With Hitler dead...
As I told Christos; history could have taken a dramatic turn if Hitler had died in April of 1941. The Russian campaign would have been delayed, with the troops that would have been commited Rommel could have beaten the British in North Africa, severing the Suez canal, the Navy still stinging from their one failure in WWI could have used their assets to rip the covnoy system to pieces, and to make it happen the way I postulate, I only have to make one additional change.
Fact: The primary stumbling block the German fleet faced was named Adolf Hitler. When the Graf Spee was sunk he immediately ordered the Deutchland renamed Lutzow to avoid the propoganda victory of the British claiming to sink a ship with the Nation's name. It took the better part of a year before he allowed Scharnhorst and Gneisenau to sail, and it was their successful cruise that convinced him to allow Bismarck to sail.
But after Bismarck, all naval operations had to be cleared by Hitler, which is why except for some inconsequential raids, they did little else for the rest of the war.
When the game Great Naval Battles of the North Atlantic came out, I decided to experiment. First I chose the Kriegsmarine at normal setting, and pretty much did what I think Admiral Raeder would have done. I also saved games only after battles, so if I lost a ship, it was gone.
Results? By the end of the game (September 1943) I had destroyed or crippled every British Battleship. I had destroyed all of their cruisers and destroyers, and was attacking unescorted convoys with Destroyer hunter killer teams. The cost? seventeen destroyers, one Heavy cruiser, one pocket battleship sunk. Everything larger was in the body and fender shop, but soon to be operational again.
Fact: When Genral Tojo delivered his declaration of war with the US, the Emperor did not sign it. Historically, he read it, set it down, and walked out of the room. Tojo later waved the unsigned document in victory as he left the Imperial Palace. But what if Hirohito had taken a leaf from the Emperor Meiiji in the Last Samurai? What if he had stood up to his government and forced another option?
Fact: Yamamoto, CINC of the Imperial Navy came up with the Pearl Harbor attack because he had to think of some way to cripple the US fleet. To paraphrase his own words when he was told they would fight the Americasn, 'I can run wild for perhaps 18 months. But then their production will drive us under'.
Fact: Roosevelt had spent the last two years doing everything he could to force Germany into war with the US. The sinking of Reuben James, the attack against USS Kearny and USS Gridley, the first accidental (As I commented in my review the US had almost 200 ships of the same classs still in service) The second because Gridley was actively hunting a U Boat outside the Neutraliy Zone with the assitance of a British long range bomber. All so that he could wave the bloody shirt to convince the Congress to vote for war. In fact one attempt was by sending the fleet (But not the fleet train) to Pearl Harbor, 2000 miles closer to Japan in July of 1941.
The reason this was provocative is that without the fleet train, the fleet was restricted. Assuming war had been declared with Japan, the Fleet would have immediately sailed to the Phillipines. However once they arrived, they would have been low on fuel and with only the ammunition in their magazines. That is what the fleet train is for, after all.
The worst part of history in reality is that the Navy was using the Mahan Doctrine for plan Orange, the Rainbow plan for a war with Japan. It required the fleet to confront the Japanes there off Luzon, not in Hawaii. The only two pluses that came out of the Pearl Harbot attack is that instead of being sunk by long range aircraft, as would have happened, the battleships were crippled in harbor, and except for USS Arizona survived to gain their revenge in 1944 off Luzon. The second was that without battleships to fight it, the Carriers were forced to shoulder that burden, which is why that after WWII no new battleships were ever built.
So is anyone interested in what could have happened?