May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby Alberto Virtuani » Wed Jul 27, 2016 7:32 am

Ciao Alec,
I see your points (thanks for expressing your opinion in an open, clear and respectful way, that is not always the case on this thread), but are you sure they are results of luck ?

It was not easy to bring all these ships to the right place at the same moment to intercept BS. I would say Holland was lucky to be able to intercept BS at all, due to the loss of contact Suffolk suffered during the night.....

The hits were not causing casualties but they were far more impairing for the mission than the PoW ones (that caused casualties), thus BS was unlucky compared to PoW....

Out of three torpedo hits, one was serious, IMO it's statistic more than luck....The torpedoes that did not explode against Sheffield were lucky for the British side.....


Bye, Alberto
Last edited by Alberto Virtuani on Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:03 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby alecsandros » Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:11 am

In this play of possibilities, many things could happen. I agree with you that things may have gone far worse for the BRitish then historically.

However, with BS/PE discovered as of May 21st, and with 5 heavy ships (KGV, Victorious, Renown, Hood, PoW) steaming out of Scapa as of May22nd (plus 4 more heavy ships sent in pursuit from other places - Ark Royal, Renown, Ramillies, Rodney) with the intention to destroy her, my personal opinion is that Luetjens was lucky to get within 1000km of Brest ...

It's a play of probabilities, and in my head at least, the porbability of Luetjens escaping detection and engagement and damage, was pretty low...

So overall, statistically , my take is that things could have gone far worse for the Germans then historically (May 24th 03:00AM torpedo attacks from the 6DDs that Holland dettached to comb the strait... May 24th 5:59 - 1 x 14" APC round strikes the foretop and kills Luetjens, Lindemann and all other senior officers present. May 25th 0:00 - Suffolk mantains radar contact witth Bismarck, which can not escape tracking. KGV and Renown attack her at 04:00AM)

In other words: I think it was more probable for the Germans to suffer damage then for the British to not succeed in causing mortal damage, sooner or later...

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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby Alberto Virtuani » Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:30 am

Alecsandros wrote: "In other words: I think it was more probable for the Germans to suffer damage then for the British to not succeed in causing mortal damage, sooner or later..."

Yes, I do agree. I just think KM needed to take huge risks anyway to have a slim chance to pose a thread to the British commerce.....

In this sense, I think Lutjens did what was expected by the High Command to fulfill the mission, and we know he was not enthusiast of the sortie itself before sailing....


you wrote: "May 24th 5:59 - 1 x 14" APC round strikes the foretop and kills Luetjens, Lindemann and all other senior officers present.

I know this is completely out of topic (but we are already on this thread... :D ):
were Lutjens, Lindemann etc in the foretop (admiral bridge??) or in the lower armored conning tower (rounded shape, 350 KC armor), or were they in different positions (Lutjens in the admiral bridge and Lindemann in the conning tower, as I thought up to now) ?


Bye, Alberto
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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby alecsandros » Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:42 am

... I remember reading they were both in the foretop, but I may be mistaken.
The esential aspect, IMHO, is that they were both in the kill zone of Prince of WAles 14" artillery, as even inside the 350mm armored con tower, they wouldn't be spared from extreme shock damage and possibly spalling, not to mention the possibility of an outright penetration , which was possible given the range at that moment in time (about 17km).
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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby alecsandros » Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:54 am

Alberto Virtuani wrote:Yes, I do agree. I just think KM needed to take huge risks anyway to have a slim chance to pose a thread to the British commerce.....

Ah, that's right, but insane anyhow, based on the exploits of Luftwaffe over moving ships, and on the damages caused by Royal Navy over German ships early war...

In a way, Op. Rheinubung was kind of like a gift for the Royal Navy... Bismarck did not stay in harbor to block huge amounts of men and ships. No, immediately after the ship was ready, it was sent in a one-way trip... in a period of almost perpetual daylight, on a very long cruise-and-attack mission. As Luetjens was saying, the Kriegsmarine was offering her ships to the Royal Navy "teaspoon by teaspoon"...

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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby Alberto Virtuani » Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:08 am

Alecsandros wrote: "Bismarck did not stay in harbor to block huge amounts of men and ships. No, immediately after the ship was ready, it was sent in a one-way trip... in a period of almost perpetual daylight, on a very long cruise-and-attack mission."

Hi Alec,
I do think the strategy of the "fleet in being" is acceptable for a while, however, at a certain point in time, you must risk and go out to achieve results.... I think that May 1941 was considered the last opportunity to take the naval war in Atlantic by the German High Command, thus Rheinubung was planned and executed despite Tirpitz was not ready, the twins were unavailable and only PG could escort BS.


Bye, Alberto
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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby alecsandros » Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:17 am

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
Alecsandros wrote: "Bismarck did not stay in harbor to block huge amounts of men and ships. No, immediately after the ship was ready, it was sent in a one-way trip... in a period of almost perpetual daylight, on a very long cruise-and-attack mission."

Hi Alec,
I do think the strategy of the "fleet in being" is acceptable for a while, however, at a certain point in time, you must risk and go out to achieve results.... I think that May 1941 was considered the last opportunity to take the naval war in Atlantic by the German High Command, thus Rheinubung was planned and executed despite Tirpitz was not ready, the twins were unavailable and only PG could escort BS.


Bye, Alberto

And daylight was 20hours, leaving the ships easily observeable from the air, both BS and PE not suffiicently trained or equipped, etc, etc.

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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby paul.mercer » Fri Sep 02, 2016 9:17 pm

Gentlemen,
All of your comments are most interesting, but it seems we are re-fighting the Bismarck battle over again, the original question was PoW v Tirpitz. Assuming both ships are fully worked up with efficient and experienced crews and that PoW has cured all her gun problems (meaning that they all fire when they are supposed to and don't jam!), it becomes almost the same question as PoW v Bismarck but with the odds a little more even. Tirpitz is a heavier ship with more powerful guns, but only 8 of them, PoW although lighter has 10 guns albeit firing a smaller shell. Like any ship to ship battle it depends on who gets the first really damaging hits, the 8 15" are going to hurt more, but 10 14" from PoW will probably result in a heavier rate of fire, thus increasing the chances of damaging a vital part like range finders or control systems. In theory Tirpitz should win, but is unlikely to actually sink PoW and may well have taken so much damage that any pursuing RN forces could catch up and finish her off, but I wouldn't write off PoW's chances altogether. It does seem that from the many posts on the Bismarck battle many of our correspondents have rather a poor opinion of the KG V class, mainly because of the failings that PoW had during that encounter,although I believe that other ships of that class also had problems. Personally I don't believe that they were that bad, when the RN commissioned them they must have known that they might have to fight ships with 15" guns and survive, otherwise they wouldn't have built them.

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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby Iranon » Sun Sep 04, 2016 9:56 am

Sorry for being pedantic... but there are a few nits to pick.

Are the 38cm going to hurt more?
The British at least were fairly convinced that damage potential depended almost exclusively on the strength of the bursting charge, the British 14"AP shell carried a larger one than the German 38cm equivalent (20 compared to18.8kg, more than enough to offset the slightly weaker explosive used).
The 38cm are only likely to "hurt more" if they are likely to penetrate while the 14in aren't; then it's not a matter of an incremental advantage but a situation where PoW is in mortal danger while T "only" has to fear degraded combat ability.

The armour layouts reinforce this: T uses a scheme that affords excellent protection to the vitals while accepting damage elsewhere (low main armour deck, so more space vulnerable above. Fairly thin belt, space between belt and deck/slopes exposed where a thicker belt may have kept the shell out entirely). PoW is pretty much the opposite; an external belt and thick high-mounted armour deck are (relatively) easy to defeat compared to more complex armour schemes, but if they are sufficient they stop incoming shells early and don't invite accumulating superficial damage.

Number of guns is not something we should conflate with any measurement of gun power. It makes more sense to lump it with RoF and whatever guesses about accuracy we make: this gives us a clue as to how frequently we would expect hits. Figuring out what may happen if a hit is scored is the next step, this involves considerations of gunpower, armour, redundancy etc.

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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby alecsandros » Sun Sep 04, 2016 4:45 pm

paul.mercer wrote:In theory Tirpitz should win, but is unlikely to actually sink PoW and may well have taken so much damage that any pursuing RN forces could catch up and finish her off[...]

This was also the view of Kriegsmarine high command as of spring 1942.

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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby alecsandros » Sun Sep 04, 2016 4:51 pm

Iranon wrote:The armour layouts reinforce this: T uses a scheme that affords excellent protection to the vitals while accepting damage elsewhere (low main armour deck, so more space vulnerable above. Fairly thin belt, space between belt and deck/slopes exposed where a thicker belt may have kept the shell out entirely). PoW is pretty much the opposite; an external belt and thick high-mounted armour deck are (relatively) easy to defeat compared to more complex armour schemes, but if they are sufficient they stop incoming shells early and don't invite accumulating superficial damage.

Number of guns is not something we should conflate with any measurement of gun power. It makes more sense to lump it with RoF and whatever guesses about accuracy we make: this gives us a clue as to how frequently we would expect hits. Figuring out what may happen if a hit is scored is the next step, this involves considerations of gunpower, armour, redundancy etc.

... German 380mm gun had 10% more perforating power at typical combat ranges for vertical armor then British 356mm gun.

German 380mm gun had more rate of fire then British 356mm gun.

Tirpitz had a thicker armor for main turrets, con tower and secondary tower, and more waterline protected length.
Prince of WAles had a far deeper armor belt, giving more protectino against diving shells. However, everything outside the armored citadel (including main turrets, barbettes, con tower) were vulnerable to 380mm direct hits out to 30km.

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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby paul.mercer » Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:24 pm

Gentlemen,
Once again I must thank you for your expert comments, perhaps I should have said "weight of fire" instead of "rate of fire" as I believe the combined weight of shell from Pow's 10x14" was greater than that of Tirpitz 8x15", in addition, surely the more shells that are fired from a greater amount of guns will increase the chances of obtaining hits. I realise of course that Tirpitz was massively armoured and would be well protected against 14" fire, but as we have discussed before a ship can be knocked out of a fight by receiving a lot of damage to her fighting instruments and upperworks without having her main belt penetrated - like Bismarck. Again, I am not saying that PoW would necessarily win the encounter let alone sink Tirpitz, but I don't think that she or the KGV class itself should be written off as completely inferior, particularly if they had their gun problems sorted out.

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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby alecsandros » Mon Sep 05, 2016 5:39 am

TIrpitz rate of fire was substantialy higher then Prince of WAles.

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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby RF » Mon Sep 05, 2016 7:30 am

Would that be so on the 24 May 1941?
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Re: May 24 1941 - Tirpitz v Prince of Wales

Postby alecsandros » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:42 am

I don't think so.

My above comments refer strictly to "Assuming both ships are fully worked up with efficient and experienced crews and that PoW has cured all her gun problems (meaning that they all fire when they are supposed to and don't jam!),"


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