How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
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RF
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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by RF » Mon May 23, 2011 6:02 pm

lwd wrote: The problem is agian we are talking way to much in generalities. When does this program start? Indeed when can it start and still produce the results you want. If we have that then we can at least talk intelligently about allied responses.
And there is another issue that tends to be ignored - labour efficiency and productivity in German shipyards, together with the inefficient allocation of materials and skilled labour. Nazi Germany, for all the hype about the efficiency and dynamism of national socialism, operated its economy through a stifling state bureaucracy that inhibited individual initiative and business enterprise, particulary of smaller firms. The larger industrial combines benefitted through this bureaucracy - but look at the production lead times for the completion of warships and for submarines. The KM didn't have its own equivalent of Henry Kaiser.

A more efficient micro economic policy could have boosted the war potential of the KM considerably - but that means too many people thinking and participating in decisions, not something that a dictatorship likes.
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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by MVictorP » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:54 pm

Sorry to come a bit late to this subject, which fascinated me for years. IMO, no historical WWII navy has it more challenging, yet there is a real chance for success, I believe - and by success, I mean helping Germany win the war, not merely naval battles. I think it's vital for Germany to maintain a respectable surface fleet, to tie up a more powerful navy's forces in.

Objectives: It is almost certain in 1933 that any conflict involving Germany will pit it against a colonial power - France or England. So, from the get go, I know I have no hope of matching any of these before 1945. Yet, they have sealanes to protect: The concept of being faster than what you can't fight and stronger than what you can't outrun makes lots of sense, especially since these colonial powers bound themselves to a treaty that left a huge gap between 10 and 35 k-tons.

So a commerce war fleet is the goal, in a first phase, then, depending on how things go, we beef up that to a high-sea fleet from, say, 1940 on. But from the AGNT to the end of the WT treaty, speed, long-range, thick armor but more modest armement is the key. On the other hand, Germany also need a local Baltic fleet - but already, with 3 Panzerschiffen, 5 light cruisers and three pre-dreads, they have no real opposition there.

First, I would cancel Nurnberg, and favor building 2 Tromp-like scout cruisers instead. The other four "Ks" would sea their armement reduced to twin turrets aft to improve seakeeping and stability. Steady, gradual preogression is the key. and to that purpose I would take orders from Baltic states to build ships for them (instead of ill-suited Italian ones) during the 1933-35 years before the AGNT, to keep the industry vigorous.

As an air-superiority obsessed country, I would insist for a better development of AA facilities, and in this way I would drop development of the 105mm AA for its 88mm version, and would hasten the development of the 128mm dual. I would also develop a lower-velocity, heavy shelled 16" instead of the high-vel 15" that was made, in accordance with my long-range engagement politics.

So, here what I would lay down:

1935:
3x 22 500t Panzerschiff, as the Scharnhorsts were supposed to be, enlarged Deutschlands. Same guns, two turrets with the improved shells, to be able to run 32knts, or 12000 nmi @ 15knts, packing a 240mm belt and a four-inch average deck.
2x 24 000t Carriers, somewhat archaic à la Euro of the era, meaning an enclosed hangar, an armored deck and maybe even a couple of 6-8" turrets. An AC of 50-60 crafts would be enough at the start, but a 33knts speed and solid TDS is required, as well as valid legs. These carriers fill the AGNT carrier allocation.

1936:
2x 35 000t Battlecruisers, mounting two triple 16" guns, having a 31knts speed, a 240mm belt and a 160mm average deck, as well as a long range. these ships would be dangerous. long-range gun platforms. With these, the neo-PZs and a pair of pre-dreads, I would have used all of my AGNT battleship allocation.

1937-38
6x 7 500t Light cruisers, armed with ten 128mm dual, a 105mm belt, 60mm average deck and able to do 33knts, 12000nmi @ 15 to be able to escort high sea units. These would complete, with the "Ks" and the earlier PZs, my AGNT cruiser allocation. No heavy Cruisers in the first phase - I still don't see their use in either a commerce war fleet or a coastal one. I would prefer Coastal battleships instead.

As for small units, I would priviliedge sea-going, big destroyers more bent on fleet synergy than DD superiority - we've got light cruisers for that. I would also build a line of 1000t, 30knts coastal destroyers, but no torpedo boats pass the "rabs", to built more MTBs intead.

Other small crafts and subs; as historical.
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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by paul.mercer » Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:01 pm

Gentlemen,
I think almost all of you are right!
Certainly at the beginning of the war a huge fleet of U boats in the Atlantic would have caused irreparable damage to Gt Britains trade, this of course would have to be before the RN perfected their anti submarine tactics combined with long range aircraft, whilst 10 more ships like Sheer & Graf Spee would take car of most of the other trade routes. Their only problem is not having many friendly ports and having to rely on supply ships. I really don't think that the German capital ships like Bismarck/Tirpitz and the Twins should have been built as it was inevitable that they would be caught by superior numbers of British forces and I am inclined to think this would probably been the fate of any aircraft carriers.

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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by RF » Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:30 am

MVictorP wrote:Sorry to come a bit late to this subject, which fascinated me for years. IMO, no historical WWII navy has it more challenging, yet there is a real chance for success, I believe - and by success, I mean helping Germany win the war, not merely naval battles. I think it's vital for Germany to maintain a respectable surface fleet, to tie up a more powerful navy's forces in.
This is an interesting and very well thought out post.

Certainly this looks like a navy with some hitting power.

However three immediate points spring to mind in terms of your fleet, plus one other point I have mentioned in my previous post.

Firstly this is a visibly strong navy - so expect a sharp reaction from Britain, France and the USA by 1938-1939. The RN in response would certainly speed up the KGV class and other naval construction.

Secondly your fleet is still weak in carriers and you do not appear to specifically mention development of the fleet air arm itself.

Thirdly you don't mention hilfskreuzer and the opportunity to construct special purpose built ships.

My last point is to reiterate the need for greater efficiency in shipbuilding construction and labour productivity in German shipyards and in fitting out.
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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by RF » Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:44 am

paul.mercer wrote: I think almost all of you are right!
Certainly at the beginning of the war a huge fleet of U boats in the Atlantic would have caused irreparable damage to Gt Britains trade, this of course would have to be before the RN perfected their anti submarine tactics combined with long range aircraft, whilst 10 more ships like Sheer & Graf Spee would take car of most of the other trade routes. Their only problem is not having many friendly ports and having to rely on supply ships. I really don't think that the German capital ships like Bismarck/Tirpitz and the Twins should have been built as it was inevitable that they would be caught by superior numbers of British forces and I am inclined to think this would probably been the fate of any aircraft carriers.
Unfortunately I don't think this is really right, or more importantly, possible.

The Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1934, which allowed submarines up to 45% of RN strength is the key point here. Building up a huge fleet of U-boats by 1939 would involve early violation of that treaty and risks almost certain British reaction to that, including the possibility of actual war over Czechoslovakia in 1938 if British public opinion really turns against Germany. Even with violation ,it would be diificult to have a large fleet of subs by 1939.

Giving up the big ships poses strategic issues. They were an asset in the perceived threat they posed in the eyes of the RN. Keeping watch on these big ships means fewer surface forces to deal with the panzerschiff and cruisers. I don't think 10 more meduim sized ships plus a large U-boat force plus long range aircraft would be possible by even 1941 given the inefficiency of the German armaments industry, even if Speer had been put in charge pre-war. Remember that Hitler would prioritise the Heer for re-armament, not the KM.
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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by MVictorP » Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:52 pm

RF wrote: This is an interesting and very well thought out post.

Certainly this looks like a navy with some hitting power.
Thanks, thanks. This is a lot of fun for me.
However three immediate points spring to mind in terms of your fleet, plus one other point I have mentioned in my previous post.

Firstly this is a visibly strong navy - so expect a sharp reaction from Britain, France and the USA by 1938-1939. The RN in response would certainly speed up the KGV class and other naval construction.
Yet, there is no cheating, and my ships are less "radical" than either the Scharhorsts or the Bismarcks, being smaller and all. However, what these fast ship could do, is prevent UK from dumping ts battlecruisers - or at least modify the last pair of KGV to be faster. I also expect a heavier fleet air arm from the UK, with notably better planes.
Secondly your fleet is still weak in carriers and you do not appear to specifically mention development of the fleet air arm itself.
From what I imagined, the fleet arm air will developp itself with trials, and future carriers built after 1940 would be more efficient. I didn't want to propose German carrier expertise in their first purpose-built design.I think historical Germany had some good elements in terms of naval aviation, a bit late, maybe, but all it needed was a little push.
Thirdly you don't mention hilfskreuzer and the opportunity to construct special purpose built ships.
As historical; I tought about turning some of the auxiliary raiders into carriers, but that would eliminate their disguise.
My last point is to reiterate the need for greater efficiency in shipbuilding construction and labour productivity in German shipyards and in fitting out.
For some reason, the historical DKM didn't took the Jutland lesson seriously. Anyway, thanks for the comments!
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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by lwd » Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:02 pm

The problem I see with both the last couple proposals is that they require so many additional resources that there's a very good chance that Germany doesn't take France out of the war in 1940. That means no French bases for the Uboats or German raiders returning to Europe as well as the French fleet operating against the KM. If it doesn't look like France will fall Italy will probably not jump into the fray which frees up more British and French naval units. I don't see it leading to a German win by any means.

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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by RF » Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:05 pm

MVictorP wrote:
Secondly your fleet is still weak in carriers and you do not appear to specifically mention development of the fleet air arm itself.
From what I imagined, the fleet arm air will developp itself with trials, and future carriers built after 1940 would be more efficient. I didn't want to propose German carrier expertise in their first purpose-built design.I think historical Germany had some good elements in terms of naval aviation, a bit late, maybe, but all it needed was a little push.
The point I was making is that a fleet air arm isn't just carrier based - it can be land based as well, using coastal airfields to operate in the waters close to Britain, particulary with torpedo bombers to attack ships at sea and in harbour.
The overall experience of WW2 is that naval aviation is very important. For your plan to work you do need to consider air support for your ships and as a weapon of attack.
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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by RF » Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:14 pm

MVictorP wrote:
Thirdly you don't mention hilfskreuzer and the opportunity to construct special purpose built ships.
As historical; I tought about turning some of the auxiliary raiders into carriers, but that would eliminate their disguise.
The hilfskreuzer are expendible ships - their loss doesn't matter too much. The actual ships used were largely far from ideal, whereas specially built ships with better endurance, slightly faster and with some enhanced hitting power become very dangerous ships to the cruisers hunting them as well as sinking more merchantmen.
During WW2 the hilfskreuzer sank about 130 ships. At least another 100 escaped their clutches after being sighted because the raiders weren't quick enough or positioned correctly to intercept.

Raiders armed with S-Boats and naval commandoes to hit coastal land targets adds another dimension to their threat in far away places.
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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by MVictorP » Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:36 am

lwd wrote:The problem I see with both the last couple proposals is that they require so many additional resources that there's a very good chance that Germany doesn't take France out of the war in 1940. That means no French bases for the Uboats or German raiders returning to Europe as well as the French fleet operating against the KM. If it doesn't look like France will fall Italy will probably not jump into the fray which frees up more British and French naval units. I don't see it leading to a German win by any means.
First, my fleet requires no additional ressources: Tonnage is under what the realworld DKM actually launched. I used the planes that were built etc. I did however change one major historical gun.

I don't think Germany ever thought of taking on the UK and France at the same time. In fact, Hitler was hesitant to attack England (as was shown in Dunkirk and in Battle of Britain pre-meetings); he didn't show the same restraint with France. France, incidently, has a navy more cut to take on the Germans that the Brits.

Anyway, I was pretty sure that Hitler could count on Mussolini to tie up France, and maybe even Franco.

And when the PZs were launched before WWII, Germany didn't benefit from French ports. If Germany couldn't count on France, it would have used Spain's, Italy's, Argentina's, Turkey's or any such axis-inclined or neutral nation to refit. Besides, these ships were diesel-powered, easily able to sail using their target's fuel stores.

That being said, it's impossible to make a German navy that would "win" over France, UK, the US and the Reds at the same time. The best one can do is use that navy for a precise purpose, whose results will in turn aid another cause instead of being an end in itself. 'Lest the Soviet don't enter WWII, Germany can't win the war. Delay it, call for a ceasefire with better terms, maybe, but the win is out of question.
Last edited by MVictorP on Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by MVictorP » Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:50 am

RF wrote:he point I was making is that a fleet air arm isn't just carrier based - it can be land based as well, using coastal airfields to operate in the waters close to Britain, particulary with torpedo bombers to attack ships at sea and in harbour.
The overall experience of WW2 is that naval aviation is very important. For your plan to work you do need to consider air support for your ships and as a weapon of attack.
All of which I didn't touched, I assume the historical version takes place. Besides, if I admit humble knowledge on some naval matters, I'm far from being able to say the same about aerial ones!
The hilfskreuzer are expendible ships - their loss doesn't matter too much. The actual ships used were largely far from ideal, whereas specially built ships with better endurance, slightly faster and with some enhanced hitting power become very dangerous ships to the cruisers hunting them as well as sinking more merchantmen.
During WW2 the hilfskreuzer sank about 130 ships. At least another 100 escaped their clutches after being sighted because the raiders weren't quick enough or positioned correctly to intercept.

Raiders armed with S-Boats and naval commandoes to hit coastal land targets adds another dimension to their threat in far away places.
The Auxiliary Cruiser's main weapon were surprise, not the WWI vintage casemate guns they were carring on an unarmored hull at 20 knts max. They were doing some minelaying too, most of them had a seaplane (seaplane cruisers would be great raiders), and some even an onboard MTB, but to invest in more guns, armor and machinery for these ships would be 1) noticed by the ennemy and 2) cost more. I also believe that the Rawalpindi encounter show these ship's true measure when facing a bona fide warship. The Sydney (was it Sydney) incident was not supposed to happen, and would not have happen if the atmosphere on the ship was less relaxed at the moment.

I would have some, sure - but no more than historically were launched. I believe subs were doing a better job.
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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by RF » Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:30 am

MVictorP wrote:
RF wrote:he point I was making is that a fleet air arm isn't just carrier based - it can be land based as well, using coastal airfields to operate in the waters close to Britain, particulary with torpedo bombers to attack ships at sea and in harbour.
The overall experience of WW2 is that naval aviation is very important. For your plan to work you do need to consider air support for your ships and as a weapon of attack.
All of which I didn't touched, I assume the historical version takes place. Besides, if I admit humble knowledge on some naval matters, I'm far from being able to say the same about aerial ones!
.
The historical version is practically no KM fleet air arm.
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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by RF » Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:53 am

MVictorP wrote: The Auxiliary Cruiser's main weapon were surprise, not the WWI vintage casemate guns they were carring on an unarmored hull at 20 knts max. They were doing some minelaying too, most of them had a seaplane (seaplane cruisers would be great raiders), and some even an onboard MTB, but to invest in more guns, armor and machinery for these ships would be 1) noticed by the ennemy and 2) cost more. I also believe that the Rawalpindi encounter show these ship's true measure when facing a bona fide warship. The Sydney (was it Sydney) incident was not supposed to happen, and would not have happen if the atmosphere on the ship was less relaxed at the moment.

I would have some, sure - but no more than historically were launched. I believe subs were doing a better job.
Collectively the subs did do a better job. But the hilfskreuzer operated beyond the normal hunting grounds of U-boats and also acted as U-boat supply ships. Their operations should be seen as complementary to, and not as alternatives to submarines.

Individually the hilfskreuzer generally did better than an individual sub, taking an averaged performance of all KM submarines. Compare the sinkings for example in the Pacific between U-862 and the hilfskreuzer that operated there. The HK's have greater search capacity.

With respect to your point 1) I don't see that construction of HK's as I propose them should be noticed by an enemy. The construction of purpose built naval supply vessels such as Altmark, Nordmark and Dithmarschen weren't noticed pre-war, the conversion of the HK's wasn't noticed by the British until early summer 1940, when one of them had Soviet ice-breaker escort through the Kara, Laptev and Siberian Seas.
Your point 2) cost more - yes they will, as indeed do all weapons of war. The extra cost would not be prohibitive.

Your paragraph quoted above indicates a fixed thinking on these ships, and fails to take advantage of an opportunity. We are talking here of merchant ships, not armoured cruisers. The requirement would be for modern freighters with diesel engines and modern guns below deck level, to enable them to be more efficient than they historically were at intercepting merchant ships. They are not designed to take on warships or even AMC's. But in being better at commerce raiding their disruptive effect is much greater and having better guns makes them a bigger threat to cruisers so that more of them are needed to hunt HK's down. During WW2 there were several instances of Allied cruisers approaching injudiciously close to suspicious ships. Only in the case of HMAS Sydney did the raider open fire. As I say these ships were expendable and are there to exploit opportunities as they present themselves.
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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by RF » Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:11 am

MVictorP wrote:[
The Auxiliary Cruiser's main weapon were surprise, not the WWI vintage casemate guns they were carring on an unarmored hull at 20 knts max.
None of the HK's could do anything like that speed. Many of the ships that escaped HK interception was because the HK could not match the speed of the most valuable unescorted merchantmen.

Kormoran, at 17.5 knots was fastest of the HK's, sinking eleven merchantmen. But according to the account of Detmers at least four other large merchant ships escaped interception because Kormoran wasn't fast enough to get into an attacking position.....

Most of the rest of the HK's would struggle to make 15 knots, let alone do 20. Whereas the Altmark, a specially constructed naval supply ship, could do 22 knots.
Altmark in August 1939 took on oil and fuel for Graf Spee at Port Arthur, Texas without the Americans even realising that this vessel was a naval auxiliary manned by a KM crew.....
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Re: How would you improve the Kriegsmarine

Post by MVictorP » Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:42 pm

Interesting stuff RF. Thanks!
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