Was a successful Manstein Plan possible if WWII breaks out in 1938?

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lahoda
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Re: Was a successful Manstein Plan possible if WWII breaks out in 1938?

Post by lahoda » 29 May 2020 15:14

History Learner wrote:
26 Jan 2019 20:14
The German plan for Czechoslovakia envisaged two pincers closing from the north and south, with massive paratrooper drops being dropped to cut internal Czech lines of communication. The Czechs themselves didn't envision the defenses lasting more then a few months. The fortified frontier was found by German examinations to be poorly suited to stop the exact sort of massed armored assault assisted by dive-bombers and artillery the Germans envisioned.
Czechoslovak defense strategy was to avoid being pinced and I think it is quite safe to assume they'd succeed in this. The fortification on the north was strong enough to protect "the corridor" for the Czechoslovak army to escape encircling, had the German attack went that far. First they'd need to get through, which is easier to be said than done. Even if they'd succeed, they would have very high casualties (possibly higher than what they are able to accept and would seek the armistice) and still would face the core of the Czechoslovak army, but now on a much shorter front, in another mountaineous terrain on Slovak border. Even if Germany won in 1938, which is far from sure thing, it would be severely damaged and in no shape to attack in the west.
History Learner wrote:
26 Jan 2019 20:14
While Germany's panzer divisions were made up mainly of Panzer I and II tanks in 1938 (and Panzer IIs still made up the majority in 1940), at least Germany had panzer divisions, grouped and organized in a logical manner. Compared to the four Panzer divisions Germany possessed in October of 1938 (with a fifth forming in November) France had... none.
Czechoslovak army had some 350 panzers with cannons able to pierce any German tank, while majority of German panzers can't do the same to LT-35 (except about 100 of III and IV) models. Panzer I would have difficult time to get around gun fire of the light fortification pillboxes. Czechoslovak army had the tanks concentrated in the dedicated divisions, and were trained to use them at concentrated level. They'd use them to plug any holes in the fortification lines, would be interesting to see how this power vs. power would work. Nobody really knows.
History Learner wrote:
26 Jan 2019 20:14
The Moraine MS.406 was a decent enough fighter, but the numbers in service with the French Air Force in late 1938 were tiny, with each aircraft basically hand crafted. Yearly production in 1938 stood at a paltry 65 aircraft. [Goldstein, "The Munich Crisis," p.142] While you can argue that the 109D did not significantly outclass the MS.406, in September of 1938 Germany had over 500 Messerschmitts (along with about 60 early model Bf.110s and a smattering of 300 or so older biplane fighters), while France had just a few dozen Moranes - basically just an extended run of prototypes. It wasn't until late 1938 that the French began ordering new planes in large enough numbers for mass production, and the first production MS.406 didn't fly until January of 1939. In October of 1938 by far the most common French fighters the Germans would have faced would have been the obsolete Dewoitine D.500s and D.501s, which had fixed landing gear and open cockpits. Even then the French fighter squadrons were badly outnumbered, with only about 300 Dewoitines in frontline service as of August 1938. Similarly the RAF had only one operational Hurricane squadron (16 planes) at the time of Munich, as that type was also just entering service, with just four more squadrons forming. [Isby, "The Decisive Duel,"] This is ignoring the gross deficiency in the ADA's organization and training compared to the Luftwaffe.
Many of the "over 500 Messerschmitts" were the B models, with just two 7,65mm guns. All early Bf-109 had relatively weak Jumo engines. About 200 of them were allocated to Reich defense, 300 along with old Ar-68s and He-51s were designated to face 350 Avias B-534, obsolete biplane design, but having 4 MGs, much stronger engine, and thus performance gap not as big (especially better climb rate would be handy, as well as manoeuvrability), so the air superioriry over Czechoslovakia was not given, but had to be fought (with possibly substantial casualties)
There were three different Messerschmitt models, just rushed to service, causing a logistic nightmare with spare parts and main problem of Luftwaffe in 1938 it was drastically understaffed, and to get some squadrons operational, the training was reduced to minimum. While the Luftwaffe bombers looks like a formidable force with sheer numbers on paper, they only had about 500 squads. Given the terrible weather in October/November 1938, the casualties would be high, even further magnifying the sore point of Luftwaffe. They simply needed that extra year to be effective on new Bf-109Es and other equipment as it was a case in Poland.

maltesefalcon
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Re: Was a successful Manstein Plan possible if WWII breaks out in 1938?

Post by maltesefalcon » 29 May 2020 18:35

One final thought from myself. IRL the Munich crisis took place over September. That would mean combat as a result, would take place in October.

Since the Germans would have neither the Czech tanks nor their facilities to build more over 2 years, it may take substantially longer to conquer Czechoslovakia than it did Poland IRL. Especially since USSR will not join in against the Czechs.

So combat vs Czechs likely until onset of winter. Not the best situation to launch a new campaign in France immediately thereafter. Note OP only indicates WWII breaking out in 1938 without a timeline for the revised Manstein plan itself.

lahoda
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Re: Was a successful Manstein Plan possible if WWII breaks out in 1938?

Post by lahoda » 30 May 2020 11:32

maltesefalcon wrote:
29 May 2020 18:35
One final thought from myself. IRL the Munich crisis took place over September. That would mean combat as a result, would take place in October.

Since the Germans would have neither the Czech tanks nor their facilities to build more over 2 years, it may take substantially longer to conquer Czechoslovakia than it did Poland IRL. Especially since USSR will not join in against the Czechs.

So combat vs Czechs likely until onset of winter. Not the best situation to launch a new campaign in France immediately thereafter. Note OP only indicates WWII breaking out in 1938 without a timeline for the revised Manstein plan itself.
Good observation. Perhaps it is worth noting:

- Germans had no plan of attack against fully mobilised Czechoslovakia (which was a case in late September 1938) Famous "Fall Grün" only expected sneak attack before the mobilisation, giving Wehrmacht the numerical advantage it needed for attack. Otherwise the gap in forces size was not that big, which doesn't favor an attacker.

- Germans were not ready to start on October 1st, which was a wish of Hitler. Reality might force them to postpone the start of the offensive.

- The weather in October was awful, many days it would be difficult to fly at all. Not great if your doctrine relies on a close air support.

- Winter 1938/9 was cold in general. Was Wehrmacht ready to fight in such conditions

To me it is more likely that fighting would carry into 1939. If Czechoslovak Army managed to avoid being encircled in Bohemia (which was the plan, they were ready to forfeit Prague, the capital) and moved the bulk of the army towards Slovakia, Germany would either have to fight a decisive battle against enemy in favorable terrain for defense (yet again), with their supply lines stretched on much shorter front, thus against much more concentrated forces. Even in case of German victory they would either need to chase the rest of the army into the Slovak mountains, or let it fleece to Romania.
While someone here proposed Germans had no interest in Slovak teritory, not sure if they would be comfortable moving forces to face France, when undefeated army, of a size that is comparable to your own army (Germany would suffer higher rate of casualties, by the mere fact it was attacking against prepared defense lines) is next to your frontier. It would be very difficult to move towards France, otherwise liberation of Bohemia was likely, and even Berlin was some 300km away. They had to finish off the Czechoslovak army, which would take much more than just quick advance in the first couple of weeks.

ljadw
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Re: Was a successful Manstein Plan possible if WWII breaks out in 1938?

Post by ljadw » 02 Jun 2020 09:22

One point : what would be the benefit for the Czech army if it was forced,to avoid encirclment,to give up the territories inhabited by the Czechs,territories that were the industrial core of CZ,and to withdraw to the agricultural lands of Slovakia, where the Czechs could not expect a big willingness of the population to fight for the preservation of the Czech dominance .No one had asked the Slovaks in 1918 if they agreed to become the junior part of the new CZ state .
IOW : if the Czechs were not willing to fight to die for Prague,why should the Slovaks fight and die to liberate Prague ? Or, if the Czechs were not willing to accept the destruction of Prague, why should the Slovaks accept the destruction of Bratislava ?
And ,about the so-called Czechoslovak army: the officers and generals were Czechs ,thus it was mainly a colonial army .

lahoda
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Re: Was a successful Manstein Plan possible if WWII breaks out in 1938?

Post by lahoda » 02 Jun 2020 20:39

ljadw wrote:
02 Jun 2020 09:22
One point : what would be the benefit for the Czech army if it was forced,to avoid encirclment,to give up the territories inhabited by the Czechs,territories that were the industrial core of CZ,and to withdraw to the agricultural lands of Slovakia, where the Czechs could not expect a big willingness of the population to fight for the preservation of the Czech dominance .No one had asked the Slovaks in 1918 if they agreed to become the junior part of the new CZ state .
IOW : if the Czechs were not willing to fight to die for Prague,why should the Slovaks fight and die to liberate Prague ? Or, if the Czechs were not willing to accept the destruction of Prague, why should the Slovaks accept the destruction of Bratislava ?
And ,about the so-called Czechoslovak army: the officers and generals were Czechs ,thus it was mainly a colonial army .
The benefit from the military point of view would be to shorten the front, and increase the concentration of units in area. Germans would still have to fight that army, but without luxury of being able to attack on any point of very long border. Czechoslovak defense doctrine counted with the help of their ally, France, and having the entire Wehrmacht and Luftwafe engaged on the Slovak broder would be a golden opportunity to help their ally.
The army wouln't be retreating to Bratislava, so your point there is moot.
There were less officers of Slovak descent by mere fact that they were in much worse situation when they were under Hungarian part of Austro-Hungarian empire. It also explains their motivation to enter Czechoslovakia, and nobody held gun to their head to do so. Slovaks wanted more autonomy in 1938, not a separate state. They would fight for their homeland. Your arguments doesn't reflect reality of 1938.

maltesefalcon
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Re: Was a successful Manstein Plan possible if WWII breaks out in 1938?

Post by maltesefalcon » 03 Jun 2020 02:19

I have a couple questions to pose.

What was the state of the Austrian portion/contribution to the Wehrmacht? They had only been in the Reich since March of the same year.
Also would there need to be a successful Polish campaign prior to the dealing with the French?

ljadw
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Re: Was a successful Manstein Plan possible if WWII breaks out in 1938?

Post by ljadw » 03 Jun 2020 13:09

lahoda wrote:
02 Jun 2020 20:39
ljadw wrote:
02 Jun 2020 09:22
One point : what would be the benefit for the Czech army if it was forced,to avoid encirclment,to give up the territories inhabited by the Czechs,territories that were the industrial core of CZ,and to withdraw to the agricultural lands of Slovakia, where the Czechs could not expect a big willingness of the population to fight for the preservation of the Czech dominance .No one had asked the Slovaks in 1918 if they agreed to become the junior part of the new CZ state .
IOW : if the Czechs were not willing to fight to die for Prague,why should the Slovaks fight and die to liberate Prague ? Or, if the Czechs were not willing to accept the destruction of Prague, why should the Slovaks accept the destruction of Bratislava ?
And ,about the so-called Czechoslovak army: the officers and generals were Czechs ,thus it was mainly a colonial army .
The benefit from the military point of view would be to shorten the front, and increase the concentration of units in area. Germans would still have to fight that army, but without luxury of being able to attack on any point of very long border. Czechoslovak defense doctrine counted with the help of their ally, France, and having the entire Wehrmacht and Luftwafe engaged on the Slovak broder would be a golden opportunity to help their ally.
The army wouln't be retreating to Bratislava, so your point there is moot.
There were less officers of Slovak descent by mere fact that they were in much worse situation when they were under Hungarian part of Austro-Hungarian empire. It also explains their motivation to enter Czechoslovakia, and nobody held gun to their head to do so. Slovaks wanted more autonomy in 1938, not a separate state. They would fight for their homeland. Your arguments doesn't reflect reality of 1938.
Slovaks wanted independence in 1918, in 1939,in 1992 .
Masaryk, OTOH,said that there was no Slovak nation ,that it was an invention from the Hungarians .
The Slovaks were disdained by the Czechs and were considered as inferior .
Of the 11820 career officers of the army of CZ,there were only 422 Slovaks .
Of the 139 generals,there was ONE Slovak.
Of the officials in the central ministries,there was only 1.1 % Slovaks .
In the ministry of Slovakia only 11,86 % Slovaks .
The Slovaks never constituted a state with the Czechs till 1918,and the ''reunification '' ( better Anschluss ) in 1918 happened without the agreement of the Slovaks .
And, my point is not moot : the fact that the Czech army would not retreat to Bratislava,would not save Bratislava : the Czechs had decided,in case of a German invasion, to give up the armament industries in Bohemia and Moravia AND Prague,to save the city , and to continue the fighting in Slovakia ,the result would be : no destruction in Bohemia and Moravia and big destruction in Slovakia ,this was for a lot of Slovaks the proof of the contempt of the Czechs for the Slovaks .
This tactic would fail ,because
1 the Slovaks ( military/civilians ) would not fight for the Czechs
2 the French would declare war on Germany ,but that would be all :there were Czech leaders who believed that the French army would march to Berlin, but they lived in a dream land .
France had not the means for a big offensive, it had never promised a big offensive,its ''alliance '' with CZ had as aim only to prevent a German attack on France .
After their DOW,Britain and France would start WWII,and in 1945 Germany would be defeated,and CZ would be free,after 7 years of German occupation. But in 1938,the Czechs were on their own.

ljadw
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Re: Was a successful Manstein Plan possible if WWII breaks out in 1938?

Post by ljadw » 03 Jun 2020 13:15

maltesefalcon wrote:
03 Jun 2020 02:19
I have a couple questions to pose.

What was the state of the Austrian portion/contribution to the Wehrmacht? They had only been in the Reich since March of the same year.
Also would there need to be a successful Polish campaign prior to the dealing with the French?


There was no need for the Germans for a dealing with the French : the French did not oppose German hegemony in Eastern/Central Europe as long as it happened without war .

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