Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
delcyros
Member
Posts: 213
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:26 pm

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by delcyros » Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:16 am

I have to challange this opinion. I believe it is an incorrect assessment in light of aviable evidence.
Nevertheless, I agree that Hitler may have been reserved against it's sole use -or maybe not, he agreed upon the operation of TIRPITZ and SCHEER post Rheinübung.
The argument that lone raiders will be nearly automatically found and sunk without escorts appears somehow unfounded. Only AGS was and perhaps could have been saved when Langsdorrf refused action. Neither LÜTZOW, nor SCHEER, nor HIPPER was but according to the theory all were unable to sustain serious gunfire action. A good raider refuses battle to keep it's fighting value and seeks to sink merchants instead. GZ is better suited to this style of action.
Very problematic is the assessment that GZ's speed would not be sufficient to be tactically useful in north atlantic conditions. SUFFOLK and NORFOLK once lost contact before Ds because they had problems to keep up the high speed of the two. BISMARCK was fully able to exceed 30 kts in the trials but was designed for only 28.5 kts. Similarely all german cruisers and capitalships matched or -in most cases- exceeded their design speed in their trials, in the whole 20th century.
Proposing that a RENOWN, a TOWN class cruiser and even KGV can catch a ship nominally 4 to 5 kts faster is unbelievable. The Counties had problems to keep up with BISMARCK in prevalent conditions, SCHARNHORST was able to open up the range to DoY at North Cape and both ships are notably slower than GZ, indeed.
In the pacific theatre, Carriers easily outpaced their accompanying BB escorts. GZ should be rated as equally fast as LEXINGTON. In poorer weather these larger ships keep their speed advantage longer than smaller ships of war.
Next, the assumption that GZ will be unable to launch it's airwing in prevalent north atlantic conditions conflicts with the experience that RN carriers (and even escort carriers) could do so. While there will be certainly conditions to prevent air ops- on both sides- and such conditions may not even be rare in certain latitudes and periods, there also will be conditions when air ops are possible, again on both sides. A quick view into the war diary of operation berlin prooves that.
Finally, I disagree that the twins were relatively ineffective as raiders. There is only one surface warship in ww2 to sink an equal number of merchants and cause similar havoc in convoi schedule. That's KM SCHEER, another raider. If that's not effective, what is?

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Sun Sep 25, 2011 4:51 pm

delcyros wrote:quote]GZ becomes vulnerable with aircraft losses and if it gets torpedo hits which reduces its speed. In other words it needs escort vessels, ideally Spahrkreuzer and Atlantic destroyers.
I don´t think so. This is task force thinking, not raider thinking. Contrary to popular believe, a raider doesn´t need to be extremely well armed to be effective but fast and long legged raiders posing very serious risks. The one executing Sea controll needs to disperse forces to cover more areas but then is confronted with the problem to face a superior naval air force locally...
[/quote]

It is indeed task force thinking, because that is where the carrier becomes an asset.

Fast, long legged raiders only last for a short time before something happens to them to reduce their mobility. Then they become vulnerable, the hunted.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Sun Sep 25, 2011 4:53 pm

paul.mercer wrote: . I think that even under normal North Atlantic conditions KGv, Renown or most of the RN 6" & 8" cruisers would be well able to catch and destroy a lone carrier.
Graf Zeppelin would not stand a chance if she went out unescorted.
A fairly strong statement, but that would be the most likely (but not certain) fate for the GZ.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

Paul L
Senior Member
Posts: 317
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2005 9:04 pm
Location: Vancouver Canada

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by Paul L » Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:08 pm

In the first two years of the war German raiders sortied at will attacking convoys all over the Atlantic. It wasn't until later that Hitler put the halt to more such raids because he didn't want another Bismarck sinking. In the first two years 13 German commerce raiders sortied and sunk 64 out of the 150 merchants they attacked. This doesn't include the HSK auxiliary raiders that sunk additional 140 allied merchant around the world during this time.
"Eine mal is kein mal"

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:53 am

Only the Scheer successfully attacked a convoy. The twins failed to execute a convoy attack because of battleship escorts, the only other convoy attack was by Hipper, which was beaten off by the convoy escort.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:57 am

German raiders did sortie almost at will during 1940 and early 1941, though Thor encountered three AMC's, because the RN was overstretched. But that situation gradually changed as 1941 developed and warship sorties became too risky, with the development of radar and the strengthening of the RN, particulary felt with the loss of Axis supply ships and blockade runners.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:02 am

Paul L wrote: In the first two years 13 German commerce raiders sortied and sunk 64 out of the 150 merchants they attacked.
This isn't a very good ''kill'' ratio, largely I suspect because of single raider attacks. A task force of raiders, had it been possible to assemble them, could have achieved much more......
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:11 am

delcyros wrote: The argument that lone raiders will be nearly automatically found and sunk without escorts appears somehow unfounded. Only AGS was and perhaps could have been saved when Langsdorrf refused action.
The first sentence quoted here does need to be seen in the context that by 1943 all raider activity came to a halt. All the hilfskreuzer were accounted for, without the Allies even knowing it, and Scharnhorst was sunk.

Raiders invariably start their war with the initiative. But as the defending naval forces grow in strength the value of the raider concept diminishes, as they find fewer victims and become the hunted.

As for AGS - Langsdorf believed he was attacking a convoy, in pursuance of AGS's mission as Langsdorf saw it.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

delcyros
Member
Posts: 213
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:26 pm

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by delcyros » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:34 am

Langsdorff violated standing orders. He attacked what he believed was a cruiser and two destroyers at first. No merchants were ID´d. Thus, he attacked ships of war instead of a convoi, not what raiders are intended for.
GZ in this situation, at the prevalent conditions could have spotted this task force days in advance and refuse action. GZ as a raider can track a convoi and direct submarines or Luftwaffe forces to it or decide to attack it from the air on it´s own without exposing it´s specific position. Normal raiders couldn´t really risk to attack a convoi but airplanes simply don´t care about a battleship, it can´t project air defense over the merchants and the latter are the target, not the first in the battle of the Atlantic from the german perspective.

You hold the opinion that by late 1941 the RN assets have improved to a point which makes raiders ineffective? Would You mind to provide more details for this idea, particularely in light of the losses suffered by the RN in 1941 (East Asia, mediterranean and Atlantic)?

As far as I see, in late 1941 the RN´s assets in capitalships are somehow stretched:

HMS REVENGE: atlantic convoi duty
HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN: Eastern fleet (indian ocean)
HMS RAMILIES: atlantic convoi duty
HMS RESOLUTION: under repair in the US. fully aviable in oct. 1941

HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH: Mediterranean. Damaged by italians in dec. 1941 then out of service for the next months
HMS BARHAM: Mediterranean. Sunk by U331 in nov. 1941
HMS VALIANT: Mediterranean. Damaged by italians in dec. 1941 then out of service for the next year
HMS MALAYA: Mediterranean, force H
HMS WARPSITE: drydocked in the US, repairs finalized in dec. 1941

HMS NELSON: torpedoed sept., 27th by italian torpedo bombers, in UK for reapiars until may 1942.
HMS RODNEY: Iceland patrol, scheduled to be drydocked in december 41 until may 1942 in the UK

HMS RENOWN: returned from repairs to the Homefleet in Nov. 1941
HMS REPUSLE: enroute to Singapure (sunk in dec.)

HMS KING GEORGE V: homefleet
HMS PRINCE OF WALES: enroute to Singapure (sunk in dec.)
HMS DUKE OF YORK: working up, sea trials. In dec. scheduled to transport Churchill to the U.S.
HMS ANSON: under construction
HMS HOWE: under construction

That´s three Revenge class BB´s in the Atlantic aviable, then NELSON at patrol duties and finally three fast BB´s at the disposal of the Home fleet, one of them working up, the other one just joining during november. The forces in the mediterranean are extremely stretched and thanks to effective PR the real situation of the british forces in the mediterranean were obscured. Putting GZ in this condition on the loose in the Atlantic is creating all sorts of problems for the RN. None of these ships is fast enough to track her.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by lwd » Mon Sep 26, 2011 2:28 pm

delcyros wrote:... The argument that lone raiders will be nearly automatically found and sunk without escorts appears somehow unfounded.
I don't think that this is what people are saying especially for 1940-1942. After that raiding becomes very problematic. The problem for GS is that even a DD at night can cause her significant problems so she has to be very careful about engaging convoys.
...Very problematic is the assessment that GZ's speed would not be sufficient to be tactically useful in north atlantic conditions.
I suspect her speed would indeed be tactically useful but remember fuel consumption goes up tremendously at maximum speed. The more she is forced to use it the shorter her cruise will become.
Proposing that a RENOWN, a TOWN class cruiser and even KGV can catch a ship nominally 4 to 5 kts faster is unbelievable. The Counties had problems to keep up with BISMARCK in prevalent conditions, SCHARNHORST was able to open up the range to DoY at North Cape and both ships are notably slower than GZ, indeed.
If one gives chase how long can GS keep it up? If another joins in?
Next, the assumption that GZ will be unable to launch it's airwing in prevalent north atlantic conditions conflicts with the experience that RN carriers (and even escort carriers) could do so.
Certainly there will be times when she can and other times when she can't. During the winter the latter will be more common and isn't that the time when breaking out becomes easiest? Also consider that a few or even one relativly light bomb or shell hits can take away GS main offensive weapon her aircraft.

delcyros
Member
Posts: 213
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:26 pm

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by delcyros » Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:13 pm

As mentioned previously, fuel consumption is a concern but much less so with the Dithmarschen in place as we see it historically in this timeframe. To relate high cruise speed in a determined or indetermined chase situation with a soon end of the patrol is wrong. All raiders utilized a higher than average cruise speed. AGS and SCHEER cruised with 24 kts, typically. And neither the DD´s, nor the KGV´s, nor the RENOWNS or even carriers in the british inventory had the legs to compete in high cruise speed endurance with GZ. A KGV empties all it´s buncerage in within 2000nm at full speed, which represents 80% cruise for the GZ. RENOWN had 66 hours full power steaming endurance, assuming it burns all of it´s buncerage, which isn´t any better, either. The point of departure is that GZ can not only dictate range and thus is in possession of initative but also has enough endurance to open the range to the point that makes tracking by anything else than airplanes virtually impossible. For this purpose it has fighter and multi-purpose craft which compare favourably with period carrier reconnaisance planes. If the weather is to poor to operate them, then no tracking is possible, either. The max. detection range of period radars and optics was ~20 nm, a speed difference of 4 to 5 kts bridges the tracking distance starting from 15nm to more than 20nm in one or two hours.
I´m also at a loss to explain how a DD at night sneaks through to GZ. I can see a concerted action with lot´s of force involvement achieveing this and I can see DD´s engaging an already slowed down carrier but not an intact one. This carrier is equipped with passive acoustic sensors (GHG), special night optics, seperated from the regular ones, passive and active radar. The GHG alone is enough to announce the presence of warships in quite large distances, unless the weather is very poor. Altough it doesn´t give exact range it gives a signature and a direction which then can be spotted by recon. In shorter ranges, the passive and even closer, active radar are effective and only a DD with it´s radars switched off is able to avoid detection by passive sensors. But without them, how are they going to find GZ in the first place? Then at very short ranges night optics help to ID. Finally, the DD at night can become a significant problem but so it does for any other raider. I don´t see a difference to a Hipper or a Bismarck in this regard, the principal danger from DD is the torpedoe, not shellfire.
Against nose fused 4.7in shellfire, the flightdeck is sifficiently armoured to prevent catastrophic damage to the hangars below and the side belt is able to shrug that off, completely. It´s the torpedo which needs to be cared about. That´s true for any class of warships engaging an unnoticed DD at night in close range and consequently, it´s true for all raiders.

I´m not saying that GZ is kind of immune to the principal danger outlined above, but in the tactical and strategical environment of late 1941, it´s mere presence as a sole raiding carrier is putting the ressources of the RN to a stretch, I agree that 1943 onwards it´s of little asset outside the air umbrella of the Luftwaffe (limiting it´s purpose to assist norwegian forces of the KM) but by late 1941 and through 1942 a GZ on the loose in the Atlantic is a very serious problem, and I don´t see the RN having enough ressources to deal with this possibility.

delcyros
Member
Posts: 213
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:26 pm

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by delcyros » Mon Sep 26, 2011 4:22 pm

Let´s for a moment repeat Rheinübung hypothetically and consider the consequences with GZ instead of BISMARCK and the twins.

Nov. 18th, GZ leaves Gotenhafen and heads for Bergen.
Nov. 20th, GZ is observed and reported by swedish neutral forces.
Nov. 21st, GZ buncers fuel and get´s spotted by a PR Spitfire. Bf-109T raise to intercept that and the Bf-109T is able to do this but let´s hypothetically assume they are unable to make contact. It is able to fully load fuel because it doesn´t has to care about PE´s fuel buncerage and the related delay.
Nov. 22nd, In the evening, GZ leaves Bergen, knowing that it has been detected by air recon, it could now send out scout planes to explore it´s way ahead (allowing them to know the strength and exact disposition of patrol forces), but let´s hypothetically assume weather doesn´t allow air ops this day and the next two. Cruise speed is 26kts
-the homefleet disembarkes with two groups: HMS RENOWN and VICTORIOUS as well as KGV and DoY, with escorts in the evening of the 22nd, cruise speed is 26kts.
Because of the weather conditions, GZ tries the DS
Nov, 23rd, GZ is sighted by a cruiser, GZ working up to flank speed, puts up a smoke cloud and breaks contact with this thread. The cruiser tries to track her but falls back in the night and consequently is only able to communicate the sighting report and the heading of the lone carrier. HMS RODNEY with DD escorts on patrol duty off Iceland is trying to intercept the carrier in the next morning.
Nov. 24th, in the early morning the GHG catches up screws approaching the carrier. It consequently raises speed from 32 to 35 kts and disengages the unidentified ship approaching from the southeast. Later, scout planes will reveal the identity as a battleship of the NELSON-class. With a top speed 10 to 12 kts slower than GZ, RODNEY soon gives up the chase and returns to patrolling position. Since RODNEY isn´t following anymore, an already planned GZ airstrike get´s canceled.

Nov., 25th, GZ is now in the open north Atlantic, undamaged and intact. Her presence and general location is known but the precise whereabout, it´s speed and heading remain unknown and there is nothing the RN can do about it now. Toveys forces are 20 steaming hours away, and GZ can be replenished by DITHMARSCHEN or UCKERMARK undisturbed. All british units slowly need to treat their fuel conditions seriously.

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 3093
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by Dave Saxton » Mon Sep 26, 2011 4:44 pm

The new development during the Bismarck chase that the British now had effective radar making breaking out for raiders more difficult gave the Kriegsmarine some concern, and Luetjen's mistaken report that the British radar was effective to 35,000 meters surely gave KM planners some reason for pause. However, it did not dissuade the KM from planning further raiding activities. Historically, the OKM planned what was essentially a carbon copy of Rhinubung but with Tirpitz and Hipper instead of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen and also resisted Hitler's idea of bringing SH, GN, and PG back through the channel, because they wanted to send them out into the Atlantic instead. The reason these plans did not come about was because of the skewed strategic vision of Hitler during this time frame.

Hitler supported by Goering did not see a reason for more concerted naval efforts against the western allies, because he fully expected his war plans in the east would succeed bringing an end to the war.
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.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by lwd » Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:18 pm

delcyros wrote:... Nov. 22nd, In the evening, GZ leaves Bergen, knowing that it has been detected by air recon, it could now send out scout planes to explore it´s way ahead (allowing them to know the strength and exact disposition of patrol forces), but let´s hypothetically assume weather doesn´t allow air ops this day and the next two. Cruise speed is 26kts
If it can conduct air ops the planes will give info about the carrier as well as info to the carrier.
-the homefleet disembarkes with two groups: HMS RENOWN and VICTORIOUS as well as KGV and DoY, with escorts in the evening of the 22nd, cruise speed is 26kts.
Faced with a carrier the RN doesn't need to maintian only 2 groups.
... It consequently raises speed from 32 to 35 kts and disengages the unidentified ship approaching from the southeast. Later, scout planes will reveal the identity as a battleship of the NELSON-class. With a top speed 10 to 12 kts slower than GZ, RODNEY soon gives up the chase and returns to patrolling position.
But can she disenage by getting past Rodney and into the North Atlantic or can the RN force (which may include cruisers as well0 cut her off and force her back North.
Toveys forces are 20 steaming hours away, and GZ can be replenished by DITHMARSCHEN or UCKERMARK undisturbed. All british units slowly need to treat their fuel conditions seriously.
Historically when Bismarck sortied transmissions and/or Ultra intercepts gave away the location of her support ships and they were all rounded up.

delcyros
Member
Posts: 213
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:26 pm

Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by delcyros » Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:50 pm

If it can conduct air ops the planes will give info about the carrier as well as info to the carrier.
That´s true. But I don´t see a problem with that. It only announced that an unidentified aircraft was operating there and circumstantial evidence would attribute this to GZ operating somewhere in within the range of the recon plane.
Altough the UK knew about the existence of the Fi-167 (compare Flight magazine, vol. 37, 1940), no details about it´s range were known and that doesn´t help. The Fi-167A has a range of 1000mls in recon configuration, that´s a huge area on the ocean.
Faced with a carrier the RN doesn't need to maintian only 2 groups.
The homefleet has problems in this timeframe: RENOWN just comes back from the dockyard in nov. and DoY hasn´t fully worked up, yet. HMS VICTORIOUS is the only remaining fleet carrier int he home fleet. They are short in naval ressources.
But can she disenage by getting past Rodney and into the North Atlantic or can the RN force (which may include cruisers as well0 cut her off and force her back North.
Which cruisers? She slipped past one or two a DS and whether or not HMS RODNEY is accompanying another one, I don´t know. Anyhow, these cruisers are not fast enough, they need to be placed in their way, something Holland wasn´t able to do at DS, and BISMARCK is 5 to 6kts slower than GZ.

Historically when Bismarck sortied transmissions and/or Ultra intercepts gave away the location of her support ships and they were all rounded up.
This is wrong. PE refueled, didn´t it? And SACHSENWALD took up a few survivors from the final action, didn´t it? The most important supply ships, former ALTMARK (renamed UCKERMARK) and DITHMARSCHEN returned to France after PE, unmolested by the RN.

Post Reply