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Thread: Operation Sealion: a catastrophic idea

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    Sees all, knows all Chlodovech's Avatar
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    Operation Sealion: a catastrophic idea

    ...and the O.K.W. and Kriegsmarine were fully aware of it and hence called it off. They war gamed the operation several times and even in the best scenario the Germans just got stuck on their beachheads suffering severe losses, unable to push more than a few miles in land - eventually having to make an evacuation effort. War games are usually quite consistent with reality - the Germans had been war gaming for half a century at that point, even before WW1. Contrary to popular belief, the Brits hoped the Germans would kick off Operation Sealion because like the O.K.W. they were well aware that a seaborn invasion of the British isles would've been incredibly difficult to pull off for the German forces - they thought they were going to score a great defensive, morale boosting victory, despite lacking the equipment to even fully equip two divisions with modern arms in June 1940, as the British army lost all of its weaponry in Dunkirk. As for the beaches themselves: I personally visited the fortifications of Kent and in some places they're quite impressive and daunting. The Brits had placed bunkers both at sea level and high above the potential battlefield, often inside their cliffs. There was no way of getting anywhere near the latter unless you get on top of the cliffs first. The alternative was neutralizing them with well aimed, direct canon fire both from anti-tank guns making it on to the beach and of course ships. Tanks wouldn't have been able to fire on these bunkers, due to the steep elevation. Kent's beaches are minimalistic. And that's assuming the Germans can put a considerable force on the British shoreline, as obtaining full air/naval superiority was not in the cards. Worse still, the Germans lost a massive number of slow moving transport airplanes over the Netherlands in May 1940, hampering potential para drops and the possibility of supply the invasion force by air.

    The Luftwaffe itself wasn't fully ready for war in 1939, the Brits correctly estimated that it would take the Germans until 1945 to build up their airforce to be on equal footing with the R.A.F. Historically, the Germans did sacrifice quality for quantity and did window dressing (something the Brits didn't think the Germans would do in the mid-thirties) - the Luftwaffe expanded faster than it ideally should have. However, the German strategic bombing campaign of British cities did have a serious impact (as did the attacks on British air defenses, such as radar stations, which Göring halted in favor of bombing cities). Churchill may have said that Britain would never surrender, but the population grew very tired with the around the clock bombing and constantly having to abandon their daily activities to seek shelter. I've read witness testimonies of both citizens and government officials who thought that if the Battle of Britain had lasted another week, war weariness would've forced London's hand.



    "If we were going to stand in darkness, best we stand in a darkness we had made ourselves.” ― Douglas Coupland, Shampoo Planet

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    Senior Member Uwe Jens Lornsen's Avatar
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    Hmmm ... Since the invasion of the Soviet Union one year later turned out "catastrophic" ,
    the self-destruction could have happed then already on the beaches of England .

    Lots of useless old tanks lost , needed to be replaced .


    The Messerschmidt BF-109 fighter had too little reach for either consuming too much fuel ,
    or not being able to carry enough fuel .

    Four landing- and start strips would have been needed :
    Arrival from the continent to fuel up
    Start to operate
    Arrival from operation to fuel up
    Start to return to the continent to overhaul the engine

    And fuels would have been needed to been transferred there .


    Wikipedia says , that Mussolini would have joined the German forces ,
    but had been mainly rejected by Hitler .
    This could have prevented the Italian assault on Albania and Greece one year later .

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Sea_Lion
    Upon hearing of Hitler's intentions, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, through his Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano, quickly offered up to ten divisions and thirty squadrons of Italian aircraft for the proposed invasion.[41] Hitler initially declined any such aid but eventually allowed a small contingent of Italian fighters and bombers, the Italian Air Corps (Corpo Aereo Italiano or CAI), to assist in the Luftwaffe's aerial campaign over Britain in October and November 1940.[42]
    I think, that Bello Gallico describes Julius Gaius Caesar's first attempt to
    cross the Channel failed due to stormy weather sinking his boats .



    One naval vehicle of the Germans , that had been unknown to me until now :
    The Siebel Ferry : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siebel_ferry
    The Siebel ferry (Siebelfähre) was a shallow-draft catamaran landing craft operated by Germany's Wehrmacht during World War II. It served a variety of roles (transport, flak ship, gunboat, convoy escort, minelayer) in the Mediterranean, Baltic and Black Seas as well as along the English Channel.
    Mk 10:18 What do you call me a good master, no-one is good .

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    Huginn ok Muninn's Avatar
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    And yet the true history reads, "Failing to invade England: an even more catastrophic idea."

    Which would have cost more men? Sea Lion or Barbarossa? (Assuming the correct decision had also been made to use ground forces to cut off the escape from Dunkirk.)
    Most people think as they are trained to think, and most people make a majority.

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    Sees all, knows all Chlodovech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huginn ok Muninn View Post
    And yet the true history reads, "Failing to invade England: an even more catastrophic idea."

    Which would have cost more men? Sea Lion or Barbarossa? (Assuming the correct decision had also been made to use ground forces to cut off the escape from Dunkirk.)
    I think there was a much bigger chance of success for Operation Barbarossa than for Sea Lion, if we don't go ahistorical - after all, when Barbarossa started the general assumption was that Soviet Russia would collapse within a matter of months - but if you go ahistorical and assume that the British army was destroyed near Dunkirk; it would still have been tremendously difficult to invade the UK. The invasion is one thing, landing is possible, and one can accept mass casualties during the operation. The Germans could've gone all in. Use every airplane, ship and paratrooper they had against a weakened opponent who was utterly destroyed near Dunkirk, how to supply all these men? How to land the second wave in barges (!), when the R.N. and R.A.F. will be waiting for them? There's no way the Germans are gonna land half a million men in Britain unless they can dominate the channel. And how are 100.000 or even 150.000 Germans then gonna conquer all of Britain? Taking a city the size of London with a few 10.000 soldiers is massively underestimating the task at hand, even if you're merely fighting against the Home Guard, one and a half regular divisions and some Canadians on the ground. What happened in Russia could've happened to the landing force in Britain, Britain would be too big and too populated to get under control. And failure for the Germans would've meant losing many of their best troops and their airforce and their entire Kriegsmarine. Nein, much better to invest in more U-boats and to attack the British Empire's achilles heel, the Middle East.
    "If we were going to stand in darkness, best we stand in a darkness we had made ourselves.” ― Douglas Coupland, Shampoo Planet

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    Operation Sealion was a pipe dream.

    Hitler himself was only half-heartedly interested and Admiral Raeder of the Kriegsmarine was positively terrified at the prospect. He feared his whole navy could end up on the Channel seabed!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SaxonPagan View Post
    Operation Sealion was a pipe dream.

    Hitler himself was only half-heartedly interested and Admiral Raeder of the Kriegsmarine was positively terrified at the prospect. He feared his whole navy could end up on the Channel seabed!
    Why not end up there , instead of scattering the whole navy
    around the globe at unrecoverable depths ?

    Probably the whole Einmarsch into Poland had been a √Pipe Dream™
    at that time ...

    Better an End with Horror , than Horrors without End ...
    Mk 10:18 What do you call me a good master, no-one is good .

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    Why not end up there , instead of scattering the whole navy around the globe at unrecoverable depths ?
    Because you only know this with hindsight

    Raeder thought it would be a virtual suicide mission to attack England via the Channel. He would have been up against a superior Royal Navy with no air superiority, so he was almost certainly right about this.

    In actual fact, the strategy of spreading U-boats all over the Atlantic (in particular) was a sound one because it dispersed the RN's fleet. The British - especially in the early stages of the war before the Enigma code was cracked - had no idea where the U-boats were going to strike next and so had to spread their vessels very thinly in order to cover all eventualities.

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    Senior Member Uwe Jens Lornsen's Avatar
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    If the U-Boats would have had the speed and range of corvettes,
    destroyers, and other ships of line , then one could possibly agree
    with that argument to "disperse" the British navy .

    But I doubt , that the Admiralty had dispersed their flotillas .
    I believe , that the Admiralty rather would have sacrificed lone straying
    merchant ships , than scattered the wor ships here and there .

    It would really need a list of sunk merchant ships being
    protected by convoy escorts , just in convoy and sailing
    lonely , to compare the effectivity of submarines at large
    scales .

    Only the USA had been victorious in the Pacific using large
    and large amounts of submarines to neary eliminate the Japanese merchant navy .

    Otherwise Mr Raeder must have been much better informed
    about technological advances , like Radar, Asdic and Sonar , than Mr Hitler .

    Thus my impression is , that Mr Raeder would have been better
    off stepping back and retiring , than sacrificing too many
    proud elites ...
    Mk 10:18 What do you call me a good master, no-one is good .

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