Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

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aurora
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Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by aurora » Tue Jul 14, 2015 5:44 pm

Death of Scharnhorst:
With its radar out, Scharnhorst was caught by surprise as the British attack developed. Using radar-directed fire, Duke of York scored hits on the German ship with its first salvo. As the fighting continued, Scharnhorst's forward turret was put out of action and Bey turned north. This quickly brought him under fire from Belfast and Norfolk. Changing course to the east, Bey sought to escape the British trap. Hitting Duke of York twice, Scharnhorst was able to damage its radar.

Despite this success, the British battleship struck the battlecruiser with a shell which destroyed one of its boiler rooms. Quickly slowing to ten knots, Scharnhorst's damage control parties worked to repair the damage. This was partially successful and soon the ship was moving at twenty-two knots.Though an improvement, this reduced speed allowed Fraser's destroyers to close.

Maneuvering to attack, Savage and Saumarez approached Scharnhorst from port while Scorpion and Stord neared from starboard. Turning to starboard to engage Savage and Saumarez, Scharnhorst quickly took a torpedo hit from one of the other two destroyers. This was followed by three hits on its port side. Badly damaged, Scharnhorst slowed allowing Duke of York to close. Supported by Belfast and Jamaica, Duke of York began pummeling the German battlecruiser.

With the battleship's shells striking, both light cruisers added torpedoes to the barrage.Listing severely and with the bow partially submerged, Scharnhorst continued to limp along at about three knots. With the ship critically damaged, the order was given to abandon ship around 7:30 PM. Charging forward, the destroyer detachment from RA 55A fired nineteen torpedoes at the stricken Scharnhorst. Several of these struck home and soon the battlecruiser was convulsed by a series of explosions.

Following a massive explosion at 7:45 PM, Scharnhorst slipped beneath the waves. In the wake of the sinking, Matchless and Scorpion began picking up survivors before Fraser ordered his forces to proceed to Murmansk.Battle of the North Cape - Aftermath:In the fighting off the North Cape, the Kriegsmarine suffered the loss of Scharnhorst and 1,932 of its crew. Due to the threat of U-boats, British ships were only able to rescue 36 German sailors from the frigid water. British losses totaled 11 killed and 11 wounded.

The Battle of the North Cape marked the last surface engagement between British and German capital ships during World War II. With Tirpitz damaged, the loss of Scharnhorst effectively eliminated surface threats to the Allies' Arctic convoys. The engagement also demonstrated the importance of radar-directed fire control in modern naval battles.

How big a part did 1) ULTRA,2) RADAR and 3)Ship command RN & KM - play in this action ???

With Compliments to Kennedy Hickman of MILITARYHISTORY

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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by Dave Saxton » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:36 pm

This map posted by Thorsten might be helpful to readers:

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=6468

Scharnhorst was equipped with the same model radar as Prinz Eugen was in June 44 were it demonstrated a capability to locate destroyers at ranges greater than 30,000 meters.

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=6757&start=15

Your questions about the importance of radar and the decisions of commanding officers are closely related. Scharnhorst was sunk because of mistakes made by the German command in the management of radar assets, combined with some bad luck.

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=6513
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by Dave Saxton » Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:05 pm

aurora wrote: Despite this success, the British battleship struck the battlecruiser with a shell which destroyed one of its boiler rooms.
I disagree. My opinion is that it was a mechanical breakdown. It is an opinion of course, but the shell destroying a boiler room is also only an opinion.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:29 am

From battle Summary 24 Interrogation of survivors
BattleSummary 24 Sinking of Scharnhorst.png
BattleSummary 24 Sinking of Scharnhorst.png (250.54 KiB) Viewed 3050 times
in between 06:48 pm to 07:37 pm 55 torpedos has been fired against Scharnhorst from
Scorpion, Stord, Savage, Saumarez, Jamaica, Belfast, Opportune, Musketeer, Matchless and Virago.
about eleven hit the ship
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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by aurora » Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:44 am

Thank you gentlemen for your well considered replies-as no one actually saw this fine ship sink-there are bound to be questions

Criticism has been levelled at Bey for not being aggressive enough,by turning away from the British cruisers during the first two skirmishes in the battle.He also lost contact with his destroyers and therefore their invaluable contribution when needed.

Burnett too was criticised for errors in deployment and thereby losing contact with Scharnhorst after the first skirmish; but truth to tell, he made up for his shortcomings by blocking Scharnhorst second attempt to intercept the convoy.

Even Fraser could be faulted by making insufficient use of Ultra decrypts and radar to better advantage in the final encounter with Scharnhorst.

These points that I have made can be questioned or even refuted;should there be proof to the contrary.

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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by Paul L » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:14 am

It seems these new tech was difficult to adjust to for both sides. Most German commanders were hesitant to use radar through out the war assuming they could be "seen" at much greater ranges than they could "see" via the radar.

Likewise it seems RN were distrustful of Ultra Intel reports and preferred to rely on actual sightings and HF/DF etc.
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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by aurora » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:33 am

Cannot argue with that logic Paul :ok: However consider this-The loss of Scharnhorst demonstrated the vital importance of radar in modern naval warfare.

While the German battleship should have been able to outgun all of her opponents save the battleship Duke of York, the early loss of radar-assisted fire control combined with the problem of inclement weather left her at a significant disadvantage.

Scharnhorst was straddled by 31 of the 52 radar-fire-controlled salvos fired by Duke of York.[11] In the aftermath of the battle, the Kriegsmarine commander, Großadmiral Karl Dönitz remarked, "Surface ships are no longer able to fight without effective radar equipment. :ok: :ok:


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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by Dave Saxton » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:21 pm

Radar had been used rather extensively before this battle by the British, Germans, and Americans, so we should not look at it as the advent the radar combat era. Moreover, 90% of naval battles had been occurring at night for nearly two years by then. Both sides expected that radar would be of vital importance going in. Giessler wrote that Scharnhorst had been equipped with the latest and best radar equipment available to the Germans. Scharnhorst had conducted several blind fire gunnery exercises and radar tests in the weeks leading up to when it sailed. Scharnhorst had been prepared, so it must of been very frustrating to have Rear Admiral Bey first order radar silence, and then to have the new foretop set destroyed during the first skirmish rendering Scharnhorst practically blind.

It is very interesting to compare the use of radar by Bey and Burnett leading up to the first skirmish. Bey was certainly practicing radar silence because Scharnhorst was caught by surprise. If the radars were switched on then this could not have happened. Nonetheless, radar silence is a legitimate and necessary tactic. Radar transmissions can be detected by the enemy over great distances and that will eliminate the element of surprise, which the Germans considered essential.


Belfast detected a radar contact at 30km that later turned out to be Scharnhorst. They would not know that it was Scharnhorst until Scharnhorst was sighted visually and identified 40 minutes later, however. Scharnhorst was on a north east course at 12 knots, 30km to the north west of Burnett's location. Burnett was sailing almost due north on a slight north west course. About a minute after the radar detection, Scharnhorst changed course to due south and increased speed to 19 knots. During the next 40 minutes the two forces passed by each other so that Burnett became placed 12,000 yards north of the Scharnhorst. Belfast fired star shell illuminating Scharnhorst at 0930 hours. Why did the Scharnhorst's radar detectors not warn Bey of Burnett's presence?

The answer is that Burnett was also practicing partial radar silence. Scharnhorst had radar detectors that could have detected the British metric radar transmissions if those metric radars were switched on. They obviously were not switched on. This serves as a lesson of the importance of practicing radar silence. Detectors such as the Samos and Wanze could not detect wavelengths of less than 60 cm, so they could not detect Burnett's 10cm and 50cm radars.

The Germans did have a detector capable of detecting 10cm transmissions at that time, however. It was the Naxos 1. Unfortunately for the Germans the Naxos 1 was not a reliable piece of gear. If Scharnhorst did have a Naxos 1 it failed to warn Bey. Had it done so it would have been incumbent upon Bey to switch on his active radars. This was the problem facing commanders of both sides: when to practice radar silence and when not to. It is still a difficult problem facing naval commanders today. Burnett's use of radar was vindicated by default. Had this operation occurred a few weeks later, Scharnhorst would have been equipped with a better centimetric detector such as Naxos T or Naxos ZM and Burnett would have given himself away by the use of his 10cm radars.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by aurora » Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:02 pm

Really appreciate the "wrinkles" vis a vis -use of radar silence Dave-nice trick. At 1912, the cruisers of "force I" open fire. Thereafter cruisers Jamaica and Belfast launch all their torpedoes, and destroyers Musketeer, Opportune and Virago 19 more.

The Scharnhorst finally capsizes and sinks at 1945 hours in position 72º 16' North, 28º 41' East. 36 survivors.33 mins to sink-she was very unfortunate.

03 October 2000: The wreck of the Scharnhorst is found 66 miles north-northeast of North Cape. It lies some 290 meters deep, upside down and heavily damaged.

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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by Dave Saxton » Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:09 pm

aurora wrote:
Scharnhorst was straddled by 31 of the 52 radar-fire-controlled salvos fired by Duke of York.

aurora
Not all the salvos were radar controlled. The early salvos were assisted by star shell for bearing and spotting, but certainly radar ranged. The same applied to the Scharnhorst's early salvos. After the range increased to beyond 13,000 yards, star shell were no longer effective and full radar direction was required of all combatants.* The Duke of York's 284M fire control radar began having problems spotting the fall of shot, and so it was requested by voice radio that any British observers to report the fall of shot back to the Duke of York if they could. Jamaica also apparently had problems because it fired only 19 salvos during the entire battle. It may have limited its shooting to avoid making the spotting of the Duke of York's fall shot even more difficult, however.

* That Scharnhorst was also utilizing full radar direction (using the remaining aft radar set) is proven by the fact that there was a marked improvement of the consistency of the Scharnhorst's shooting accuracy after the Duke of York's radar jammer was knocked out.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by aurora » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:14 pm

Dave-scanning through Angus Konstam's "Battle of North Cape" pub.2009-I could not find mention of Burnett running with his radar- silent-so checked all my sources- Roskill,,Barnet,Pope et al and could not find a mention-I realise that I may not have the work where this is mentioned; but wondered whether this was an "educated guess" of yours??? I mean no disrespect; but am now curious.Hope you will clear this issue up.
Looking back on the whole episode-there were many mistakes-not the least being Bey's big destroyers
losing contact-they may well have made a name for themselves by taking on Burnett much more forcefully.What do you think about this issue??? :o :o

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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by Dave Saxton » Thu Jul 16, 2015 6:43 pm

I guess they haven't thought it out enough. The only plausible explanation for the Scharnhorst's FuMB equipment not warning Bey of Burnett; is that Burnett's metric wave length radars were not switched on. This does not mean he didn't have 50 cm and 10 cm sets operating-obviously he did. British warships were equipped with many radar sets of several different wavelengths.

Losing contact with the destroyers was Bey's fault. He did not communicate his change of course with them. Would having the destroyers near Scharnhorst during the first engagement have made it less likely that he would be taken by surprise? Not if they all had their radars switched off. Perhaps Z29 may have detected Burnett's centimetric radars and sounded the alarm?

Bey might have been more inclined to fight it out right then and there, though. This is what Doenitz thought he should have done. Then he could attack the convoy in force around 1100 hours having neutralized Burnett's cruisers. Fraser was still ten hours away.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by aurora » Thu Jul 16, 2015 7:19 pm

Approaching from the northeast, Burnett's Force 1 picked up Scharnhorst on radar at 8:30 AM. Closing in the increasingly snowy weather, Belfast opened fire at a range of around 12,000 yards. Joining the fray, Norfolk and Sheffield also began targeting Scharnhorst. Returning fire, Bey's ship failed to score any hits on the British cruisers, but sustained two, one of which destroyed Scharnhorst's radar.

Effectively blind, the German ship was forced to target the muzzle flashes of the British guns. Believing he was engaging a British battleship, Bey turned south in an effort to break off the action. Escaping Burnett's cruisers, the German ship turned northeast and attempted to loop around to strike at the convoy. Hampered by degrading sea conditions, Burnett shifted Force 1 to a position to screen JW 55B.

Somewhat concerned that he had lost Scharnhorst, Burnett reacquired the battlecruiser on radar at 12:10 PM. Exchanging fire, Scharnhorst succeeded in hitting Norfolk, destroying its radar and putting a turret out of action. Around 12:50 PM, Bey turned south and decided to return to port. Pursuing Scharnhorst, Burnett's force was soon reduced to just Belfast as the other two cruisers began suffering mechanical issues.

Relaying Scharnhorst's position to Fraser's Force 2, Burnett maintained contact with the enemy. At 4:17 PM, Duke of York picked up Scharnhorst on radar. Bearing down on the battlecruiser, Fraser pushed his destroyers forward for a torpedo attack. Maneuvering into position to deliver a full broadside, Fraser ordered Belfast to fire starshells over Scharnhorst at 4:47 PM.This was not the beginning of the end, rather the end of thr beginning,

Scharnhorst had dispersed his destroyers and were de facto-had no part in this action. :( :(

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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by Dave Saxton » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:16 pm

aurora wrote:Approaching from the northeast, Burnett's Force 1 ....
This not correct. Burnett was approaching from the southeast. Scharnhorst was between Force 1 and the convoy, which was only about 30 miles away to the north west. This is why Burnett was so glad that the radar contact turned onto a south course.
Believing he was engaging a British battleship, Bey turned south in an effort to break off the action.
The Germans knew they were 3 cruisers and this was announced to the crew by KzS Hintze over the loud speakers. If they thought there was a enemy battleship about, Bey was under orders to break off the entire operation and return to base, not to just disengage and try again later.
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Re: Death of the Scharnhorst in ww2

Post by aurora » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:42 am

At 08:30, Norfolk radar got the Scharnhorst on bearing 280° at 30.500 meters, immediately after at 08:40 Belfast got Scharnhorst on radar too on 295° at 32.500 meters.

Scharnhorst was unaware being already picked up by Royal Navy ships radar.

At 09:24, H.M.S. Belfast opened fire from 12.000 meters on Scharnhorst immediately followed by Norfolk and Sheffield, Scharnhorst responded fire, but disengaged speeding up to 30 knots.

Dave-Surely the bearing of 280 to 295 is a WNW course????


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