Battle of the Bulge

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paul.mercer
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Battle of the Bulge

Postby paul.mercer » Wed Mar 11, 2015 9:37 pm

Gentlemen,
I was watching a TV article on the battle of the Bulge and it appears that the German tanks ran short of fuel, had this not happened would they have penetrated the US line completely or would the allied fighter bombers have destroyed them as soon as the weather improved anyway (like they actually did)?

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RF
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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby RF » Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:15 pm

They couldn't penetrate the US line completely without exposing a long flank to ground counter attack. As you say they would be exposed to full air attack once the cloud cover lifted.
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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby dodger2695 » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:24 am

Yes, the tanks ran out of fuel, and yes the Allied fighters would destroy the tanks, but the Allied fighters would be using rockets, which are inaccurate. Plus, the Battle of the Bulge was fought in the Ardennes, a heavily forested region of Belgium and France. This would have also provided some cover. Yet, the main objective for the Battle was to take back the port of Antwerp, and use that to get the fuel dumps located there. The reason there would have been a long and exposed flank was because Dietrich was in charge of the actual spearhead that was to take Antwerp, but he stalled because he needed to divert some of his armor to help Manteuffel, who was making a push, which created the Bulge in the first place. His push was to get fuel for Dietrich, and the fuel was located Bastogne and Dinant. The plan also called for a rapid advance so the panzers could get the fuel U.S. soldiers and supply depots would leave behind in the hasty retreat. But, yes, the advance would have slowed, which would dry the tanks of what little fuel they had and the Allied air power would force any tanks still able to operate to waste their fuel in a vain attempt to find cover under the trees. Also, sorry for replying on an old post.

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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby RF » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:46 am

Forests are very dubious cover for tanks against concentrated air attack.

Rockets weren't that inaccurate - they helped to cause the slaughter at Falaise a few months previously.
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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby aurora » Sat Oct 03, 2015 4:56 pm

Beginning on Dec. 22, 1944, the American Third Army counterattacked successfully at Bastogne. The German offensive was stopped. On Jan. 1, 1945, the German troops launched an offensive in the region of Strasbourg with the objective of diverting the Allied forces. Although the Allies succeeded in stopping the Germans, the situation on the Western Front at the beginning of January remained tense.

On Jan. 6, 1945, England’s prime minister Churchill turned to the Soviet government for help. True to its obligations as an ally, the USSR came to the aid of the USA and GB. On Jan. 12, 1945, eight days earlier than the date agreed upon, Soviet troops took the offensive in East Prussia and Poland.

The German command was forced to give up further attempts at an offensive in the west and to begin the transfer of troops to the Soviet -German front (from Jan. 12 to Jan. 31, 1945, seven divisions were transferred). By the end of January 1945 the Allies had restored the situation on the Western Front.

The Allied losses (killed, wounded, and missing-in-action) in this operation were about 77,000 men; German losses were about 93,000 men.

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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby RF » Mon Oct 05, 2015 7:33 am

aurora wrote:.... England’s prime minister Churchill


You mean Britain's Prime Minister.

England does not have its own parliament or Prime Minister, not even in these days of devolution where Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all have their own First Ministers and England doesn't.

The Allied losses (killed, wounded, and missing-in-action) in this operation were about 77,000 men; German losses were about 93,000 men.
aurora


Which amptly demonstrates that ''Wacht am Rhein'' was a strategic defeat for the Germans and hastened the end of the war in the West in 1945.
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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby aurora » Mon Oct 05, 2015 6:35 pm

General George S. Patton directed three of his divisions in eastern France to make a 90-degree turn and highball north, stem the enemy advance, and relieve the “Screaming Eagles” at Bastogne. Despite logistical nightmares, bitter weather, and icy roads, an entire corps, about 60,000 men, was moved to the left flank of the Bulge that stretched from Echternach in Luxembourg to Bastogne. It was one of the most brilliant maneuvers of World War II.

Patton, whose sound staff work was generally underrated, had devised three plans to meet any contingency. The swift response that helped to turn the tide in the Bulge was probably the finest hour in his distinguished career.

As exemplified by the Third Army’s performance, nowhere during the war was the American mastery of logistics more dramatically displayed than in the Battle of the Bulge. General Bradley later observed, “He [Hitler] had forgotten that this time he was opposed not by static troops in a Maginot Line, but by a vast mechanized U.S. Army fully mounted on wheels. In accepting the risk of enemy penetration into the Ardennes, we had counted heavily on the speed with which we could fling this mechanized strength against his flanks.”

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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby RF » Tue Oct 06, 2015 8:12 am

aurora wrote:As exemplified by the Third Army’s performance, nowhere during the war was the American mastery of logistics more dramatically displayed than in the Battle of the Bulge. General Bradley later observed, “He [Hitler] had forgotten that this time he was opposed not by static troops in a Maginot Line, but by a vast mechanized U.S. Army fully mounted on wheels. In accepting the risk of enemy penetration into the Ardennes, we had counted heavily on the speed with which we could fling this mechanized strength against his flanks.”
aurora


This is completely right. And not only that, but in addition Germany was being invaded from the East, being pushed out of Italy, being saturation bombed from the air, all conditions not present in 1940. The war was irretrievably lost regardless of whether the Germans attacked in the Ardennes or not.

The acid test of this statement would be to re-enact the 1940 campaign in France with Gamelin's forces replaced with the US forces of 1944, without the supporting air power. How far would Bradley/Patton be able to succeed where Weygand's counter strike never really got started?
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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby aurora » Tue Oct 06, 2015 1:15 pm

At Sedan-the Luftwaffe cowed the defenders, breaking them psychologically. The gunners, the backbone of the defences, had abandoned their positions by the time the German ground assault had begun. The cost to the Luftwaffe was just six aircraft, three of which were Ju 87s.
The French 55th Infantry Division was not prepared for such an attack. French soldiers had commented on the massive psychological effect of the bombardment, in particular the siren of the Ju 87. However, after the war, it was discovered that none of the bunkers had been destroyed by direct hits. Moreover, just 56 French casualties were suffered. It was the indirect effect that did the damage. The telecommunication cables were destroyed (most had been laid out in the open) through bombing, paralysing the division's communications, and the psychological damage crippled its defensive capacity.
The ensuing psychological damage contributed to "the panic of Bulson". At about 19:00 on 13 May, a report by a French artillery observer was passed on incorrectly. There was a rumour that German tanks were approaching the town of Bulson. The false reports spread and the French 55th Infantry Division deserted their positions. German sources say that the first German tank crossed the Meuse River 12 hours later. By the time the error was realised, most of the artillerymen and infantrymen had abandoned their heavy equipment.

Yes RF- I can see where you are headed and not easy to answer-however at Sedan the French were not just shocked; but paralysed with fear and deserted their positions,particularly the all important artillery.I am of the opinion that the 1944 US troops under command of Bradley backed uo by the all important Pattoin- sans air cover- would would have had sufficient backbone to hang in their-as they did the hellish battle of Hurtgen Forest.Their tanks covered by their artillery would have not only only stopped the German advance but destroyed their bridgework over the Meuse.

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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby RF » Tue Oct 06, 2015 4:47 pm

The important condition I laid down was no supporting US airpower, meaning that the US ground forces would be subject to concentrated dive bomber attack which they never were in reality in 1944. That way we would see the effect of the stukas on the American troops.

Note that the French Army did start to get used to enemy airpower superiority in 1940 - in the Fall Rot offensive across the Somme starting 5 June 1940 the heavily outnumbered French put up a much more effective fight against the panzers and stukas, it took four days of bloody fighting for the Germans to break through. However the French had no reserves - once the Germans did break through, France fell.
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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby aurora » Tue Oct 06, 2015 5:21 pm

I have to admit RF- that I have found no evidence of US troops being subjected to sustained attacks by Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers during operations in NW Europe.Therefore I am unable to say whether they or would not be able to maintain a stand; but I have to say that they would probably put up a helluva lot of flak. :wink: :?:

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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby RF » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:04 am

The thing is with flak - a mass stuka attack would aim at knocking out the AA not just with bombs but with the tank busting 3.7 cm guns they carried, Once this is done the ground forces are exposed.
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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby OpanaPointer » Sat Apr 29, 2017 2:37 pm

RF wrote:
The acid test of this statement would be to re-enact the 1940 campaign in France with Gamelin's forces replaced with the US forces of 1944, without the supporting air power. How far would Bradley/Patton be able to succeed where Weygand's counter strike never really got started?

What are the conditions that nullified Allied airpower?

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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby Dave Saxton » Sat May 06, 2017 3:52 pm

OpanaPointer wrote:
RF wrote:
The acid test of this statement would be to re-enact the 1940 campaign in France with Gamelin's forces replaced with the US forces of 1944, without the supporting air power. How far would Bradley/Patton be able to succeed where Weygand's counter strike never really got started?

What are the conditions that nullified Allied airpower?



Are you referring to the Fall of France in 1940 or to the historical Battle of the Bulge in late 1944?

In the Battle of the Bulge, aircraft of both sides were grounded by bad weather. Once the weather cleared, the Allies of course, were able to bring their air power to bear on the German ground forces. The Luftwaffe by that time no longer had the capability to do likewise, or to protect their ground forces defensively. The Luftwaffe shot their bolt on January 1st 1945 during Operation Bodenplatte (air strikes against Allied air fields and radar stations on the continent) and the Luftwaffe's tactical air capability virtually ceased to exist completely.

During the Fall of France, the Luftwaffe was able to establish air superiority by virtue of superior skill levels of their fighter pilots, superior air combat tactics, and a vastly superior fighter aircraft in the Messerschmidt BF-109E. The German fighter pilots had much more combat experience dating back to their experience in the Spanish Civil War. There they had developed the more modern tactics of the leader wingman element and the finger four formation. The Allies' tactics were very much behind the times at that time. It wasn't until during the Battle of Britain that the RAF started copying the German tactics.

The only Allied fighter available that could match the 109E was the Spitfire MkII. However, RAF Fighter Command was not about to risk losing their Spitfires over the continent either in air combat with more experienced German fighter pilots, or on the ground. The Allied air forces had no radar coverage there, but the Germans did.

The Allies greatly out numbered the Luftwaffe. Indeed the French Air Force alone out numbered the Luftwaffe. However, the French fighter aircraft were no match to the BF-109E. On paper the new Dewoitine D520 could, but there was only one squadron in operation. The most numerous French fighter was the MS406, but it was about 100 mph slower than the 109. Another new French fighter, the MB152, turned out to be an engineering disaster and was grounded for safety reasons. The best French fighter they had in numbers was the American Curtis Hawk (P-36). It was pretty much the same aircraft as the more famous P-40 Kittyhawk or Tomahawk (later used by the Flying Tigers in China and by the RAF in North Africa), but it used a less powerful, small, radial engine, instead of the P-40's inline Allison V-1710 engine. It was inferior to the 109E.

The Dutch had excellent aircraft, designed by Fokker, but they were in such few numbers that they were not a factor.

Having established air superiority, the Luftwaffe could support their ground forces (which the Luftwaffe was designed to do) and use their air power against Allied ground forces. Successful mechanized warfare is absolutely dependent on close air support and air superiority.
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Re: Battle of the Bulge

Postby OpanaPointer » Sat May 06, 2017 7:59 pm

I was just wondering how the US air power would have been nullified long enough for the Germans to reach Antwerp.


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