PDA

View Full Version : If the Maginot Line extended to the English Channel?



karenandkarl
16 Aug 06,, 19:56
Hi All,

Im a new member in this forum and in need of your opinions to this question,

If the Maginot Line would have been extended to the English Channel, could Germany still win the war against France in short period? How?

You may assume British and French Army took the same defence position as in history, Low countries were neutral.

Thanks a million! :tongue:

leib10
16 Aug 06,, 20:16
Yes, the Germans could have easily defeated the French in the same amount of time, regardless of the extra amount of line. They would only have to pierce a few points and pour their forces through those few holes, rendering the rest of the line and the troops inside it impotent.

Or they could do what they did do: go through the Ardennes forest.

karenandkarl
16 Aug 06,, 20:57
leibstandarte10,

Thanks a lot for your quick response. Just wondering given the high specification of defence of the Line, is it that easy for the Germans to do so?

gunnut
16 Aug 06,, 21:34
Actually the Maginot line wasn't a uniform defensive line. Parts of it was easy to take out and other parts were tough as nails.

I would say if the Maginot line was extended all the way to the northern coast line of France, Germans would have had a tougher time for a break through.

The part of Maginot line that existed performed admirably. It did exactly what it's supposed to do, to deter attack at that spot. What that did was to funnel the Germans north through the low countries and then into France. If that hole was plugged, then the Germans would have to find a weak spot for a break through. The end result would probably be still the same, the French surrenders, but not in such a short amount of time. The Germans would have paid a much higher price as well.

Bill
16 Aug 06,, 21:46
Hi All,

Im a new member in this forum and in need of your opinions to this question,

If the Maginot Line would have been extended to the English Channel, could Germany still win the war against France in short period? How?

You may assume British and French Army took the same defence position as in history, Low countries were neutral.

Thanks a million! :tongue:

The germans would've dropped paratroopers behind it and blown open a big section at the start of the war.

karenandkarl
16 Aug 06,, 22:20
Actually the Maginot line wasn't a uniform defensive line. Parts of it was easy to take out and other parts were tough as nails.

I would say if the Maginot line was extended all the way to the northern coast line of France, Germans would have had a tougher time for a break through.

The part of Maginot line that existed performed admirably. It did exactly what it's supposed to do, to deter attack at that spot. What that did was to funnel the Germans north through the low countries and then into France. If that hole was plugged, then the Germans would have to find a weak spot for a break through. The end result would probably be still the same, the French surrenders, but not in such a short amount of time. The Germans would have paid a much higher price as well.


Ya, this is the point 'Actually the Maginot line wasn't a uniform defensive line' Excellent reply, very comprehensive. I really appreciate it!

leib10
16 Aug 06,, 22:22
It's true that the Line was incomplete. There were large gaps in many places, with which the Germans could simply bypass the fortifications and roll them up from the flank or from behind. But in the end, they didn't even need to do that, as the French surrendered before they turned their attention to the still occupied fortifications.

karenandkarl
16 Aug 06,, 22:25
The germans would've dropped paratroopers behind it and blown open a big section at the start of the war.


I agree...i remember they did have such a plan to drop the paratroops? But it was aborted eventually...Is that true? :rolleyes:

leib10
16 Aug 06,, 23:18
I don't know, but in the long run they didn't need them. Perhaps if the Line gave them more difficulties a plan would've been drawn up.

ArmchairGeneral
16 Aug 06,, 23:40
The germans would've dropped paratroopers behind it and blown open a big section at the start of the war.
I take it you're thinking about Eben Emael? Do you think that was the inevitable fate of any fortified position that got in the way? Or is it possible that Eben Emael was particularly vulnerable to airborne attack?

Personally, I think it might have slowed them down enough (regardless of whether it was vulnerable to airborne attack) to give the Allies time to organize a more effective defense. If we had been able to organize an effective armored reserve, I think the Germans would have been seriously impeded. And there was certainly plenty of armor, the French Somuas especially were quite good, I believe. The only issues would be lack of experience in maneuvering large armored formations, lack of radio communication, and lack of good air support. Any thoughts?

sappersgt
16 Aug 06,, 23:46
Any fortification can be taken but it can cost you. The Germans were pretty sanguine about warfare. They knew you can take any position if you want to spend the manpower. Once that particular fortification is taken (at no matter what the cost) the line can be broken and maneuver warfare started. What would it matter if an entire (or two) division were sacrificed if the breakthrough allowed the defeat of the French army and end the war? An unpleasant (if you're in the attacking division) but realistic scenario.

gunnut
16 Aug 06,, 23:51
French may have had better tanks on paper, but their inexperience in mobile warfare would have doomed them eventually.

Germans used combined warfare with concentrated tanks being a cog in the machine while the French scattered their tanks amongst infantry units for support duties. Superior communication for the Germans between their tanks and between their larger units furthered extended their advantage over the French.

A complete Maginot line would have slowed the Germans down in the initial advance. After the break through, the French with their antiquated tactics was no match for the Germans.

sappersgt
17 Aug 06,, 00:34
I think good parallels can be drawn from German plans to take Gibraltar and their attack on Crete. The Germans planned on casualty rates of up to 80% of the assault troops in an initial attack on Gibraltar. Pretty horrific but acceptable if successful.

Crete is billed by historians as the death knell of German parachute troops. I think what is always overlooked is the fact that THEY WON. Yeah it was expensive but in the end they were successful. I think the same would have probably been the case with a more extensive Maginot line. Multiple simultaneous attacks with high initial casualties but with ultimately successfully results.

leib10
17 Aug 06,, 00:49
It was after Crete that Hitler forbade the mass use of paratroopers ever again, which was a serious error on his part as he threw away an advantage that might've served him well. After Crete the elite Fallschirmjagers were used solely as infantry, slowly being killed piecemeal on the Eastern Front.

karenandkarl
17 Aug 06,, 01:13
It was after Crete that Hitler forbade the mass use of paratroopers ever again, which was a serious error on his part as he threw away an advantage that might've served him well. After Crete the elite Fallschirmjagers were used solely as infantry, slowly being killed piecemeal on the Eastern Front.


Agree...After Crete Hitler believed the day of parachute troops is over. He didn't realise that was a mistake until 1943 when the Allies landed Sicily but this is too late.

leib10
17 Aug 06,, 01:39
Any fortification can be taken but it can cost you. The Germans were pretty sanguine about warfare. They knew you can take any position if you want to spend the manpower. Once that particular fortification is taken (at no matter what the cost) the line can be broken and maneuver warfare started. What would it matter if an entire (or two) division were sacrificed if the breakthrough allowed the defeat of the French army and end the war? An unpleasant (if you're in the attacking division) but realistic scenario.

The Russians even more so. They had absolutely no qualms about sacrificing huge numbers of men for even a little strategic gain. Their value of humanity was shocking.

gunnut
17 Aug 06,, 01:55
The Russians even more so. They had absolutely no qualms about sacrificing huge numbers of men for even a little strategic gain. Their value of humanity was shocking.

I'm the same way when I play RTS games. I firmly believe numbers is a tactic in and of itself. :biggrin:

Good thing I only sacrifice pixels.

-{SpoonmaN}-
17 Aug 06,, 07:31
The germans would've dropped paratroopers behind it and blown open a big section at the start of the war.

Yeah Eban Eamel showed that fortifications are just a German propaganda victory waiting to happen.

-{SpoonmaN}-
17 Aug 06,, 07:33
I take it you're thinking about Eben Emael? Do you think that was the inevitable fate of any fortified position that got in the way? Or is it possible that Eben Emael was particularly vulnerable to airborne attack?

Personally, I think it might have slowed them down enough (regardless of whether it was vulnerable to airborne attack) to give the Allies time to organize a more effective defense. If we had been able to organize an effective armored reserve, I think the Germans would have been seriously impeded. And there was certainly plenty of armor, the French Somuas especially were quite good, I believe. The only issues would be lack of experience in maneuvering large armored formations, lack of radio communication, and lack of good air support. Any thoughts?

I think British Matildas were also pretty decent for their day, the 40mm wasn't such a problem then and they had pretty solid armour.

Officer of Engineers
17 Aug 06,, 07:48
A better question would have been what would happenned if the Cezchs fought at the Sudetenland?

Bill
17 Aug 06,, 07:52
I take it you're thinking about Eben Emael? Do you think that was the inevitable fate of any fortified position that got in the way? Or is it possible that Eben Emael was particularly vulnerable to airborne attack?

Personally, I think it might have slowed them down enough (regardless of whether it was vulnerable to airborne attack) to give the Allies time to organize a more effective defense. If we had been able to organize an effective armored reserve, I think the Germans would have been seriously impeded. And there was certainly plenty of armor, the French Somuas especially were quite good, I believe. The only issues would be lack of experience in maneuvering large armored formations, lack of radio communication, and lack of good air support. Any thoughts?

Thoughts: I don't think so.

Listen up class:

"Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
~George S. Patton

That doesn't leave much...any...room for interpretation.

Wraith601
17 Aug 06,, 07:56
I think British Matildas were also pretty decent for their day, the 40mm wasn't such a problem then and they had pretty solid armour.

Only it was extremely slow at 24 kph (about 15 mph).

karenandkarl
17 Aug 06,, 08:37
A better question would have been what would happenned if the Cezchs fought at the Sudetenland?


I would say the Germans would have fought back while the Allies lived with it? :confused:

karenandkarl
17 Aug 06,, 08:45
I think British Matildas were also pretty decent for their day, the 40mm wasn't such a problem then and they had pretty solid armour.


Yeah i agree that the Allies weapons back in those days have solid armor but i thought the main problem here is quantity.

gunnut
17 Aug 06,, 08:55
Yeah i agree that the Allies weapons back in those days have solid armor but i thought the main problem here is quantity.

French and British actually had more tanks than the Germans did at the beginning of the French campaign. The difference was the Germans concentrated their tanks in a single break through against scattered French tanks used as infantry support. In this case, Germans had more tanks, faster tanks, better tactics, higher morale, better communication, and psychological shock working in their favor.

ArmchairGeneral
17 Aug 06,, 15:56
I was wondering when you'd drop in. :biggrin:

A better question would have been what would happenned if the Cezchs fought at the Sudetenland?
Granted, but do you think that the Germans could have taken enough of the postulated extended Maginot fortifications, without catastrophic losses, quickly enough to not lose momentum, and be able to take advantage of the hole in the line with armored troops, all before the Allies were able to concentrate their forces at the breakthrough?

I suppose German air superiority would have to be taken into account. Does anyone know how significantly the Luftwaffe impeded Allied troop movements and communications? Would it have been impossible for them to move forces quickly enough to respond to the Germans?

On the Czech question: I know the Czechs had some high quality tanks. Did they have sufficient quantities to make a difference? Could they have concentrated them into an effective maneuver force? Or could they have resisted effectively without an armored force, using the rough terrain to removet the Germans' advantage in maneuver warfare?

On a political note, might the Czechs have resisted if Britain, France and their ilk had supported them?

leib10
17 Aug 06,, 17:55
Apparently, although the Czechs had ordered some Panzer 38(T)'s, none of them reached service by the time that the Germans occupied their country. They had in their possession about 300 Panzer 35(t)'s when Germany invaded.

Bill
17 Aug 06,, 17:58
Yeah i agree that the Allies weapons back in those days have solid armor but i thought the main problem here is quantity.

Nah, the main probelem was mass.

leib10
17 Aug 06,, 19:56
As somebody stated, Allied tanks during the Western Campaign were of generally higher quality than the German tanks, being better armed and armored than the Panzer III, which formed the backbone of the German panzer forces. However, the tactical deployment of the Allied tanks was flawed, the tanks being used to support infantry and being scattered instead of concentrated in the German manner. So when Allied tanks were encountered they were simply swamped by German vehicles, knocked out by airplanes, or destroyed by 88mm guns, which were notoriously effective tank killers.

Interestingly, British tactics did not improve much later in the war, as they still used their armor to support infantry operations in Normandy. It was of the opinion of Kurt Meyer, commander of 12. SS Panzerdivision "Hitlerjugend" that the British commanders could've achieved much more if they had used the striking power and speed of the tanks more effectively by driving ahead of the infantry and racing deep behind German lines in the Blitzkrieg style, with the infantry mopping up remaining resistance. However, their overly cautious and conservative attacks were usually too slow to really catch the Germans off-guard, and gave them more time to prepare defenses.

ArmchairGeneral
17 Aug 06,, 22:37
Interestingly, British tactics did not improve much later in the war, as they still used their armor to support infantry operations in Normandy. It was of the opinion of Kurt Meyer, commander of 12. SS Panzerdivision "Hitlerjugend" that the British commanders could've achieved much more if they had used the striking power and speed of the tanks more effectively by driving ahead of the infantry and racing deep behind German lines in the Blitzkrieg style, with the infantry mopping up remaining resistance. However, their overly cautious and conservative attacks were usually too slow to really catch the Germans off-guard, and gave them more time to prepare defenses.
I have one word to say: "Monty." :tongue:

leib10
17 Aug 06,, 22:45
That's right! :biggrin:

I really can't stand him.

ArmchairGeneral
18 Aug 06,, 01:10
Oh, he was all right. El Alamein was an undeniably well carried out trouncing of Rommel. And not many can say that they did that. :biggrin: I think his problem was that, while an excellent defensive general, he simply wasn't nearly as good on the attacking side. He did carry out the rest of the North African counter offensive pretty well, however. Perhaps that was because of the nature of Rommel's Africa Korps. Waaayy too long supply lines, when they existed at all. I believe they actually depended on captured supplies a lot of the time. When you're on the defensive, depending on captured supplies don't work to well. So maybe Monty just got lucky after El Alamein. Or maybe not. I dunno.

leib10
18 Aug 06,, 01:22
I was talking about Monty during the Normandy campaign. ;)

Parihaka
18 Aug 06,, 02:19
Crete is billed by historians as the death knell of German parachute troops. I think what is always overlooked is the fact that THEY WON. .Phyrric at best. Best estimates 17,000 German casualties against 3,500 Allies. This, mind you, with total air superiority, plus if any of four critical moments had gone the other way, the Germans would have lost.

First, if Freyberg had been allowed to destroy the airfields pre invasion.

Second, if Freyberg had freed up the troops stationed to prevent the non-existant threat of sea landings.

Third, if the mistake of withdrawing from hill 107 had not occurred

And finally, Charlie Upham claimed he was on the point of retaking Maleme when ordered to stop the counter attack.

That 'victory' broke the Germans confidence in Paratroopers, and I'd be doing a serious rethink as well.

leib10
18 Aug 06,, 06:41
Well the thing is that the Germans dropped in during the day, making it far easier to shoot down both the Ju-52's and the paratroopers from the ground. This accounted for a lot of casualties. Many also injured their ankles and legs when they landed on the very rocky terrain.

Bill
18 Aug 06,, 07:14
Phyrric at best. Best estimates 17,000 German casualties against 3,500 Allies. This, mind you, with total air superiority, plus if any of four critical moments had gone the other way, the Germans would have lost.

First, if Freyberg had been allowed to destroy the airfields pre invasion.

Second, if Freyberg had freed up the troops stationed to prevent the non-existant threat of sea landings.

Third, if the mistake of withdrawing from hill 107 had not occurred

And finally, Charlie Upham claimed he was on the point of retaking Maleme when ordered to stop the counter attack.

That 'victory' broke the Germans confidence in Paratroopers, and I'd be doing a serious rethink as well.

If my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle.

karenandkarl
18 Aug 06,, 09:02
French and British actually had more tanks than the Germans did at the beginning of the French campaign. The difference was the Germans concentrated their tanks in a single break through against scattered French tanks used as infantry support. In this case, Germans had more tanks, faster tanks, better tactics, higher morale, better communication, and psychological shock working in their favor.

What about anti-tank guns and antiaircraft flaks? French largely lacked of these weapon, didn't they?

Trajan
18 Aug 06,, 14:30
As somebody stated, Allied tanks during the Western Campaign were of generally higher quality than the German tanks, being better armed and armored than the Panzer III, which formed the backbone of the German panzer forces. However, the tactical deployment of the Allied tanks was flawed, the tanks being used to support infantry and being scattered instead of concentrated in the German manner. So when Allied tanks were encountered they were simply swamped by German vehicles, knocked out by airplanes, or destroyed by 88mm guns, which were notoriously effective tank killers.



To go further on concerning this point, it should be made clear that the French and British at the start of the Western Campaign, had their best forces located in the north of belgium where they expected the hammer to fall. Since afterall, you'd have to be crazy to think tanks could get through the Ardennes...[/sarcasm].

German Panzer doctrine was focused on Heinz Guderians study of them back in the 20s and early 30s. Sending an iron fist into a thin wooden board would probably amount to it, the doctrine. French armored forces often were deployed in small numbers and attached to infantry brigades. Most of which would quickly run out of supplies or fuel due to the Luftwaffe bombing the lines of communication.

Rommel himself thought the British must be addled in some way, for when he was fighting Alexander and Monty in North Africa. He even asked a captured tank officer "Why is it you come peice-meal, allowing me to beat you?". However Rommel used the British 'infantry-tank' doctrine to his own uses and succeeded in almost pushing the British out of Africa.

Rommel himself was the one who set the precedent for using the 88s for anti-tank work, when in Belgium during the previous year, when a large concentrated (and the first) armor counter-attack was made by the allies. However Rommel commanding formed what he called a "gun-line" scrambling together every cannon and anti-tank gun he could find and made the allies suffer so badly in the attack that they were dissuaded from persuing large formations of tanks until later in the war.

Case in point, the German Panzer Doctrine simply remained, until the very late stages of the war, the best among any military force.


(Maginot Line)

If it did extend all the way, and somehow even through the Ardennes, then the Germans could easily have persued another alternative. The Italian border. Mussonlini was wanting to join hitler outright, but was afraid to take the first shot since he was afraid of the Allies. If Hitler, through his foreign minister Ribbentrop, could have gotten Mussonlini's permission or the King's, then whose to say that German troops could not have simply gone through there.

With the large portion of French forces in the north and with a panzer fist supported by a powerful crack infantry army, with italian troops backing that, the Axis might have made quite a large amount of progress going north. At the same time while allied forces wheeled about-face to the south and began going, another German attack could sweep through Holland, Belgium, and into Northern France just as the Scheifflen plan outlines.

It's possible, perhaps not the best choice due to logistics, and having to rely on Italian logistics at that, but it could be very much possible.

karenandkarl
18 Aug 06,, 19:41
I think the French would have been expecting WWI kind of trench warfare which they were pretty good at if the Maginot Line were extended. Many French military theories and tactics were based on Maginot defence. Meanwhile, they could have depended on BEF. And there is no need for the Allied concentration of forces in Belgium as there was already a defence line.

Is there any chance that the Germans still break through from Ardennes? :confused:

karenandkarl
19 Aug 06,, 08:30
Trajan,

Half way through the French Campaign, on June 10, 1944(not too sure about the exact date), Italy did declare war against France and 3 Italitan Infantry divisions attacked the French border. I agree with your opinion but taking into account the German Blitzkrieg, i think moving to Ita-Fre border and attacking from there would have slowed down the Germans a lot. Plus, the Alps is even worse than Ardennes.

leib10
19 Aug 06,, 08:39
You mean 1940. :)

cape_royds
13 Dec 06,, 08:05
Given the expense of the Maginot fortifications, I don't think France could have afforded any field forces if they had built the Line to the Channel.

But assuming that somehow the Maginot Line had followed the whole French frontier without affecting the availability of other French forces, the Germans would have had some real problems.

After all, the Germans didn't avoid attacking the Maginot Line without reason. The main thing is that to break through the line, they would have had to mount a set-piece attack at some point, and that would have given the Allies a chance to recover their balance.

But the most interesting part of the question doesn't concern the German choices so much as the Allied choices in 1940.

While often criticized for timidity or passivity, the Allies in fact adopted a rather aggressive, "forward," strategy with their Dyle Plan. This strategy was to embark upon an immediate broad advance into Belgium with their entire force, leaving no central reserve.

If the Maginot Belts had stretched along their whole frontier, the Allies may have chosen to await a German thrust, with deeply echeloned reserves, rather than lunging with their entire weight into Belgium.

That war would probably have bogged down into a stalemate somewhere in Flanders or Champagne, and time would not have been on the German side.

zraver
13 Dec 06,, 17:43
But how big would thier feild forces have been? You can't just magically increase the size of the French army beucase of the nations low birth rate and economy. The low birth rat eputs a cap on manpower, and more forts means less modern tanks and planes things already in short supply in France.

Any manuver groups would have to be almost entirely British and the Matilda's, were not fast enough to block the Germans once thier through. Given that the allies considered the Ardennes impassable the german thrust would probalby come through there putting the whole of the French army in the bag over night. Thens its Panzer Armee and the Luftwaffe vs the BEF and RAF. We already know how that works out from many similar match ups in WW2 in France, the Low Countries, and North Africa.

In the end the BEF would still ahve been beaten in the feld and forced to flee, but this time thier would not have been very many French or Belgians going with them and the net result is Britian won't have the man power she needs to defend herself and Egypt.

Those colonial and Anzac divsions that held the line in North Africa would have ended up in Britian, and Britian might have balked at even sending a measley two divsions home to Austrailia in Dec 41

cape_royds
14 Dec 06,, 05:17
One could argue that labour and money could have been diverted from the Ministry of Marine towards further extension of the Maginot Line.

The French Navy racked up some big expenditures in the 1930's, not only for capital ships, but for light forces and submarines.

With regard to the Navy, the intention was primarily to deter war with Italy, and secondarily to avoid total naval dependence upon the British in the event of war; there was no formal alliance between the UK and RF until 1936, and at any rate the Navy was a bastion of Anglophobes.

At any rate there were considerable productive resources available for a more comprehensive scheme of frontier fortification, had different political decisions been made. So I guess the question in the OP isn't all that far-fetched.

Once built, the fortifications would economize manpower--fewer troops can hold more frontage.