Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

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Ersatz Yorck
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Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby Ersatz Yorck » Fri Oct 07, 2011 7:24 pm

The Blücher is often derided as a German answer to the British battlecruisers where the Germans got the main gun calibre wrong and produced a ship that was obsolete already before being launched. However, I wonder, was the Blücher really that bad a design? I hazard the opinion that the only thing wrong with her was that she would have needed a couple of knots more speed. A 27 knot Blüchher would have made her a forerunner of the heavy cruiser and probably much more uuseful than the battlecruisers, especially British battlecruisers. In this I also take account of her toughness. Admittedly, she appears to have been crippled by a lucky shot, but after that she proved exceedingly difficult to sink.

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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby mike1880 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:07 pm

There was nothing wrong with Blucher as an armoured cruiser, although if you look at the direction armoured cruiser evolution was taking he was always going to be a second class ship compared to foreign ships. The mistake wasn't in building her in the first place (it wasn't as if the choice at that point was Blucher or Von Der Tann after all, it was Blucher or nothing until a new design was prepared), it was sending him out with 1SG when he manifestly wasn't fit to be in the line with them. But if you don't send him out with 1SG, what do you do instead? Best bet IMHO would be to reinforce one of the light cruiser scouting groups.

As far as the utility of a 27 knot version is concerned: as useful as a chocolate teapot. You say "probably much more useful than the battlecruisers, especially British battlecruisers". Name one thing that such a ship could do that a battlecruiser could not do, and do much better (and for very little extra cost). The later heavy cruiser was a much smaller, cheaper, more expendable ship than the one you have in mind (not surprisingly given that it evolved from what was, at this time, a c.4000 ton ship rather than the 16000 ton ship you want to start from).

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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby 19kilo » Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:17 pm

IMO she was a very good design for an armored cruiser, but their time had passed. She had the crew size and armor of a battlecruiser but not the speed or gun power. I would have to look up her commisioning dat, but maybe she should have been sent to the East Asia Squadron?

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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby Ersatz Yorck » Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:53 pm

mike1880 wrote:As far as the utility of a 27 knot version is concerned: as useful as a chocolate teapot. You say "probably much more useful than the battlecruisers, especially British battlecruisers". Name one thing that such a ship could do that a battlecruiser could not do, and do much better (and for very little extra cost). The later heavy cruiser was a much smaller, cheaper, more expendable ship than the one you have in mind (not surprisingly given that it evolved from what was, at this time, a c.4000 ton ship rather than the 16000 ton ship you want to start from).


Hehe, nice comparison with the chocolate teapot. :lol:

You certainly have a point in that the Blücher was larger and had heavier armour than any treaty cruiser. And I have to admit it wouldn't have been much cheaper than the VdT. (Blücher cost 28.000 RM and VdT 36.000). But I still think a smaller Blücher with 4 inch armour, 27 knots and a turret configuration like the VdT would have been a useful ship.

It was perhaps beside the point to single out British Battlecruisers. I could have written battlecruisers in general. I was thinking that the vulnerability of British battlecruisers made them a somewhat doubtful investment.

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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby Ersatz Yorck » Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:01 pm

mike1880 wrote:There was nothing wrong with Blucher as an armoured cruiser, although if you look at the direction armoured cruiser evolution was taking he was always going to be a second class ship compared to foreign ships.


Could you expand on that? What foreign armoured cruisers make Blücher into a second class ship? Rurik for example, with her mixed battery, is hardly a better design IMHO (but she had nice lines). Or are you referring to battlecruisers?

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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby 19kilo » Sat Oct 08, 2011 9:02 pm

I would say that as far as armored cruisers go, the Blucher was probably the best of them all.

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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby RF » Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:45 pm

My question would be ''what exactly is the role of the Blucher?''

If the role, as it should be, is to engage cruisers then it would seem admirably suited. If the expectation is to engage big gun battlecruisers and battleships then I wouldn't want to be on Bluchers' bridge.

My other thought that as a ''super-cruiser'' perhaps foreign waters colonial assignment might have been appropriate. Would von Spee have turned Blucher down if it had been offered to him?
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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby 19kilo » Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:21 pm

I imaine he would have welcomed the Blucher in asia. I wonder if any thought had been given to sending a battlecruiser out there?

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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby Ersatz Yorck » Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:44 pm

RF wrote:My question would be ''what exactly is the role of the Blucher?''

If the role, as it should be, is to engage cruisers then it would seem admirably suited.


I imagine that the role would have been to engage enemy cruisers. As the battlecruiser was not (publicly) invented when the Blücher was designed, the opponent envisaged must have been a typical enemy armoured cruiser.

I think the Blücher would have prevailed over any other armoured cuiser in the world in a single ship duel.

Most earlier armoured cruisers of the Kaiserliche Marine were smaller than their counterparts in other navies and less heavily armed and generally not really much to brag about. German battlecuisers OTOH were excellent.

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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby RF » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:26 am

19kilo wrote:I imaine he would have welcomed the Blucher in asia. I wonder if any thought had been given to sending a battlecruiser out there?


This question was discussed in a thread on SMS Moltke. Apparently there was an intention to send either this ship or Von der Tann to Tsingtao, but it never happened by the time WW1 started.
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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby MVictorP » Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:52 pm

RF wrote:My question would be ''what exactly is the role of the Blucher?''

If the role, as it should be, is to engage cruisers then it would seem admirably suited. If the expectation is to engage big gun battlecruisers and battleships then I wouldn't want to be on Bluchers' bridge.


Blucher had not the necessary speed to chase cruisers, althought she would have an advantage over them in heavy seas.

My other thought that as a ''super-cruiser'' perhaps foreign waters colonial assignment might have been appropriate. Would von Spee have turned Blucher down if it had been offered to him?


Once again, her lack of speed would have made her, IMHO, ill-suited to that role. The way I see it, the only ships she would have been designed to fight were also armored cruisers.

I would have used her defensively, to set up blockades or to guard strategical straits, harbours and passages, more in the Pacific than at home, maybe at Tsingtao. Or better yet, sell her to a second-tier naval power, like Austria, or Turkey. I would have accepted the fact that she was an obsolete ship when facing naval powers like England and even France.
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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby dale3242 » Tue Sep 24, 2013 1:33 pm

The Blücher wasn't a bad design, but it was just not quite as fast as a "real" battle cruiser. Had she been built with turbines, she might have had another 2 knots in speed. The Blücher's 8.2 inch guns had a high rate of fire (5-6 rounds per minute). They fired a relatively light 260 pound shell which did not have much penetrating power at long range. At the battle of Dogger Bank, the Blücher hit the Lion repeatedly. One hit disabled one of the Lion's 13.5 inch guns temporarily. In a short range engagement, (10,000 yards or less), the Blücher might well have been a match for the Invincible. The Invincible could effectively only fire a 6 gun broadside 1 to 2 times per minute of 850 pound shells. (The center two turrets interfered with each other so much that both could not be used to fire together at the same target.) The Blücher could fire an 8 gun broadside 5-6 times per minute of 260 pound shells. As demonstrated at the Battle of the Falklands, at long range, the 8.2 inch shell could not penetrate even the Invincible's thin armor. The German's biggest mistake in designing their ships prior to WWI was to assume battles would take place at 10,000 yards or less. The British also did this, but to a lesser extent.

Also, the British got very lucky at the Battle of Dogger Bank. The Lion, one of their most powerful units, was knocked out of the battle. Had the Seydilz not had her two aft turrets destroyed, the effective German force (3 battlecruisers + damaged Blücher) would have been nearly a match for the remaining British battlecruisers (4). Considering what happened at Jutland, that could have resulted in a disaster for the British.

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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby Gopher » Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:53 pm

The Blucher was not a bad design in an age of transition it was not a particularly good design either. The fundamental fault with the Blucher was human it should never have been allowed to be used in long range coastal raids. Too slow and not enough punch for what you were likely to encounter in those actions. As support for light cruiser squadrons in a fleet action like Jutland it would have done just fine. The Blucher is a sterling example of what is reported as speed on trials and that in the real world

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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby RF » Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:58 am

Can I suggest a different angle to this thread.

Would the Blucher have performed better at the Falkland Islands battle than Scharnhorst if that ship was substituted for Scharnhorst?
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Re: Was the Blücher really such a bad design?

Postby VoidSamukai » Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:06 am

My guess is that she would've still been sunk, but would've taken more damage and inflict serious damage to the British Battlecruisers. Ultimately however, she would've lost. But that was what battlecruisers were for: hunting and sinking enemy cruisers.

Blucher as an armoured cruiser was very good, with excellent main guns, healthy secondaries, good armouring as well as compartmenting and a very good speed. But she, like many other ships in history, was created and born in an era where she was vunerable to no longer the force she once was.


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