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Posted on Nov 10, 2008 in Stuff We Like

From the Collapse of France to Empire Total War – Top Forum Discussions

By Jason St. Just

What do the collapse of France in 1940 and the upcoming launch of the game Empire: Total War have in common? They are two of the hottest topics covered in Armchair General’s forums this week. Other noteworthy subjects deal with Germany’s only aircraft carrier – the “Graf Zeppelin” – and “Old War Horse” James Longstreet’s performance at Gettysburg. In our ACG Searchlight we invite you to do some reconnaissance in the jungles of our own Vietnam forum.

France: What went wrong?
Most of you probably can recall having seen the picture of Adolf Hitler as he proudly stands victorious in Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background. This is what came to my mind as I stumbled upon this thread in the World War II forum. The question that has been raised is why on earth did France collapse so early in the opening stages of the conflict?


Opinions differ, and the posts follow one after another at an amazing speed. Some say France was unprepared and its army outmoded; others simply argue that the nation was “unlucky.” Points of discussion include the strategies used by the two sides, the commanders, the politics and the numbers. However, all agree on one thing – it was a spectacular German victory!

The Graf Zeppelin Completed
The Graf Zeppelin was the only aircraft carrier constructed by the Germans in the Second World War. Launched unfinished in December 1938, it was never completed due to Hitler’s growing disinterest in the navy, and it never saw active service. Its ultimate fate was even less glorious: At the close of the war, Soviet ships and airplanes used it for target practice and subsequently sunk it off the coast of Poland in 1947. Most of our members on the Alternate Timelines forum consider the construction of the German carrier as a waste of time and resources. They almost unanimously agree that the Germans could never have competed with the British Royal Navy, which ruled the seas.

Empire: Total War
Whether it’s a computer game or a good, old-fashioned board game, we all love games here at ACG and it shows! The Total War series from Creative Assembly is one of the most popular game franchises of the last decade, and the announcement that Empire: Total War will be released in February 2009 has our Gaming forum members’ blood pumping faster. Instead of Ancient Rome or the Medieval Age, this new series will go 18th century on us, and players will be able to campaign in Europe, America, Africa and even the Indies! But no use in revealing more. Just check out the reactions of our impassioned members. While you’re at it, have a sneak peek at the breathtaking trailer.

Longstreet and the Battle of Gettysburg
In this thread the performance of one of the most renowned Confederate generals of America’s Civil War, James Longstreet, is evaluated. Although considered the “Grouchy” of Gettysburg by antebellum Americans and many 20th century historians, our experts are less inclined to point a finger at him. Some defend his performance, arguing that he brought forth some sound proposals on the positioning of the troops and the terrain, advice that Robert E. Lee refused to acknowledge. The in-depth knowledge that is shared here is amazing. The thread almost reads as a historical novel, as if the members had been there personally on those fateful days in July 1863. Certainly worth the read.

ACG Searchlight!
One of the most well-known conflicts that occurred during the Cold War has earned its place in this week’s ACG Searchlight. It is considered to be one of the most controversial struggles of the 20th century, kept alive by a seemingly infinite number of books, documentaries, and movies. Even after a quarter century, it is still a very complicated and sensitive subject.

The Vietnam War was the longest conflict in United States history, lasting from 1965 till 1975. On the surface just a petty internal squabble between North and South Vietnam, under its crust the cause of the struggle was much more complicated. The North was supported by the communist governments of China and the USSR; the South was supported by the democracies of the West in a bitter clash of ideologies.

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1 Comment

  1. The collapse, or certainly the rapid collapse of France in 1940, could be laid at the feet of General Gamelin and the French command structure, whose misunderstanding of how war had changed proved to be a great detriment to the French Army’s corps and division commanders-a good number of which knew what they were doing. Thed lack of an efficient signals and communications network didnt help, either.

    In 1944 the roles were reversed, with the Germans mirroring the French in 1940-too many layers of command, disrupted communications, overly dependent on fixed fortifications, outclassed in the air, having the biggest and best tanks but too many units dependent on horses and the rails for mobility- If the French held held there would be no Battle of Britain, no involvement in the war by Italy (meaning no desert war and no Rommel) and certainly no Barbarossa. The US probably would not gave gotten involved past the lend lease stage-the French campaign of 1940 shaped the entire European Theatre.

    As far as the Graf Zeppelin, the main German problem was techinical. They had no experience in carrier aviation and only proposed altered land based aircraft for carrier missions. One could theorize that Japanese advisors could train the German pilots and flight crews. The best scenario for the use of the Graf Zeppelin would be as part of a task force with Tirpitz, Prinz Eugen and support ships to operate in 1942 in conjunction with U-boat and Luftwaffe units against the northern convoys- a possibility for actions versus RN and USN vessels