Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

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: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:49 pm

delcyros wrote:Why is it that GZ cannot be seen as a lone raider?

What´s different to a Hipper or a Scheer, a Lützow or a Graf Spee, or -for that matter- a Thor, Stier or Atlantis auxilary cruiser?
All these used their airplanes for recon purposes. Airplanes can spot shipping from a greater distance than these ships can ID the airplane or it´s origin.
In that way, the Fi-167, thanks to it´s extended range, is much more useful in this role than the rather short legged Ar-196.
Posts above have already addressed this, but to recap the basic problem is that GZ has no heavy artillery that other regular warships have, or the stealth that the hilfskreuzer had.

Aircraft is GZ's primary weapon. The reconnaisance planes used by the above warships tended to be solo operators and not the raiders primary weapon of attack. 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.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:55 pm

delcyros wrote:
GZ as designed was a fast carrier, nothing short of a DD in perfect, calm weather can hope to catch her at flank speed. This is what all those 5.9in, the deck and angled belt armour are for, to deal with cruiser and DD ambushes. Combined with 4.1in DP mounts this gives GZ credible self defense firepower in the short to medium range profile.
In a serious battle its not enough firepower and more importantly the GZ presents a large target that is vulnerable, in spite of all its armoured protection, to all types of opposing forces.
It only takes minor damage to put a lone raider in peril, and lead to its loss.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:06 pm

delcyros wrote: Back to the airwing: Why not compare GZ (35 kts, 40 planes + spares without deckpark) with it´s contemporaries in late 1941?
Let us hypothetically assume that the Germans in late 1941 decided to use Graf Zeppelin in such a capacity. Her appearence on the Atlantic would have forced the RN to send out large forces to search her. By this time, Renown & KGV were the only remaining fast ships of the RN, which could tackle a slowed down GZ (both beeing slower by 5-6 Kts). Other ships, which could compete with her speed were kind of underarmed & underprotected to tackle GZ (32000t 35 Kts, 40 planes, 16 x 5.91in).
This is a good argument - on paper. The diificulty with this argument is that over time there will be losses of aircraft and pilots and an increasing risk of taking incidental and accumulating battled damage. To some extent supply ships can deal with this, but there will be a degrading.

Please remember that speed isn't everything and doesn't necessarily give GZ complete security in the face of say night time attack by small surface warships such as destroyers. As soon as GZ starts to have its fighting capability degraded it becomes ever more vulnerable.

Also remember that GZ is as much likely to be in rough seas as in a dead flat calm. It won't always be able to fly off its aircraft which again is a vulnerability against small surface warships like a flotilla of destroyers in rough weather. Those 5.9 inch guns look good on paper - but they aren't enough especially against multiple targets.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:10 pm

delcyros wrote: To cover the most lucrative areas for German naval carrier interdiction (West Indies, Western Approaches, and mid-Atlantic narrows) would thus have required at least 6 fleet carriers -- approximately twice the number of ships that the British had aviable. Only VICTORIOUS and INDOMITABLE (in sea trials) had the required speed to follow GZ´s actions.
If GZ operates on the doorstep of the USA, even when it was neutral, expect a sharp reaction from the US Navy - especially if a US ship is attacked even by mistake. The US during 1939-41 was dead serious about the Pan-American Neutrality zone.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:21 pm

delcyros wrote: Why is it possible to repenish the twins but impossible to replenish GZ?
There are good arguments made in support of this point. I can accept virtually all of them as valid.

However if GZ operates further afield than the twins in Operation Berlin, then the sheer distance from German naval bases - especially the Biscay ports - renders the GZ more vulnerable. She would be in more of the position of AGS than the twins. The point for Lutjens in Operation Berlin was that he could quickly run into the Biscay ports as soon as things became too hot for the twins. The Scheer took a big risk in going into the Indian Ocean, but Krancke was astute enough to make a rapid withdrawal when scout planes from a British cruiser found him. If GZ goes far afield with a large supply operation in attendance then that would be more visible than Scheer simply because of the size of the supply operation. And what if key supply ships are found and sunk?
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by lwd » Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:15 pm

delcyros wrote:... Why is it possible to repenish the twins but impossible to replenish GZ?
My understanding is that most of these replenshiment vessels were lost during or shortly after the Bismarck episode.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:48 am

They were indeed, their positions betrayed by enigma decripts
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by delcyros » Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:12 am

Altough popular books state the opposite, none of the key supply ships of the DITHMARSCHEN class were found and sunk by the Royal Navy in ww2. A view into the operational history of the five commissioned ships prooves that. By late 41 only UCKERMARK is enroute to Yokohama and thus unaviable. DITHMARSCHEN and ERMLAND were already prepositioned in the North Atlantic in case TIRPITZ and SCHEER break out.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by Paul L » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:36 pm

delcyros wrote:Altough popular books state the opposite, none of the key supply ships of the DITHMARSCHEN class were found and sunk by the Royal Navy in ww2. A view into the operational history of the five commissioned ships prooves that. By late 41 only UCKERMARK is enroute to Yokohama and thus unaviable. DITHMARSCHEN and ERMLAND were already prepositioned in the North Atlantic in case TIRPITZ and SCHEER break out.

Yes Infact KM operated 50-60 supply ships [Tankers and V ships] in support of operations through out the war and had a functioning network out of the indian sea until early 1944. The Atlantic network was shut down in 1941 after a book from a UBoat was captured showing the patrol routes of these supply ships.
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by RF » Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:09 pm

delcyros wrote:Altough popular books state the opposite, none of the key supply ships of the DITHMARSCHEN class were found and sunk by the Royal Navy in ww2. A view into the operational history of the five commissioned ships prooves that. By late 41 only UCKERMARK is enroute to Yokohama and thus unaviable. DITHMARSCHEN and ERMLAND were already prepositioned in the North Atlantic in case TIRPITZ and SCHEER break out.
Well, Altmark was boarded by HMS Cossack in a Norwegian fjord.

Were Dithmarschen and Ermland actually in the open Atlantic as opposed to Norway from 1942 onwards?
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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by delcyros » Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:11 pm

The ALTMARK incident was in 1940, not during the BISMARCK episode. That ship was boarded in neutral waters but neither captured nor sunk. Renamed UCKERMARK, it continued to support the twins during operation Berlin and in late 1941 was aviable, too. She left sept. 1942 for Japan and arrived in november.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by delcyros » Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:53 pm

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.[/quote]

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...
In a serious battle its not enough firepower and more importantly the GZ presents a large target that is vulnerable, in spite of all its armoured protection, to all types of opposing forces.
It only takes minor damage to put a lone raider in peril, and lead to its loss.
Agreed, and realistically spoken, the KM had to reckon with the eventual loss of a warship send out on a lone base performing merchant raiding. But this didn´t stopped the KM to do this, in fact, this is part of the raiding philosophy. The KM sent out a lone PBB three times (which can be trapped by multiple CL/CA or carrier or BC/fast BB´s), aven after the AGS sinking. They sent out HIPPER a couple of times, the twins, then BISMARCK with PE, despite the knowledge that neither HIPPER nor SCHEER on their own had enough firepower to conduct a serious battle.
The diificulty with this argument is that over time there will be losses of aircraft and pilots and an increasing risk of taking incidental and accumulating battled damage. To some extent supply ships can deal with this, but there will be a degrading.
Operational reserve was 50% for all airwing sizes given in german carrier designs with some planes in spares, some knocked down in parts. Losses will accumulate over the time, this is true but that´s to be factored in. Attacking a merchant is a low risk profile task (Fw-200 were quite effective in this). At one point GZ will need to return to bases in France or Norway as raiders normally do.

Please remember that speed isn't everything and doesn't necessarily give GZ complete security in the face of say night time attack by small surface warships such as destroyers. As soon as GZ starts to have its fighting capability degraded it becomes ever more vulnerable.

Also remember that GZ is as much likely to be in rough seas as in a dead flat calm. It won't always be able to fly off its aircraft which again is a vulnerability against small surface warships like a flotilla of destroyers in rough weather. Those 5.9 inch guns look good on paper - but they aren't enough especially against multiple targets.
I think here You overestimate the tactical usefulness of DD flottilla´s in poor weather. First of, in poor weather, that is weather poor enough to prohibit flight deck operations, a DD will be down in speed at a significantly higher penalty than a capital ship. Second, A flottilla of DD´s sound nice as convoi escort but in order to stop a raider continously running high speed (that is 26 to 32 kts) they lack endurance. They can´t keep up in poor weather and they burn fuel at very odd rates in high speed cruise mode or poor weather. DD´s typically have their most efficient speed at 12 to 15 kts while GZ´s was at 28. While a BENSON class DD burned only 1.25 ts/hour at cruise speed but gulped over 17 ts/ hour at battlespeed. A DD simply can´t track GZ for more than half a day before exposing the serious risk to run out of fuel. During the Bismarck episode and in the chase for Scheer, Hipper and the twins, DD flottillas frequently had to be detached from the main bodies to replenish fuel, let alone think of giving them an opportunity to conduct a night attack. This is a very serious burden in the tactical usefuleness of DD´s in the North Atlantic when trying to track a ship which needs to be located in the first place. The only case whe a DD flotilla were able to contact and attack a raider was in BISMARCK´s case, when Bismarck was slowed down and unable to steer. Even here their attack failed in making hits. The history of DD flotilla attacks against capital ships is a one sided story in both world wars, and I guess the KM considered 5.9in enough to inflict serious damage to a DD.

The basic problem remains, there are to many spots where a single raider can be in the ocean and the RN needs to commit and disperse very large assets to deal with that. Rumors of a single carrier operating somewhere between Greenland and the mid Atlantic is probably enough to paralyze shipping in the North Atlantic without even making contact with a merchant. Krancke successfully demonstrated what kind of impact a raider has on schedule of supply.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by Byron Angel » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:14 am

Delcyros wrote - "Even here their attack failed in making hits. The history of DD flotilla attacks against capital ships is a one sided story in both world wars,..."



The experience of IJNS HAGURO would suggest that it's not poor weather as much as night that favors DDs in the sort of intercept action under discussion.

B

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by delcyros » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:40 pm

That´s correct and I guess You can add some more examples, like Surigao Strait, North Cape and others for positive use of DD flotillas.
But my impression was that their effective use depended on information superiority and coverage by night / poor weather as well as
a very close distance to logistical sources. There was little effective DD use in 1941 and 1942 against capitalships or cruisers in the open ocean by non IJN forces.
In two of the three cases the enemy ship was damaged, slowed down or otherwise impaired in their direction making process.

In the open North Atlantic, against a ship able to use the GHG (not to speak of radar) covered approach is only possible in very poor weather, at which a DD isn´t fast enough to engage an undamaged GZ.

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Re: Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin 1941

Post by paul.mercer » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:52 pm

RF wrote:
delcyros wrote:Why is it that GZ cannot be seen as a lone raider?

What´s different to a Hipper or a Scheer, a Lützow or a Graf Spee, or -for that matter- a Thor, Stier or Atlantis auxilary cruiser?
All these used their airplanes for recon purposes. Airplanes can spot shipping from a greater distance than these ships can ID the airplane or it´s origin.
In that way, the Fi-167, thanks to it´s extended range, is much more useful in this role than the rather short legged Ar-196.
Posts above have already addressed this, but to recap the basic problem is that GZ has no heavy artillery that other regular warships have, or the stealth that the hilfskreuzer had.

Aircraft is GZ's primary weapon. The reconnaisance planes used by the above warships tended to be solo operators and not the raiders primary weapon of attack. 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.
Gentlemen,
If i may add my humble opinion. After the sinking of Graf Spee and Bismarck and the relative ineffectiveness of the twins I don't think Hitler would have allowed Graf Zeppelin out on her own, particularly as the RN had overwhelming superiority in ships. As for Graf Zeppelin being capable of 35 knots and able to outrun KGv or Renown I think it has to be remembered that even if these speeds could be achieved they were under test conditions over a measured mile, not battling it out in a North Atlantic gale when she probably would not be able to launch her aircraft anyway. 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.

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