Risk Theory Pays Off

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
Djoser
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Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by Djoser » Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:34 pm

Bear with me, gentlemen--I don't have my source readily at hand so cannot at this time provide the specifics, but I know for a fact that one of the German battle cruiser raids did indeed draw out a portion of the British Battle Fleet, which came close to being overwhelmed. So the Royal Navy came within a hair's breadth of losing a major portion of its strength at one blow.

If this had happened, naval parity would have been achieved, and the blockade of Germany would not have been an assured thing. This could have had an effect on naval developments in both England and Germany. The German battle cruisers already under construction (a couple Mackensen class and I believe the Ersatz Yorck were both started) might well have been completed, instead of rusting incomplete as took place.

The Royal Navy would have been forced to do whatever it took to reestablish naval superiority as rapidly as possible. The Hood class, which was cut short at the first and only Hood due to fears of battlecruiser vulnerability raised at Jutland, might have been completed as planned, or at least an additional Hood perhaps.

So we could have theoretically seen a fantasy battlecruiser duel. Say a Hood or two, the two Renowns, and the Lions, versus the improved German BC fleet. A couple of Mackensens, an Erstaz York, and the Derfflingers.

One hell of a brawl if you ask me...

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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by RF » Wed Feb 01, 2012 6:56 pm

Djoser wrote: ....., but I know for a fact that one of the German battle cruiser raids did indeed draw out a portion of the British Battle Fleet, which came close to being overwhelmed. So the Royal Navy came within a hair's breadth of losing a major portion of its strength at one blow.
Which raid was this? When exactly?
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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by tommy303 » Wed Feb 01, 2012 7:47 pm

Had the RN adopted a traditional close blockade, then perhaps an early German success as you theorize might have had a more profound effect on the blockade. However, in moving the major portion of the fleet to Scapa and the Firth of Forth, the RN established a distant blockade which effectively blocked trade through the North Sea (while English Channel was easily guarded by light forces). Any attempt to break the distant blockade would actually have put the German fleet at risk since it would have to seek battle far from home. The actual blockade force that closed the passages to the North Sea were comparatively light forces that were more or less expendable. The Grand Fleet was there to prevent a direct attack on these light forces and to lure the HSF into a battle it could not win.

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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by Djoser » Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:51 am

tommy303 wrote:Had the RN adopted a traditional close blockade, then perhaps an early German success as you theorize might have had a more profound effect on the blockade. However, in moving the major portion of the fleet to Scapa and the Firth of Forth, the RN established a distant blockade which effectively blocked trade through the North Sea (while English Channel was easily guarded by light forces). Any attempt to break the distant blockade would actually have put the German fleet at risk since it would have to seek battle far from home. The actual blockade force that closed the passages to the North Sea were comparatively light forces that were more or less expendable. The Grand Fleet was there to prevent a direct attack on these light forces and to lure the HSF into a battle it could not win.
Right, but if the Grand Fleet was reduced to parity or even slight inferiority by a successful 'Risk Theory' type battle, such as came so close to taking place, then those light forces could easily have been swept away by the High Seas Fleet. Had the Grand Fleet tried to prevent this (as they no doubt would have) they would then have fought a battle which the HSF could very well have won.

I will look for the time and location of the 'close call'. It's been documented in several sources, and I do have them here--sorry I've been busy and there are stacks of books all over lol.

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RF
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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by RF » Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:53 am

Djoser wrote: Right, but if the Grand Fleet was reduced to parity or even slight inferiority by a successful 'Risk Theory' type battle, such as came so close to taking place, then those light forces could easily have been swept away by the High Seas Fleet. Had the Grand Fleet tried to prevent this (as they no doubt would have) they would then have fought a battle which the HSF could very well have won..
I'm not really convinced the HSF would have got the upper hand and broken the blockade for several reasons. For one the RN would have been reinforced by the French fleet, and later on by US battleships.
Also the friction of distance would suggest moving the light forces further back, to the Iceland passages, which gives the British more advantage against the short ranged Germans. Yet another factor is destroyer protection. The further out the HSF the more vulnerable the dreadnoughts become to destroyer torpedo attack, especially at night, if German destroyers are outranged from their bases.
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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:48 pm

RF wrote:
Djoser wrote: ....., but I know for a fact that one of the German battle cruiser raids did indeed draw out a portion of the British Battle Fleet, which came close to being overwhelmed. So the Royal Navy came within a hair's breadth of losing a major portion of its strength at one blow.
Which raid was this? When exactly?
I am guessing Scarborough?

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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by Djoser » Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:37 am

Ersatz Yorck wrote:
RF wrote:
Djoser wrote: ....., but I know for a fact that one of the German battle cruiser raids did indeed draw out a portion of the British Battle Fleet, which came close to being overwhelmed. So the Royal Navy came within a hair's breadth of losing a major portion of its strength at one blow.
Which raid was this? When exactly?
I am guessing Scarborough?
I think that was the one. I apologize again for my extreme disorganization and temporary inability to back up my theoretical Risk Theory Payoff with the proper sources. It should also be said that on the way back from the raid, the German BCs almost got caught by a major portion of the British fleet which would no doubt have sunk them all. It was a very close call for both sides that day...

Here is something interesting I found while doing a quick search online:

http://warships1discussionboards.yuku.c ... 1AUpsySPig

And apparently there is an entire thread about the 'What If' scenario I imagined somewhere in that forum--they also have a hypothetical naval scenario area, apparently.

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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by Djoser » Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:01 am

RF wrote:
Djoser wrote: Right, but if the Grand Fleet was reduced to parity or even slight inferiority by a successful 'Risk Theory' type battle, such as came so close to taking place, then those light forces could easily have been swept away by the High Seas Fleet. Had the Grand Fleet tried to prevent this (as they no doubt would have) they would then have fought a battle which the HSF could very well have won..
I'm not really convinced the HSF would have got the upper hand and broken the blockade for several reasons. For one the RN would have been reinforced by the French fleet, and later on by US battleships.
Also the friction of distance would suggest moving the light forces further back, to the Iceland passages, which gives the British more advantage against the short ranged Germans. Yet another factor is destroyer protection. The further out the HSF the more vulnerable the dreadnoughts become to destroyer torpedo attack, especially at night, if German destroyers are outranged from their bases.
Excellent points, but a distant blockade wouldn't have been nearly as effective. Furthermore, my premise is not that the blockade was completely ruined, but rather that the Germans were encouraged to continue naval construction by an early major success in the naval war, and finish their already started 'super battlecruisers'. And that the war was prolonged another year or so, enabling the Hood to join the fray (though she might have needed a little boost to the speed of construction--something a major German victory early on would have certainly provided).

It wasn't said of Jellicoe that he was 'the only man who could have lost the war in an afternoon' because a major German naval victory bringing naval parity or better would have made not the slightest difference, I think... :lol:

I am not looking for a German victory in WW I; rather the alternate progression of events leading to a pitched battle between the best and latest of the German BCs vs. the best and latest of the British. Not all that far-fetched an idea, and certainly one which could provide for a most interesting discussion. So I don't feel it unreasonable to suggest that we consider the possibilities, rather than dwell on impossibilities.

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Ersatz Yorck
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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:17 am

Djoser wrote:
Ersatz Yorck wrote: I am guessing Scarborough?
I think that was the one. I apologize again for my extreme disorganization and temporary inability to back up my theoretical Risk Theory Payoff with the proper sources. It should also be said that on the way back from the raid, the German BCs almost got caught by a major portion of the British fleet which would no doubt have sunk them all. It was a very close call for both sides that day...

Here is something interesting I found while doing a quick search online:

http://warships1discussionboards.yuku.c ... 1AUpsySPig

And apparently there is an entire thread about the 'What If' scenario I imagined somewhere in that forum--they also have a hypothetical naval scenario area, apparently.
Much has been made of the Scarborough what if, but one should keep in mind that the Scarborough event took place during a gale with poor visibility. IMHO It is uncertain if the fleets would have been able to engage at all, and the storm would in all likelihood reinforce the usual tendency for indecisive results of WW1 surface naval combat.

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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by delcyros » Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:47 pm

Wasn´t Coronal also fought in a gale?

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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by Djoser » Sat Mar 03, 2012 4:55 am

When dealing with hypothetical, alternative history, I feel it is not out of line to posit a little better weather on Der Tag. :D

I'm not sure what the weather was in that day, to tell you the truth--I haven't found my sources yet. But there have been a number of major naval actions fought in fairly rough weather.

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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by Djoser » Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:18 am

OK I will take the plunge and begin speculation as to the likely outcome of an advanced BC duel between alternative, augmented, extended WW I British and German forces.

British OOB:

Hood
Repulse
Renown
Tiger
Lion
Queen Mary
Princess Royal

German OOB:

Ersatz Yorck
Mackensen
Graf Spee
Lutzow
Derfflinger
Hindenburg

Since a dramatic Risk Theory type action has changed the nature of the naval war entirely, we can presume for the sake of a well-balanced duel that Jutland did not take place, and thus the Queen Mary and Lutzow were still available. Or perhaps naval parity would have led to their loss anyway in likely, later naval actions, or that of one or more of their sister ships. But this makes for a better fight, so let's go with it for now.

My prediction is that the 7/6 advantage of the RN will not do them much good, given the lousy protection of the R & R in particular, and the 'Splendid Cats' in general. The Hood might give the Ersatz Yorck a bit of a hard time, though--it will take more hits to do serious damage to a 45,000 ton ship than a 35,000 ton ship, even if the Hood has some vulnerability as we know from the Denmark Straits duel. The 6 15" guns on the R & R will be roughly equivalent to the 8 13.75" guns on the Mackensens, but the latter ships will be much tougher to hurt.

The way I see it, it could go either way--unless the British haven't figured out by 1919 that stacking propellant charges all over the barbettes and turret interiors, and eschewing blast doors on magazines were very bad ideas. We can also assume that the notorious tendency of British AP rounds to prematurely detonate on impact with armor plate has been fixed.

Still, we have a slight numerical edge for the British reduced by a considerable defensive advantage for the Germans. So I would be inclined to predict that the R & R will go down first, and the rest of the ships will batter each other thoroughly, with perhaps some luck either way giving an edge. But I'd bet on a close run German victory due to the serious defensive advantage. Unless the British could manage to stay at longer range and the 13.5" guns of the Cats could do more damage before the 12" guns of the Defflingers could reach them.

Anyone have the statistics on effective comparative ranges of the 13.5" vs. the 12"?

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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by alecsandros » Sun Mar 04, 2012 3:03 pm

Interesting question;

Indeed, the ranges of the 12" and 13.5" guns would be important, but more important would be the probability of achieving a realistic fire-control solution. After all, the longest BB to BB gunfire hit, scored by Warspite, was at some 24km. And that with a much more sofisticated fire-control system than it was available in 1919, and on near-perfect weather.

With this in mind, I would be surprised if either set of ships would manage to straddle at ranges beyond 16km in 1919... And most likely the battle would be fought at 10-15km, just like Jutland was, because of the same constraint: obtaining a good, stable FC solution and consistent straddles.

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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:04 am

Interesting scenario!

But why not have the Prinz Eitel Friedrich instead of the Erzatz Yorck? She was further along in construction I think...

BTW This is a bit OT but I have always speculated in the names the EZ-class would have gotten if they had been completed. Going by the practice of reusing the names of light cruisers sunk and name choices for ships in the 30s, my guess is:

Scharnhorst
Gneisenau
Blücher
Lützow

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Re: Risk Theory Pays Off

Post by Byron Angel » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:24 pm

Djoser wrote: Anyone have the statistics on effective comparative ranges of the 13.5" vs. the 12"?
..... The German 30.5cm/L50 was a very good gun, considered by many to be more or less equivalent to the ?British 13.5in/L45, judging from comparative performance at Jutland. Both guns would reach approx 20,000 yards at 15deg elevation (due to the extra 300 fps MV ofthe German gun). Given poor British AP projectiles of that period of time, effective armor penetration performance was about on a par.

True <<< effective >>> range is a hard thing to pin down, as one must balance the official doctrine versus actual practice versus technical developments between 1916 and your hypothetical 1919 engagement. At Jutland, a strong argument can be made that approximately 16,000 yards was considered effective opening range for both guns.

By 1919, assuming .....

[ a ] that British AP projectile deficiencies were recognized in your hypothetical construct, and acted upon with sufficient alacrity to send the British force to sea with more efficient AP ammunition;

[ b ] that, likewise, the deficiencies of the B&S 9ft rangefinder were recognized and a 15ft rangefinder fitted to the 13.5in BCs, as had been recommended by post-Jutland RN analysis;

[ c ] that the deficiencies in British spotting and fire control procedures were recognized and reformed in a manner akin to the post-Jutland development and adoption of the new 1916 Spotting Rules;

[ d ] that BCF gunnery standards were improved by better overall training;

[ e ] that the engagement occurred under tactical and meteorological conditions broadly similar to those in effect at Jutland;

..... I don't see why the 13.5in could not make useful hits up to 20,000yds, as 5BS achieved against 1SG at Jutland.


B

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