Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
Geoffrey Cooke
Member
Posts: 78
Joined: 11 Dec 2020 07:08
Location: Illinois

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Geoffrey Cooke » 21 Dec 2022 06:35

Texas Jäger wrote:
18 Dec 2022 02:56
Urmel wrote:
16 Dec 2022 08:47
Stoat Coat wrote:
15 Dec 2022 21:42
Urmel wrote:
15 Dec 2022 19:24
Stoat Coat wrote:
15 Dec 2022 18:39


Well if you ignore the fact a significant German presence on Svalbard precludes any of the 1941-42 summer Arctic convoys that historically occurred…sure.
:roll:
How can the occupation of Svalbard in 1943 preclude things in 1941-42? Time travel?

You really need to get your story straight mate, right now it makes zero sense.

You ARE aware that Operation Zitronella/Sizilen happened in 1943? If not, that's the kind of detail that matters.

:roll:
:lol:

This was the comment you responded to, and I responded in turn to yours…
I suspect it's hard to comment on things one doesn't understand, and to keep track of complex conversations. I had already dismissed the 1941 idea for other reasons, namely that it made zero strategic sense for Germany to commit forces to prevent fantasy future convoys that would never happen because the Soviet Union would have been defeated before 1942. But of course, if you are actually unaware of the German strategic thinking, as you obviously are, that's an easy mistake to make. No need to feel bad.
Not sure what you're on about. The entire point of devoting two German corps (including three mountain divisions) to Silberfuchs, otherwise launched in a strategic backwater that could have easily been defended by the Finns, was to occupy Murmansk and prevent any open route to the Soviet Union for resupply by the UK. Considering the first convoys from the UK came just a few weeks after Barbarossa began, they weren't exactly far off in that fear, and it hardly took much foresight to predict it either. Are you not aware that the Arctic convoys were the major source of Western supplies for Russia during WWI as well?

Given that Silver Fox failed miserably, defending both sides of the Barents sea corridor to Murmansk doesn't sound too crazy to me.
Another interesting alternate history idea: had imperial Germany occupied Norway, would we see major Arctic naval battles over those World War One convoys? :o

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4630
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Urmel » 21 Dec 2022 08:20

Geoffrey Cooke wrote:
21 Dec 2022 06:20
Most of the agricultural websites I’m seeing on the web recommend 1.5% of the body weight of feed for Mules, 3% for Horses, so about twice as much but not thrice.
Thanks!
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4630
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Urmel » 21 Dec 2022 08:27

Texas Jäger wrote:
18 Dec 2022 02:56
Not sure what you're on about. The entire point of devoting two German corps (including three mountain divisions) to Silberfuchs, otherwise launched in a strategic backwater that could have easily been defended by the Finns, was to occupy Murmansk and prevent any open route to the Soviet Union for resupply by the UK.
As I think I have demonstrated conclusively, that was not the objective of Silberfuchs, and Halder notes it as having no military purpose whatsoever within the larger scheme of Barbarossa.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

thaddeus_c
Member
Posts: 763
Joined: 22 Jan 2014 03:16

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by thaddeus_c » 21 Dec 2022 15:20

Urmel wrote:
21 Dec 2022 08:27
Texas Jäger wrote:
18 Dec 2022 02:56
Not sure what you're on about. The entire point of devoting two German corps (including three mountain divisions) to Silberfuchs, otherwise launched in a strategic backwater that could have easily been defended by the Finns, was to occupy Murmansk and prevent any open route to the Soviet Union for resupply by the UK.
As I think I have demonstrated conclusively, that was not the objective of Silberfuchs, and Halder notes it as having no military purpose whatsoever within the larger scheme of Barbarossa.
two things can exist at the same time

there could be a strategy to capture Murmansk as a logical destination for Allied (British) resupply of the Soviets, and that was an obvious strategy discussed pre-invasion, AND Hitler can reshuffle priorities based on political implications (or whim)

we can find a diary entry for/against every operation in the USSR, as the reality of their defeat unfolded. thought this was a what if for the use of Arctic islands, thus a quilt of some historical operations stitched together with hypothetical ones.

my speculation was for shuffling all the surface fleet into Norway (anyway), so an occupation of Svalbard, against that backdrop does not seem outlandish.

something the size of the prior Narvik operation, they learned some bitter lessons there. the WWI-era ships could be used for transport, some were coal-fired so a ready fuel supply available, and there were 50 or 60 flying boats with long range also (excluding the BV-138 as it proved lacluster during Narvik airlift (attempt))

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4630
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Urmel » 21 Dec 2022 16:20

thaddeus_c wrote:
21 Dec 2022 15:20
Urmel wrote:
21 Dec 2022 08:27
Texas Jäger wrote:
18 Dec 2022 02:56
Not sure what you're on about. The entire point of devoting two German corps (including three mountain divisions) to Silberfuchs, otherwise launched in a strategic backwater that could have easily been defended by the Finns, was to occupy Murmansk and prevent any open route to the Soviet Union for resupply by the UK.
As I think I have demonstrated conclusively, that was not the objective of Silberfuchs, and Halder notes it as having no military purpose whatsoever within the larger scheme of Barbarossa.
two things can exist at the same time

there could be a strategy to capture Murmansk as a logical destination for Allied (British) resupply of the Soviets, and that was an obvious strategy discussed pre-invasion, AND Hitler can reshuffle priorities based on political implications (or whim)
We can imagine whatever we want. The fact of the matter in this case is however that there is no evidence for a strategy of denying Murmansk as a resupply point, because the documented strategy was for the Soviet Union to be defeated before any such resupply could become a meaningful issue. If you happen to have another view, I'd be happy to look at any documentary evidence you have in this regard.
thaddeus_c wrote:
21 Dec 2022 15:20
that was an obvious strategy discussed pre-invasion
When was it discussed, by whom and what was the outcome of the discussion?
thaddeus_c wrote:
21 Dec 2022 15:20
as the reality of their defeat unfolded.
On 5 July 1941, two weeks after the invasion it was clear to Halder in German high command that Germany would be defeated. Right.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

Peter89
Member
Posts: 2014
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Europe

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Peter89 » 21 Dec 2022 20:06

thaddeus_c wrote:
21 Dec 2022 15:20
something the size of the prior Narvik operation, they learned some bitter lessons there. the WWI-era ships could be used for transport, some were coal-fired so a ready fuel supply available, and there were 50 or 60 flying boats with long range also (excluding the BV-138 as it proved lacluster during Narvik airlift (attempt))
Really?

Which aircrafts do you mean?

No offense, I'm simply curious. I thought I am familiar with German airlift capabilities in early war, but this is a number I have never encountered before.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

thaddeus_c
Member
Posts: 763
Joined: 22 Jan 2014 03:16

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by thaddeus_c » 21 Dec 2022 20:30

Peter89 wrote:
21 Dec 2022 20:06
thaddeus_c wrote:
21 Dec 2022 15:20
something the size of the prior Narvik operation, they learned some bitter lessons there. the WWI-era ships could be used for transport, some were coal-fired so a ready fuel supply available, and there were 50 or 60 flying boats with long range also (excluding the BV-138 as it proved lacluster during Narvik airlift (attempt))
Really?

Which aircrafts do you mean?

No offense, I'm simply curious. I thought I am familiar with German airlift capabilities in early war, but this is a number I have never encountered before.
https://www.airhistory.net/text/misc/na ... twaffe.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dornier_Do_18 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dornier_Do_24

and my speculating use of any French and Dutch DO-24s, OR they would have to use the BV-138

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 5173
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Richard Anderson » 21 Dec 2022 21:02

9./KGzbV 108 consisted of nine flying boats as it was formed on 11 April. KGzbV 108 also had 13 Ju 52/See on hand. By 10 May 9. Staffel had eight flying boats on hand of which four were still operational and there were only five JU 52/See left of which four were operational. Where do you find an additional 28/38 to 37/47? All the Dutch Do 24 were in the NEI I believe and the French ones had to wait for French production to begin.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Orwell1984
Member
Posts: 566
Joined: 18 Jun 2011 18:42

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Orwell1984 » 21 Dec 2022 22:34

Richard Anderson wrote:
21 Dec 2022 21:02
All the Dutch Do 24 were in the NEI
You are correct.

All the completed Dutch Do 24s served with Dutch Naval Air Service (MLD) in the NEI.

This site goes into the type in painstaking detail:
http://www.dornier24.com/

X-38 which was partially completed when the Netherlands was invaded was finished in July 1940.

Some more of the type were built from component parts with changes built (engine types in particular) but there was no rush to profuction or any sense of urgency in getting them done.

Captured French flying boats are a better bet if you're looking to increase numbers.

Even then you're scrapping the bottom of the barrel in number and reliability.

User avatar
Texas Jäger
Member
Posts: 122
Joined: 07 Apr 2020 00:29
Location: Montgomery, Texas

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Texas Jäger » 22 Dec 2022 03:03

Urmel wrote:
21 Dec 2022 08:27
Texas Jäger wrote:
18 Dec 2022 02:56
Not sure what you're on about. The entire point of devoting two German corps (including three mountain divisions) to Silberfuchs, otherwise launched in a strategic backwater that could have easily been defended by the Finns, was to occupy Murmansk and prevent any open route to the Soviet Union for resupply by the UK.
As I think I have demonstrated conclusively, that was not the objective of Silberfuchs, and Halder notes it as having no military purpose whatsoever within the larger scheme of Barbarossa.
Even if we accept that an Allied landing was the chief concern rather than supplies for the Soviet army, how would an allied expeditionary force get to Murmansk? How would it be supplied? That’s right…Arctic convoys. …"the the double mission of keeping the British from establishing a foothold in Murmansk, and of closing the White. Sea Canal." This comment from Halder does not preclude the idea the Germans were concerned or planned for supplies flowing through Murmansk to the Red Army, one of the things that could flow through said canal. Whether the concerns were ships carrying troops (and their supplies) or ships carrying lend lease, it amounts to the same goal of preventing shipping from reaching the Soviet Union anyways.

Stoat Coat
Member
Posts: 58
Joined: 13 Nov 2022 21:39
Location: Way down south in Dixie

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Stoat Coat » 22 Dec 2022 05:28

Richard Anderson wrote:
18 Dec 2022 20:17
Stoat Coat wrote:
18 Dec 2022 14:20
Ok do what you want, never said you can’t and wasn’t trying to patronize, I personally just save the snark for people who use it on me first like rn…so with that being said yes…Gebirgsjager, literal Mountain troops…known for operating well in dreadfully cold environments…deployed for defending a frosted mountainous island…what a shocking suggestion. :roll:
No was I but you keep missing the point. Why is it a good idea to place any troops of any kind on Svalbard? The Germans might be able to get a battalion there because they supposedly could but getting a battalion there with what was required for them to stay is a bit of a different matter. What are they going to do? What are they going to eat? What are they going to construct defenses with? :roll: right back atcha. :lol:
It’s not an oxymoron if it is in fact “leaner”, having lower supplies requirements, regardless if that difference is in fact small or not. For the record, you’re simply wrong about fodder. The vast majority of animals in a Gebirgsjager division were “pack animals”, AKA Mules and Donkeys, and these animals in fact have far lower nutritional requirements than horses both in terms of quality and quantity, literally as low as one third as much for a mule compared to a same-size horse. So going based on your own argument that feed makes up a big part of supplies weight, that’s a big reduction compared to the overwhelmingly horse equipped Infanterie.
Um, the "mountain ponies" - mules and donkeys - were specifically intended to support the Hochgebirgsjäger, which were a small fraction of the division trained in high mountain warfare where supplies were transported by pack animals or manpower. IIRC that is why the 1. Gebirgsjäger-Division was so big - most all the Alpine specialists were concentrated in it while the rest were "ordinary" mountain troops. They were so specialized that in 1942 four separate battalions of Hochgebirgsjäger were formed to be attached to divisions as required. Now if you really want to send your specialists to wither on the vine at Svaldbard because they used pack animals rather than horses, then be my guest. :lol:

Otherwise, as has been repeatedly pointed out to you, the Gebirgsjäger were not really significantly "leaner" in logistical terms. They were, like the Jäger leaner in terms of mobility - the lightness of their organization meant they could go places regular infantry divisions as organizations had difficulty going but they still required the same levels of supplies that other divisions required to sustain operations and when they got into terrain they actually couldn't easily traverse - like in the high Arctic - they were barely able to operate better anyway.
Basically what all this has amounted to is you telling me about how grossly off the mark I am about assumptions that aren’t in fact all that incorrect based on your own information, only that the difference is insignificant enough not to really matter.
So a 1.4% difference in ammunition (probably the greatest single weight item) is significant enough to warrant stranding Gebirgsjäger on Svalbard because they are that "leaner"? Fascinating. The difference in fodder is probably nil as is the LKW and motorcycles. Saving 36% on PKW gasoline worth it?
So be it, all of this is quite inane however given the original point was the inference by Peter89 that somehow it would have been more costly to use Gebirgsjager on Svalbard compared to regular infantry. Although it seems you think any German forces on Svalbard would be a waste. Certainly the assumption the taken by some that the would never use Gebirgsjager for garrison person is stupid. A large number of Gebirgsjager were present in the Aegean islands for precisely that purpose.
Costly as in they were specialized troops so using them as a forlorn hope on Svalbard is a bit inane.

So which Gebirgsjäager "were present in the Aegean islands" as garrisons? The remnants of 1. Gebirgs went to the Balkans in early 1943 to reconstitute and then became engaged in Partisankreig for most of 1943 and 1944 a role they were considered suitable for because the Balkans are mountainous and that is where the Partisans were hiding. 2., 3., 6., and 7. spent most of the war in Lappland. 4. was on the Ostfront for most of the war. 5. Gebirgs ended up on Crete in 1941 because it was used as an ersatz Luftlande division. It stayed until November 1941 when it returned to Germany to rebuild, then went to the Ostfront and finally Italy. 8. was in Italy for its short career as were 157. and 188. The two "9. Gebirgs"? Nope. So who?
Since the Germans did in fact have sufficient merchants and ships capable of reaching Spitsbergen and Bear Island,
They did? I am all ears. Which ones? Not from the Norwegian merchant marine, they were mostly in Allied hands and those in German hands were coasters hard at work keeping Armee Norwegan and Armee Lappland supplied. The German merchant marine was in worse shape, much of it was interned or trapped in the Med. The rest was busy in the Baltic and Denmark Straits supplying Armee Norwegan and HG-Nord. There were nine modern Hansa vessels that might have been useful since they had the size and speed (16 knots most others were 8-10 knots) necessary, the "Fels" ships.

Moltkefels - operating in the Baltic
Ehrenfels - in Goa, sunk 9 March 1943
Reichenfels - sunk 21 June 1942
Kandlefels (Pinguin) - sunk 8 May 1941
Kybfels - sunk 21 May 1941
Goldenfels (Atlantis) - sunk 22 November 1941
Hohenfels - in Bandar Shapour, sunk 25 August 1941
Tannenfels - damaged in Bordeaux (Operation FRANKTON) 10 December 1942 and no longer seaworthy
Neidenfels - operating in the Baltic

Do you notice a pattern?
the only effect that the distance in itself has is the time for supply ships to reach there and back, effecting the frequency of resupply by a fraction.
Yeah, time and a little thing called the Royal Navy, which was pretty good at tracking and intercepting convoys in the open sea.
It’s the threat and/or actuality of interdiction that would put them “on the moon” as you say it. Unfortunately, you seem to be acting as if the nearest Allied bases were somehow not over 1,200 miles away at Hvalford, or even further away at Scapa Flow. How exactly is that “roaming Home Fleet” going be fielding a constant blockade force for any reasonable duration 1,200 miles from the nearest home port?
There are these little thingies called submarines...and a lack of fast German transport vessels capable of making the dash, which leaves it to the KM.
Kind of ironic how you bring up the Med, you know…”Spitsbergen was completely useless guys, who cares that it and Bear Island straddled the Arctic routes” while bringing up a theatre where the German and Italian convoys were constantly being foiled thanks to the presence of an island named Malta playing the exact same role in relation to the routes to Benghazi and Tripoli. Are you now going to make the argument that the Arctic convoys were irrelevant to the war on the Eastern Front? Anyways as I’m sure you well know, the force in Africa you’re talking about reached two armies in size as opposed to a matter of battalions.
Adventdalen, where the Luftwaffe established an airstrip (by landing a Ju 52 in the field there) on 25 September 1941 is c. 825 kilometers to the nearest point of land in Norway. The air bases on Malta are c. 97 kilometers from the Sicilian coast and 352 kilometers from the Tripolitan coast. The air bases on Malta were permanent, hard service runways with expanding service facilities and defenses. Adventdalen was a field, soft enough that it is now most famous for the Ju 88 that wrecked there 14 June 1942, which is still there. There were zero service facilities and zero defenses.

Notice a difference?
What do you mean the “supposed battalion”? Do you doubt the Germans did in fact land a battalion of the 349th Grenadier regiment during Zitronella?
I have issues with Wiki and its posters knowledge of German operational records. It may well have been an entire battalion of Grenadier-Regiment 349 or more likely a task force under the command of the battalion. Surprisingly :lol: the Kriegsmarine KTB has little to say about the actual size and composition of the Heer troops they embarked but then they were more concerned about the fuel ZITRONELLA was expected to burn up.

"The fuel situation is still strained but it will just permit carrying out this operation which will require about 7,090 cbm. The fuel reserve, at present available in the area north of Stadlandet, will thus fall from 25,500 to 18,500 cbm. A further 4,000 cbm are on their way off the west coast of Norway. Naval Staff is of the opinion that, apart from the prospects of success held out and the knowledge that the operation will at least harass the enemy, the decisive factor should after all be the effect it will have on the morale of the crews."

Not so sure how well that bodes for a sustained effort to maintain a large force on Svalbard?
We know for a fact that they used ten destroyers during Weserubung to land half of a Gebirgsjager regiment at Narvik, and a heavy cruiser and a destroyer carried a similar sized force to Trondheim.
Yep, about 200 Jäger were on each, a total of c. 2,000 with the heaviest weapons consisting of 5cm and 8cm mortars and a few 2cm Flak. None of the three transports carrying heavy weapons and supplies made it.
All in good cheer Richard, but we can disagree.
:D
1. Since you are using the same source as Nigel Askey, you’ll notice that when he says the official TOE “1,500 horses, 4,300 pack animals (largely mules) 550 mountain horses” or ponies as you put it, you are only accounting for the 550, and not the 4,300. But anyways you seem to be using circular logic: Germans can’t deploy their Mountain troops because of the feed needs for allocated animals>The Feed needs don’t matter because they can’t deploy their animals. If you are saying that the Gebirgsjager didn’t have to bring all of their officially allocated support…I agree. Historically they could include other animals conscripted into service like camels used by Gebirgsjager in the Caucasus, obviously not applicable here, or Reindeer, used by Gebirgsjager in the Arctic. The latter of which are native to the Svalbard’s anyways since their diet consists of tundra vegetation. And by the way, if the Gebirgsjager “were barely able to operate better anyway” in the mountainous environments they were meant for, then why are they needed so desperately elsewhere to begin with? Occupying the Svalbard’s and diverting a small amount of the forces used for the same purpose? I concede the point about a division sized force. But that doesn’t mean any force would be a waste or unsustainable. About garrison duties: The 5th Gebirgs division was retained for defending the Aegean after Mercury for five months as a garrison force according to Askey. In this case the troops are defending airfields from an Operation Gauntlet-type commando raid.

2. An initial invasion could use the Moltkefels sure. 3,200 ton cargo capacity is a lot in land war terms, for an infantry force of several battalions you could pack ammunition on that ship alone for a months long battle, the light artillery, and transport the materials to build hangars. But of course they wouldn’t be expending that ammo until an allied force landed, so you have a stowed ammo dump.
133F161E-9C70-4146-A1B4-22AB7F120798.jpeg
7.5 lbs average for troops in inactivity. For a force of 1,500 men=two battalions of whatever infantry (the Allies used that size landing force for Guantlet, so a similar size force should be used for defense), airfield personnel and pilots, that’s 11,250 lbs daily, 337,500 lbs a month (obviously that changes when the Allie’s land a force) or 168.7 tons a month. 8 Ju-52’s flying six or seven times a month can supply that (at least in winter with the ice blocking the shipping). Or the German blockade runners in Europe at the time could: Rio Grande had an even higher freight capacity than a Hansa A, and she wouldn’t depart from France for the Far East until later September. Alsterufer was still in Hamburg or France I believe. Another returned to Europe from a successful sortie to Japan but I can’t remember it’s name. One benefit of the Gebirgsjager is that their light artillery was also capable of being air portable on Ju-52s, like the battery that was historically airlifted to aid Dietl at Narvik.

3. There were a total of 5-6 submarines I can account for under the Brits/Free Norwegians in the North Sea in mid 1941, when I propose this alternate operation take place. The rest would have to be brought from the Med and decrease the pressure on Rommels supplies. The only allied airbase even remotely in range is at Murmansk and that relied on the Arctic convoys to a large extent, such as the Hurricanes that arrived. The Soviet northern fleet was notoriously passive, and the Brits were loath to send their big ships past the North Cape because of the air attack and uboat fears. During summer when it’s 24 hour daylight that far north, and with only one or two carriers available to the home fleet at this time, any major force is going to run out of AA ammo quick and and become Luftwaffe Bait. Anyone else remember what happened to HMS Gloucester and HMS Fiji?

4. “ The air bases on Malta are c. 97 kilometers from the Sicilian coast and 352 kilometers from the Tripolitan coast. The air bases on Malta were permanent.” Not sure whats you’re saying by pointing out the distance of Maltese airbases to enemy controlled coastlines, other than yes, the proposed German airfield(s) wouldn’t be under constant air attack. The summer Arctic convoy routes came far north to be as far away from the mainland as possible and lower the risk of air attacks, the PQ convoys sailed literally between Bear Island and Spitsbergen, in this situation that isn’t a possibility in summer. The Arctic convoys were even closer to Spitsbergen and Bear Island than Malta was to the Italian sea routes.

5. Not much need for “fortifications” as such if the airfield(s) is(/are) closer to the interior (and yes there is enough space in some of those mountain basins for an airstrip), other than TNT and sandbags to blow up artificial caves and fortify those mountains, Alpine Front WWI style, other than some reinforcement materials for any tunnels. The Gebirgsjagers with the mountain guns and equipment to haul to material up into these positions. But if they need pillboxes, I don’t know German wwii requirements but for the British in wwi it was 90 tons for a full sized MG pill box, and 5 tons for a “moir” type pill box. For two dozen, that’s easily manageable for a smaller concrete-carrying ship accompanying the initial forces.

Btw, why can’t the Germans use merchants historically used to support Silver Fox? The point of occupying Spitsbergen is more effectively fighting the convoys than Silver Fox did, with a much smaller force than needed for that operation diverted instead to this effort.
:D

Peter89
Member
Posts: 2014
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Europe

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Peter89 » 22 Dec 2022 07:46

thaddeus_c wrote:
21 Dec 2022 20:30
Peter89 wrote:
21 Dec 2022 20:06
thaddeus_c wrote:
21 Dec 2022 15:20
something the size of the prior Narvik operation, they learned some bitter lessons there. the WWI-era ships could be used for transport, some were coal-fired so a ready fuel supply available, and there were 50 or 60 flying boats with long range also (excluding the BV-138 as it proved lacluster during Narvik airlift (attempt))
Really?

Which aircrafts do you mean?

No offense, I'm simply curious. I thought I am familiar with German airlift capabilities in early war, but this is a number I have never encountered before.
https://www.airhistory.net/text/misc/na ... twaffe.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dornier_Do_18 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dornier_Do_24

and my speculating use of any French and Dutch DO-24s, OR they would have to use the BV-138
Thanks for the links, I guess we have a misunderstanding here. The Do 18 was not a transport plane by any stretch of imagination; they needed catapult ships for a takeoff with mails. Thus the 50-60 on hand doesn't really count.

The Do 24 is okay, albeit not too effective, because it carried some 600 kg bombs and was usually employed in maritime patrol and sea rescue operations.

Interestingly, you left out the BV 222, which actually flew missions in the Arctic, and had a payload that probably exceeded the payload of the handful of Do 24s' payload combined.
Richard Anderson wrote:
21 Dec 2022 21:02
9./KGzbV 108 consisted of nine flying boats as it was formed on 11 April. KGzbV 108 also had 13 Ju 52/See on hand. By 10 May 9. Staffel had eight flying boats on hand of which four were still operational and there were only five JU 52/See left of which four were operational. Where do you find an additional 28/38 to 37/47? All the Dutch Do 24 were in the NEI I believe and the French ones had to wait for French production to begin.
Even out of that 9 (or 8) aircrafts of 9./KGzbV 108 3 were BV 138, disqualified earlier plus 3 (or 4) Do 26s were destroyed (V2 on 8 May 1940, V1 & V3 on 28 May 1940) before the ATL airlift begins. The V5 was lost in November 1940.

The Ju 52s are interesting. I am not sure they'd be able to reach the Spitsbergen with any sensible payload. It is also questionable from where would they fly.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

Peter89
Member
Posts: 2014
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Europe

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Peter89 » 22 Dec 2022 08:52

Stoat Coat wrote:
22 Dec 2022 05:28
1. Since you are using the same source as Nigel Askey, you’ll notice that when he says the official TOE “1,500 horses, 4,300 pack animals (largely mules) 550 mountain horses” or ponies as you put it, you are only accounting for the 550, and not the 4,300. But anyways you seem to be using circular logic: Germans can’t deploy their Mountain troops because of the feed needs for allocated animals>The Feed needs don’t matter because they can’t deploy their animals. If you are saying that the Gebirgsjager didn’t have to bring all of their officially allocated support…I agree. Historically they could include other animals conscripted into service like camels used by Gebirgsjager in the Caucasus, obviously not applicable here, or Reindeer, used by Gebirgsjager in the Arctic. The latter of which are native to the Svalbard’s anyways since their diet consists of tundra vegetation. And by the way, if the Gebirgsjager “were barely able to operate better anyway” in the mountainous environments they were meant for, then why are they needed so desperately elsewhere to begin with? Occupying the Svalbard’s and diverting a small amount of the forces used for the same purpose? I concede the point about a division sized force. But that doesn’t mean any force would be a waste or unsustainable. About garrison duties: The 5th Gebirgs division was retained for defending the Aegean after Mercury for five months as a garrison force according to Askey. In this case the troops are defending airfields from an Operation Gauntlet-type commando raid.

2. An initial invasion could use the Moltkefels sure. 3,200 ton cargo capacity is a lot in land war terms, for an infantry force of several battalions you could pack ammunition on that ship alone for a months long battle, the light artillery, and transport the materials to build hangars. But of course they wouldn’t be expending that ammo until an allied force landed, so you have a stowed ammo dump. 133F161E-9C70-4146-A1B4-22AB7F120798.jpeg 7.5 lbs average for troops in inactivity. For a force of 1,500 men=two battalions of whatever infantry (the Allies used that size landing force for Guantlet, so a similar size force should be used for defense), airfield personnel and pilots, that’s 11,250 lbs daily, 337,500 lbs a month (obviously that changes when the Allie’s land a force) or 168.7 tons a month. 8 Ju-52’s flying six or seven times a month can supply that (at least in winter with the ice blocking the shipping). Or the German blockade runners in Europe at the time could: Rio Grande had an even higher freight capacity than a Hansa A, and she wouldn’t depart from France for the Far East until later September. Alsterufer was still in Hamburg or France I believe. Another returned to Europe from a successful sortie to Japan but I can’t remember it’s name. One benefit of the Gebirgsjager is that their light artillery was also capable of being air portable on Ju-52s, like the battery that was historically airlifted to aid Dietl at Narvik.

3. There were a total of 5-6 submarines I can account for under the Brits/Free Norwegians in the North Sea in mid 1941, when I propose this alternate operation take place. The rest would have to be brought from the Med and decrease the pressure on Rommels supplies. The only allied airbase even remotely in range is at Murmansk and that relied on the Arctic convoys to a large extent, such as the Hurricanes that arrived. The Soviet northern fleet was notoriously passive, and the Brits were loath to send their big ships past the North Cape because of the air attack and uboat fears. During summer when it’s 24 hour daylight that far north, and with only one or two carriers available to the home fleet at this time, any major force is going to run out of AA ammo quick and and become Luftwaffe Bait. Anyone else remember what happened to HMS Gloucester and HMS Fiji?

4. “ The air bases on Malta are c. 97 kilometers from the Sicilian coast and 352 kilometers from the Tripolitan coast. The air bases on Malta were permanent.” Not sure whats you’re saying by pointing out the distance of Maltese airbases to enemy controlled coastlines, other than yes, the proposed German airfield(s) wouldn’t be under constant air attack. The summer Arctic convoy routes came far north to be as far away from the mainland as possible and lower the risk of air attacks, the PQ convoys sailed literally between Bear Island and Spitsbergen, in this situation that isn’t a possibility in summer. The Arctic convoys were even closer to Spitsbergen and Bear Island than Malta was to the Italian sea routes.

5. Not much need for “fortifications” as such if the airfield(s) is(/are) closer to the interior (and yes there is enough space in some of those mountain basins for an airstrip), other than TNT and sandbags to blow up artificial caves and fortify those mountains, Alpine Front WWI style, other than some reinforcement materials for any tunnels. The Gebirgsjagers with the mountain guns and equipment to haul to material up into these positions. But if they need pillboxes, I don’t know German wwii requirements but for the British in wwi it was 90 tons for a full sized MG pill box, and 5 tons for a “moir” type pill box. For two dozen, that’s easily manageable for a smaller concrete-carrying ship accompanying the initial forces.

Btw, why can’t the Germans use merchants historically used to support Silver Fox? The point of occupying Spitsbergen is more effectively fighting the convoys than Silver Fox did, with a much smaller force than needed for that operation diverted instead to this effort.
:D
Much of what you say is not really realistic for 3-5 months of aircraft operations with no additional aircrafts popping out of thin air. A permanent base, defended by an entire division with heavy weapons, transports, etc. throughout the year seems to be an overreaction for anything the diverted aircrafts and ships could do.

If the Germans land and build an improvised airstrip there in the spring of 1941, supply it with what later came to be known as the Fliegende Werkstatt, about a Gruppe of bombers could be maintained there in the daylight months. I'd add there a battalion size garrison with light weapons and minimal transports. Then around September a few destroyers or transport aircrafts would come, pick up the whole stuff and leave, save a small group of specialized troops who could maintain weather stations during the winter months.

I know of some instances when exceptional aircrews performed exceptional feats in the polar air resupply missions. I think the most notable one was when a Condor landed on melting ice to evacuate the weather stations' crew from Alexandra Land on 7 July 1944, got their landing gear broken, received a spare the next day by a BV 222, fixed the landing gear, cleared a runway, took off in the evening of 10 July, flew through the polar night, and landed in the morning of 11 July in Norway. But these feats could not be counted on.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4630
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Urmel » 22 Dec 2022 09:10

Texas Jäger wrote:
22 Dec 2022 03:03
Urmel wrote:
21 Dec 2022 08:27
Texas Jäger wrote:
18 Dec 2022 02:56
Not sure what you're on about. The entire point of devoting two German corps (including three mountain divisions) to Silberfuchs, otherwise launched in a strategic backwater that could have easily been defended by the Finns, was to occupy Murmansk and prevent any open route to the Soviet Union for resupply by the UK.
As I think I have demonstrated conclusively, that was not the objective of Silberfuchs, and Halder notes it as having no military purpose whatsoever within the larger scheme of Barbarossa.
Even if we accept that an Allied landing was the chief concern rather than supplies for the Soviet army, how would an allied expeditionary force get to Murmansk?
'Even if'? So even if we accept the historical evidence, you would like to continue to ignore the historical evidence? That's not really the making of a reasonable WI. At least, unlike the other two advocates of this WI you seem to be willing to contemplate that the historical evidence matters, and not focus on the rather inane (to use his own terms) discussion of how many angels can fit on a pin, sorry, whether a bodenständige or a Gebirgsregiment is the better tool for a non-job.
Texas Jäger wrote:
22 Dec 2022 03:03
How would it be supplied? That’s right…Arctic convoys.
You seem to overlook that Murmansk would be in the hands of the Germans, under their own planning. That was the purpose of the operation. They did not plan for failure (not taking Murmansk), they planned for success (taking Murmansk). So nobody would be able to land there.
Texas Jäger wrote:
22 Dec 2022 03:03
…"the the double mission of keeping the British from establishing a foothold in Murmansk, and of closing the White. Sea Canal." This comment from Halder does not preclude the idea the Germans were concerned or planned for supplies flowing through Murmansk to the Red Army, one of the things that could flow through said canal. Whether the concerns were ships carrying troops (and their supplies) or ships carrying lend lease, it amounts to the same goal of preventing shipping from reaching the Soviet Union anyways.
This neatly shows the dangers of partial quotation and ignoring context. The quote is correct. What is missing is that it discusses the closure of the canal (and the railway) not in terms of getting stuff from Murmansk to the rest of the Soviet Union, but that the purpose of the closure is to prevent stuff from the rest of the Soviet Union getting to Murmansk to reinforce the garrison there.

More generally, a good WI has to consider the context under which the ATL is posited. Useless WIs get bogged down in technical detail that is irrelevant, such as mule vs. horse feeding requirements, or whether the Afrika-Korps could have won if they had been fully motorised with 4x6 trucks, or if the Blitz could have been successful if the He 177 would have been available. Etc.pp. Because if you don't get the context, it is impossible to understand the OTL decision-making process, and that means the ATL is likely to end up being a GIGO exercise.

Such as the one here, which cannot even agree with itself when it would like Svalbard to be occupied, randomly chooses dates, ignores real historical constraints, and gets bogged down in the KStN of a Gebirgsjägerregiment, while people who don't understand why context matters get all high-and-mighty when challenged, but all upset when people reply in kind. Or where the example of a failed airlift (Narvik 1940) is being used to argue that an airlift to a place even further away would have been feasible. All backed up by Wikipedia entries of indifferent quality and a resolute ignorance of documentary evidence.

So let's get back to first principles. Why would the Germans want to occupy Svalbard in:

1) 1940
2) 1941
3) 1942
4) 1943

What's the benefit, what are the cost, in each of these years? How does the balance stack up? Answer those questions, and you get a better idea of how much they would be willing to invest in the operation.

As an aside, Zitronella is a really bad starting point for the technical considerations if you end up with a positive answer. It was a morale-boosting exercise for the Kriegsmarine with little other purpose (see KTB SKL Aug and Sep 1943, available online in German and English). The force landed, at a cost of 20% of the available fuel oil in theatre, had no staying power, and was never intended to do more than a raid. In that regard it is similar to the Lofoten raids in 1941.

Similarly, anyone saying 'Oh but they did it at Narvik' seems to forget the minor detail that the Germans had their rear-ends handed to them at Narvik, both on the ground and at sea. Because they pushed a weak infantry force across a long distance into a place where they could not support the force reliably. What does this remind us of?
Last edited by Urmel on 22 Dec 2022 12:22, edited 2 times in total.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4630
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Urmel » 22 Dec 2022 10:37

Peter89 wrote:
22 Dec 2022 07:46
The Ju 52s are interesting. I am not sure they'd be able to reach the Spitsbergen with any sensible payload. It is also questionable from where would they fly.
I suspect they might get there with almost zero payload, but it would be a one-way journey.

viewtopic.php?t=182771
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

Return to “What if”