3 German battleships in May 1941.

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RF
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Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by RF » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:26 am

Paul,

With respect to Sea Lion, over the years several alternative scenarios by journalists and military experts have been detailed where the Germans succeed without a vast armada of shipping or substantial naval surface ships. Many of my posts on this subject follow their thinking, as Sea Lion involved all three branches of armed forces and isn't simply a naval landing in isolation.

Similary in reality a Japanese invasion force of 35,000 invading Singapore Island, short on ammunition particulary in heavy artillery shells, shouldn't have prevailed against a defending army of nearly 130,000 but they did.

As for the twins versus Renown - yes they are likely to be damaged, but your assessment overlooks the strategy I would adopt of separate flank attack and its effects.
Another thread a few years ago - not created by me!!! - seriously proposed that the twins take on Yamato. Logically Yamato should come out of that without a scratch, yet it was seriously debated that the twins perform the role of torpedo boats and despatch the Yamato with torpedoes! Well if the twins could do that then Renown should by comparison be a relative ''piece of cake'' would it not?
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Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by alecsandros » Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:20 pm

Under the appropriate circumstances (i.e. not favoring either side - loss of radar, silhouette easily visible against the sunset, similarly trained and skilled crews and command, etc), Scharnhorst alone could take on Renown, albeit at the cost of moderate damage to herself.

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Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by paul.mercer » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:23 pm

RF wrote:Paul,

With respect to Sea Lion, over the years several alternative scenarios by journalists and military experts have been detailed where the Germans succeed without a vast armada of shipping or substantial naval surface ships. Many of my posts on this subject follow their thinking, as Sea Lion involved all three branches of armed forces and isn't simply a naval landing in isolation.

Similary in reality a Japanese invasion force of 35,000 invading Singapore Island, short on ammunition particulary in heavy artillery shells, shouldn't have prevailed against a defending army of nearly 130,000 but they did.

As for the twins versus Renown - yes they are likely to be damaged, but your assessment overlooks the strategy I would adopt of separate flank attack and its effects.
Another thread a few years ago - not created by me!!! - seriously proposed that the twins take on Yamato. Logically Yamato should come out of that without a scratch, yet it was seriously debated that the twins perform the role of torpedo boats and despatch the Yamato with torpedoes! Well if the twins could do that then Renown should by comparison be a relative ''piece of cake'' would it not?
Thanks RF, as always your well informed and researched comments provide a lot of food for comtemplation and thow a completely differerent light on the subject which I had not thought about!
Thanks again.

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Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by delcyros » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:27 pm

Wrt RENOWN + a DD flotilla vs S&G:

only one 15"hit was achieved on GNEISENAU, actually an 'over' rather than from a straddling hit which happened to strike the spotting top, disabling one RF position, incl. RF. In return, RENOWN achieved 2 11 " hull hits from straddling salvos from both BB's rear triple turrets.

Conditions were very poor in this engagement for both sides. Two further 4" or 4.7" hits were achieved on the german battleship, one striking a turret RF, which allowed a fair amount of water to ingress the turret creating much discomfort and another one glancing of the aftermost superfiring 4.1"/65 DP mount without creating damage.
4"/4.7" fire was not centrally directed and may even habe been from one of the DD's shooting at the twins in the begin of the engagement rather than from RENOWN. Any competent commander would disengage with 2 BB but no destroyer screen in poor environmental conditions against a DD flotilla augmented by a BC. HMS RENOWN isn't the principal danger. Torpedoes launched from DD in a surprise condition from moderate distance is!

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Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by RF » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:19 am

In poor visibility the destroyers would be a major threat - indeed as they later proved at the North Cape engagement. Indeed even in clear visibility they would need to be watched, as evidenced in the sinking of Glorious.

But - put Vians flotilla of five Cossacks against the twins in a flat calm, excellent clear visibility with no other targets to distract the Germans - who is likely to win?
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Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by paul.mercer » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:09 pm

delcyros wrote:Wrt RENOWN + a DD flotilla vs S&G:

only one 15"hit was achieved on GNEISENAU, actually an 'over' rather than from a straddling hit which happened to strike the spotting top, disabling one RF position, incl. RF. In return, RENOWN achieved 2 11 " hull hits from straddling salvos from both BB's rear triple turrets.

Conditions were very poor in this engagement for both sides. Two further 4" or 4.7" hits were achieved on the german battleship, one striking a turret RF, which allowed a fair amount of water to ingress the turret creating much discomfort and another one glancing of the aftermost superfiring 4.1"/65 DP mount without creating damage.
4"/4.7" fire was not centrally directed and may even habe been from one of the DD's shooting at the twins in the begin of the engagement rather than from RENOWN. Any competent commander would disengage with 2 BB but no destroyer screen in poor environmental conditions against a DD flotilla augmented by a BC. HMS RENOWN isn't the principal danger. Torpedoes launched from DD in a surprise condition from moderate distance is!
According the book Scharnhorst & Gneisenau the Elusive Sisters by Richard Garrett, Gneisnaeu received two 15" hits. I quote, "But now Gneisenau was in trouble. A hit on her superstructure had put all her fire control equipment out of action, and a second impact had silenced the 11" guns in Caesar turret"

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Post by Terje Langoy » Thu May 03, 2012 11:04 pm

G´day all

Garrett is a poor source on this particular encounter “...put all her fire control equipment out of action, ...second impact silenced turret Caesar”

One 38 cm hit (a thru-and-thru) severed the power supply to the foretop fire director and also resulted in the loss of the ships senior gunnery officer, Fregattenkapitän Hans-Georg von Buchka along with Lieutenant Fritsche and several ratings

This was a temporary yet critical loss of central fire, senior command was reassumed by secondary gunnery officer Kähler in the forward position. When orders to withdraw came down at 0519 hours he transferred command aft to third gunnery officer Bredenbreuker in the rear position whom ceased fire when Scharnhorst crossed the wake of the flagship and assumed station in keel line astern shortly thereafter

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Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by lwd » Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:29 pm

RF wrote: .... He could and should have finished the job by the early summer of 1940, by launching an all out assault on Britain immediately on the French surrender.
With what? He had neather the transport shipping nor the navy nor air supremancey.
He was in a winning position - and threw it away.
Highly debateable. Indeed I think he found himself in a positon in which he had no way to force a win.
RF wrote: ... Firstly by capturing most of the Allied forces at Dunkirk.
Was this even possible? Given the state of the German army especially their motorized elements I doubt it.
Secondly by requiring the French, as part of the Armistice terms of June 1940 to place all French shipping and warships at Germanys' disposal.
Will the French agree to this? Even if they put the shipping at the disposal of the Germans is it with French crews or not? If the former how much can the Germans trust them? If the latter how long does it take the Germans to train and ready the crews and of course what does the RN do in the mean time as most of the French ships aren't in the Atlantic.
Thirdly by launching an all out attack on Fighter Command airfields in south east England and on the Chain Home radar installations within range of stukas, by early July.
This is likely to result in the loss of a lot of Stukas and still not defeat the RAF. Note that the Stukas sustained unacceptable losses in the channel campaign during this period.
Fourthly by ordering a joint armed forces plan for an invasion of England along the Kent and Sussex coast, timed before the end of July to take the maximum advantage of the short nights before they start drawing in.
Where do they get the shipping to move anything like the required force.
Fifthly by destroying the RAF fighter forces by attrition by mid-July.
They tried this a couple months later and were more successful in destroying th eLW than the RAF. In this case how many airfields will they have ready with support facilities in France? Operational losses alone whill likely be a huge problem.
Sixthly by getting Italian co-operation for an invasion of Britain, requiring as large a force of Italian torpedo bombers that can be assembled for Channel operations.
Did Italy have a large force of toppedoe bombers at this point in time? The Italians did historically send some planes for th eBoB but they have their own cocnerns in the Med as well.
Seventhly I would send the Scheer into the North Atlantic via the Denmark Strait, with orders to attack North Atlantic convoys.
Well she is being worked on during July of 1940 but the work may not have been required. Not sure it will make a huge difference in the war in any case.
Eigth by invading Britain - it is only by the invasion itself that the RN is drawn into the English Channel where it can be targeted in daylight hours by the maximum Axis air strength.
Or not. From what I've read the British planned on using mostly light vessels, nothing bigger than a light cruiser as a matter of fact vs the invasion and that would have been more than sufficient. Furthermore there was no guarantte that hey would be there during daylight hours.
With the RAF now largely destroyed and the British Army still short of men, weapons and ammunition the main task for the Germans is securing the Channel crossings using air power as the primary weapon.
Except the RAF would likely not be largely destroyed and in anycase the the LW would have likely taken even more severe losses in the run up to the invasion atempt as they did historically. Also much of the lossess on the contient with the exception of motor vehicles had already been made up.
That is the winning strategy.
I see it more as a flight of fantasy.
RF wrote:... With respect to Sea Lion, over the years several alternative scenarios by journalists and military experts have been detailed where the Germans succeed without a vast armada of shipping or substantial naval surface ships.
That's strange. I've read a lot of Sea Lion threads over the years some very well documented and none have made a strong or even a very good case for a German success. Indeed the ones that even had significant German landings often made assumptions to allow them for the purposes of a game or to investigate some situation of interest.


Back to topic one possibility that I see if the Germans try to break out with the Bismarck, the twins (no matter the armament), and Eugen in May of 1940 is that the British bet the Germans don't try to go between the British Isles and Iceland and thus mass their ships against the Iceland Greenland gap. This would likely be KGV, PoW, Hood, and one or both Renown and Repulse (was only one available historically?) If they manage to interecept the raiders are likely turned back but bad luck could make it very expensive for the British.

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Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by RF » Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:25 pm

lwd,

Britain in mid June 1940 was in a far weaker position than you presume. At that time, particulary after the fall of France most people in France and the US assumed Britain would go under. There was considerable sentiment in government circles to ''do a deal'' with Hitler and it was only the determination of Churchill, supported by Attlee and Eden, that kept Britain in the war. Left to Halifax or Chamberlain and there would have been another Munich style settlement, the slippery slope to surrender.

The RAF at the start of summer 1940 was far shorter of trained pilots and aircraft than it was by early September. The British Army was desparately short of weapons and ammunition, particulary of tanks and artillery. By September 1940 there were sixteen re-equipped and re-armed divisions available in Kent/Sussex to contest an invasion. But in late June only the RN could act as a substantial barrier - at a time just when the war was extended to the Med and Indian Ocean.

Had Hitler been bolder and properly mobilised Germany for total war beforehand - as his propaganda had implied and was believed by those outside Germany at the time - the the proposals I suggested would be a formality.
The destruction of the RAF should have been straight forward because the Germans should have concentrated on the Fighter Command airfields and radar stations. By August the RAF was gaining strength while the Germans dilly dallied. As fortheinvasion itself - the required shipping was there if it had been properly prepared and organised. Not that too much shipping would have been needed, the invasion forces required to land in a semi-armed England would not be large, especially with total air superiority.
As for the Scheer - that ship would be of far greater use in attacking a North Atlantic convoy than it would be in the North Sea or the Channel. A German heavy ship in the Atlantic would stop the convoys for lack of escorts, causing far greater strategic damage to Britain and impacting on neutrals. If forces had to be sent against the Scheer then they wouldn't be able to operate in the Channel.
Last edited by RF on Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by RF » Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:29 pm

With respect to the RN countering an invasion by operating in the Channel with light forces under cover of darkness, well up until the third week of July there will be less than six hours of total nightime darkness there at night because of the Earth's axial tilt. Indeed at this time of year even in Wolverhampton in the English Midlands it barely gets completely dark even in cloudy weather at night.
By late August the nights are advancing in rapidly and there is certainly more advantage to the RN as each day goes by.
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Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Jun 23, 2012 9:57 pm

RF:

I concur with your observations under the given premises, indeed. It is also known that Stalin was considering to go for a deal with Hitler when Operation Blue seemed unstopable. Hitler has more chances to win than usually acknowledged (certain more than the japanese had, anyway). It is clear, as you point out, that threw them away.

Many Americans do not understand this (or not want to) because it will be acknowledging that their part in the war would have been negligible if Great Britain surrendered by 1940-41. It's like their movies: WWII started at Pearl Harbor and was finished by Brad Pitt with a baseball bat after the USN stole Enigma from U 571.
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Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:50 pm

RF wrote:With respect to the RN countering an invasion by operating in the Channel with light forces under cover of darkness, well up until the third week of July there will be less than six hours of total nightime darkness there at night because of the Earth's axial tilt. Indeed at this time of year even in Wolverhampton in the English Midlands it barely gets completely dark even in cloudy weather at night.
By late August the nights are advancing in rapidly and there is certainly more advantage to the RN as each day goes by.

In 1940 British light forces were virtually useless under cover of darkness, because they had no radar. German destroyers (zerstroyers and TBs) on the other hand had radar, and they and lighter forces also by Sept 1940 had effective shore based radar command and control while operating in the Channel and the Western Approaches. Indeed until Nov 1943 the Germans held sea superiority through the channel at night. Furthermore, during these time frames the Luftwaffe while operating in defense, without stretching the range of their fighters, held air superiority during day light hours over the Channel.

Even following the introduction of Type 271 radar in late 1941, and ASV radar on patrol aircraft as well, the Germans still ruled the night in these restricted waters until late 1943.
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: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by RF » Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:24 pm

Dave Saxton wrote: In 1940 British light forces were virtually useless under cover of darkness, because they had no radar. German destroyers (zerstroyers and TBs) on the other hand had radar, and they and lighter forces also by Sept 1940 had effective shore based radar command and control while operating in the Channel and the Western Approaches. Indeed until Nov 1943 the Germans held sea superiority through the channel at night. Furthermore, during these time frames the Luftwaffe while operating in defense, without stretching the range of their fighters, held air superiority during day light hours over the Channel.

Even following the introduction of Type 271 radar in late 1941, and ASV radar on patrol aircraft as well, the Germans still ruled the night in these restricted waters until late 1943.
I wasn't aware of this, and these factors make my arguments for a possible successful Sea Lion even more cogent. And not just German destroyers - the German light cruisers and Hipper could also operate in the Channel during daylight, with heavy Luftwaffe support, if the RN doesn't send in anything heavier than light forces.
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Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by Francis Marliere » Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:31 am

Dave Saxton wrote:In 1940 British light forces were virtually useless under cover of darkness, because they had no radar. German destroyers (zerstroyers and TBs) on the other hand had radar, and they and lighter forces also by Sept 1940 had effective shore based radar command and control while operating in the Channel and the Western Approaches. Indeed until Nov 1943 the Germans held sea superiority through the channel at night. Furthermore, during these time frames the Luftwaffe while operating in defense, without stretching the range of their fighters, held air superiority during day light hours over the Channel.
I don't challenge Dave's knowledge of German radar, which is without doubt better than mine, but I am a bit sceptical about the German "sea superiority through the channel at night".
First, I wonder if the German radar would really give an advantage on the battlesfield.
Did German small units really have sets ? Generally the biggest units get the sets first and I am not sure that the DKM has enough radars for all his ships, and enough time ton install them.
Did these radars really work ? Having a radar fitted does not mean that the set works (early radars were unreliable and fragile - look at the Prince of Wales whose radar was inoperable when he arrived at Singapore) or that the operator, the C.O. and / or the admiral all know how to use it. A radar is useless if the OTC does not trust it.
Did the German have the weapons, training and doctrine for night fighting ? I confess I don't know. All what I know is that a battle is always a matter of luck, skill, guts, leadership, etc. and that while radar can help, it does not make you invincible at night, as the desasters of Savo and Tassafaronga proved.

I also wonder about the availability of German warships. The heavy ships not under repair were too precious to be exposed in the Channel. The light forces have been decimated in Narvik and there were very few DD and TB available to protect the barge. They would be spread along a wide area and would likely be alone when challenged by the RN.

Last, I would like to point how vulnerable the invasion convoy would be. Bad weather could sink barges by dozens because they are really poor sea boats. RAF could sink many barges with bombs (near misses would sink any barges in proximity) and straffin atatcks, despite German fighter cover, because whatever their quality, the German fighters could not be every where every time ; the RAF could chose when and where to strike. Mines could also take an heavy poll, and surface units could decimate the convoy. The German navy could not challenge the RN in the Channel, even by night, because Germany simply didn't have enough ships to stop the RN. I don't think that the LW could neither stop British ships. Of course, the Ju 87 and 88 could inflict heavy looses, but I think that the RN has enough expendable ships and enough determination to carry on. The Mediterranean Fleet suffered heavily in 1941 during the evacuation of Crete ; I think that the Home Fleet would accept the same sacrifice to protect the homeland.

Best regards,

Francis Marliere

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Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by Dave Saxton » Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:52 pm

Francis Marliere wrote:First, I wonder if the German radar would really give an advantage on the battlesfield.
Did German small units really have sets ?.......
Hi Francis,
You missed this from my post:
and they and lighter forces also by Sept 1940 had effective shore based radar command and control while operating in the Channel and the Western Approaches


The Germans built a network of shore based radar intergrated into a command and control communications network. They controlled warships in these waters much like air defense networks controlled night fighters. This approach was a wise approach because equipping individual light units such as S-boats, V boats, and others with radar was a waste of time. Radar sets on these small units would have been of little utility because they required such small antennas mounted not very high above the surface of the sea. This would have restricted the range to less than 10,000 meters to a destroyer sized object.

On the other hand the shore based Calais B Seetakt sets covered the entire Channel to as far as 11 miles of the English South Coast near Weymouth. As early as Sept 1940 it was being used to direct German warships and light forces in offensive actions against British shipping, and to warn German warships of approaching British warships in time for the Germans to ambush the British forces coming to the rescue. This type of thing happened all the time from Sept 1940. Calais B was also fully blind fire capable and was used to direct accurate shore based artillery against British warships and British coastal shipping. The German shore based radar network got better after 1940 with the addition of naval IFF systems.
Generally the biggest units get the sets first and I am not sure that the DKM has enough radars for all his ships, and enough time to install them.
The production records of GEMA indicated that they had ample supply of the latest radar sets. Zerstroyers were all equipped with radar sets by Dec 1940 and TBs had also began to receive them, replacing the search light on the search light platform. S-boats did not receive radar until latter in the war so that once directed to within radar range they could use their own radar in attack. At first they experimented with a version of the Lichtenstein night fighter radar, but then settled on a 50kw version of Hohentwiel using a compact antenna.
Did these radars really work ? Having a radar fitted does not mean that the set works (early radars were unreliable…
Seetakt was an excellent radar design that worked and worked well, and the Germans used it effectively. The early problems with the early model sets had been managed by introduction of the robust and easy to service 1940 models. The Calais B models were noted as being exceptionally reliable.

The Seetakt sets featured excellent performance and they worked well in restricted waters. The resolution for range was superior to Allied late war radar and the phased array scanning antenna design made Seetakt immune to the side lobe -land return problems, and other land return problems that plagued Allied radar in the South Pacific.

One example of Seetakt’s superiority in restricted waters occurred on the night of Oct 4th 1943. A British destroyer squadron was operating with radar hoping to ambush a group of German torpedo boats near Cherbourg. Shore based Seetakt radar issued a warning to the German squadron which was tracking both friend and foe and directing the Germans to operate close by some cliffs. Land returns foxed the British radar and the British remained unaware of the German position. The Germans knowing were to look soon located the British against the lighter northern horizon. T23 switched on its Seetakt radar to target the British destroyers for torpedo attack. Only then did the British become aware of the Germans by virtue of their radar detector sounding the alarm. The British commander assumed he had the drop on the Germans and held steady even though German torpedoes were already in the water.

A similar scenario played out two weeks later, resulting in the sinking of HMS Charybdis and HMS Limbourne. The German commander aboard T23 stood by un-noticed and monitored the British rescue efforts with his radar. These scenarios were typical in 40,41, 42, and 43 in the Channel.

The Allies eventually wrested sea superiority from the Germans in this theater during early 1944 by forcing the German destroyers from their bases by day time air power.
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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