Hello to all

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
alpha3
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Hello to all

Post by alpha3 » Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:39 pm

Been a lurker for a long time, accidentally discovered the site while looking for some information on a model I was building. And of course, having a way over=active imagination, loved the what-ifs. My father (deceased) was in USN naval intelligence at Pearl during WWII. Wish I'd gotten to talk to him more....I know he'd been across the Atlantic a time or two as well.

The model I was building at the time was the battlecruiser Scharnhorst. I got sick, and so model building got shelved for quite a while (about a year) so I only recently got back to working on her. I still find it amazing that ships like this caused as relatively little harm as they did to the allies. Had these exact same vessels had USN-type commanders who weren't afraid to take some hits, and plotted tactics better, it's scary to think what the two sisters might have been capable of.

I'm reminded of the account of Rear Admiral Lee, who used the bad weather to advantage, sneaking the Washington into deadly range for Kirishima. South Dakota was along too, but having electrical difficulties or something reminiscent of S&G with their various ailments at times. They also had torpedoes to worry about avoiding from these capital ships. But gutty commanders and tactics won the day here even with the off and on technical problems.

Suppose, with top-notch commanders, S&G, perhaps with Prinz Eugen along, ambushed the convoys like they did, but instead of running, lured the Repulse/Renown into a trap, maybe even imitating one ship being badly damaged when it was not, drawing one or both Brits away, until the range closed and she'd put on full speed and get away. In the meantime, one or the other two 'wolves' would fall on the hapless convoy from different directions!

Could it have happened?

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RF
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Re: Hello to all

Post by RF » Mon Nov 08, 2010 9:39 am

Yes it could have happened, with better organisation of forces and a different offensive atitude by the Germans.....
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Re: Hello to all

Post by RF » Mon Nov 08, 2010 9:40 am

And welcome to the forum alpha3.

What happened to alpha2? alpha1?
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Re: Hello to all

Post by alpha3 » Mon Nov 08, 2010 5:23 pm

RF wrote:And welcome to the forum alpha3.

What happened to alpha2? alpha1?

LOL! That's my nickname, everyone calls me that because it refers to my automobile, an
Audi A3....I baby it too much they say! but...A3, hence, 'alpha3'

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Re: Hello to all

Post by alpha3 » Mon Nov 08, 2010 9:00 pm

I think the Germans, with an equal or similar attitude in their surface ships that maybe their U-boat commanders had, would have been formidable opponents when operating surface warships like Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Hipper, Prinz Eugen, Bismarck, and especially Tirpitz. You can't worry about your capital ships getting dents or the paint coming off of them, or the occasional bloody nose. They'll take the punishment if you let them....and are well crewed. Look at Nelson at Trafalgar.
(Plus, granted, leeway to operate as such; Hitler WAS a nut) goodness forbid Tirpitz should get a dent. Instead she cowered in a fijord and eventually sunk in situ. Phht.

Look at the US in the Pacific.... continually 'beating the odds' in battles against often superior forces in the Pacific.....here's where tactics and commanders worth their salt (Japanese too!) proved their worth. The Japanese came much closer than Germany did, often their tactics were good, and commanders fearless, and in the end, fanatic. We solved their puzzles just a little faster, thank heavens. Not to mention, also, the manufacturing might of the US that overcame a lot of material losses.

But look at what the US made work....the carrier USS Enterprise was patching holes in her flight deck with whatever debris could be found, even mattresses, and returning to battle; she survived the war. Yorktown, and Hornet, took incredible punishment before succumbing....but took lots more Japanese with them first. Even when things weren't working as designed, such as Savo Island, Guadalcanal, and other epic skirmishes, heroes abounded with the nitwits. How did the cruiser Minneapolis survive with no bow??? And her crew hid the wounded cruiser In an area infested with Japanese.....again, her crew managed to hide a HEAVY CRUISER with branches and stuff???? Make up a makeshift bow......and then get her to safety???? That's ingenious...and a gut check....and a half.Now - make that USS Minneapolis simile the "USS Scharnhorst" or "USS Gneisenau"...they both still might have been sunk but.....who knows. US cruisers had 8'' guns on the heavies, 6'' guns on the light ones.

I find those two ships fascinating....These babes had 11'' with armor and speed to boot. Commerce raiders yes, but operating in concert as they did, could have been very,very dangerous indeed. Consistently crappy weather in the North Atlantic would make the 'hit and run' very useful indeed if employed effectively.

What about this: Different tactics, lets say 'hit and run', with 'bait and switch' along with their consorts 'Hipper and 'Eugen. This could well have resulted in those two girls sinking more ships, including Home Fleet units, than one wants to think about.
Imagine Renown, Repulse, Duke of York pursuing the twins and their consorts in a running gun battle.... 'Hipper is with Gneisenau, on one side, blasting away at their convoy..then on the opposite side, Scharnhorst and 'Eugen fall on their flanks..... with lots of damage now done, the Cruisers go their way, Scharnhorst/Gneisenau join up, and guns blazing, ramp up to 30knots to get elsewhere. 'Hipper and 'Eugen, having altered course, begin to withdraw separately at high speed....their tracks split into a Y.... the furious Renown and Repulse after the cruisers going left, and DOY in pursuit of the Twins going right.......probably the twins drown their front turret Anton....but have Bruno and Caesar. If they zig zag with any unity at all, they can be shooting torpedoes toward the Brits, as well as hurling 12 11'' shells from their combined rear facing turrets (Bruno(s) at max) at their pursuers...then .... two large grey shapes emerge from the North Atlantic mists.....Tirpitz and Bismarck....dead ahead between the arms of the 'Y'...or one each taking an arm of the 'Y.' 'Hipper and 'Eugen turn, each taking a flank of either Bismark or Tirpitz... they're both over-sized cruisers anyway, dangerous on their own. The twins could keep going and run like hell or see what happens and mop up. Ouch. I think its bye, bye DOY, Renown, and Repulse.

Discuss!!! :)

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RF
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Re: Hello to all

Post by RF » Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:35 am

It is easy to wargame scenario's as outlined above, but the strategic and tactical requirements of the Germans operating in the Atlantic or even the Arctic are rather different than those of the Americans fighting in the Pacific.

The Germans had no bases outside Europe with the resources to repair and rearm their surface warships. Fuel supply was critical, as was provision of supply ships. Any damage, however minor, threatened the existence of warships and as demonstrated in the case of Graf Spee and Bismarck easily led to the loss of the warship concerned.
The main problem for the Germans was that their fleet wasn't big enough, and had no operational carriers. If they had a bigger fleet then more aggressive options open. But they didn't.
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Re: Hello to all

Post by alpha3 » Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:29 pm

RF wrote:The Germans had no bases outside Europe with the resources to repair and rearm their surface warships. Fuel supply was critical, as was provision of supply ships. Any damage, however minor, threatened the existence of warships and as demonstrated in the case of Graf Spee and Bismarck easily led to the loss of the warship concerned.
The main problem for the Germans was that their fleet wasn't big enough, and had no operational carriers. If they had a bigger fleet then more aggressive options open. But they didn't.
Good points, and I do get what you're saying. I'm only trying to illustrate that a lack of good command structure and tactics by the German Navy definitely weighed heavily in the allies favor, all other things remaining the same. But for that slim difference.....hmmm....I don't want to think. Could be a different world.
The German vessels themselves could sure take punishment - I believe the story that Bismarck was probably scuttled by her own crew, not due to the shell slamming she absorbed. Hell, Prinz Eugen survived two nuclear bomb blasts at Bikini after the war.
Those ships --- Bismarck, Tirpitz, Gneisenau, Scharnhorst, 'Hipper, 'Eugen operated by tactical command willing/able to take some risks, were going to produce definitely different results. Say, after sinking Hood, and Bismarcks' loss, Tirpitz put down or seriously damaged either DOY, POW, KGV, while maybe the two girls ganged up and sank either Renown or Repulse in a coordinated, well thought out attack. Prinz Eugen still loses her stern to the HMS Trident, but DOES make port. And - the u-boats are eating up merchantmen left and right.

Crazy as he was, if one of his chiefs, say Raeder or Doenitz, had early on prepared him for a hull loss or two, a banged up surface ship here and there, but smashing results as well, Hitler could have been grudgingly accepting of letting the surface units be true predators - prowl and pounce without worrying about a Nazi firing squad. Remember, the u-boats had a merry old time for a while, working in the wolf-packs. Scary as hell for us, until the allies Hunter-killer groups began to care of those packs.
Now - what if those H-K groups had to worry about a lurking german battle group here and there...HUNTING THEM. True, the Germans would need an oiler or two here and there for fuel topoff, but they had those anyway at times.
Lurking u-boat wolf packs could tattle tale on any surface ships/capital ships, they wouldn't even have to attack them if S/G or another group was in the area. They could also warn the twins to stay away if KGV was in consort with another BB or two, and maybe simply call up Tirpitz and company. And the wolfpack itself could form up around the German surface squadron as it engaged the allied group......sneak in as close ours as they could ( we would now preoccupied, to say the least, at the appearance of the German surface units). When the shelling starts, the wolf pack moves in and launch their torps. Ugly.

An allied DD or DE group, hunting U-Boats, having to worry about running into 'Hipper/'Eugen and a couple destroyers, or maybe Scharhorst/Gneisenau who were usually together, would need reinforcements/backup too, and so it negates the anti u-boat effectiveness.

In case the allies get tired of German surface ship predations and send out KGV, maybe together with USS Washington (she was on the North Atlantic for a bit) they still have to worry...about Tirpitz off in the distance, maybe with her own Z-class destroyers and torpedoes. And lord help them all if the Germans then rendezvous two of their battle groups, they combine and then turn to attack. The twins big guns, and rapid fire rate would overwhelm destroyers at long range before the DD's/DE's could launch torpedoes, and with Tirpitz booming away at the Brits' battlewagons, it would sure be a fight. And -- S/G also had torpedo tubes. Don't forget how effectively the Japanese used those long-lance torps of theirs.
Though the girls weren't made to slug it out with the heavies, but they were stoutly built, and those much-maligned 11'' guns were a match in heaven for blowing up merchantmen, ambushing and sinking Destroyers/DE's, or even cruisers....and with a backup like Tirpitz around just in case, the twins had little to fear. They'll get their bruises too, but a torpedo or two isn't going to sink them either, THAT's for sure. Use them as intended - commerce raiders, but firepower and speed to destroy pretty much anything but the battlewagons.

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Re: Hello to all

Post by lwd » Tue Nov 09, 2010 8:26 pm

alpha3 wrote:
... I believe the story that Bismarck was probably scuttled by her own crew, not due to the shell slamming she absorbed.
It's pretty well accepted that she ws scuttled. That doesn't however mean she would have long survived in the abscence of said scuttling. Indeed well before she was scuttled she had been rendered a useless hulk so that's rather irrelevant.
Hell, Prinz Eugen survived two nuclear bomb blasts at Bikini after the war.
How far from ground zero was she in these test?
... True, the Germans would need an oiler or two here and there for fuel topoff, but they had those anyway at times.
The key is what times? The supply ships were pretty much all rolled up during the Bismarck chase and I'm not aware of the Germans ever getting many more to sea.
...
In case the allies get tired of German surface ship predations and send out KGV, maybe together with USS Washington (she was on the North Atlantic for a bit) they still have to worry...about Tirpitz off in the distance, maybe with her own Z-class destroyers and torpedoes.
Ever looked at the range of German destroyers?
And lord help them all if the Germans then rendezvous two of their battle groups, they combine and then turn to attack.
Given the allied edge in recon due to both aircraft, huff duff, and Enigma not to mention surface ships, it's more likely to be the other way around.

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Re: Hello to all

Post by Bgile » Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:44 pm

Submarines just weren't fast enough to operate with surface ships. In fact, until the late twentieth century US nuclear submarines weren't fast enough. The increased speed of the Los Angeles class submarines was for that very reason ... so they could operate with surface warships.

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Re: Hello to all

Post by alpha3 » Tue Nov 09, 2010 11:27 pm

Submarines just weren't fast enough to operate with surface ships. In fact, until the late twentieth century US nuclear submarines weren't fast enough. The increased speed of the Los Angeles class submarines was for that very reason ... so they could operate with surface warship
The often rotten north Atlantic weather rendered extended runs at high speeds impractical if not unsafe; ever read the accounts of U-boat wolfpack attacks? They had little trouble keeping up, re-acquiring contact, and continuing their carnage. They had good speed while surfaced, which they didn't hesitate to do by the way. And a running surface gun battle between capital vessels is hardly a headlong sprint in a straight line, c'mon. Yes, U-boats would be a factor.
How far from ground zero was she in these test?
Hmm. why do I feel this is a test, lol......ok
In the first one, she was 1190 yards or so from the first blast, which was an air burst dropped by a B 29. No damage. The second blast went off under water, she was about 2000yards from that one. The blasts sank the battleship Pennsylvania, and I think, the first blast sank the Nevada, which was much closer to the explosion, though.
Given the allied edge in recon due to both aircraft, huff duff, and Enigma not to mention surface ships, it's more likely to be the other way around.
You're entitled to the opinion of course but I don't agree. The planes didn't do well in the crappy weather either. Swordfish?????? Oh , yeah. True, one did score the hit that disabled Bismarck but.....y'all have to remember, I'm talking a different German mind set.

As far as Bismarck being a hulk before scuttling, of course she was. I'm just saying it would still be a floating hulk. The shells wouldn't sink her, a tribute to her designers or builders, whatever. Scharnhorst, same, how many torps did she absorb, and shell hits before sinking? Unbelieveable punishment. Give credit where credit is due; Ark Royal sank with a torpedo hit, Royal Oak, same. Scharnhorst blasted Glorious off the planet with ease. The Japanese had their way with American Cruisers Quincy, Astoria, and Vincennes at Savo Island. All three heavy cruisers were lost to gunfire and/or a couple of torpedoes.

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Re: Hello to all

Post by Bgile » Wed Nov 10, 2010 12:22 am

alpha3 wrote:The often rotten north Atlantic weather rendered extended runs at high speeds impractical if not unsafe; ever read the accounts of U-boat wolfpack attacks? They had little trouble keeping up, re-acquiring contact, and continuing their carnage. They had good speed while surfaced, which they didn't hesitate to do by the way. And a running surface gun battle between capital vessels is hardly a headlong sprint in a straight line, c'mon. Yes, U-boats would be a factor.
I've read them. Convoys typically travelled at 8 to 10 knots. The Denmarck Strait engagement occurred at close to 30 knots. The entire operation was undertaken at speeds far in excess of what a U-boat can do. Submarines can set up barrier patrols, given time and advance notice, but they can't operate WITH surface ships. They could just as easily torpedo a ship of their own side. Submarine operating areas were normally in a different location from surface ships for that very reason. They work much better when free to operate against slow merchants or when given a free fire patrol area.

Try giving just ONE example of a submarine successfully intervening in a surface gun battle.

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Re: Hello to all

Post by Bgile » Wed Nov 10, 2010 12:40 am

alpha3 wrote: ... Ark Royal sank with a torpedo hit, Royal Oak, same. Scharnhorst blasted Glorious off the planet with ease. The Japanese had their way with American Cruisers Quincy, Astoria, and Vincennes at Savo Island. All three heavy cruisers were lost to gunfire and/or a couple of torpedoes.
What is your point here? Any ship can be sunk by torpedoes. Are you implying that a German cruiser couldn't be sunk by the sort of punishment absorbed by the American "tin clads" at Savo Island? That Bismarck couldn't be sunk by torpedoes? How could you possibly know one way or another? Blucher was sunk by a torpedo and gunfire from an old Norwegian fort, whose weapons dated back to another war. All ships are sinkable.

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Re: Hello to all

Post by lwd » Wed Nov 10, 2010 3:08 pm

alpha3 wrote: ....They had little trouble keeping up, re-acquiring contact, and continuing their carnage. They had good speed while surfaced, which they didn't hesitate to do by the way. And a running surface gun battle between capital vessels is hardly a headlong sprint in a straight line, c'mon. Yes, U-boats would be a factor.
While Bgile has dealt with some of the issues there's also the fact that the allies tended to escort their captial ships with a decent number of destroyers in most cases. Denmarck straits was something of an anomaly in this regard as the weather slowed the British DDs down enough that the British decided to seperate from them. In most case this would not be the case.
How far from ground zero was she in these test?
Hmm. why do I feel this is a test, lol......ok
In the first one, she was 1190 yards or so from the first blast, which was an air burst dropped by a B 29. No damage. The second blast went off under water, she was about 2000yards from that one. The blasts sank the battleship Pennsylvania, and I think, the first blast sank the Nevada, which was much closer to the explosion, though.
Exactly. When you are looking at blast effects you are looking at inverse cube relationships. Just a little distance can have a considerable impact on things. Furthermore it was damage sustained in the second test that ultimately lead to her sinking I believe.
Given the allied edge in recon due to both aircraft, huff duff, and Enigma not to mention surface ships, it's more likely to be the other way around.
You're entitled to the opinion of course but I don't agree. The planes didn't do well in the crappy weather either. Swordfish?????? Oh , yeah. True, one did score the hit that disabled Bismarck but.....y'all have to remember, I'm talking a different German mind set.
By the early 42 I beleive you will find that the British had carrier planes equiped with radar capable of recon and attack at night and in poor weather. Land based air started becomeing a serious factor in that time period as well. Huff Duff and Ultra lead to the demise of almost if not all the cargo ships the Germans had deployed to support Bismarck and that's in May of 41. It's not just carriers either look at all the scout planes on cruisers and battleships. Sure bad weather will create a problem for them but good weather grants a huge advantage to the allies. Then there's the number of ships with radar as time goes on.
As far as Bismarck being a hulk before scuttling, of course she was. I'm just saying it would still be a floating hulk.
Not for long. Bismarck was clearly sinking when she was scuttled. She might have lasted 10s of minutes or even hours but she was going down from the damage already inflicted the scuttling charges probably did no more than hasten the sinking and some have even discussed the possibility that they slowed the sinking by allowing her to settle on a more even keel and not capsize earlier.
The shells wouldn't sink her,
There is simply no way to validate that statement.
.... Scharnhorst, same, how many torps did she absorb, and shell hits before sinking? Unbelieveable punishment.
One has to be very careful with this sort of analysis. While hit by something like 10 torpedos that doesn't mean a lesser number wouldn't have sunk her.
Give credit where credit is due; Ark Royal sank with a torpedo hit, Royal Oak, same. Scharnhorst blasted Glorious off the planet with ease. The Japanese had their way with American Cruisers Quincy, Astoria, and Vincennes at Savo Island. All three heavy cruisers were lost to gunfire and/or a couple of torpedoes.
The counter point would be to look at how much damage Hornet took. You also aren't accounting for the difference in the warheads used by the Japanese vs everyone else early in the war.

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Re: Hello to all

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:21 pm

lwd:
Not for long. Bismarck was clearly sinking when she was scuttled. She might have lasted 10s of minutes or even hours but she was going down from the damage already inflicted the scuttling charges probably did no more than hasten the sinking and some have even discussed the possibility that they slowed the sinking by allowing her to settle on a more even keel and not capsize earlier.
Is there any foundation to your guessings?
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Re: Hello to all

Post by Dave Saxton » Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:33 pm

Alpha3 has raised some interesting points of discussion, which deserve to be looked into in better detail. One question raised is about the relative risks the surface fleet was willing to engage in balanced against the possible rewards. I don't think there's any question that the very nature of the task (commerce raiding with a finite number of major warships) was extremely risky and likely to end in failure.

That the KM surface navy undertook these tasks rather than being simply a fleet in being was influenced by the fate of the High Seas Fleet in large part, but it also illustrates that they were willing to take on enormous risk and were willing to make enormous sacrifices of both men and material, especially per numbers. A capital ship is no small thing to place in such harms way, and to support such undertaking requires enormous outlays in support and supply, fuel particularly, and in organization. (Not realizing that enemy is reading your mail doesn't help in this regard either.) Some things the Germans had in only finite amounts, and huge difference between the position of the Allies enjoyed in such matters. This also demonstrates why the German destroyers could be exposed to such risks more willingly and also with greater overall success.

There was dichotomy of expectations in the pre Bismarck era that also continued afterward in a different way. The KM surface navy staked it's existence in the early offensives of both commerce raiding and also the conquest of Scandinavia, and paid a handsome sum. Yet it continued to boldly pursue and plan offensive operations. Yet while engaging in such risky undertakings; on scene commanders were expected to also avoid exposing their ships to such risks as torpedo hits or a really anything which would leave them helpless before the enemy so far from any support or deliverance. A tough set expectations indeed.

After Bismarck it was Hitler rather than the navy's command which imposed the "no unnecessary risks" policy which turned Tirpitz into a "chained dog". Hitler would not let the navy take any risk in practice but he still expected results. This lead directly to the Barents Sea skirmish which Hitler over reacted to. Even at a critical time during that battle Kummetz received a reminder not to take “unnecessary risks" which caused him to disembark when he still could have fought it out. It was Hitler's own meddling which created the timid command climate.

After Barents Sea the remaining surface ships (Sh & Tp) were under enormous pressure from Doenitz and ultimately Hitler to "redeem themselves".
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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