Ersatz Yorck wrote:True the S & G did give a poor account of themselves in the encounter with Renown. However, in that battle the S & G were disadvantaged by weather and that battle was itself heavily influenced by fluke events, perhaps more even than at DS. How often will a 4.5 in hit knock out an 11 in turret? And a lucky hit destroying the main fire control of the Scharnhorst. I think this just illustrates that in a naval battle anything can happen, and a lucky hit can turn everything around, just as at Denmark Straits. .....
The weather and visibility was so bad that Luetjens thought his opponant HMS Nelson backed up by other units of the Home Fleet. He's wasn't going to stick around and get in a extended slug fest with a Nelson and possibly the Home Fleet. The British thought their enemy was Hipper and possibly Scharnhorst.
The ship that got it's main firecontrol station hit was Gneisenau instead of Scharnhorst. The hit didn't effect the use of the foretop optics much, because in these conditions Gneisenau would have mostly been making use of the night optics which were located on the wings of the admiral's bridge. What it did was take away was the services of the radar set. It was the radar set that allowed Gneisenau to put in a good initial showing against Renown, but once the radar set was lost Luetjens really had no other choice but to de-camp. Scharnhorst's radar set at the time was not functioning correctly so it couldn't do much fighting in the initial conditions.
The swamping of the forward turrets on Scharnhorst was the result of water entering the casing exit ports on the back of the turrets with turrets trained around almost backward.
The weather had quite an effect on Renown as well. In phase two of the battle lasting 36 minutes, Renown had to reduce speed twice to stop water from swamping out its forward turrets. It was during this time frame that a 4.5 shell hit the range finder lense of Turret Anton's range finder on Gneisenau. This let water into the turret through the wrecked range finder. The Germans increased speed to 27knots and began to draw away. Gneisenau dissappeared into the weather and both ships quit sniping at each other.
Then Scharnhorst's machinery broke down (a for shadowing of N. Cape) allowing Renown to catch up. Renown opened fire on Scharnhorst this time. After some time Scharnhorst was able to work back up to 26 knots and she pulled away from Renown once again. This was followed by another break down and the Renown was able to locate the Scharnhorst once again.
This was followed by a stern chase lasting more than hour in which the two captital ships traded salvoes occasionally at extreme range. The visibility had improved with breaks in between rain and snow squals. Scharnhorst's radar set may have been back on line as accounts report that SH was altering course to avoid Renown's tracked fall of shot with the long time of flight times. Renown worked up to 29 knots by turning its forward turrets away from the seas, but SH was still pulling away. Renown continued to chase SH for an additional 45 minutes occasionally sighting SH in between rain squals. The last time Scharnhorst was seen it was well beyond the range of Renown's 15" guns. and still pulling away.