Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

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Saltheart
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Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby Saltheart » Thu Jun 23, 2011 10:42 pm

In June 1940 Grand Admiral Raeder advised Hitler to cancel the two carriers under construction. No doubt Goering fanatically agreed and Hitler canned both ships. Gregor Strasser was scrapped and Graf Zeppelin mothballed.
Lets have a scenario where Hitler has a bit of intuition. He knows he has two battleships coming with 15 inch guns but he's got a worry about British torpedo bombers. We know that before Bismarck left in May 1941 Hitler asked Lutjens what his greatest concern was and he replied immediately torpedo bombers. Hitler apparently strongly agreed that that was his greatest fear too.
So lets have it that Hitler rejects Raeder's advice and insists that Graf Zeppelin be completed. In June 1940 it was about 80% built and preparation of aircraft was well under way. So it's physically completed by early 1941 (like Tirpitz) and fully trained up in ships crew and aircrew by the autumn of 41 (like Tirpitz). Bismarck is lost in May but in November Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin head out together escorted by Hipper. The British have King George V, PoW, Repulse and Renown. They also have several carriers.
Would the British be able to cope? Would Fairey Fulmars outfight Bf109Ts? Would cruisers be able to shadow without being attacked by dive bombers? Would scout planes be able to shadow without immediately being shot down by fighters? How would the British even maintain contact if they couldn't adequately shadow?

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby Tiornu » Thu Jun 23, 2011 10:51 pm

GZ's sistership was never named, though some writers persist in claiming it was named Peter Strasser.
If construction had not been interrupted, GZ would not have been operational until 1943, or perhaps the very end of 1942.
A sortie into the open Atlantic in Nov 1941 could have been disastrous for German turbine warships, which explains why no such sortie was even planned. The British gobble up the replenishment fleet, and the warships find themselves in mid-ocean hoping they have enough fumes left to steam home.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby delcyros » Fri Jun 24, 2011 10:52 am

All but one of the four ocean going supply ships were still there to the end of 1942. Only UCKERMARK wasn´t. She arrived in Yokohama on Nov. 24th., 1942 after serving off France together with Ermland.
DITHMARSCHEN and NORDMARK were both operating off Norway, ERMLAND was stationed in France.

FRANKEN as the fifth ship of the class was still in the process of fitting out.

None of these auxilary supply ships were sunk by the RN. ERMLAND was destroyed by an bomber command air raid via direct bomb hits and UCKERMARK exploded because of an internal explosion in YOKOHAMA. FRANKEN was bombed in april 1945 off Poland and UCKERMARK & DITHMARSCHEN surviced to serve well into the 50´s & 60´s.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby lwd » Fri Jun 24, 2011 2:41 pm

The work up period for Graf Zeppelin would also likely be an extensive one. As we've gone into elsewhere there were some serious issues with her design.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby Tiornu » Fri Jun 24, 2011 5:18 pm

How many replenishment ships were lost during Bismarck's operation? After that, the Germans didn't plan a single sortie for their turbine warships. They did plan one for a pocket battleship, but after her torpedo damage, they gave up on that, too. Only the armed merchantmen continued raiding sorties after that.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby Thorsten Wahl » Fri Jun 24, 2011 5:31 pm

12 ships were on the list
Weather ships
Freese, München, August Wriedt, Lauenburg

U-boat supplier
Gedania, Egerland, Alstertor

Fleet tanker
Belchen, Gonzenheim, Esso Hamburg, Breme, Lothringen

Blockade runner
Babitonga
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: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby dunmunro » Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:51 pm

The RN's raid on Kirkenes and Petsamo suffered heavy losses, but it did demonstrate the RN's capabilities in the fall of 1941.

Let's assume that this strike is launched against Tirpitz and GZ instead:

Victorious and Furious launched a strike consisting of 29 Albacores, 9 Swordfish and 15 Fulmars, while also launching a CAP of 2 Sea Hurricanes and 3 Fulmars, with the same number in reserve. RN doctrine called for DB attacks against carriers, and it is likely that some or all of the Albacores would be configured as DBs with 4 - 6 250lb bombs each, or 2 - 3 500lb bombs, or a combination of the two, say 2 x 500lb and 2 x 250lb with the Swordfish armed with torpedoes. It also seems likely that if the KM possessed a carrier with fighters, that Furious would carry more Sea Hurricanes and fewer Fulmars.

The ability of the KM to defeat the attack would be predicated on early warning, and timely launch of her fighters. Did the KM have an effective LR AW radar? The RN did, and they would use it to shoot down KM recon aircraft to try and thwart a KM strike. In the typically cloudy North Atlantic weather, the RN's ASV radar equipped recon and strike aircraft would have a big edge in finding their targets.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby Saltheart » Wed Jun 29, 2011 4:21 am

Tiornu wrote:GZ's sistership was never named, though some writers persist in claiming it was named Peter Strasser.
If construction had not been interrupted, GZ would not have been operational until 1943, or perhaps the very end of 1942.
A sortie into the open Atlantic in Nov 1941 could have been disastrous for German turbine warships, which explains why no such sortie was even planned. The British gobble up the replenishment fleet, and the warships find themselves in mid-ocean hoping they have enough fumes left to steam home.


They restarted work on the GZ in the spring of 42 so it wouldn't have been ready till late 43, but in June 1940 with the workforce on the job, the materials being delivered and the project going along steadily it would have been complete by the spring of 41. After 6 months training it could have gone out in November 41.
I agree though about support shipping, I'm not sure they could have spent much time in the Atlantic but during the week or ten days they would have been there it would have been a real battle.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby Tiornu » Wed Jun 29, 2011 3:22 pm

You're confusing the completion of construction with readiness for operations. There's no possibility of getting the ship ready in 1941.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby delcyros » Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:21 pm

I was always thinking that no airplanes existed for GZ. Until someone pointed me to the fact that GRAF ZEPPELIN´s naval dive bomber airgroup 4.(St.)/186 (T.) equipped with Ju-87C0 and Ju-87C1 was not only formed in 1939 and came along well with training but in fact was operationally deployed in combat over northern Poland in 1939 operating from land bases in northern Germany. They were involved in sinking of polish warships, too.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby Tiornu » Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:00 pm

The I./JG 77 was active with 109T's by 1941. About a dozen Fieseler torpedo planes were built, but they would not have served aboard GZ.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby delcyros » Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:07 pm

The Fieseler was a remarkable plane but why wouldn´t it serve aboard GRAF ZEPPELIN? As far as I understand it was planned to be the first aeroplane outfit next to Ju-87C and Bf-109T. In my mind, the Fieseler would better serve on small carriers (owing to it´s STOL capabilities) but why shouldn´t it serve on GRAF ZEPPELIN? About 20 Fi-167 were produced by the plant before production was suspended. The production was suspended because GRAF ZEPPELIN´s outfitting was halted in 1940.
As far as I see the

[+] Ju-87C was serving in 1939
[+] Fi-167 was serving in 1940
[+] Bf-109T was serving in 1941

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby Tiornu » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:26 pm

I agree with you, and I've found nothing but complimentary descriptions of the Fieseler. However, someone somewhere had made the decision to stick with Stukas as the only attack aircraft, so it was an administrative matter, not one of aircraft design. I'm not sure why the decision was made, perhaps because it's simpler to have two models on board rather than three. Certainly the Germans had a limited appreciation of aerial torpedoes going into WWII.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby RF » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:03 pm

This scenario throws up a multitude of side issues central to the question of success.

If the three German ships are on their own, then the Fleet Commander has problems. Tirpitz is going to be tied down escorting the GZ particulary if a large proportion of its planes are lost. How is the supply and refuelling handled - Barbarossa will have priority for fuel requirements. And Barbarossa means minimum Luftwaffe strength in Biscay and no Atrlantic reconnaissance.

And what of Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen, all in the Biscay ports.

As a single operation, for November 1941, it has far less chance than Rheinubung.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Postby delcyros » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:05 pm

They had some experiences with aerial torpedoing of naval shipping in world war one, including two unsuccessful attempts to sink the russian pre-Dreadnought SLAVA with torpedobombers (the job later done by SMS KÖNIG). They also had a lot of continuation attempts in the interwar period operating torpedobombers in some of the scandinavian airfroces and later on their own. For this purpose twin engined float planes were generally preferred in ww1 and the interwar period (even though the first torpedo carrying bomber was a modified Albatros single engined A/C buildt for this purpose in Fürstenwalde early in 1916), altough this changed with Dorniers commercially successful Do-D (T) bomber and the more advanced Do-22.
I am not sure but I do remember that the drop out of the Fi-167 wasn´t ordered by the administration before the "revival" of GRAF ZEPPELIN´s construction in 1943, by whiches time proposals the Fi-167 would soon be rendered obsolete. But by 1940 as well?

Strategically and tactically, it´s my believe that it made more sense to send one raider than four.


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