Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

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BarBond
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Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by BarBond » Tue Mar 29, 2011 11:50 pm

Hello everyone, i am just wondering who would win in this engagement. I've also been lurking the forums for awhile and would like to expand my knowledge on these 2 fighting forces, and for the record being 15 i have limited information on all of this and would like a more insightful take.


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Gary
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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by Gary » Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:06 am

Hi Brad.

How long is a piece of string?
It depends, where does the engagement take place?
How many men does each side have?
What weapons/support do they have ? (US Air planes or Tiger Tanks)
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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by RF » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:26 pm

Waffen SS in the Pacific theatre? How would they get there? And how do you get the IJA to accept them as willing allies?

Such a confrontation, with Luftwaffe support, can only come in the European theatre, or North Africa post Torch landings. But immediately post Torch landings the US forces were pretty green, as Rommel demonstrated, so the outcome there looks fairly obvious.

This is difficult to judge as given in the origal post. Its almost like saying how would an Iraq led by Saddam Hussein square up as an Axis ally of Hitler and Japan - a real time warp.
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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by Bgile » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:28 am

The Marines on Guadalcanal were very green. For most of them it was their first combat experience.

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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by Djoser » Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:46 am

Maybe I've been mislead by biased accounts of the fighting, but I always had the impression that the marines on Guadalcanal did pretty well for the most part, certainly gave as good as they got, and a lot more so. Maybe green, but those boys had spirit.

But anyway I don't find the question to be particularly outrageous. This is after all, 'hypothetical'. It would be safe to say that almost any marine battalion vs. almost any top of the line SS battalion would be one hell of a fight. Supposing they had roughly equivalent support, or maybe none at all.

How could it have happened? Not all that far-fetched to imagine a battalion of marines landing in Sicily or Italy, and taking on the SS.

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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by RF » Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:23 pm

Green US troops did of course encounter the Waffen SS in the Battle of the Bulge, with rather mixed results. As far as I am aware there were little in the way of Waffen SS divisions deployed in the Italian campaign.

As I understood it the original premise was a confrontation between the Waffen SS and US Marines in the Pacific, where the jungle terrain and conditions are rather different than in Europe, and would make evaluation difficult.
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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by Djoser » Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:47 pm

True enough. I was seeking a more likely possibility for confrontation than the Pacific (with apologies to the OP). In an alternate world history, with much closer cooperation between Germany and Japan, a Pacific Island duel SS vs Marines would be just barely possible. But a bit of a stretch.

Not quite so much a stretch in Sicily or Italy. Whether the Hermann Goering division was really up to its elite status may be debatable, but it was considered an elite division, just like the SS, and could have been switched with an equivalent SS division instead. The Liebstandarte was sent to Italy at one point and remained there a while.

Obviously the Marines were tied up in the Pacific, but it's not entirely outrageous to suggest the Allies might have valued their amphibious capability in Sicily or Italy, or maybe even Normandy.

Guys who play wargames, as I used to do a lot and probably will again, don't tend to worry quite so much about how the hypothetical orders of battle could have transpired. Rather focusing on the relative effectiveness of the opposing forces in combat. Which I would certainly regard as a valid mental exercise.

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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by Seekanone » Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:03 pm

Perhaps another aspect to consider in a possible match up would be the desperation factor of the SS. As the war was coming to an end in Europe, the SS and Wehrmacht troops fought desperately to keep the Russians back on the Ostfront. SS troops were fanatic and threw themselves into assaults with reckless courage, even when the war could have gone either way.
US Marines were the best amphibious troops possessed by the United States and in either theater, the combat would have been ferocious. The USMC would need air cover since the Sherman's would be badly outgunned by Panthers and Tigers.
Now, if the Marines had Pershing tanks, the match would be more even.

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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by lwd » Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:06 pm

Marines weren't really configured well for armored combat and relied a lot on naval air and naval gunfire for their fire support. Net result is if they are very far inland and in tank country and run into an SS armored division they are likely in trouble. On the otherhand said SS division may have a lot of trouble of it's own if they are in range of fire support from the USN. The SS never had the ability that I'm aware to lauch a successful landing verses a well defended beach which was a Marine forte.

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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by Djoser » Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:02 pm

Anzio could have provided a fairly likely site for such a duel (for hypothetical purpose anyway!). Maybe not a 'storming the beaches' type action, but a 'fresh from landing into combat' thing. Could have been a very tough battle indeed.

Artillery support being a lot closer to even perhaps in the beachhead. Liebstandarte could have been there, not so far-fetched. Only a little stretch to substitute a few battalions of Marines for the Rangers the US used there.

Good point about the lack of amphibious capability with the SS.

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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by RF » Thu Apr 21, 2011 8:19 am

lwd wrote: . On the otherhand said SS division may have a lot of trouble of it's own if they are in range of fire support from the USN. The SS never had the ability that I'm aware to lauch a successful landing verses a well defended beach which was a Marine forte.
These are issues relevant to the Kriegsmarine - but of course Raeder and Donitz saw to it that the Waffen SS never got involved in naval matters, still less have any naval marine sections (although of course there was the marine Hitler Youth). A marine Waffen SS would not have impaired the KM, in fact (leaving issues of war crimes aside) the KM and indeed Germany's chances of winning the war would have benefitted.

Coming back to the scenario here, suppose the US Navy gunfire was opposed by a strong Luftwaffe, including stukas, torpedo bombers and FW 200's? And KM S boats? I would also suppose that German flak guns such as the quad 20 mm and 37 mm would be more effective against US marine assault than most of the Japanese weaponry?

Or another variation - a Japanese elite naval landing division trained, officered and equipped by the Waffen SS? How far would Japanese troops perform better under German command?
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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by lwd » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:10 pm

RF wrote:
lwd wrote: . On the otherhand said SS division may have a lot of trouble of it's own if they are in range of fire support from the USN. The SS never had the ability that I'm aware to lauch a successful landing verses a well defended beach which was a Marine forte.
These are issues relevant to the Kriegsmarine -
Well yeas and no. The Marines are part of the navy. They are organized and equipped with that in mind. As you made clear that is not the case with the SS.
Coming back to the scenario here, suppose the US Navy gunfire was opposed by a strong Luftwaffe, including stukas, torpedo bombers and FW 200's? And KM S boats?
FW200's and Stuka's didn't do well when they met opposing fighters. Part of the support package for Marines is air support from both Marine and naval air. I seem to recall that S boats didn't do real well when opposed by destroyers, US light cruisers would be even worse.
I would also suppose that German flak guns such as the quad 20 mm and 37 mm would be more effective against US marine assault than most of the Japanese weaponry?
I'm not enough of an expert on Japanese weapons to say one way or another. On the other hand these weapons might not be able to hide very well from the naval fire support or even survive the intial bombardment. Note that in the Pacific the initial bombardements tended to be longer and more thorough than those in the Eurpean theater.
Or another variation - a Japanese elite naval landing division trained, officered and equipped by the Waffen SS? How far would Japanese troops perform better under German command?
Would they at all? I suspect not.

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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by RF » Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:21 pm

There are a number of points here.

Firstly a strong Luftwaffe presence by definition must include fighter support - ME109'S and FW 190's in the hands of experienced pilots.

German S boats were greatly handicapped by lack of air control by their side. With air support during the day and the cover of darkness at night, if they operate in large numbers they can be effective especially if they get inside troop convoys etc

Concealment of guns - can be done but the effectiveness of naval bombardments need to be greatly reduced. This is where a strong Luftwaffe comes in. With defence of coastlines and jungle infested islands it is essential for defence that the US Marine troop landings are smashed on the beaches - as Rommel realised for D Day landings in France. Concentrating defence inland - as the Japanese tended to do on the larger islands such as Okinawa was a fatal mistake.

Japanese troops are generally recognised as some of the most fanatical and ferocious troops of WW2. One of the disadvantages they operated under was poor generalship, a crucial factor that Bill Slim identified in the Burma campaign. Handled more intelligently by battle hardened SS officers their fighting abilities could be better utilised, for example in not throwing away infantry in useless ''banzai'' charges. In North Africa Rommel got more out of Italian troops than any of the Italian generals; a force combining the fighting abilities of the Japanese soldier with German expertise in weaponry, leadership and tactics would be a formidable force indeed.
Indeed there is one enemy against which a direct comparison of German and Japanese forces performance can be measured - the Russians. In 1938 and 1939 the Japanese clashed with Soviet forces on the borders of Outer Mongolia, where Zhukov commanded the Red Army. The Japanese did badly, particulary when Zhukov concentrated his tank forces against the Japanese. Japanese tanks were hardly any better than what the Italians had. Just a couple of years later came Barbarossa - with devasting Soviet losses. Now a Japanese force using some German equipment and battle tactics I think would perform a lot better.

Despite Slim's view, the Japanese Army did have some capable commanders, such as Yamashita, who did head aJapanese military mission to Germany and Italy in early 1941. Not making full use of that visit was a major blunder for both ends of the Axis alliance, as Hitler didn't want the Japanese to know about Barbarossa. And the Japanese could have benefitted greatly had they sought full German co-operation while the USSR was still neutral.
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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by lwd » Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:34 pm

RF wrote:...Firstly a strong Luftwaffe presence by definition must include fighter support - ME109'S and FW 190's in the hands of experienced pilots.
But you don't find the allies in particular the US launching invasions when they can't gain air superiority. Sicily or Anzio were probably the worse they put up with in this regard. Furthermore the LW escort doctrine was flawed and never fixed from what I've read (as opposed to that of almost everyone else who also started out with a flawed escort doctrine but fixed theres). This means even if there is parity in the air war the LW attack planes are going to suffer. In particular late war US naval air defence control was very good. Early war they wouldn't have had the carriers to launch most invasions.
German S boats were greatly handicapped by lack of air control by their side. With air support during the day and the cover of darkness at night, if they operate in large numbers they can be effective especially if they get inside troop convoys etc
Perhaps early war but late war vs experiance crews on US DDs and CLs getting into that position becomes very problematic.
it is essential for defence that the US Marine troop landings are smashed on the beaches - as Rommel realised for D Day landings in France. Concentrating defence inland - as the Japanese tended to do on the larger islands such as Okinawa was a fatal mistake.
That's debateable. The late war Japanese defences starting at Iwo did indeed rely on an interior defence but by that point they recognised they weren't going to stop the invasion they just wanted to kill as many Americans as possible and the interior defence allowed them to do so. Earlier defences relied on trying to stop the Marines on the beaches and simply weren't able to do so and once the beach front defence collapsed there was usually little left, furthermore the beach front defence allowed for direct fire support from the USN. On quite a few occasions DDs moved into water shallow enough that they risked or indeed did run aground to provide fire support. Tarawa has a couple of outstanding examples of this.
Japanese troops are generally recognised as some of the most fanatical and ferocious troops of WW2. One of the disadvantages they operated under was poor generalship, a crucial factor that Bill Slim identified in the Burma campaign. Handled more intelligently by battle hardened SS officers their fighting abilities could be better utilised,
There generals did indeed make some serious mistakes but I'm not sure that there command of tactical forces was all that poor indeed it seems to have been pretty decent. Furthermore the SS are hardly likely to be able to get as much from Japanese troops as their own officers could. Now if you are saying replace officers at the division level or higher then I might agree with you.
for example in not throwing away infantry in useless ''banzai'' charges.
Banzi charges were in effect the Japanese alternative to surrendering.
In North Africa Rommel got more out of Italian troops than any of the Italian generals;
But the Italians had a different set of problems from the Japanese and again here you are talking about command at above division level.
Indeed there is one enemy against which a direct comparison of German and Japanese forces performance can be measured - the Russians. In 1938 and 1939 the Japanese clashed with Soviet forces on the borders of Outer Mongolia, where Zhukov commanded the Red Army. The Japanese did badly, particulary when Zhukov concentrated his tank forces against the Japanese. Japanese tanks were hardly any better than what the Italians had. Just a couple of years later came Barbarossa - with devasting Soviet losses. Now a Japanese force using some German equipment and battle tactics I think would perform a lot better.
[/quote]
The Japanese at Khalkhyn Gol were indeed not preparied to fight a moder armored conflict but that's not what they or the Marines fought in the Jungles and islands of the Pacfic. Indeed my impression is the Japanese tanks then in existence were worse than those of the Italians in 40 and 41. It's also worth noteing that there was little surprise involved especially on the part of the Soviets during these battles as opposed to Barbarossa. A direct comparison here is still rather problematic.

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Re: Marines in the Pacific vs Waffen SS

Post by Djoser » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:32 am

RF wrote: I would also suppose that German flak guns such as the quad 20 mm and 37 mm would be more effective against US marine assault than most of the Japanese weaponry?

Or another variation - a Japanese elite naval landing division trained, officered and equipped by the Waffen SS? How far would Japanese troops perform better under German command?
Yeah I bet the German heavy weapons would have been more effective. But I doubt the Japanese would have submitted to German leadership.

lwd wrote:On the other hand these weapons might not be able to hide very well from the naval fire support or even survive the intial bombardment. Note that in the Pacific the initial bombardements tended to be longer and more thorough than those in the Eurpean theater.
Yet the Japanese defenses were surprisingly intact (or largely so) after a great many of these bombardments. I mean the initial bombardments, not so much the fire support after the Marines landed. I doubt it would have been all that much harder to conceal and protect the German defensive weaponry as well as the Japanese did.

lwd wrote: But you don't find the allies in particular the US launching invasions when they can't gain air superiority. Sicily or Anzio were probably the worse they put up with in this regard.
Good point there.
lwd wrote: That's debateable. The late war Japanese defences starting at Iwo did indeed rely on an interior defence but by that point they recognised they weren't going to stop the invasion they just wanted to kill as many Americans as possible and the interior defence allowed them to do so.
And this as well. Especially at Iwo Jima, where casualties were about even for a change.
lwd wrote:Banzi charges were in effect the Japanese alternative to surrendering.
I'm not so sure about this though. In the earlier island battles they were far from ready to concede defeat so readily. The Banzai charges against Bloody Ridge on Guadalcanal were delivered in expectation of victory. Of course, they were sure wrong about that!


You know one way this could have transpired in the Pacific? If, as some of the higher level Japanese commanders wished, the Japanese had attacked Russia instead of The East Indies and Pearl Harbor. It would have virtually guaranteed much closer cooperation between the japanese and the Germans, for one thing. It also could have meant almost certain defeat for Russia, which came damned close to it in '41 as it was. If the Germans then cooperated with the Japanese somehow against the USA in the Pacific, as would have been likely after a Russian defeat, you could have seen a few SS battalions in the Pacific. My guess would be they would have been used on larger islands such as the Philippines or Guadalcanal. I don't see a SS battalion being put on Tarawa, for instance. There were places in the Philippines where the SS could have put up one hell of a fight, especially if they had some Tigers and Panthers.

It would sure make an interesting scenario for a wargame! Has anyone here ever played the Squad Leader or maybe the Panzer Grenadier series of wargames? Lock and Load is another I think. All three have both German and Japanese orders of battle in the unit mixes and scenarios. It would be quite easy to switch it up a bit and arrange a very good simulation of this kind!

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