Overlord: Would it have been successful without an Eastern Front?




 
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July 13th, 2008  
errol
 
 

Topic: Overlord: Would it have been successful without an Eastern Front?


I am reading Max Hastings "Overlord". It makes it plain that the Germans put up a tremendous defence considering they were outgunned, outnumbered, with no Luftwaffe, OKW nuttered by Hitler, most of their best units tied up or destroyed in Russia. Could the Allies have invaded Europe successfully without the Russian Front or would the Germans, particularly their SS Panzer Groups have given us another belting and thrown us back into the sea?
July 13th, 2008  
Doppleganger
 
 
The short answer is no and the Western Allies would never have attempted an invasion without there being a significant Eastern Front in place. The Germans, with their best units to hand and a far more significant Luftwaffe presence, would have thrown us back into the sea.

BTW most of the SS Divisions were not elite and the ones that fought with such determination in Normandy were mainly substandard in terms of equipment and especially training. The premier SS units though, those that comprised the II SS Panzer Korps for example, were as fine a formation as anything else in the German Army. If there were no Eastern Front, those would be waiting for us, along with excellent German field commanders such as Guderian, Hoth, Kluge, Manstein et al who spent most of their time on the Eastern Front.
July 13th, 2008  
LeEnfield
 
 
Overlord was designed for the conditions as they stood at the time, now had the whole Atlantic wall been packed with Panzer's, then no doubt the the Atom bomb would have been dropped on Germany before it was dropped on Japan. Ain't life just full of ifs and buts
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July 13th, 2008  
MontyB
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by errol
I am reading Max Hastings "Overlord". It makes it plain that the Germans put up a tremendous defence considering they were outgunned, outnumbered, with no Luftwaffe, OKW nuttered by Hitler, most of their best units tied up or destroyed in Russia. Could the Allies have invaded Europe successfully without the Russian Front or would the Germans, particularly their SS Panzer Groups have given us another belting and thrown us back into the sea?
To be honest the Germans could have had their entire army parked on the Eastern Front and Overload would not have taken place had the Luftwaffe maintained air superiority over the channel instead of being smeared all over southern England.
July 16th, 2008  
AikiRooster
 
 
Lack of patience did the Nazi's in I think.
August 18th, 2008  
LeEnfield
 
 
It just a case of fighting to many people on two many fronts, Lets face it Germany and their allies topped about 100 million, and they had taken the Allied forces with about Billion people. Well it was never going to work with these odds.
August 18th, 2008  
mmarsh
 
 
I am not so I agree that it would have been a German victory.

Remember it was the BOB that cost the Luftwaffe their best pilots. And most of the fighter aces were shot down by Allied Planes not Soviet. The allies had more planes and better quality too. The Me-109G (the most common German fighter) was inferior to almost every allied plane. The Thunderbolts, Spitfires IX, + XIII and Mustangs ate it for breakfast.

The Luftwaffe had 2 exceptional fighter groups JG 26 and JG 52. Both the USAF and RAF had dozens of "good" squadrons such as the 352nd and 354th FG. In both the ETO and PTO, the few exceptional Axis squadrons eventually lost out to the endless supply of qualified Allied pilots. Therefore I would think that the allies would have air superiority.

The allies had fantastic Fighter-Bombers, Overlord proved that Germany couldn't move its tanks during the day because of them. Furthermore the best German Tanks were built in response to Russian Armor, if they never faced the T-34 then they never would have invented the various heavy armor vehicles (Tiger, panther, jadspanther) that they did. Therefore the Allies would have only faced Panzer III and IV which the Shermans could face on equal terms. And again, given the numerical superiority of allied Tanks, advantage allies.

Of course the Germany Army would have been under the continually bombardment of the Allied Fleet.

Lastly the allies had better infantry, they were less experianced but they were better equipped and better supported with artillery and heavy weapons. Remember the German Army was outnumbered by the American Army Alone, excluding the other Allies.

Overlord would have been more costly for the allies, perhaps in the 10s of Thousands KIA, but I think the result would have been the same.
August 18th, 2008  
Doppleganger
 
 
Hi mmarsh. I felt compelled to respond to your post, nothing personal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmarsh
Remember it was the BOB that cost the Luftwaffe their best pilots. And most of the fighter aces were shot down by Allied Planes not Soviet. The allies had more planes and better quality too. The Me-109G (the most common German fighter) was inferior to almost every allied plane. The Thunderbolts, Spitfires IX, + XIII and Mustangs ate it for breakfast.
It's simply untrue that the Battle of Britain cost the Luftwaffe their best pilots and also untrue that most of the fighter aces were downed against allied aircraft. Erich Hartmann, the leading German ace of the war (and the highest scoring fighter ace in history) was never shot down and spent the vast majority of his time on the Eastern Front, under JG52. He did not even complete his fighter pilot training until 1942 so to say that most of the fighter aces were shot down against the RAF is sadly, untrue.

Hans Ulrich Rudel, although a Stuka pilot, again was not downed by the RAF. Rudel was the highest decorated German individual in WW2 and claimed over 2000 kills. I think it's safe to say that the Luftwaffe lost some good pilots in the Battle of Britain but to say that they lost their best pilots is a falsehood.

Better planes? Again I'm not so sure. The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was superior to the Spitfire MKV when it was launched in 1941. German fighter design would eventually lead to the ME 262; had this plane been available in decent numbers it would have caused the Allies nothing short of a nightmare. Even historically they inflicted a 4-1 kill ratio on Allied bombers and fighter escorts.

The main problem for the Luftwaffe was 1) lack of trained pilots and 2) lack of fuel. Neither of these points would have anything like the impact they had historically without the presence of an Eastern Front.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmarsh
The Luftwaffe had 2 exceptional fighter groups JG 26 and JG 52. Both the USAF and RAF had dozens of "good" squadrons such as the 352nd and 354th FG. In both the ETO and PTO, the few exceptional Axis squadrons eventually lost out to the endless supply of qualified Allied pilots. Therefore I would think that the allies would have air superiority.
You are assuming that a 'fortress Britain' would still have been built up had there been no Eastern Front. This is a rather optimistic assumption given that Europe (USSR aside) would be under the domination of Germany, with their full combat strength available to apply against the Western Allies. Politically, it's an absolute non-starter in my eyes; I can't envisage the US being prepared to fortify the UK under those circumstances. Just say for argument's sake that it did happen then the Allies might generally have had local air superiority but they would have nothing like the air supremacy they enjoyed in reality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmarsh
The allies had fantastic Fighter-Bombers, Overlord proved that Germany couldn't move its tanks during the day because of them. Furthermore the best German Tanks were built in response to Russian Armor, if they never faced the T-34 then they never would have invented the various heavy armor vehicles (Tiger, panther, jadspanther) that they did. Therefore the Allies would have only faced Panzer III and IV which the Shermans could face on equal terms. And again, given the numerical superiority of allied Tanks, advantage allies.
My comments above partly dismiss this. The Allies would not enjoy the air supremacy they had in actuality. It's also untrue that the best German tanks were built in response to the T-34; only the Panther was as a direct result as the Tiger was already in the advanced planning stage in 1941. though admittedly the T-34 did cause some requirements to be changed. Moreover, it is likely that the Germans would have found out about the T-34 at some point so designs such as the Panther would have followed eventually. Finally you are forgetting about the famous '88 AA gun, that the Germans put to great use as an AT gun. The '88 would take care of any allied tank short of the M26 Pershing and would be highly effective for a defensive German Army.

The allied armoured divisions would not be facing just Panzer IIIs and IVs but also at least Tiger Is and '88 AT guns, a vastly different scenario.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmarsh
Of course the Germany Army would have been under the continually bombardment of the Allied Fleet.
Only if they were stupid enough to place their divisions in range, which I doubt they would be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmarsh
Lastly the allies had better infantry, they were less experianced but they were better equipped and better supported with artillery and heavy weapons. Remember the German Army was outnumbered by the American Army Alone, excluding the other Allies.
It's highly debatable that the Allies had better infantry - why do you say this? One of the things to consider is that the US Army, in their Air/Land Battle 2000 concept devised in the 1980s, recommended adopting the mission style tactics used by the Wehrmacht in WW2. I think that speaks volumes on the impact that the German Army, made up largely of infantry divisions, had on US commanders during WW2. The Allies had some excellent infantry but to say that they were better than Germany infantry... All I can say is that you'd be in the minority with that opinion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmarsh
Overlord would have been more costly for the allies, perhaps in the 10s of Thousands KIA, but I think the result would have been the same.
IMO the results would have been far different. The only way to ensure Allied victory in Europe had an Eastern Front not taken place would bring a terrible price.

Anthrax contamination of Germany or the dropping of nuclear weapons on Germany. Take your pick.
August 18th, 2008  
Ski8799
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by errol
I am reading Max Hastings "Overlord". It makes it plain that the Germans put up a tremendous defence considering they were outgunned, outnumbered, with no Luftwaffe, OKW nuttered by Hitler, most of their best units tied up or destroyed in Russia. Could the Allies have invaded Europe successfully without the Russian Front or would the Germans, particularly their SS Panzer Groups have given us another belting and thrown us back into the sea?
The Reich expended an enormous amount of resources in its eastern campaign as Hitler's top staff urged him to withdraw, but he was relentless and blinded with unreasonable delusions of grandeur. This certainly helped the allies greatly and of course expedited the end of the war, i would say that the Russians didn't win the war, but their contributions were greater than that of the allies. My .02 cents.
August 19th, 2008  
mmarsh
 
 
Doppleganger

1. I didnt say every single ace met his end at BOB, naturally some survived or arrivied later. But the core class of 1940, those that fought in Spain, Poland, the low countries and France got decimated in Aug-September 1940. Aside from JG 26 and 52 (and they took heavy losses as well) the average Luftwaffe JG was significantly weakened overall. The Luftwaffe lost 1100 aircraft thats (30% of their total strength) and most of those experianced aircrews were either KIA or were POW. Those pilots whom were lost were not there to train the next generation and by 1944 it showed, because on all fronts the average FG (excluding the JG 26, 52, and 54 as Goering liked to have most of his top Aces assigned together) was never equilivant to the pre-1940. As for the bomber force, it simply was a shadow of its former self.

On the allied side, there were far more Dick Bongs, J.Johnsons, or Hub Zemke then there were German pilots of Hartman's caliber. On a 1-1 to basis MAYBE (debateable) Germany had the edge, but in 1944 the Germans had far few aces and far more rookies than the allies did. It takes years to train a great pilot, you dont lose 30% of your total strength without reprocussion later on.

First of all there were far fewer 190s than 109s. Total production was 12000 (all varients). The 109 was still the mainstay German fighter. You forget that in 1942 the Spitfire V was replaced with the IX and later by 1944 the XIII. The Vs were either converted to high MKs, sent to 2nd line units, or were used as fighter-bombers. Both of those MK were superior to the FW.190. Not to mention the Tempest, P-47, P-51 and P-38. Your also mistaken about the Me-262. First of all it wasnt operational for Overlord, and secondly the ME-262 was a bomber interceptor not a fighter. It was totally unsuited for dogfighting because it couldnt menuever at all. it was also too fast, it would have overshot a piston based fighter, or it would have had to reduce speed (which would have been suicide because it would have deprived the 262 of its sole advantage). Either way the Allies would have either rolled or dived out of the way, it was no threat in a dogfight unless the Allied pilot was caught unaware. In 1945 the American P-51 tactic was catch the 262 in a turn (as they did to make passes on bombers) but because turned so slow and so wide the 51's could open the throttle and catch up to it, turn inside the 262 turn radius and blast it.

Your mistaken on the Tiger. The german were working on a heavy Tank prior to Barbarossa thats true, but it was the encounter with the T-34 that lead to fundimental changes in the original designs Armor and Armament. Thats what made the Tiger a poor cross country preformer, because its drive train and engine were not designed for the increased weight these modifications made. Had the Germans stuck with the original plan the tank (it was called Durchbruchwagen II) probably would have resembled the Char 1Bis is the KV-1 with a low velocity 75mm/L41 gun like the Panzer IV. In short, the Tiger was NOT the same tank. Same with the panther, its sloping armor was a direct copy of the sloping armor of the T-34. I don't think EITHER of these tanks would have made it in their present form without the Soviet influance.

I do think the allies had better infantry. The germans were more experianced, (but again many of their top units were gone in 1944) but even so the still green US was able to hold its own against veteran German units and that was the sole advantage the Germans had. The reason I say the Allies were better was, aside from the squad MG-42 and the typical NCO MP-38/40 the *typical* Wahrmacht rifleman had no semi-automatic weapons. The Gewehr 41/43 never reached widespread distribution, and so the typical infantry weapon was the Mauser K98. They were not motorized and they lacked both air and artillary support. An American infantry squad by contrast was fully automatic. Your typical US squad usually was two LMGs, a .30 cal and a BARMAN with the rest semi auto rifles or SMGs. That means that US squads firepower could and did pin down a larger enemy force. The Americans also had much easier access to heavy weapon units (bazookas, flamethrowers and Mortars teams). US rifle squads were modular, add a Bazooka team to the squad was easily done). The German infantry doctine revolved around the MG42 and allowed for little else. Heavy weapons were treated as seperate units that were moved upon request (usually too late). Furthermore Allied were much further ahead in communications, most platoons had a radioman which could easily relay information and even request air or artillery strikes. The germans never mastered this effectively, partly because german Radios were inferior and partly because of political rivaliries between the air and army corps made cohension difficult.

Allied infantry squads were always moved and accompied by halftracks, and even tanks. Having the 50.cal support fire from a M3 halftrack provided a edge in small arms combat. Only the Panzer grenadiers could regularly rely on regular motorized or armored support.

And of course, the Allies could rely on vast array of artillary, of which the British and the Canadians were absolute masters, espicially in counter-battery work, they had no equal.
 


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