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Old November 13th, 2012, 09:35 AM   #11

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Originally Posted by Belisarius View Post
What everyone overlooks is that the Russians had developed combined arms armoured warfare into a fine art in the 1920's and 30's, so assuming no Stalinist purges, you'd still get "blitzkrieg" but it would be called "молниеносной войны" instead.
There were British and French officers that favored a "combined arms"/armored warfare tactics as well. Had their governments or military high commands accepted these theories and performed further research into them, "blitzkrieg" could have very well come out of France and Britain as well. Though, from a lot of sources I've seen, De Gaulle and Fuller's ideas still relied on getting a "set-piece" battle.
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Old November 13th, 2012, 09:43 AM   #12

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Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
There were British and French officers that favored a "combined arms"/armored warfare tactics as well. Had their governments or military high commands accepted these theories and performed further research into them, "blitzkrieg" could have very well come out of France and Britain as well. Though, from a lot of sources I've seen, De Gaulle and Fuller's ideas still relied on getting a "set-piece" battle.

Blitzkrieg means lightening war, and as has been mentioned relies on combined arms. But it goes so much further than that, deep penetration to suprise and bewilder the enemy, what Guderian described as the philosophy of the expanding torrent.
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Old November 13th, 2012, 10:04 AM   #13

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Had Hitler not accepted or supported Guderian's theories on armored warfare, there would have been profound consequences. The first, was that Germany would have produced fewer Panzer IIs and IIIs. In 1939 and 1940, these two tanks were Germany's MBTs. Instead Germany would have relied on the Panzer I and the Panzer IV. The Panzer I was armed only with machine guns, and functioned as a rolling machinegun nest, similar to the first British Matilda tanks. The early Panzer IV carried a larger howitzer, but was designed to take out large infantry formations.

This would have dramatically weakened the German army in 1940. Sources I've seen would indicate that in 1940, the Panzer II was clearly inferior to the French SOMUA S35 and the Panzer III was only comparible with the French tank. In history, the French were defeated because their high command rejected De Gaulle's ideas on armored warfare while Hitler approved Guderian's. Without this clear tactical edge, and thus a large number of Panzer II and IIIs grouped together, the few French S35s in the few "armored" units the French had would have a clear advantage.

In addition, with the Germans now fighting a largely infantry war, they would also have to confront the British Matilda and the French Char B1bis with fewer good tanks. The 88mm flak battery could defeat these heavy tanks, but in an infantry fight, Germany couldn't afford to set gun lines of 88s at every point. With fewer Panzer IIs and Panzer IIIs, these Allied heavy Infantry support tanks would dominate the battlefield on the ground, in spite of mechanical problems. The German army in 1940 simply wouldn't have enough heavy weapons to take them out.

The one portion where the Germans would gain some success is in the air. The Bf 109 E despite critical flaws in its design (leading to a high number of accidents with the Bf 109, which were never fixed with any of the later models) was better then France's frontline fighters. The Dewotine D520 could compete with the Bf 109, but the French had few available to them in 1940. As a result, the French air force had to rely on planes that were critically underarmed and underpowered. The British had the Hawker Hurricane, which could stand up to the Bf 109 (and historically would in the Battle of Britain) and the Supermarine Spitfire (which is credited for winning the Battle of Britain) was just entering service. However, the British didn't deploy the RAF in full force to France. As a result, when the Battle of France began, they were overwhelmed and defeated.

The only saving grace for the Allies is that if Guderian's ideas are rejected, the intense cooperation and coordination between the Heer and Luftwaffe that made blitzkrieg so succesful wouldn't happen, at least not to the same degree.

On equal footing and on equal ground, the Battle of France would then boil down to numbers and WWI tactics which the British and the French won. I'd imagine that the Germans would still be able to push deep into France in 1940, but without the tactical superiority of blitzkrieg there would be no dramatic breakthrough, as happened in history, and as a result the Allies might manage to recover and stop the German attack, forcing a stalemate similar to what happened in 1914...

With France still standing, it is unlikely that Mussolini would become involved against the French. Part of his joining the Axis in history was set up by France's rapid collapse and the likelyhood that Britain would surrender shortly as well and that Italy could win rapid prizes on Germany's coat-tails.

In addition, Hitler probably wouldn't mess with the Soviet Union. What set up Barbarossa was the fact that France, percieved to be a superpower in 1940, was defeated so quickly created an aura of invincibility for the German army. Without that image, Hitler would not be as confident in facing the Red Army, regardless of its performance in Finland. This would open up a large number of avenues for the Soviets as well. While Stalin had no interest in challenging Germany, he did take the war as a good enough distraction to gain territory on his western borders. French and British success in 1940 could urge Stalin to become bolder with regard to Finland or Romania, or if something happened that would make it look like Germany was about to collapse, possibly even attack Germany to get the rest of Poland.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 12:59 AM   #14

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I'm not sure on the accuracy of the op's opening statement.

Blitzkrieg was in fact a term coined late in WW1.

The Allies by then had started to make great gains using combined arms, i.e. Tanks, Infantry and Artillery, rather than artillery barrages, infantry following way to late and the tanks breaking down all the time anyway.

In late WW1 the infantry would be following right behind the arty giving no delay to germans so they could set up a defense. I'm unsure on the tanks, once they were reliable I think they went in ahead of the infantry, infantry following in support.

Blitzkrieg as it came to be in WWII was really a German development of this, only using tanks as a fast moving cavalry like force with arty and the airforce in support.

The Allies for whatever reason seem to have completely forgotten the lesson they taught to the Germans. I guess what were are looking at is a scenario where the Germans also completely forgot.
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