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What if - Naval showdown in the English Channel

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  • What if - Naval showdown in the English Channel


    Ive always been curious to know what may have happened if Hitler had been a little more "sea minded". What if he had assembled the German fleet and headed for a showdown with the Brits? At the height of the battle of attrition (before they started bombing cities), with the RAF fighting for its life and the Luftwaffe getting comparatively stronger every day, the German fleet may have had a decent shot at clearing the channel. Especially if the Germans had more air cover than the Brits. Throw in the u boats and you have the makings of a serious problem for the Royal Navy. What do you think would have happened if there was a Jutland or Trafalgar type battle in 1940? Would the Bismarck and the Tirpitz backed by the rest of the surface combatants, u boats and the Luftwaffe been enough to clear a path for the landing? Would Hitler have traded his surface navy for a beachhead?
    Memento Mori

  • #2
    It would have been a disaster.

    The Werhmacht thought the English Channel as nothing more than a big river crossing and prepared it that way. Lucky (or rather unluckily) Sea Lion didn't go through, the whole of the Wehrmacht would have been at the bottom of the English Channnel.


    • #3
      Not to mention another Jutland type battle would have likely left the majority of the German Navy on the bottom... You forgot to factor in the immense amount of bombers that could have been brought to bear. The only counter to this, transfering Fighters would have forced the Germans to let pressure off of RAF Fighter Command, same as when the Jerrys started bombing London. I would probly have been a blood bath for both sides, but the Germans couldn't afford that kind of bloodbath, the needed NGFS for any landing they may have attempted.

      Although I agree completely with Col. there was almost no way Sealion could have come off as a successful op the way it was planned. The Brittish would have had to make every mistake possible for that plan to work.
      Your look more lost than a bastard child on fathers day.


      • #4
        Think of the problems that the Allies had during the Normandy landings.
        It would have been a hell of battle, the British fighting like absolute rabid wildcats, throwing anything and everything at the Germans.
        If Operation Sea Lion would have gone forward, it could have possibly altered the course of the war.
        “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
        ― Dwight D. Eisenhower


        • #5
          It would have been far worst for the Wehrmacht. The Allies brought everything, including the kitchen sink, with them. The Wehrmacht's LOG train was in far, far worst shape. They ran out of fuel at Dunkirk and had to wait two days to get back into proper shape - the real reason for the delay, not Hitler's compassion for the Brits.

          Side note: The Brits still had two full and active Canadian div in GB. Only speculation but there was no way for the Wehrmacht to stand against them when they had no fuel.


          • #6
            Key phrase in that argument is what if. Germany only had 1 carrier and they never finished it. The Zeppelin would have been a nice boat. 6500SM range, 34 kts at 100% poweralmost 800 ft long. And yeah the Tirpitz and the Bismark were fine but the real prizes in the Kriegsmarine were the Hippper class cruisers and the Deutschland class pocket battleships. And lets not forget the Scharnhorst and Gneisnau battle cruisers. I am a huge fan of the Royal Navy. But germany had them way.........WAY outclassed in the big boat department. If there had been a strictly gun to gun Jutland type engagement, I hate to say it but the Limmies would have gotten there arses handed to them. IMHO
            "Now we shall have ourselves a pell mell battle!" ......The Immortal Memory, Admiral Nelson


            • #7
              Germany had Bismarck, Tirpitz, Graf Spey, Scharnharst, Neisenau, Prince Oigen, and dozens of Z type destroyers and other light cruisers. Coupled with their U boats it would have been the greatest naval battle in history had the brits countered with their entire home fleet(Which would still include Hood and Prince of Wales).

              Over the channel neither the RAF nor the Luftwaffe hold an endurance advantadge. Like the sea battle, it would have been one of epic scope and scale.

              Forget Sea Lion(it was an utter pipedream anyway), but let's assume this is JUST a naval and air battle for control of the channel with everything boths sides can throw into the fight.

              I don't even KNOW who'd win that one.


              • #8
                With or without Canada or the rest of the British Empire for that matter.


                • #9
                  Anyone that was fighting at the time, Including the Italians.


                  • #10
                    What would be the OPOBJ?

                    The destruction of the RN or the Kreigsmarine? I'm trying to figure out what would be the point. To clear the way for Sea Lion? Or to dominate the Channel. What would keep both fleets from withdrawing to safer harbours if the fighting gets too tough.

                    Well, the Luftwaffle controlled the Channel for all practical purposes. They control all traffic and is able to isolate the British Isles with the U-Boat campaign.

                    The Battle of the Atlantic took over 3 years to fight. Why would the Brits commit to the Battle of the Channel if the Atlantic is what is keeping them alive?

                    If we take the Battle of Britain as the example, the Luftwaffle was far from being destroyed. They were not defeated by any means. They just withdrew because they were needed elsewhere (Barbarosa).

                    And if you include Canada, then would you include her ability to produce ships en mass (which is what really won the Battle of the Atlantic - the Canadians can make ships faster than the Germans can make U-boats).


                    • #11
                      Call it a naval blockade of Britian to starve them out.

                      All the German U-Boats and thier combined fleet with the Italian fleet with full Luftwaffe fighter cover flying from france against the UK home fleet.(I don't think ANZAC or PACFLT assets could be used because they were desperately neeeded to counter the Japanese, and because geographicly they were literally on the other side of the world).
                      Canada would fight with the Brits in this imaginary scenario.

                      So combined fleets...UK Home Fleet, RCN and the RAF vs The German and Italian combined fleets and the Luftwaffe and Italian Air force(such as could be spared for the fight).

                      Purpose- destroy the british fleet for the purpose of initiating a naval quarantine of the British Isles.

                      How would that play out?


                      • #12
                        How would the USN fit in? If I'm not mistaken, someone posted a list of USN actions before the US officialy entered the war and USN presence in the region was large
                        Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

                        Abusing Yellow is meant to be a labor of love, not something you sell to the highest bidder.


                        • #13
                          sniper has put it better than i did ....

                          If we look for possible reasons for this to happen, ill go a step further and say, prepare the road for an invasion .... give the wehrmacht a couple of months to build up their logistics, and then assemble the fleet for a stab at Dover ... the home fleet and the RAF would have no choice but to throw everything they had at the invasion force .... Escorted by the surface fleet, with u boats in position to intercept the RN, and the luftwaffe primed to run interference against the RAF, it would have been a tough one to stop. It would have been Hitler's biggest gamble, both in scale and consequences.

                          The germans had 3 years to prepare for Normandy; the brits would be lucky to have 3 months. If the landings succeeded, there would not have been too many prepared defences, and establishing an initial beachhead would have been a lot easier than it was at Normandy.

                          On the other hand if the invasion was smashed, the RN would have had a much easier task of resupplying (as the only reason for the invasion to fail would be that the Kriegesmarine had been decimated defending the troop carriers). The battle of the Atlantic would be much easier and would be won by the Allies a lot sooner, seriously impacting the rest of the war.

                          These could be the stakes, and reason enough for both sides to throw their fleets, both air and sea into battle.

                          Personally, at this time, I feel that a strong case can be made for the Germans... they had a lot going for them.... their capabiltiies at sea were underestimated (remember the Hood), the Luftwaffe had a serious quantitiative and slight qualitative edge over the RAF (not including radar - but that would not have a big impact a battle of this sort); the Wehrmacht had momentum going for it and much better armour. Phew!!

                          ok .... reason enough for the battle to take place, but how do you think it would go??
                          Memento Mori


                          • #14
                            What would be the role of the Italian Navy?
                            I reckon their Navy was as incompetent as their armed forces, if I remember correctly much of their navy failed to peoperly supply the Italians and the Afrika Corps in N. Africa in 1940-43. And a lot of their fleet was sunk in the Mediterranean as well.


                            • #15
                              In 1940 the Italians had a very powerful navy. If it was incompetent, that was not the fault of the ships- which were numerous and quite powerful.

                              "How would the USN fit in? If I'm not mistaken, someone posted a list of USN actions before the US officialy entered the war and USN presence in the region was large "

                              The USN sits this out, but the American volunteer fighter squadrons in the UK at the time of 1940 participate.

                              SeaLion was impossible- Germany totally lacked the neccesary landing transports to make it happen, even with the Italian navy thrown in.