3 German battleships in May 1941.

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
Saltheart
Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:46 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by Saltheart » Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:59 am

RF wrote:
Saltheart wrote:
Basically when Hitler started a war which he could not end, could not force to an end, but which instead was dependent on the British agreeing to peace he placed Germany in a fatal position. If he builds enough ships to beat Britain he will almost inevitably bring in America and then he loses. So ripping up the Munich agreement and invading Poland in the first place was the whole problem.
No.

Hitler won the war in Poland in September 1939. The country was obliterated from the map and partitioned. Yes, Polish military forces escaped and continued to fight, effectively for the British and the rest of the Allies rather than purely for themselves, as they discovered in 1945 when a communist regime was installed by the Soviets in their recreated Poland.

Hitler defeated France. He could and should have finished the job by the early summer of 1940, by launching an all out assault on Britain immediately on the French surrender. He was in a winning position - and threw it away.
When he invaded Poland he went to war with Britain. Conquering Poland didn't change that he was still at war with Britain. Conquering France didn't change that he was still at war with Britain. So when he invaded Poland he had started a war he couldn't end unless he could beat Britain.
How could he just finish it in the summer of 1940? What navy was going to escort his invasion fleet? He had about 10 destroyers after the Norwegian campaign. To win he had to build the naval power to win which brings America into play. Also it leaves the Russians to keep readying their army for a war they start when they're ready.
Hitler believed the British would make peace, he was wrong and so the whole decision to invade Poland in the first place simply put Germany on the chopping block between America and Russia.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7605
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by RF » Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:50 am

Saltheart wrote: When he invaded Poland he went to war with Britain. Conquering Poland didn't change that he was still at war with Britain.
No. Britain declared war on Germany two days after the invasion of Poland was launched. Germany has never ever declared war on Britain!
Hitler ignored a British ultimatum to give an assurance that German troops would withdraw at once from Poland, thinking they were not serious. Hitler could have complied, as there was from his point of view the possibility of restarting the invasion at a later date if the diplomatic position changes, without the British declaring war.
How could he just finish it in the summer of 1940? What navy was going to escort his invasion fleet? He had about 10 destroyers after the Norwegian campaign. To win he had to build the naval power to win which brings America into play. Also it leaves the Russians to keep readying their army for a war they start when they're ready.
Firstly by capturing most of the Allied forces at Dunkirk. Secondly by requiring the French, as part of the Armistice terms of June 1940 to place all French shipping and warships at Germanys' disposal. Thirdly by launching an all out attack on Fighter Command airfields in south east England and on the Chain Home radar installations within range of stukas, by early July. Fourthly by ordering a joint armed forces plan for an invasion of England along the Kent and Sussex coast, timed before the end of July to take the maximum advantage of the short nights before they start drawing in. Fifthly by destroying the RAF fighter forces by attrition by mid-July. Sixthly by getting Italian co-operation for an invasion of Britain, requiring as large a force of Italian torpedo bombers that can be assembled for Channel operations. Seventhly I would send the Scheer into the North Atlantic via the Denmark Strait, with orders to attack North Atlantic convoys. Eigth by invading Britain - it is only by the invasion itself that the RN is drawn into the English Channel where it can be targeted in daylight hours by the maximum Axis air strength. With the RAF now largely destroyed and the British Army still short of men, weapons and ammunition the main task for the Germans is securing the Channel crossings using air power as the primary weapon.
That is the winning strategy.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

Saltheart
Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:46 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by Saltheart » Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:43 am

RF wrote:
Saltheart wrote: When he invaded Poland he went to war with Britain. Conquering Poland didn't change that he was still at war with Britain.
No. Britain declared war on Germany two days after the invasion of Poland was launched. Germany has never ever declared war on Britain!
Hitler ignored a British ultimatum to give an assurance that German troops would withdraw at once from Poland, thinking they were not serious. Hitler could have complied, as there was from his point of view the possibility of restarting the invasion at a later date if the diplomatic position changes, without the British declaring war.
How could he just finish it in the summer of 1940? What navy was going to escort his invasion fleet? He had about 10 destroyers after the Norwegian campaign. To win he had to build the naval power to win which brings America into play. Also it leaves the Russians to keep readying their army for a war they start when they're ready.
Firstly by capturing most of the Allied forces at Dunkirk. Secondly by requiring the French, as part of the Armistice terms of June 1940 to place all French shipping and warships at Germanys' disposal. Thirdly by launching an all out attack on Fighter Command airfields in south east England and on the Chain Home radar installations within range of stukas, by early July. Fourthly by ordering a joint armed forces plan for an invasion of England along the Kent and Sussex coast, timed before the end of July to take the maximum advantage of the short nights before they start drawing in. Fifthly by destroying the RAF fighter forces by attrition by mid-July. Sixthly by getting Italian co-operation for an invasion of Britain, requiring as large a force of Italian torpedo bombers that can be assembled for Channel operations. Seventhly I would send the Scheer into the North Atlantic via the Denmark Strait, with orders to attack North Atlantic convoys. Eigth by invading Britain - it is only by the invasion itself that the RN is drawn into the English Channel where it can be targeted in daylight hours by the maximum Axis air strength. With the RAF now largely destroyed and the British Army still short of men, weapons and ammunition the main task for the Germans is securing the Channel crossings using air power as the primary weapon.
That is the winning strategy.

I'm afraid there's virtually no area where we would agree.
Firstly to capture the Allies at Dunkirk you'd first have to get rid of Hitler as it was his halt order that messed that up.

Second you can require whatever you like of the French but it doesn't mean they'll comply. The country might sign up but the crews might scuttle the ships or sail them away regardless. And how long would it take you to get them ready for German service if you got them? Months surely.

Thirdly if you go after fighter command in early July then yes they won't be as prepared as they were in early August but then neither is the Luftwaffe. The Germans also suffered heavy aircraft losses and aircrew exhaustion in the French campaign and would have found it just as tough to go straight into another fight as the RAF. In other words you'd have two airforces starting out both more depleted and probably with the same end result...stalemate.

Fourthly you can order the high command to plan an invasion for before the end of July but then they've got to russle up merchant shipping, Rhine barges which they have to modify as landing craft plus put together what few warships you have, all in a very short time. And with a high command who wouldn't even believe it would work anyway. Oh and who had zero experience at it.

Fifth I think the chance of wiping out fighter command by the end of July is nil. See thirdly for the reason why.

Sixthly do you think you could get the Italians to send their torpedoe bombers to northern France in such a short time? They'd be watching as well to see your battle with fighter command and if that wasn't working out I don't think they'd be to happy.

Seventh you could send the Scheer anywhere but if the Brits see you getting ready to invade they'll just be waiting for that with everything.

Eighth if you actually launched that invasion no matter how many ships they lost the Brits would destroy it.

We simply don't agree. But that's cool. Fascinating subject regardless.

paul.mercer
Senior Member
Posts: 967
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by paul.mercer » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:54 pm

alecsandros wrote:
Dave Saxton wrote: S&G were well armoured vs 15" shellfire. Renown was poorly protected against 11" shell fire.
That's true, but there are other aspects to consider. For instance, Renown's thin armor made the proper functioning of 11" AP shells questionable - their 0.05s fuze delays were to long to cause detonation inside the ship. This is precisely what happened during the engagement - Gneisenau's shells passed through Renown - and precisely what happened at North Cape, when several 11" shells from Scharnhorst passed through Norfolk without exploding.
On the other hand, the heavy armor of the German raiders was exactly what was needed for the 15" shells to function properly.

It's not a matter of winning the battle - S&G would have, ultimately, sunk Renown - it's a matter of perspective between 11" and 15" guned ships...
Gentlemen,
The statement that S&G woud ultimately have sunk Renown i think requires some clarifying, I thought that one of Renowns hits knocked out Gneisenaus fire control, which would made the odds more even. Also, Renown at the time was a 'top' ship fully worked up with a very experienced crew, the fact that she landed at least three heavy blows in appalling weather proves that. The reason that S& G outpaced her was due to one of her anti torpedo bulges breaking loose and sticking out at an angle.
Also, it should be remembered that it was the German ships that ran away - as they did on other occasions when they met Malaya and Rodney

paul.mercer
Senior Member
Posts: 967
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by paul.mercer » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:59 pm

Saltheart wrote:If 3 battleships would not attack a convoy protected by an old battleship in the escort because of fear of damage then they would have no business being in the Atlantic at all.
They would have to accept the risk of damage, maybe superficial or maybe severe, if they're going to hope for any gain like the destruction of a convoy. If the worst happened and a ship took a crippling hit and never made it home then that's war, that's the risk run in return for the chance of wiping out shipping. Either you wrap up the ships unused or send them to war. I'm suggesting they sent them and therefore risked the losses involved in war.
I think three 15inch armed ships would have been a very serious problem for the Royal Navy.
Agreed, their main problem would have been to find enough supply ships to keep them at sea, the loss of one or two could result in disaster, I think that keeping all these supply ships away from the RN would have been a major problem for the Germans.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7605
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by RF » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:08 am

paul.mercer wrote: . For instance, Renown's thin armor made the proper functioning of 11" AP shells questionable - their 0.05s fuze delays were to long to cause detonation inside the ship. This is precisely what happened during the engagement - Gneisenau's shells passed through Renown - and precisely what happened at North Cape, when several 11" shells from Scharnhorst passed through Norfolk without exploding.
On the other hand, the heavy armor of the German raiders was exactly what was needed for the 15" shells to function properly.

It's not a matter of winning the battle - S&G would have, ultimately, sunk Renown - it's a matter of perspective between 11" and 15" guned ships..

Gentlemen,
The statement that S&G woud ultimately have sunk Renown i think requires some clarifying, I thought that one of Renowns hits knocked out Gneisenaus fire control, which would made the odds more even. Also, Renown at the time was a 'top' ship fully worked up with a very experienced crew, the fact that she landed at least three heavy blows in appalling weather proves that. The reason that S& G outpaced her was due to one of her anti torpedo bulges breaking loose and sticking out at an angle.
Also, it should be remembered that it was the German ships that ran away - as they did on other occasions when they met Malaya and Rodney

The acid test would surely be in an action in a good weather, flat calm sea situation with no other encumberances and no other forces involved - rather like the River Plate battle.
In such a scenario I would expecta German fleet commander to seek to attack Renown on opposite flanks, to either split her fire or to leave one of the twins unexposed to 15 inch fire. The Germans also presumably would use a mix of AP and HE shells as well?
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7605
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by RF » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:16 am

paul.mercer wrote: Agreed, their main problem would have been to find enough supply ships to keep them at sea, the loss of one or two could result in disaster, I think that keeping all these supply ships away from the RN would have been a major problem for the Germans.
Such a problem could be overcome by being such a threat that the RN is forced to employ every ship possible in convoy escort - using hunting groups becomes uneconomic if it is known that the raiders will attack convoys in strength, the only sure way to intercept them would be by using the convoys as bait.
In such a scenario the supply ships tend to be overlooked.

Indeed one of the biggest beneficiaries of such a strategy are hilfskreuzer and blockade runners - where Allied cruisers are too busy guarding against Bismarcks to spend time hunting them down.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

Saltheart
Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:46 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by Saltheart » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:43 pm

Lets look at the threats to the 3 battleships.
Destroyers Torpedoe tubes, they'd have to get to about 5km or closer to hope to get a hit. Shadowing capability limited by short range.
Cruisers Torpedoe tubes, they're bigger targets so they won't get close. They can shadow for long distances.
Slow battleships A danger if they're in the convoy escort.
Fast battleships and battlecruisers They're very dangerous and would simply have to be fought.
Aircraft carriers Most dangerous of all. Their torpedoe bombers can cause major damage and their planes can also shadow the ships.

The Germans would have to stick together and pool their anti-aircraft fire and anti-destroyer fire. They'd also have to hit convoys fast and move on before the fast battle groups arrived.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7605
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by RF » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:27 pm

Yes these are threats - particulary if such forces can be concentrated.

But for the most part these are older vessels, poorly armoured, whereas the German ships are new with substantial secondary and tertiary batteries. The aircraft carriers ranged against them were only up to three carriers at any one time, their attacks were generally not co-ordinated, the aircraft relatively few and obsolete - they were nothing like the carrier striking capability the Americans put up against the Japanese.

Convoy attacks - apart from the escort battleships the three German battleships can attack convoys at long range and not come under any immediate return fire. Thus the German gunnery officers can direct their first targets as cruiser/destroyer escorts and take out as many as they can before they reach effective torpedo range, by which time the secondary batteries are in action. Also there would be supporting fire from the Hipper class cruisers in company with the German ships.
If there is an escorting battleship it can be attacked on opposite flanks. Yes its guns can pose a threat - but not for long against German concentrated fire. If there is an escorting battleship then it needs a clear field of fire without the cruisers/destroyers getting in its way with torpedo attack run ins.
Also there is scope for U-boat collaboration - to take out the battleship escorts and pick off fleeing merchant ships. And to attack carriers, which means their destroyer escorts have to remain in close company.

Concentrated German battleship attack against North Atlantic convoys never happened and thus there is no test as to how effective the tactics outlined above would be. But in the hands of a bold fleet commander who knows what the results would be?
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

Thorsten Wahl
Senior Member
Posts: 771
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:17 pm

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:33 am

If the Kriegsmarine would concentrate the bulk of their fleet at a certain point , the RN probably would react accordingly and concentrate their forces too.
Meine Herren, es kann ein siebenjähriger, es kann ein dreißigjähriger Krieg werden – und wehe dem, der zuerst die Lunte in das Pulverfaß schleudert!

Saltheart
Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:46 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by Saltheart » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:07 pm

Thorsten Wahl wrote:If the Kriegsmarine would concentrate the bulk of their fleet at a certain point , the RN probably would react accordingly and concentrate their forces too.
That's what I was thinking of when I was looking at the threats.
First of all the Germans would have to get into the Atlantic past 5 fast capital ships, 2 or 3 carriers and the cruisers and destroyers. With 3 battleships to contend with the British would probably have 3 capital ships and a carrier in one interception group and 2 capial ships and 2 carriers in the other. If the Germans encountered either group there'd be a big battle with the other British battlegroup rushing to join in as well.
If the Germans avoided both groups and made it into the Atlantic and resupplied (a big if) they'd then look for convoys.

If they attacked a convoy protected by 3 or 4 destroyers, 3 or 4 corvettes and an old slow battleship it would actually be a fascinating battle. If the Germans stould off and shelled the destroyers they'd use a lot of ammunition so I think they might even set 1 battleship, the Bismarck, to trade fire with the old battleship at say 15,000 yards while Scharnhorst and Gneisenau actually attacked the destroyers with all guns to get rid of them as fast as possible. There'd be more risk from the destroyer's torpedoe tubes but the destroyers won't get a hit at more than 5000 yards and probably not more than 3000 so the guns on S and G should win the fight quite quickly engaging at about 8 to 10,000 yards. After that they can attack the corvettes (no torpedoe tubes) and merchant ships at will while the Bismarck keeps the old battleship busy.

If they came away from destroying the convoy with some damage to Bismarck (likely) and damage to the old British battleship (now left behind) but probably no damage to S and G then they'd be happy. The British battlegroups and endless searching cruisers would of course be heading straight for the spot.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7605
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by RF » Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:02 am

But they would take time to get there and when they do the Germans have moved on, whether their ships are damaged or not.

This convoy attack schematic should not be seen in isolation. U-boats will pick off the merchant ships, especially if they scatter, and no doubt the RN old battleship will be a U-boat target. Luftwaffe bomber support also poses a threat to the Allied ships as well, particulary if full Luftwaffe co-operation is factored in.
If the convoy stays together and doesn't scatter - then the destroyers and corvettes have U-boats to deal with as well as battleship attack. Add in a Luftwaffe presence they then face a triple threat.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

Saltheart
Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:46 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by Saltheart » Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:45 pm

RF wrote:But they would take time to get there and when they do the Germans have moved on, whether their ships are damaged or not.

This convoy attack schematic should not be seen in isolation. U-boats will pick off the merchant ships, especially if they scatter, and no doubt the RN old battleship will be a U-boat target. Luftwaffe bomber support also poses a threat to the Allied ships as well, particulary if full Luftwaffe co-operation is factored in.
If the convoy stays together and doesn't scatter - then the destroyers and corvettes have U-boats to deal with as well as battleship attack. Add in a Luftwaffe presence they then face a triple threat.
Yes co-ordination with submarine and airforces would be very helpful. When they're breaking out in the first place is when they'd need the most help. If they had a pre-aranged plan where everyone knows the route they'll take and when they'll take it then a line of U-boats can be waiting to ambush any forces shadowing them. They could even slow right down when they reach the U-boats so their shadowers have to slow too and are easier targets. I don't know why coordination like that wasn't automatically part of their plans in general. They were highly skilled in land and air warfare but at sea everyone just did their own thing.

paul.mercer
Senior Member
Posts: 967
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by paul.mercer » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:48 pm

Saltheart wrote:
RF wrote:
Saltheart wrote:
Basically when Hitler started a war which he could not end, could not force to an end, but which instead was dependent on the British agreeing to peace he placed Germany in a fatal position. If he builds enough ships to beat Britain he will almost inevitably bring in America and then he loses. So ripping up the Munich agreement and invading Poland in the first place was the whole problem.
No.

Hitler won the war in Poland in September 1939. The country was obliterated from the map and partitioned. Yes, Polish military forces escaped and continued to fight, effectively for the British and the rest of the Allies rather than purely for themselves, as they discovered in 1945 when a communist regime was installed by the Soviets in their recreated Poland.

Hitler defeated France. He could and should have finished the job by the early summer of 1940, by launching an all out assault on Britain immediately on the French surrender. He was in a winning position - and threw it away.
When he invaded Poland he went to war with Britain. Conquering Poland didn't change that he was still at war with Britain. Conquering France didn't change that he was still at war with Britain. So when he invaded Poland he had started a war he couldn't end unless he could beat Britain.
How could he just finish it in the summer of 1940? What navy was going to escort his invasion fleet? He had about 10 destroyers after the Norwegian campaign. To win he had to build the naval power to win which brings America into play. Also it leaves the Russians to keep readying their army for a war they start when they're ready.
Hitler believed the British would make peace, he was wrong and so the whole decision to invade Poland in the first place simply put Germany on the chopping block between America and Russia.

paul.mercer
Senior Member
Posts: 967
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

Re: 3 German battleships in May 1941.

Post by paul.mercer » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:57 pm

Sorry about that, I pressed the wrong button!
I don't think that Germany was ever in a position to outbuild Gt Britain when it came to ships (except possibly submarines) especially heavy ships, they could not manage it in the First World war either. If an invasion had been tried I reckon it would have ended in a disaster for Germany.
As for Renown v the twins, in a straightforward battle in calm conditions maybe they would win but be severely damaged in the process. However, battles seldom take place in ideal conditions and that is where a top ship, Captain and crew will score as it did when the twins encountered Renown.

Post Reply