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Why the Battle of Britain was the most important point in the Second World War.


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Sqn Ldr B #1 Posted 23 August 2015 - 08:43 PM

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Now I often see people arguing about how things like Stalingrad or Midway were the most important points in the Second World War, but people rarely mention what has to be the most important, the Battle of Britain. To point out why this is so, we must consider the eventualities arising from the RAF failing to win the Battle of Britain:

  • The Luftwaffe gains aerial superiority and Operation Sea Lion is successful.
  • With Britain defeated, thousands upon thousands of men and vast quantities of equipment being used to fight the British in Europe and in Africa can be transferred to the Eastern Front.
  • As a result of the second point, the USSR is defeated or crippled due to the increased strength of axis forces.
  • A lack of British scientists in the Manhattan project slows the development of the allied atomic bomb.
  • The Americans have no staging point or base for a war in Europe....
  • ....and the incentive for a war on Germany by the Americans is gone.
  • With the USSR and Britain defeated, Germany now has no European enemies left, and is free to build up its strength.
  • Germany can easily invade Ireland.
  • With its now enormous and almost unopposed strength, Germany will have the potential to make an attempted invasion of North America.
  • The collapse of Britain causes the collapse of the Empire....
  • ....and British forces cease fighting in the CBI and Pacific theatre.
  • Thus the Americans lose a vital ally in the Pacific theatre.
  • India is overrun by the Japanese.

 

Now, some of these are a bit far fetched. For instance, even if Britain was defeated, British forces in the Empire, particularly the Royal Navy and the Commonwealth nations would have continued the war against Germany, but it must be considered that it could lead to the collapse of the Empire and Commonwealth as a whole.

 

So hopefully now you can see why the Battle of Britain was the crucial point in the war, and how the RAF saved Britain, and to an extent the world, from being subjugated by the Nazis. (Obviously I could go into a lot more detail but this is just a brief explanation).


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Sgt Becket FEAR #2 Posted 23 August 2015 - 08:54 PM

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You also have to remember the psychological victory. The world was given proof that the German War Machine was NOT invincible and that there WAS hope.

 

The Battle of Britain and Stalingrad gave the world hope; a reason to fight tooth and claw back out of the darkness that had descended upon it for the second time in less than a century.

 

Yes, if England had fallen to the Germans, it would not necessarily have been the end of the free world but it would have been a major psychological victory for the Germans and a crushing blow to the Commonwealth Forces that remained in other parts of the world. Not to mention that all of Germany's attention would have shifted to the Soviet Union.


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helldriver90 #3 Posted 23 August 2015 - 09:04 PM

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very true, even in 1944 Stalin urged the allies to open a 2nd front. britain, despite lesser size, was perhaps one of the most countries, due to the location, and the fact that britain was the wedge preventing Nazi germany from freeing up resources, meaning lesser strength on all fronts. and don't forgot enigma machine. 


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Red Dough Boy #4 Posted 23 August 2015 - 09:16 PM

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I agree with all of these points, and during school I always learned that the two most important turning points of World War 2 were the battles of Stalingrad and Britain. El Alamein was important as well; however, if Britain fell it would have signaled an even more drastic fall for Europe. I still say that Hitlers biggest mistake was attempting to invade the Soviet Union as well as Britain and Africa at the same time. If he had invested more against the British, they would have more than likely fallen, he could have then turned to the Soviets and taken them after a time, luckily he was not a great strategist.

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Uranprojekt #5 Posted 23 August 2015 - 09:20 PM

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I agree, Operation Sealowe being successful is far-fetched. Do we just pretend that the Kriegsmarine didn't have enough ships to cover a full scale landing on the English coastline? U-boats are great and all but they aren't exactly built for escorting landing craft. That's generally left up to destroyers and cruisers and Germany was sort of lacking in the destroyer department after HMS Warspite and her escorting destroyers had their way with the Kriegsmarine destroyer fleet in Norway.

Don't even get me started on a Japanese invasion of India or a potential German invasion of America, I could be here all night and I, to be quite frank, don't have the time for that.

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Sqn Ldr B #6 Posted 23 August 2015 - 09:25 PM

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I doubt Britain would have fallen in a literal sense. The feeling in 1940 under Churchill's leadership was one of defiance, and I doubt Britain would have surrendered easily. Even if Britain had surrendered easily, I can't imagine British forces ceasing their defence of their homeland. The people of Britain would not be subjugated. I reckon the Germans would have found it very hard to defeat British guerilla forces in places like the highlands. There are a few places in Britain where bands of resistance fighters and military units could retire to and hold the upper hand over the Germans. Places like the Highlands, the Yorkshire Dales, the Brecon Beacons,  and Anglesey would have been a perfect place to operate out of and the Germans would find it near impossible to dislodge troops holed up there. Also factor in that the Royal Navy would continue to fight the fight for Britain around the world and you have a country that will be fighting against the Germans a long time after any official surrender.

View PostUranprojekt, on 23 August 2015 - 09:20 PM, said:

I agree, Operation Sealowe being successful is far-fetched. Do we just pretend that the Kriegsmarine didn't have enough ships to cover a full scale landing on the English coastline? U-boats are great and all but they aren't exactly built for escorting landing craft. That's generally left up to destroyers and cruisers and Germany was sort of lacking in the destroyer department after HMS Warspite and her escorting destroyers had their way with the Kriegsmarine destroyer fleet in Norway.

Don't even get me started on a Japanese invasion of India or a potential German invasion of America, I could be here all night and I, to be quite frank, don't have the time for that.

 

Don't forget the Germans still possessed an impressive and capable Fallschirmjager, since in 1940 they had yet to suffer their mauling at Crete.

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Matthew J35U5 #7 Posted 23 August 2015 - 09:34 PM

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No. Your argument is just wrong. Lets make a comparison of the battle of Moscow and the Battle of Britain:

Britain falls to Germany:
~20 divisions are able to be transferred to the east (IIRC there was ~40 in the west, and some will be needed for security, and the divisions in the west are usually refitting after being rotated home)
Many planes can be diverted to the east. I don't remember how many were in the west exactly, but lets say 1-2000. 

Potentially this increase in force could let the Germans defeat the USSR. But this is hardly certain, if the outcome of invading Russia is uncertain, 20 divisions (and some number of planes) is hardly enough to shift it from "uncertain" to guaranteed. 

No British support in the Pacific. The Americans could have made do without them. Japan almost literally needs an act of god to not lose to the Americans. OTL america is soundly defeating the Japanese while devoting most of their time and resources to Europe, with no European theatre, the Japanese are in far more trouble, even with no British assistance for the Americans. 

The idea that Germany could ever be able to invade America is literally laughable. OTL Germany couldn't successfully invade Russia or Britain, this would be like trying to invade Russia, by sea, over a distance of several thousand km. At best, you might end up with a cold-war-esque situation where neither Germany nor America can invade the other, and have no incentive to try. (Assuming the Germans ever manage to figure out nuclear weapons.)

Whereas if Moscow falls to Germany (and as per Great Britain, this causes the Soviet Union to surrender), then Germany certainly can't be invaded because it can now defend Europe with its ~200 divisions that were occupied fighting in Russia. Even if they aren't able to conquer Britain, Britain & America can't hurt them anyway, Germany will be self-sufficient with the resources from the Soviet Union, and will be able to beat back any incursion onto the continent with its enormous army that has been freed from service in Russia. 

To sum up, if Britain falls, Germany might win. If Russia falls, Germany does win. "Germany definitely winning" by winning the battle of Moscow, beats "Germany maybe winning" by winning the battle of Britain. 

The only way America might "win" after Germany has achieved its victory conditions is by using many, many nuclear weapons, which it can do in either scenario. 
 
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KeystoneCops, on 14 June 2015 - 12:51 PM, said:


Matthew J35U5 #8 Posted 23 August 2015 - 09:37 PM

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View PostSqn Ldr B, on 23 August 2015 - 04:25 PM, said:

I doubt Britain would have fallen in a literal sense. The feeling in 1940 under Churchill's leadership was one of defiance, and I doubt Britain would have surrendered easily. Even if Britain had surrendered easily, I can't imagine British forces ceasing their defence of their homeland. The people of Britain would not be subjugated. I reckon the Germans would have found it very hard to defeat British guerilla forces in places like the highlands. There are a few places in Britain where bands of resistance fighters and military units could retire to and hold the upper hand over the Germans. Places like the Highlands, the Yorkshire Dales, the Brecon Beacons,  and Anglesey would have been a perfect place to operate out of and the Germans would find it near impossible to dislodge troops holed up there. Also factor in that the Royal Navy would continue to fight the fight for Britain around the world and you have a country that will be fighting against the Germans a long time after any official surrender.

 

Don't forget the Germans still possessed an impressive and capable Fallschirmjager, since in 1940 they had yet to suffer their mauling at Crete.

Seeing as how they were mauled at Crete one might presume that they would be mauled even worse invading Britain...


KeystoneCops, on 14 June 2015 - 12:51 PM, said:


Sqn Ldr B #9 Posted 23 August 2015 - 09:48 PM

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View PostMatthew J35U5, on 23 August 2015 - 09:34 PM, said:

No. Your argument is just wrong. Lets make a comparison of the battle of Moscow and the Battle of Britain:

Could you just stop coming into threads like this and denying everything people say? The fact that you usually offer no contribution to the thread other than a counter argument, despite the fact this isn't an argument, makes no sense to me. I can't be bothered with another long argument with you. The fact that you bothered to write what was practically a dissertation devoted to arguing against something that wasn't an argument kind of shows that you're wasting your time. 

View PostMatthew J35U5, on 23 August 2015 - 09:34 PM, said:

To sum up, if Britain falls, Germany might win. If Russia falls, Germany does win. "Germany definitely winning" by winning the battle of Moscow, beats "Germany maybe winning" by winning the battle of Britain. 

I'm pretty sure that I quite clearly said that a German victory in Russia would be as a result of a German victory over Britain. Thus if the Battle of Britain was lost by the RAF, the battle in Russia would have been won by the Germans. That doesn't make any sense to me.

 

And by the way, the fact that you attempt to belittle everyone else by asserting through your language that you are the be all and end all on historical topics is ridiculous. Things like telling people their point is 'literally laughable' is stupid, please stop it.


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Uranprojekt #10 Posted 23 August 2015 - 10:01 PM

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View PostSqn Ldr B, on 23 August 2015 - 09:25 PM, said:

I doubt Britain would have fallen in a literal sense. The feeling in 1940 under Churchill's leadership was one of defiance, and I doubt Britain would have surrendered easily. Even if Britain had surrendered easily, I can't imagine British forces ceasing their defence of their homeland. The people of Britain would not be subjugated. I reckon the Germans would have found it very hard to defeat British guerilla forces in places like the highlands. There are a few places in Britain where bands of resistance fighters and military units could retire to and hold the upper hand over the Germans. Places like the Highlands, the Yorkshire Dales, the Brecon Beacons,  and Anglesey would have been a perfect place to operate out of and the Germans would find it near impossible to dislodge troops holed up there. Also factor in that the Royal Navy would continue to fight the fight for Britain around the world and you have a country that will be fighting against the Germans a long time after any official surrender.

 

Don't forget the Germans still possessed an impressive and capable Fallschirmjager, since in 1940 they had yet to suffer their mauling at Crete.

 

Seems that to make up for the gaping hole in the German plan that is a total lack of destroyers, we just need to throw a few paras in and that'll sort it out.

 

I suppose I should point out that the Fallschirmjäger suffered their first defeat in April 1940 at the hands of the Norwegian Army after landing near the village of Dombås. A five day battle ensued and the Norwegians won, destroying a company of German paras in the process.


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Matthew J35U5 #11 Posted 23 August 2015 - 10:04 PM

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View PostSqn Ldr B, on 23 August 2015 - 04:48 PM, said:

Could you just stop coming into threads like this and denying everything people say? The fact that you usually offer no contribution to the thread other than a counter argument, despite the fact this isn't an argument, makes no sense to me. I can't be bothered with another long argument with you. The fact that you bothered to write what was practically a dissertation devoted to arguing against something that wasn't an argument kind of shows that you're wasting your time. 

I'm pretty sure that I quite clearly said that a German victory in Russia would be as a result of a German victory over Britain. Thus if the Battle of Britain was lost by the RAF, the battle in Russia would have been won by the Germans. That doesn't make any sense to me.

 

And by the way, the fact that you attempt to belittle everyone else by asserting through your language that you are the be all and end all on historical topics is ridiculous. Things like telling people their point is 'literally laughable' is stupid, please stop it.

 

Stop being wrong and I'll stop telling you that you're wrong. This is not your hugbox, if you post something be prepared to have people disagree. In this case, I disagree with your assertion that the Battle of Britain was the most important point in WWII, so I am not going to be part of your hugbox, I am going to tell you why I disagree. 

Just because you said the fall of Britain would result in Russia falling to Germany doesn't mean that is accurate. It would certainly be more likely, but the margin of force that Germany gains by having defeated Britain doesn't seem sufficient to guarantee victory. (Especially since one of their main problems in Russia was logistical, and more soldiers would only make that worse). 

If you think that Germany invading America is not laughable, you need to go sit in a corner by yourself for a few minutes. OTL it was impossible for Germany to invade Britain, across a few miles of water. They were unable to defeat Russia. Think about how incredibly difficult it would be to invade America, which is across thousands of miles of water, not a few, and is much stronger than Russia is. (Industrially) If you think this is a feasible idea, you need some belittling. 

Do you have any criticisms of my analysis, or do you want to keep complaining that I'm being mean to you?

KeystoneCops, on 14 June 2015 - 12:51 PM, said:


Sqn Ldr B #12 Posted 23 August 2015 - 10:14 PM

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View PostUranprojekt, on 23 August 2015 - 10:01 PM, said:

 

Seems that to make up for the gaping hole in the German plan that is a total lack of destroyers, we just need to throw a few paras in and that'll sort it out.

 

I suppose I should point out that the Fallschirmjäger suffered their first defeat in April 1940 at the hands of the Norwegian Army after landing near the village of Dombås. A five day battle ensued and the Norwegians won, destroying a company of German paras in the process.

 

Look, I'm not the one, nor are any of us, to go about asserting how the Germans would have gone about invading the Britain. The point is, if the RAF was destroyed, the Germans would have made a series of landings on the south coast unopposed from the air. The Germans could well have boxed the Royal Navy in at Southampton and Scapa Flow using U-Boats.

View PostMatthew J35U5, on 23 August 2015 - 10:04 PM, said:

 

Stop being wrong and I'll stop telling you that you're wrong. This is not your hugbox, if you post something be prepared to have people disagree. In this case, I disagree with your assertion that the Battle of Britain was the most important point in WWII, so I am not going to be part of your hugbox, I am going to tell you why I disagree. 

Just because you said the fall of Britain would result in Russia falling to Germany doesn't mean that is accurate. It would certainly be more likely, but the margin of force that Germany gains by having defeated Britain doesn't seem sufficient to guarantee victory. (Especially since one of their main problems in Russia was logistical, and more soldiers would only make that worse). 

If you think that Germany invading America is not laughable, you need to go sit in a corner by yourself for a few minutes. OTL it was impossible for Germany to invade Britain, across a few miles of water. They were unable to defeat Russia. Think about how incredibly difficult it would be to invade America, which is across thousands of miles of water, not a few, and is much stronger than Russia is. (Industrially) If you think this is a feasible idea, you need some belittling. 

Do you have any criticisms of my analysis, or do you want to keep complaining that I'm being mean to you?

I'll just point out that I never said the Germans would successfully invade the USA, I said they would try. I also never said the USA specifically, I said North America, meaning Canada as well as the USA. With no opponents in Europe the Germans would be free to develop Amerika Bombers and such. Just think what the Germans would come up with if resources weren't having to be diverted to the war effort. Oh, and the Atlantic isn't the only route of invasion to North America. The Germans could go into Alaska through their newly conquered Russia. As for defeating the USSR in the first place, the Germans wouldn't have a 'margin of strength' added to their eastern forces. We're talking thousands of aircraft, large amounts of troops used in the invasion of Britain, the Afrika Korps and the corresponding air component there too. Naval forces could be diverted to the Baltic and Arctic as well.

 

And can I just point out that if you are of the mindset that people need belittling then you are an arrogant fool. Stop dictating to people that your views on something that never happened are right, stop dictating to people that they are wrong, and just stop acting like you and your opinions are the be all and end all of historical eventualities that never happened.


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Section47ABH #13 Posted 23 August 2015 - 10:17 PM

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There's a good argument to the effect that if the Battle of Britain had been lost - unlikely, the Luftwaffe had, with 20/20 hindsight, the wrong materiel, doctrine and political leadership to win that one - Seelowe would still have failed.  Except in this version, the Few we heap praise on would have been sailors, not airmen.  And the Atlantic theatre would have seen a decisive fleet engagement, in and around the Channel, that would have left the Royal Navy free to blockade every access to the sea the Nazis had.  The subsequent Battle of the Atlantic would have gone rather differently - won earlier and easier - and the considerably more potent threat of amphibious invasion would have meant even more Wehrmacht troops kept out of Russia.  The reduced threat of invasion together with boosted morale from an earlier victory would have meant a quicker, more decisive North Africa victory (El Alamein a lot sooner and a lot further west, for one thing). 

 

Ensuing consequences would be interesting to speculate on.


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Sqn Ldr B #14 Posted 23 August 2015 - 10:21 PM

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View PostSection47ABH, on 23 August 2015 - 10:17 PM, said:

There's a good argument to the effect that if the Battle of Britain had been lost - unlikely, the Luftwaffe had, with 20/20 hindsight, the wrong materiel, doctrine and political leadership to win that one - Seelowe would still have failed.  Except in this version, the Few we heap praise on would have been sailors, not airmen.  And the Atlantic theatre would have seen a decisive fleet engagement, in and around the Channel, that would have left the Royal Navy free to blockade every access to the sea the Nazis had.  The subsequent Battle of the Atlantic would have gone rather differently - won earlier and easier - and the considerably more potent threat of amphibious invasion would have meant even more Wehrmacht troops kept out of Russia.  The reduced threat of invasion together with boosted morale from an earlier victory would have meant a quicker, more decisive North Africa victory (El Alamein a lot sooner and a lot further west, for one thing). 

 

Ensuing consequences would be interesting to speculate on.

 

Couldn't the Germans use their U-Boat flotillas to block the Royal Navy into their ports at Southampton and Scapa Flow?

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Metalrodent #15 Posted 23 August 2015 - 10:24 PM

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View PostSqn Ldr B, on 23 August 2015 - 10:21 PM, said:

 

Couldn't the Germans use their U-Boat flotillas to block the Royal Navy into their ports at Southampton and Scapa Flow?

One would presume though that had the RAF been defeated then much of the Royal Navy fleet out in the Pacific would have been recalled, though admittedly they would then still have had the loss of air superiority problem.


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Sqn Ldr B #16 Posted 23 August 2015 - 10:26 PM

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View PostMetalrodent, on 23 August 2015 - 10:24 PM, said:

One would presume though that had the RAF been defeated then much of the Royal Navy fleet out in the Pacific would have been recalled, though admittedly they would then still have had the loss of air superiority problem.

 

Yeah, the issue with withdrawing the British Pacific Fleet is that they would be easy prey for U-Boats and Condors on the way there, and that would leave places like Singapore and India with little protection against the Japanese, who were treated with suspicion even before 1941.

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Section47ABH #17 Posted 23 August 2015 - 10:27 PM

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View PostSqn Ldr B, on 23 August 2015 - 10:21 PM, said:

 

Couldn't the Germans use their U-Boat flotillas to block the Royal Navy into their ports at Southampton and Scapa Flow?

 

Not enough U-boats at that point in the war.  And they were never able to survive long in shallow water.  The reason they were able to achieve what they did during the two months of the Battle of the Atlantic where they were actually winning is that there was a several hundred mile wide 'air gap' in the mid-atlantic where they couldn't be overflown.  It's a function of the physics of light-through-water - get up high and you can see a submerged submarine from a very long way away, and drop depth charges or vector depth-charging surface ships via radio.   It's the reason that there are so many u-boat wrecks in coastal waters for british diving clubs to explore (my father being a member of one such with dozens of u-boat dives to his credit and a crashing and interminable bore on the subject is how I ended up learning this stuff.)   Basically, if you want to blockade battleships, you need battleships or carriers.
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Sqn Ldr B #18 Posted 23 August 2015 - 10:48 PM

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^^^See? If there's going to be some kind of counter, I'd like it to be at least a civil discussion like this. Not just constant ''no, you are wrong,'' ''no, you need belittling,'' ''why would anyone think that?'' kind of thing, because it makes you sound like a bloody arrogant idiot.

Edited by Sqn Ldr B, 23 August 2015 - 10:48 PM.

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Matthew J35U5 #19 Posted 23 August 2015 - 10:49 PM

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View PostSqn Ldr B, on 23 August 2015 - 05:14 PM, said:

 

Look, I'm not the one, nor are any of us, to go about asserting how the Germans would have gone about invading the Britain. The point is, if the RAF was destroyed, the Germans would have made a series of landings on the south coast unopposed from the air. The Germans could well have boxed the Royal Navy in at Southampton and Scapa Flow using U-Boats.

I'll just point out that I never said the Germans would successfully invade the USA, I said they would try. I also never said the USA specifically, I said North America, meaning Canada as well as the USA. With no opponents in Europe the Germans would be free to develop Amerika Bombers and such. Just think what the Germans would come up with if resources weren't having to be diverted to the war effort. Oh, and the Atlantic isn't the only route of invasion to North America. The Germans could go into Alaska through their newly conquered Russia. As for defeating the USSR in the first place, the Germans wouldn't have a 'margin of strength' added to their eastern forces. We're talking thousands of aircraft, large amounts of troops used in the invasion of Britain, the Afrika Korps and the corresponding air component there too. Naval forces could be diverted to the Baltic and Arctic as well.

 

And can I just point out that if you are of the mindset that people need belittling then you are an arrogant fool. Stop dictating to people that your views on something that never happened are right, stop dictating to people that they are wrong, and just stop acting like you and your opinions are the be all and end all of historical eventualities that never happened.

 

What makes you think the Americans would let Germany invade anywhere in North America? It had been their policy for many years that European nations were to stay out of American (continent) affairs, I don't think they would happily sit by while Germany invades Canada. 

Invading North America via the Bering strait is a great idea. Except for how you now need to conquer all of Russia instead of just annexing Russia. And instead of sending supplies by ship across the Atlantic, you now need to send supplies by train from Germany to Siberia. And then ship them to North America. And then you're still no-where because you're in Alaska, still hundreds of km from anything important. Remind me why this is such a good plan again?

Barbarossa was already using the vast majority of German resources. (~80% of the Germany army took part in Barbarossa) It isn't as if Germany is going from using 40% of its army against Russia to 90%, its more like going from 80%-90%. 

But look at it this way: Lets say that Germany has a 40% chance of winning a war against Russia with Britain being around. (Biasing to the Russians because they did actually win). And without Britain being around they have an 80% chance of winning. 

Whereas if the British have a 60% chance of winning with the Russians around, how likely are they to defeat Germany with the Russians not around? It seems enormously implausible to me to suggest that Britain+America are more likely to defeat Germany than Russia+America are. (Alone or separately) 

There are many plausible things that could have happened that I wouldn't laugh at people simply for suggesting. Germany defeating Britain could have happened, though for an actual invasion to have worked quite a few things would have needed to have been different. Germany defeating the Soviet Union could have happened, though most people don't seem interested into thinking about how it would happen, and just assert that it would have. Germany could not have successfully invaded North America. You have been asserting yourself that had Britain fell America could not have intervened on the continent. America would be far more likely to be able to invade Europe than Germany would be able to invade America (the continent).

 
Tell me I'm wrong (on Germany being able to successfully invade America), or stop complaining that I think it is a laughable proposition. 


KeystoneCops, on 14 June 2015 - 12:51 PM, said:


Matthew J35U5 #20 Posted 23 August 2015 - 10:53 PM

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View PostSection47ABH, on 23 August 2015 - 05:27 PM, said:

 

Not enough U-boats at that point in the war.  And they were never able to survive long in shallow water.  The reason they were able to achieve what they did during the two months of the Battle of the Atlantic where they were actually winning is that there was a several hundred mile wide 'air gap' in the mid-atlantic where they couldn't be overflown.  It's a function of the physics of light-through-water - get up high and you can see a submerged submarine from a very long way away, and drop depth charges or vector depth-charging surface ships via radio.   It's the reason that there are so many u-boat wrecks in coastal waters for british diving clubs to explore (my father being a member of one such with dozens of u-boat dives to his credit and a crashing and interminable bore on the subject is how I ended up learning this stuff.)   Basically, if you want to blockade battleships, you need battleships or carriers.

 

To be fair, the Germans don't need carriers to make the english channel dangerous for british ships. However, that doesn't do them much good since they can't protect their landing craft flat-bottom river barges anyway, so I agree with you that See Löwe likely wouldn't work.

KeystoneCops, on 14 June 2015 - 12:51 PM, said:





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