German heavy ships

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
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RF
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Re: German heavy ships

Post by RF » Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:41 am

phil gollin wrote:.
They were responsible for the organisation, infrastructure, logistics, building, running and training of the navy. They failed.

They had to have had some idea of basic war plans, e.g. what ships would be available, what weapons and men and what supplies (including oil). Any idea that these issues were some how not part of their job is laughable. They may as well have put a naval ensign on a few barges and have done with it.
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With respect to the first paragraph, the Reggia Marina was a substantial and formidable force in June 1940, albeit with no carriers. In that respect I don't think Supermarina was a complete failure. The Vittorio Veneto for example was a first rate battleship.

With respect to the second paragraph Supermarina did have tactical plans - to keep the strength of the fleet intact and to protect Italian convoys to Libya and coastal shipping. This was decided by them as they considered the RN to be a formidable force. So tactically they followed an entirely defensive posture. What they lacked was the strategic direction from the political leadership. This is why the RM failed to attack in concert with the other armed forces when attack was needed.
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Re: German heavy ships

Post by phil gollin » Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:42 am

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You "forgot" to quote my full answer, and in particularly ;

"...... What that does not cover is the ordinary work of a naval high command, except for saying that the Naval High Command didn't make plans as they had no instructions. That would apply to any specific requiremnt coming downwards, but does not explain the High Command's inaction on their own behalf. ..."

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I agree that the RM was a major fleet ( this is part of my argument about Italy being a major European power with that position's associated consequences ) BUT it failed to organise, build, supply or train to suit that power (or geographical position ) - that was its failure, and it was a failure of the Naval High Command as much as Il Duce and the political elite.

The RM failed totally strategically.

You say they had "tactical plans" - but did they have the organisation, supply, logistics, training and tactics ( in such matters as night fighting, ASW, etc.... ).

What was the Naval Staff up to ?

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by Francis Marliere » Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:50 am

Phil,

I am not sure that the Regia Marina "failed totally strategically". Of course the Italian navy lost battles and was eventually defeated, but we shouldn't forget that the main purpose of RM was to protect the sea lines of communications between Italy and Lybia. And despite some heavy looses at a few moments, Regia Marina did it. I have not the statistics at hand, but the majority of the Italian convoys in the Mediterranean arrived at destination. The fact that the supply did not reach the battlefield because of the limitations of Lybian ports, roads and railways is not the faut of the RM.
I would add that the RM was the only Italian with a kind of strategic thinking (even if could have been far better). The Regia Aeronautica did not make oil reserves before the war, and when Italy entered war, important parts of RM strategic reserves were transfered to the Air Force. Hence RM chronical oil shortage in WWII ...

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Francis Marliere

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by RF » Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:25 pm

Francis Marliere wrote:,
I am not sure that the Regia Marina "failed totally strategically".
I would have to disagree here - the strategy used was defensive in posture and not geared to actually winning the war. But that was very largely the fault of the Duce in not pursuing the war with the vigour that was needed, or in properly preparing Italy for war in the years leading up to 1939. Hitler and Tojo were also guilty of failing to apply a proper strategy for winning.

Tactically the defensive posture did work up to early 1942 in that the limited objectives were realised. But it wasn't what I would define as a proper strategy.
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Re: German heavy ships

Post by RF » Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:27 pm

Francis Marliere wrote: ...but the majority of the Italian convoys in the Mediterranean arrived at destination.
But not from early summer 1942 onwards. And the RM couldn't evacuate the Axis forces trapped in Tunisia.....
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Re: German heavy ships

Post by phil gollin » Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:42 pm

Francis Marliere wrote:
................. but we shouldn't forget that the main purpose of RM was to protect the sea lines of communications between Italy and Lybia. And despite some heavy looses at a few moments, Regia Marina did it. I have not the statistics at hand, but the majority of the Italian convoys in the Mediterranean arrived at destination. The fact that the supply did not reach the battlefield because of the limitations of Lybian ports, roads and railways is not the faut of the RM. ......
Another case where the modern "apologists" have a fascinating way of twisting the truth into a very convoluted argument.

1: (1a) The Axis did not send enough supplies - so the amount (percentage) that got across is a secondary issue. There are many reasons for this from high strategy (both German and Italian are both rather weird), through to (1b) insufficient merchant ships, (1c) insufficient escorts with (1d) insufficient equipment and (1e) insufficient fuel ( ALL Italian Naval High Command's problems ) and (1f) insufficient harbour facilities and (1g) improvisation ( AGAIN, Italian Naval High Command problem ).

2: Why did the Italians not use coastal shipping/convoys to move supplies up the coast (low draft vessels, moving withing mine barrages using local harbours in high threat situations) ? (The British managed to keep the East Coast convoys going all through the war and used small craft to relieve the seige on Tobruk.) Again, lack of pre-war planning and wartime flexibility tied the Italians (and Germans) to terribly inefficient lines of supply.

This is one of the reasons I quoted the 1938 report by the C-in-C Med where he is looking at preparing reserve ports, fuel supplies, etc... in case of war. He looked at what was coming and did something. This is in contrast to the Italian High Command. Likewise, as noted before, there was a dreadful shortage of ASDIC equipped escorts - because so few sets were completed and yet one university's electrical and mechanical engineering department could have turned out a sufficient number. There is blame to be had there, not a blind eye to be turned.

Whether Italy thought they would be fighting just France or France and Britain together they "should" have planned for much of the things that actually happened.

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by lwd » Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:57 pm

phil gollin wrote: .... 1: (1a) The Axis did not send enough supplies
If the supplies that are sent aren't getting to the troops sending more supplies doesn't make much sense does it?
... (1f) insufficient harbour facilities and (1g) improvisation ( AGAIN, Italian Naval High Command problem ).
Perhaps there problem but hardly their resoponsability. The Italian army would be responsible for telling the navy how much they would need in supplies and in building the infrastructure to accept and distribute said supplies.
2: Why did the Italians not use coastal shipping/convoys to move supplies up the coast (low draft vessels, moving withing mine barrages using local harbours in high threat situations) ?
They did. But the local harbors couldn't handle all that much in the way of traffic either and of course said local traffic was subject to British interdiction efforts.
This is one of the reasons I quoted the 1938 report by the C-in-C Med where he is looking at preparing reserve ports, fuel supplies, etc... in case of war. He looked at what was coming and did something.
There is little question that the prewar planning by the British was better. However a lot of this was due to both doctrine and the British political system. Due to the limited political influences the British Military could make fairly realistic assumptions on what would happen and the various commands could then use this information for planning purposes. Furthermore they could communicate reasonably safely with high command information such as "if this happens we have a disaster on our hands". Not to say that the politcal leadership would prevent it from happening (Singapore being a rather classsic example) but they were aware of the dangers and could allocate resources as appropriate. Furthermore general competency rather than political reliability seems to have been the critieria for advancement in the RN this was not the case in Italy.
This is in contrast to the Italian High Command.
The question is what resources did the Italian navy have that they could allocate to these efforts and what guidance were they given as to likely conflicts. If Il Duce wanted a battleship rather than a filled tank farm or a decent railroad in North Africa that's what he got no matter what the Admirals or Generals said.
There is blame to be had there, not a blind eye to be turned.
Indeed but the question is who is to blame. We've already seen that Italian Naval officers were aware of at least some of the problems and had communictated them to Il Duce. What more should they be expected to do if he turns a deaf ear? Especially if he assures them (I'm not sure if he did this or not) that he won't do anything "stupid".
Whether Italy thought they would be fighting just France or France and Britain together they "should" have planned for much of the things that actually happened.
Did they plan on fighting either? If so when? Didn't Hitler tell the Wehrmacth to be ready for war in 1944 at some point in the 30's. If Italy was preping for war at that point they had time to lay in supplies in the early 40's and indeed that would make sense as some of those supplies will be perishable. There is no question that the British and for that matter American military commanders were more proactive than the Italian ones but they also had more resources and a history of such planning.

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by phil gollin » Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:14 pm

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A: No - more supplies sent would have helped (lots of reasons, to guess what you were possibly getting at - more ships in a convoy, more get through.

B: YES - A naval staff should plan, build and organise for a war. Harbours are NAVAL responsibilities.

C: Coastal trade - the Italians didn't do enough. Quite simple. The North African coast is relatively benign (due to very small tidal ranges) and harbours for shelter need to be no more than a couple of sunken ships.

D: So the British Naval staff worked and the Italian one didn't. The Italian Naval staff spent lots of money, but not on the right things.

E: Il Duce did NOT wander around checking the line items in the Naval budget - that was where the Naval Staff should have been doing things.

F: It is no use just passing the buck to Il Duce - what were the Naval Staff being paid for ?

G: Back to the aggressive and expansionist attitude of Italy pre-war. It is no good to go around setting up fights if you don't prepare for them.

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I really do not see why there is this somehow magical cloak of forgiveness hung over the Italian Naval Stafff - they were terrible and reacted badly to the war (with some few exceptions). If, say, the UK had failed to prepare so badly (and they ARE criticised for the poor job that they actually did do) then the criticism would be even more strident. This strange idea thta somehow everything that was wrong (however large or small) was Il Duce's fault is laughable.

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by lwd » Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:43 pm

phil gollin wrote:A: No - more supplies sent would have helped (lots of reasons, to guess what you were possibly getting at - more ships in a convoy, more get through.
But if the supplies are just piling up at the port of what use more?
B: YES - A naval staff should plan, build and organise for a war. Harbours are NAVAL responsibilities.
That depends on the nationality. I believe in at least some cases the harbors were considered army responsibilities by the US or at least joing ones. In any case it isn't the navy that sets the requirements. If the navy is responsible for them it's only for makeing sure that they will meet the requirements set by the army. Did the Italian army ever set such requirements? If they did did the political leadership ever commit the resources to build solve the problems?
C: Coastal trade - the Italians didn't do enough. Quite simple. The North African coast is relatively benign (due to very small tidal ranges) and harbours for shelter need to be no more than a couple of sunken ships.
The British didn't seem to have done much more in this regards. That suggest it wasn't as simple as you seem to think.
... The Italian Naval staff spent lots of money, but not on the right things.
But how much control did they have of what was spent?
E: Il Duce did NOT wander around checking the line items in the Naval budget - that was where the Naval Staff should have been doing things.
But Battleships were very visible prestige items. You don't think he was checking on them? And then there was the over all limit set. Consider also in this sort of environment one often asks for visible equipment because it will get authorizd and then one hopes that when the need is their the operational expenses will be covered.
F: It is no use just passing the buck to Il Duce - what were the Naval Staff being paid for ?
More important is what were they allowed to do?
G: Back to the aggressive and expansionist attitude of Italy pre-war. It is no good to go around setting up fights if you don't prepare for them.
But you've yet to show that Italy was indeed setting up a fight with either France or Britain. Indeed given their early war actions I suspect that they weren't.
I really do not see why there is this somehow magical cloak of forgiveness hung over the Italian Naval Stafff - they were terrible and reacted badly to the war (with some few exceptions). ...
The problem is you seem to be assumeing it's all their fault and proceeding from there rather than looking at as much of the information as possible and then making a decision.

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by phil gollin » Sun Oct 16, 2011 9:27 am

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A : Re. "supplies piling up at ports" - you are now arguing with yourself. The reason they would be piling up would be poor preparations by the naval staff.

B: Thank - another naval staff mistake

C: Ah hem, East coast convoys ? relief of Tobruk ? The British did fine. (Also look at how many supplies the allies managed to fit into West and Central North Africa after El Alemein and Torch.

D: The Italian naval staff had full control on middle and low-level items (as far as I can tell - remember part of one of my first posts on the subject was bemoaning the lack of information on the issue - possibly due to the veil of forgiveness drawn over the naval staff). They certainly controlled the balance of monies spent during the war (and failed there as well).

E: "Line items" are the small stuff and Il Duce didn't check them. Harbour mods, fuel storage, etc.... was this stuff. The C-in-C Med did his works just out of his maintenance budget (i.e. even without Admiralty approval) - what he was doing in his post Munich report was asking for more money from the increased defence budget for even more preparatory works. (Yes, I know that his maintenance budget would have been submitted to the Admiralty for lower-level perusal and agreement.)

F: The Naval Staff ran the navy, just not very well.

G: There are none so blind that will not see.

H: The Italian Naval Staff had the responsibility to run the navy, it is not up to someone to proove that. It is up to the "apologists" to show how they were prevented. This they have signally failed to do, both pre-war and during the war. There is a blatent hole where any argument regarding the quality and achievements of the Naval Staff should be. It is papered over by vague references to Il Duce and quickly walked away from. If a British Fleet commander could think about the future and organise (insufficient) things why couldn't the Italian Naval Staff ? .

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by RF » Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:45 am

I think we are going round and round in cirlcles here. And with tunnel vision.

As has already been explained, the naval staff can only operate within the resources they are given. They can only plan if they know where they are going. And they can only operate really efficiently if they have the motivation and freedom to do so.
The fact that they didn't comes from the top. Namely the buffoon who declared war when he thought it was practically over and was exposed when his bluff was called.

Saying that it is laughable to blame Mussolini when the naval staff didn't plan comes across to me as rather like saying that it is laughable to blame Hitler for the genocide and racial extermination in Nazi Germany because the planning of it and its execution was conducted by the SS.

In a dictatorship the dictator is responsible for everything. That is why they are called dictators.
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Re: German heavy ships

Post by alecsandros » Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:15 am

RF wrote:
In a dictatorship the dictator is responsible for everything. That is why they are called dictators.
:ok:

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by Francis Marliere » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:41 pm

phil gollin wrote:Another case where the modern "apologists" have a fascinating way of twisting the truth into a very convoluted argument.
Well, Phil, thank you for learning me that I am both a modern and an apologist (I don't know of what). I am also happy to fascinate someone, even if i would prefer to fascinate my boss or my wife, but I can't choose, I guess.

BTW I still inclined to think that, as many historians have written, the Italian navy did not perform as bad as usually said. Of course, RM lost battles, failed in many points, but in final analysis, did the job it was requested to do : keep the SLC between Italy and colonies open. It's the old problem of the glass which, depending of your point of view, can be half full or half empty.

Nevertheless, I remark that RM is not responsible of all the problems she had to face. The lack of ASDIC and Radar is due to the weak industrial and scientific state of the country, and is shared with French and Japanese navy. The lack of naval air force and the poor coordination with the Regia Aeronautica is of political nature, and so is the lack of infrastructures in Libya. The RM is neither responsible of the chronic shortage of fuel : the navy did make reserves before the war, but was ordered to give them to the RA which did not have. The decision to go the war without any possibility to get oil and raw materials and with half the merchant navy unable to return to Italy was not made by the navy but by Mussolini.

Please consider that I am not an 'apologist', a lover, a fan or a supporter of the Regia Marina. As my name suggests, I am not Italian and has no link whatsoever with Italian navy or Italy. I just note that the extremely severe jugement on RM was a bit unfaire and biased by british wartime propagandia.

Best,

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by lwd » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:56 pm

phil gollin wrote: A : Re. "supplies piling up at ports" - you are now arguing with yourself. The reason they would be piling up would be poor preparations by the naval staff.
No. Supplies piling up in the ports after they are delivered are the armies problem.
B: Thank - another naval staff mistake
??? how so?
C: Ah hem, East coast convoys ? relief of Tobruk ? The British did fine. (Also look at how many supplies the allies managed to fit into West and Central North Africa after El Alemein and Torch.
They didn't run all that many more coastal convoys along the North coast of Africa and or improve the harbors all that much from what I've read. Which was my point. Deliveries to ports outside the area of interest are another matter.
D: The Italian naval staff had full control on middle and low-level items ...
Complete control? So they could have bought all the oil they wanted?
E: "Line items" are the small stuff and Il Duce didn't check them. Harbour mods, fuel storage, etc.... was this stuff.
He may not have checked them but did set a budget that limited their procurement. I don't see the Italians begging the Germans for more fuel as they did historically if they could have just bought what they needed.
F: The Naval Staff ran the navy, just not very well.
And why is that? It looks to me like it was in large part due to limitations imposed from above.
G: There are none so blind that will not see.
Pot calling kettle.
H: The Italian Naval Staff had the responsibility to run the navy, it is not up to someone to proove that.
They may have had the responsiblity but did they have the authority to do what whas necessary to do it well?
It is up to the "apologists" to show how they were prevented.
Sorry you are the proponet of this blame game so the burden of proof is on you. You may indeed be correct but as of yet you certainly haven't proven it.

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Re: German heavy ships

Post by phil gollin » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:05 pm

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RF

Your detour to genocide is ridiculous.

The role of the Naval Staff is to plan, organise, supply and train the navy. This the Italian Naval Staff failed to do. Since when has a Naval Staff depended upon a politican to define everything it should do ?

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