Discussion:
WWII : what if
(too old to reply)
Cyril aka Raminagrobis
2009-08-17 17:26:52 UTC
Permalink
Massive oil reserves were discovered in Lybia starting in the 1960's.
The sirte basin is a world class oil province, with ample reserves and
easy to extract high quality oil.

What if those fields were discovered before WWII ?
Rich Rostrom
2009-08-17 21:20:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Cyril aka Raminagrobis
Massive oil reserves were discovered in Lybia starting in the 1960's.
The sirte basin is a world class oil province, with ample reserves and
easy to extract high quality oil.
What if those fields were discovered before WWII ?
This has been discussed before; IIRC there were
serious technical reasons why Libya's oil was not
discovered or exploited earlier.

Hand-waving that aside... Italy now has a major source
of oil, and indeed becomes the major supply of oil to
the entire Axis.

There are many changes.

The importance of Romania is greatly diminished.

Hitler may be less inclined to cut a deal with Stalin.
since he won't need Soviet oil.

Italy will be more of an equal partner in the Axis;
Hitler will be asking Mussolini for oil rather than
Musso begging Hitler.

The Italian Navy will be more active and aggressive.
Italian shipping will be more concentrated in the
Mediterranean. One presumes Italy will acquire a
tanker fleet, and probably will build additional warships
to protect the SLoC to Libya, which will be much more
important.

Additional Italian forces will be stationed in Libya.

The Allies will plan for more action in the Med and
North Africa. OTL, the Allies considered bombing
the Soviet oil fields at Baku in 1940. This was after
the USSR had invaded Poland, but was still nominally
neutral. ATL, Italy would be neutral, but a genuine
Nazi ally - and the Libyan oil would be far more
vulnerable.

In fact it seems highly probable that the Allies would
Do Something in the winter of 1939-1940. France and
Britain can't attack Germany by land (well they could
but it would be useless). But the great "trump card"
of the period was supposed to be "economic warfare".
The Allies thought that cutting off Germany's iron ore
supply from Sweden (via Narvik) would be a huge blow.
Cutting off Germany's oil supply would be even more
tempting.

So perhaps in November 1939, or maybe in January
1940, the Allies inform Italy that Italy will not be
allowed to import oil from Libya for resale to Germany.
This decree is to be enforced by the British and French
navies.

What does Musso do? OT1H, the Italian Navy is
severely outnumbered, and the German navy can't
get there. OTOH, he has (or should have) complete
air superiority through the region, and the Luftwaffe
_can_ get there. OYAH, he doesn't _want_ to go to
war. OSAH, he doesn't want to be seen as letting
the Allies order him around.

The British and French can invade Libya from the
east and west.

Scenario: Britain and France issue their ultimatum
to Italy in late November 1939. Italy refuses. B&F
dispatch warships to intercept Italian tankers. Italy
deploys escorts with the tankers. Meanwhile the
Luftwaffe prepares to move south.

On December 14, a British task group opens fire
on an Italian convoy. Italy declares war on Britain
and France the next day...

This probably pre-empts the Norway campaign,
as the Allies are having too much fun in the Med,
and Germany doesn't feel threatened; also the
Luftwaffe and the Fallschirmjagers are needed
in the Med. Indeed, given the importance of
Libyan oil, Hitler will send all the help he can.

The Med war is going to be interesting. The
Allies (even the French) will attack - the fear
of assaulting impregnable WW I-type trench
lines doesn't apply. The Allies will have
naval superiority, but the Axis will have air
superiority, and the Allied navies will pay
for that - heavily.

Allied forces will attack on the ground, and
the Italians will crumble. Hitler will send
more airpower, and if possible ground
troops. However, with the Allies holding
Tunisia, the French navy engaged, and
the British free to commit lots of the RN,
I think the Allies can enforce the blockade
of Libya.

The British (and to a lesser extent the
French) also get the major distraction of
East Africa. Indeed I think the Allies will
not be able to attack in force from Egypt
for several weeks, so the main drive will
be from Tunisia. A French light column
may attack from Chad as well.

The Italians will crumble, but not instantly.
By early 1940 (February) the Allies will
be well into Libya, but the Allied navies
will have lost a fair number of ships to
Axis airpower. Which cat has the longer
tail? That is, do the Italians in Libya
collapse before the battered Allied navies
back off from their blockade, allowing
reinforcements to arrive?

Idunno. And this may go further - if the
Luftwaffe gets _heavily_ committed in
the Med, and the Fallschirmjagers are
used against Malta... then Case YELLOW
get delayed or cancelled. The Germans
can't afford to start the battle of France
with half the Luftwaffe diverted.
Anthony Buckland
2009-08-18 01:07:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
...
The Med war is going to be interesting. The
Allies (even the French) will attack - the fear
of assaulting impregnable WW I-type trench
lines doesn't apply. The Allies will have
naval superiority, but the Axis will have air
superiority, and the Allied navies will pay
for that - heavily.
Allied forces will attack on the ground, and
the Italians will crumble. Hitler will send
more airpower, and if possible ground
troops. However, with the Allies holding
Tunisia, the French navy engaged, and
the British free to commit lots of the RN,
I think the Allies can enforce the blockade
of Libya.
The British (and to a lesser extent the
French) also get the major distraction of
East Africa. Indeed I think the Allies will
not be able to attack in force from Egypt
for several weeks, so the main drive will
be from Tunisia. A French light column
may attack from Chad as well.
The Italians will crumble, but not instantly.
By early 1940 (February) the Allies will
be well into Libya, but the Allied navies
will have lost a fair number of ships to
Axis airpower. Which cat has the longer
tail? That is, do the Italians in Libya
collapse before the battered Allied navies
back off from their blockade, allowing
reinforcements to arrive?
Idunno. And this may go further - if the
Luftwaffe gets _heavily_ committed in
the Med, and the Fallschirmjagers are
used against Malta... then Case YELLOW
get delayed or cancelled. The Germans
can't afford to start the battle of France
with half the Luftwaffe diverted.
So where is the RAF? The Luftwaffe can't
obtain superiority over the routes by which
planes could be delivered. Without France,
Germany can't move up the force it used
in the Battle of Britain. Britain could commit
for instance the planes it used as the reserve
in the BOB. OTOH, Britain must use sea
transport and therefore considerable time,
knowing that _if_ Germany later conquers
France it will have fast interior lines to move
forces there. A chess game of movement,
supply and commitment of air forces.

If Germany can't command the Mediterranean
from the air, it runs into a version of the same
nightmare that Rommel did, except that now
it's not troops, armor and supplies moving
south, it's oil moving north. And without air
protection, the lightly armored Italian warships
are going to have an awful time at the hands
of the Royal Navy, let alone the RN plus the
French.
Tim
2009-08-18 04:08:36 UTC
Permalink
On Aug 18, 1:07 pm, "Anthony Buckland"
Post by Rich Rostrom
...
The Med war is going to be interesting. The
Allies (even the French) will attack - the fear
of assaulting impregnable WW I-type trench
lines doesn't apply. The Allies will have
naval superiority, but the Axis will have air
superiority, and the Allied navies will pay
for that - heavily.
Allied forces will attack on the ground, and
the Italians will crumble. Hitler will send
more airpower, and if possible ground
troops. However, with the Allies holding
Tunisia, the French navy engaged, and
the British free to commit lots of the RN,
I think the Allies can enforce the blockade
of Libya.
The British (and to a lesser extent the
French) also get the major distraction of
East Africa. Indeed I think the Allies will
not be able to attack in force from Egypt
for several weeks, so the main drive will
be from Tunisia. A French light column
may attack from Chad as well.
The Italians will crumble, but not instantly.
By early 1940 (February) the Allies will
be well into Libya, but the Allied navies
will have lost a fair number of ships to
Axis airpower. Which cat has the longer
tail? That is, do the Italians in Libya
collapse before the battered Allied navies
back off from their blockade, allowing
reinforcements to arrive?
Idunno. And this may go further - if the
Luftwaffe gets _heavily_ committed in
the Med, and the Fallschirmjagers are
used against Malta... then Case YELLOW
get delayed or cancelled. The Germans
can't afford to start the battle of France
with half the Luftwaffe diverted.
So where is the RAF?  The Luftwaffe can't
obtain superiority over the routes by which
planes could be delivered.  Without France,
Germany can't move up the force it used
in the Battle of Britain.  Britain could commit
for instance the planes it used as the reserve
in the BOB.  OTOH, Britain must use sea
transport and therefore considerable time,
knowing that _if_ Germany later conquers
France it will have fast interior lines to move
forces there.  A chess game of movement,
supply and commitment of air forces.
If Germany can't command the Mediterranean
from the air, it runs into a version of the same
nightmare that Rommel did, except that now
it's not troops, armor and supplies moving
south, it's oil moving north.  And without air
protection, the lightly armored Italian warships
are going to have an awful time at the hands
of the Royal Navy, let alone the RN plus the
French.- Hide quoted text -
- Show quoted text -
How much hand-waving are we doing? If we handwave an Italy with fully
developed oil production, as assumed here, are we changing European
history in the pre-war 1930s as a whole?
Is Italy going to get involved in a war with its main economic
strength neatly sandwiched between Britain and France?
Is the same economic strength, safely away from German vulnerability,
going to have Mussolini in the early 1930s more intransgient over
Austria?
Rich Rostrom
2009-08-18 20:57:45 UTC
Permalink
On Aug 17, 8:07 pm, "Anthony Buckland"
Post by Anthony Buckland
Post by Rich Rostrom
Idunno. And this may go further - if the
Luftwaffe gets _heavily_ committed in
the Med, and the Fallschirmjagers are
used against Malta... then Case YELLOW
get delayed or cancelled. The Germans
can't afford to start the battle of France
with half the Luftwaffe diverted.
So where is the RAF? The Luftwaffe can't
obtain superiority over the routes by which
planes could be delivered.
What nonsense is this? The Luftwaffe arrives
(as it did OTL) through Italy, which borders
Germany. The Luftwaffe moves to bases in
Sicily, Sardinia, and Libya. (The flight over
from Sicily is no problem.)

Or perhaps you mean the Luftwaffe cannot
stop the Allies from ferry aircraft via France
to Algeria. Certainly this is possible, but in
early 1940, the Allies are seriously inferior
in aircraft, and will be very reluctant to
divert aircraft from homeland defense to
a peripheral theater.

The key arena is the sea area between
Italy, Sicily, Tunisia, Libya, Crete, and
Greece. The Axis needs to control this
area to bring oil from Libya and send
reinforcements and supplies to Libya.

The Axis controls most of the adjacent
land masses. The Allies have only Tunisia,
Malta, and the NW corner of Egypt. The
Allies can swamp the Italian navy with
their own fleets, but Italian and German
aircraft will dominate the air.
Post by Anthony Buckland
And without air
protection, the lightly armored Italian warships
are going to have an awful time at the hands
of the Royal Navy, let alone the RN plus the
French.
The ships of the Italian Navy were quite comparable
to those of other contemporary navies. The
LITTORIO-class battleships had 14" belt armor,
compared to 15" for the KING GEORGE V class
and 13" for BISMARCK and RICHELIEU.
Anthony Buckland
2009-08-18 21:29:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
...without air
protection, the lightly armored Italian warships
are going to have an awful time at the hands
of the Royal Navy, let alone the RN plus the
French.
The ships of the Italian Navy were quite comparable
to those of other contemporary navies. The
LITTORIO-class battleships had 14" belt armor,
compared to 15" for the KING GEORGE V class
and 13" for BISMARCK and RICHELIEU.
My bad. I was going by memory. Some quick research
shows that the Italians certainly had problems vs the
RN, but not particularly with armor. Their lacks of radar
and aircraft carriers seem to have been most crucial.
William Black
2009-08-18 21:37:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Anthony Buckland
Post by Rich Rostrom
...without air
protection, the lightly armored Italian warships
are going to have an awful time at the hands
of the Royal Navy, let alone the RN plus the
French.
The ships of the Italian Navy were quite comparable
to those of other contemporary navies. The
LITTORIO-class battleships had 14" belt armor,
compared to 15" for the KING GEORGE V class
and 13" for BISMARCK and RICHELIEU.
My bad. I was going by memory. Some quick research
shows that the Italians certainly had problems vs the
RN, but not particularly with armor. Their lacks of radar
and aircraft carriers seem to have been most crucial.
The British ability to break their codes almost at will also had
something to do with it.

At Cape Matapan the British went to considerable lengths to avoid the
reasonably obvious conclusion that they'd broken the Italian naval codes...

If they're reading your mail there's not a lot you can do about it...
--
William Black

"Any number under six"

The answer given by Englishman Richard Peeke when asked by the Duke of
Medina Sidonia how many Spanish sword and buckler men he could beat
single handed with a quarterstaff.
Anthony Buckland
2009-08-18 22:38:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Anthony Buckland
Post by Rich Rostrom
...without air
protection, the lightly armored Italian warships
are going to have an awful time at the hands
of the Royal Navy, let alone the RN plus the
French.
The ships of the Italian Navy were quite comparable
to those of other contemporary navies. The
LITTORIO-class battleships had 14" belt armor,
compared to 15" for the KING GEORGE V class
and 13" for BISMARCK and RICHELIEU.
My bad. I was going by memory. Some quick research
shows that the Italians certainly had problems vs the
RN, but not particularly with armor. Their lacks of radar
and aircraft carriers seem to have been most crucial.
The British ability to break their codes almost at will also had something
to do with it.
At Cape Matapan the British went to considerable lengths to avoid the
reasonably obvious conclusion that they'd broken the Italian naval codes...
If they're reading your mail there's not a lot you can do about it...
Granted, but I tried to stick to factors the Italians could
not reasonably have found a way around. Building aircraft
carriers, even assuming Il Duce had allowed it, would have
been a very long term project, as would developilng the
use of radar (assuming they could have invented it, not
out of the question for an oil-rich country that birthed
Marconi). Intelligence, however, is a fluid thing and the
Germans, to protect their oil supply, might have shared
skills -- it's not as though they would have had to share
Enigma, just the skills of some of their best conventional
code people. Their inferior gunnery? Depends, it's not
as much heavy industry as building whole ships.

Yep, the British were pretty good at hiding the fact that
they were intercepting messages. In OTL, one of their
hardest decisions, which they took, was to let Coventry
get bombed so the Germans wouldn't know Enigma had
been broken (the only source from which the British could
have found out about the impending raid).
--
William Black
"Any number under six"
The answer given by Englishman Richard Peeke when asked by the Duke of
Medina Sidonia how many Spanish sword and buckler men he could beat single
handed with a quarterstaff.
William Black
2009-08-18 22:56:47 UTC
Permalink
Anthony Buckland wrote:
In OTL, one of their
Post by Anthony Buckland
hardest decisions, which they took, was to let Coventry
get bombed so the Germans wouldn't know Enigma had
been broken (the only source from which the British could
have found out about the impending raid).
Except that they didn't...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coventry_Blitz#Coventry_and_Ultra

Is a very simplified version of events, but essentially correct.
--
William Black

"Any number under six"

The answer given by Englishman Richard Peeke when asked by the Duke of
Medina Sidonia how many Spanish sword and buckler men he could beat
single handed with a quarterstaff.
k***@cix.compulink.co.uk
2009-08-19 15:49:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Anthony Buckland
Their inferior gunnery? Depends, it's not
as much heavy industry as building whole ships.
There were a lot of factors involved when comparing ships. For a start
according to D. K. Brown the UK and Germany had improved the processes
for making cemented armour so there was a 20-25 percent improvement on
the armour used on the WW1 ships. The Italian gunnery difficulties were
not so much fire control as excessive dispersion. They had pushed MV to
the maximum and also tended to mount guns to close together. Their BB
anti-torpedo protection was also suspect as it required extreme quality
control in construction to make out work to the design figures.

When it comes to refitted and reconstructed ships the Italian BB were
inferior in anything but speed to all the RN BB. Cruisers were poorly
protected and normally could not make trial speed at service displacement.

However the biggest problem the Italians had was Mussolini's reluctance
to risk losing ships. This accounts for the Italians tendency to break
off in combat and is unlikely to be changed in ATL.

Ken Young
Rich Rostrom
2009-08-19 20:03:54 UTC
Permalink
On Aug 18, 5:38 pm, "Anthony Buckland"
Post by Anthony Buckland
Yep, the British were pretty good at hiding the fact that
they were intercepting messages. In OTL, one of their
hardest decisions, which they took, was to let Coventry
get bombed so the Germans wouldn't know Enigma had
been broken (the only source from which the British could
have found out about the impending raid).
This is a myth. Not true. No actual basis for it whatever.

Wing Commander Winterbotham in his memoir _The
ULTRA Secret_ asserted it, but he must have been
working from memory, because he was completely
wrong. (Also, he was in charge of the Special Liaison
Units that delivered ULTRA material to field commanders,
and had nothing to do with ULTRA decryption or analysis.
What ever he he knew or thought he knew in those areas
was second-hand. BTW, the SLUs were responsible for
preventing field commanders from blowing ULTRA by
too-obvious use of it - and did brilliantly, considering
that they were low-profile junior officers.)

Peter Calvocoressi was a chief analyst in the Air
Section at Bletchley Park. All decrypts of Luftwaffe
Enigma traffic passed through his team. In his
memoir _Top Secret ULTRA_, he stated flatly that
"ULTRA never mentioned Coventry".

Ronald Lewin in _ULTRA Goes to War_ has further
explanations. ULTRA and bomber crew interrogations
revealed that a big raid codenamed "MONDLICHT
SONATEN" (Moonlight Sonata) was planned for the
night of the full moon (November 14-15). German
radio guidance beams had been detected, and they
pointed to Coventry, Wolverhampton, and London.
On the afternoon of the 14th, Churchill was informed
that London was the target; he cancelled his usual
week-end retreat in the country to be "at his post",
and ordered the staff of Number 10 to be dispersed
for safety. Later that day, analysis of the radio beams
pinpointed Coventry.

The British then used every available countermeasure
against the raid. Coventry already had extra AA guns.
Fighter Command sent up night-fighters to intercept
the raid; Bomber Command sent "intruders" to harass
the German air bases and disrupt the bombers' take-off;
and R. V. Jones' team of "boffins" tried to jam the
guidance beams.

But there weren't enough AA guns; the night-fighters
had no airborne radar; the intruders were ineffective;
and the jamming signals were miscalculated.
Padraigh ProAmerica
2009-08-24 02:17:49 UTC
Permalink
In re codebreaking. Hitler basicaly forced the Italians to use the
Enigma system. OTL, that worked out in the Allies favor as we had
unravelled Enigma. But the Allies were nevr able to break the Italian
Naval code.

If in ATL Italy is a more equal partner, they may keep their own Naval
codes, screwing the Allies badly.

"True religion affords government its surest support. The future of this
nation depends on the Christian training of our youth. It is impossible
to govern without the Bible."
George Washington
Rich Rostrom
2009-08-24 05:02:07 UTC
Permalink
In re codebreaking. Hitler basically forced the Italians to use the
Enigma system.
Umm, not as far as I know. Italy acquired the Enigma
technology on their own; they used the commercial
version which lacked the plugboard of the German
version. It was thus substantially more vulnerable.
OTL, that worked out in the Allies favor as we had
unravelled Enigma. But the Allies were never able
to break the Italian Naval code.
The Italian Navy used the Enigma as "Navy Cipher D",
and it was read at Bletchley Park.
Chris
2009-08-24 21:54:20 UTC
Permalink
This is off topic, but historical.
Post by Padraigh ProAmerica
"True religion affords government its surest support. The future of this
nation depends on the Christian training of our youth. It is impossible
to govern without the Bible."
George Washington
That last sentence does not appear in any of George Washington's known
letters or speeches. The earliest reference to something like it ("It
is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme
Being.") was an unsourced claim in an 1835 biography by someone who
never met GW [1]. Note that even in this (almost certainly apocryphal)
formulation, it does not mention the Bible at all- the Bible seems to
have been added even later still. Also, it has the messy phrase 'the
universe' added after 'govern'- making clear that it is not talking
about governing a temporal nation but was more a statement about the
existence of God, even if Paulding was correct about Washington's
quote.

The first sentence you quoted was a small part of a longer sentence
from his letter in response to the Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church
in America. I am unfamiliar with the second sentence you cited. If you
could please provide the letter, speech, note, etc. where George
Washington said it, I would appreciate it, as I have never seen that
before, and I have spent some time researching George Washington's
religious views, and would love to learn more. I can't seem to find it
in the searchable version of Fitzpatrick's collection of his writings.
[2]

[1]:
http://books.google.com/books?id=HMREAAAAIAAJ&dq=George%20Washington%20inauthor%3APaulding&lr=&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&as_brr=0&pg=PA270#v=onepage&q=Supreme%20Being&f=false

aka

http://tinyurl.com/nx62so

[2]: http://etext.virginia.edu/washington/fitzpatrick/

Chris Manteuffel
Michele
2009-08-24 07:58:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Anthony Buckland
Post by Rich Rostrom
...without air
protection, the lightly armored Italian warships
are going to have an awful time at the hands
of the Royal Navy, let alone the RN plus the
French.
The ships of the Italian Navy were quite comparable
to those of other contemporary navies. The
LITTORIO-class battleships had 14" belt armor,
compared to 15" for the KING GEORGE V class
and 13" for BISMARCK and RICHELIEU.
My bad. I was going by memory. Some quick research
shows that the Italians certainly had problems vs the
RN, but not particularly with armor. Their lacks of radar
and aircraft carriers seem to have been most crucial.
The British ability to break their codes almost at will also had something
to do with it.
At Cape Matapan the British went to considerable lengths to avoid the
reasonably obvious conclusion that they'd broken the Italian naval codes...
The British gained much more advantages in the Mediterranean by breaking the
_German_ naval and air codes than the Italian ones. Plenty of intel came
from the Germans exchanging info about the Italian convoying plans.
If they're reading your mail there's not a lot you can do about it...
--
William Black
"Any number under six"
The answer given by Englishman Richard Peeke when asked by the Duke of
Medina Sidonia how many Spanish sword and buckler men he could beat single
handed with a quarterstaff.
Was that tested? And by the way, isn't "single-handed" as a metaphor quite
inappropriate for a quarterstaff?
Paul J. Adam
2009-08-24 10:30:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michele
Post by William Black
"Any number under six"
The answer given by Englishman Richard Peeke when asked by the Duke of
Medina Sidonia how many Spanish sword and buckler men he could beat single
handed with a quarterstaff.
Was that tested?
Peeke proceeded to fight three rapier-wielding Spaniards; killed one and
disarmed and injured the other two.
--
He thinks too much, such men are dangerous.

Paul J. Adam
Michele
2009-09-08 16:49:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Michele
Post by William Black
"Any number under six"
The answer given by Englishman Richard Peeke when asked by the Duke of
Medina Sidonia how many Spanish sword and buckler men he could beat single
handed with a quarterstaff.
Was that tested?
Peeke proceeded to fight three rapier-wielding Spaniards; killed one and
disarmed and injured the other two.
You know, I checked this out (albeit I did not spend a lot of time on it).
It seems the origin of this story is... Richard Peeke himself. I'd be quite
more impressed if it had been told by someone else.

Michele
2009-08-18 06:56:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
Allied forces will attack on the ground, and
the Italians will crumble.
Nice and well thought out this far, but I wouldn't bet on this.

The Italians are on the defensive, within their own territory, with, as you
said, additional troops with respect to OTL. The British and French can't
deploy all that many troops here, they are still quite worried about the
main front in Europe. Neither the British nor the French mobile forces,
which will be superior to the Italian ones combat-wise, will have the same
deep-blitz abilities of the German ones (read: the Matildas will break down,
and the farther they go, the worse the rates). On the Eastern Lybian border,
the well-known factors of the desert war help the withdrawing defender
(stretching supply lines). On the Western one, there actually were pre-built
defensive positions, in OTL, and in this ATL, with all that oil, there will
be more. In general, with the oil, Italy is richer and may well have
expended more on any kind of hardware.
Rich Rostrom
2009-08-18 21:17:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michele
Post by Rich Rostrom
Allied forces will attack on the ground, and
the Italians will crumble.
Nice and well thought out this far, but I wouldn't bet on this.
The Italians are on the defensive, within their own territory, with, as you
said, additional troops with respect to OTL. The British and French can't
deploy all that many troops here, they are still quite worried about the
main front in Europe.
Once it is clear the Germans are not attacking any time soon,
and the "phony" war is established, the Allies will send fairly
substantial forces to Africa. If they won't do that, they wouldn't
start the campaign at all. IMHO they would - YMMV.
Post by Michele
Neither the British nor the French mobile forces,
which will be superior to the Italian ones combat-wise, will have the same
deep-blitz abilities of the German ones (read: the Matildas will break down,
and the farther they go, the worse the rates).
Note that I wrote "the Italians crumble", not "the Italians collapse".

In OTL, the British attacked with scratch forces, limited to what
Britain could scrape together after the disasters of 1940, could
spare in the face of the German invasion threat, and could ship
and supply all the way around Africa.

That attack routed and destroyed Italian forces several times
its own size, standing in positions they had several months
to prepare.

ATL, the attack is by substantial British _and_ French forces,
drawn from armies that have as yet suffered negligible losses,
supported from homelands untouched by the Axis via relatively
short LoCs, with the substantial resources of French Algeria
as forward base. The Italians will have more troops, and some
built-up defenses - but I don't think they could actually _stop_
the Allied drive.
Michele
2009-08-24 08:14:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Michele
Post by Rich Rostrom
Allied forces will attack on the ground, and
the Italians will crumble.
Nice and well thought out this far, but I wouldn't bet on this.
The Italians are on the defensive, within their own territory, with, as you
said, additional troops with respect to OTL. The British and French can't
deploy all that many troops here, they are still quite worried about the
main front in Europe.
Once it is clear the Germans are not attacking any time soon,
and the "phony" war is established, the Allies will send fairly
substantial forces to Africa. If they won't do that, they wouldn't
start the campaign at all. IMHO they would - YMMV.
It does vary, for the simple reason that it's difficult to establish the
very condition you begin the sequence above with. How do the Allies make it
"clear" that the Germans will not attack?
Additionally, let's suppose they do establish that, and that they are
right - as long as the balance of forces is what it is. Now, shifting
sizable amounts of troops to North Africa _is_ going to change the balance
of forces, and the Germans will notice it. And they might well change their
plans. And decide that indeed they will attack, now that the main
Anglo-French front is weakened.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Michele
Neither the British nor the French mobile forces,
which will be superior to the Italian ones combat-wise, will have the same
deep-blitz abilities of the German ones (read: the Matildas will break down,
and the farther they go, the worse the rates).
Note that I wrote "the Italians crumble", not "the Italians collapse".
In OTL, the British attacked with scratch forces, limited to what
Britain could scrape together after the disasters of 1940, could
spare in the face of the German invasion threat, and could ship
and supply all the way around Africa.
That attack routed and destroyed Italian forces several times
its own size, standing in positions they had several months
to prepare.
Which still is not comparable to defending their own turf and on actual
defensive lines. The positions that the Italians held in Egyptian territory
were camps from where to carry on their offensive later on, not defensive
lines.
Post by Rich Rostrom
ATL, the attack is by substantial British _and_ French forces,
drawn from armies that have as yet suffered negligible losses,
supported from homelands untouched by the Axis via relatively
short LoCs, with the substantial resources of French Algeria
as forward base. The Italians will have more troops, and some
built-up defenses -
As mentioned, we disagree on the substantial redeployment.
The Italians will have "more" troops in two senses; with respect to the
attackers, and with respect to the OTL garrisons - for the very reason of
the TL, the oil.
As to the short lines, that is true for Algeria, although in this scenario
the German subs will be something of a nuisance. It is not true of Egypt, of
course. In any case, the logistical problem isn't so much the journey from
France/Britain to Africa; it's the stretch from those forward bases to the
advancing front...


but I don't think they could actually _stop_
Post by Rich Rostrom
the Allied drive.
...Because, that said, I agree the Italians won't be able to stop the two
offensives on the borders, even with the smaller forces I think are likely
to be used by the Anglo-French. The Eastern offensive will peter out of a
combination of logistics and Italian efforts, after having gained some
ground (It would be now interesting to ascertain where the ATL oilwells are
exactly; it might be worthless ground, or it might be interesting).
Things will be more icky in the West, though I believe the Italians will
fall back onto the hilly ground around Tripoli. The enemy might come close
to besiege the city.
I expect much more substantial naval engagements in the Med, in this
scenario. The Italians, richer thanks to the oil than in OTL, will have
expended some more on the Regia Marina, and given what's at stake, the
admirals won't be allowed to behave very prudently and conservatively.
Rich Rostrom
2009-08-24 21:58:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michele
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Michele
Post by Rich Rostrom
Allied forces will attack on the ground, and
the Italians will crumble.
Nice and well thought out this far, but I wouldn't bet on this.
The Italians are on the defensive, within their own territory, with, as you
said, additional troops with respect to OTL. The British and French can't
deploy all that many troops here, they are still quite worried about the
main front in Europe.
Once it is clear the Germans are not attacking any time soon,
and the "phony" war is established, the Allies will send fairly
substantial forces to Africa. If they won't do that, they wouldn't
start the campaign at all. IMHO they would - YMMV.
It does vary, for the simple reason that it's difficult to establish the
very condition you begin the sequence above with. How do the Allies make it
"clear" that the Germans will not attack?
By December 1939, it's been three months since
the start of the war, and the Germans have hardly
fired a shot on the Western Front. Chamberlain is
crowing that Hitler "missed the boat". There's now
substantial sentiment in the Allied leadership that
the Germans won't dare to attack in the West;
even those that think Germans may attack are not
expecting them to attack in winter. All of these blocs
would IMHO agree that cutting off Germany's oil
supply would prevent Germany from attacking.
Post by Michele
Additionally, let's suppose they do establish that, and that they are
right - as long as the balance of forces is what it is. Now, shifting
sizable amounts of troops to North Africa _is_ going to change the balance
of forces, and the Germans will notice it. And they might well change their
plans. And decide that indeed they will attack, now that the main
Anglo-French front is weakened.
A fine point here: the Allies would not move forces
from France; rather, they would concentrate forces
drawn from their colonial empires and the reserve
forces in Britain. Some tanks might be shifted from
France to Algeria.
Post by Michele
Post by Rich Rostrom
Note that I wrote "the Italians crumble", not "the Italians collapse".
In OTL, the British attacked with scratch forces, limited to what
Britain could scrape together after the disasters of 1940, could
spare in the face of the German invasion threat, and could ship
and supply all the way around Africa.
That attack routed and destroyed Italian forces several times
its own size, standing in positions they had several months
to prepare.
Which still is not comparable to defending their own turf and on actual
defensive lines. The positions that the Italians held in Egyptian territory
were camps from where to carry on their offensive later on, not defensive
lines.
Well, it says a great deal for the incompetence of
Italian commanders that they put a large force in an
exposed position and apparently made no provision
whatever for enemy attack.

And I would note that the British attack not only
destroyed the Italian forces in Egypt, but advanced
rapidly into Libya, taking fortified positions at Bardia
and Tobruk without much difficulty.

Also, Libya is a big country - it is simply not practical
for Italy to cover much of it with fortifications. Motorized
troops can reach around any coastal position.
Post by Michele
As mentioned, we disagree on the substantial redeployment.
The Italians will have "more" troops in two senses; with respect to the
attackers, and with respect to the OTL garrisons - for the very reason of
the TL, the oil.
As to the short lines, that is true for Algeria, although in this scenario
the German subs will be something of a nuisance.
A very small nuisance in this period. There aren't that
many U-boats yet, and they wouldn't be deployed into the
Med. It's hard to get there, there are no bases to operate
from until after Italy enters the war (Spain and Italy may
provide sub rosa support), and it's a confined area with
lots of Allied patrols. Also, IIRC, due to the currents at
the Strait of Gibraltar, it was very hard for a submarine to
get out.
Post by Michele
It is not true of Egypt, of course. In any case, the logistical
problem isn't so much the journey from France/Britain to Africa;
it's the stretch from those forward bases to the advancing front...
These are different classes of problem; just as the problem
of getting supplies ashore into western Europe in 1944/45 was
a different problem from keeping the advancing spearheads
supplied in July to September 1944.
Post by Michele
...Because, that said, I agree the Italians won't be able to stop the two
offensives on the borders, even with the smaller forces I think are likely
to be used by the Anglo-French. The Eastern offensive will peter out of a
combination of logistics and Italian efforts, after having gained some
ground (It would be now interesting to ascertain where the ATL oilwells are
exactly; it might be worthless ground, or it might be interesting).
Things will be more icky in the West, though I believe the Italians will
fall back onto the hilly ground around Tripoli. The enemy might come close
to besiege the city.
Tripoli is only 150 km from the Tunisian border;
an Allied drive from Tunisia is not going to have
serious supply problems at that distance.
Post by Michele
I expect much more substantial naval engagements in the Med, in this
scenario. The Italians, richer thanks to the oil than in OTL, will have
expended some more on the Regia Marina, and given what's at stake, the
admirals won't be allowed to behave very prudently and conservatively.
It's now recognized that the RM fought quite
hard in defense of Axis convoys OTL. That
will not change at all, and one may see more
use of heavier ships.
Michele
2009-08-25 09:00:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Michele
Post by Rich Rostrom
Once it is clear the Germans are not attacking any time soon,
and the "phony" war is established, the Allies will send fairly
substantial forces to Africa. If they won't do that, they wouldn't
start the campaign at all. IMHO they would - YMMV.
It does vary, for the simple reason that it's difficult to establish the
very condition you begin the sequence above with. How do the Allies make it
"clear" that the Germans will not attack?
By December 1939, it's been three months since
the start of the war, and the Germans have hardly
fired a shot on the Western Front. Chamberlain is
crowing that Hitler "missed the boat". There's now
substantial sentiment in the Allied leadership that
the Germans won't dare to attack in the West;
even those that think Germans may attack are not
expecting them to attack in winter. All of these blocs
would IMHO agree that cutting off Germany's oil
supply would prevent Germany from attacking.
That is possible. The Allies were indeed, in OTL, looking for peripheral
attacks to make in the winter of 1939-40. Then again, it is one thing to
land a small expeditionary force in a country that's expected to put on a
token resistance at most (Norway), and quite another to take on a sizable
new enemy. Note how Itlay would be, in this ATL, in roughly the same
position as OTL USSR. The Allies talked about bombing Baku, not about
landing expeditionary forces in the USSR, and even the bombing never took
place. Today, we know Fascism's armed forces were a paper tiger, but at the
time that opinion was held about the Red Army, and Italy was considered a
power to be reckoned with. So what does the decision to shelve the OTL Baku
bombing say about an idea to attack the ATL Libyan oilfields?
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Michele
Additionally, let's suppose they do establish that, and that they are
right - as long as the balance of forces is what it is. Now, shifting
sizable amounts of troops to North Africa _is_ going to change the balance
of forces, and the Germans will notice it. And they might well change their
plans. And decide that indeed they will attack, now that the main
Anglo-French front is weakened.
A fine point here: the Allies would not move forces
from France; rather, they would concentrate forces
drawn from their colonial empires and the reserve
forces in Britain. Some tanks might be shifted from
France to Algeria.
That would be sensible. Then again, one wonders why didn't they move more
forces from their colonial empires to the main front in OTL. And more about
these colonial forces below.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Michele
Post by Rich Rostrom
Note that I wrote "the Italians crumble", not "the Italians collapse".
In OTL, the British attacked with scratch forces, limited to what
Britain could scrape together after the disasters of 1940, could
spare in the face of the German invasion threat, and could ship
and supply all the way around Africa.
That attack routed and destroyed Italian forces several times
its own size, standing in positions they had several months
to prepare.
Which still is not comparable to defending their own turf and on actual
defensive lines. The positions that the Italians held in Egyptian territory
were camps from where to carry on their offensive later on, not defensive
lines.
Well, it says a great deal for the incompetence of
Italian commanders that they put a large force in an
exposed position and apparently made no provision
whatever for enemy attack.
No argument there. Note however that it would still be easier, even for a
Graziani, to fight a fully defensive battle on prepared fortification lines
in the West. In the East, the British would still outmaneuver him in a
mobile campaign, but as mentioned, they have too long a way to go before
achieving anything significant.
Post by Rich Rostrom
And I would note that the British attack not only
destroyed the Italian forces in Egypt, but advanced
rapidly into Libya, taking fortified positions at Bardia
and Tobruk without much difficulty.
True. Because they were not actually defended. Which IMHO would not be the
case in this scenario, in general, and in particular when it comes to
Tripoli.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Also, Libya is a big country - it is simply not practical
for Italy to cover much of it with fortifications. Motorized
troops can reach around any coastal position.
In fact, I'm thinking about fortifications along the two borders, and in
particular in the West. Sure motorized forces can loop around to the South.
Which will mean logistics and terrain will work in favor of the defenders.
In January 1941, the British armor cut through the interior and succeeded in
overcoming the Italians at Beda Fomm. But on theone hand, the march along
what were tracks only in name, had decimated the British tanks, which kept
breaking down during the battle; and on the other hand, the Italians were
already withdrawing in great disarray, after having taken a series of morale
hits. Attempting something like this on fresh troops isn't likely to
succeed. If it doesn't succeed, the mobile forces - which will only be a
part of the Allied operation, unlike the British forces that achieved such a
great success in OTL in the winter of 1940-41 - will be in a rather awkward
position, like the Afrika Korps behind the Gazala line in OTL: at the end of
a long supply line running across bad terrain, exposed to enemy forays,
behind a still-resisting enemy line.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Michele
As mentioned, we disagree on the substantial redeployment.
The Italians will have "more" troops in two senses; with respect to the
attackers, and with respect to the OTL garrisons - for the very reason of
the TL, the oil.
As to the short lines, that is true for Algeria, although in this scenario
the German subs will be something of a nuisance.
A very small nuisance in this period. There aren't that
many U-boats yet, and they wouldn't be deployed into the
Med. It's hard to get there, there are no bases to operate
from until after Italy enters the war (Spain and Italy may
provide sub rosa support), and it's a confined area with
lots of Allied patrols. Also, IIRC, due to the currents at
the Strait of Gibraltar, it was very hard for a submarine to
get out.
All correct, but I was thinking about the Atlantic. In the Med, there will
be the Italian subs.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Michele
It is not true of Egypt, of course. In any case, the logistical
problem isn't so much the journey from France/Britain to Africa;
it's the stretch from those forward bases to the advancing front...
These are different classes of problem; just as the problem
of getting supplies ashore into western Europe in 1944/45 was
a different problem from keeping the advancing spearheads
supplied in July to September 1944.
In fact, different problems. That doesn't mean the second problem can be
easily overcome, especially with the kind of logistical support the average
colonial French unit had in 1940.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Michele
...Because, that said, I agree the Italians won't be able to stop the two
offensives on the borders, even with the smaller forces I think are likely
to be used by the Anglo-French. The Eastern offensive will peter out of a
combination of logistics and Italian efforts, after having gained some
ground (It would be now interesting to ascertain where the ATL oilwells are
exactly; it might be worthless ground, or it might be interesting).
Things will be more icky in the West, though I believe the Italians will
fall back onto the hilly ground around Tripoli. The enemy might come close
to besiege the city.
Tripoli is only 150 km from the Tunisian border;
an Allied drive from Tunisia is not going to have
serious supply problems at that distance.
As you will have noticed, I pointed out logistical problems in the East,
especially. That said, 150 km is a trifle for a fully motorized logistical
echelon - which is not what you are advocating, if you want a French
colonial army to bear the brunt of the attack in the West; this army will be
similar to the Italian army that advanced into Egypt, which experienced
plenty of logistical problems within the first 60 kms.
There is not, to today, a rail line beyond Sfax in Tunisia.
Then the problems would be compounded by a hook around the end of the
fortified lines.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Michele
I expect much more substantial naval engagements in the Med, in this
scenario. The Italians, richer thanks to the oil than in OTL, will have
expended some more on the Regia Marina, and given what's at stake, the
admirals won't be allowed to behave very prudently and conservatively.
It's now recognized that the RM fought quite
hard in defense of Axis convoys OTL. That
will not change at all, and one may see more
use of heavier ships.
Here we agree. What I was thinking about was exactly more pressure on the
admirals to use the battle fleet against the French convoys in the Med, and
possibly more.
TYR
2009-08-26 15:26:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michele
I expect much more substantial naval engagements in the Med, in this
scenario. The Italians, richer thanks to the oil than in OTL, will have
expended some more on the Regia Marina, and given what's at stake, the
admirals won't be allowed to behave very prudently and conservatively.
Among other things, Libyan oil will draw British resources towards
Malta, which will probably start the war with a significant fighter
commitment. And you'll probably be able to walk across Grand Harbour
on the decks of moored destroyers. Further, with the French still in,
there is a nice chain of airfields from Gibraltar to Malta and,
indeed, from Manston to Malta. There will be a much bigger
concentration of force there on both sides. Rather than a siege of
Malta as in OTL, it's a meeting engagement around it.

The Anglo-French side have a truly scary battle line, as well;
multiple modernised Queen Elizabeths, Renown, Ark Royal, Illustrious,
Town cruisers, lots of DDs and subs, plus Dunkerque and Strasbourg and
the Terrible class big DDs. That's if no more ships are committed from
the UK. And Cunningham is presumably in command, so all that lot is
going to be used.

Presumably, as soon as the fur starts flying, the Germans will tear
off an even bigger commitment of Stukas than in OTL. Perhaps they send
the whole of Luftflotte 2 south to Sicily in 1940 rather than Bulgaria
in 1941. This TL implies some airfields absolutely crammed with
planes...

I wonder if the Germans invested much in Fischer-Tropsch fuel in this
TL, if their allies are awash in "oil - it's the real thing!"?
Phil McGregor
2009-08-18 21:56:55 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 18 Aug 2009 08:56:03 +0200, "Michele"
Post by Michele
In general, with the oil, Italy is richer and may well have
expended more on any kind of hardware.
However, as the Nazis found, money allocated to produce things does
not equal industrial capacity ... so, surely Italy's preparedness
depends as much, if not more, on how long it has had this oil wealth
and how said oil wealth has been spent in that period ...

If they have used it to build the industry to build the arms over a
long enough period then they will be better off, if they simply
allocate money to buy arms and, as was the case, don't actually have
the industrial capacity, then they will be in a similar bind ... or
have to rely on imports, which, in turn, may have their own problems
attached.

Phil
Michele
2009-08-24 08:44:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Phil McGregor
On Tue, 18 Aug 2009 08:56:03 +0200, "Michele"
Post by Michele
In general, with the oil, Italy is richer and may well have
expended more on any kind of hardware.
However, as the Nazis found, money allocated to produce things does
not equal industrial capacity ... so, surely Italy's preparedness
depends as much, if not more, on how long it has had this oil wealth
and how said oil wealth has been spent in that period ...
If they have used it to build the industry to build the arms over a
long enough period then they will be better off, if they simply
allocate money to buy arms and, as was the case, don't actually have
the industrial capacity, then they will be in a similar bind ... or
have to rely on imports, which, in turn, may have their own problems
attached.
Phil
That's generally very true. I'd like to add, however, that in the 1930s, the
Italian shipbuilding yards were not always working full-time. A limited
increase in ship building could be possible, especially as far as medium to
small craft go. Not terribly advantageous, but that's what one got.
In another interesting sector, tank production, a worse bottleneck would
have been development and design. There was a time (1938?) when the
Fiat-Ansaldo informed the government that they would have to fire workers,
since the production of the CV35-L3 was about to end. The Fascist regime,
wary of popular unrest, ordered another batch of the already obsolete
tankette. Likewise, a Czech LT35 was bought and tested - and the M11 was
preferred. In sum, in this field more money might very well mean a larger
fleet of L3s... not much help.
Phil McGregor
2009-08-24 10:04:42 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 24 Aug 2009 10:44:13 +0200, "Michele"
Post by Michele
Post by Phil McGregor
On Tue, 18 Aug 2009 08:56:03 +0200, "Michele"
Post by Michele
In general, with the oil, Italy is richer and may well have
expended more on any kind of hardware.
However, as the Nazis found, money allocated to produce things does
not equal industrial capacity ... so, surely Italy's preparedness
depends as much, if not more, on how long it has had this oil wealth
and how said oil wealth has been spent in that period ...
If they have used it to build the industry to build the arms over a
long enough period then they will be better off, if they simply
allocate money to buy arms and, as was the case, don't actually have
the industrial capacity, then they will be in a similar bind ... or
have to rely on imports, which, in turn, may have their own problems
attached.
That's generally very true. I'd like to add, however, that in the 1930s, the
Italian shipbuilding yards were not always working full-time. A limited
increase in ship building could be possible, especially as far as medium to
small craft go. Not terribly advantageous, but that's what one got.
Maybe, being a little prescient as well, they could build some coastal
lighters ... evidently the shortage of coastal shipping was a huge
logistic problem for the North African campaign. This doesn't do away
with the underlaying problems, merely reduces them somewhat ... it
probably isn't good enough for an Axis victory, reasonably defined,
but it could mean another, say, six-twelve months for the allies to
defeat them ... which, in turn, could extend the war by long enough
for the US to drop their A Bombs on their originally planned German
targets ;-0
Post by Michele
In another interesting sector, tank production, a worse bottleneck would
have been development and design. There was a time (1938?) when the
Fiat-Ansaldo informed the government that they would have to fire workers,
since the production of the CV35-L3 was about to end. The Fascist regime,
wary of popular unrest, ordered another batch of the already obsolete
tankette. Likewise, a Czech LT35 was bought and tested - and the M11 was
preferred. In sum, in this field more money might very well mean a larger
fleet of L3s... not much help.
Or, maybe, if they fund increased ship building/tank(ette) production
*and* expansion of the underlaying industrial base at even a modest
level, could they reasonably expect to, say, develop the new stuff
that was originally (peacetime) planned to come on line in 1943+ for
the army and airforce especially oh, I dunno, a year earlier, when it
might conceivably do the allies a little more harm in taking out
Italy?

Or is that too much to hope for from Benny the Moose ;-)

Phil
Cyril aka Raminagrobis
2009-08-18 22:19:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
Idunno. And this may go further - if the
Luftwaffe gets _heavily_ committed in
the Med, and the Fallschirmjagers are
used against Malta... then Case YELLOW
get delayed or cancelled. The Germans
can't afford to start the battle of France
with half the Luftwaffe diverted.
wow i didn't think i would get so complete answers, thanks.

A sidenote :

Algeria's oil had been "guessed" by a french geologist long before the
war, and nobody trusted him. When it was diverovered in the mid-50's,
many french though "damn, we could have had this oil in '40". however,
algeria's field are deep underground, and located in the desert far
from the coast.
Loading Image...

This oil would have been hugely difficult to exploit with technologies
available in the 1930's. Just providing enough water for hundreds of
workers in the oil fields would have been a big challenge.
and defending those fields would have been almost impossible.

by contrast, Libya's field would have been "easy" : they are much
closer to she shore, and shallower.
also, their oil is one of the finest in the world by quality, making
refining very simple. In fact, such oil can be poured directly into a
heavy duty diesel - of course it's not very good for the engine, but
it works.

If those reserves had been discovered long enough before the war, say
in 1932-34, Italy could have rapidly become one world's top ten oil
producers.
Thus, securing maritime connexions between lybia and europe (and for
that, eliminate allies strongholds : tunisia as you point out, and
malta) would have been the key to success for axis forces, and both
sides would have known that even BEFORE the war, influencing the pre
war choices (for instance, germany may have build fewer panzers and
more ships and subs). Also, germany would have tried harder to get
spain into the war, to invade gibraltar with ground forces and cut the
allies's road to the med. This is about all what Spain could do for
the axis : the country was crumbled by the civil war, weak
industrially, it wouldnt have changed significantly the balance of
power. And having spain aside, for germany, would have meant more
altantic coastline to guard at the end of the war.
Also, italy could have stockpilled a lot of this oil (in its mainland)
before the war, and use it as a bargain for negociations with
germany...


Interestingly, libya was not the only place where the Axis had oil
nobody knew off ! Of course, i discard norvegian's north sea reserves,
it would have been totally impossible to explore and drill those at
the time.... even without the royal navy around.

Austria has oil in the vienna bassin, it was discovered in the 50's :
http://www.energyfiles.com/eurfsu/austria.html

Of course those fields don't compare to those in lybia in terms of
size. However, production from them peaked around 50 000 barrels a day
in the 50's.
For comparison, Romania's production during the war (until 1943) was
around 110 000 barrels a day. Thus austria could have been a large
addition to germany's supply.
The Matzen field (austria's largest) produced around half a billion
barrels in total during its lifetime (it's almost 100% depleted now).
By world standards, it's not a major field, but it's one of the
biggest fields in Europe outside offshore fields and Russia.
More importantly, this was in the heart of axis's territory, it would
have been very hard for the allies to attack by air - impossible in
the beginning of the war, i'd say).

Matzen is quite deep, around 1600 meters below ground. It would have
been quite difficult to extract at that time, but doable, fields at
comparable depths were drilled in texas as soon as 1930.


Italy also discovered sizeable oil reserves long after the war (mainly
in the po valley), but those must be discarded : those fields are
EXTREMELY deep underground (among world's deepest), and their oil is
very hard to refine. It fact, most of those reserves became
technically accessible only in the 1980's.


Also, there is a bunch of small oil fields in the Konigsberg/
Kaliningrad region, discovered in the 60's and produced starting in
the 70's.
http://www.blackbourn.co.uk/databases/hydrocarbon-province-maps/baltic.pdf

Those fields and small, but their situation would have made them well
placed to provide oil to troops in the russian front and to ships
operated in the Baltic.

There is also Mittelplate (germany)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mittelplate
it's in the north sea, but no really offshore, it's on the tideland.
It's more than 2000 meters depp , it's doubtfull it was technically
possible to produce it during WWII era, and it would have been easy to
attack for the british.
Rich Rostrom
2009-08-19 16:17:44 UTC
Permalink
Algeria's oil had been "guessed" by a french geologist long ... however,
algeria's field are deep underground, and located in the desert far
from the coast.http://www.mem-algeria.org/fr/hydrocarbures/hydrocarbon_map.jpg
This oil would have been hugely difficult to exploit with technologies
available in the 1930's. Just providing enough water for hundreds of
workers in the oil fields would have been a big challenge.
Build a railroad. No more difficult than the Hejaz
railroad (built before WW I and destroyed by
Lawrence of Arabia), or the transcontinental
railroad in the U.S.
and defending those fields would have been almost impossible.
Why?
.
Thus, securing maritime connexions between lybia and europe (and for
that, eliminate allies strongholds : tunisia as you point out, and
malta) would have been the key to success for axis forces, and both
sides would have known that even BEFORE the war, influencing the pre
war choices (for instance, germany may have build fewer panzers and
more ships and subs).
Except that Germany, even with a larger fleet,
can't do anything about the Med anyway.
Also, germany would have tried harder to get
Spain into the war, to invade Gibraltar with ground forces and cut the
Allies' road to the Med.
You mean the British road to the Med; the French of
course practically surrounded the western Med. Spain
becomes really valuable to the Axis only if France
falls; before that Spain is a liability. In 1939-40, Spain
stays neutral.
And having Spain aside, for Germany, would have meant more
Atlantic coastline to guard at the end of the war.
OTOH, and more important, Spain would greatly
increase Axis access to the open Atlantic, and
allow Germany to base ships and U-boats out of
British air raid range. (Well not quite out of range,
but a _lot_ safer than in Brest, for obvious reasons.)
Plus the Axis can get to and from "blue water" without
having to run a gauntlet past the British isles
or Faeroes-Iceland-Greenland. But that's all about
Spain.
Also, Italy could have stockpiled a lot of this oil (in its mainland)
before the war, and use it as a bargain for negotiations with
Germany...
Massive stockpiling is unlikely; oil supply would
be a big diplomatic factor, of course.
Interestingly, Libya was not the only place where the Axis had oil
nobody knew of!
Austria has oil in the Vienna basin... The Matzen field (Austria's largest)
... very hard for the allies to attack by air - impossible in
the beginning of the war, i'd say).
If it's 1939-1940, the Allies can attack from France,
and any part of Austria is easily in range for British
Wellington or Whitley bombers - both in service with
Bomber Command pre-war.
Also, there is a bunch of small oil fields in the Konigsberg/
Kaliningrad region...
There is also Mittelplate (germany)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mittelplate
it's in the north sea, but no really offshore, it's on the tideland.
OTOH - the Allies also produced oil in some unlikely
places during the war. One was Sherwood Forest.
Yes, the haunt of Robin Hood in Nottinghamshire.
There was a small oil deposit there, and during the
war an American drilling crew was brought in to
tap it.
Anthony Buckland
2009-08-19 21:28:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
...
Post by Cyril aka Raminagrobis
Also, germany would have tried harder to get
Spain into the war, to invade Gibraltar with ground forces and cut the
Allies' road to the Med.
You mean the British road to the Med; the French of
course practically surrounded the western Med. ...
Getting into Spain is one thing, attacking Gibraltar is
another. Of course, Germany in OTL took down some
supposedly impregnable forts, but Gibraltar would have
been pretty tough. With the RN doing their best at
shelling the land approaches. There's room for a
whole subsidiary WI, regardless of the Libyan oil,
based on WI Germany gets forces through Spain
and tries to take Gibraltar. Maybe it's been done
already.

Given time, I guess Luftwaffe forces could have
been moved down to hold off the RN and attack
the Rock from the air while ground troops blasted
away with large quantities of explosive charges.
British aircraft carriers of the time couldn't have
put up much of a show AFAIK.
Rich Rostrom
2009-08-20 15:44:20 UTC
Permalink
On Aug 19, 4:28 pm, "Anthony Buckland"
Post by Anthony Buckland
Post by Rich Rostrom
...
Post by Cyril aka Raminagrobis
Also, germany would have tried harder to get
Spain into the war, to invade Gibraltar with ground forces and cut the
Allies' road to the Med.
You mean the British road to the Med; the French of
course practically surrounded the western Med. ...
Getting into Spain is one thing, attacking Gibraltar is
another.
Spain is not really relevant to this discussion;
Spain will almost certainly remain neutral unless
France is defeated (Spain _might_ be more
inclined to join the Axis if the Axis can supply
Spain with oil). An active theater in the Med in
1939-1940 almost certainly pre-empts the German
attack in the west in 1940.

(The Axis would make
very strong efforts to secure its Libyan oil supply
and the LoC to it, efforts that would probably fail.
ironically, these efforts would divert the Axis from
an attack on France which in OTL was carried out
successfully with very limited oil supplies. If Hitler
was psychic - which he wasn't - he would see that
the way to secure the Libyan oil supply was to
knock France out of the war. But it would take
preternatural powers to see that that one can't
directly accomplish A, but can achieve A by
accomplishing B, which is far bigger, seems much
more difficult, and appears dependent on A,
but is actually easier.)
Post by Anthony Buckland
Given time, I guess Luftwaffe forces could have
been moved down to hold off the RN ...
Given a few weeks at most. The Luftwaffe flew
into Greece and was bombing British ships around
Crete within 10 days of the Germans entering Athens.
A move into Spain would be a transfer to bases
operated by a friendly host government - even easier.
The Horny Goat
2009-08-23 22:26:18 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 17 Aug 2009 14:20:03 -0700 (PDT), Rich Rostrom
Post by Rich Rostrom
Idunno. And this may go further - if the
Luftwaffe gets _heavily_ committed in
the Med, and the Fallschirmjagers are
used against Malta... then Case YELLOW
get delayed or cancelled. The Germans
can't afford to start the battle of France
with half the Luftwaffe diverted.
It's an interesting scenario but for Chamberlain's purposes destroying
the Italian oil facilities cripples Hitler as much as actually
occupying them at least in the short term. Rebuilding these facilities
from scratch would take a minimum of 3-4 years and where is Hitler
logistically in the meantime?

(This is analogous to my claim that denying Stalin access to Caucasian
oil is at least as useful to the Germans in 1942-43 as getting the
fields producing for German benefit given the logistics of
transporting the oil to Germany - which is next to impossible without
the surrender of the Soviet Union)
Rich Rostrom
2009-08-24 04:49:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Horny Goat
On Mon, 17 Aug 2009 14:20:03 -0700 (PDT), Rich Rostrom
Post by Rich Rostrom
Idunno. And this may go further - if the
Luftwaffe gets _heavily_ committed in
the Med, and the Fallschirmjagers are
used against Malta... then Case YELLOW
get delayed or cancelled. The Germans
can't afford to start the battle of France
with half the Luftwaffe diverted.
It's an interesting scenario but for Chamberlain's purposes destroying
the Italian oil facilities cripples Hitler as much as actually
occupying them at least in the short term.
How do the Allies "destroy" these facilities?

Bombing?

The US and UK Allies tried very hard to "destroy" the
oil facilities at Ploiesti, using far more bombers than
the Allies had in 1939-1940.

They damaged the refineries several times, but
never "shut down" production, and the damage
was usually repaired quickly - never more than
a few weeks.

If the Allies want to stop the supply of oil from
Libya to Germany they must either occupy Libya
or put a blockade between Libya and Italy.
Michele
2009-08-24 08:18:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Horny Goat
On Mon, 17 Aug 2009 14:20:03 -0700 (PDT), Rich Rostrom
Post by Rich Rostrom
Idunno. And this may go further - if the
Luftwaffe gets _heavily_ committed in
the Med, and the Fallschirmjagers are
used against Malta... then Case YELLOW
get delayed or cancelled. The Germans
can't afford to start the battle of France
with half the Luftwaffe diverted.
It's an interesting scenario but for Chamberlain's purposes destroying
the Italian oil facilities cripples Hitler as much as actually
occupying them at least in the short term. Rebuilding these facilities
from scratch would take a minimum of 3-4 years and where is Hitler
logistically in the meantime?
How would Chamberlain destroy the oil facilities without putting boots on
the oilfields? By bombing them? Won't work. The British/French can damage
the facilities, force the Italians to devote efforts to repair, maintain and
defend them from air attack. But they won't be destroying them.
Alfred Montestruc
2009-08-20 18:00:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Cyril aka Raminagrobis
Massive oil reserves were discovered in Lybia starting in the 1960's.
The sirte basin is a world class oil province, with ample reserves and
easy to extract high quality oil.
What if those fields were discovered before WWII ?
Libyan oil is quite a bit deeper that could be gotten using the means
available at that time at least in Europe.

At least that is my understanding from knowing a lot of people in that
business and having worked in the oil industry since 1994. I have
been unable to find references to that after a quick search however I
have found references to the fact that practical drilling depths rose
a lot over the course of the 20th century. The below are the
*economical* limits in the 1920s and late (70's or 80's I estimate,
not "today" as I know of much deeper wells that are economic now) of
production drilling.



http://www.scienceclarified.com/Mu-Oi/Oil-Drilling.html


---------quote---------------
Many advancements have been made in oil-drilling technology. The most
advanced rotary cone rock bits presently available can drill about 80
percent faster than bits from the 1920s. At that time, well depths
reached about 8,200 feet (2,500 meters). Today's drills can reach down
more than 30,000 feet (9,150 meters).
----------------end quote------------------
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