Sunday 17 February 2013

Just suppose....Part 2

Hs 123 operating on the Russian Front - a very tough, rugged and reliable aircraft, well suited to use from rough airstrips

I have been giving a lot of additional thought to the proposed 'Turkey-joins-the-Axis-in-WW2' idea and the plans are slowly beginning to take shape. The basic premise is that Turkey have joined the Axis following the fall of France on the understanding (at least from the German standpoint) that they will be engaging the Russians in the Caucasus when Operation Barbarossa is launched. To this end the Germans will supply advisors and some material by way of support. Privately the German see the Turks as a triumph of quantity over quality and so their role will be relatively limited in scope - really just a strategic diversion to draw Russian forces away from the main German thrust.

The Turks though, have their own ideas about what they will or will not be doing.

The main Turkish aim is liberate from French and British 'Colonialism' those areas of the Middle East lost at the end of the Great War. These include Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and vast tracts of the Arabian Peninsula. They are of course well aware that the price of a German alliance means war with Russia but the Turks have already deduced that their role is very much a subsidiary and diversionary one. They will be happy to face off against the Russians but the main focus will be the 'liberation' of the Middle East.

This is all well and good on paper and in the various Turkish Army HQs but in reality the armed forces are ill-equipped to fight an aggressive war of liberation. Their army has not evolved much from the Great War although mechanisation is much in evidence it has been a very slow and uncertain process. The air force is relatively large but is outdated with few modern types and the navy is suitable for coast defence work only. No doubt the humble Turkish infantryman will be his usual doughty self but up against a modern force may well be sorely tested. Luckily for them, the armed forces of their intended victims are in even worse shape, at least in respect of numbers.

The plan is for the Turks, rather like the Italians, to get themselves into difficulties which the Germans, for political reasons, having to provide more direct support than they would have otherwise preferred.

Rolls Royce Armoured Car

The British have a modest force available but would be expected to draw on the Indian army for reinforcements if required. This includes artillery and tanks with a small air element.

The French have the Foreign Legion and various supporting units BUT will be initially under Vichy control. Again, tanks and aircraft are available.  Having said that, the French are not expected to be active participants in any action against the British but the possibility certainly exists - they are satisfied with the area they have 'under control'.

Both the British and French will also have access to locally raised units and of course, they also have the problem of dealing with nationalists within their respective areas.

The equipment available to both of these armies tends to be second rate but perfectly adequate for use against insurgents armed solely with infantry small arms.

The type of equipment one would expect to see in theatre would look something like this:

  • Renault FT17
  • Vickers Light Tank
  • Rolls Royce Armoured Cars
  • Trucks of various types
  • Early Panzers
  • BT7 and T26s
  • Biplane fighters or early monoplane types - Gladiators, Harts, CR32/42, Hs 123, Polikarpov I-16, Hurricanes, Bf109 E, MS 406, Yak 1s
  • Anti tank guns will be early war types - 37mm, 2 pdr and 45mms.
  • Artillery will be towed and of field calibre.
Plenty of ideas then for what I want to use and luckily there is much available that can be acquired easily enough so here's to a great shopping trip at Tonbridge!


Jur said...

Hi David,

given the support of Vichy France for Germany, I think the Turks would leave Syria alone, and possibly cooperate with the Vichy troops.

The Angry Lurker said...

Could it have changed the outcome or just prolonged it?

David Crook said...

Hi Fran,

Personally I think that neither would have happened. The Germans would have been hopelessly over extended and the Turks would be able to offer little outside of Turkey. Scrabbling about in the Caucasus with the Russians and some ill-considered dabblings in the Middle East would have been about it.

Had the Germans beaten the Soviets then it could have been a different story.

Plenty of what ifs?

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi J de Jong,

I suspect that the Germans would have made sure that Turkish designs against Vichy occupied Syria were kept firmly under control - at least all the time there was no external threat. Vichy would not have moved on their own against the British and I suspect that the Turks would not have involved them simply because of the political backlash of using one set of occupying powers against another.

Fascinating to ponder though.

All the best,


Broeders said...

We did a Spearhead campaign in January and one was the British in Iraq. Looking at the strategic map, it's clear that the Germans - had they taken Stalingrad and he Caucasus could has potentially sent a couple of divisions around into the Middle East through Iraq. The British had little strength in the region and there was potential for the Turks to take this as a catalyst for grabbing the Levant and threatening Egypt themselves.

Ray Rousell said...

Hmm? This does sound rather interesting???? I'll be seeing you at Cavalier carrying an ensemble of bags then?

David Crook said...

Hi Ray,

It certainly is and I certainly shall! I am trying to get a hold of Big Lee - could you get him to email me on as I have something he may be interested in!

All the best and see you Sunday!


David Crook said...

Hi Phil,

That sounds really interesting - do you have any other details?

I have a couple of titles on Iraq in 1941 which gives a number of options and certainly how you describe would make sense.

All the best,