Sir John Valentine Carden Survives. Part 2.

If the IJA is actually pulling back, they truly must be desperate. I am guessing that the generals in charge are reasonably confident that the most fanatical ambitous junior officers who might otherwise attempt a coup took part in the earlier fighting and are now missing presumed good riddance?
Viven the invasion of Rhodes has happened, is there an AAR available> And how will this influence the UK/Britcom thinking?
Back to the subject of Tanks. It's coming up to Summer '42 and I'm looking forward to finding out what Butterflies have impacted German Tank development / doctrine. We should be finding out soon.. Since we're not in the space aliens/ time portals section ie Allan has done an amazing job of small but plausible nudges having big effects ... we have to assume that German policy has responded - it would be sure fantasy to assume otherwise. And not just to physical deployment but development.

OTL Adolf has just had a birthday surpise game of pin the tail on the brand new Tiger Tank which he loved If this TL were exactly the same then the first heavy battalion would be formed right now and be (hurriedly by the Fuhrer) deployed in August , in very low numbers and with tanks that broke down a lot. Tiger only really makes combat debut later in the year , unfortunaly once mud and then Winter hits in the USSR and giving my Grandad a nasty shock in late '42 down in Libya. But.. what if , it or similar had been available in limited numbers only a few months earlier for Operation Blau, and with no Afrika distraction ? Even in small numbers - they would be in their element in a mud free Summer on the steppes popping whatever they liked, whenever they liked.

So - what could have changed ITTL and what would be the same? Well the change is - Germans have encoutered, and had their asses handed to them much earlier by heavier Allied Armour. Ok so they only got a taste of the Valiant in France and didn't get to keep one, but see it they did - in June 1940! They certainly felt the effect of superior tanks in late 1940/ early '41. It's a common myth that Jerry thought his tanks were so super great they didn't design anything else until the shock of KV-1s and T-34s in Summer '41. That certainly gave the impetous for what we know as the Tiger (and of course the Panther which took longer to develop but was a more balanced and manufacturible design) However both of these were based on work that Hanschel had down from '1937 onwards. If you take a look at the early protoytpes for the 30 ton "heavy" VK-30 and 36 ton VK-36 the first thing you will think is - Wow, looks like a Tiger. It just wasn't a priority. It was only in May 41 that a design - that had to be ready by June '42 was ordered. BEFORE Germany encounters the KV-1/ T-34 but way after the Valiant ITTL.

Hanshel won the design because of all the prior work. They did like Porsche's name "Tiger" and kept it though. I'm going to state that we'd be in the world of Fantasy if ITTL the Germans didn't give it higher priority sooner. There is nothing to stop the Tiger (or it's equivalent - almost certainly without the cool name though) being in production, deployed and ready now in May '42 - a mere 3 to 6 months earlier. But with devasting consequences for the Soviets.

Why nothing to stop that sooner? Is there the politcal will./ A need/ technical know how and capacity? Well- political er Hello , Adolf does like big tanks so he sure as hell ain't saying no. Now the Panther was a more advanced design for sure. The slopped armour, the much better Pak /KwK 7.5cm etc. You're not going to see 100s of those in 42. so lets take that off the table for now.

The Tiger though used the 88mm, well known, widely availabe. Initially the slightly underpowered but still effective HL210 then the HL230 engine. The armour was conventional. The suspension , flaws and all, had been developed from '37 on those heavy protos. The only limits to 6 months, or even a year earlier are decisions on engine and transmission. The Engine initially was the aluminium V-12 HL210, not Maybach's first V-12 but it's biggest by far at 21ish L vs 11Lish. Could that have been developed earlier? Absolutely, in fact designs and pre testing were done - there just weren't ordered or a producton need until May'41. If it couldn't then -since the need and political will are there.. then we actually end up with a Butterfly that could spell real problems for the Allies.

See, Maybach was one of the major bottlenecks for German Tanks. Pretty much (yes you can find exceptions) all the engines that mattered for all the tanks that mattered (especially the Heavy ones) , came from Maybach. However if we assume the same response OTL but sooner based ITTL events - the need for a Heavy /Tiger-like tank 6 to 18 months earlier may coincide with the period where Herr Goering is very out of favour (late 40s post BoB) and the Wehrmacht ( driving around Paris) is not. That means they could do exactly what the British and Americans did - use de-rated aircraft engines. Sure , they were short of them too, but they made a lot more. The Tiger has a front sprokect drive like a Sherman but a better transmission (more on that later). It has the height for 9 cylinder radial. So what would options be in 40/41. Well the obvious one would be BMW who , champions of the I-6 and heros to the German air force in WW1, were initially left a bit on the sideline. Of course the Fw-190 changed that but BMW had been producing the 27-L 9 cylinder Radial P&W Hornet under licence for 10 years. For Civilian and German Transport. Thousands of them, way more by 41 than Mayabch ever made of the HL230. It was still in production but in dwindlingnumbers. Tools made, capacity ready to go. You want 100, 500 ,1000 of them.. no problem. It's a perfect engine if you're a German in 1940-41 looking for a 700hp ish compact , cheap, reliable, tank engine. (rated to over 1000hp with the supercharger - well remove that you are in business.) BMW would be delighted, even Goering won't mind too much since he's not using BMW much in 40/41.

So engine is available earlier.(- either maybach or , oh shit now the Tiger is cheaper , more reliable -except in the desert - where oh look it's not fighting) Everything else is. Will is there due to event ITTL . Only significant change may be the transmission. Tiger transmsion was very Merrit Brown/ Churchill Tank like, it enabled Tiger to turn on the spot and whilst it could do the Brake -turn , it usually didn't on account of weighing as much as .... a Tiger Tank. Would that transmission have been developed enough to deploy earlier? Maybe. It was in development with few resources until hurried.

So this "Lion" Panzer VI - is going to look a lot like a Tiger, same Turret, devastaing 88mm in '42, same low pressure but maintainance nightmare tracks, same flat but heavy and effective armour, maybe same or , much better from production point of view engine. Maybe a more traditonal transmission which might result in a bit slower/ less maneuverable but in turn might be rear sprocket as a result - which would make the "Duh! why did no one do that - obviousness of puttin a radial flat -with ariflow down and out and lowering height, possible. But lets be conservative and assuem they just took the supercharger off , riped out the V-12 and all the cooling and stuck it in. COLD for the crew in Winter ..but youre in a Tiger takng out the soviets like a Turkey shoot - so stop complaining!

Lastly - Pak 7.5cm. Valiant success is going to lead to more of these deployed in Summer '42. It has been in development Pre-war and hurried after Barborossa. Rommel's little adventure ITTL is sure to result in more being availabel. Very bad news for Zhukov and co.

In short - being a Soviet Tanker was awful in '42. ITTL it's somehow going to be a lot worse.
So - what could have changed ITTL and what would be the same?
Making the big mistake of missing why the Tiger was bad in the East, logistics. A combination of its weight and that it drank fuel, limited how it could be used as it really did need good roads to move around, these being rare where the Germans actually needed it. Its overkill for anything they were facing, an earlier and fixed ie reliable, Panther would be a better bet.
The Germans could go the other way, deciding after reviewing the reports they have of the battles in North Africa that the uprated PZ.3 and PZ.4 models acquitted themself well against the British tanks but lacked the numbers and logistical support to be able to turn the tide against the flanking 8th Army.

This makes the Wehrmacht double down on up armouring and up gunning the PZ.3 and 4 with increased production of Stug versions of both tanks.
5 May 1942. Rhodes.
5 May 1942. Rhodes.

The Italian prisoners were comfortably settled in tents beside the airfield. The Australian guards were on pretty good terms with their captives. The Italian troops were from 9th Infantry Regiment, who’d had the courtesy to surrender after a brief exchange of fire. There weren’t as many prisoners from the 201st Legion of the Blackshirts, they’d decided that the glory of Rome had to be honoured, even to the blood. The Australians, generally a pretty sporting bunch, were less than impressed by the fight they put up. The Fascists weren’t terribly good at soldiering, but they did seem to be good at dying for no good reason.

Overall, the whole invasion and capture of Rhodes took 72 hours, from first bombardment, to the cessation of hostilities. There had been a few times where the Australians had been challenged by brave Italian soldiers, but mostly it had been a bit of a walk-over. A Greek brigade were expected to arrive and start to take over some of the Australian’s role. The Australians were happy enough to sit back and enjoy a bit of sunshine and a splash about in the sea. There hadn’t been much food or drink on the island, the Royal Navy blockade had seen to that. Many of the blokes had been looking forward to a bit of wine from the Italian stores, but little or none was to be found.
The ’Regina’ Regiment’s men weren’t in great shape physically; they’d been on limited rations. The Australians had noted that the civilian population generally were gaunt too, but it didn’t look like the Italian troops had leaned on the civilians too hard. The same couldn’t be said for the Blackshirts, and part of the reason for there being fewer prisoners was that the locals had taken a measure of retaliation for ill-treatment. The Italian settlers, planted to make the island more Italian, were generally better off than their Greek neighbours, and it looked as if a few old scores had been settled unofficially with them too. The Italian POWs were being used to clear up the airfield, fill in bomb craters and generally help get it ready for the arrival of the RAF.

The Special Service Brigade, including B Squadron of the RAC’s Special Service Regiment, weren’t sitting back enjoying the weather like the Australians.
The Special Service Regiment’s involvement in the capture of Rhodes was of particular interest to the Combined Operations Staff that had accompanied Lord Louis Mountbatten. Each tank crew, having spent the usual amount of time servicing and replenishing their tanks, were being interviewed about their experience. In many cases the crew was being asked to walk over the ground where they’d come ashore and then the routes they had followed.

No tanks had been lost to enemy action. Two tanks had been swamped before coming ashore, with one fatality. Another three tanks had been unable to get off the beach under their own power. These were being recovered, and the reasons for their difficulties being examined. Another two tanks, both Tetrarchs, had thrown their tracks, and one Valiant II* had had a mechanical problem that rendered it useless during the fighting. These tanks were also being recovered and put back into service.

It was clear that the presence of the Valiant II* tanks in particular had been instrumental in the surrender of many Italian positions. They had nothing to counter the British tanks, and pretty much as soon as a tank came into view, the white flags appeared. The 6-pdr gun had its first battle experience, and the new HE shell for it had proven useful, but still lacking a satisfactory punch. There were no Italian armoured fighting vehicles on the island bar a few armoured cars, but these were starved of fuel, so saw no service except as immobile pill boxes. The Tetrarch DD Light Tanks found a niche for themselves as they were able to use their speed to give the reconnaissance Companies a strong back-up.

The Island of Karpathos (Scarpanto to the Italians) was the next to be targeted for liberation. The Italian garrison was primarily stationed around Pigadia. As with Rhodes, the garrison commander was approached to surrender his force without bloodshed. The island, like that of Rhodes had been blockaded, and the situation for both the garrison and civilian population was approaching starvation. The Italian Garrison, at the first explosions of the 15-inch shells fired from the guns of two battleships, surrendered. The Special Service Brigade approached the landing and occupation of the island as another chance to fine hone their techniques.

Small British commando forces also landed on Kasos, Halki, Symi, Nisyros and Tilos after negotiating the surrender of the small Italian garrisons. The islands closer to the Greek mainland, which had been blockaded as completely would have to wait until the RAF could use the airfields on Rhodes to cover the advance of the fleet. The success of the operation, against Italian opposition, had much to be celebrated, but it was obvious that against a better prepared and equipped enemy, things would likely be a lot harder. It was unknown what political fall-out there would be in Rome, the loss of Rhodes and half the Dodecanese islands was yet another failure for Mussolini to face.
Enjoy your holiday.

So proper planning and overwhelming firepower which included 'we have tanks and you do not' made Rhodes something of a walkover. Something tells me that in future WWII comedies in this timeline, this stereotype will be even more exaggerated.
The Punches just keep coming for the Italians wonder if the Allies will start hearing something through the Swiss.
Not until Mussolini is gone which OTL didn't happen until the Allies reached Italian soil. Also the Italians are going to be very worried about German reactions and won't turn coat until they have at least some small hope allied blocking forces can come to their aid.