The most important battle of World War II?



  • Note that I did not include the Doolittle Raid or dropping the Atomic Bomb on Japan.  Obviously the use of atomic weapons changed the course of human history, but the war was pretty much over at that point and the Axis situation was hopeless.

    I’m asking for what you consider the single most important battle of the war.  The battle that altered history for good or ill.

    Thanks.



  • It was of course the battle of Moscow, since it told who would win in the main and decisive front, and making all other fronts irrelevant



  • Edited to include the air war over Britain.


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    I agree the battle for Moscow was critical.  But I believe the battle for Britain was far more important.

    Had the axis won over Britain, and either starved/surrendered her out, or subsequently conquered it.  The axis would have had total domination over all of Europe, with no need to keep anything in check, and the subsequent battle of Moscow would have been a decisive axis victory.

    German air power would have been entirely thrown at the Reds, and I think it would have been enough…



  • @Gargantua:

    I agree the battle for Moscow was critical.  But I believe the battle for Britain was far more important.

    Had the axis won over Britain, and either starved/surrendered her out, or subsequently conquered it.  The axis would have had total domination over all of Europe, with no need to keep anything in check, and the subsequent battle of Moscow would have been a decisive axis victory.

    German air power would have been entirely thrown at the Reds, and I think it would have been enough…

    Nahhh… I don’t agree

    Lets imagine the Germans did conquer England too in the 1940 campaign, what would it change ? Would Germany suddenly get all the Middle East oil delivered on their doorstep ? Or would they be stuck with a worthless island with 50 million hungry Brits who did not grow their own food, but had to be fed by their Conquer ? It would for sure make for a fast and early US entry into the war.

    How would this change the Barbarossa campaign ? Would they need less troops for occupation duty in France, Norway and the Balkans, or more, now that they had to occupy UK too? Would Germany still need to build an Atlantic Wall to keep the Yankees and Canadians out of Europe ?

    but for the sake of discussion, lets say a possible peace treaty with UK and France would keep USA and Canada out, and give Germany 50 more divisions to use in Russia, how would that turn out ? In the historical Barbarossa they were not short of men, they were short of supply and oil. The railroads and dirtroads in Russia could barely supply the historical force, how could they succeed in supplying 50 more divisions ? The Germans did not loose the Battle of Moscow because they were short of men and tanks, they lost because Hitler made a U-turn and redirected all his combat forces into…Ukraine,…and not because the cornfields of Ukraine suddenly was identified as the ultimate decisive spot in the world, but because Hitler suddenly got fixed with the idea that Moscow was a trap. And even if Ukraine was a great victory, at this point the Germans were for sure short of supply and oil, since in the winter a truck use seven times more fuel to drive a set distance.

    So what I don’t get, is why should Hitler not do the same mistake again, if UK was occupied or not ?



  • Personally, I’d have to say it’s Midway.  If the US and not the Japanese carriers had been destroyed, if Midway had been occupied and another attack on Hawaii organized from there…

    I think World War II would have gone very different.


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    Quick notes on a London subdued,

    • NO lend lease would come to Russia
    • all axis aircraft and ships would be available to assist in the supply and seizure of critical territories, Leningrad, Crimea, Stalingrad, Caucusus oil
    • Total control of the middle east would ensue
    • Total control of the Mediterranean would be available for Italy, and potentially spain.
    • Pressue would be significantly reduced on Japan, and the possibility of a 2nd front war would be even more reasonable

    In short The fall of Moscow would be inevitable if London fell.

    The theatres should really be separated for this question.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    What you are saying makes a lot of sense Garg.

    That said, I just wonder how true to life (see 1940 Global) a successful  Sealion impacts Germany’s ability to prosecute and complete a Barbarossa. Yes, England is subdued in the Med, but what about the East? How many planes has Germany lost?
    Would Stalin have attacked a weak Eastern border and driven West? (Horrible thought, I know.)



  • @Gargantua:

    Quick notes on a London subdued,

    • NO lend lease would come to Russia

    Only 10 % of the LendLease come through Murmansk. Most of it come through Persia and 25 % come through Vladivostok in the Sovjet Far East. So if London is subdued, then Russia lose the 10 % from Murmansk.



  • @Gargantua:

    Quick notes on a London subdued,

    • Total control of the middle east would ensue
    • Total control of the Mediterranean would be available for Italy, and potentially spain.

    The theatres should really be separated for this question.

    So you are sure that Churchill would never dare to establish a government in exile in Canada, so he could keep on commanding and supplying the Mediterean units from Canada, USA, South Africa, India, Australia and the other Commonwealth countries ? You take for granted that the real war is like the A&A war, take the capital and you win the war ?



  • @robbie358:

    Personally, I’d have to say it’s Midway.�  If the US and not the Japanese carriers had been destroyed, if Midway had been occupied and another attack on Hawaii organized from there…

    I think World War II would have gone very different.

    Most historians say Midway changed the war because it proved that Japan was so weak that the US forces already present in the Pacific were strong enough to keep them at bay, so the main 80 % of US military production could be used against Germany. And come to think about it, Japan did build zero new warships during the war, US build 200 new Carriers. I figure a Japanese victory at Midway would have set back US one or two months. But what you say, is a totally new way of thinking, since now Japan would take Hawaii too, and from there walked ashore on the Western Coast and shoot down every Yankee one by one ? Just like in A&A when US is empty and you land one inf there, game over  😄


  • Customizer

    I voted Pearl Harbor because it sealed the deal officially for US entry into the war. Battle of Britain is tied evenly along with this, though happening earlier. It showed that yes the Nazi blitzkrieg was winning but the fight was not over yet. It also frustrated and diverted Hitler’s attention (IMO) to the east, Against another enemy and another front which could surpass German prowess in the field by sheer attrition and numerical superiority.



  • It’s definitely either Midway or Stalingrad.  I think it’s dismissive of the sacrifices that British, Russian, and American soldiers made to simply assume that the US could win the whole war by itself with it’s industrial might alone.

    No other battles decisively turned the tide of the war.  Before the Allied victories at Midway, Stalingrad, and El Alamein in 1942 it really did look like the Axis were going to win.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    I would have said Stalingrad, but then for me the war is a European affair, not an American (Pacific) one. I can see the arguments for Midway in the Pacific, but I am European.
    Stalingrad spelt the end of Hitler’s Eastern allies and Italy. After Stalingrad, it was all about getting out if the Axis alliance for the Satellite nations. Any units that survived were pulled West for defence of their own country. Germany was effectively on its own after Stalingrad.
    Winning  at Stalingrad would have kept these nations loyal, ever hopeful of final victory.



  • @Gargantua:

    I agree the battle for Moscow was critical.  But I believe the battle for Britain was far more important.

    Had the axis won over Britain, and either starved/surrendered her out, or subsequently conquered it.  The axis would have had total domination over all of Europe, with no need to keep anything in check, and the subsequent battle of Moscow would have been a decisive axis victory.

    German air power would have been entirely thrown at the Reds, and I think it would have been enough…

    Good post, and I agree.

    In 1940, Britain produced more military aircraft than Germany. Had London fallen, that problem would have been solved. The aircraft factories were for the most part on the British isles themselves, not scattered about the empire.

    In addition, Hitler had needed to keep large numbers of soldiers tied up against the threat of a British Invasion, including half a million men in Norway alone. Taking Britain out of the picture would have eliminated that threat. With Britain out of the war, there would have been no nation to whom the United States could send Lend Lease shipments. That would have solved another of Germany’s problems, because even while the U.S. was still technically neutral, it was flooding Britain with truly staggering numbers of aircraft , to be used in the destruction of Germany’s cities. Taking Britain–or at least its home islands–out of the equation would have nipped that strategic threat in the bud.

    Below is a partial list of reasons why Hitler invaded the Soviet Union:

    1. He knew that in a long war, Britain and a technically neutral U.S. could greatly out produce Germany. He hoped that access to Soviet manpower, natural resources, and industrial potential would even the odds; allowing Germany to defend itself against Allied terror raids.
    2. He knew that the Soviet Union would invade Germany once Stalin had decided Germany had been sufficiently weakened by the Western democracies. He wanted to get that war out of the way early, before the Soviets were ready, and before the weight of the U.S. army had been brought to bear.

    The fall of Britain would have taken both those reasons for going to war against the Soviet Union off the table. Germany wouldn’t have needed Soviet industrial capacity and manpower to survive an air war; having just won the air war when it took Britain. Nor would a Soviet invasion have been inevitable, because Germany would have been too strong to seem like a tempting target. Hitler might have been able to get out of fighting the Soviet Union altogether. The war would have been all but over, except for disputes over who got to control Britain’s empire. It’s possible that Churchill–or his political successors–would have been open to negotiating a peace treaty at that point; rather than risking still more imperial possessions in yet more war with Germany.


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    @robbie358:

    I’m asking for what you consider the single most important battle of the war.  The battle that altered history for good or ill.

    Then I would say, the battle of Warshaw in '39.
    If the Germans would have lost that battle, war would have been over for Germany.
    Everthing else is just causing an extension of the war or to the war.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    The outcome of World War II hinged on many things, and the battles listed here were crucial in one way or another, so most of them would be defendable choices as being “most important” because it all depends on which decisive factor among many is being emphasized.  For instance, one could argue that the most dangerous Axis power was Germany (because of the sheer scale of its military capabilities, if nothing else), and thus that the outcome of the war hinged on whether Germany either won or lost.  Germany being primarily a land power, the land war with Germany was therefore the crucial element of the war.  The biggest component of that land war (in terms of geography, numbers of troops involved, and overall ferocity) was the German-Soviet war on the Eastern front, so that can be described as the decisive theatre.  And on that theatre, it can be argued that the vital turning point was Kursk because the failure of Operation Citadel marked the point at which Germany lost its capacity to wage large-scale offensive warfare in the East; from Kursk onward, the Soviets were in the driver’s seat from an offensive point of view, while the Germans spent the rest of the war defending and retreating.  So in this respect Kursk can be viewed as even more critical than Stalingrad, even though Stalingrad was itself a massively significant turning point in the same theatre.


  • '10

    I think the “Battle of the Atlantic” is missing from the list.

    This was the longest and most crucial battle that determined the outcome of the war.

    Jeremy



  • I’m torn between Midway and Pearl.

    Pearl was important for the fact that the Japanese f’d up.  Think about all the targets they had, and what they didnt’t hit.  The Fuel tanks, the shipyard, the deployed carriers that left a week prior to the attack, the Sub Base….Subs were responsible for 50% of the gross tonnage sunk during the war, and that was taking into account having nonfunctioning torpedoes for the first two years of the war.  The shipyard was responsible for repairing the Yorktown, which would have never been repaired in 72 hours after her battle from Coral Sea, which means Enterprise and Hornet would have been on their own at Midway??? The same Yorktown which was thought to be sunk twice during that battle…The fuel tanks didn’t get buried (a lot are by the H2/H1 interchange, but you don’t see them now!), till after the attacks.

    Midway has the significance though.  This pushed back the Japanese fleet back to Wake.  This allowed the stage to be set for Guadacanal and giving the Allies a two prong attack to the Japanese fleets.  By losing four carriers, the Japanese offense was stymied.  And we only lost a carrier that wasn’t even supposed to be at the battle…they lost 10x the men, and double the aircraft.  They lost a lot of experience, while we gained it.

    I admit, having been stationed at Pearl and now Japan, I lean towards the Pacific side more…but nobody can deny what the Russians did was any less significant.


  • 2017 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Midway would not change the Pacific War. The productive capabilities of America would destroy anything Japan had.

    Japan could only hope to avoid war with US. Four Carriers is not the difference between victory and defeat.

    Moscow battle is won early ( in 1941) could have resulted in Victory as long as it resulted in destruction of significant Soviet Armies ( another encirclement).

    England could have been dispatched easily when the combined armies returned to the western front. Germany would first dismantle UK colonies and build Z plan fleet after consolidating the new economic assets.



  • it would have to be the attack on pearl harbor…it brought the US into the war…if the US does NOT enter world war ii…do the allies win? Do the math!



  • @RJL518:

    it would have to be the attack on pearl harbor…it brought the US into the war…if the US does NOT enter world war ii…do the allies win? Do the math!

    In the spring of 1941, the German Army consisted of 150 divisions. Of those, 100 were used in the invasion of the Soviet Union. By the summer of '41, 80% of German men between the ages of 20 - 30 were in the military. The remaining 20% were considered too vital to German industry to be released for military service.

    By the late fall of '41, the Red Army consisted of a staggering 600 divisions. For most of the war, it was able to add new soldiers at the very rapid pace of 500,000 men a month.

    The Battle of Stalingrad occurred in late '42–long before the United States had invaded Normandy, or even Italy. Even without American involvement, it would have been very difficult for Germany to decisively win on its eastern front.

    Japan was caught in an unwinnable land war in China. However, no military power other than the United States was in a position to restrain Japan’s naval ambitions. Had the United States not entered the war, Japan could have built and maintained an island empire. But there would have been sharp limits to its ability to run rampant on the mainland.



  • Stalingrad, no contest. No matter what Brits, Yanks or Canucks would like to believe, Russia won WWII. They were by far the most crucial to the war effort. If Britain had fallen, Churchill could have continued fighting based off Ottawa. As for the US, by the time they entered the war, it was already over and it was just a matter of playing it through and dividing up the spoils.



  • @Zombie69:

    Stalingrad, no contest. No matter what Brits, Yanks or Canucks would like to believe, Russia won WWII. They were by far the most crucial to the war effort. If Britain had fallen, Churchill could have continued fighting based off Ottawa. As for the US, by the time they entered the war, it was already over and it was just a matter of playing it through and dividing up the spoils.

    No matter what Brits, Yanks or Canucks would like to believe, Russia won WWII.

    This is true. To the victor go the spoils. In 1944 - ‘45, the Soviet Union gained control over the vast majority of Europe, North Korea, and a significant portion of Manchuria. The Soviet presence in parts of China gave the Chinese communists a safe haven from which to operate. That safe haven proved a key factor in the communists’ ultimate victory in China’s civil war.

    Of the military casualties Germany suffered, over 80% were inflicted by the Soviets. That said, the Western democracies provided valuable assistance toward achieving the Soviets’ victory during WWII. A significant portion of the German Army was tied up on its southern and western fronts, thereby preventing it from throwing its full strength against the U.S.S.R. A large portion of Germany’s production was dedicated either to producing fighter aircraft (to defend against the Allied bomber offensive) or industrializing (to counter the long-term threat of increased Allied air raids); as opposed to throwing everything they had into decisively defeating the Soviets in '42 or '43. The Soviets may have won the war, but their task would have been far more difficult without Western democratic assistance.



  • @KurtGodel7:

    @RJL518:

    it would have to be the attack on pearl harbor…it brought the US into the war…if the US does NOT enter world war ii…do the allies win? Do the math!

    In the spring of 1941, the German Army consisted of 150 divisions. Of those, 100 were used in the invasion of the Soviet Union. By the summer of '41, 80% of German men between the ages of 20 - 30 were in the military. The remaining 20% were considered too vital to German industry to be released for military service.

    By the late fall of '41, the Red Army consisted of a staggering 600 divisions. For most of the war, it was able to add new soldiers at the very rapid pace of 500,000 men a month.

    The Battle of Stalingrad occurred in late '42–long before the United States had invaded Normandy, or even Italy. Even without American involvement, it would have been very difficult for Germany to decisively win on its eastern front.

    Japan was caught in an unwinnable land war in China. However, no military power other than the United States was in a position to restrain Japan’s naval ambitions. Had the United States not entered the war, Japan could have built and maintained an island empire. But there would have been sharp limits to its ability to run rampant on the mainland.

    America launched operation torch in north africa in november of 42…something the ussr wanted the americans to do help releive pressure on the ussr during stalingrad…

    If america does not get into the war…the japanese claim the pacific…the germans woudl have kicked the british out of north africa…and of course normandy does NOT take place opening up the west front of ww2…and of course…NO atom bomb…at least not by the USA…do u think germany could held off the russians long enough for them to get THEIR atom bomb into the air?  Everyone seems to forget, germany was working their OWN manhattan project…the US just beat them to it…

    so i ask again…if america does NOT get into world war 2…do the allies win?  thats why pearl harbor was a HUGE day for america…not just for ww2…but that day changes america into the dominant power they are even to this day!

    try this on for size…play axis and allies WITHOUT the USA…they remain a neutral country unless attacked by either germany or japan…can the UK and USSR win this game?  99.9 i think the answer is no.


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