Cutting off Nazi Germany's oil supplies in 1943

Oct 2015
1,196
California
Its 1943 with the war progressing the way it did in otl up to this point.

The POD is that the Western Allies manage to score a deal with the Turks that allows them unrestricted shipping through the Bosphorus.

Thus, instead of invading Italy to get at that "soft underbelly" of Europe, the US and UK push into the Black Sea and come ashore along the fifty miles of Romanian coastline centered on Constanta.

And then within their ten- day battle plan wind up with their Sherman and Churchill tanks parked amidst the Ploiesti oil fields.

Now what?

Romania supplied almost all of Germany's fuel. Certainly all of the fuel which kept the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe going. Coal gasification provided some but nothing on the scale that could keep Germany's armored units rolling.

How much " juice" (petroleum, oil & lubricants) did the Wehrmacht have on hand to continue operations without new supply? How much for the Luftwaffe? How quickly would the German army devolve back to what it was just thirty years prior. We get a good sense of this in otl. The Wehrmacht was not the modern maneuver "blitzkirieg" army that most people believe it to be. 80% of the Germany army relied on horse transportation. So I'm guessing it wouldn't have taken long for the German army to ground to a complete halt in this scenario.

I'm thinking that even if the whole of the German armies in the east suddenly all turned and drove south to push the Americans and British out that it would still be worth the effort. Denied that fuel supply they would exhaust all their reserves and at the fighting's end - even if they successfully forced the Allies out - the oil fields would be ruined and out of production. Thus leaving the Wehrmacht and the rest of Germany essentially at the mercy of the fully fueled Allied war machine.

But I'm also thinking it might not even get to that point.

A surprise attack like this would catch the Axis vastly out of position. What ground forces the Romanians had weren't much and were almost all well outside their country fighting the Soviets alongside the Germans deep in Russia.

It would take no small amount of time - even for an absolute do or die priority forced march - to get any significant German forces reoriented and the hundreds of miles away from the front lines and then down across the western shores of the Black Sea to engage the Allied position. There wouldn't be much room for them to maneuver either as there would be the mountains to the west and the Black Sea to the east.

A lot hinges on whether they'd have enough fuel on hand to make the attempt.

That, and if Romania was the only source of fuel.


This could be a war winner for the allies of epic proportions.

Your thoughts?
 

Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,446
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
Its 1943 with the war progressing the way it did in otl up to this point.


The POD is that the Western Allies manage to score a deal with the Turks that allows them unrestricted shipping through the Bosphorus.

Thus, instead of invading Italy to get at that "soft underbelly" of Europe,
Italy was the "Soft underbelly" - politically soft.
As soon as the Allies landed on mainland Italy, the Italians exited the war.
This eliminated as threats the Italian surface & submarine fleet, plus all of the Regia Aeronautica bases in southern Italy. Worse yet, the surrender of about 1.5 million Italian soldiers left a huge hole in Germany's European defense, which eventually resulted in almost 2 million Germans garrisoning Italy, Greece & the Balkans, instead of facing Soviets or Allied armies in France.



The POD is that the Western Allies manage to score a deal with the Turks that allows them unrestricted shipping through the Bosphorus.
,
The Allies urgently needed to neutralize the Axis in southern Italy in order to secure the Med for Allied shipping.
Your "Bosporus Gambit" does not acomplish that.

At this point in The Americans only have a few million tons of shipping to allocate to Europe, (winter42/spring43) so the US is still heavily dependant on British Empire shipping tonnage to do the heavy lifting.
Clearing the Med for shipping instead of 'round the Cape saves 6 - 8 million tons, so is critical for future Allied operations.
 

Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,446
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
.

the US and UK push into the Black Sea and come ashore along the fifty miles of Romanian coastline centered on Constanta.

And then within their ten- day battle plan wind up with their Sherman and Churchill tanks parked amidst the Ploiesti oil fields.
The Germans have numerous airbases in Attica, Thrace and the Aegean islands, which would preclude trying to push a weakly supported force through the Aegean.
By the end of 1942 the US has only 2 undamaged carriers left, Saratoga in the Pacific & Ranger in the Atlantic .
The British still have 5 fleet carriers, but with Victorious loaned to the Americans in the Pacific, Furious in refit, Indomitable badly damaged after Pedestal that only leaves 2 fleet carriers active in European waters; Illustrious at Scapa and Formidable based at Gibraltar, so any fleet passing through the Aegean is basically without air cover. :freeze:

Now what?

Romania supplied almost all of Germany's fuel.

Certainly all of the fuel which kept the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe going.
Nope, not even close.
In 1943 the Germans produce about 10 million tons of oil, 5.7 million tons synthetic but only 2.76 million tons imported from Rumania & Hungary, which makes up just 26% of German supplies.

main-qimg-6b590c52aa03487f14d33288e29c0610.png
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
14,086
.



The Germans have numerous airbases in Attica, Thrace and the Aegean islands, which would preclude trying to push a weakly supported force through the Aegean.
By the end of 1942 the US has only 2 undamaged carriers left, Saratoga in the Pacific & Ranger in the Atlantic .
The British still have 5 fleet carriers, but with Victorious loaned to the Americans in the Pacific, Furious in refit, Indomitable badly damaged after Pedestal that only leaves 2 fleet carriers active in European waters; Illustrious at Scapa and Formidable based at Gibraltar, so any fleet passing through the Aegean is basically without air cover. :freeze:



Nope, not even close.
In 1943 the Germans produce about 10 million tons of oil, 5.7 million tons synthetic but only 2.76 million tons imported from Rumania & Hungary, which makes up just 26% of German supplies.

View attachment 23856
They were already short on oil so 26% is a huge bite

Plus the rumanian import figures represent less than half of rumanian production (some 5 mio tons).... some of the remainder was consumed by Rumania, but the rest was provided to Italy/other axis countries and or used by the germans without it being exported to Germany proper..... So losing Rumania would mean a net loss of 5+ mio tons of oil yearly to the axis, more or less equal to their whole synthetic fuel production.
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
14,086
I think the main point of the OP is what happens if Germany loses rumanian oil in 1943 (the date is not clear though, January ? December ? May ?)... it is not really important how that happens

Probably a more plausible scenario, is some sort of coup or change of heart in Rumania after the Stalingrad debacle (so early 43)... The rumanians come to a separate peace with the soviets, stop cooperating with the germans.... Manstein was scrapping the barrel in Dec 1942 to get enough forces to counter attack and "free" the Stalingrad pocket (a failure) so the germans did not have much to act against a Rumanian "treason"... eventually they would get enough forces to take over Rumania (as they did in Italy in 1943), but in this scenario you can imagine the rumanians thoroughly sabotaging their oil fields such that for the next year and a half (by that time the soviets would be in Ploesti) little oil would come out of Ploesti.
 
Oct 2015
954
Virginia
In addition to the economic argument, any such Balkan scheme was impracticable.

Any ww2 amphibious operation in the ETO or MTO (within range of the Luftwaffe) had to be carried out within 200-250 miles of allied air bases - the maximum operational radius of the majority of allied fighter planes. Norway, Greece, Crete, Leros et. al. eventually convinced (most) allied planners that anything else was a pipe dream and would be bombed into oblivion. Naval losses to air attack in Algeria, Sicily, Salerno and Anzio were bad enough even with fighter cover.

The British tried hard to convince the Turks to come in on the allied side throughout 1943, to provide bases for attacks on Rhodes and the Aegean Islands. Wisely, the Turks refused. If they had come in on the Allied side, what would prevent the Germans, Rumanians and Bulgarians from seizing the straights and Constantinople? The Germans had 13-20 divisions in the Balkans in summer 1943, and only took them 2 months to send 10 more divisions into Italy in August-September.

Finally-decisively, NO American support for any such scheme (Greece, Rhodes, Crete, Cycladese, Turkey, Rumania, Bulgaria, Norway or the dark side of the moon) would be forthcoming as it would simply suck resources away from Western Europe-the decisive theater. The Soviets would have also had serious problems with any scheme involving the straights that did not include them.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,752
Dispargum
A better way to cut off Germany's supply of oil was to bomb oil targets sooner. Despite pre-war intelligence estimates that Germany's oil industry was a key vulnerability, the bombing campaign against oil targets didn't really get started until 1944. The post-war Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that the oil campaign should have been started earlier.

I agree with those above that an American/ British ground operation in Romania would have been risky, probably impossible, due to Turkish neutrality, German occupation of Greece, etc. Also, Italy was a more important target, for the reasons given above.
 

Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,446
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
I think the main point of the OP is what happens if Germany loses rumanian oil in 1943 (the date is not clear though, January ? December ? May ?)... it is not really important how that happens

Probably a more plausible scenario, is some sort of coup or change of heart in Rumania after the Stalingrad debacle (so early 43)... .
Actually I took it as a hypothetical "what if" alternate strategy.

I can't see Rumania switching sides in early '43, not with a large forces in the East and Manstein pushing the Soviets back at Kharkov.
That said, I agree with you, the loss of Ploesti's oil would have severe consequences
 
Oct 2015
1,196
California
Just a couple of more things to add the Germans required quantities of Tetra Ethyl Lead anti knocking compound for the petrol used in their aircraft engines, this was supplied by the US.
The spearhead of the Wehrmacht was armor, but for the most part the German army was still heavily reliant onhorsepower for logistical purposes of fuel supplies.
Most of the German vehicles were petrol powered, even the tanks

Pondering on this further, I don't think the logistics would work as well for the allies as it would for the Germans, because that kind o Alot of turks and muslims in general liked the nazi's. It would be hard to move the 8th army from North Africa to turkey without it being noticed, and the logistics to support such a long trek would be hard to do. Once it became clear to the Germans that such a move was on, Ploesti would be the only logical target.