Jutland

From the birth of the Dreadnought to the period immediately after the end of World War I.
paul.mercer
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Jutland

Post by paul.mercer » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:49 pm

Gentlemen,
Forgive me if this topic has been raised before but I have often wndered what would have happened if Scheer had decided to fight when the British battlefleet came over the horizon in staed of doing a 'battle turnaway'? Do you think it would have been such a clear cut win for the RN as most people seem to think?

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Re: Jutland

Post by lwd » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:14 pm

paul.mercer wrote:Gentlemen,
Forgive me if this topic has been raised before but I have often wndered what would have happened if Scheer had decided to fight when the British battlefleet came over the horizon in staed of doing a 'battle turnaway'? Do you think it would have been such a clear cut win for the RN as most people seem to think?
I'm hardly an expert but from what I've read yes. Now if Scheer somehow is informed that the British fleet is approaching and can maneuver himself into a more favorable positoin prior to sighting the British battle fleet things might change a bit.

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Re: Jutland

Post by Byron Angel » Thu Sep 15, 2011 3:40 am

paul.mercer wrote:Gentlemen,
Forgive me if this topic has been raised before but I have often wndered what would have happened if Scheer had decided to fight when the British battlefleet came over the horizon in staed of doing a 'battle turnaway'? Do you think it would have been such a clear cut win for the RN as most people seem to think?

The High Seas Fleet would have been crushed, starting with the best dreadnoughts leading the German line. It was never a matter of sighting an approaching British fleet. Scheer only became aware of the presence of the deploying Grand Fleet when it suddenly opened fire upon the head of his battle-line well within effective range. Due to the prevailing visibility conditions, the German ships could see nothing of the British line except their gun flashes and were consequently helpless to reply.

Strictly my opinion of course, but based upon about forty years study of the battle.


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Ersatz Yorck
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Re: Jutland

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:35 pm

Byron Angel wrote: The High Seas Fleet would have been crushed, starting with the best dreadnoughts leading the German line. It was never a matter of sighting an approaching British fleet. Scheer only became aware of the presence of the deploying Grand Fleet when it suddenly opened fire upon the head of his battle-line well within effective range. Due to the prevailing visibility conditions, the German ships could see nothing of the British line except their gun flashes and were consequently helpless to reply.

Strictly my opinion of course, but based upon about forty years study of the battle.


B
I agree. The Germans happened to end up in a poor position and never would have stood a chance. Scheer did the right thing, but I have always wondered why he turned back and put his head in the noose again? Probably a case of incomplete data about enemy dispositions, or just an error of judgement.

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Re: Jutland

Post by RF » Thu Sep 15, 2011 6:25 pm

In looking at this question I am mindful of the last battle of Bismarck on 27 May 1941.

If Bismarck had been fully manoeuverable, would Lutjens (or Scheer, if he had been in command) have chosen to take on both Rodney and KGV? Would you expect Bismarck to win by sinking both RN ships?

A much smaller scale scenario than a full fleet action, but I think it does show the meaning of the question in a starker light.
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Re: Jutland

Post by 19kilo » Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:01 am

An overwhelming British victory at Jutland would have been amazing, but.......how would it have affected the course or the war?

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Re: Jutland

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:15 pm

19kilo wrote:An overwhelming British victory at Jutland would have been amazing, but.......how would it have affected the course or the war?
I would be tempted to say "not very much", as the Entente won anyway. However, there might have been details in the way the war was fought out. A couple of possibilities:

* Less need for Britain to put resources into shipbuilding, possibly leading to an increase in the British contribution on land, more tanks and artillery for example.
* Perhaps an even more wholehearted change to submarines for the German Navy, as submarines would then have been clearly the only means of a possible naval victory for Germany. OTOH a RN victory would have freed up destroyers for escort duty which would have made countermeasures against submarines stronger.

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Re: Jutland

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:56 pm

19kilo wrote:An overwhelming British victory at Jutland would have been amazing, but.......how would it have affected the course or the war?
Actually, when I think about it, an even more interesting question is "How would an overwhelming German victory at Jutland have affected the course of the the war?". In most analyses it is kind of implicit that a German victory would suddenly have put Britain's maritime trade at the mercy of the HSF, but would that really have been so?

First, it is hard to imagine a German victory being so complete that the Grand Fleet would have been completely wiped out. A Tsushima style victory seems improbable. Even with a substantial German victory, one must assume that at least half the strength of the Grand Fleet would have made it home, even if in a damaged state. Then the Germans can hardly be expected to win this victory without incurring heavy damage themselves, so a great part of the German Fleet would at least be in repair for a considerable time. The British did have large naval forces in the Mediterranean and other places, and while not the most modern ships, one can assume that the British would have made every effort to collect what was useful in home waters, perhaps even persuading the French to move their dreadnoughts to British home waters. So even a substantial German victory would hardly give the Germans a free hand to do what they wanted.

Given the geographic realities and the impossibility of upholding anything like a close blockade, how much of an effect could a German Fleet, substantially damaged but with increased freedom of action have? Due to supply and coaling difficulties, the Germans could only have sent cruisers and the occasional squadron operating on the west side of Britain, and these would have been vulnerable to British counterstrokes. I think at most, what the Germans could have expected from a naval victory would be a partial or momentary lifting of the British blockade of Germany, as the Germans would have had the means and teh freedom of action to chase away the British blockading cruisers upholding the blockade north of Scotland. That would not have been insignificant, but it is hard to tell what the effects for the war as a whole would have been. Probably not decisive I would guess.

So, I do think Churchills comment that Jellicoe could lose the war in an afternoon was somewhat exaggerated.

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Re: Jutland

Post by Byron Angel » Fri Sep 16, 2011 1:01 pm

19kilo wrote:An overwhelming British victory at Jutland would have been amazing, but.......how would it have affected the course or the war?

Strictly my opinion, but, if a decisive victory at Jutland enabled the RN to enter the Baltic Sea in sufficient strength to interrupt Germany's importation of iron ore from Sweden, Germany cannot effectively prosecute the war. If Denmark (who had plenty of grievances against Prussia/Germany) can be pressured to join the Entente, Germany's strategic position becomes dangerously compromised.

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RF
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Re: Jutland

Post by RF » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:43 pm

Byron, Germany already had most of Lorraine in its national territory as a source of iron ore. Alsace-Lorraine remember was part of Germany from 1871 to 1918.
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RF
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Re: Jutland

Post by RF » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:47 pm

Ersatz Yorck wrote: one can assume that the British would have made every effort to collect what was useful in home waters, perhaps even persuading the French to move their dreadnoughts to British home waters. So even a substantial German victory would hardly give the Germans a free hand to do what they wanted.

And don't forget that the US Navy sent a substantial battle fleet to Scapa Flow after 1917. The French were not the only ally to Britain with a substantial navy.
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Re: Jutland

Post by RF » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:53 pm

Ersatz Yorck wrote: Given the geographic realities and the impossibility of upholding anything like a close blockade, how much of an effect could a German Fleet, substantially damaged but with increased freedom of action have? Due to supply and coaling difficulties, the Germans could only have sent cruisers and the occasional squadron operating on the west side of Britain, and these would have been vulnerable to British counterstrokes. I think at most, what the Germans could have expected from a naval victory would be a partial or momentary lifting of the British blockade of Germany, as the Germans would have had the means and teh freedom of action to chase away the British blockading cruisers upholding the blockade north of Scotland. That would not have been insignificant, but it is hard to tell what the effects for the war as a whole would have been. Probably not decisive I would guess.
I think there is one aspect here you have overlooked. If the Germans had a crushing victory at Jutland, they could use their forces in the North Sea to carry out the Kaisers' plan to invade eastern England. A German landing in force in East Anglia would have huge strategic consequences. Especially if the Germans decided against submarine warfare in favour of putting more effort into surface ships to support such an invasion, with one other consequence - without unrestricted submarine warfare the USA stays out of the war.
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Re: Jutland

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:50 pm

RF wrote: I think there is one aspect here you have overlooked. If the Germans had a crushing victory at Jutland, they could use their forces in the North Sea to carry out the Kaisers' plan to invade eastern England. A German landing in force in East Anglia would have huge strategic consequences. Especially if the Germans decided against submarine warfare in favour of putting more effort into surface ships to support such an invasion, with one other consequence - without unrestricted submarine warfare the USA stays out of the war.
Yes, that is a good point. However, I must say I think it is doubtful at best if the Germans in late 1916 had the capability to land and supply a substantial force in Britain. The North Sea at that point was full of minefields and Britain was hardly defenseless once the Germans got ashore, with lots of new ground formations being in training. True the Germans did pull off one of the largest and most successful naval landings of WW1 on a months planning, operation Albion, the capture of the Baltic islands, which is no mean acheivment, but that was against demoralized Russians addled by revolutionary propaganda. Even that was fraught with great difficulties and took most of the German fleet in support just to land a division. I think a large scale landing of a corps or so on the British East coast would have been way beyound what the Germans could accomplish given my gusstimation of about half the Grand Fleet still in existence, and reinforced with whatever could be scraped up.

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Re: Jutland

Post by paul.mercer » Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:34 pm

RF wrote:In looking at this question I am mindful of the last battle of Bismarck on 27 May 1941.

If Bismarck had been fully manoeuverable, would Lutjens (or Scheer, if he had been in command) have chosen to take on both Rodney and KGV? Would you expect Bismarck to win by sinking both RN ships?

A much smaller scale scenario than a full fleet action, but I think it does show the meaning of the question in a starker light.
A very good point, but was not the High Seas Fleet built with the aim of taking on the Grand Fleet on equal terms?

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Re: Jutland

Post by Byron Angel » Sat Sep 17, 2011 3:08 am

RF wrote:Byron, Germany already had most of Lorraine in its national territory as a source of iron ore. Alsace-Lorraine remember was part of Germany from 1871 to 1918.

..... RF, I need to track it down again, but I recall reading a comment attributed to Hindenburg to the effect that Germany could not have continued the war without access to Swedish iron ore. Something about Swedish ore bearing twice the metal content of domestic German ore.

I'll try to find it and post it.

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