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Old 13th April 2019, 06:22 PM   #1
HansMustermann
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Biggest waste of WW2

Well, here's a thread for everyone to propose their "favourite" piece of equipment that was a waste of money and resources.

For my nomination, I'm not going to go with a tank, but with the G7e electric torpedo. These things cost an estimated 40,000 Reichsmark each -- literally three of these are marginally more expensive than one Pz Kpfw IV Ausf. G with full equipment and all -- and mostly didn't work. The magnetic fuse detonated mostly at some random time, either too early, or too late, or not at all, and the impact fuse... let's just say sometimes whole salvoes didn't actually detonate. At least one Uboot captain actually had a nervous breakdown and had to be temporarily relieved of duty after ALL his hits with G7e torpedoes were duds. Add to that slow speed and a completely crap range of 3km (a lot less than 2 miles, for you imperials.)

And yeah, you can probably see why I nominate it for the complete waste of money award. Say what you will about unreliable German tanks, but for the sheer amount of torpedoes produced at THAT price, you could have a lot more tanks or aircraft and by sheer chance alone some of those would actually do SOMETHING.
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Old 13th April 2019, 06:39 PM   #2
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I would nominate the Kriegsmarine surface fleet.

I would not nominate the unsuccessful G7e/T2 because it led to the successful G7e/T3 and ultimately the passive homing G7e/T4 and T5. The T2 was withdrawn from service after 1942 anyway.

Honorable mentions:
Schwerer Gustav railway gun
Me 163 Komet fighter
The V-2 rocket (yes, I have my reasons)
Pretty much the entire British Cruiser Tank program
And of course,... the Maginot Line.
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Old 13th April 2019, 09:14 PM   #3
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Old 13th April 2019, 10:20 PM   #4
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Human lives wins but as equipment goes the Maus tank.

Too big for railroad transport
No bridge could support it
Atrocious fuel use in a time they had little.
Underpowered with two huge engines
Poor use of limited resources

The Tiger II pretty much showed the absolute limit of what might be practical. Clearly at the limit without solid supply lines.
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Old 13th April 2019, 10:54 PM   #5
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The atomic bomb. All the money, time, resources, and security spent designing and building and guarding the things and only two have ever actually been used in warfare. That's got to be the worst expense-to-use ratio for any weapon in history.
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Old 14th April 2019, 02:48 AM   #6
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First nomination: The Heinkel He 177 Grief (aptly named)

A four engined aircraft (with only two propellers) designed to be a cross between a long range bomber and a dive bomber, was just a very stupid idea.

Second nomination: The Panjandrum.

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Old 14th April 2019, 04:37 AM   #7
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I'd go for the Atlantic Wall. Millions of tons of concrete and steel, millions of mines and thousands of gun emplacements, all running to an estimated total of $200 billion in today's money...and breached in a day.
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Old 14th April 2019, 04:59 AM   #8
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The Super Soldier Program.
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Old 14th April 2019, 05:30 AM   #9
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They have some good suggestions here: The Five Most Bizarre Weapons of WW2 (Business Insider, July 22, 2015)
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Old 14th April 2019, 06:49 AM   #10
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I’ve mentioned it in the tank thread, but the M7 tank gets my vote.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medium_Tank_M7

Starts life as a light tank. They realize it needs to be upgunned. It bloats in size and weight until it weighs as much as a Medium tank. It flops it’s initial trials and is delayed. When ready they build an entire factory to produce the thing.

Until someone notes it weighs the same as a Sherman, has the same gun, has less armor, and no notable advantage in performance or speed than the Sherman. Project cancelled, but only after tons of money are wasted on the thing.
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Old 14th April 2019, 07:09 AM   #11
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
First nomination: The Heinkel He 177 Grief (aptly named)

A four engined aircraft (with only two propellers) designed to be a cross between a long range bomber and a dive bomber, was just a very stupid idea.
Just as a small correction, it's "Greif" (Griffin) not "Grief". Granted, it being the hybrid it was, it's still aptly named.

Though if you want an even more apt name for it, try "imperial lighter" (Reichsfeuerzeug), as the crews named it.
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Old 14th April 2019, 07:15 AM   #12
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No Navy fans here?

Yamato-class battleship. Huge, powerful, expensive, and pretty much obsolete from day one. Then held in reserve for the Japanese Navy's imaginary grand final battle, which in the age of aircraft was never going to happen.
Musashi saw combat only once. Against aircraft. She was sunk.
Yamato made it through that one with damage and, the next day, saw her only surface action, against six unarmored aircraft carriers and a few escorts. She was forced to flee with her tail between her legs.
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Old 14th April 2019, 07:17 AM   #13
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Old 14th April 2019, 09:03 AM   #14
8enotto
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Originally Posted by kookbreaker View Post
Iíve mentioned it in the tank thread, but the M7 tank gets my vote.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medium_Tank_M7

Starts life as a light tank. They realize it needs to be upgunned. It bloats in size and weight until it weighs as much as a Medium tank. It flops itís initial trials and is delayed. When ready they build an entire factory to produce the thing.

Until someone notes it weighs the same as a Sherman, has the same gun, has less armor, and no notable advantage in performance or speed than the Sherman. Project cancelled, but only after tons of money are wasted on the thing.
Was this not repurposed into a tank destroyer later in the war?
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Old 14th April 2019, 09:21 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
They have some good suggestions here: The Five Most Bizarre Weapons of WW2 (Business Insider, July 22, 2015)

Apparently another problem with the Russian dog-mounted anti-tank bombs mentioned there was that having been trained using Russian tanks, the dogs only associated food with the undersides of Russian tanks. The German tanks smelled different.
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Old 14th April 2019, 10:33 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, here's a thread for everyone to propose their "favourite" piece of equipment that was a waste of money and resources.

For my nomination, I'm not going to go with a tank, but with the G7e electric torpedo. These things cost an estimated 40,000 Reichsmark each -- literally three of these are marginally more expensive than one Pz Kpfw IV Ausf. G with full equipment and all -- and mostly didn't work. The magnetic fuse detonated mostly at some random time, either too early, or too late, or not at all, and the impact fuse... let's just say sometimes whole salvoes didn't actually detonate. At least one Uboot captain actually had a nervous breakdown and had to be temporarily relieved of duty after ALL his hits with G7e torpedoes were duds. Add to that slow speed and a completely crap range of 3km (a lot less than 2 miles, for you imperials.)

And yeah, you can probably see why I nominate it for the complete waste of money award. Say what you will about unreliable German tanks, but for the sheer amount of torpedoes produced at THAT price, you could have a lot more tanks or aircraft and by sheer chance alone some of those would actually do SOMETHING.

Even worse, the Americans recovered several duds, and cloned them, resulting in the Mark 18 torpedoWP.
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Old 14th April 2019, 11:02 AM   #17
HansMustermann
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And not only that, but the Mark 18 had higher range and marginally higher speed, yea. So, yeah, that's Reichsmarks well spent for ya
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Old 14th April 2019, 12:22 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by ohms View Post
I'd go for the Atlantic Wall. Millions of tons of concrete and steel, millions of mines and thousands of gun emplacements, all running to an estimated total of $200 billion in today's money...and breached in a day.
Seconded. Although I enjoy taking tourists on tours in our local section of it.

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Old 14th April 2019, 02:11 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by ohms View Post
I'd go for the Atlantic Wall. Millions of tons of concrete and steel, millions of mines and thousands of gun emplacements, all running to an estimated total of $200 billion in today's money...and breached in a day.
Gotta be a winner, at that cost and uselessness.
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Old 14th April 2019, 02:14 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by ohms View Post
I'd go for the Atlantic Wall. Millions of tons of concrete and steel, millions of mines and thousands of gun emplacements, all running to an estimated total of $200 billion in today's money...and breached in a day.
Oh, I dunno -- the Maginot line could give it a run for its money.
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Old 14th April 2019, 02:39 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Oh, I dunno -- the Maginot line could give it a run for its money.
Maginot line far less effective at greater expense. Cracking the Atlantic Wall did rely on a considerable amount of deception and a German unwillingness to accept the Normandy invasion was the real deal.
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Old 14th April 2019, 03:16 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Mark F View Post
Maginot line far less effective at greater expense. Cracking the Atlantic Wall did rely on a considerable amount of deception and a German unwillingness to accept the Normandy invasion was the real deal.
No, the Maginot Line worked exactly as intended.
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Old 14th April 2019, 04:32 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
No, the Maginot Line worked exactly as intended.
Sure, the Germans didn't even bother and just went around it. Exactly as intended.
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Old 14th April 2019, 04:50 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Mark F View Post
Sure, the Germans didn't even bother and just went around it. Exactly as intended.
Yes, thst was the whole point of it.
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Old 14th April 2019, 04:54 PM   #25
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The whole bloody war was a waste.
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Old 14th April 2019, 05:39 PM   #26
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Well, I have already explained more in depth in the appeasement thread why the Maginot Line was not only a good idea, but a MUST for the French at the time. Still, I can see the point in calling it a waste of money because in the end it didn't make a difference. The blame does lie with Gamelin being the poster kid for why they call "military intelligence" an oxymoron, rather than with the line itself, but he did waste it, so under waste it gets filed.
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Old 14th April 2019, 05:46 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, I have already explained more in depth in the appeasement thread why the Maginot Line was not only a good idea, but a MUST for the French at the time. Still, I can see the point in calling it a waste of money because in the end it didn't make a difference. The blame does lie with Gamelin being the poster kid for why they call "military intelligence" an oxymoron, rather than with the line itself, but he did waste it, so under waste it gets filed.
The Maginot Line was an attempt to fight the wrong war.
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Old 14th April 2019, 05:46 PM   #28
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by Norman Alexander View Post
The whole bloody war was a waste.
Well, I would and did already agree in other threads about that. Still, that part should be rather obvious and not much to debate about. (Though some people do seem to get feisty when you specifically name a general on THEIR side as doing the waste of human lives.) So I was asking more specifically about equipment that was such a waste of money and resources that basically it was more of a net minus for the war effort than anything else.
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Old 14th April 2019, 05:49 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Mark F View Post
The Maginot Line was an attempt to fight the wrong war.
No it wasn't. It was in fact taking the right lessons from that previous war. And again, there were excellent reasons for why it was there.

To quote from my other message in the other thread, just because I'm too lazy to type the same thing again:

The French entered WW1 with idiotic ideas that elan is all that matters, and a few determined guys with bayonets beat machineguns. They discovered very quickly that they were wrong. They lost IIRC some 27,000 men in one day discovering it.

So now it was obvious that to win a war, you need to plan long term, and you need industrial capacity. You'll need to produce a LOT of bullets and artillery shells and so on, and keep producing it.

And therein was the problem: most of France's mines and factories were within 100km of the German border. The mines because that's where the mountains are, and the factories because of civilian logistics. You need to haul those resources to the factories, and the closer you are to them, the better.

So France COULDN'T do a Russian elastic defense thing and trade territory for time. If they retreated more than 100 km, the war was lost already. Because there goes the industrial capacity to make more bullets and shells and so on.

France had to stop the Germans right on the border.

Hence the Maginot Line.

However, now where do you fight the Germans if the border with them isn't looking so great? Well, how about fighting in Belgium?

That plan was actually a bit more complicated than "let's fight in Belgium." The idea would be more like, look, we'll help defend you, so let's build some common prepared positions. Not as fortified as the Maginot Line, so it still works as a bait, but still, let's prepare for an attack on the border between Belgium and Germany.

Problem is: France and Britain failed to respond to the remilitarization of Rheinland. Now a big question started to be asked in Belgium: so, are they going to defend US if push comes to shove? They certainly don't seem keen on fighting Germany.

So by 1936, Belgium goes, in the best Bender immitation, "Screw you, guys! I'm making my own defense! With blackjack! And hookers! In fact, forget the defense!"

Well, not in those words, but they declare themselves neutral and kick the French army out of their country. In 1937, Hitler actually guarantees that he'll respect the Belgian neutrality. Presumably after he stopped laughing his ass off. Yeah, we all know how THAT guarantee was upheld

So there go those prepared positions in Belgium. Now France starts scrambling to produce some transportable fortification materials that they can take into Belgium if push comes to shove, or use at the border if Belgium just surrenders. But they prove to be no substitute for the original plan.
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Old 15th April 2019, 03:05 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
No it wasn't. It was in fact taking the right lessons from that previous war. And again, there were excellent reasons for why it was there.
Or,... you could fight a mobile war,... in Germany.
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Old 15th April 2019, 04:40 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Mark F View Post
Or,... you could fight a mobile war,... in Germany.
You do realize that the enemy gets a say in how the war progresses right?
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Old 15th April 2019, 05:25 AM   #32
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How about the proposed “pycrete” island in the Atlantic to provide a base for anti-submarine aircraft to guard the flow of Liberty Ships from U-boat attacks?

I don’t know how much was spent on the project; they apparently built a small-scale model up in one of the northern lakes, but by the time they thought it might actually work the tide had turned in the “Battle of the North Atlantic”.
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Old 15th April 2019, 06:16 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Mark F View Post
Or,... you could fight a mobile war,... in Germany.
How mobile? Artillery still dominated and the only fully mechanised army was the British, all the others relied on horses.
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Old 15th April 2019, 07:08 AM   #34
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The contrarian in me says none of these were wastes.

Some of them were valiant attempts that failed, but which needed to be made and which were well attempted.

Some, created opportunities that were wasted in the event. But it was not wasteful to create the opportunity.

Others turned out to be dead ends, that nevertheless needed to be pursued.

Still others were simply the price of waging war, which makes a mess of commerce's simple cost-benefit calculations.
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Old 15th April 2019, 07:44 AM   #35
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The Atlantic wall and the Maginot line both defined where an attack could take place before becoming another battle of attrition.

So maybe it along with the type and terrain of each beach were all big factors in where and how to take France.

The objective of the misinformation was to try to get German ground forces far away from the actual landing beaches.
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Old 15th April 2019, 09:10 AM   #36
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How about the Messerschmitt 163 (Komet)? They were amazingly fast; almost too fast to shoot down. But they tended to overshoot a dogfight rather than get stuck in, and their volatile fuel was a bigger danger to the pilot than enemy fire anyway. The fuel lasted seven minutes, giving it an operational range of 25 miles. Not much cop for a fast interceptor.

Also, the Messerschmitt 262. Awesome aircraft in its own right, but jet propulsion was in its infancy, and the engines VERY high maintenance. Instead of a war-winning weapon, it was a money pit that came into service when money was scarce. Throw in the way Hitler insisted on turning it into a fighter-bomber, and we have an aircraft that was more trouble than it was worth.
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Old 15th April 2019, 09:32 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Ian Osborne View Post
How about the Messerschmitt 163 (Komet)? They were amazingly fast; almost too fast to shoot down. But they tended to overshoot a dogfight rather than get stuck in, and their volatile fuel was a bigger danger to the pilot than enemy fire anyway. The fuel lasted seven minutes, giving it an operational range of 25 miles. Not much cop for a fast interceptor.

Also, the Messerschmitt 262. Awesome aircraft in its own right, but jet propulsion was in its infancy, and the engines VERY high maintenance. Instead of a war-winning weapon, it was a money pit that came into service when money was scarce. Throw in the way Hitler insisted on turning it into a fighter-bomber, and we have an aircraft that was more trouble than it was worth.
It's always a waste to keep fighting a war you're going to lose anyway. But war is weird, in that victory is bought with effort. So you keep fighting anyway. Because you have to take the chance that this effort is the one that will snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Unless we fall back on simple platitudes like "war is always a waste", judging each of these efforts and ideas is to complicated for me to write them off as a waste.

War trades effort for victory. An expensive torpedo is worthwhile, if it sinks an even more expensive transport or capital ship. Even if the torpedo is not strictly cost-effective in this calculation, it can still be worth the great expense: If it sinks enough transports or capital ships to create more favorable calculations elsewhere.

Maintenance-intensive jet engines consume valuable and limited resources. But if they buy you a strategic advantage, the maintenance is worth the cost. Modern military history is by and large a story of expensive solutions to problems that needed solving at any cost, because the problems represented an existential threat.

So, very few wastes in WW2. Just desperate men trying desperate measures in desperate times.

What would be interesting would be wastes due to corruption or avoidable incompetence. Men who could have been saved, but who died not due to any mistake, but due to bad intent. Projects that should have succeeded, but failed due to bad intent. Etc.
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Old 15th April 2019, 10:15 AM   #38
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Back in the naval line, the Alaska Class super cruisers. Built in response to rumors that Japan was building some sort of super cruiser. (They weren't.) The Navy developed an all-new 12-inch gun for it, at no little expense. The ships were actually longer than nearly all USN battleships. The navy didn't really see much need for them but FDR was a fan.

In the end, only two commissioned with the third, Hawaii, about 98% complete but never finished. The two spent their time escorting carrier groups and conducting shore bombardments, when the weren't going around in circles.

Seriously, they had major handling issues. The captain of Alaska is said to have spent 24 hours cruising in circles with the helm centered, just to prove the point.
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Old 15th April 2019, 10:19 AM   #39
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Well, we already mentioned a major loss that could have been prevented, if not for crass incompetence. Gamelin was warned both by his officers and by the British that the Ardennes are not in fact nearly as much of a defense as he thought. Fast forward a bit, and he gets warning of the Germans massing there. THEN he gets a report from a French recon plane that it's seeing a whole German army group moving through the woods. Gamelin dismisses it, because gods dammit, he knows it's not possible.

I'd put a spoiler tag, but you already know how that one ended
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Old 15th April 2019, 10:25 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Mark F View Post
Or,... you could fight a mobile war,... in Germany.
That's a daft idea for a very simple reason: unless you want to keep full mobilization and full war economy, full time, from now until kingdom come, you will NOT be in a position to directly start an offensive from day one. You need to delay the initial thrust while you build up to the point where you have the superiority in manpower and material to actually start an offensive.

Just as a random number off the top of my head, French doctrine at the time estimated that you need about 15 times more ammo for a successful offense than in defense. You'll not be in a position to have the economy prepared to deliver that, unless you're in full war economy all the time, while waiting for the war to happen.

And that would ruin your economy so fast, that, well, I suppose on the bright side, you won't be worth being conquered by the Germans any more

Add to that the French distrust of their own Army at the time, and the massive opposition to giving them more soldiers even while a war had started, and the whole idea becomes infeasible from the start anyway as a long term plan.
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