Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

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Dave Saxton
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Re: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby Dave Saxton » Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:38 pm

Dave, could you name the primary sources for the Seetakt values, they are met with great scepticism elsewhere (which is no surprise), or are you wating till your work is published?


I can, but I won't-at least not yet. :wink:
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: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby alecsandros » Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:47 pm

... It's pretty obvious that Scharnhorst was equipped with the latest radars, but the way in which they were used (or not) is another matter.

All German capital ships, from 1939 onwards, were equipped with gunnery and surface-search radars.
The results of those systems, starting with Graf Spee, Hipper, and then Bismarck + Prinz Eugen, Lutzow, etc, shows without question that the capabilities were there.
But, as always, the most important thing is how to use that capability...

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Re: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby Dave Saxton » Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:07 pm

dunmunro wrote:
Dave Saxton wrote:Certainly looks like my version of events to me, especially when combined with other testimony from both sides.


???

No need for confusion. Battle Summary 24 and Fraser's dispatch (which the links are from) both support my contention that SH was effective against both Sheffield and Norfolk and that the British caused little to no damage to SH during the second engagement. British claims to scoring several hits during the second engament are dismissed as wishful thinking.

I am also considering additional evidence. German accounts are certain that SH tracked Burnett with the aft radar from about 11:30 hours. At about this same time Norfolk had a brief radar contact at 27,000 yards which it could not hold (this may have been Z32). SH was cleared for action at 12:00 hours (5 minutes before Belfast re-gained radar contact) and came to a westerly course. Its is clear that SH was not taken by surprize during the 2nd skirmish. It went into action targeting Norfolk immediently after the British fired starshell.
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: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby Dave Saxton » Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:13 pm

alecsandros wrote:... It's pretty obvious that Scharnhorst was equipped with the latest radars, but the way in which they were used (or not) is another matter.

All German capital ships, from 1939 onwards, were equipped with gunnery and surface-search radars.
The results of those systems, starting with Graf Spee, Hipper, and then Bismarck + Prinz Eugen, Lutzow, etc, shows without question that the capabilities were there.
But, as always, the most important thing is how to use that capability...



We can't know much about how Bey used his radars because he lost his life that day. Many secondary accounts state that Bey must of kept his radars switched off prior to the 1st enccounter. They can't know this for certain, but lets consider it a good guess. However, there are indications that this may have not been the case, and other more complex factors were at play. But with such a dearth of evidence we must be careful to not speculate too much.
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: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby dunmunro » Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:07 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:
dunmunro wrote:
Dave Saxton wrote:Certainly looks like my version of events to me, especially when combined with other testimony from both sides.


???

No need for confusion. Battle Summary 24 and Fraser's dispatch (which the links are from) both support my contention that SH was effective against both Sheffield and Norfolk and that the British caused little to no damage to SH during the second engagement. British claims to scoring several hits during the second engament are dismissed as wishful thinking.

I am also considering additional evidence. German accounts are certain that SH tracked Burnett with the aft radar from about 11:30 hours. At about this same time Norfolk had a brief radar contact at 27,000 yards which it could not hold (this may have been Z32). SH was cleared for action at 12:00 hours (5 minutes before Belfast re-gained radar contact) and came to a westerly course. Its is clear that SH was not taken by surprize during the 2nd skirmish. It went into action targeting Norfolk immediently after the British fired starshell.


The fact that Scharnhorst went to action stations doesn't mean much because she had already encountered RN forces a few hours previously, and was moving back towards the slow moving convoy so another engagement was likely. The problem is that I can't find confirmation of when Scharnhorst opened fire, but I do know that Norfolk fired at least a dozen salvos before taking any hits. If Burnett had waited for another 2 -3 minutes before opening fire, then the 36th destroyer division with 4 DDs would have been perfectly placed to torpedo Scharnhorst, as would Burnett's cruisers; in short, Scharnhorst was heading directly into a trap which doesn't suggest that she had a useful WS radar system, and Norfolk's gun flashes would have provided a good aiming point for Scharnhorst after Norfolk opened fire. If Scharnhorst had advanced radar, it failed to give her any tactical advantages.

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Re: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby alecsandros » Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:12 am

dunmunro wrote: If Scharnhorst had advanced radar, it failed to give her any tactical advantages.

That would be a wise conclusion...

It's allmost certain they had radar warning capability - just think of Bismarck's "EM-II" systems, which were in use in March 1941... Allmost 3 years before battle of North Cape...

The first hit by Norfolk was probably the most damaging - and probably destroyed or damaged severely the main surface-search radar.

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Re: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby Dave Saxton » Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:01 pm

alecsandros wrote:The first hit by Norfolk was probably the most damaging - and probably destroyed or damaged severely the main surface-search radar.


The German Seetakt radar was multi-role, we have to get away from the mind set of separate radar sets for this and that to understand it properly. It was also not stagnet in terms of development. We know from German documents that SH's radars had been fully upgraded with the latest, most advanced, developments and modules.

It is certain that the forward radar set was completely destroyed by direct hit on the foretop during the 1st skirmish. SH could not scan the forward sectors with radar after this event. Bey, however, continued to try and complete the mission by approaching the convoy from the north east during the period of artic twilight, regardless of the risks incurred by turning toward it to do so. The convoy was only 16km away. I think he was expecting his own destroyers to initiate an attack from the southwest, but when this failed to materialize; he at last decided that it was pointless to expose SH to further great risk and called off the entire mission.

This was much to Doenitz' chagrin. Doenitz later lamented that he had effectively swept aside the British cruisers and need only to go ahead and attack the convoy. Bey threw away a smashing tactical victory at that point by disengaging. Duke of York was still ten hours away.
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Re: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby paul.mercer » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:12 pm

Gentlemen,
On the question of PE v other heavy cruisers, what about the FrenchDe Grasse and the later Saint Louis class, how do they compare?

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Re: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby alecsandros » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:32 pm

paul.mercer wrote:Gentlemen,
On the question of PE v other heavy cruisers, what about the FrenchDe Grasse and the later Saint Louis class, how do they compare?

The Saint Louis, Italian Zaras and US Baltimores, were extremely powerfull ships.

The German ship would benefit from her size, stability and, at least until 1943/1944, would probably have an advantage in respect to integrated fire control, which made Prinz Eugen and Hipper so accurate during their confrontations.

The Zaras suffered from high dispersion of salvos, and did not have any kind of radar...

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Re: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby Thorsten Wahl » Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:17 pm

Marineobebaurat Többicke Die Panzerung der deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1920 - 1945
"..It can be concluded, that the heavy cruiser of 10 000t is a type of vessel, whose size and combat values ​​requires a degree of protection, wich can not be achieved with the available weight. Even with an increase of displacement on 13000 or 16000 tonnes and more they are poorly protected ships, that are too valuable for cruisers tasks, but useless for battleships tasks."

I have heard about a very critical Article on Hipper class cruiser by the Association of German Engineers (VDI) or somwhat in that direction. (published sometime in the fifties)
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Re: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby alecsandros » Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:53 am

Thorsten Wahl wrote:I have heard about a very critical Article on Hipper class cruiser by the Association of German Engineers (VDI) or somwhat in that direction. (published sometime in the fifties)

... Probably,
but the other contemporaries weren't to much better insofar as protection goes.

In a straight duel, I still believe the Prinz EUgen would have the better chance against any likely foreign heavy cruiser....

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Re: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby Dave Saxton » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:29 pm

Toebicke is critical of the heavy cruiser concept in general and I agree with his point of view. The heavy cruiser with 8-inch guns is an artificial outcome of the treaty limitations. The Germans only built the Hippers because they felt pressure to conform to the ship building programs of other nations. The Germans would have been better served to have built other warship types. Their light cruisers were obsolete and needed replacement. Or maybe go the other way and build a faster panzerschiff with better AA.

However, the USN built the Alaskas, the biggest (almost) useless heavy cruisers ever. The highly regarded US Brooklyn class light cruisers, could not match the Prinz Eugen's combat capabilities either. So no solution to the cruiser problem was found there (but the US could afford to make bad investments- the Germans could not).

Maybe the Germans should have eschewed cruiser construction altogether and built a bunch of ocean going, more capable (than the Narviks), but more expendable, destroyers, with diesel power, in their stead?

Despite it all, the Hippers turned out to be highly capable long range naval artillery platforms, which were historically very effective in that role.
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Re: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby RNfanDan » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:53 pm

I agree with the above posts' conclusions, but would like to offer an exception. Britain's County-class cruisers were, because of the very nature of the nation which they served, highly successful. It must be borne in mind that, above all, few--if any--other nations had so many, and such far-reaching, interests around the world, as Britain. Even France had comparatively few "empirical" possessions to serve from homeland in a military role, leaving the Dutch as the only other major colonial power requiring larger warships to defend and protect their colonies and trade.

If the heavy cruiser concept was flawed from a fleet-vs. fleet standpoint, it seems justified for Britain; no other type of warship could have served with the combination of size, speed, seaworthiness, economy, firepower, and endurance as D'Eyncourt's famous three-funnel wonders. As I stated in the beginning, however, this is an exception to the military uselessness otherwise identified with the ship-type as developed by other navies.

Germany had no need of heavy cruisers, neither did Italy for that matter, and the United States had almost as little use for light cruisers---as Dave wrote, above. Britain could only justify her heavy cruisers in their global service role, and I think the very recognition of this fact was expressed by her lack of other heavy cruiser numbers and types, beyond the County class.

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Re: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby RF » Thu Aug 01, 2013 8:35 am

Dave Saxton wrote:Maybe the Germans should have eschewed cruiser construction altogether and built a bunch of ocean going, more capable (than the Narviks), but more expendable, destroyers, with diesel power, in their stead?

Despite it all, the Hippers turned out to be highly capable long range naval artillery platforms, which were historically very effective in that role.


Your first paragrah here - yes, they should built more panzerschiff, indeed improved panzerschiff with just as effective artillery ranging and improved rates of fire instead of the Hippers - plus the reconnaisance cruisers and diesel engined destroyers.

Indeed you could even argue that the Scharnhorsts should have been built as panzerschiff also.

Thinking of it, if the KM had given more and earlier prority to Graf Zeppelin that carrier would be an ideal companion for a couple of panzerschiff and scouting Atlantic destroyers.... and be a real handful for the RN.
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Re: Best WW2 heavy cruiser = Prinz Eugen ?

Postby Guest » Sat Jan 10, 2015 6:01 pm

I would say the U.S. Alaska class heavy cruiser which at 34,000 tons full load and 9 12' guns is by far the most powerful heavy gun cruiser ever built


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