still around in strength. But I have to question how effective RAF attacks would have been in the face of constant and prolonged harassment and engagement by Luftwaffe fighters. I think that even a feint invasion to draw out all the RAF aircraft to the Channel might have been a better way to defeat the RAF.

 

Welcome any views on this.


Edited by On the way, 05 February 2020 - 0632 AM.

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#2 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 0639 AM

Yes, but it was not certain sinking ships was so easy at sea. And the standard of bombing of the Luftwaffe against coastal merchantmen was to say the least, mediocre.

 

Im not sure the HE111 or JU88 were even capable of torpedo attack in 1940 were they? I thought they only gained that capablity in 1941 as the war in the med expanded. I could be wrong.

 

A minefield would have been a far easier and more effective option. But you still had everything from Blenheims and Tiger Moths being converted to makeshift bombers. And as those makeshift bombers would, without a doubt, have been using poison gas.....


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#3 R011

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 0644 AM

SEELOEWE was so poorly planned that many people think it was just a bluff.

As for your scenario - the Luftwaffe would not be able to simultaneously interdict the Channel, cover the invasion fleet, fight the RAF, and provide fire support in lieu of artillery to invading ground forces. They just didn't have the numbers. Nor would the RAF allow them to try unmolested. Their job is simpler. Go where German aurcraft are and fight them. The Germans also did not have any bomber or Stuka crews trained in anti-shipping work at that time. Their record against manouvering ships was pitiful. Nor did they have night attack capability. As a cross Channel trip in the river barges they intended to yse would be over 24 hours long, RN destroyers already based in the Channel would slaughter them.
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#4 On the way

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 0654 AM

SEELOEWE was so poorly planned that many people think it was just a bluff.

As for your scenario - the Luftwaffe would not be able to simultaneously interdict the Channel, cover the invasion fleet, fight the RAF, and provide fire support in lieu of artillery to invading ground forces. They just didn't have the numbers. Nor would the RAF allow them to try unmolested. Their job is simpler. Go where German aurcraft are and fight them. The Germans also did not have any bomber or Stuka crews trained in anti-shipping work at that time. Their record against manouvering ships was pitiful. Nor did they have night attack capability. As a cross Channel trip in the river barges they intended to yse would be over 24 hours long, RN destroyers already based in the Channel would slaughter them.

Ok, that makes sense. Thanks


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#5 On the way

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 0655 AM

Yes, but it was not certain sinking ships was so easy at sea. And the standard of bombing of the Luftwaffe against coastal merchantmen was to say the least, mediocre.

 

Im not sure the HE111 or JU88 were even capable of torpedo attack in 1940 were they? I thought they only gained that capablity in 1941 as the war in the med expanded. I could be wrong.

 

A minefield would have been a far easier and more effective option. But you still had everything from Blenheims and Tiger Moths being converted to makeshift bombers. And as those makeshift bombers would, without a doubt, have been using poison gas.....

I just researched it. Luftwaffe operationally used torpedoes in 1941, with KG 26. So, no they were not available for Seelowe.


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#6 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 0712 AM

 

Yes, but it was not certain sinking ships was so easy at sea. And the standard of bombing of the Luftwaffe against coastal merchantmen was to say the least, mediocre.

 

Im not sure the HE111 or JU88 were even capable of torpedo attack in 1940 were they? I thought they only gained that capablity in 1941 as the war in the med expanded. I could be wrong.

 

A minefield would have been a far easier and more effective option. But you still had everything from Blenheims and Tiger Moths being converted to makeshift bombers. And as those makeshift bombers would, without a doubt, have been using poison gas.....

I just researched it. Luftwaffe operationally used torpedoes in 1941, with KG 26. So, no they were not available for Seelowe.

 

Thank you for that. I cant say I remembered them being used in the Norway Campaign, and that was pretty much tailor made for them to be used.


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#7 Rick

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 0947 AM

Short answer is no.

 

German maritime engineering failure

 

https://digitalcommo...599&context=etd

 

Some links:

 
 
 
 

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#8 Rich

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 1133 AM

I have always wondered why the Germans thought that they needed air superiority over Great Britain to successfully conduct Operation Seelowe and invade the UK.

 

The short answer is because the Kriegsmarine and Heer demanded it as a prerequisite. Also, because the KM had no heavy units it could not support the landing with naval gunfire, so all support would be by the Luftwaffe.
 

 

If they had launched their planned invasion fleet from France, the RAF would have send bombers to attack the fleet, as well as escorts for these bombers. Rather then fly all over the UK attacking British airbases and targets at the limit of the 109's endurance, the British would be coming down to the English Channel. The Luftwaffe would have a shorter distance to travel to engage the RAF, and hence could fight for a longer time. As well, it would be the Germans who would be choosing the time and location of the engagement. Any German planes damaged would have a better chance to crash land in France and not have the pilots taken POW by the British if they had done the same over the UK. As well, any Germans shot down would have been over the Channel where they stand a 50-50 chance of being rescued.

 

The extemporaneousness landing craft could only ground on a falling tide, would then dry out, and had to wait for the next high tide to refloat and retract. High tide along the coast was at around 645 AM. The invasion fleet also had a top speed of 6 knots and the limited port facilities meant it would take a while for them to exit the ports after loading, assemble and then cross, while good visibility was required to assemble and organize the complex convoys. All that meant that assembly was in daylight, in full view of British observers, and that the crossing would take place at night with a dawn landing. The Luftwaffe, as noted, had zero torpedo attack capability, it also had zero night attack capability. The KM depended on 20 S-Boot, hasty minefields, and a half-dozen submarines to block a Royal Navy attack from the eastern end of the Channel and about ten destroyers and torpedo boats and another half-dozen submarines to block attacks from the Western end of the Channel. All that means that on the order of 70 destroyers and light cruisers, along with dozens of light craft, would have about ten hours of darkness to attack the German convoys with impunity from the Luftwaffe.

 

 

The added bonus would be that it would also force the Royal Navy to enter the Channel to engage the German invasion fleet. In the Channel, the RN will be vulnerable to Luftwaffe dive bombing attacks from Stukas and possibly torpedo attacks from the Junker 88s and Heinkel 111. A serious blow could be delivered against the RN by experienced Luftwaffe ground attack units. At this time in the war, I believe the RN grossly underestimated the effectiveness of air attacks against ships, and hence they were vulnerable if they came within range of Luftwaffe units. Loss of several RN capital ships from a Channel battle would effects other battles down the road, especially in the Battle of Atlantic and the battles with other German capital ships like the Bismark, Graf Spee, Tirpitz, etc.

 

The problem with that was the Stuka had been essentially wrecked by continuous operations in France and the Low Countries in May and June and the following Kanalkampf and battle of the airfields in July and August. As of 7 September the Stukagruppen were (unit - location - strength OH/OP:

 

Luftflotte 2.
Stab/StG 1. - St Pol - 7/5
I./StG 1. - St Pol - 0/0
II./StG 1. - Pas-de-Calais - 43/29
III./StG 1. - St Pol - 0/0 (formed from I.(St)/Tr.Gr.186 on 9 July)
Stab/StG 2. - Tramecourt - 11/9
II./StG 2. - St Pol - 27/22
IV. (Stg)/LG 1. - Tramecourt - 42/28

 

Luftflotte 3.
Stab/StG 3. - Brittany - 7/6
I./StG 3. - Brittany - 37/34
I./StG 2. - St Malo - 0/0
Stab/StG 77. - Brugy - 0/0
I./StG 77. - Maltot - 0/0
II./StG 77. - Brugy - 0/0
III./StG 77. - Argentan - 0/0

 

Heimat
III./StG 2. - Kitzingen - ?/?

 

Note of the eleven Gruppen, only four were operational, with only 113 aircraft operational. The other were non-operational, reorganizing, training new crews, and awaiting replacement aircraft.

 

The Luftwaffe also had two units trained in ship attack using level bombers, KG 26. and KG 30. KG 26. and its He 111H were in Norway until late September when they moved to France and it is unclear if they would have been operational for the probable 24 September S-Tag. I./KG 30. was in Norway, so only two groups with Ju 88A were available for maritime strike, one at Schipol and one (minus a Staffel detached in Norway) was at Grieves. The last maritime strike capable level-bomber unit was I./KG 40 with Fw 200C, but it was at Bordeaux engaged in strike-reconnaissance missions in the Atlantic and was not tasked in the invasion. The last available were the He 155 and a few Ju 88A of the Küstenfliegergruppe. 2./KGr.106 with He 115, which had limited torpedo-attack capability, were at Schellingwoude in the Netherlands, while Kü.Fl.Gr. 806 was at Carpiquet with some Ju 88A, but were mainly maritime reconnaissance.

 

 

Would the Germans has suffered losses in their invasion fleet? No doubt they would. And these losses might have been higher if there was RAF still around in strength. But I have to question how effective RAF attacks would have been in the face of constant and prolonged harassment and engagement by Luftwaffe fighters. I think that even a feint invasion to draw out all the RAF aircraft to the Channel might have been a better way to defeat the RAF.

Welcome any views on this.

 

Aside from some Coastal Command and Fleet Air Arm units, the RAF was also not tasked or trained at the time for maritime strike. Most of the damage to the invasion fleet would have been done by the Royal Navy. Given the high degree of coordination required within the complex German tow convoys. quite possibly the worst damage an attack by the Royal Navy could cause is disorganization and loss of time. For example, the really cool submersible tanks were tasked to land over specific beaches the German expected would provide the clear routes and firm sea bottom they required to be successful. They were also supposed to deploy in the falling tide so any that did get stuck would be exposed by low tide...arriving late or at the wrong place could result in disaster.

 

However, the Jagdwaffe had an impossible task. It was supposed to provide cover simultaneously for the Stuka supporting the landings, four Fliegerkorps doing both deep and close interdiction of communications as well as strikes on airfields, and Fligerdivision 9., which was supposed to interdict the Royal Navy by dropping mines. The dispersal of effort virtually guaranteed Fighter Command local superiority wherever they wanted it as well as unhindered routes for whatever strikes Bomber and Army Cooperation Command could muster against the German beachheads.

 

The result for the Germans would almost certainly be a shambles and failure.


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#9 Olof Larsson

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 1251 PM

The short answer is because the Kriegsmarine and Heer demanded it as a prerequisite. Also, because the KM had no heavy units it could not support the landing with naval gunfire, so all support would be by the Luftwaffe.[quote]

Well, the germans had one (very) light cruiser, no heavy cruiser, no capital ships and...what,
mayby 7 destroyers available in the entire fleet in late summer/early fall of 1940.
It was surely less than...say Sweden and only a tiny fraction of what the Royal Navy had available,
but it might have been enough to allow at least some minelayers,
to survive long enough to lay at least some mines to block the channel.


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#10 Nobu

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 1312 PM

It might, but it also would be an act of desperation. The side forced into the most such acts will usually lose.

 

The time and place for forcing the RAF into combat on unfavorable terms, and Britain into desperate acts, was at Dunkirk.


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#11 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 1319 PM

But the Germans couldnt force the RAF to do anything. They commited to Dunkirk, but on their terms, not the German's terms. And for the most part, though they never got credit for it, it was successful.


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#12 glenn239

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 1342 PM

I have always wondered why the Germans thought that they needed air superiority over Great Britain to successfully conduct Operation Seelowe and invade the UK.

 

 

 

Manstein in his memoires thought that Hitler was abdicating on responsibility as war leader for fear of a debacle that would diminish his prestige.  The gist of Manstein's take on Sealion was that it should have been started earlier and without air superiority or supremacy.  That waiting until September was too late in the season, (by October the Channel gets chancy for Sealion style transport), and that since air superiority could not be attained, and was not demanded for other strategic undertakings like the invasion of France or Russia, that this should not have been made a criteria.

 

 

If they had launched their planned invasion fleet from France, the RAF would have send bombers to attack the fleet, as well as escorts for these bombers. Rather then fly all over the UK attacking British airbases and targets at the limit of the 109's endurance, the British would be coming down to the English Channel. The Luftwaffe would have a shorter distance to travel to engage the RAF, and hence could fight for a longer time. As well, it would be the Germans who would be choosing the time and location of the engagement. Any German planes damaged would have a better chance to crash land in France and not have the pilots taken POW by the British if they had done the same over the UK. As well, any Germans shot down would have been over the Channel where they stand a 50-50 chance of being rescued.

 

 

 

Essentially your saying that rather than fight the Battle of Britain to win Sealion, fight Sealion to win the Battle of Britain.  That is, that Germany had more infantry and river barges than it did aircraft, so the key was to draw the RAF into an unfavorable battle, which by definition had to be in the Channel or the coast of France.  Also, keep in mind that if Sealion did get a foothold one consequence might be some level of permanent degradation to the Chain Home radar network on which the RAF relied to win the BoB.  (Worst case scenario would be capturing stations intact).

 

 

The added bonus would be that it would also force the Royal Navy to enter the Channel to engage the German invasion fleet. In the Channel, the RN will be vulnerable to Luftwaffe dive bombing attacks from Stukas and possibly torpedo attacks from the Junker 88s and Heinkel 111. A serious blow could be delivered against the RN by experienced Luftwaffe ground attack units. At this time in the war, I believe the RN grossly underestimated the effectiveness of air attacks against ships, and hence they were vulnerable if they came within range of Luftwaffe units. Loss of several RN capital ships from a Channel battle would effects other battles down the road, especially in the Battle of Atlantic and the battles with other German capital ships like the Bismark, Graf Spee, Tirpitz, etc. 

 

 

Warships proved surprisingly robust in operations against aircraft.  That being said, warships could not stand long under hostile skies without taking attrition.  The question is at what range the battle is fought from the German air bases, the number of sorties the LW is able to generate against warships, the types of sorties, (dive, level or low level bombing, or strafing), the ammunition state and formation of the warships being attack, (AA formation and lets go blow up barge formations being quite different), and quite importantly, the ability of the RAF to break up attacks on warships.  

 

In order against warships, the LW aircraft were probably the Stuka, then the ME-110 (ground attack), ME-109 (fighter bomber), JU-88, (level or dive bomber), HE-111/DO-17 (level bomber).  The number of Stukas available for Sealion would probably not have exceeded about 300 and they would be overtasked between sea and land support roles.

 

Would the Germans has suffered losses in their invasion fleet? No doubt they would. And these losses might have been higher if there was RAF still around in strength. But I have to question how effective RAF attacks would have been in the face of constant and prolonged harassment and engagement by Luftwaffe fighters. I think that even a feint invasion to draw out all the RAF aircraft to the Channel might have been a better way to defeat the RAF.

 

 

The RAF would not be too effective against small ships in the Channel.  Probably a threat mostly to the larger steamers and the invasion beaches themselves, but I still doubt they'd hit much.   The fighters would be too busy elsewhere and were under armed anyways.  The Royal Navy though, was a different story.  But Sealion did have a large number of aux. warships such as Siebel ferries and minesweepers that would have absorb a lot of attention. 


Edited by glenn239, 05 February 2020 - 1345 PM.

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#13 Redbeard

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 1616 PM

I actually think there is a point in "damn the airsuperiority - full speed ahead for the barges!". Not in order to actually defeat UK by invasion but to draw the RN into the Channel and here inflict so many losses on the RN that the Brits would be mature for peace talks. If it all involves a couple of German Infantry Divisions drowning in the Channel it would be ven better as the Brits could claim an honourable peace. The Kriegsmarine of course would be practically annihilated, but so what? Kriegsmarine isn't worth anything on the Russian steppes anyway and a couple of Divisions can easily be rebuilt over the next year, certainly if UK is out of the war. 

 

I'm certain the British would be vulnerable to substantial naval losses, but you can't know how much is needed and if it doesn't work Hitler would be vulnerable to the prestige loss. We know he had nothing to loose, but nobody did in 1940.

 

I do think however Kriegsmarine had sensed they were likely to end up sacrificed no matter how or why the plan would be executed - I can imagine Räder saying to his staff: "Go on, make that damned plan, but for Gods (and Kriegsmarine's) sake make it too bad to be approved!"

 

It is also a good question if the historical Kriegsmarine could inflict significant losses on the RN? Certainly not with gunfire from surface ships and I agree Luftwaffe wasn't yet the Fleetdestroyer it was later, but I would not exclude it could be done with substantial minefields supported with whatever the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe could deploy. It probably would require one point of better prewar preparation - a huge stock of mines. Minelaying capacity could be much increased by commandeering the Danish railway ferries. They were prepared for minelaying already and I even guess they could find a mine or two in the Danish depots. 


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#14 Rich

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 1640 PM

Warships proved surprisingly robust in operations against aircraft.  That being said, warships could not stand long under hostile skies without taking attrition.  The question is at what range the battle is fought from the German air bases, the number of sorties the LW is able to generate against warships, the types of sorties, (dive, level or low level bombing, or strafing), the ammunition state and formation of the warships being attack, (AA formation and lets go blow up barge formations being quite different), and quite importantly, the ability of the RAF to break up attacks on warships. 

 

Glenn, considering you have participated in the latest stem-winder on this subject at AHF since 23 November 2019, I'm surprised you are unable to post some of the information presented. Such as a typical Stuka in the first five days of GELB, arguably the peak of the arm in 1940, managed an average of 3.17 sorties per day, but over the entire period 10 May-8 August averaged 1.68 sorties per day.

 

Oh, and trying to paper over yet again the complete inability of the Luftwaffe to attack the Royal Navy at night is a nice touch.

 

 

In order against warships, the LW aircraft were probably the Stuka, then the ME-110 (ground attack), ME-109 (fighter bomber), JU-88, (level or dive bomber), HE-111/DO-17 (level bomber).  The number of Stukas available for Sealion would probably not have exceeded about 300 and they would be overtasked between sea and land support roles.  

 

Sigh...

 

The Bf 110 (not "ME") was not a ground attack aircraft at this time. It was a a heavy fighter intended for bomber escort and air superiority missions. The Bf 109 was not a fighter bomber, it was an interceptor pressed into bomber escort and air superiority missions dues to the failure of the interwar development of the heavy fighter doctrine. The only two units of Bf 109 and Bf 110 that existed as of mid to late September 1940 with a ground attack - not maritime attack, which was as different a kettle of fish in practice as was the difference between "AA formation and lets go blow up barge formations" were Erprobungsgruppe 210 at Denain and II. (Sch.)/LG 2., which transitioned from Hs 123 to Bf 109E-4/B at Braunschweig-Waggum between the end of ROT and its deployment to Calais-Marck on 6 September 1940. As of 7 September, Erpr.Gr.210, which had been very successful in airbase attacks in August, albeit at heavy loss, was down to 26 aircraft, 17 of which were operational (probably one-third were Bf 109). II. (Sch.)/LG 2 had 33 aircraft with 27 operational.

 

We also had the long discussion regarding the state of the Stuka forces and you have yet to come up with a good explanation for how four of eleven operational groups with a total strength of 123 operational aircraft suddenly "would probably not have exceeded about 300" given one Gruppe, III./StG 2. was at Kitzingen rebuilding until December 1940 when it deployed to Trapani as part of the German reinforcement of the Italians in the central Mediterranean and an entire Geschwader, StG 77. appears to have been non-operational following the loss of 21 aircraft and crews out of 87 committed on 18 August. From then on it appears to have been rebuilding and training, the latter with harrowing results since it lost four aircraft and four crewmen, including two pilots, in a training accident on 11 September, and another midair on 19 October that cost two aircraft and crew. Part of the problem may have been the reorganization of StG 77. in mid-July. In its I. Gruppe, 3. Staffel was transferred to become 2./Erpr.Gr.210 and transitioned to Bf 110D-0 (which must have been interesting), while III. Gruppe was formed II./KG 76, which had been in the middle of transitioning from Do 17Z to Ju 88A (which must have been even more interesting). It seems the Geschwader lost most of its mojo and did not regain it till the spring of 1941.

 

Oh, and yeah, the Stuka would have been "overtasked", just like the rest of Luftflotte 2. and 3.

 

 

The RAF would not be too effective against small ships in the Channel.  Probably a threat mostly to the larger steamers and the invasion beaches themselves, but I still doubt they'd hit much.   The fighters would be too busy elsewhere and were under armed anyways.  The Royal Navy though, was a different story.  But Sealion did have a large number of aux. warships such as Siebel ferries and minesweepers that would have absorb a lot of attention.

 

"Siebel ferries" were never "aux. warships" and there was considerable controversy between the KM, LW, and H over exactly what its role was in the event of an attack. The KM was terrified, possibly justly, that the inexperienced crews of the various "aux. warships" would let fly at whoever spooked them and wanted them to hold fire until reaching the assault area. The Heer wanted them to be able to fire at whatever and whenever, so long as doing so protected their troops. The Luftwaffe wanted them to fire on British aircraft because, well that was what they were supposed to do. Aside from that the "aux. warships" consisted of 27 leichte and 5 schwere Artillerieträger, mostly large trawlers, fitted with one 15cm SK/C and two 2cm Flak in the schwere, except for one with two 10.5cm SK/C as main armament, or one 7.5cm (a captured French or Belgian "French 75") and a 3.7cm in the leichte,  none of which were intended for anything other than support of the landings. The numerous V-Boot were small trawlers usually fitted with a single 3.7cm or 2cm gun.

 

Otherwise, except for the 20 S-Boot, the 5 Z-Boot, and the 5 T-Boot, the only regular "warships" were the big M1935 M-Boot with its two 10.5cm guns...all 17 of them, and the R-Boot with its single 2cm gun.

 

Note that virtually all the R-Boot and V-Boot were also required to do double-duty carrying elements of the Vorausabteilungen to the beaches, so were crowded with 20 to 60 infantrymen getting in the way and vomiting during the passage.

 

Anyway, this latest round of what if silliness induced me to reread Schenk after almost 20 years, which has confirmed just how shambolic, confused, and riddled with wishful thinking the German planning was. I had forgotten for example the silliness of how they three services were tasked to do plans in July, did so independently for about six weeks, and THEN got together to compare notes. Surprise! They all came up with completely different and incompatible plans (well, the KM and Heer did, the LW tried to pretend they didn't need no stinkin' plans). Or how it was planned it would take 14 hours to unload one of the big "steamer" transports, because a unit practiced doing so in a protected harbor, with four barges alongside at all times. And so on...


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#15 Leo Niehorster

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 1648 PM

British ships suffered relatively light losses during the Duinkirk evacuation near land. (And many of those were unarmed civilian ships.) I imagine the Luftwaffe would be lsess well of trying to sink the Royal Navy in the high seas.

 

See Wiki (yes, I know) Dunkirk evacuation

[The totals in the two tables do not correlate, but they do give a general idea of losses / damage.]

 

--

Leo


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#16 Chris Werb

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 1652 PM

 

It is also a good question if the historical Kriegsmarine could inflict significant losses on the RN? Certainly not with gunfire from surface ships and I agree Luftwaffe wasn't yet the Fleetdestroyer it was later, but I would not exclude it could be done with substantial minefields supported with whatever the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe could deploy. It probably would require one point of better prewar preparation - a huge stock of mines. Minelaying capacity could be much increased by commandeering the Danish railway ferries. They were prepared for minelaying already and I even guess they could find a mine or two in the Danish depots. 

 

Minelaying cuts both ways. The RN had considerable capability to lay mines and substantial stocks thereof.


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#17 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 1832 PM

I actually think there is a point in "damn the airsuperiority - full speed ahead for the barges!". Not in order to actually defeat UK by invasion but to draw the RN into the Channel and here inflict so many losses on the RN that the Brits would be mature for peace talks. If it all involves a couple of German Infantry Divisions drowning in the Channel it would be ven better as the Brits could claim an honourable peace. The Kriegsmarine of course would be practically annihilated, but so what? Kriegsmarine isn't worth anything on the Russian steppes anyway and a couple of Divisions can easily be rebuilt over the next year, certainly if UK is out of the war. 

 

I'm certain the British would be vulnerable to substantial naval losses, but you can't know how much is needed and if it doesn't work Hitler would be vulnerable to the prestige loss. We know he had nothing to loose, but nobody did in 1940.

 

I do think however Kriegsmarine had sensed they were likely to end up sacrificed no matter how or why the plan would be executed - I can imagine Räder saying to his staff: "Go on, make that damned plan, but for Gods (and Kriegsmarine's) sake make it too bad to be approved!"

 

It is also a good question if the historical Kriegsmarine could inflict significant losses on the RN? Certainly not with gunfire from surface ships and I agree Luftwaffe wasn't yet the Fleetdestroyer it was later, but I would not exclude it could be done with substantial minefields supported with whatever the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe could deploy. It probably would require one point of better prewar preparation - a huge stock of mines. Minelaying capacity could be much increased by commandeering the Danish railway ferries. They were prepared for minelaying already and I even guess they could find a mine or two in the Danish depots. 

 

I had actually wondered something similar for a long time (i.e., whether the fallout from a failed Sea Lion might actually end up in Germany's favor) and was going to post something along those lines. In my head I basically ended up the same as you -- it's unlikely that the loss ratio would actually = a couple German divisions vs. massive RN losses. Although I'd also add that I don't think anybody on the German side was interested in "death or glory" kamikaze stuff, in their minds they'd already won the war. 


Edited by Brian Kennedy, 05 February 2020 - 1833 PM.

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#18 Rich

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 1854 PM

 

 

It is also a good question if the historical Kriegsmarine could inflict significant losses on the RN? Certainly not with gunfire from surface ships and I agree Luftwaffe wasn't yet the Fleetdestroyer it was later, but I would not exclude it could be done with substantial minefields supported with whatever the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe could deploy. It probably would require one point of better prewar preparation - a huge stock of mines. Minelaying capacity could be much increased by commandeering the Danish railway ferries. They were prepared for minelaying already and I even guess they could find a mine or two in the Danish depots. 

 

Minelaying cuts both ways. The RN had considerable capability to lay mines and substantial stocks thereof.

 

The problem for the Germans was that the RN also had possibly the most robust mine-clearing capability of all the combatants.

 

Nor, as Leo points out, was the Luftwaffe a "fleetdestroyer" then, earlier, or later. Read "The Cracked Cutlass", chapter 2 in E. R. Hooten's Eagle in Flames, the second of his two-volume history of the Luftwaffe. In August 1940, 598 Luftwaffe sorties resulted in the sinking of 10 merchant ships totaling 50,151 GRT. In September 1940, 501 sorties resulted in 10 sunk (47,675 GRT). In October 1940, 805 sorties resulted in 7 sunk (36,225 GRT).

 

At Dunkirk, 94 vessels of all types were lost or sunk and 77 were damaged. Of those, 51 were lost and 49 damaged primarily due to air attack. It required at least 1,835 German sorties by KG, StG, and Sch. Nine of those sunk were destroyers and one was a gunboat.

 

Those sunk by bombs were:

 

HMS Grenade was sunk at the Dunkirk mole on 29 May.

HMS Keith was damaged at Dunkirk while at the mole on 31 May and hit again twice the next day there and sunk.

HMS Havant was damaged and immobilized by near misses on 1 June and sunk in tow later the same day.

HMS Basilisk damaged her propellers on debris on 31 May and was towed into Dunkirk where she was sunk by bombing on 1 June.

FNS Foudroyant was sunk while departing Dunkirk on 1 June.

 

Note that of the five, three were immobile when sunk, one, Havant, had just rescued troops from Ivanhoe, which had been damaged, and was still moving slowly when stopped by the near misses. Foudroyant had just left the harbor with a load of troops, was just offshore and was also moving slowly.

 

Notice a pattern?

 

The rest were:

 

HMS Wakeful was torpedoed and sunk by S-30 on 29 May.

HMS Grafton was torpedoed and sunk by U-62 on 29 May.

FNS Bourasque was mined off Dunkirk and then sunk by German artillery on 30 May.

FNS Sirocco was torpedoed and sunk by S-23 and S-26 on 31 May.


Edited by Rich, 05 February 2020 - 1856 PM.

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#19 DougRichards

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 1905 PM

Would the Luftwaffe have done much better in this scenario than the RAF / FAA etc had done in the later Channel Dash / Operation Cerberus?

 

The Luftwaffe would have been better organised but would have had no torpedo bombers and be facing much heavier naval opposition that would have been more determined to stop an invasion than 'simply' high-tailing it at maximum speed to a new anchorage.

 

The Luftwaffe and Kreigsmarine did very well with Cerberus and the British cocked up badly.


Edited by DougRichards, 05 February 2020 - 1905 PM.

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#20 Nobu

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 1959 PM

At Dunkirk, the Luftwaffe sank and damaged what it did in the middle of intensive air combat against Fighter Command.

 

A follow-up Luftwaffe effort to support Sealion without air dominance would have been similarly hampered.


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