Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
alecsandros
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Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by alecsandros » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:46 pm

Hello,

My impression is that Germany would have won the war provided the big fleet of WW1 would have been saved (I don't know how they could have negotiated this, but it's interesting nontheless...)

What do you guys think ?

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by boredatwork » Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:16 pm

I don't think it would have made any difference.

1) Only the Bayern and Baden, reconstructed, might have been usefull in a WW2 context. The remaining dreadnoughts would have been like the pre-dreadnoughts in WW1 - usefull for training but a liability in a real battle.

2) The Grand Fleet in 1919 was already a much larger force - if the HSF isn't scuttled then the mass scrapping of the 1920s a) isn't likely to happen either OR b) Germany will be included in the washington treaty and the status quo will be maintained via mutual scrappings.

3) The British Navy was qualitively a better force in 1919 then it was in 1916 - with an immediate threat in the form of the continued existance of the HSF there is a greater likelyhood of much more funds being made available in the 20s to speed the qualitative improvements WW1 had shown were necessary.

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by alecsandros » Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:43 pm

boredatwork wrote:I don't think it would have made any difference.

1) Only the Bayern and Baden, reconstructed, might have been usefull in a WW2 context. The remaining dreadnoughts would have been like the pre-dreadnoughts in WW1 - usefull for training but a liability in a real battle.
I don't think so; the Konig class battleships were at least comparable to the Japanese Kongo class, which made it quite ok into the Second World War. The (rebuilt) Kaisers may also have played various roles. After all, they weren't the only 22kts battleships of WW2 (the British had plenty). The 5 battlecruisers were also interesting to rebuild...

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by boredatwork » Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:02 am

alecsandros wrote: I don't think so; the Konig class battleships were at least comparable to the Japanese Kongo class, which made it quite ok into the Second World War. The (rebuilt) Kaisers may also have played various roles. After all, they weren't the only 22kts battleships of WW2 (the British had plenty). The 5 battlecruisers were also interesting to rebuild...

You'll note I said USEFULL.

What usefull work did the Kongos perform during WW2 that justified the money spend on them? They at least had the speed to act as cruiser killers and the guns (14") that would at least cause pause to other capital ships. The British ships all had 15"+guns which at least allowed them to threaten more modern capital ships.

What ***usefull*** role would the Konigs, with 12" guns and ~22 knot or the Derfflinger and her half sister 8x12" and 26.5knots perform during the war? I will grant either would have better armour than the Kongo but even reconstructed, would only make them marginally superior to 11 RN battleships with 13.5" guns should Britain rebuild them to match. No conceivable reconstruction would allow them to confidently face the other 11 RN battleships with 15" guns, much less any new BBs built with war experience.

The Kaisers and 11" BCs would be even worse in that regard - at least the Konigs (and all 11 13.5" British battleships) had all 5 turrets on the centerline which makes major modernisation practical if still very unecconomical - removing the middle turret frees up volume, weight, and space to fit smaller, more efficient machinery, better horizontal and Torpedo protection, and upgraded secondary armament, similar to what the Italians did with their Cavours - though with more emphasis on protection than speed. The Kaisers' wing turrets will preclude efficient modernisation and removing them will leave you with only 6x12".

Given that defeat of the RN was out of the question, baring extreme incompetance, the only ***usefull*** tasks reconstructed dreadnoughts might have performed would be control of the baltic - which mines, u-boats, and the Luftwaffe historically had achieved while being overall more usefull - and shore bombardment which the army valued, but could not have made a decisive contribution to German victory regardless of how many BBs were crammed into the Baltic and would have come at the expense of other weapons which could have had a bigger impact.

IMO had they been retained the dreadnoughts of the HSF would have had careers that mirrored Schlesien and Schleswig-Holstein. They would have been somewhat more effective at the tasks the latter performed, but making a major contribution to German victory? I don't see it. If you have the resources to spend why waste them on the arm which accomplished little in WW1 and historically accomplished little again in WW2 (surface ships) at the expense of the arm which **almost** won you the war in 1918 and again in 1941/42(u-boats)?

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by alecsandros » Wed Feb 01, 2012 6:43 am

You're focusing very much on the ships as they were in 1919.
Remember a large number of ships were reconstructed in the 20s-30s, some of them receiving even superior power plants and thus higher speeds. Others had their guns re-bored, so as to be able to fire larger-calibre rounds, etc. In the aspect of armor, the German BBs and BCs were well armored, at least comparable to other ships of the time. And fire control was, of course, upgradable.

So solutions existed.

The presence of 15 German battleships and battlecruisers in the North Atlantic would make the life of the RN a living hell, as the bulk of the fleet would be immobilized in Scapa Flow to counter a possible attack on the British shores (even a landing), by the Kriegsmarine. This would leave the entire supply route from the US and Canada un-protected with heavy ships, which would make the attacks of practically any large German vessel a disaster for the convoys.

Of course, a 11" battlecruiser couldn't take head-on a 15" battleship. But that's not the idea. I wasn't thinking of an apocalyptic Jutland-style battle, but a different war of the Atlantic, in which Britain's supply lines would be cut rapidly, in 1939-40-41, by the combined actions of surface raiders and Uboats.

Furthermore, a large fleet would at least make possible some capturing of remote territories by the Germans...

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by boredatwork » Wed Feb 01, 2012 5:26 pm

alecsandros wrote:You're focusing very much on the ships as they were in 1919.
Remember a large number of ships were reconstructed in the 20s-30s, some of them receiving even superior power plants and thus higher speeds. Others had their guns re-bored, so as to be able to fire larger-calibre rounds, etc. In the aspect of armor, the German BBs and BCs were well armored, at least comparable to other ships of the time. And fire control was, of course, upgradable.
Focussing on the ships as they were in 1919???

Did you even bother to read my post???

I discussed the cost effectiveness of reconstruction in every paragraph.
What usefull work did the Kongos perform during WW2 that justified the money spend on them?...

I will grant either would have better armour than the Kongo but even reconstructed, would only make them marginally superior to 11 RN battleships with 13.5" guns should Britain rebuild them to match. No conceivable reconstruction...

The Kaisers and 11" BCs would be even worse in that regard - at least the Konigs (and all 11 13.5" British battleships) had all 5 turrets on the centerline which makes major modernisation practical if still very unecconomical - removing the middle turret frees up volume, weight, and space to fit smaller, more efficient machinery, better horizontal and Torpedo protection, and upgraded secondary armament, similar to what the Italians did with their Cavours - though with more emphasis on protection than speed. The Kaisers' wing turrets will preclude efficient modernisation and removing them will leave you with only 6x12".
IMO you're over estimating the cost effectiveness of reconstructions, particularly given the economic climate of interwar Germany.

Warspite was a somewhat usefull reconstruction only because she had a relatively heavy armament compared to her potential opponents and thus remained a threat - however according to Goodall "The protection of Warspite will still be much below desirable standard. The boiler rooms will have no modern deck protection ... side armour not sufficiently deep will not compare with a modern capital ship against B bomb and non-contact torpedoes." She cost 1/3 the cost of a KGV to reconstruct and cost nearly as much to operate despite still being a much inferior ship.

The Italian Cavour class is the closest to what you propose - with new engines for 26 knots, new secondary batteries, improved armour, improved torpedo protection, and 12" weapons bored out to 12.6". The result was, although an unparalled technical achievement, was still useless as a BB in a WW2 context. The cost was 50% of that of a Littorio, though again operating costs did not differ as much.

And again since you brought up the Kongos and yet didn't answer my counter question what usefull work did they perform in WW2 that justified the vast sums the Japanese spent on them? Damage a few US ships and fail to bombard an airfield into submission? Destroyers could have achieved that at a fraction of the cost.

IF you're going to throw money at capital ships to play at commerce warfare why waste millions rebuilding Konigs when the end result won't give you a decisive margin over the weakest of the ships your enemy could counter it with when for the price of 2-3 reconstructions you could build an additional Bismarck which only the handfull of *best* enemy ships will be able to safely match and thus increase your odds of generating a favourable match-up.
Furthermore, a large fleet would at least make possible some capturing of remote territories by the Germans...


How can a large short range fleet capture remote territories in the face of an even larger fleet?

If Germany keeps and upgrades her 2x15" ships, 11x12" ships, and 2-3x11" ships why does the Royal Navy not keep her 14 ships with 13.5" weapons in addition to her 13 with 15" weapons? 15 to 27. Those odds didn't work very well for Germany in 1916 - why would they work better for her in WW2 with the British far improved as a result of the dissapointment of Jutland? Dispersed or concentrated ultimate victory will go to the far larger navy.
The presence of 15 German battleships and battlecruisers in the North Atlantic would make the life of the RN a living hell, as the bulk of the fleet would be immobilized in Scapa Flow to counter a possible attack on the British shores (even a landing), by the Kriegsmarine. This would leave the entire supply route from the US and Canada un-protected with heavy ships, which would make the attacks of practically any large German vessel a disaster for the convoys.
How does Germany support 15 short range battleships on the North Atlantic when she had difficulty supporting 2. And had difficulty providing the Italians enough oil to operate their Battlefleet in the Med? And why would the bulk of the fleet be immobilised in Scapa? Intelligence, though far from perfect, is bound to quickly notice the absence of large numbers of dreadnoughts from German bases and the north sea. Did Britain keep KGV & Hood in Scapa in fear that Bismarck and PE might be intending to raid the east coast? No - she formed hunting groups and actively sought them out. Mines, submarines, light forces and aircraft will make propaganda raids risky business, to say nothing of a landing. And again given that 15" ships alone could overmatch the entire German fleet, the 14 x 13.5" ships will be available as convoys escorts - the "entire supply route ftom the US and Canada" will hardly be "un-protected with heavy ships".

Beyond a handfull for a fleet in being there was no reason for the Germans to possess a battlefleet as u-boats, mines, and aircraft were a far more cost effective approach to defeating the Royal Navy.

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by alecsandros » Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:40 pm

Michael, no offense intented, but you're sounding like lwd... :D Argumentative, picking points, etc.
Where should I begin answering... your comments ?

Ah, your reply. I've read it... But I don't think we understand each other very well...
I'll make another try though, who knows ? Maybe it's the coffee ? :D

About the relative merits of reconstructed BBs/BCs. I don't keep them in high regard either. The Kongo/s and Duilio's were amongst the weakest capital ships of the war. I wouldn't want to let them under fire from a modern BB... (Kirishima and Washington... :D )
But the RN also fielded a vast majority of capital ships of WW1 vintage... And slow (< 23kts). The main armor of all RN BBs and BCs built before the 1930s wasn't enough to stop German 38, 32, or even 28cm gunfire at any likely ranges. This is mostly because the quality of the KC armor evolved quite alot after the first war... And the quality of teh AP shells also evolved alot... It was luck that RN capital ships weren't under fire from similar opponents [and in the few instances when they were, Hood blew up in 5 minutes, and Renown wasn't hit in the armored areas by Schar+Gneisneau. I guess we should leave out Warspite gettign hit by teh Fritz-X, as it's a to powerfull weapon...]

By the way, most of the German ships scuttled in Scapa Flow were ocean-going vessels, with acceptable range ~ 5000 miles and good sea keeping... You might want to look it up before plastering me with "they were good for the Baltic only" and "How can a large short range fleet capture remote territories in the face of an even larger fleet?".
At Scapa Flow there were some 50 German DDs... and 10 BBs and 5 BCs... And 8 cruisers... So it's not only the heavy ships, but also some serious escort force, which could be added to the small historical KGM of 1939...

And again, it's not about a "match-up", it's about Britain probably getting her supply lines cut by repeated attacks with heavy ships and Uboats, against which it would not have the historical quantitative ratio that it had at the start of the war. In the historical battle of The Atlantic, the British were hard pressed, allthough having 15:0 parity in battleships, 6:0 parity in carriers, and about 150:0 parity in ocean-going destroyers in 1939.

With some reconstruction work, the Von der Tann could reach, maybe 29-30kts, while the Derfflinger's coudl approach 28-29. Seydlitz maybe 28; Moltke was allready at 28+... Even without machinery reconstruction, these ships had anyway speeds in excess of 26.5kts, and many close to 27kts. 5 of those ships survived the war. Add the 2 Scharnhorsts (large BCs in my opinion, as you know) and Germany would field 7 BCs in 1939. The ONLY British ships that could overtake them would be Repulse and Renown.

"Those odds didn't work very well for Germany in 1916 - why would they work better for her in WW2 with the British far improved as a result of the dissapointment of Jutland? Dispersed or concentrated ultimate victory will go to the far larger navy"

In WW1, the RN didn't have to worry about the Med. In WW2, it sent significant surface forces there. Also, the Pacific theatre did not engulf British warships in WW1, while in WW2 it certainly did!

In the mean time, the Germans would have ALL their supposed ships in one place... (in the Baltic) This would assure probable local supperiority in the North Atlantic, as a good number of RN BCs/BBs would be performing various missions in other theatres of operations.

P.S.: The costs of reconstructions are more tricky to assess. Inflation after WW1 was huge in many countries. So some expenditure done in 1918 Germany may not be relevant at all to some other expenditure done in 1928 Germany...

P.S.2: If an arms race would start again after WW1 (though I don;t know with what resources), the Germans would probably want to complete their 4 Mackensen's/Ersatz York's, and the BRitish would probably respond by completing all 5 Admiral class BCs... Again, the numerical advantage of the RN would be dilluted because of the many missions it had to carry out in WW2 as compared to WW1...

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by Pandora » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:04 pm

well, well, well, if Germany keeps all its fleet after WW1 and modernizes some ships in the 30s I think they have a good chance of launching Sea Lion.

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by boredatwork » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:29 pm

alecsandros wrote:Michael, no offense intented, but you're sounding like lwd... :D Argumentative, picking points, etc.
...Ah, your reply. I've read it... But I don't think we understand each other very well...
I wrote 2 pages of response but before I post it I will give you the benefit of the doubt.

Perhaps the fault is mine for misunderstanding your hypothetical scenario ->

I assumed you meant "Germany would have won the war if the HSF had been saved to contribute in WW2." and have been arguing negatively against that POV.









The only way I can fathom your arguments maybe making sense is if your hypothetical situation was instead "Germany would have won the war if the HSF had been saved to contribute in WW2 AND THE ROYAL NAVY CLOSED IT'S EYES TO THE FACT AND DID NOTHING TO ALTER IT'S HISTORICAL 1939 POSITION."



If the latter is indeed the case I apologize - I wouldn't have bothered becoming involved at all in such a stacked scenario. If not then I'm afraid most of your points bare countering. :wink:

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by alecsandros » Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:35 am

boredatwork wrote: The only way I can fathom your arguments maybe making sense is if your hypothetical situation was instead "Germany would have won the war if the HSF had been saved to contribute in WW2 AND THE ROYAL NAVY CLOSED IT'S EYES TO THE FACT AND DID NOTHING TO ALTER IT'S HISTORICAL 1939 POSITION."
Yes, this is the case :)

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by alecsandros » Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:36 am

Pandora wrote:well, well, well, if Germany keeps all its fleet after WW1 and modernizes some ships in the 30s I think they have a good chance of launching Sea Lion.
My point exactly...

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by 19kilo » Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:01 am

alecsandros wrote:You're focusing very much on the ships as they were in 1919.
Remember a large number of ships were reconstructed in the 20s-30s, some of them receiving even superior power plants and thus higher speeds. Others had their guns re-bored, so as to be able to fire larger-calibre rounds, etc. In the aspect of armor, the German BBs and BCs were well armored, at least comparable to other ships of the time. And fire control was, of course, upgradable.

So solutions existed.

The presence of 15 German battleships and battlecruisers in the North Atlantic would make the life of the RN a living hell, as the bulk of the fleet would be immobilized in Scapa Flow to counter a possible attack on the British shores (even a landing), by the Kriegsmarine. This would leave the entire supply route from the US and Canada un-protected with heavy ships, which would make the attacks of practically any large German vessel a disaster for the convoys.

Of course, a 11" battlecruiser couldn't take head-on a 15" battleship. But that's not the idea. I wasn't thinking of an apocalyptic Jutland-style battle, but a different war of the Atlantic, in which Britain's supply lines would be cut rapidly, in 1939-40-41, by the combined actions of surface raiders and Uboats.

Furthermore, a large fleet would at least make possible some capturing of remote territories by the Germans...
Just a thought here......but you crediting the German Navy with 15 battleships in the north sea and yet you dont seem to have credited the RN with having done anything to counter them in the inter-war years. I would imagine that if the Germans had somehow managed to keep the HSF after Nov 1918 then the British would have insured that the RN maintained a MASSIVE superiority in numbers. Both with upgrades to older ships and with new builds.

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by alecsandros » Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:00 am

Of course, it's a possibility.
HOwever, new builds in the 20s were very hard to do, because of the scarcity of resources, and later on the great depression... I only know of Rodney and Nelson as battleships built in the 20s ? And construction lasted 5 years due to financial problems... This would be my explanation for the very big number of rebuilds seen in the 20s-30s.

New battleship development was only restarted after 1934, when the waves of the Great Depression started to dissipate... That's when the British started planning for the KGV and, later on, Vanguard classes...

So I don't know how Great Britain would be able to construct sufficient ships to mantain a "massive superiority" over a proposed German large fleet... Maybe finish the 5 x Admiral Class BCs, while the Germans would finish their own 4 x Ersatz Yorks.

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by 19kilo » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:52 am

I think the disarmament treaties had more to do with capital ship construction than the depression.

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Re: Germany keeps all it's fleet after WW1

Post by alecsandros » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:49 pm

Absolutely. But financial constraints were important motivators for the treaties...

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