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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Military/History Related Hobbies > Alternate Timelines

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Alternate Timelines The plausible "what if's" of military history.

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  #1  
Old 10 Aug 17, 23:53
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Germans capture ALL of the french fleet in 1940.

What if germans were able to persuade the major french naval commanders to switch sides and come under the overall command of KM but maintain their crews and traditions

How will it affect the naval balance ?

if you are the german admiral how would you position this fleet and why ?
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  #2  
Old 11 Aug 17, 00:59
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You get a fleet that consists of two battleships, one in need of some serious repairs (Richelieu), along with a couple of useless WW 1 derelicts, and some cruisers, destroyers, and submarines. The subs are largely useless for commerce raiding, while the cruisers and destroyers are of some use in the Med.

The problem is where do you get the fuel to operate from? The Germans can't even supply the Italian fleet and the Italians, like the French, have no internal source of oil for supplying it.
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Old 11 Aug 17, 01:06
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There is also the 2 battlecruisers

but yes you are right fuel will be a major issue

What would you do with these ships if you are the German admiral incharge of this fleet ?

Would you attack Gibralter with this fleet ?
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Old 11 Aug 17, 01:47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nastle View Post
There is also the 2 battlecruisers

but yes you are right fuel will be a major issue

What would you do with these ships if you are the German admiral incharge of this fleet ?

Would you attack Gibralter with this fleet ?
Jean Bart isn't even close to finished, and Dunkerque was crippled off at Mers-el-Kebir along with Bretagne. So, those don't count since they'd still be sunk. Richelieu is at Dakar and would have to try to get back to France in this case but would still have only one working turret as the other suffered a gun explosion putting it out of action.

I doubt you could change events surrounding the RN pounding on French Navy ships immediately after the surrender. I also doubt the Germans could expect any French ships well overseas, like the carrier Bearn in the Caribbean, to successfully join this fleet in France.

So, you definitely get Strasbourg, maybe Richelieu, and possibly the marginally useful old battleship Provence. Paris was in the port of London so she still gets boarded and captured.
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Old 11 Aug 17, 08:32
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Ships are not like cars, tanks and other vehicles.... manning and operating such vessels takes considerable time and I seriously doubt even between the Germans and Italians would have been able to use them effectively.

I think the only vessels that could have been usefully put into service would have been the more modern Fantasque, Chacal and Mogador class destroyers which were actually good ships. The more modern sub fleet including the Requin, Saphir class subs and perhaps a few of the Type I ans II of the 1500 Tonnes class.

The problem with ANY vessel is not only proper training and manning required, but invariably their are refitting issues of key components in order to makes them repairable. This also takes a lot of time. In short, I don't think anything more than a few small escorts or tugs would have been successfully operated had they been captured.

That said, the biggest obstacle to this alt-historical scenario would have been persuading France to hand over her fleet via Armistice requirements. I seriously doubt any of the major players on the French side would have agreed to this. Only a nut like Laval would have agreed to hand over the fleet, and fortunately he wasn't anywhere near the negotiations at that time.

The only way for the French fleet to have been effective for the Axis, we have to see France actually join the Axis powers from the onset.
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Old 11 Aug 17, 10:02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
Jean Bart isn't even close to finished, and Dunkerque was crippled off at Mers-el-Kebir along with Bretagne. So, those don't count since they'd still be sunk. Richelieu is at Dakar and would have to try to get back to France in this case but would still have only one working turret as the other suffered a gun explosion putting it out of action.

I doubt you could change events surrounding the RN pounding on French Navy ships immediately after the surrender. I also doubt the Germans could expect any French ships well overseas, like the carrier Bearn in the Caribbean, to successfully join this fleet in France.

So, you definitely get Strasbourg, maybe Richelieu, and possibly the marginally useful old battleship Provence. Paris was in the port of London so she still gets boarded and captured.
I meant if germans had made a deal with the french admirals to switch side before mers el kebir right after battle of france

so the best use of cruisers and destroyers would be in the Mediterranean ? and the BB and BC most likely would become coastal defence ships in the french ports and may have fired on Allied landings like Jean Bart did in N Africa ?
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Old 11 Aug 17, 10:03
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The only way for the French fleet to have been effective for the Axis, we have to see France actually join the Axis powers from the onset.
even if that was the case, what can the french fleet do differently ?
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Old 11 Aug 17, 10:48
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Originally Posted by nastle View Post
I meant if germans had made a deal with the french admirals to switch side before mers el kebir right after battle of france

I'm having a difficult time imagining what kind of deal the Germans could have offered after the Battle of France. You don't invade a country then afterwards ask, "Be My Valentine".... No - a deal for the French to "switch sides" would have to come before a shooting war in the west - i.e. Pre-Sept. 1, 1939.

I can only think that a government collapsing and a newly remade government along the lines of Vichy could make this possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nastle View Post
even if that was the case, what can the french fleet do differently ?

Could have made a vast difference in the Med, North African campaign and perhaps the Atlantic along the French colonies of Africa....forcing the US/UK to really rethink their NA invasion. Most likely casualties would have been greater to both sides....but -

...how does it change the US approach towards France? Given the historical US penchant towards people like Petain, Darlan and Giraud, I wonder how much would have been different. If France does go to the Axis side...does De Gaulle defect or go along?
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Old 11 Aug 17, 11:30
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I'd think the British would still show up, pretty much like they did, only this time there'd be no negotiations. Much of the French fleet would be sunk or crippled in the harbors they were in. I could also see local French authorities telling ship commanders to choose between taking that order and ignoring it. Thus, you might have some individual ship captains or local naval leaders essentially saying "go to hell, we're not joining the Germans."

Like I pointed out, there wasn't a chance in hell that the US would have let the French / French Navy ships at Martinique in the Caribbean go anywhere sided with the Germans. They'd have sent the Atlantic fleet and pretty much said, tie up in port and stay there our we're sinking the lot of you.

Given the fractured political scheme that arose after the fall of France, I can't see any monolithic outcome where the whole of the French Navy joins the Germans.
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Old 11 Aug 17, 14:28
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Quite a few of the senior French naval commanders were pro German e. g. Darlan's loyalty was very dubious. So it would not be impossible for more of the fleet to go over to the Axis. As others have said it would be irrelevant as the British would attack as they did in real life.
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Old 12 Aug 17, 17:15
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I agree with the above. Nothing would have happened of consequence.

Even the Italians, with a powerful fleet, pretty much accomplished nothing. It's not the ships, it's the men, training, and logistics.
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Old 14 Aug 17, 05:51
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The best use of these ships esp BB BC and cruisers would have been in the baltic ( fire support primarily ) and possibly to be used in a raid on Murmansk

here the luftwaffe was stronger esp earlier in the war

and enemy naval opposition was weaker
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Old 14 Aug 17, 11:01
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Getting them there intact and even getting the crews to want to aggressively participate would be problems. What's in any of that for the French crews? That helps the Germans, not France. I could see the individual ship captains using any excuse, however lame, to break off the action simply because even though their top command, and government are supporting the Germans they personally see no reason to risk the lives of a thousand plus men to fight for Germany.
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Old 15 Aug 17, 11:50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nastle View Post
What if germans were able to persuade the major french naval commanders to switch sides and come under the overall command of KM but maintain their crews and traditions

How will it affect the naval balance ?

if you are the german admiral how would you position this fleet and why ?
The Germans could have used the light cruisers and submarines for commerce raiding, the usable destroyers for escorts of supply convoys to North Africa and ordered the French to use the heavy units main and secondary batteries as Atlantic Wall defenses.

Just my immediate thoughts.
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Old 15 Aug 17, 12:51
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The cruisers and subs had range problems
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