Author Topic: 10 Alternative World War II Plans That Would Have Changed History  (Read 605 times)

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by Marc V

During World War II, everyone had a plan—or at least thought they did. But for every plan put into action, an alternative one is scrapped or kept hidden for future use. And if any of the plans below had been used, our history would have changed entirely.

10.In 1942, a series of meetings took place between the war planners of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy. Their forces had already occupied a vast portion of the Pacific, and Australia was the next obvious target. The navy proposed a limited invasion of northern Australia to prevent British and American forces from using it as a base. The army rejected this plan as they were convinced it would turn into a war of attrition. The army command would actually have preferred to stage a full-scale invasion, but the sheer size of the Australian continent would require 10 divisions—a number they would not be able to produce while most of their troops were stationed in China. Transporting and supplying them would also be a logistical nightmare.

Instead, they proposed a plan to encircle Australia, called Operation FS. By occupying eastern New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the New Caledonia-Fiji Islands Australia would be fully blockaded and forced to surrender. Neither the invasion nor the encirclement ever took place, as the US Navy would cripple the Japanese in a series of decisive battles across the Pacific.

9.An Allied Invasion One Year Earlier Than D-Day

In 1942, General Dwight Eisenhower came up with a plan for early invasion of Germany. Dubbed Operation Round-up, the plan would see Allied forces land in France as early as 1943. The goal was to relieve pressure on the Soviets by forcing Germany to fight a two-front war. However, British planners believed that the attack was premature, as German defenses were still too formidable for the forces they had available. The attack was postponed in favor of Operation Torch, which was aimed at a softer target—North Africa. From there, the Allies would eventually make their way into Italy. Operation Roundup was implemented a year later, in the form of Operation Overlord

8.Hitler’s Plan To Invade Switzerland

After the resounding victory over France in 1940, Hitler quickly ordered his generals to prepare a plan for the invasion of Switzerland. Called Operation Tannenbaum (German for “pine”), the campaign initially called for 21 German divisions, but was later reduced to 11 coming in from the north and 15 Italian divisions in the south. Fortunately, Hitler, who hated the Swiss to the point of calling their nation a “pimple in the face of Europe,” never gave the go-ahead to invade. It’s presumed that his attention had turned toward the Soviet Union and Britain.

As for the Swiss, they were clearly prepared to fight to the death. The entire population had been armed and more than 400,000 men mobilized to fight since the start of the war. The famous Swiss General Henri Guisan adopted the strategy called defense du reduit. The Swiss would initially defend their borders, before retreating into several fortresses in the Alps, where they would fight to the last man. A protracted guerrilla war on the cold mountain slopes of Switzerland would have cost the Axis Powers dearly.


7.Germany’s Invasion Of Britain

Hitler also planned to invade Great Britain after defeating France. Operation Seelowe (German for Sea Lion) would have mobilized 160,000 German soldiers aboard 2,000 barges to cross the English Channel. However, his generals were afraid of the British Royal Navy and Air Force and argued that air superiority should be established first. The Luftwaffe tried to destroy the RAF in a series of aerial battles over a three-month period which came to be known as the Battle of Britain. The British decisively beat the Germans back and the invasion was canceled indefinitely. This major setback influenced Hitler to go east toward the Soviet Union.

6.Britain And France’s Air Strike On The Soviet Union

Shortly before World War II started, Britain and France were already concerned about the Soviet Union supplying oil to Germany. Both countries had just signed a non-aggression pact, allowing Germany to start the war without Soviet interference.

In response, British and French planners developed a plan, dubbed Operation Pike, to severely cripple the Soviet economy by bombing key oil facilities. The oil shortage would also undermine the German war effort. They concluded that the best targets would be the oil fields of Azerbaijan, which were within striking distance of British and French bombers stationed in the Middle East. In April 1940, the bombers did actually reach their targets, but no bombing occurred. Instead, they decided to use their airpower to threaten the Soviets over supplying oil to the Nazis.

After Germany invaded the Low Countries and France in 1940, the plan was shelved indefinitely. The British feared that had the attack occurred, the Soviets would have sided with the Germans.

5.Japan’s Own Soviet Invasion Plan

As early as 1937, the Japanese had already planned a series of operations to take Soviet territories in the Far East, particularly Siberia. During an Imperial Conference in July 1941, the Japanese agreed that they would invade Soviet territory only if Germany’s own invasion of the Soviet Union was going well. The Soviets would have been forced to fight a two-front war against the Germans in the west and the Japanese in the east. Though the Japanese and Soviets had a neutrality pact, neither side trusted the other, and both continued to station large armies along their border.

The Japanese Army, which held a hokushin-ron or “northward advance” policy, aggressively pushed for the declaration of war against the USSR. They argued that they could take the Soviet Far East territories easily, since the Soviets were too busy fighting the Germans in Europe. However, an earlier defeat against the Soviets in 1939 greatly discredited that position. Additionally, the Germans were being slowly beaten back by the Soviets. In the end, military officials picked the Japanese Navy and their nanshin-ron or “southward advance” view, a move that would lead to war with the United States

4.Germany Planned To Invade Gibraltar And Force Spain Into The War

In 1940, the Nazis, smarting from their failure to pave the way for the invasion of Britain by destroying the Royal Air Force, hatched a plan to take the British stronghold of Gibraltar. By seizing Gibraltar, located at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula, Germany could prevent the Royal Navy from operating in the Mediterranean and completely cut off Britain’s supply lines from the Suez Canal. They would try to starve the British into surrender.

Code-named Operation Felix, the invasion required sending German troops into neutral Spain. Top government officials between the two sides held a series of discussions on the proposal. Adolf Hitler even personally asked Spanish dictator Francisco Franco for his support. Franco ultimately turned him down, since the arrival of German troops would mean Spain entering the war on Germany’s side. He was more afraid of a British invasion than he was of the Fuhrer. Hitler would continue to consider Operation Felix even after his forces had invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

3.Japan Intended To Strike The US With Chemical Bombs

In the closing days of the war, Unit 731, Japan’s feared biological and chemical warfare unit, planned a deadly chemical attack on the United States. Kamikaze bombers loaded with plague bombs would target a poorly defended but densely populated area. The chosen target was San Diego, California. The mission, called Operation Cherry Blossoms in the Night, would be carried out on September 22, 1945.

By this time the Japanese Navy was a spent force and had to rely on ingenuity to carry out the mission. To get the bomber within striking range it decided to use its latest creation—the submarine aircraft carrier. This was a huge submarine that carried a single airplane on its hangar. The sub could sail undetected close enough to launch the plane. The attack had no military value but was seen as a last-ditch attempt to dissuade the US from invading the Japanese mainland. The plan was never carried out, as the Americans beat them to it with the atomic bomb.

2.The US Would Have Invaded Japan

In April 1945, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff appointed General Douglas MacArthur to lead the final invasion force against Japan. Code-named Operation Downfall, the plan called for a whopping 2.5 million soldiers. The plan itself was divided into two parts: Operation Olympic and Operation Coronet. Both would have been larger than the Normandy D-day landings. Given that the Japanese were prepared to fight to the death, the Allies were willing to use chemical warfare.

Fortunately, Japan surrendered on August 15 after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If Operation Downfall had happened, the number of casualties would have been horrifying: It has been estimated that America would have suffered between 400,000 and 800,000 killed and as many as four million wounded, while the Japanese would have taken 10 million casualties.

1.Churchill’s Plans For World War III

After Germany’s defeat, Europe was now divided between the Allies in the west and the Soviets in the east. Winston Churchill did not trust Stalin to liberate the countries his forces occupied, and so he and his military planners prepared Operation Unthinkable, which would have pitted the Allied forces against Soviet troops across Europe. Hostilities would begin on July 1, 1945 and involve re-arming 100,000 German soldiers to join the Allies. He also wanted the US to use the atomic bomb should the Soviets refuse to surrender. Churchill’s plans never transpired, as the Americans were too weary for another war. In a cable sent from the White House, US President Harry Truman told him the US would not help him drive the Russians from Eastern Europe.

http://listverse.com/2013/09/17/10-alternative-world-war-ii-plans-that-would-have-changed-history/

Offline Chieftain

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Re: 10 Alternative World War II Plans That Would Have Changed History
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2014, 09:23:08 PM »
I have a couple of books that detail the plans for Operation Downfall, the overall invasion of Japan.  Operation Olympic was to be the opposed invasion of the Island of Kyushu and the follow on Operation Coronet was the planned invasion of the Kanto Plain and the Japanese mainland.  Only if Olympic succeeded could Coronet be attempted, and even the most optimistic projections showed a million allied casualties and millions of Japanese civilians killed. 

Had Operation Downfall become necessary, and the planning was well advanced at the time of the Japanese surrender, it would have been the biggest humanitarian catastrophe man ever came up with.

I read a novel years ago....the plot was that the Trinity atomic bomb test failed.  The tower was struck by lightning and it caused the bomb to fizzle, setting the Manhattan Project back a year, and giving the green light to Operation Downfall.  You can imagine how bloody it would have been.  Scary stuff.



« Last Edit: January 20, 2014, 09:23:44 PM by Chieftain »

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Re: 10 Alternative World War II Plans That Would Have Changed History
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2014, 09:25:31 PM »
I have a couple of books that detail the plans for Operation Downfall, the overall invasion of Japan.  Operation Olympic was to be the opposed invasion of the Island of Kyushu and the follow on Operation Coronet was the planned invasion of the Kanto Plain and the Japanese mainland.  Only if Olympic succeeded could Coronet be attempted, and even the most optimistic projections showed a million allied casualties and millions of Japanese civilians killed. 

Had Operation Downfall become necessary, and the planning was well advanced at the time of the Japanese surrender, it would have been the biggest humanitarian catastrophe man ever came up with.

I read a novel years ago....the plot was that the Trinity atomic bomb test failed.  The tower was struck by lightning and it caused the bomb to fizzle, setting the Manhattan Project back a year, and giving the green light to Operation Downfall.  You can imagine how bloody it would have been.  Scary stuff.

I have a book on Operation Downfall. I know a gentleman who was slated to be part of the invasion force

Offline Chieftain

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Re: 10 Alternative World War II Plans That Would Have Changed History
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2014, 09:29:48 PM »
I have a book on Operation Downfall. I know a gentleman who was slated to be part of the invasion force

yep...I know a few people who had Dads and Uncles who would have been knee deep in it too had the war not ended when it did.  I dated a girl for a while whose Dad was a waist gunner on a B-25, and his unit was already moving from Europe toward the Pacific when the war ended.  A lot of us alive today would not be here now because our dads would have been killed in the invasion.  Sobering thought....


Offline PzLdr

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Re: 10 Alternative World War II Plans That Would Have Changed History
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2014, 08:00:36 AM »
Sea Lion was killed before its birth by the Norwegian campaign. German naval losses, including three cruisers and half Germany's destroyers guaranteed that the German Navy was incapable of supporting an invasion of England on ANY scale.
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Re: 10 Alternative World War II Plans That Would Have Changed History
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2014, 02:45:03 PM »
Sea Lion was killed before its birth by the Norwegian campaign. German naval losses, including three cruisers and half Germany's destroyers guaranteed that the German Navy was incapable of supporting an invasion of England on ANY scale.

If the Luftwaffe continued the pounding on the airfields and radar stations they may had have a chance.

Offline mountaineer

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Re: 10 Alternative World War II Plans That Would Have Changed History
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2014, 03:43:03 PM »
I have a book on Operation Downfall. I know a gentleman who was slated to be part of the invasion force
That would have been my father-in-law and my father (thought I'm not sure where he was at that point in his recovery from injuries suffered during the Okinawa fighting). 

Every time I see another documentary on the History Channel or the Military Channel about the murder plots against Hitler, I think about what might have been. If only he'd been killed years earlier ...
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Re: 10 Alternative World War II Plans That Would Have Changed History
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2014, 03:52:38 PM »
Take a wee peek beyond the War. Operation Gladio springs to mind (My father in law was hugely involved in that.)
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Offline PzLdr

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Re: 10 Alternative World War II Plans That Would Have Changed History
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2014, 11:45:34 PM »
If the Luftwaffe continued the pounding on the airfields and radar stations they may had have a chance.

Not really. They had no escorts for either the original Army plan, or the reduced one. Plus, they had no transports. And the Luftwaffe didn't have the lift capacity to move enough supplies.The heaviest units available for fire support had 11" guns [SCHARNHORST and GNIESENAU]. Re-supply would have been damn  nigh impossible. And the Brits would have held nothing back on defense. And the German Army had no stomach for the operation.
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Offline Chieftain

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Re: 10 Alternative World War II Plans That Would Have Changed History
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2014, 11:49:52 PM »
Not really. They had no escorts for either the original Army plan, or the reduced one. Plus, they had no transports. And the Luftwaffe didn't have the lift capacity to move enough supplies.The heaviest units available for fire support had 11" guns [SCHARNHORST and GNIESENAU]. Re-supply would have been damn  nigh impossible. And the Brits would have held nothing back on defense. And the German Army had no stomach for the operation.

And that is probably the most significant point about why the Germans lost the war.  It wasn't just the German army that had no stomach, it was all of the conscript troops from conquered countries that didn't have a stomach for the Nazis and their plans either.


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Re: 10 Alternative World War II Plans That Would Have Changed History
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2014, 12:21:31 AM »
I have a book on Operation Downfall. I know a gentleman who was slated to be part of the invasion force

My father was such a man, a 19 yr. old Marine, Okinawa invasion vet, wounded after 45 days, recovered in Honolulu.

Ready to go back to full duty, but the war ended.
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Re: 10 Alternative World War II Plans That Would Have Changed History
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2014, 02:07:32 AM »
If the Luftwaffe continued the pounding on the airfields and radar stations they may had have a chance.

In August, the Luftwaffe started to attack Fighter Command's airfields, operation rooms and radar stations - the idea being that the RAF could be destroyed on the ground so that the Luftwaffe need not fight them in the air. Without radar the RAF would be seriously hampered in terms of early warning and the destruction of operation rooms would cut off communications between fighter bases and those at the heart of the battle controlling the movement of fighter planes. Destroyed runways would hamper the chances of a fighter plane taking off.On Sunday August 18, the Luftwaffe launched the biggest raid on the Battle of Britain on RAF installations in the south of England. In the two weeks from August 24 to September 6, the Luftwaffe committed a 1000 planes day against the British.From August 23rd to September 6th, the Luftwaffe started night time bombing raids on cities. The RAF was also badly hit with 6 out of 7 main fighter bases in south-eastern England being put out of action. Biggen Hill was wrecked. However, for all this apparent success, the Luftwaffe was losing more planes than the RAF was - 1000 German losses to 550 RAF Fighter command was stretching to the limit. Pilot casualties were crippling, and those who survived exhausted and battle wary, were called upon to fly day in and day out,time and time again, in order maintain an adequate defense. Meanwhile the men on the ground, had to maintain the communication and bases operational. Dowding admitted 11 Group's efficiency was impaired. The German refocus on London was not critical.Other scholars assert that this period was the most dangerous of all. In the book The Narrow Margin, published in 1961, historians Derek Wood and Derek Dempster  believed that the two weeks from August 24- September 6 represented a real danger. According to them, 295 fighters had been totally destroyed and 171 badly damaged, against a total output of 269 new and repaired Spitfires and Hurricanes. They assert that 103 pilots were killed or missing and 128 were wounded, which represented a total wastage of 120 pilots per week out of a fighting strength of just fewer than 1,000. In their assessment, the RAF was losing the battle. Denis Richards, in his 1953 contribution to the official British account History of the Second World War, agreed that lack of pilots, especially experienced ones, was the RAF's greatest problem. The turning point was the shift of bomber tactics on September 7 when bombing turned on London. The reason the Luftwaffe bombed London because the RAF conducted a night raid on August 26 and bombed the German capitol. The order came from Churchill in response of enemy bombers offloading high explosives on a London suburb. On September 7, Fighter command was on the ropes. With the change of tactics, they were able to patch up the damaged parts of Fighter Command  and recover its strength with a new injection of pilots and planes.  On September 15th, it was supposed to be the day to deliver the knockout blow.There were a long series of raids that day but the day did not go so well for the invaders.On September 15th came the last major engagement of the battle. On that day, the Luftwaffe lost 60 planes while the RAF lost 28. On September 14th a meeting was called about the situation in Berlin. On September 17th, Hitler called off Operation Sea Lion.More than 1700 Luftwaffe (German air force) planes were destroyed. The 2662 German casualties included many experienced aircrew.

http://www.funtrivia.com/en/History/Battle-of-Britain-20070.html
« Last Edit: January 22, 2014, 02:14:21 AM by SPQR »


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