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
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
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
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
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
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.