German radar at North Cape

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Thorsten Wahl
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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby Thorsten Wahl » Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:55 am

Its my concvincing that the use of radar and radar detecting eqipment on board Scharnhorst was a complete failure, exacerbated by the failure of the forwrd system by the hit of Norfolk. Additional communication between Luftwaffe and the operational leadership on land seems also insufficient as aerial reconnaissance supposedly detected unknown radar emissions.
Meine Herren, es kann ein siebenjähriger, es kann ein dreißigjähriger Krieg werden – und wehe dem, der zuerst die Lunte in das Pulverfaß schleudert!

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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby Christian VII. » Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:19 pm

Thorsten Wahl wrote:Its my concvincing that the use of radar and radar detecting eqipment on board Scharnhorst was a complete failure, exacerbated by the failure of the forwrd system by the hit of Norfolk. Additional communication between Luftwaffe and the operational leadership on land seems also insufficient as aerial reconnaissance supposedly detected unknown radar emissions.


Failure as in they completely misused their equipment? In that sense I would tend to agree, IMO they seem to have been too concerned about beeing spotted versus spotting the enemy themselves. That they didn't spot the British attackers until they opened fire at 11-12,000 yards rather proves that they had their radar & detectors turned off, but for what reason?

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Dave Saxton
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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby Dave Saxton » Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:24 pm

KzS Helmuth Giessler was much involved with over seeing radar applications for the SLK before he was given command of the Nuernburg in late 1944. Giessler examined the KTBs (war diaries) of the destroyers that operated with Scharnhorst and was astonished to see that the operational orders from Bey were the same as given by Kummetz during the Spitzbergen raid in early Sept. Kummetz had ordered the radars all switched off because the visibility was unlimited even during the twilight periods. There was no point in running the risk of the enemy picking up radar transmissions in such conditions. In Dec during the N Cape operation, the conditions could not a have been more different, but Bey had simply re-issued Kummetz's operational orders from months ago.

Scharnhorst was shooting by the remaining aft radar during the chase phase with Duke of York. It was when a hit from the Scharnhorst knocked out the Duke of York's jammer that there was a marked improvement in the Scharnhorst's shooting. Later revisions of Battle History 24 appear to have drawn the same conclusion while de-emphasizing the speculation of Scharnhorst shooting at gun flashes.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

Thorsten Wahl
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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby Thorsten Wahl » Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:35 pm

Dave Saxton wrote: It was when a hit from the Scharnhorst knocked out the Duke of York's jammer that there was a marked improvement in the Scharnhorst's shooting. Later revisions of Battle History 24 appear to have drawn the same conclusion while de-emphasizing the speculation of Scharnhorst shooting at gun flashes.


Battle summary 24 shows both reasons; gunflashes of the secondaries and damage to the jammer on the mainmast
Meine Herren, es kann ein siebenjähriger, es kann ein dreißigjähriger Krieg werden – und wehe dem, der zuerst die Lunte in das Pulverfaß schleudert!

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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby Christian VII. » Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:52 pm

During the ~90 min chase DoY managed to hit SH with four shells, correct? What about the remaining salvoes, how accurate were they?

Some say SH's shooting was infact the more accurate during the chase, despite firing with much less available guns, is there any truth to this?

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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby Thorsten Wahl » Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:21 pm

regarding the hits i have to look in the despatches

straddles
From description in the offical dispatches it is likely they meant straddling for range

Most of the time of that battle Scharnhorst presented only a end on target of about 230 m lenght and about 30 m width

The problem in this case is not straddling for range but straddling for bearing. It is likely due to wavemotion and resulting heeling of the ship that the gun trunnion axes were tilted considerably, so technically a variable trunnion tilt error occurs wich placed the shell impacts not in line with the target but sideways shifted.
Meine Herren, es kann ein siebenjähriger, es kann ein dreißigjähriger Krieg werden – und wehe dem, der zuerst die Lunte in das Pulverfaß schleudert!

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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby Christian VII. » Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:11 pm

Thorsten Wahl wrote:regarding the hits i have to look in the despatches

straddles
From description in the offical dispatches it is likely they meant straddling for range

Most of the time of that battle Scharnhorst presented only a end on target of about 230 m lenght and about 30 m width

The problem in this case is not straddling for range but straddling for bearing. It is likely due to wavemotion and resulting heeling of the ship that the gun trunnion axes were tilted considerably, so technically a variable trunnion tilt error occurs wich placed the shell impacts not in line with the target but sideways shifted.


I suppose Duke of York was also using her secondary armament during this chase?

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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby dunmunro » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:42 pm

An excerpt from the KM war diaries:

"1. The most urgent necessity as a condition for our
own operations is the possession of radar gear which is at
least equal to that of the enemy so that our forces will be
able to use their weapons in defense and attack in the same
way as the enemy.

The radar problem has thus gained the same importance for
surface forces as in submarine warfare,

2. Even with the possession of efficient radar gear the
complete enemy superiority in the combat field can only be
contested by the highest possible number of ships in order to
be able to' distract the enemy, attack him from different'
directions, and surprise him...


4. The most serious fact arising from the operation is
that with his radar the enemy was able to detect the battle-
ship at a distance of more than 30 miles, to maintain contact
with her and fire on her out of sight from a range of more
than 180 hectometers. The conclusions to be drawn from this
are obvious...

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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby Dave Saxton » Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:06 am

dunmunro wrote:
The most serious fact arising from the operation is
that with his radar the enemy was able to detect the battle-
ship at a distance of more than 30 miles, to maintain contact
with her and fire on her out of sight from a range of more
than 180 hectometers. The conclusions to be drawn from this
are obvious...

This shows how badly they over estimated the enemy's capabilities in comparision to their own and how they jumped to conclusions so soon after the event. This also underscores how they badly needed the conference convened a few months hence to properly inform the leadership of the actual circumstances.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby dunmunro » Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:40 am

Dave Saxton wrote:
dunmunro wrote:
The most serious fact arising from the operation is
that with his radar the enemy was able to detect the battle-
ship at a distance of more than 30 miles, to maintain contact
with her and fire on her out of sight from a range of more
than 180 hectometers. The conclusions to be drawn from this
are obvious...

This shows how badly they over estimated the enemy's capabilities in comparision to their own and how they jumped to conclusions so soon after the event. This also underscores how they badly needed the conference convened a few months hence to properly inform the leadership of the actual circumstances.


Actual detection range with Type 273 was 45500 yds or 22.75nm/25.6 statute miles. The 30 mile number is optimistic but it might also be mistranslated from the German.

Here's some more excerpts from the KM war diary:

Apparently a new enemy had approached fron the south-
west in the meanwhile. At 1600 the SCHARNHORST was
clearly located by radar at an initial distance of
23 miles. Another unit, D. G. 0. took over the task
of shadower from I.L.P. and made for the SCHARNHORST
on course east-northeast to east. According to dead
reckoning this night have been the vessel located in
AC 47^5 Qt 1012. As D. G. 0. later sent out tactical
orders to the rest of the form t ion she was most pro-
bably in connand of the covering group.

I656 The Commanding Admiral, Task Force r


"Eneny firing by radar at a range of more than 18 km."

At this time the SCHARNHORST was still proceeding on
course 110 degrees at a speed of 26 knots. According
to radio monitoring the enemy seems to have established
communication between the northwest and south-
vest group at this time and exchanged different tactical signals.
Among other things D.G.O, requested
starshell fire from I. L. P. and asked at 1810 whether
I. L. P. was able to observe the fall of shot.

The Naval Staff has drawn the following preliminary conclusions
and information from the evidence available:
The main experience gained from the combat is the fact that
the enemy is able to take bearings in the darkness at daylight
ranges of visibility and that he can fire accurately at
daylight ranges , ;

The only advantages which the small radius of visibility ".
during the night 'gives to the inferior force, by' offering.
the chance of a surprise attack, is therefore eliminated.

While so far the enemy air superiority hindered operations
by naval forces by day, there now also arises a new situation
for operations by vessels with torpedo armament at night; it
can only be met by superiority in numbers.

Particularly 'serious is the fact that our own radar equipment
does not possess either the great range arid reliability, or •
the great, accuracy of the enemy equipment. For this reason
the SCHARNHORST had very little chance of using her guns
successfully.

Contrary to all former conception of night tactics, the

, . -326- • CONFIDENTIAL



27 Doc. 19^3 CONFIDENTIAL

enemy deliberately, and fully convinced to the superiority
of his radar, threw into the night combat, a considerable
number of large ships in accordance with the principles of a
daylight engagement. He sought combat .in our own coastal zone,
being of the opinion that the German Air Force,, which he
regarded anyway as not decisive because, of its numerical weak-
ness, embodied no threat considering the visibility conditions
prevailing in the north at that time.

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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby Christian VII. » Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:45 am

Seems like the Germans were busy excusing themselves for their errors at North Cape by vastly overrating enemy radar capabilities whilst eluding to their own mistakes of failing to properly operate their own equipment (I can understand why as well, Hitler was pissed). Turning off the radar at North Cape seems to me as the only reason the British got away with cathing & surprising the Scharnhorst, events would've obviously turned out differently had the Germans switched on their radar from the beginning. (At least that's what I gather from reading around atm)

What proves it to me is that the British initially got within 11,000 yards of the Scharnhorst without being detected, but later on at ranges between 17-20,000+ yards (well beyond visual range under the prevailing conditions) the Scharnhorst was shooting extremely accurately at the Duke of York, consistently straddling her and managing to hit her twice with just 3 guns in operation and much less rounds fired.

The German report on the tactical orders followed during the mission, as provided by Dave, serves as the nail in the coffin IMHO.

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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby Dave Saxton » Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:39 pm

Christian VII. wrote:Seems like the Germans were busy excusing themselves for their errors at North Cape by vastly overrating enemy radar capabilities whilst eluding to their own mistakes of failing to properly operate their own equipment (I can understand why as well, Hitler was pissed). Turning off the radar at North Cape seems to me as the only reason the British got away with cathing & surprising the Scharnhorst, events would've obviously turned out differently had the Germans switched on their radar from the beginning. (At least that's what I gather from reading around atm)

What proves it to me is that the British initially got within 11,000 yards of the Scharnhorst without being detected, but later on at ranges between 17-20,000+ yards (well beyond visual range under the prevailing conditions) the Scharnhorst was shooting extremely accurately at the Duke of York, consistently straddling her and managing to hit her twice with just 3 guns in operation and much less rounds fired.

The German report on the tactical orders followed during the mission, as provided by Dave, serves as the nail in the coffin IMHO.


I don't know to what degree the SKL was using radar as the scape goat or that they were only drawing conclusions without enough correct information too soon after the event for more comprehensive analysis. Nonetheless, with the benifit of hind sight, KzS Giessler years later wrote:


It is therefore wrong if today the fate of the Scharnhorst in this battle is given simply as the result of far superior British radar equipment. Obviously it does not follow, especially if Scharnhorst had only switched on its own radar equipment. It would be better to now consider the possibilities had the Scharnhorst been allowed to detect the British forces with sufficient time for the German leadership to take appropriate action.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby Dave Saxton » Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:23 pm

On March 9 1944 a secret confrence was held in Berlin for the purpose of informing the command structure of the KM about the current circumstances of the radar war at sea. Among the items alluded to were:

*The Duke of York was known to have detected SH at a range of 23 miles. It was mentioned that this was probably due in part to the high mounting position on a battleship. While this was impressive it was also pointed out the new large Seetakt antennas in common mode increased range 30% over the current Seetakt models. The BB to BB range of the current models were 30km. SH was actually recently equipped with new large anntena models. So the SH had a radar capable of detecting Duke of York to ~40km before the radar set was destroyed. Nonetheless, the high power transmitter modules for Seetakt were anxiously awaited.

* Giessler pointed out that the fact that the Duke of York had to get help in spotting the fall of shot at a ranges of less than 20km, meant that "the enemy as of yet does not have a pure blind fire capability." This is contray to the conclusion jumped to by the high command right after the event.

*Another Giessler, a Korvettenkapitan from the Testing Command, reported that testing had proved conclusively that the accuracy of Seetakt was sufficient for blind fire and that no further improvements in bearing accuracy are required. Moreover, he also mentioned that trials conducted of the latest sets on the Scharnhorst in Norway had also confirmed the accuracy of their tests. This indicated that the assumption that Scharnhorst did not have radar equipment that could of allowed it respond in kind during night combat was wrong.

* Berlin 6cm PPI radar was almost ready to go and that would go some distance to catching up the enemy's advantage for situational awareness at night. A 100kw magnetron was looked forward to, to give it the required ranges into the future. (Range of the current Berlin radar model for surface ships was proofed at 35km with a 15kw magnetron. (It takes a 16 fold increase in power to double range) )

* In practice the men operating the firecontrol systems at the front were already relying upon radar. Therefore, as the Scharnhorst operation proved, proficiency in optical methods must be maintained in case radar equipment breaks down or becomes disabled from battle damage, which was not at all unlikely.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby Christian VII. » Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:39 pm

Absolutely excellent info Dave, it all just makes more and more sense now. The radar capabilities of the Germans, US & British were obviously remarkably close throughout the war, esp. within the Naval scene.

On a side note: Dave do you know at what range that Gneisenau detected Renown with her Seetakt radar on the 9th of April in 1940?

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Re: German radar at North Cape

Postby Dave Saxton » Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:58 pm

Christian VII. wrote:Absolutely excellent info Dave, it all just makes more and more sense now. The radar capabilities of the Germans, US & British were obviously remarkably close throughout the war, esp. within the Naval scene.

On a side note: Dave do you know at what range that Gneisenau detected Renown with her Seetakt radar on the 9th of April in 1940?

25km.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.


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