The Kaisers dreadnoughts

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Gary
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The Kaisers dreadnoughts

Postby Gary » Wed Sep 13, 2006 7:54 pm

Hi all :cool:

On another site I have been involved in a discussion on the WW1 dreadnoughts of the High Sea's fleet.
The Kaiser had rather some intresting ships.

I like the Helgoland class.

The Konigs were no doubt the best until Bayern and Baden came on the scene.
I have heard that the Konig class were well liked by their crews.

The Nassau class were poor sea boats or so I've heard.

Despite failing to keep up with the British in terms of main gun size, were they well armoured ships for their time?
Do you guys rate them very highly?

Any feedback would be great thanks
God created the world in 6 days.........and on the 7th day he built the Scharnhorst

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Re: The Kaisers dreadnoughts

Postby Tiornu » Wed Sep 13, 2006 9:05 pm

They were generally well armored by the standards of the time. The appearance of good AP ammo showed the obsolescence of their incremental armor. The British used Baden for gunnery trials right after the war, and the upper belt proved how useful it could be for making splinters. Why the Germans continued with this system in Bismarck, who knows?
The weaponry was generally light, though the Germans partly made up for it by being ahead of the game with their shell development.
Speed was not great, but some ships had surprisingly good range.

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Postby Russ » Wed Sep 13, 2006 9:11 pm

Well, to see the Seydlitz limpin home and then in port nearly burnt out with no turrets, yet floating....is impressive. Derrflinger and Von Der Tan as well. They absorbed an incredible amount of punishment from the RN's QE class...and other RN ships, yet stayed afloat whilst their counterparts had a dismal day.

Their weakness was their leadership...the Kaiser himself, for keeping them bottled up for most of the War and not allowing them to do what they were designed for. Fighting the RN out at sea.

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Postby Tiornu » Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:09 pm

If you want to blame the Kaiser, you have to blame him for building these ships in the first place. Given the existence of the HSF, we can't single him out for not using it properly against the British. There was no one in the German Navy who was able to offer up a promising plan for fleet war against Britain. Maybe sending the fleet east against the Russians in 1914 would have been a better idea.

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Postby Karl Heidenreich » Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:40 pm

Which site Gary? Sound cool. :wink:
I like to see it.

Best regards.
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Postby Karl Heidenreich » Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:58 pm

Russ:
Their weakness was their leadership...the Kaiser himself, for keeping them bottled up for most of the War and not allowing them to do what they were designed for. Fighting the RN out at sea.


Tiornu:
If you want to blame the Kaiser, you have to blame him for building these ships in the first place. Given the existence of the HSF, we can't single him out for not using it properly against the British. There was no one in the German Navy who was able to offer up a promising plan for fleet war against Britain. Maybe sending the fleet east against the Russians in 1914 would have been a better idea.


Germany was a Continental Power, their main force was their Land Army. If they had listened to the teachings of Alfred Thayer Mahan then maybe they had thought like this:
1. Land Power is our strong point.
2. Sea Power is and will ever be our weak point.
3. But, if we can achieve a stunning victory over the British then our overall victory will be complete.
4. If we lose in a apolyptic defeat we are still powerfull over the Continent, and have chances of winning the war without a surface fleet effort... we still have U-Boats.
Then:
Commit the HSF to an all or nothing engagement against the British somewhere in the North Sea. Then, there was no need that the German commander to be Nelson, it will be enough that he is agressive enough with orders of "victory or death".
Anyway, that´s would be better than to see the whole fleet scuttled in Scapa Flow five years later.
It´s better use them than lose them...
:shock:
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Postby Tiornu » Thu Sep 14, 2006 1:12 am

If you're going to slaughter all those German sailors, better to do it on a battlefield in France where they can do some good.

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Postby Captain Morgan » Thu Sep 14, 2006 1:51 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:Russ:
Their weakness was their leadership...the Kaiser himself, for keeping them bottled up for most of the War and not allowing them to do what they were designed for. Fighting the RN out at sea.


Tiornu:
If you want to blame the Kaiser, you have to blame him for building these ships in the first place. Given the existence of the HSF, we can't single him out for not using it properly against the British. There was no one in the German Navy who was able to offer up a promising plan for fleet war against Britain. Maybe sending the fleet east against the Russians in 1914 would have been a better idea.


Germany was a Continental Power, their main force was their Land Army. If they had listened to the teachings of Alfred Thayer Mahan then maybe they had thought like this:
1. Land Power is our strong point.
2. Sea Power is and will ever be our weak point.
3. But, if we can achieve a stunning victory over the British then our overall victory will be complete.
4. If we lose in a apolyptic defeat we are still powerfull over the Continent, and have chances of winning the war without a surface fleet effort... we still have U-Boats.
Then:
Commit the HSF to an all or nothing engagement against the British somewhere in the North Sea. Then, there was no need that the German commander to be Nelson, it will be enough that he is agressive enough with orders of "victory or death".
Anyway, that´s would be better than to see the whole fleet scuttled in Scapa Flow five years later.
It´s better use them than lose them...
:shock:


Why would such a great loss of life be better? Because it would have been a slaughter on both sides. The RN would have prevailed due to numbers but it would have cost many thousands of sailers lives for NOTHING. I for one would ride with Hipper on the Death Charge of the Battlecruisers to SAVE the rest of the fleet without a thoought. But to throw my life and the lives in my command away for nothing would be different matter. This was the type of things we covered in Naval History while becoming a Naval Officer. One is to follow orders, but another is not to throw away your counties resources with no chance of success.
For example at Samar the charge of the DD's and DE's was to gain time to allow other forces (aircraft mainly) to be mustered to stop the IJN. So in that case there is purpose and a chance for your sacrifice to have meaning.
With my family being from Norway I could say my death under those circustances would get me into Vahalla.
In Star Trek genre as a Kilingon it would get me into Sto-Vo-Kor.
There are 2 types of vessels out there. One type is called a target. If it isn't capable of silently doing 30+ knots at 2000 ft depth its always considered a target. The vessel that can silently go fast and deep is the one the targets are afraid of.

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Postby Russ » Thu Sep 14, 2006 2:43 pm

Watching the great series on the Military Channel about WW1 shows many many German sailors aggravated that they were bottled up in port and most wanted a chance to "break out".

To have that strong of a fleet, like the HSF was, and to use it in the way it was used? Shows weak leadership imo, not prudent or smart leadership.

Could one imagine the havoc it would have caused in the shipping lanes if the HSF and U-Boats were used in conjunction? I could see the RN racing with a Battlecruiser fleet to intercept, much like Jutland, only to first run into a line, or wolfpack of Subs? Then run into the HSF?

I am neither a military expert or an active serving member of the forces, but I can objectively stand back and say that it appeared to be a total waste of coal, labor, and other rations, to keep the HSF bottled up in port for the majority of the war!

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Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Sep 14, 2006 4:13 pm

General Robert E. Lee:
"To be a soldier you must love the army... (deep breath) but to be a General you must be willing to order the death of that thing you love... That´s the trick, gentleman, in an attack you must not hold anything, you must commit everything to the attack, only by doing so you must achieve victory and end this bloodbath..."

General Douglass McArthur:
"War´s only object is victory, not prolongued indecision"

Samuel P. Huttintgon:
"We cannot access the military by standard moral issues..."

In World War One many so called "generals" on both sides threw to their deaths not twenty nor thirty thousand soldiers in a single charge against fortified positions, but hundreds of thousands like in the Somme. France´s landscape is full of military cementeries that shelter millions of young lives given to NOTHING but an advance measured in tenths of yards instead of miles. Not one hundred more soldiers would had done any difference in the Western Front, not even a million more soldiers in any sector from 1915 to the spring of 1918.
The idea of sending the HSF to a victory or death fight is not as criminal as the decision to let millions die because nobody in the leadership of the warrin parties knew what to do. After all, one of the many reasons that triggered the war was the fact that Great Britain and Germany had this naval race between them, so we can say that the existence of the HSF was one of the reasons the war started. If you have the fleet, intact, doing nothing or, on the other hand, you can use it in the national effort to win the war that that same fleet helped to start, man, I´ll not hesitate: if the soldiers are dying by the thousands in the fields, the sailors are going to fight, dammit, because that´s why we have a fleet in the first place. Inhuman? No more than the millions that already died and the ones that are going to die in the fields.
If the HSF wins over the RN then the allied effort would be crippled and a German victory is secured: the war is over. If the fleet is destroyed, well, at least nobody would say that the necesary effort wasn´t done, as is the case.
Nobody has asked himself why in WWII Langsdorf, Raeder, Lutjens and company acted the way they did? Because the HSF didn´t did what it was meant in the WWI, they lived with the stigma and people like Goering never stopped of remembering them two main things:
1. The HSF didn´t fight and suffer as their army comrades.
2. The sailors of the HSF, when suspecting an operation, thought that it was time for mutinee and start a rebelion that crushed the nation.
Again, man, if it was me, I´ll shot those traitors and scrapped the fleet forever.
And being myself a Norwegian-English descendant I can tell you, the Valhalla is only reach by those bold and unlucky enough. But to know how lucky you are first you must be bold.
War is not the country for human rights meditations, but of agressive and cautious actions.

Best regards.

P.S. I doubt the inferior numbers ever discouraged Nelson to go to sea and turned the tide... or Nimitz at Midway where never a so inferior force like the USN accomplished such a victory against so vast an enemy like IJN.

And the most famous quotes by one of the greatest commanders that ever walked on earth:

Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson:

"Never take counsel of your fears"

“You may be whatever you resolve to be”

“Duty is ours; consequences are God's.”

“Through the broad extent of country over which you have marched by your respect for the rights and property of citizens, you have shown that you were soldiers not only to defend but able and willing to defend and protect.”

“Be content and resigned to God's will.”


And the most important one for this issue:

“Arms is a profession that, if its principles are adhered to for success, requires an officer do what he fears may be wrong, and yet, according to military experience, must be done, if success is to be attained.”

For the last there is a US military motto that says like this:

"We are not to reason why but to do or die."
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Postby Tiornu » Thu Sep 14, 2006 8:50 pm

Close coordination of surface and submarine units never proved practical. The IJN in WWII developed their submarine force specifically to take on the USN, and look what happened.
The Germans would probably be more vulnerable to submarines anyway--more of a bottleneck to pass through.

"because that´s why we have a fleet in the first place."
No, it isn't. The Germans had their fleet as a status symbol and a luxury. It had no military purpose. (No one has commented on my suggested turn eastward.)

"it appeared to be a total waste of coal, labor, and other rations, to keep the HSF bottled up in port for the majority of the war!"
I think the verdict of history is in agreement. The HSF was a waste from the start, and not just a waste, but an actively negative factor to Germany's interests. All it accomplished was to drive German toward war against Britain.

"Could one imagine the havoc it would have caused in the shipping lanes if the HSF"
I'm not sure I'd use the word "havoc" to describe a fleetful of ships dead in the water in mid-ocean with no fuel.

"I´ll shot those traitors"
Your characterization hints that you share the mistake with the German leadership. You have a group of men brought together for no military purpose, and when directed to die--not for a military purpose in the service of their country, but to retroactively vindicate the foolishness of the leaders--they find something really worthwhile to fight for: themselves. The outrage is not in their conduct but in the blindness of the leadership. (No one has commented one my suggested converting the sailors to soldiers, either.)

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Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Sep 14, 2006 9:39 pm

Tiornu:
(No one has commented on my suggested turn eastward.)


It sounds interesting. A new scope to the traditional one: a new campaign instead of waiting for the british.

"because that´s why we have a fleet in the first place."
No, it isn't. The Germans had their fleet as a status symbol and a luxury. It had no military purpose.


During the arms race and the years prior to the start of the war that´s likely, but not when hostilities had begun: The HSF was a weapon of war, and a powerfull one to that effect, as were the army´s infantry divisions and artillery regiments. In case there is any doubt about that I suggest to read "On War" by Carl von Clausewitz or some of Alfred Thayer Mahan on Sea Power. The fleet was meant to fight as the U-Boats or as a cavalry corps. The fact that it was suitable or not, obsolete or not, superior or not, is to be seen in the battlefield.

"I´ll shot those traitors"


And send the spent bullet´s bill to their families...

If they are ordered to fight they´ll go, end of the discussion, as any soldier has done in their country´s interest in History.
You just can´t make any comparison between them and those sailors who DID THEIR DUTY in the Hood, the Bismarck, the Arizona, the Schanhorst, the Royal Oak, the Yamato, etc. etc. etc. etc. and can claim their site of honor among those brave enough to distinguished that the interests of the many precedes those of the few or the one. Why they didn´t protest for playing bridge or dice on the BBs and BCs decks for five years while millions were fighting like tigers and dying horrible deaths in the battlefields? When the day came for them to do their part then it´s time to be "socially perceptive"? Give me a break! That was a stab in the back of the army, an army that wasn´t beaten once in the fields, and still occupying enemy territory when these spoiled children began to run amuk.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
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Postby Tiornu » Thu Sep 14, 2006 11:30 pm

The Germans did eventually turn their attention to operating in the eastern Baltic, and they had success there. Had they done so earlier, they might have freed themselves of entanglements on an Eastern Front and thus allowed a fuller concentration in France, maybe to some effective degree. The nature of war in those waters might have been frightening--mines, coastal forces, and so forth. The Dardanelles offers a sobering example. However, given the eventual success Germany did have, maybe an earlier effort would have been possible. Honestly, I don't know enough about it to predict the likelihood of success.
A machine gun is a powerful weapon of war. I could give you a machine gun and tell you, "All right, there's an enemy tank company out there. Go out and defeat them." If you protested, I could tell you that the suitability of my plan is to be seen on the battlefield. Granted the disparity of force in my example is more dramatic, but the principle stands. Ordering men to a pointless death is not the pursuit of a military objective. Men are not stupid. They do not take their service in the military as the opportunity to die to make their commanders look less foolish.
It's interesting that you mention Mahan, because Mahan may have played a significant part in misleading the Germans into building their HSF. Mahan was unwittingly a cause of the problem in the first place; following Mahan to the bitter end simply extends the error to include more wasted lives.
It's true that the sailors were meant to fight just as ground troops are; and if they had been used as ground troops, then some good might have resulted. The Soviets in WWII give us a fine example. Since the Soviet navy had no hopes of defeating the Germans in a fleet action, the ships became little more than floating batteries, and thousands of sailors became available for ground fighting.
The plan to send the HSF off to fight a slugfest with the British makes sense only if you buy the original assumption that the Germans were in a position to make a Mahanian challenge to British naval might. This was never true.
When you say, "If they are ordered to fight they´ll go, end of the discussion, as any soldier has done in their country´s interest in History," you continue the false premise that such a sortie was actually in their country's interest. It wasn't. It was in the interest of a foolish leadership whose error had been explosed. Sailors have no such duty, and dressing up the ugly truth in a national flag does not change what's really going on.

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Postby Bgile » Fri Sep 15, 2006 12:44 am

I’ve been following this thread with interest. Please excuse the ignorance I’m going to show in my question – I am not very knowledgeable about the mutiny. I’ve read about Jutland and played simulations of it. It seemed to me that the Germans could have defeated the British fleet.

Is this premise incorrect?

Why were the German sailors so upset about going out and fighting the British again?

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Postby RNfanDan » Fri Sep 15, 2006 12:45 am

Gary wrote:Thanks to all who replied. :cool:

Hi Karl.

The discussion was on John Asmussens Bismarck and Tirpitz site.
It would be great if you could join us there too

http://www.bismarck-class.dk/


I, for one, do not particularly appreciate posters promoting and advocating other sites, as if each is somehow "competing" against the other. I don't mean to sound harsh, but this is not the first time I've encountered similar "Post there, not here" entries. It's inevitable that there will be some crossover and duplicated topics, I understand very well, but please---let's not denigrate threads by encouraging members to take their contributions elsewhere. I'm sure both sites can engage independently in subject material and discussions. :negative:
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