PDA

View Full Version : Triumph at Kursk - a tale of an alternate WW2


Onkel Willie
May 11th, 2011, 12:30 PM
Seeing how my attempt to write an Arab-Israeli timeline crashed and burned, I'd like to post another project I've been working on for the past few weeks about a German victory in the Battle of Kursk. Enjoy :).


Triumph at Kursk




Chapter I: Victory Snatched from the Jaws of Defeat, May-September 1943.




It was 1943 and Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler had conquered Europe. The dictator controlled Germany by 1939 after having used demagoguery and propaganda to arouse popular sentiment against the Jews and the hated Treaty of Versailles which Hitler had relegated to the dustbin by rebuilding Germany’s armies. Austria and Czechoslovakia had been annexed without French or British responses, same for the remilitarization of the Rhineland. The invasion of Poland, however, had crossed a line. Poland had been crushed in weeks and as per the Molotov-Von Ribbentrop Pact the Soviet Union had occupied the eastern part of Poland. Denmark and Norway had then fallen in swift paratrooper and naval action. France had been subjected to the so-called Sickelschnitt plan in which a brilliant move through the Ardennes had cut Allied forces in half. The legendary panzers with massive air support had then crushed the French army, destroying its image as the strongest army in the world. Britain stood alone. This changed with the invasion of Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union on June 22nd 1941 which had met great initial successes until Case Blue to take the Caucasus. The Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942/’43, resulting from Soviet general Zhukov’s counteroffensive code-named Operation Uranus, had inflicted devastating losses and US entry in December 1941 promised little good in the longer term.

After the failure to take Stalingrad, Hitler uncharacteristically left the initiative for decision making with the German Army High Command (Oberkommando des Heeres, OKH) and made Guderian prominent again by making him Inspector of the Panzer Troops. General Von Manstein wanted to trap the Red Army’s southern wing in the Donets Basin by tricking them into pursuing the desperately reforming Sixth Army, but the OKH dismissed the idea, and instead focused on the enormous and obvious bulge in the frontlines between Orel and Kharkov 200 kilometres wide and 120 kilometres deep. Success would pinch off an enormous bulge with nearly a fifth of the Red Army’s manpower in it, straighten and shorten the line, and also take the strategically useful railroad of Kursk located on the main north-south line between Moscow and Rostov on the Black Sea coast. The plan reached its rough final form in March 1943: the Ninth Army under Walter Model would attack south from the Orel salient while Hermann Hoth’s Fourth Panzer Army and Army Detachment Kempf would attack north from the Kharkov salient. And now it was that differences surfaced between German generals about the start date. Model argued for postponement so that the upcoming Panther and heavy Tiger tanks could be used while Von Kluge and Von Manstein argued against it so that the element of surprise wouldn’t be lost, and they pointed to the fact that both tanks still had children’s diseases and that the most recent version of the Panzer IV could take the T-34. Von Manstein and Kluge managed to convince Guderian, who was altogether opposed to the offensive but saw no way to convince the majority of the general staff, to side with them and convince Hitler to launch on the planned launch date of May 4th. Guderian, Von Kluge and Von Manstein together went to convince Hitler and succeeded even if the latter wasn’t enthusiastic about Operation Citadel at all.

The operation went ahead on May 4th as planned with the Ninth Army redeployed from the Rzhev to the Orel salient, the Fourth Panzer Army and Army Detachment Kempf attacking all-out against the Soviet Central and Voronezh Fronts. The Ninth Army reached Olkhovatka, the first objective after an advance of eight kilometres, on the first day with little trouble expect for some sparse minefields which were suppose to have become a major defensive line in two months time. They thereby took the only highland natural barrier before the flat tank land all the way to Kursk and by late May these troops had taken Maloarkhangelsk just 60 kilometres north-north-east of Kursk. The southern pincer spearheaded by the Fourth Panzer Army followed by the II SS Panzer Corps and the Grossdeutschland Panzergrenadier divisions had advanced to Prokhorovka by May 20th despite moving over high terrain facing strong resistance. They managed to take Oboyan about two weeks later on June 5th, again facing high ground, and again an organized Soviet defence as Stalin did not authorize a retreat seeing how that had worked out well at Stalingrad. Around that same time the northern Ninth Army took the important train station at Ponyri by virtue of their control of Maloarkhangelsk and Olkhovatka to the east and west of the town.

By June 28th the Ninth Army had taken Svoboda about 20 kilometres from Kursk, the end goal of the entire operation, and German forces threatened to encircle two Soviet Fronts. Similarly the southern pincer had marched to within miles of Ryshkovo, itself a mere few miles of Kursk, and morale was up high among German troops, higher than ever after the deep low following Stalingrad. Von Manstein, who was in overall command, told Hitler the good news himself and Hitler was elated after fits of rage, apathy, depression and pessimism over the past few months. A few days later after their meeting in the Wolf’s Lair in Rastenburg, East Prussia, the two German pincers closed the gap on July 4th and cut off two the Central and Voronezh Fronts to the delight of German commanders. German forces advanced to within Kursk itself and fought fierce street-to-street battles, and also moved to shrink the so-called “Kursk Pocket”. They used mostly superior aerial support against Soviet troops who suffered heavy losses in armour and vehicles and lost ground daily despite relief efforts from the Red Air Force. While Germany suffered serious losses too, they regained a little of their winning streak that they’d had before Stalingrad and shrunk the Kursk Pocket.

The Soviet XIX Cavalry Corps, the XI and XXX Ural Volunteer Tank Corps, and VI Guard Mechanised Corps, amassing east of Kursk, tried to break the encirclement but could not and on August 12th the Central and Voronezh Fronts capitulated to German forces. One million Red Army soldiers were either dead or had been captured, two thousand tanks had been lost to the Germans, and 1.900 aircraft had been lost as well on the Soviet side. The Germans had lost about 190.000 men, 800 tanks, and 750 aircraft. All in all, the Germans had successfully shortened the line, even if at some losses, and they had just about crippled the Red Army’s ability to launch an offensive until the next year, in other words into at least early 1944. A small follow-up offensive launched by Von Manstein was also successful and Germany retook Rostov in early September. Another follow-up offensive against the resource and food starved Leningrad was also successful with reinforcements from both Army Group Centre and South made possible by the shortened front namely the 6th and 7th Panzer Divisions, and the 24th Panzer Division and 76th Infantry Division. It would be the last major German offensive on the eastern front for the rest of the war.

This freed up troops for the defence of Italy which was necessary at this point since the Africa Corps under Hans-Jürgen von Arnim, Rommel’s replacement, had surrendered in May 1943 and therefore an invasion of Italy from North Africa seemed imminent. Hitler initially believed the invasion would come at Sardinia, but given the fact that the OKH had launched a successful offensive without his interference, he allowed the OKH and OKW a lot of leeway in organising the defence of Germany’s southern flank, including General Albert Kesselring who had recently been promoted to commander of the southern theatre. The latter believed that despite captured Allied plans (in reality part of a deception campaign) the landings would take place on Sicily and he would be proven right as Operation Husky was launched on July 10th. The 15th Panzergrenadier division and the 1st Paratroop Panzer Division Hermann Goering (in reality a Panzer Corps) were already based on Sicily, and Kesselring was promised reinforcements in the shape of the 29th Panzergrenadier division, the II SS Panzer Corps, the Panzergrenadier division Grossdeutschland and the 26th Panzer Division. Both the II SS and the Grossdeutschland would include three elite armoured regiments each, one equipped with Tiger I tanks, another equipped with the lighter Panther tank and the last one with the heavy "Elefant" tank destroyers. All of these units were battle hardened veteran units from the eastern front who would prove their worth against the Allied invaders, but it would take time for them to be transferred from the eastern front to Sicily.

In the meantime the first landings took place with paratroopers of the US 505th Parachute Infantry Division, part of the 82nd Airborne Division, landing in the night of July 9th to July 10th. They were supposed to have landed five miles inland from Gela to block routes to the US 1st Infantry Division, but due to confused friendly fire from Allied ships they were scattered over a large area and nowhere near their drop zone which was worsened by strong winds blowing the gliders off course. The British 21st Independent Parachute Company fared little better as they seized the Ponte Grande bridge across the river Anape near Syracuse and tried to fight off counterattacks. They were eventually forced to surrender to the Italian 75th Infantry Regiment. By July 14th Allied paratroopers, mainly the US ones, had more or less regrouped and caused confusion among Axis troops by attacking their patrols. The paratroopers were followed by amphibious landings across the southern and eastern coastlines on 26 beaches between Licata and Cassibile with some element of surprise since local commanders believed no one would undertake a landing in such windy conditions. After the initial shock, Axis commanders formulated a response by attacking with the Infantry Division Livorno and the Hermann Goering Division and reached the outskirts of Gela, but gunfire from destroyers USS Boise and USS Shubrick destroyed several tanks and drove the counterattacking forces back inland. Italian SM. 79 torpedo bombers, and German Junkers Ju-88 bombers and Ju-87 dive bombers coordinated their attacks, damaging or sinking a number of warships, transport vessels and landing vessels. 8.000 tonnes of shipping was sunk and thirty enemy aircraft were reported as being downed, but this did not stop the Allied landing. By nightfall July 10th seven divisions had landed. They advanced from the beachheads and by around July 25th they had advanced to the arching Catania-Agira-Santo Stefano line relatively easy since Kesselring had abandoned western Sicily to shorten the line and hold out until the arrival of the reinforcements who were days away.

They arrived on August 1st and Kesselring planned a large scale counteroffensive with these new forces. To begin with, a diversionary attack would be launched south to make the Allies think he was trying to recapture Lentini which was on the way to Syracuse and this would then be followed by the real offensive in south-western direction toward Caltanissetta to split British and American forces in two. In the process, he carefully planned the advance routes to ensure that German troops would stay at least 20-30 kilometres inland and away from the US Navy's 16 inch guns as much as possible since their destructive power outgunned whatever land forces the Germans could bring to bear, except for possibly Luftwaffe bombers. And so it was done.

Allied intelligence of course knew of the logistics train coming from the eastern front, but anticipated that reinforcements would arrive too late to be able to change the strategic situation on Sicily. This was part of Kesselring’s own deception campaign which spread false information about troops going to Sardinia and transport troubles which would not enable reinforcements to be sent before August.

The 26th Panzer Division and the 29th Panzergrenadier Division attacked the British Eighth Army at Catania on August 5th, and British General Harold Alexander assumed this to be a major counteroffensive and reallocated his forces accordingly. The counteroffensive then entered the second stage with the Hermann Goering division, the II SS Panzer Corps, the Grossdeutschland Division and the 15th Panzergrenadier Division attacking southwest toward Caltanissetta with spoiling attacks west and southeast to prevent flank attacks. The attack was spearheaded by the elite Tiger, Panther and Elefant regiments and this was the first time that the Allies encountered these tanks in large numbers (when compared to the Tunisian Campaign where only a handful of them had served). They destroyed significant numbers of Allied M4 Sherman tanks who were grossly outmatched by all three tanks in terms of armour and firepower. It on average took four Shermans to destroy just one Tiger tank and more than once Allied tank crews called in air support when all else failed. German troops forces retook Caltanissetta on August 8th and the 54th Infantry Division Napoli and the 4th Infantry Division Livorno joined in the offensive on their own accord to help protect the German left, taking Valguarnera in the process on August 10th and threatening the British Eighth Army’s left flank.

By August 17th Axis forces had retaken the town of Licata, thereby successfully splitting Allied forces in two. British forces were now under threat with Axis forces attacking from Licata into their west flank and from Catania into their eastern flank with the British centre forming a bulge in the front that enemy forces threatened to cut off. In late August, General Alexander ordered an evacuation of British troops through the port of Syracuse and destroyed the port facilities and airfields in the region, rendering them useless to the Axis. US forces, seeing their entire right flank under threat, were forced to evacuate Sicily as well and so the Invasion of Sicily, the first attempt to break into Fortress Europe, had failed. It was a significant boost to Axis morale, especially Italian morale which had been low after a string of defeats.

Hitler used this time to prepare a defence on the eastern for the expected winter or spring offensive of the Red Army expected to begin somewhere between February and May 1944, seeing how Stalin had refused to bow down after the defeat at Kursk and because Hitler himself once again believed that victory might still be possible thanks to his “saving genius” that had led to Kursk. He aimed to construct a defensive line from just west of Smolensk along the Dnieper river, except in the south where it diverged eastward in order to protect the Crimean Peninsula. This line would become known as the Panther-Wotan Line. The northern part of the line would be constructed from Vitebsk to Pskov from where it would then follow the west coast of Lake Peipus and its river delta to Narva on the Finnish Gulf. Like with the Hindenburg Line in World War I, Hitler hoped to shorten his front, release divisions for duties elsewhere and bleed the Red Army dry in a stalemate in the hopes of signing a separate peace with Stalin. The order for its construction was given on August 11th and soon hundreds of thousands of Poles, Ukrainians, Russians, Jews and political dissidents were put to work as slave labour under SS supervision. They dug trenches, laid minefields, laid barbed wire and constructed numerous anti-tank obstacles, casemates and pillboxes while thousands of artillery and mortar positions were being prepared and tanks were dug in as casemates to create a system of defences 60 kilometres deep, twice the depth of the Maginot Line. Germany prepared for the final clash of titans that would determine the course of the war.

Grimm Reaper
May 11th, 2011, 01:23 PM
The massive Soviet forces in the Kursk salient largely existed because Soviet intelligence knew what the Germans were planning and were thus deployed to dramatically enhancing the defensive capacity and installing fixed defenses such as mine fields. Attack earlier and much of those forces are not at risk, otherwise you need to explain why the Soviets, with the defender's edge and full awareness of when and where the Germans would strike, would lose and lose badly.

German resources to build a defensive line on that scale and in such depth in the east simply did not exist, neither was there any chance of Hitler, flush from a victory at Kursk, openly embracing a policy which guaranteed the continued survival of a Soviet Union only slightly reduced.

Then you suddenly make available in Sicily nearly triple the German forces OTL and more than triple the panzer forces despite that there has not been time for units to redeploy from Kursk and that there was no way such a huge change would not have been noted well in advance by the Allies...

Astrodragon
May 11th, 2011, 01:37 PM
The massive Soviet forces in the Kursk salient largely existed because Soviet intelligence knew what the Germans were planning and were thus deployed to dramatically enhancing the defensive capacity and installing fixed defenses such as mine fields. Attack earlier and much of those forces are not at risk, otherwise you need to explain why the Soviets, with the defender's edge and full awareness of when and where the Germans would strike, would lose and lose badly.

German resources to build a defensive line on that scale and in such depth in the east simply did not exist, neither was there any chance of Hitler, flush from a victory at Kursk, openly embracing a policy which guaranteed the continued survival of a Soviet Union only slightly reduced.

Then you suddenly make available in Sicily nearly triple the German forces OTL and more than triple the panzer forces despite that there has not been time for units to redeploy from Kursk and that there was no way such a huge change would not have been noted well in advance by the Allies...

Indeed, as Grimm says.
Further, you havent explained how the Germans magically drive the allies into the sea despite the heavy naval gunfire support available. Normandy showed a panzer offensive into 16" gunfire doesnt work that well....

And of course the allies just sit there and ignore the immense logistics train winding down Italy and over the straits.....

Onkel Willie
May 11th, 2011, 02:02 PM
The massive Soviet forces in the Kursk salient largely existed because Soviet intelligence knew what the Germans were planning and were thus deployed to dramatically enhancing the defensive capacity and installing fixed defenses such as mine fields. Attack earlier and much of those forces are not at risk, otherwise you need to explain why the Soviets, with the defender's edge and full awareness of when and where the Germans would strike, would lose and lose badly.

German resources to build a defensive line on that scale and in such depth in the east simply did not exist, neither was there any chance of Hitler, flush from a victory at Kursk, openly embracing a policy which guaranteed the continued survival of a Soviet Union only slightly reduced.

Then you suddenly make available in Sicily nearly triple the German forces OTL and more than triple the panzer forces despite that there has not been time for units to redeploy from Kursk and that there was no way such a huge change would not have been noted well in advance by the Allies...

To address your first point, as of April 1943, the Central and Voronezh Fronts were already inside the Kursk Bulge so in the event of an earlier Operation Citadel, they would be destroyed. They were there to participate in the planned summer offensives that mirrored German plans with attacks around Orel and Kharkov to flatten the line and possibly break out to the Pripet marshes. They already consisted of one million men and would likely be annihilated.

You're right when pointing out their defender's edge. However, the fortifications built historically were far from finished in May and would therefore not blunt the German offensive much. This makes a defence very hard as the land around Kursk is mostly flat and therefore ideal for armoured warfare. This would make it easier for German armour to cut off the Kursk Bulge.

As for the Panther-Wotan Line, construction already commenced IOTL in late 1943 (whether they succeed is of course another matter). While it might be true that Hitler, fresh from victory in the east could get overconfident, the OKH has conducted an offensive without his interference which could lead to him being a bit more relaxed rather than concentrating command authority even further as he did in OTL after Kursk. Also, as the biography by Ian Kershaw points out, Hitler knew he had already lost the initiative and had a lot of depressed, pessimistic moods even if he didn't show it in public. The idea of bleeding the Soviets dry, defeating the western Allies or making a negotiated peace with them and then turning back to finish the USSR off would have some appeal to him.

That there would be no time to transfer forces from Kursk to Italy is a statement that somewhat boggles my mind. TTL's Operation Citadel ended in late June. IOTL Sicily's defenders held out for over a month alone into mid-August (the 17th to be exact), without support. That gives more than one month to transfer reinforcements from the east, plenty time IMHO.

Oh, and the reinforcements only arrived after the landings had already begun. So the Allies only noticed the troops already on Sicily. Also, by the time the reinforcements arrived, they controlled three quarters of the island which could lead to the belief that the reinforcements would come too late to make a change.

Indeed, as Grimm says.
Further, you havent explained how the Germans magically drive the allies into the sea despite the heavy naval gunfire support available. Normandy showed a panzer offensive into 16" gunfire doesnt work that well....

And of course the allies just sit there and ignore the immense logistics train winding down Italy and over the straits.....It's not magic. Allied naval gunfire only reaches so far inland (20-30 km max). The better part of the offensive is conducted in the interior of Sicily with Caltanissetta being the focal point. Also, the reinforcements arrived well after the Allies had set foot on Sicily, like I said which provides the explanation (the only plausible one) as to why the Allies weren't sufficiently prepared and expecting that the German effort would be too late*. Failures can happen, especially in your first attempt at on amphibious landing in Fortress Europe.

*I have not mentioned this in the first chapter and will edit it soon.

EDIT: I changed the first post.

BlairWitch749
May 11th, 2011, 02:27 PM
OW,

BW nitpicks: (only on the Kursk stuff, I'll withhold commenting on Sicily)

1. The 2nd SS panzer corps and army detachment kempf burned themselves out in their victory at the 3rd battle of kharkov... they simply where not ready to resume the offensive in May despite Manstein's thoughts about the window of victory closing
2. The Soviets had massive concentrations at other locations besides Kursk that would have went over to the offensive had the Germans showed any real shot of breaking through and rolling up the salient... these other sectors where starved for armored support and would have broken (as they did in otl after kursk)
3. You had the Germans be on the offensive for more than 8 weeks... their fuel and replacement stream would not possibly have allowed this... for such a big offensive with so many tanks, they burned nearly all their fuel and ammo reserves (with two extra months of stockpiling) in 7 days of combat
4. Even if the tanks broke through and joined up... Army Group South and Center did not have the fresh infantry divisions in reserve to possibly hold, let alone crush a pocket with a million armed soviets in it... this was the inherrant weakness in the plan, even two months later... the entire German theater reserve in July was 1 panzer division and 1 panzer grenadier division... all the infantry would be consumed taking the initial fortified lines and wouldn't be in a position to foot march 200 miles around the pocket then smash it

Grimm Reaper
May 11th, 2011, 02:47 PM
1) The Soviets had penetrated the German operational plans to the point of knowing when and where the German offensive would take place. If the Kursk offensive takes place earlier the Soviets will know and have time to respond accordingly but you include no such response.

2) Germany did not have the resources to produce a defense line in the east remotely on the scale you present, least of all in a few months.

3) Hitler would not have been remotely pleased at the thought of a peace settlement leaving the British AND the Soviets intact and rearming for the next war, least of all with the US backing both of them militarily.

4) You claim that there was plenty of time to redeploy numerous panzer divisions from Kursk, a battle still in progress, over the length of Europe including Italy's limited railroad network(in sight of Allied intel, airpower and naval power). Do you have any evidence at all to support this claim?

5) If the Allies already have three quarters of Sicily then the German forces being deployed will be wide open to Allied air and naval power, not only after landing in Sicily but while moving through southern Italy. Neither is there the slightest chance that so many panzer divisions would not be noticed coming well in advance.

6) It is geographically impossible for the German reinforcements to avoid coming within range of Allied naval gunfire, particularly the reinforcements which have to cross the strait to Sicily in the first place.

7) Presenting British and American commanders making strategic decisions, in this case regarding the evacuation of Sicily, separately from one another is nothing short of ASB.

Astrodragon
May 11th, 2011, 06:15 PM
Naval guns mean that you cant get pushed out of your bridgehead by panzers.

And if the reinforcements dont start to arrive until the allies are well established, they will have airfields set up and have air superiority. Which means those ferries carrying all those reinforcements will be attacked. The Germans have no possible way of replenishing them, so just how much of these reinforcements make it to Sicily? One assumes that unless the allies are braindead they will also be targetting the trains moving south through Italy.

While a Kursk victory may let the Germans reinforce Sicily, I just cant see it hapenning fast enough with enough forces to win. What they could do is to reinforce Italy, which does indeed raise a whole new load of problems for the allies.

Onkel Willie
May 11th, 2011, 06:38 PM
Naval guns mean that you cant get pushed out of your bridgehead by panzers.

And if the reinforcements dont start to arrive until the allies are well established, they will have airfields set up and have air superiority. Which means those ferries carrying all those reinforcements will be attacked. The Germans have no possible way of replenishing them, so just how much of these reinforcements make it to Sicily? One assumes that unless the allies are braindead they will also be targetting the trains moving south through Italy.

While a Kursk victory may let the Germans reinforce Sicily, I just cant see it hapenning fast enough with enough forces to win. What they could do is to reinforce Italy, which does indeed raise a whole new load of problems for the allies.

OK then. Good idea for version 2.0.

BlairWitch749
May 11th, 2011, 06:55 PM
Naval guns mean that you cant get pushed out of your bridgehead by panzers.

And if the reinforcements dont start to arrive until the allies are well established, they will have airfields set up and have air superiority. Which means those ferries carrying all those reinforcements will be attacked. The Germans have no possible way of replenishing them, so just how much of these reinforcements make it to Sicily? One assumes that unless the allies are braindead they will also be targetting the trains moving south through Italy.

While a Kursk victory may let the Germans reinforce Sicily, I just cant see it hapenning fast enough with enough forces to win. What they could do is to reinforce Italy, which does indeed raise a whole new load of problems for the allies.


I disagree that naval gunfire means panzers can't push the beachhead into the drink (from a general sense not within the scope of this tl which I have objected to above)

The allies did not have total air supremacy over Italy or Sicily in 1943, they had superiority, but the LW fought back hard and indeed inflicted damage (Warspite) on top of being totally committed to flying top cover for the panzers at Kursk

If the Kursk situation settles itself out earlier the LW would be able to transfer additional squadrons to Italy, which could base on all weather hard metal runways on the mainland and have short hops to station, whereas the allies are flying from north africa (the overwhelming majority of their aircraft) and have a longer time to station and can spend less time on station... the Germans where able to get supplies and evacuate across the strait of Messina without special difficulty during the campaign in otl by establishing a MASSIVE flak alley on both sides that made it too dangerous for allied tactical aircraft to operate there, and the messina reggio fortifications had a fair amount of artillery to deter allied light craft from going there in daylight

If the Germans are able to get conditions down to air parity, they could make it prohibitive or at least very dangerous for allied ships to operate close to shore in daylight... also the panzers can use night attacks to get close to the beachheads OR dig in as close as humanly possible at night and get themselves intermixed with allied formations so artillery fire cannot be called on them easily when the sun comes out

abc123
May 11th, 2011, 06:57 PM
OK then. Good idea for version 2.0.

A hint:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_spy_ring


Also, Germany needed about 3 months to transport reinforcements from USSR into Italy.

Blackfox5
May 11th, 2011, 10:35 PM
Throwing more German troops into Sicily by that stage is like sending more troops into Tunisia half a year earlier. All you are doing is giving the Western Allies even more prisoners after a more prolonged battle.

If the reinforcements are sent to mainland Italy instead, you possibly butterfly the entire invasion of Italy as the "soft underbelly" theory is obviously wrong. Americans insist that Italy is a diversion not worth the cost. Instead, they might agree to some other British strategy in the Mediterranean while they wait for the main invasion of France in 1944.

The Allies could take Corsica and Sardinia next, which would have made southern France and northern Italy vulnerable to an Allied invasion. Without any troops going to Italy, the British would have more resources to take Rhodes, the Dodecanese, and even possibly Crete. Certainly Italian morale would still be bad, and with more British resources, the Germans might not be as successful there as they were IOTL. If they fall, now the Allies threaten the Balkans as well as all of Italy and Southern France. The Germans have a much longer area to cover for possible Allied amphibious operations.

So if the put their forces in southern Italy, they risk the Allies landing north and cutting off the entire Italian penninsula. If they place them north, then they make southern Italy vulnerable to quickly falling. If they spread them out, they risk being defeated in detail.

Italy will still be war weary. Mussolini will be kicked out, and the Fascists will begin surrender talks with the Allies. Only this time, there will be more time for them to plan their defection right. And the Allies can better plan the next step in the Mediterranean to coincide with Overlord. The Americans and French can still land during Dragoon, followed eventually by the British in northern Italy (after the amphibious landing craft become available again) at the same time Badoglio declares for the Allies for example. Not exactly a good summer 1944 for the Germans especially as the Soviets will mount their own offensive around the same time.

So a German victory at Kursk will definitely change the war. I still think they are going to lose. Soviets will suffer more casaulties and take longer to get to Berlin, but this possibly is better for the Western Allies in terms of where they link up with the Soviets and the postwar settlement.

Astrodragon
May 11th, 2011, 10:42 PM
I disagree that naval gunfire means panzers can't push the beachhead into the drink (from a general sense not within the scope of this tl which I have objected to above)

The allies did not have total air supremacy over Italy or Sicily in 1943, they had superiority, but the LW fought back hard and indeed inflicted damage (Warspite) on top of being totally committed to flying top cover for the panzers at Kursk

If the Kursk situation settles itself out earlier the LW would be able to transfer additional squadrons to Italy, which could base on all weather hard metal runways on the mainland and have short hops to station, whereas the allies are flying from north africa (the overwhelming majority of their aircraft) and have a longer time to station and can spend less time on station... the Germans where able to get supplies and evacuate across the strait of Messina without special difficulty during the campaign in otl by establishing a MASSIVE flak alley on both sides that made it too dangerous for allied tactical aircraft to operate there, and the messina reggio fortifications had a fair amount of artillery to deter allied light craft from going there in daylight

If the Germans are able to get conditions down to air parity, they could make it prohibitive or at least very dangerous for allied ships to operate close to shore in daylight... also the panzers can use night attacks to get close to the beachheads OR dig in as close as humanly possible at night and get themselves intermixed with allied formations so artillery fire cannot be called on them easily when the sun comes out

Two points. The allies had dominance of the air over Sicily in OTL. They did have plenty of aircraft in NA and other close theatres they could hjave deployed if they had needed to (which they didnt in OTL). By 1943 any major combats between the LW and the Allies just pushes Germany's airforce into the meatgrinder early.

Second, heavy naval gunfire does indeed stop your panzers from getting too close to the coast. The impact of a single 16" shell (let alone a salvo!) is about the same as a 4,000lb bomb, and a LOT more accurate. And a single battleship can fire off a salvo a minute (faster if they really need to). That ruins your whole day when it arrives...
There was a panzer brigade targetted in Normandy. They didnt lose a lot of tanks, but they were completely unable to attack because they were sitting in basically loose earth (rather than ground!), and all their optics weer misaligned, intakes full of earth, that sort of thing. They basically had to dig themselves out and clean up their tanks before they could do anything. And that was a bombardment from one ship...

BlairWitch749
May 12th, 2011, 01:50 AM
Two points. The allies had dominance of the air over Sicily in OTL. They did have plenty of aircraft in NA and other close theatres they could hjave deployed if they had needed to (which they didnt in OTL). By 1943 any major combats between the LW and the Allies just pushes Germany's airforce into the meatgrinder early.

Second, heavy naval gunfire does indeed stop your panzers from getting too close to the coast. The impact of a single 16" shell (let alone a salvo!) is about the same as a 4,000lb bomb, and a LOT more accurate. And a single battleship can fire off a salvo a minute (faster if they really need to). That ruins your whole day when it arrives...
There was a panzer brigade targetted in Normandy. They didnt lose a lot of tanks, but they were completely unable to attack because they were sitting in basically loose earth (rather than ground!), and all their optics weer misaligned, intakes full of earth, that sort of thing. They basically had to dig themselves out and clean up their tanks before they could do anything. And that was a bombardment from one ship...

Bevin Alexander estimates the allied sortie superiority ratio during Huskey as 2.5-3 to 1 (roughly 4000 to 1500 as he puts it) and that is with 1900 LW aircraft locked in a deathmatch flying top cover for the panzer divisions at Kursk. If a successful, early Kursk is complete prior to Huskey, the LW would be able to transfer a fair number of squadrons to support their forces in Sicily. The LW units coming from Russia have an experience advantage versus the overwhelming number of allied pilots which would compensate to a degree for their numerical inferiority (also the better runways on the main land, and shorter distance to station would act as something of a multiplier as well)... the LW in OTL was able to fly strong enough cover that the Germans evacuated the overwhelming majority of their field forces off Messina with little loss

How many battle wagons where assigned to Husky? (I know Warspite and Valiant where there, but am not familiar with others assigned to the task) I know elements of the British med fleet and US 8th fleet where there, but I don't know how many battle wagons they had between them... if there where an extra several hundred German bomber and fighter aircraft, I'm not so sure that they would be in love with operating close to shore...

The front was about 75 miles wide, the battle wagons can't be everywhere at once and if the force is large enough opposing the husky landings, the battle wagons, even if they drive off a wave or too will have to go off station for restocking (Warspite and Valiant where old girls for sustained fire programs)