Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:02 am

delcyros,

The RN was not quite as overstretched in WW2 as you make out, not least because the RN had substantial naval allies, bases all over the world and a large fleet of smaller ships. For a time in 1940 it was in a difficult position, given the threat of invasion, Italian entry into the war and lack of radar. From the autumn of 1940 Britain was dominant in the Med in terms of surface ships and techniques in operating against raiders were being developed which came to fruition in 1941 onwards.

The GZ as a lone raider could certainly have worked during the summer/autumn of 1940. But its speed doesn't make the ship unassailable.

Using GZ against single unescorted merchant ships is a waste of resources, a job for hilfskreuzer. Its purpose should be convoy attack, and in doing that it reveals its presence and puts it under threat of counter-attack from a variety of forces. Like Glorious, it could in por visibility simply blunder into enemy forces. There are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong, particulary if its aircraft are already attacking another target. How does GZ deal with a Chilean Reefer or a Stephen Hopkins? What if it finds an RN Q ship? What security does it have against night time attack?

The RN record against raiders and blockade runners during WW2 was pretty good once it had learned how these vessels operated. GZ would have been countered effectively, just as Japan's carriers after the attack on PH all came eventually to sticky ends.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:03 am

19kilo wrote:I believe GZ would need escorts (light cruisers perferably) if for nothing else than to act as plane guards.
I agree 100%
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by Dave Saxton » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:21 pm

Historically the Germans only used heavy cruisers, or panzerschiffs, or hiflkruezers, as lone raiders. Larger and smaller warships were sent out in groups or pairs. German destroyers operated in flotillas, and battleships and battle cruisers were deployed in at least a pair with another major warship or two or more destroyers.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by delcyros » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:58 pm

The RN was not quite as overstretched in WW2 as you make out, not least because the RN had substantial naval allies, bases all over the world and a large fleet of smaller ships. For a time in 1940 it was in a difficult position, given the threat of invasion, Italian entry into the war and lack of radar. From the autumn of 1940 Britain was dominant in the Med in terms of surface ships and techniques in operating against raiders were being developed which came to fruition in 1941 onwards.
I disagree. The home fleet had more assets in 1940 than in late 1941, attrition in the different theatres account for the differences in naval assets aviable. But the most important consideration may not be a BB, which is to slow to track GZ anyway but a carrier. In late 1941 sceanrio only VICTORIOUS is aviable to the home fleet, the situation in 1940 was more relaxed. I also guess You overstate the effectiveness of anti-aider tactics developed by the RN in 1941. Only once they were effective against BISMARCK and a number of people make a case that this was as much a matter of luck as it was a matter of planning. BISMARCK very nearly escaped and PE wasn´t tracked, either. If You replace GZ with either of the two ships then the RN can´t make successful intercept and are in deep trouble.
You also ignore the cases when the RN went out to search for raiders but failed in forcing them to action in the North Atlanitc. That happened in 1939, 1940 and 1941 more often than not.
Using GZ against single unescorted merchant ships is a waste of resources, a job for hilfskreuzer. Its purpose should be convoy attack, and in doing that it reveals its presence and puts it under threat of counter-attack from a variety of forces. Like Glorious, it could in por visibility simply blunder into enemy forces. There are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong, particulary if its aircraft are already attacking another target. How does GZ deal with a Chilean Reefer or a Stephen Hopkins? What if it finds an RN Q ship? What security does it have against night time attack?
Attacking unescorted merchants is a legitimate target of war, much more valuable than sinking a cruiser. Airplanes can strike merchants, they may also strike merchants in a convoi. HX convois often had a tanker or troop carrier with them and Ju-87 and Fi-167 can make short work with such targets. Unlike a battleship or cruiser as a raider, which is dependent on gun action, these airplanes can afford to ignore the escorting R-class battleship and directly go for the important targets in the convoi.
-now I´m waiting for the one who is telling me that the old R-battlewaggon projects effective AA screens over the transports while GZ is unable to provide effective AAA for herselfe, despite beeing better equipped for this task-

Fw-200 operating from Brest, long range maritime fyling boats and submarines scout vast areas of the mid Atlantic narrows and the western approaches and report sighting of convois and enemy movements.
I am also confused where You take Your "variety of forces" from? Home fleet in the mid Atlantic? They need to refuel by that time- the sorties of 1940 and 1941 (including operation Rheinübung) painfully underlined this point, cruisers and battleships in the RN didn´t had the legs to stay in the operational waters for any time following a chase. KGV, VICTORIOUS and PoW emotied their bunkers trying to follow the movements of BISMARCK, they couldn´t even think of continuing the action and look for PRINZ EUGEN, which was on the loose somewhere in the mid atlantic. How can You ignore this?

In the whole argumentation it seems to concentrate around what may go wrong for GZ in such a sortie. I do not question the high risk profile of a lone raider. That was true for all raiders sent by the KM. As mentioned previously, the KM had to reckon with the eventual loss of any raider sent out alone.
But really, what I am missing is a convincing theory why the RN would be able to track or pin her down with aviable naval assets in late 1941. All I read are broad statements like:
GZ would have been countered effectively, just as Japan's carriers after the attack on PH all came eventually to sticky ends.
-which in my eyes only expresses hopes and whishes but no factual base why this could be expected inspite of the difficulties faced by the naval force executing Sea controll.

Instead I challange the task force view. The german fleet had no buisness with task forces in ww2 and GZ had nothing to do there. If the true goal of the operations in the North Atlantic were solely commerce raiding with a goal of interrupting Britain's supply lines, then I would say that forming task forces around a carrier did NOT make sense. Sending out a Graf Zeppelin centered Task Force to roam the open ocean in search of individually-sailing merchant ships would have been futile indeed. What were the rest of the squadron supposed to do while one of their squadrons searched and sank the occasional tramp steamer they jointly came across? Britains forces are stretched but against a concentration of forces it may concentrate on her own, knowing that little else needs to be cared about in the Atlantic. Britain had a substantial superiority in capitalships and as I suppose, had an experience advantage, also. In 1941/42, ww2 had long since seen the introduction of convois and the only reasonable purpose to sortie that many capital ships as a group would be to overwhelm a heavily defended convoy guarded by heavy ships in a major naval battle. A task force centered around Graf Zeppelin should include the twins preferably then. But still, this doesn´t make much sense to me. A Task Force is an attractive target and the RN repeatedly showed it´s ability to trap forces. And GRAF ZEPPELIN is simply to fast to be slowed by a BISMARCK, a HIPPER or a SCHARNHORST. If it ties on these ships, it may very well tie itselfe to their fates. Logistical problems accumulate. While it is not much of a problem to keep a single or two heavy units fueled and serviced with a very redundant logistic fleet train, a complete Task Force stretches the KM fleet train to it´s limits.
A unified squadron made up of BC´s, CA´s and Graf Zeppelin would have been forced to spend the majority of their time between regularly scheduled meetings with supply ships to keep their bunkers full rather than aggressively running down every ship on the ocean to send to the bottom. There is less redundancy in tankers and more tankers which on their own may be subject to attacks. While a single carrier can be served without big problems a whole task force is an entirely different matter and reduced redundancy directly relate to higher dependentness and thus less tactical flexibility.
When it comes to destroying merchant ships there was nothing that a carrier could do out on the wide Atlantic that a couple of light cruisers on the loose couldn't have done equally well, except that Graf Zeppelin projects a larger effective fighting zone into the Atlantic with air ops. This advantage is crucial and devaluates the other big ships. What are You expecting the german admiral of a GZ + twins task force is supposing to decide when his scouts tell him a convoi made up of 20 merchants and an old battleship is sighted 80nm to the East? Do You really think he orders the twins to engage? Or isn´t it more likely that he orders the carrier airwing to strike? But then the role of the twins has already been degraded to mere escorts instead of raiders...

Other situation if the reason was to send out GZ onto the broad Atlantic sea lanes in order to disperse the Home Fleet, then it doesn´t need to be covered by big ships but instead could operate independently on a sole base. The twins as an independent force can act with impunity operating from Brest and agressively hunt down merchants if they need, the Homefleet doesn´t have the assets to deal with all possibilities. A single German carrier located somewhere between Cape Cod and Liverpool would have been enough to paralyze shipping between North America and Europe and force the Royal Navy not only to send out massive search forces but would also delay convoi schedule as happened during Krancke´s raid.

It has been mentioned that GZ needs plane guards. On their patrol stations they don´t really need them, during operation Berlin and Rheinübung, the raiders made use of aviable auxilary ships to broaden their search front. Convoi´s aren´t fast enough and the Dithmarschens are relatively fast (22kts) to temporarely accompany a riader on their search. They also helped to fish up Arado-pilots from the twins, Hipper and Scheer in these situations. As long as GZ has an initiative and knows where and when to strike they may use them to serve. If GZ is forced to react

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:44 pm

delcyros,

You assume that the RN is dependent upon the Home Fleet and its battleships to track down GZ. You also say that the RN was short of carriers with which to chase the GZ. This isn't the whole story. The RN has ''assets'' other than the Home Fleet already assigned to convoy and patrol duty, and to attacking German shipping.
As I say, a successful operation by GZ in 1940 along the lines you suggest is entirely possible. But for 1941 and beyond it becomes more difficult as Britain and its allies become stronger.
Tracking the Bismarck in 1941 was indeed a major problem and Bismarck almost made it to a Biscay port. But it took less than a week for Bismarck to be sunk and it came nowhere near a convoy. And had Bismarck reached a Biscay port it would have come under heavy bombing attack by RAF Bomber Command. The threat posed by Bismarck was different to that of a carrier raider. Bismarck had 15 inch guns, concentrated firepower but limited to its immediate vicinity. Where the immediate vicinity includes a convoy is the particular problem. Now a carrier has a much longer reach, effective where a large number of aircraft can strike a target. The requirement would be for air attack of a size sufficient to destroy the target ships. I doubt whether GZ would have enough planes for a sustained attack on convoys with substantial escorts. A fleet of carriers would be better. I don't think that solely going for lone merchantman is a particulary economic use for a carrier when submarines can do a far better job. So the problem for GZ is executing a long cruise where it is likely to come up against a substantial number of naval targets.

I have already outlined the effectiveness of the RN against raiders and German blockade runners and supply ships in 1941. Saying that Bismarck was the only raider sunk is incorrect. In addition to that is the deterrence of escorting battleships during Operation Berlin and the damage caused to other raiders during their operations, including for example the Lutzow being torpedoed at the very starting point of what would have been its second foray.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:04 pm

delcyros,

You also question the need for a task force approach to raiding. For the North Atlantic - the critical sealanes for Britain - I would suggest that it would have been wholly appropriate had the Germans the sort of forces under the Z Plan to carry it out. Even so, in 1941 Raeder envisaged a task force approach for Rheinubung, where Scharnhorst and Gneisenau would have joined Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. The goal there would be convoy destruction to a degree that challenges RN control of the North Atlantic.

Sinkings - the tonnage war - should be a matter for U-boats, supplemented by the activities of more distant raiders operating beyond the range of U-boats plus also land based aircraft. The raider concept isn't strictly based on a tonnage war methodology - merchant ship sinkings are a by-product of a strategy of RN dispertion and attrition of control, not its central feature. But it makes the tonnage war waged by submarines easier because of that dissipation of RN control.

A task force is far more dangerous than a lone raider, because of the concentration of firepower available to it, especially where at least one carrier is included within the task force. As you say the task force would advertise its presence and cause a concentration of RN strength to deal with it. Herein lies the rub - if your argument is that the RN doesn't have the strength to tackle GZ on its own then it can't have the strength to deal with one or more carriers plus battleships and cruisers in a pack as well.
With respect to relative speeds of ships, in a task force it isn't strictly necessary for carriers to have to be in close company with the battleships. they can be detached to operate ahead and around the slower ships. That means the carrier commander has the leeway and authority from the Fleet Commander to make his own tactical decisions.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:08 pm

delcyros,

One other aspect you haven't mentioned so far is the Flugzugtrager B, the presumably named Peter Strasser. Had GZ come out with PS then I think twin carriers could achieve the sort of success you envisage, because the combined air power is that much greater.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:15 pm

delcyros wrote: What are You expecting the german admiral of a GZ + twins task force is supposing to decide when his scouts tell him a convoi made up of 20 merchants and an old battleship is sighted 80nm to the East? Do You really think he orders the twins to engage? Or isn´t it more likely that he orders the carrier airwing to strike? But then the role of the twins has already been degraded to mere escorts instead of raiders...
The task force purpose is a concentration of strength. So the Fleet Commander will attack the convoy with all available planes and ships. Wait upon the battleship to steam the 80 miles gap to intervene. Then with the convoy chewed up and scattering the FO has the choice of whether to go forthe battleship or not. You take on one target at a time.

If the battleship were in company with the convoy instead of being three or four hours steaming away from it, carrier planes and submarines can be called upon to attack the battleship. If it is sunk the convoy attack proceeds. If the battleship survives the task force concentrates its firepower in company to meet any counterstroke from convoy escorts.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:29 pm

With respect to the supply logistics for a task force, yes it will be a major operation. But the size and threat of the task force can force all available warships to deal with it and reduce the number of ships and opportunities available to take out the supply ships. This is where the issue of control over the North Atlantic becomes critical, with the interaction of other forces including U-boats, other more distant raiders, Luftwaffe bombing of British seaports and shipyards, together with Axis seizure of Malta and the Suez Canal come into it. A world war has to be seen on a global scale, with co-ordination of all forces and weapons. A task force cannot operate in isolation, it has to be part of a multiple threat. A multiple threat that reduces the British capability to deal with a task force, let alone its supply ships.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by Paul L » Wed Sep 28, 2011 7:29 pm

Unless the escort is the same size and speed of the GZ it will just slow it down. At North Cape the DoY could do 27-28 knots just like Scharnhorst but was slowed to 24 knots so the DD could keep up. Admiral Frazer admitted the Scharnhorst was escaping when they got a lucky hit. Up until that point Scharnhorst was 3-4 knots faster. After the hit she could only do 22 knots so the British were then 2 knots faster and could catch her.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by lwd » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:51 am

delcyros wrote:...
They are plenty fast enough to cut her off if they are in front of her as you suggest Rodney was. Of course if this is occuring instead of the Bismarck sortie you forgot to mention Hood and POW.
In this situation, after running 32 kts instead of 28 in the previous night, and without SUFFOLK and NORFOLK been able to track, this engagement doesn´t take place, GZ stands 50nm further to the southwest than BISMARCK at dawn -HOOD and PoW (or KGV and RENOWN for that matter) are unable to make contact. Distance would be 70nm between the forces and increasing. It´s very unlikely that the RN have a fix on GZ´s position this time and likely that they direct their forces to less optimal search areas. There would also be a lot of wrong sighting reports from ships referring to single engined biplane carrier planes, which may refer either to the Swordfishs operating from VICTORIOUS or to Fi-167 operating from GZ (the latter also is a biplane, unfortunately, making ID kind of tricky).
That assumes the RN reacts exactly the same way to a breakout attempt by GZ which seems unlikely. A cruiser is capable of dispatching or at least seriously damaging her so I supspect hyte employments would be different.
Sachsenwald rescued two survivors according to her report. That´s also what Your reference gives.
You are correct there I didn't read far enough.
... that didn´t destroyed the logistic ring or impaired the operational logistic base to conduct later operations, such as the planned outbreak of mid 1941 with TIRPITZ and SCHEER or that with TIRPITZ and HIPPER had Hitler agreed upon this. There are plenty of supply ships aviable to support GZ in the North, Mid- and South Atlantic in late 1941.
Plenty? How many is plenty? Any source to support it that later operations wouldn't have been impared?

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by Paul L » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:59 am

Jak Mallmadd Showell covers raider missions in chapter 4 of his book "German Navy Handbook 1939-1945". He also lists some of the supply ships on pp 116-126.

Appendix 4 of Goralski & Freeburg "Oil & War" list the major tanker fleets and their tonnage through out the war [Year by year] including Germany.

From these and other sources I compiled the following list.

1939 ; 22 supply ships + 31 tankers [~ 6800 tons]
1940 ; 36 supply ships + 33 tankers [~ 8000 tons]
1941; 41 supply ships + 38 tankers [~ 8600 tons]
1942 ; 33 supply ships + 40 tankers [~ 8800 tons]
1943; 27 supply ships + 48 tankers [~ 8600 tons]
1944 ; 22 supply ships + 55 tankers [~ 8400 tons]
1945; 14 supply ships + 44 tankers [~ 8300 tons]

This following site requires a bit of work but can show what tankers and cargo ships etc were lost and when etc

http://www.wrecksite.eu/warships.aspx

Heres an example
http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?58853

Here is a good article that explains the progression of German concepts on commerce raiding in the context of the debate between Wagner and Raeder of future war. Although Wagner lost the debat his vision turned out to be accurate....
The fundamental differences in naval strategy between Admirals Raeder and Wegener corresponded, then, from their different perspectives from which they looked at the problem. Raeder was bound by national strategy, policy, and government economic and budgetary priorities. Wegener’s theories were limited by no such realities. Wegener steadfastly held to his notion that Great Britain and its domination over the world’s oceans stood in the way of German national greatness. In fact, however, as we have seen, German foreign and defense policy during the Weimar and, at least initially, National Socialist regimes was oriented not against Britain but against the threat of a combined Polish and French invasion. Naval issues were secondary, and Raeder had his minister’s instructions: “Base [naval] operational ideas more on political and military [i.e., land] realities.”101 The new and flexible approach to seapower strategy, warship design, and operational concepts that resulted would have been anathema to naval leaders of the Tirpitz era.

While Raeder repeatedly sought and received assurances from Hitler that war against Great Britain was not part of the grand plan, Wegener could see no other outcome. He had declared in his 1929 book, “As long as England acts as an outpost of America, no European world can be established;”102 unrestrained by practicalities, he continued to press his theories, and in so doing distanced himself from his former crewmate and friend. Ultimately, Wegener’s views left him alone and bitter; if his operational doctrines were now unrealistic, he had accurately foreseen the future enemy, and soon he saw his country engaged in the war that he had always maintained was unavoidable.
HTTP://WWW.USNWC.EDU/GETATTACHMENT/DDA9 ... N-NAVAL-ST
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:05 am

Paul L wrote:Unless the escort is the same size and speed of the GZ it will just slow it down.
This is on the basis that escorts have to keep close company. For the sort of task force I envisage I would expect the carriers not to be in close company with all of the other warships in order to give them maximum freedom of movement.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by lwd » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:21 pm

Looking at http://www.combinedfleet.com/guadoil1.htm they estimate that for large ships increasing the speed from 16 to 25 knots tripples the fuel consumption and increasing it further to battle speeds means fuel consumption is 5 times what it is at 16 knots. For destroyers it goes up by a factor of 10 in the latter case. So the question is what is GZ fuel consumption likely to be if she is cruising at 30+ knots. Given that her range is 8,000 miles at 19 knots and based on the preceding I'd expect her to have burned well over half her fuel before she even breaks out into the Atlantic in this case.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by lwd » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:33 pm

Paul L wrote: ... From these and other sources I compiled the following list.

1939 ; 22 supply ships + 31 tankers [~ 6800 tons]
1940 ; 36 supply ships + 33 tankers [~ 8000 tons]
1941; 41 supply ships + 38 tankers [~ 8600 tons]
1942 ; 33 supply ships + 40 tankers [~ 8800 tons]
1943; 27 supply ships + 48 tankers [~ 8600 tons]
1944 ; 22 supply ships + 55 tankers [~ 8400 tons]
1945; 14 supply ships + 44 tankers [~ 8300 tons]
...
But this doesn't tell us how much time they were spending at sea or doing what. Certainly the round up of supply ships involved in the Bismarck sortie points to a problem if they are activly engaged in supporting a raider. It's also not clear just how many would have been available at any one time to support raiders. These also appear to be fairly small ships averaging a bit over 100 tons apiece unless the figure you gave was suppose to be an average rather than a total or some digits were slipped. The latter seems likely as the Ditmarches you mention were rated at ~20,000 tons

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