Vic Dale wrote:The point wich comes over most strongly in these fascinating threads is that generalisations in regard to each nations weapons only rarely work.
If war with Britain was the plan, then ships like Bismarck, Scharnhorst and Graf Spee were a bad choice. They were all very fine weapons and each made a very good account of herself in her final battle, though at the time of their inception Germany was still very weak and could only hope to play an armed role, as auxilliary to other more powerful forces on the world's oceans. They were long range vessels capable of operating far from the Baltic and they were excellent sea-keeprs too, which further strengthens the idea of world-wide displays of naval power by a resurgent Germany, keen to show the world what it could do. Although each ship was designed to show maximum strength in terms of hitting power and ablity to withstand punishment and such capabilities would no doubt be shown in relation to the best that the world could produce, their design and construction does not of itself imply aggressive intent towards Britain.
I don't think they were a bad choice. What was at fault was German leadership, tactics and grand strategy.
Germany under Hitler did not have any idea of strategy or strategic planning beyond the vague generalisations in Mein Kampf. Hitler himself told Raeder in 1939, when the Z Pan came out that the KM wouldn't be needed before 1946.
Had Germany properly planned a balanced navy building up to the 35% strength of the British Fleet say by 1941 and starting the war then, things could have been very different.