Another Bismarck sortie

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Another Bismarck sortie

Post by kevin32422 » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:15 am

Imagine that the Bismarck sails with the Prinz Eugen, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and the new aircraft carrier Graf Zepplien to raid the convoys the Bismarck is used to draw off the escorting battleships while the other ships raid the convoys if the Bismarck gets in some trouble they can call on either a airstrike or help from the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. and to really amp this up how about a U boat screen or two over the allied shipping lanes. say all of this is in 1941

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by alecsandros » Wed Oct 09, 2013 11:39 am

Well, look at what Bismarck and Prinz Eugen accomplished: the entire force of the Atlantic Royal Navy was sent to deal with them, and just barely made it. With 2 extra battlecruisers and 1 fleet carrier, the German raiding force, moving at high speed, would have been extremely difficult to intercept , let alone to destroy, by British search-and-destroy task forces.

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by Saltheart » Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:00 pm

If Scharnhorst and Gneisenau had put in to the Baltic instead of France in March 1941 after Operation Berlin and if they'd been in a condition to go out again with Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in May then that would have been a fascinating situation. In fact the Germans might have dumped Prinz Eugen from the sortie as it needed to be refueled 2 or 3 times as often as the bigger ships.

They might well have just gone with the three battleships sailing down the Denmark Strait. What a battle would have resulted.

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by RF » Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:14 am

A substantial force here, and its basic weakness long term is in its supply logistics. A full retinue of supply ships will be needed in the Atlantic, and the RN with all the enigma decripts would have to hunt down all the supply ships.

Leaving that aside, this sort of operation strongly echoes the Z Plan of 1939, though without the super battleships.

Another consideration is that if Reader had followed Lutjens recommendation to delay Rheinubung until Tirpitz was ready in the autumn of 1941 then there could have been the possibility of a much stronger force being available. If Graf Zeppelin was ready you could have Bismarck, Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin as the prime strike force, with a second group comprising Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen. Two German forces makes interception and countering far more difficult. If at the same time you can send say Lutzow into the South Atlantic and Admiral Scheer into the Indian Ocean the RN task of countering all this lot would be very difficult. Really the RN option would be to go for the supply ships.
What however could really swing things the way for the KM is getting the second carrier into operation, which if available could join the Scharnhorst group.

I might add that one other factor that would be essential to the Germans is keeping the USA out of the European war. If that could be achieved a campaign during late 1941/early 1942 would be feasible.
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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by kevin32422 » Thu Oct 10, 2013 9:17 am

I agree the only weakness I see in this would be the resupply issues

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by Wordy » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:29 am

Personaly I think this would be a bad idea.

If all the Kreigsmarine capital ships sailed in a task force then I'd imagine it would be easier for the Royal Navy to counter than the twins and BS/PE/GZ operating independantly. The RN would be well aware of what was going on and would have the ships in place to counter them, so the German squadron at the Denmark Strait could possibly be facing the home fleet comprising of:

HM ships KGV, POW, Hood, Ruplse, Victorious, Norfolk, Suffolk, Dorsetshire and the escorting destoryers.

Also force H could be in Gib standing by with Nelson(possibly), Renown, Valiant, Ark Royal, Sheffield. Arethusa, Coventry, Calcutta & Berwick and destroyers

Home Fleet http://www.naval-history.net/xDKWW2-4107-34aRNHome.htm

Force H http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Force_H
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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by alecsandros » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:42 am

Wordy wrote:
HM ships KGV, POW, Hood, Ruplse, Victorious, Norfolk, Suffolk, Dorsetshire and the escorting destoryers.
the escorting destroyers would remain far behind - this happened to Hood and PoW.

Some ships would be needed to scout ahead (probably Norfolk and Suffolk), thus leaving a smaller total task force available (KGV, PoW, Repulse, Victorious - not enough to counter the German force)

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by Wordy » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:49 am

alecsandros wrote:
Wordy wrote:
HM ships KGV, POW, Hood, Ruplse, Victorious, Norfolk, Suffolk, Dorsetshire and the escorting destoryers.
the escorting destroyers would remain far behind - this happened to Hood and PoW.

Some ships would be needed to scout ahead (probably Norfolk and Suffolk), thus leaving a smaller total task force available (KGV, PoW, Repulse, Victorious - not enough to counter the German force)
Forgot to add Rodney and possibly Berwick. I'm sure they'd hold back sending her to the U.S if this task force was being planned. Personaly if any scouting was to needed I'd imagine they'd be using the Home Fleets light cruisers.

KGV & POW to counter BS, Hood, Repulse & Norfolk to counter the twins, Suffolk & Dorsetshire to counter PE, Victorious against Graf Zepplin.
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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by alecsandros » Thu Oct 10, 2013 12:24 pm

Wordy wrote:
Forgot to add Rodney and possibly Berwick.
But Rodney was in convoy duty, and doing 22kts. She couldn't be used in a decisive confrontation on the 24th.

As the real scenario showed, the Home Fleet could not know exactly where the German raiding force would cross into the Atlantic, thus needing to protect the Denmark Strait, AND the Faeroe passage [this is where KGV, Victorious and Repulse were sent]

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by Wordy » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:39 pm

alecsandros wrote:
Wordy wrote:
Forgot to add Rodney and possibly Berwick.
But Rodney was in convoy duty, and doing 22kts. She couldn't be used in a decisive confrontation on the 24th.

As the real scenario showed, the Home Fleet could not know exactly where the German raiding force would cross into the Atlantic, thus needing to protect the Denmark Strait, AND the Faeroe passage [this is where KGV, Victorious and Repulse were sent]
Given the magintude of threat I think Rodney would be detached from convoy duty and re-enforcing the home fleet. Also there were the carriers HMS Furious & Argus, I'm sure they would've been used in the action.

I think a scenario like this would be the best chance the RN would get to sink all four Kreigsmarine capital ships in 1 go possibly throughout the whole war and would've thrown everything, including numerous kitchen sinks at them. They would be aware of all four capital ships arriving at the same place to form a task group and step up surveillance efforts and station light cruisers in the Denmark Straight an Faeroe Passage with the heavy units to the west of Iceland ready to move into either.
Last edited by Wordy on Thu Oct 10, 2013 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by kevin32422 » Thu Oct 10, 2013 2:45 pm

I think the Germans could have taken some of the sting away from the British patrols along the faeroes and the Denmark straight with air strikes from the Graf Zepplien and through in some U boat screens in the same areas

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by alecsandros » Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:14 pm

Wordy wrote:
I think a scenario like this would be the best chance the RN would get to sink all four Kreigsmarine capital ships in 1 go possibly throughout the whole war and would've thrown everything, including numerous kitchen sinks at them. They would be aware of all four capital ships arriving at the same place to form a task group and step up surveillance efforts and station light cruisers in the Denmark Straight an Faeroe Passage with the heavy units to the west of Iceland ready to move into either.
... It is improbable that continous surveillance of the German task force would be obtained. The light cruisers would be attacked repeatedly by dive bombers from Graf Zepp, and the possible Catalinas/Sunderlands trying to get a fix on the fleet would be attacked by Me-109s.

Rodney and Argus were to slow for fleet operations, Furious was in the Mediteranean doing ferry duties...

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by RF » Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:20 am

Wordy wrote:Personaly I think this would be a bad idea.

If all the Kreigsmarine capital ships sailed in a task force then I'd imagine it would be easier for the Royal Navy to counter than the twins and BS/PE/GZ operating independantly. The RN would be well aware of what was going on and would have the ships in place to counter them, so the German squadron at the Denmark Strait
]
Why the Denmark Strait?

You are overlooking that the RN would be in exactly the same situation as it was for the start of Rheinubung in the third week of May 1941.
The Germans have a choice of four (and if you add in the English Channel, five) entrances to the Atlantic coming from the Baltic Sea. All four entrances have to be covered which was why Tovey had to split his forces into Hood/POW and KGV/Repulse/Victorious and still have to rely on a cruiser line to gain initial contact with the Germans to identify which route is being used. And with Rheinubung Holland still came close to missing interception with Lutjens altogether. There is no guarantee that the cruiser line will detect German warships breaking out, even with radar.

The essence of my argument is that the RN would be unable to concentrate a force against all the German ships that would be capable of destroying them - the Germans would have a much greater initiative and freedom of action than under Rheinubung and the RN would be even more defensive, particulary with convoys to protect against battleship and carrier attack. This quite apart from the fact that the RN capital ships need to guard against attack from planes operating from carriers as well.
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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by Wordy » Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:21 am

alecsandros wrote:
Wordy wrote:
I think a scenario like this would be the best chance the RN would get to sink all four Kreigsmarine capital ships in 1 go possibly throughout the whole war and would've thrown everything, including numerous kitchen sinks at them. They would be aware of all four capital ships arriving at the same place to form a task group and step up surveillance efforts and station light cruisers in the Denmark Straight an Faeroe Passage with the heavy units to the west of Iceland ready to move into either.
... It is improbable that continous surveillance of the German task force would be obtained. The light cruisers would be attacked repeatedly by dive bombers from Graf Zepp, and the possible Catalinas/Sunderlands trying to get a fix on the fleet would be attacked by Me-109s.

Rodney and Argus were to slow for fleet operations, Furious was in the Mediteranean doing ferry duties...
Indeed, I'd expect them to get attacked and hopefully shoot a few aircraft down. But once they were(and I'm certain the light cruisers would survive long enough to get a contact report off) that reveals the German's position and in goes the Home Fleet.

What about force H? This would be the biggest threat the RN had faced in the war thus far, I'd imagine it would be recalled back to Britain as well.
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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by RF » Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:37 am

Wordy wrote:
KGV & POW to counter BS, Hood, Repulse & Norfolk to counter the twins, Suffolk & Dorsetshire to counter PE, Victorious against Graf Zepplin.
That is entirely contingent on the German forces being located and the RN being able to intercept - rather more difficult than when just one German ship is involved.

Even with this formation you have overlooked Tirpitz, which in company with Bismarck would defeat the two KGV's. Repulse and Norfolk versus Scharnhorst and Gneisenau would be interesting... the twins would adopt Harwood's tactics at the River Plate battle and tackle Repulse on opposite flanks. Either Repulse splits its fire or one of the twins gets free target practice. As for Norfolk the German ships have up to 12 of their 5.9 inch guns available until Repulse is dealt with.

Suffolk and Dorsetshire could deal with Prinz Eugen, but at a cost of weak cruiser lines to guard the Atlantic entrances but more crucially the Atlantic convoys become deprived of vital heavy cruiser escorts. And if Lutzow and Admiral Scheer are operating further afield then heavy cruiser forces will be needed to guard against them.

Victorious against Graf Zeppelin? I think you would need Ark Royal as well.

As for Force H - well an enterprising German High Command might prod the Italians into making moves that could suggest that Vittorio Veneto would move into the western Med, with a threat of running past Gibraltar into the Atlantic - another threat the RN would have to guard against.

Rodney? Too slow. Best used as a convoy escort.
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