Fleet Battle October 1914

From the birth of the Dreadnought to the period immediately after the end of World War I.
ernstisatide
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Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2015 1:41 pm

Fleet Battle October 1914

Postby ernstisatide » Fri Apr 17, 2015 2:01 pm

Hello,
I am a (German) journalist, doing some research on the Naval History of WW 1. I
would much appreciate members' comments/advice/opinion on an (unpublished) interwar
source (war diary with many comments added in the late 20s and 30s) given to me be a great granddaughter. The writer was appearently some high ranking staff member in the German Navy (still trying to verify details). In 1925, he argued that
Germany's chances for winning a decisive fleet action were
never better than after the loss of HMS Audacious in October 1914. His main points:

At that point the Grand Fleet would have been able to put no more than 17 Dreadnoughts and Super-Dreadnoughts to sea.The
rest were unavailable due to repairs, maintenance
The Hig Seas fleet would have been able to field around 14-15 sheeps of this class.
This was the only point in time when the two sides would have been somewhat evenly matched.
Superior German fire control togehther with hitherto undetected weaknesses in British battleship and battlecruiser design
(the flash
explosions that proved so disastrous at Jutland) and the vicissitudes of war might conceivably have turned the odds in
the High Sea's favor.....

Thanks in advance for any help provided (in particular facts that contradict this view).
Chris

Mostlyharmless
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Posts: 146
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:45 pm

Re: Fleet Battle October 1914

Postby Mostlyharmless » Sun Apr 26, 2015 6:27 pm

I am not an expert on any aspect of naval history but it seems to me that the best chance of a victory for the High Seas Fleet was slightly later than October 1914 and probably coincided with the Scarborough Raid of 16th December 1914 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raid_on_Sc ... and_Whitby. All four of the König class battleships and the battlecruiser Derfflinger took part in that operation but may not have been available in October. HMS Tiger had joined the British Fleet on October 2nd 1914 but was not fully “worked up” until later. The last two ships of the Iron Duke Class, Benbow and Emperor of India, had worked up and were declared fit for service on 10th December 1914. However, the Grand Fleet was weakened on 27th December when Monarch collided with Conqueror so that both were out of action for at least a month. Thus the period of opportunity probably extended on to the Dogger Bank battle on 24th January 1915 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_ ... %281915%29. However, Von der Tann was in drydock at that time for periodic maintenance, which could have been delayed, whilst Tiger took part.

Superior German fire control togehther with hitherto undetected weaknesses in British battleship and battlecruiser design (the flash explosions that proved so disastrous at Jutland) and the vicissitudes of war might conceivably have turned the odds in the High Sea's favor.


These advantages might not have been so significant in 1914. For example, the German ships may have also been at risk from flash passing down from turrets to the magazines until measures were taken to reduce the risk after Seydlitz's fire at Dogger Bank. The British battlecruisers may have been less at risk than at Jutland if the measures to increase the rate of fire had not already been adopted.

I don't think that the British “fire control” equipment was inferior to the German if we define fire control equipment narrowly as just that carrying out the calculations. The German range finders may have given more accurate ranges so that the theoretically superior British directors suffered from “garbage in – garbage out” at Jutland during the Run to the South. However, it is not clear whether that was generally true or just a function of the visibility at that time. Certainly German techniques were sharply improved after Jutland to enable accurate fire at longer ranges as shown off Moon Island in 1917.

Although the British ships carried heavier guns than their opponents, German shells in 1914 were superior to British shells as the newest APC shells could penetrate at an oblique angle and explode after a delay. However, those shells were brand new in 1914 and it might be interesting to check which shells were actually loaded on to the High Seas Fleet in October 1914 to January 1915.

Byron Angel
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Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:06 am

Re: Fleet Battle October 1914

Postby Byron Angel » Mon Apr 27, 2015 4:59 pm

..... If I recall correctly (see his book "Grand Fleet"), British Admiral Jellicoe deemed November 1914 to have been the moment of greatest opportunity (in terms of relative numbers) for the Hochseeflotte to seek battle with the British Grand Fleet. The expanded war complements of the British fleet were not yet trained to full efficiency, a number of Jellicoe's battleships were at that time suffering from powerplant problems ("condenseritis"), von Spee was still at large, and only a handful of British battleships had yet been fitted with directors.

I would be very interested to learn the author of the documents to which you referred in your post.

Byron


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