Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

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RF
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by RF » Thu Sep 04, 2014 8:50 am

alecsandros wrote: My bet would be that Graf Spee would escape with moderate damage, Cumberland would be damaged and slowed, and Ajax/Achilles would expend their entire ammo supply in 15 minutes and start shadowing the raider.

What do you think ?
Cumberland is a stronger proposition than Exeter was and would be a real danger to AGS, which was vulnerable to 8 inch fire. The ship would be fresh and fully stocked with ammunition. Ajax and Achilles would be a torpedo threat, even if they had no torpedoes.

A second round looks very unfavourable to the Germans, in fact I think AGS would be sunk. Even if it escapes, and this is the crunch point, it will be shadowed and any meeting with Altmark would expose the supply ship to destruction before AGS could be resupplied. That means the loss of both German ships.

No, Langsdorf should not have gone to Montevideo in the first place.
Last edited by RF on Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by RF » Thu Sep 04, 2014 8:58 am

tameraire01 wrote:Could she get to japan or other neutral territory?
Japan was feeling rather hostile to Germany at that time because of the Nazi-Soviet Pact and that Japan had not been consulted about it before Ribbentropp had gone to Moscow. Remember this was not long after the Manchuria frontier border clashes with Zhukov which left the Kwantung Army with severe loss of face - very important in Japanese military politics.

AGS would not have been welcome in Japan - even if it could get there, which I very much doubt.

Other neutral territory - the only realistic option would have been Buenos Aires - which makes a later run into the Atlantic even more difficult.
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by RF » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:02 am

alecsandros wrote:
tameraire01 wrote:Could she get to japan or other neutral territory?
... Perhaps to Argentina...
The only realistic proposition would have been the Argentine naval base of Bahia Blanca instead of going to Montevideo. Once in the Paranna river system the AGS is trapped. The safest port there would have been Asuncion, assuming the Paranna is deep enough to allow AGS to get to Paraguay.
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by alecsandros » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:27 am

RF wrote:
alecsandros wrote: My bet would be that Graf Spee would escape with moderate damage, Cumberland would be damaged and slowed, and Ajax/Achilles would expend their entire ammo supply in 15 minutes and start shadowing the raider.

What do you think ?
Cumberland is a stronger proposition than Exeter was and would be a real danger to AGS, which was vulnerable to 8 inch fire. The ship would be fresh and fully stocked with ammunition. Ajax and Achilles would be a torpedo threat, even if they had no torpedoes.

A second round looks very unfavourable to the Germans, in fact I think AGS would be sunk. Even if it escapes, and this is the crunch point, it will be shadowed and any meeting with Altmark would expose the supply ship to destruction before AGS could be resupplied. That means the loss of both German ships.

No, Langsdorf should not have gone to Montevideo in the first place.
... With respect to Cumberland's 8 x 8" main battery, she was still a 15 years old ship, undergoing a refit, which was cut short by the need to reinforce Ajax and Achilles.

NO, I realy don't see her as a serious threat to Graf Spee, unless she manages some lucky hits.

On the other hand, Graf Spee only needs a couple of hits to cripple her and that would be it.

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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by alecsandros » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:41 am

Graf Spee's true problems would start after the hypothetical battle... (if it takes place at all...)

As you say, her shadowers are faster, and can easily interdict any resupply efforts.

It would be most interesting...

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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by RF » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:42 am

AGS cannot afford to receive any damage, it has to split its fire and also the 5.9 inch guns were ineffective. I am also minded that the 11 inch guns were not that good at directly hitting the light cruisers during the original battle either - in fact only one major hit, on Ajax.

Given that Exeter was crippled by a couple of direct 11 inch hits she still survived the battle. Cumberland has an extra turret which gives Harwood more firepower than before. Yes, Cumberland could be crippled by a couple of 11 inch hits, but I don't think that would be it at all.
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by alecsandros » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:49 am

RF wrote:AGS cannot afford to receive any damage, it has to split its fire and also the 5.9 inch guns were ineffective. I am also minded that the 11 inch guns were not that good at directly hitting the light cruisers during the original battle either - in fact only one major hit, on Ajax.
... She has to risk, the alternative being... blowing her up.
Initial salvos would be at 20km range, were Ajax/Achilles can not reach, and were Cumberland has only theoretical hit rates. Exter took 2 hits at 17km, and she was a smaller ship than Cumberland.

Ajax and Achilles also had big trouble hiting Graf Spee: 1600 shells expended for 17 hits, doing moderate damage. And they were using 16, and not 11 guns.

People forget that Cumberland's extra 2 guns are mitigated by Ajax loss of 5 guns.
Given that Exeter was crippled by a couple of direct 11 inch hits she still survived the battle.
... And limped to the Falklands for 1 year of repairs at 18kts.

It isn't about sinking Cumberland, Ajax or Achilles.

It's only about damaging them enough to interdict them shadowing the raider.

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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by RF » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:53 am

alecsandros wrote:Graf Spee's true problems would start after the hypothetical battle... (if it takes place at all...)
As you say, her shadowers are faster, and can easily interdict any resupply efforts.
It would be most interesting...
AGS problems started with the decision to go to Montevideo, as Langsdorf later realised. The hypothetical battle would I think have finshed them.

One other factor not so far considered with a German breakout was that British propaganda greatly overstated the RN forces that were outside Montevideo. The Germans would have had to consider not expending all their ammo against the three cruisers in the expectation of being chased and engaged by other ships such as Barham, even though they were not there.

It isn't simply a case of AGS having some target practice against Harwood's three cruisers and despatching them. As Harwood demonstrated, the AGS artillery was designed for single ship engagement, not for engagement against multiple targets on either flank.
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by alecsandros » Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:00 am

RF wrote: It isn't simply a case of AGS having some target practice against Harwood's three cruisers and despatching them. As Harwood demonstrated, the AGS artillery was designed for single ship engagement, not for engagement against multiple targets on either flank.
True,
We can also think about Langsdorff as not being well adapted to a true gun battle with enemy cruisers. He directed his pocket battleship as a torpedo boat...

Still, we should not forget that Exeter was heavily damaged in less than 10 minutes, by 4 very precise salvos fired at 15-17km. She was only saved by the bold attacks made by Ajax/Achilles, which expended tremendous ammunition and sustained hits to save her.

In a hypothetical battle for Montevideo, Ajax/Achilles supplies of ammo would run out rather quickly, and Ajax would use 3 guns, thus greatly diminishing the overall output, and probably making spoting fall of shot harder (it's difficult to spot 3 x 6" splashes rather than 8 x 6" splashes)
Ajax also suffered damage to her main fire control position.

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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by RF » Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:10 am

alecsandros wrote: It isn't about sinking Cumberland, Ajax or Achilles.

It's only about damaging them enough to interdict them shadowing the raider.
That is the theory.

However this is not a chessboard scenario. This would be a battle in which neither side can have a completely clear view, especially the Germans who don't know how many Allied ships there are in close proximity.
The only certain and realistic way to damage a cruiser enough to prevent any possibility of later interdiction by it is to sink it. This is especially so of multiple targets.
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by alecsandros » Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:14 am

RF wrote:
alecsandros wrote: It isn't about sinking Cumberland, Ajax or Achilles.

It's only about damaging them enough to interdict them shadowing the raider.
That is the theory.

However this is not a chessboard scenario. This would be a battle in which neither side can have a completely clear view, especially the Germans who don't know how many Allied ships there are in close proximity.
The only certain and realistic way to damage a cruiser enough to prevent any possibility of later interdiction by it is to sink it. This is especially so of multiple targets.
An interesting read:

http://ww2today.com/the-battle-off-the- ... ion-report

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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by Francis Marliere » Thu Sep 04, 2014 3:55 pm

Alecsandros, you expect Harwood to fight as he did in the first, historical, battle. Why would he ? The link you provide tells that he noticed the accuracy of 11" guns at long range. I'd rather expect him to shadow AGS and engage at nightfall when visibility - hence battle range - gets low.

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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by RF » Thu Sep 04, 2014 5:52 pm

Interesting that the post-battle analysis focussed exclusively on the 11 inch guns in respect of enemy fire. AGS had eight 5.9 inch guns - almost the equivalent of the eight 6 inch guns of the British cruisers, yet they are not mentioned at all, not even to point out that they were totally ineffective. Ajax was hit twice by the AGS tertiary battery of 4.1 inch guns yet the 5.9 inch scored zilch.

Had they been fully effective, then again the battle could have turned out differently.
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by alecsandros » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:23 am

RF wrote:Interesting that the post-battle analysis focussed exclusively on the 11 inch guns in respect of enemy fire. AGS had eight 5.9 inch guns - almost the equivalent of the eight 6 inch guns of the British cruisers, yet they are not mentioned at all, not even to point out that they were totally ineffective. Ajax was hit twice by the AGS tertiary battery of 4.1 inch guns yet the 5.9 inch scored zilch.

Had they been fully effective, then again the battle could have turned out differently.
... The report also doesn't mention British DP 102mm guns mounted on Exeter, Ajax and Achilles (about 24 guns total), which were also equaly ineffective.

I know of 2 x 11" hits on Ajax, are you sure about 105mm gun hits ? And what was their consequence ?

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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by alecsandros » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:30 am

Francis Marliere wrote:Alecsandros, you expect Harwood to fight as he did in the first, historical, battle. Why would he ? The link you provide tells that he noticed the accuracy of 11" guns at long range. I'd rather expect him to shadow AGS and engage at nightfall when visibility - hence battle range - gets low.
... It could go either way.
But the most likely course of action for Harwood would be to simply keep out of range of AGS main guns, and shadow her without any battle. He would constantly report the position to Ark ROyal/Renown, which, owing to their significant speed advantage, would intercept AGS sooner or later.

Any decisive confrontantion attempt with AGS posed serious risks for Harwood's ships. He knew Cumerland would be the first target, and also knew how fast Exeter was disabled. Between 23 and 16km, AGS could fire very well, while his ships, allthough in range, could only hope some lucky hits, owing to their shorter range (11" guns 36.5km, 8" guns 27km, 6" guns 24km). Usualy most effective gunnery is at around ~ 50% of maximum range.

Harwood could press on and take some risks, hoping to deliver massive damage in return, but he probably weighed that against the probability of Cumberland receiving 3-4 heavy hits BEFORE entering her effective gunnery zone, and AJax/Achilles would NOT be in the same shape they were when they saved Exeter.

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