2. Y'know miletus, it says a lot about the panic among the French if even the battle of Hannut - which went well for them! - couldn't turn their morale around.
3. Maginot was an expensive flop, no question.
But the French generals were incompetent. Billotte was a catastrophe re: morale, Weygand spent too much time (two days, in a crisis!) double-checking what Gamelin had told him already, Gamelin himself didn't have either telephone or radio in his HQ(!)... old guys don't have to be incompetent in general, but these ones were.
4. Still didn't decide when and where exactly this ATL diverges, although I'm pretty sure it has to be at Dunkirk.
5. However, I'll give you the first sentence I want the story to start with: "It's the little things which make a difference sometimes." (Notice something?)
OK, so I have thought back and forth about Dunkirk. Here are the facts:
At first about the question: Why did Adolf Nazi actually give the halting order IOTL? - Because he somewhere secretly admired the Brits, for being "Aryans" and having built a huge colonial empire? But not too much later he wanted all British men aged 17 to 45 deported to the continent for forced labor. (About which I thought: "That's crazy even for Adolf Nazi.") - Because the soil around Dunkirk was too swampy? That makes me wonder: Have people never heard about this concept called roads? The area had more roads than about any other part of Europe. Also, the rain started to fall only after the order was given. - The idea that the Luftwaffe would finish the Allies was also stupid. Göring had bragged. And even so, if the weather had been better... - Rundstedt sided here with the "führer"? Other than generals like Bock, Guderian, and Kleist, he wasn't there when it happened. So I give their opinions more weight. - The Wehrmacht needed time to recover? Even so, they were allowed on the 26th at 15:30 to get on with it. - Panzers were broken? OTOH, the French 1st army had lost ALL heavy material on the 26th. A few hours should suffice for repairs. A bit longer if the right parts aren't around. But still. - The canals blocked the Germans? (Don't armies have engineers around, to build bridges? The Wehrmacht had, under Generalmajor Rudolf Veiel.)
The more I read and think about it, the more I come to the conclusion: Adolf Nazi simply wanted to show the generals who was the boss, whether it made sense or not. In short: There was no good reason to stop.
So if the Wehrmacht had attacked, at least sooner than IOTL: Would they have succeeded?
Taking Dunkirk itself, or blocking the Allies from reaching it, seems possible. Kleist's panzers were only 18 kms from there, and not too many troops stood between them and the city. At one point at the beginning, just a British bataillon.
This leaves one last question: If there had been a big battle of encirclement, as the Wehrmacht often fought them one year later - would the Wehrmacht have won, and if yes, with about how many losses?
Advantages for the Allies: - Their tanks (Renault Char) were on the average better, esp. with thicker armor than the German ones. (Compared with Pz III.) - Their opponents had a supreme commander who was crazy. - Sometimes, encircled soldiers fight like cornered rats.
Advantages for the Germans: - The Belgians would capitulate on May 28th. (Which they didn't know yet.) - Most French generals not named de Gaulle really weren't great. - Since 23rd, the BEF was on half rations. - 800,000 Wehrmacht soldiers vs. 400,000 allied ones. - On the continent, the Luftwaffe had the advantage as well. - Unless the French managed to break the encirclement, the Allies would run out of fuel too. If they hadn't already. - German morale was strong, Allied morale not so much anymore. - Radios for tanks. Better doctrine.
The only hope I could see for the Allies: If they bundled their strengths and tried to break the encirclement. Hopefully with help coming from the south. De Gaulle certainly would have liked to help.
But after all, I don't want to write a story where the Allies make a heroic last stand and kill three Wehrmacht soldiers for every dead "Tommy". But if they could - where was that spirit e.g. in Singapore? Or Dieppe?
And while I can see that the German tanks often had problems cracking the shell of the other side's tanks - it's nowhere written that you have to defeat tanks with tank cannons. Not if you have a commander who can think outside the box. As a matter of fact, the Wehrmacht had at least one, a certain Erwin Rommel. His idea: Using 8.8 cm cannons (originally conceived for fighting planes) against Allied tanks.
So all in all I guess: The Wehrmacht will suffer five-digit losses of men and lose some tanks and airplanes as well, but the Allies will lose the whole BEF. And the Wehrmacht will gain useful experience - esp. how to fight strong tanks. Maybe they'll even get a tank with an 8.8 cm cannon developed earlier than IOTL.
And no, I don't think that a destroyed BEF will actually make Sealion possible.
Why Hitler, Dunkirk ? it's mystery why he gave this order and why
Yes french hat better tanks but not in quality needed from combat because bloody Maginot line suck the Budget up also was Renault nationalisation and run by french bureaucrat extremely contra productive "We need Trucks, not Tanks..."
Belgians... oh boy were do i start ? A young self-willed King that terminate important defence treaty with France and Britain, then get idea declaring Belgium neutral would do the Trick A Governments with stop and Go in armament A fortress program halfway abandon and finish complex had insufficient weapons to fight invasion A Military that not wanted those fortresses and used biggest as penal camp for Army The Airforce waiting on there delivery of Fighter aircraft as Germany invade Their mechanised infantry was soldiers on bicycle carry WW1 rifle. They had no Tanks more Tankletts and tractor for heavy guns The Wehrmacht just steamrolled true Belgium in days and dash true ardennes into France direction Paris While the allles waiting on them in wrong part of Belgium....