Scharnhorst w/ 38cm's and other improvements

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Dave Saxton
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Re: Scharnhorst w/ 38cm's and other improvements

Post by Dave Saxton » Thu Dec 27, 2018 4:44 pm

dale3242 wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:58 pm


During Scharnhorst's last mission, the battle of North Cape, she hit the Norfolk twice, but failed to hit the Duke of York even once. 38 cm guns would have decreased her chances of hitting the Duke of York. Not getting hits with bigger guns doesn't help. Better radar and radar use was needed instead.
I agree that the 28 cm weapon was big enough for just about every application short of taking on a full sized modern battleship. In that case, however, it didn't have the required belt penetration at medium range nor the required deck penetration short of extreme ranges. Once either armor piercing projectile gets through the opponent's armor the 38 cm was far more destructive. A hit from a 38 cm will be more effective. Against unarmored or lightly protected targets the 38 cm using semi armor piercing or high explosive rounds will be far more destructive per hit. It was more likely to disable or possibly destroy the target quicker. In the case of using HE or SAP rounds, splinters from near misses against small targets would certainly cause more damage.

As far as I know the 38 cm was a more accurate gun than the 28 cm. It had low dispersion and it had better over all ballistics at medium and long ranges.
Better radar and radar use was needed instead.
The Scharnhorst had excellent radars for fire control applications. Its radars had recently been upgraded and both the forward and the aft sets had a bearing accuracy within 1/10 of a degree and a range accuracy tolerance of only 25 meters. These accuracies compare favorably with any WWII gun laying radar. What the Scharnhorst and Bey really needed was a surface search set equipped with PPI display. Such became available to German surface ships a few months later.

The fact that Scharnhorst only scored a handful of hits against the Duke of York*, all to the upper works, and that the Duke of York also scored only handful of hits during the 90 minute chase phase of the battle probably had to do with it being a stern chase at night in appalling weather and heavy seas. The Duke of York straddled the Scharnhorst dozens of times. Moreover, British accounts report that the Scharnhorst consistently straddled the Duke of York after the Duke of York's radar jammer was knocked out. In both cases these facts do not indicate that the fire control technology was inadequate for Duke of York or Scharnhorst.

* One hit passed through a mast knocking out one of the radars. Another passed though and through below the radar office for the Type 273 radar, temporarily knocking it out. Another possible hit to a mast may have been responsible for knocking out the radar jammer.
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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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: Scharnhorst w/ 38cm's and other improvements

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:51 am

Hello everybody and Happy New Year !

I tend to agree with both dale3242 and Dave Saxton: the 28 cm guns proved good in any situation the twins had to fight into (especially against Glorious with a very long range hit), but they lacked the punch to kill any modern battleship. It must be kept into account, however, that a deluge of 28 cm shells can quickly compromise any modern battleship fighting efficiency by knocking out radars, rangefinders, directors etc., severing vents and uptakes and heavily flooding fore and aft compartments out of the citadel.

I would say that it would have been "interesting" (from a speculative viewpoint) to see a duel for the kill between a single Scharnhorst (or both the twins...) and any modern battleship to check whether the speed and RoF could offset the light punch.


It's my understanding that during Berlin the real reason for not attacking Ramillies, Malaya and possibly even Nelson was not the "inferiority" of the twins on paper, but more the orders given to Lutjens not to engage battleships to avoid damages and possible losses, as per German strategy.


At Cape North, Scharnhorst would have been a very hard nut to crack for DoY even with 28 cm guns, had the two ships been alone (while the British were surrounding the German ship) and had Scharnhorst had her fore radar working, thus not being taken by surprise. Had Scharnhorst disabled the only Type 284 of DoY with one of her first salvos (KGV totally lacked redundancy of gunnery radar, while Scharnhorst had two of them), IMO the battle could even have resulted in favor of Scharnhorst (that carried torpedoes too, in order to "finish" her crippled enemy, instead of using the 28 cm, had the duel been aimed to the "kill" of the enemy).

Had Scharnhorst been armed with 6 38cm guns and had she fought DoY alone, despite less guns available, DoY would have been out of immunity very soon, exposing a large area of her vitals, while the belt + scarp arrangement could have given an advantage to Scharnhorst at very short ranges, leaving only the 60 cm boiler hump (and the "under the belt" area) "exposed" to 14" shells.


Bye, Alberto
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RF
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Re: Scharnhorst w/ 38cm's and other improvements

Post by RF » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:50 pm

dale3242 wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:58 pm
During Scharnhorst's last mission, the battle of North Cape, she hit the Norfolk twice, but failed to hit the Duke of York even once. 38 cm guns would have decreased her chances of hitting the Duke of York. Not getting hits with bigger guns doesn't help. Better radar and radar use was needed instead.
I believe there were two 11 inch hits which did little damage as the shells did not penetrate into the upper decks.

A 15 inch shell would have had greater penetration power. The problem here is that Scharnhorst was fighting blindly so perhaps not a good test.
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RF
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Re: Scharnhorst w/ 38cm's and other improvements

Post by RF » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:50 pm

Duplicated post.
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Re: Scharnhorst w/ 38cm's and other improvements

Post by RF » Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:02 pm

dale3242 wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:58 pm
The German Twins were the most successful German battleships. They were the only capital ships to ever sink a fleet aircraft carrier. They were the only German capital ships to successfully attack British Atlantic shipping.
Sinking merchant ships isn't really relevant here as they are not worth the expenditure of battleship sized shells.....

Ship for ship the most economic German regular warship to attack merchant shipping was Admiral Scheer. Arguably Operation Berlin could have achieved the same merchant ship sinkings using one ship instead of two. The problem overall was convoy attack, because of the risks posed by escort ships (particulary torpedoes)

It is I think that the biggest irony that the most successful raiders were the hilfskreuzer; in the pursuit of merchant ships they achieved more than the regular warships and on a proportionate scale did more damage to Allied warships as well....
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