Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

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RF
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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by RF » Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:44 am

alecsandros wrote:AGS was quite unlucky and poorly led that day.
I can certainly agree with that.
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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by alecsandros » Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:10 am

RF wrote:
alecsandros wrote: You don't use a pocket battleship to launch torpedoes against light cruisers. It's simple. Yet, they did it... from 7km distance,
I'm not aware that AGS did fire torpedoes, or that Ajax/Achilles closed to less than four and a half miles. What Rasenack did record in his book was that AGS took avoiding action against ten alleged torpedo tracks, No mention is made of AGS firing torpedoes, indeed there would be a danger that the exposed torpedo battery on the stern, exposed to 6 inch fire, could be hit and the torpedoes detonated - which would certainly finish the AGS.

I wasn't aware either, but I found out recently....

http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarl ... Epi-b.html

"The Ajax retaliated by firing a broadside of four torpedoes at a range of 9000 yards. They broke surface after entering the water and the Admiral Graf Spee avoided them by turning away for three minutes. According page 27 to the German account of the action, she attempted to fire a spread salvo of torpedoes at this time, but only one was actually discharged because at the moment the ship was swinging hard to port. The Ajax avoided this torpedo by a sharp turn towards the enemy, thus shortening the range still more, while the Achilles crossed her wake."

"At this time the Ajax had only three guns in action, but the Achilles was making good shooting with her eight, the range being down to 8000 yards. Though the pilot and the observer of the Ajax’s aircraft reported that hit after hit was being made, few were observed from either ship. There was disappointingly little apparent damage to the Graf Spee, whose fire was still very accurate, and Commodore Harwood remarked to Captain Woodhouse: ‘We might as well be bombarding her with snowballs’. "

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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by RF » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:21 am

None of this information about the firing of torpedoes is mentioned in Millington-Drakes's book or in the Purnell's history of WW2, being the most contemporaneous accounts of the battle. Indeed it is contradicted by the accounts of senior British officers who contributed to Millington-Drakes' conpendium as it was stated that Harwood intended to save his torpedoes for an attack at night, using cover of darkness to close AGS to effective torpedo range. Firing torpedoes at 9000 yards in broad daylight makes no sense in this context, and there is no record of this being done.
Neither does Rasenack make any mention in his account of the AGS attempting to fire torpedoes - here it would make even less sense, in his terms it would be a battleship trying to torpedo two destroyers - the Germans were clearly rattled by the speed and manoeuvreability of the two light cruisers and surely torpedoes launched against them would have had no chance of hitting??
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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by alecsandros » Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:03 am

"THIS NARRATIVE is based on the official reports of Admiral Harwood and his captains, Admiralty documents, and the German official reports. The photographs were taken by Commander R. E. Washbourn or are from his collection, with the exception of page 24 (top) C. P. S. Boyer, (bottom) The Weekly News. The map, diagrams, and sketches were drawn by L. D. McCormick."

He doesn't mention the "German official reports"... I don't know ?
It certainly looks foolish to try to torpedo enemy light cruisers with your... pocket battleship ... But hey... stranger things have happened :)

Maybe someone could shed more light on the topic ?

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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by RF » Tue Sep 04, 2012 5:40 pm

Well, the narrative may come from ''official reports'' but the firing of torpedoes doesn't appear in the narrative of the other publications I have read, as cited above.

Indeed strange things can happen in battle - but the only occasion I can think of where a vastly superior warship fired torpedoes at an inferior opponent for whom torpedoes really would be a laughable proposition was when HMAS Sydney discharged four torpedoes at the hilfskreuzer Kormoran..... but then the cruisers guns had all been knocked out and torpedoes were the only weapons left....
Incidently, in that battle, fought at almost point blank range, a total of seven torpedoes were fired.... and only one hit its target. And the one that hit only just found its mark....
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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by alecsandros » Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:22 pm

Ahh, the Kormoran...
Indeed, so many strange events happened there...

Was any progress made in the latest years in finding out how the Sidney got sunk with all hands ?

---

There's another encounter I recall -> Rodney launching torpedoes against the Bismarck, which was already ablaze :D

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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by Rick Rather » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:51 am

I feel that, if I found myself in a med-long range gunfight, it would be prudent to fire the torpedoes just to get several hundred pounds of HE off of my weather decks. If launched on a hypothetical intercept course to the enemy, so much the better, but it's not worth closing the range if my guns are adequate. Secondary explosions from a lucky hit on the tubes could ruin my whole day.

Iirc, at Midway Mogami jettisoned her torpedoes before the American air attack, but Mikuma did not. At least one account (Prange, et al.?) speculated that this made the difference between survival and destruction. I don't know if it was that cut-and-dried, but when your DC teams are closed to overwhelmed, things like that can make a difference.

A surface raider might think twice before jettisoning if he is a long way from replenishment. I find it interesting that AGS's tubes were mounted on the stern. If it was designed with raiding in mind, then the position indicates a stern chase from pursuers might have been anticipated. The tubes would thus have open arcs on their opponents.
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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by RF » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:38 pm

alecsandros wrote:Ahh, the Kormoran...
Indeed, so many strange events happened there...
Was any progress made in the latest years in finding out how the Sidney got sunk with all hands ?
Yes, the German account of the action was confirmed by forensic analysis of the pictures taken of the wreck. The Sydney sank as a result of the bow forward of A turret shearing off several hours after the action started, the slow action result of Kormorans' torpedo hit.
There's another encounter I recall -> Rodney launching torpedoes against the Bismarck, which was already ablaze :,
Well, that does make sense - the target was at least the equal of Rodney, and one of the four torpedoes did find its mark.
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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by RF » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:42 pm

Rick Rather wrote: I I find it interesting that AGS's tubes were mounted on the stern. If it was designed with raiding in mind, then the position indicates a stern chase from pursuers might have been anticipated. The tubes would thus have open arcs on their opponents.
I think the torpedo tubes were mounted in a position whereby they could be fired on either flank rather than restricted to one side which midships tubes tend to be. I don't think that the panzerschiffe were designed on the same thinking as the K classe light cruisers, with the two stern offset triple turrets....
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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by alecsandros » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:07 am

RF wrote:
There's another encounter I recall -> Rodney launching torpedoes against the Bismarck, which was already ablaze :,
Well, that does make sense - the target was at least the equal of Rodney, and one of the four torpedoes did find its mark.
Well, yeah,
But Bismarck was already on fire, all guns silent... seems a little excessive to me :)

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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by RF » Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:11 pm

It wasn't excessive for Admiral Tovey - he couldn't get to sink the Bismarck with gunfire alone, he was short on fuel and had little time to finish the job before having to head for home, while interference from the Luftwaffe and U-boats were possibilities. Rodney using torpedoes against an enemy its equal - guns operative or not - was entirely reasonable in those circumstances.
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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by Francis Marliere » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:36 pm

Dave,

I am unable to find were I read it, but I think that AGS's radar was out of operation during the battle. Do you have any information about that ?

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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by Dave Saxton » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:40 pm

L. Brown indicates that is was in operation at the beginning of the battle. It would certainly would have been put out of operation by the 6" foretop hit. The damage survey indicates that it would have been cut off from a power supply at the least. This is probably what you read, that it was put out of action. The course of the battle certainly supports this version of events as well.

Graf Spee's initial shooting was excellent, seriously damaging Exeter, but that accuracy fell of during the course of battle.

According to Brown, the set failed to operate on Oct 3rd. It took 5 days to bring it back into operation but the technicians had mastered how to service the set and keep it running because of this experience and by Dec it was operating consistantly.

During the Spanish Civil War operations, Graf Spee's and Luetzow's sets had to be serviced by factory technicians. The biggest problem of these very early models were the transmitting triodes (TS1) fragility and short service life. This problem was mostly addressed by the introduction of the series II models (later desiginated FuMO27) in Aug 1940 which used the tougher TS6 triodes.
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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by Francis Marliere » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:54 pm

Thank you very much for your reply.

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Re: Best U.S. cruisers at the river Platte

Post by RF » Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:36 pm

Dave, the comments about the AGS radar being fully functional at the start of the battle but not during the later stages is confirmed by Rasenack in the extracts published by Millington-Drake.
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