What if ... Sealion goes ahead but is defeated?

#1
Reading the other "what if" thread got me thinking. What if … Sealion goes ahead as planned in original timeline (Sept 1940) but is defeated?

Most historians and writers agree that the invasion would not have succeeded; at best a bridgehead would have been established before the invaders were starved (of food & ammo) into surrender.

The invasion is largely defeated in the air and at sea. RN light and coastal forces would be rampant in the channel. The Channel is not a good place for submarine warfare (mines, currents, depth) and trying to hit a destroyer manoeuvring at 25kts is more luck than skill. The Luftwaffe showed its inability to hit ships at anchor over Dunkirk (dive bombing only; no torpedo capability yet), so again, hitting destroyers manoeuvring at 25kts is more luck than skill. The air battle would find the Luftwaffe very stretched (protecting convoys, supporting the beachheads and hunting the RAF), and battle of attrition ensues. This would be an existential conflict, so the RN & RAF would tolerate high losses in order to defeat the invasion.

The RAF takes a pasting (fighter, bomber & coastal commands); the RN loses a few destroyers & cruisers, quite a few MTB’s, trawlers and other light coastal craft, and the Army takes light casualties.

Most of the invading troops and equipment is lost, as are most of the requisitioned barges. The Luftwaffe also takes a pounding, the Kriegsmarine loses a few Uboats, most of its remaining destroyers and a lot of Eboats.

Meanwhile, the Italians begin to flex their muscles in NorthAfrica, and the USA is bemused that Britain is still standing.

What do the British and Germans do next?

Does Hitler turn to Russia, thinking that his Western flank is safe, and without a lot of his airforce? Can he reinforce Mussolini in NA, having lost a few divisions in the channel?

Britain has not been defeated, but how does Britain plan to prosecute the war and win?
 
#4
Old threads concentrate on the possibility of success. I was thinking about the political and military consequences of failure

Yeah because failure wouldn't be covered in the discussion would it.

Do you think its hundreds of post going "So Op Sealion definetly couldn't fail. Would have been Germanys greatest feat of arms"
Followed by everyone agreeing.

You're a diçkhead
 
#5
.......actually, generally speaking the fanbois never want to discus alternative outcomes where the 3rd Reich gets it's arse kicked in a new and exciting way, and has to try and pick up the pieces.........
 
#6
My theory

Continuing air and sea war between Germany/UK

Barbarossa wouldn't have gone ahead, meaning Battle of Africa would have received full German attention instead - resulting in fall of Tobruk and loss of N-Africa

Russian invasion in May 42, with both sides better equipped, would have fought to a standstill in Poland with WW1 style trench warfare, continuing for several years

UK and US invasion of Norway in 44, linking up with Russian seaborne invasion of Sweden and Denmark

Berlin hit with first ever nuclear strike August/September 45
 
#7
......so ze Germans have lost their assault waves, their Navy and a good chunk of the Luftwaffe, the paratroops have ceased to exist.

A quick wiki gives us this:

In the plan finalised in August 1940, the invasion force was organised into two army groups drawn from the 6th Army, the 9th Army and the 16th Army. The first wave of the landing would have consisted of eleven infantry and mountain divisions, the second wave of eight panzer and motorised infantry divisions and finally, the third wave was formed of six further infantry divisions. The initial assault would have also included two airborne divisions and the special forces of the Brandenburg Regiment.[32]
Rough rule of thumb 16,000 to 18,000 men in an infantry division, 16,500 in a Motor rifle division and 11,000 in a Panzer division. Assuming Adolf throws first, second and third waves into the fight with his usual 'no defeat baby, no surrender' orders. Once they've landed there's no realistic chance of going back -

That's 17 Infantry divisions = 272,000 - 306,000 men
2 Airborne Divs =33,000 men
say
4 Panzer = 44,000 men
4 Motor rifle = 64,000 men
Assorted Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine hangers-on = ?

German Orders of Battle for the campaing in the West, May 1940

So that's about 450,000 dead, missing or PoWs

Of course, Adolf may have come to his senses and chosen not to re-enforce failure, abandoning only 300,000 or so to their fate - about equivalent to the population of Bristol

That's not going to look too good.......military coup, execution and immediate declaration of armistice anyone?
 
Last edited:
#8
The Germans would not have run out of food. The Royal Navy would have given them all of the tinned sausages that they were willing to eat. Haven't any of you seen The Cruel Sea? Snorkers what ho - my arrse.
 
#9
Defeat of the RAF was a precondition for Sealion hence why it didn’t happen at all, never mind succeeded/failed.

Thus the Luftwaffe would have been in rather better shape than the RAF, should the preconditions have been met and the operation proceeded with.

Had the Luftwaffe succeeded in beating Dowding, the RAF would have had no fighter pilots, all dead. Yes it could have converted suitable bomber, coastal and transport pilots and trained new entrants, but the Luftwaffe would have had free rein to piss on those chips too.

But none of this happened and Dowding prevailed over Goering.

Another positive is that the RAF Regiment didn’t exist in 1940 either, so overall, the crabs did well that year.

<walks out of room whistling “Royal Air Force March Past”>
 
#13
wot like they did anyway
......new and exciting ways to lose.......the 'alt histories' always have the Nazis as victorious

How about Berlin is hit by the secret American 'Gay bomb,' Adolf suddenly declares himself fabulous and finished with that macho, rough, war thing, he settles down with his 'friend' Rudolf and opens a men-only sauna in Hamburg catering for the rough trade...... it's as plausible as any other 'what if'
 
Last edited:

goodoldboy

MIA
Book Reviewer
#14
Reading the other "what if" thread got me thinking. What if … Sealion goes ahead as planned in original timeline (Sept 1940) but is defeated?

Most historians and writers agree that the invasion would not have succeeded; at best a bridgehead would have been established before the invaders were starved (of food & ammo) into surrender.

The invasion is largely defeated in the air and at sea. RN light and coastal forces would be rampant in the channel. The Channel is not a good place for submarine warfare (mines, currents, depth) and trying to hit a destroyer manoeuvring at 25kts is more luck than skill. The Luftwaffe showed its inability to hit ships at anchor over Dunkirk (dive bombing only; no torpedo capability yet), so again, hitting destroyers manoeuvring at 25kts is more luck than skill. The air battle would find the Luftwaffe very stretched (protecting convoys, supporting the beachheads and hunting the RAF), and battle of attrition ensues. This would be an existential conflict, so the RN & RAF would tolerate high losses in order to defeat the invasion.

The RAF takes a pasting (fighter, bomber & coastal commands); the RN loses a few destroyers & cruisers, quite a few MTB’s, trawlers and other light coastal craft, and the Army takes light casualties.

Most of the invading troops and equipment is lost, as are most of the requisitioned barges. The Luftwaffe also takes a pounding, the Kriegsmarine loses a few Uboats, most of its remaining destroyers and a lot of Eboats.

Meanwhile, the Italians begin to flex their muscles in NorthAfrica, and the USA is bemused that Britain is still standing.

What do the British and Germans do next?

Does Hitler turn to Russia, thinking that his Western flank is safe, and without a lot of his airforce? Can he reinforce Mussolini in NA, having lost a few divisions in the channel?

Britain has not been defeated, but how does Britain plan to prosecute the war and win?

You've got too much time on your hands, haven't you? See Post #13.
 
#15
......new and exciting ways to lose.......the 'alt histories' always have the Nazis as victorious

How about Berlin is hit by the secret American 'Gay bomb,' Adolf suddenly declares himself fabulous and finished with that macho, rough, war thing, he settles down with his 'friend' Rudolf and opens a men-only sauna in Hamburg catering for the rough trade...... it's as plausible as any other 'what if'
Oi , I draw the line at Hamburg, what's from Berlin stays in Berlin
 
#16
Defeat of the RAF was a precondition for Sealion hence why it didn’t happen at all, never mind succeeded/failed.

Thus the Luftwaffe would have been in rather better shape than the RAF, should the preconditions have been met and the operation proceeded with.

Had the Luftwaffe succeeded in beating Dowding, the RAF would have had no fighter pilots, all dead. Yes it could have converted suitable bomber, coastal and transport pilots and trained new entrants, but the Luftwaffe would have had free rein to piss on those chips too.

But none of this happened and Dowding prevailed over Goering.

Another positive is that the RAF Regiment didn’t exist in 1940 either, so overall, the crabs did well that year.

<walks out of room whistling “Royal Air Force March Past”>

It was impossible for the Luftwafe to defeat the RAF.
Most RAF airfields we’re too far away from the Pas de Calais to be interdicted.
Even if the RAF had lost air superiority over Kent and Sussex, they could simply pull back across the Thames and can still reach the beachheads.
 
#17
It was impossible for the Luftwafe to defeat the RAF.
Most RAF airfields we’re too far away from the Pas de Calais to be interdicted.
Even if the RAF had lost air superiority over Kent and Sussex, they could simply pull back across the Thames and can still reach the beachheads.
The Luftwaffe bombed airfields as far away from Kent and Sussex as Brize Norton, Middle Wallop, Tern Hill, Driffield, Thornaby, Linton and even Lossiemouth, both before and after the BoB.

Immediately after the BoB, Blitzkrieg was intensified and Liverpool, Hull, Sheffield, Birmingham, Coventry, Belfast, Glasgow, Bristol, Cardiff and Plymouth were all attacked.

This suggests to me that the Luftwaffe had (like the RAF did over Germany), the ability to strike targets of their choice. Possibly with heavy losses, but still, if you have the ability to reach Scotland, then pretty much every English airfield is in scope.

If it were impossible to defeat the RAF, it would also have been impossible to defeat the Luftwaffe for precisely the same reasons. Yet the Luftwaffe were indeed beaten.
 
#19
The Germans would not have run out of food. The Royal Navy would have given them all of the tinned sausages that they were willing to eat. Haven't any of you seen The Cruel Sea? Snorkers what ho - my arrse.
one sausage each isn't going to do much is it?
 
#20
The Luftwaffe bombed airfields as far away from Kent and Sussex as Brize Norton, Middle Wallop, Tern Hill, Driffield, Thornaby, Linton and even Lossiemouth, both before and after the BoB.

Immediately after the BoB, Blitzkrieg was intensified and Liverpool, Hull, Sheffield, Birmingham, Coventry, Belfast, Glasgow, Bristol, Cardiff and Plymouth were all attacked.

This suggests to me that the Luftwaffe had (like the RAF did over Germany), the ability to strike targets of their choice. Possibly with heavy losses, but still, if you have the ability to reach Scotland, then pretty much every English airfield is in scope.

If it were impossible to defeat the RAF, it would also have been impossible to defeat the Luftwaffe for precisely the same reasons. Yet the Luftwaffe were indeed beaten.

How many airfields in 11 Group did the luftwaffe manage to permanently put out of operation?

Luftwaffe Daylight bomber operations over England without fighter escort ended in massacres. And by night, the airfields were safe.

The fundamental failings of the Lutfwaffe and the impossibility if defeating the RAF are fully explored here:

Strategy for Defeat: The Luftwaffe 1933-1945
by Williamson Murray
 
Last edited:

Top