Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

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tommy303
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by tommy303 » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:13 pm

I don't think the British would ever have gotten tired of waiting for the Graf Spee to come out and play, if Langsdorff had managed to get her to Argentina. They would simply have rotated ships or reinforced the existing squadron until such a time as Graf Spee had either to leave or be interned. As far as fuel goes, Graf Spee had only recently refueled from the Altmark and had sufficient fuel to remain at sea until mid spring of 1940; the problem was her steam operated fuel filtration system had been put out of action by a hit which destroyed the auxiliary boiler and piping. This left AGS with only about 12 hours of clean fuel in her day tanks. It is possible some sort of jury rig or alternate means of running the fuel separators might have been devised, but running the engines without them would have made the likelihood of breakdown very high. Langsdorff and his engineer officer were highly critical of the poor quality and high contamination of fuel supplied by the Altmark. This was the main reason for running for port, and the short stay allowed by neutral officials meant the situation could not be completely rectified in the time given. Furthermore, AGS had expended most of her HE shells and had only APC left; this was not ideal for engaging cruisers and in any event, only allowed for a limited action. Off hand, unless he was very lucky, I don't see any satisfactory course of action that might have permitted Langsdorff to get his ship back to Germany after the battle.

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

Post by alecsandros » Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:49 am

... I don't see a clear one either.
However , I read the cargo ship Tacoma carried 1600 tons of fuel with her. Accounts from Montevideo mention a great deal of supplies were carried form Tacoma to Graf Spee...

The only situation I see as possible favoring Graf Spee's exit would be a severe storm (or fog), which would reduce visibility to a few km. In Dec 1939, British warships did not usualy carry radars, so, in a highly hypothetical scenario, AGS could have escaped, and have up to 8-10 hours lead on his pursuers. Then, with more luck, he could put more distance during the night, and probably escaping the initial surveillance.

However, this can only be possible in the first few days (until Dec 21 or so), before Renown/Ark Royal would arive in the area, because Ark Royal's search range would be to great for AGS to escape detection.

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

Post by RF » Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:19 am

tommy303 wrote: Langsdorff and his engineer officer were highly critical of the poor quality and high contamination of fuel supplied by the Altmark.
This fuel had been taken on board by Altmark in August 1939 at Port Arthur, Texas.

Given the political situation at the time, and that the US had downgraded its diplomatic representation in Berlin by recall of its ambassador, it may be that the Texans deliberately supplied poor quality fuel...... but given that Altmark was a secret naval auxiliary, the Germans should have checked the fuel quality on delivery?
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by Dave Saxton » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:09 pm

Diesel fuel comes in wide variety of grades. From very light (kerosine) to very heavy*. In the 1940s most commercial diesel fuel was heavy and would need to be pre heated and prepared (hence the day tanks) to be utilized by most of the marine diesel technology of the time.

Nonetheless, a particilar problem with diesel fuel is that it will hold water in suspension and water can precipitate into the fuel if its not properly stored. Even if it is properly stored water in the fuel can be a problem. It cloggs filters and can disrupt the spray pattern during injection. Given the marine enviroment, it's likely that the purity of the fuel had deteriorated while stored aboard the Altmark.

* Heavy or coarse grade fuel has the advantage of greater BTUs per volume.
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by RF » Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:13 pm

Dave Saxton wrote: Even if it is properly stored water in the fuel can be a problem. It cloggs filters and can disrupt the spray pattern during injection. Given the marine enviroment, it's likely that the purity of the fuel had deteriorated while stored aboard the Altmark.
During 1940/1941 the Scheer didn't seem to have the same problem with fuel from the Nordmark, in its four and a half month raid into the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by paul.mercer » Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:01 pm

Matrose71 wrote:
Just a few questions, what was the all up weight of AGS it surely must have been far more than 10,000 tons?
The weight of AGS was 12370ts standard.
Regarding AGS breaking off the fight, many years ago I heard a theory put forward that as she was a ship that had a reletivly light new all welded design for her hull and that by firing her pwerful 11" guns at different targets on either side had somehow twisted the hull and opened some of the welds - could there be any credence given to such a theory or is it just rubbish?
From all documents I have read, that is complete rubbish.
Up fom the Panzerschiff Deutschland, the hull was welded instead of revited. AGS was built from standard St52 steel and mostly wotan hard and wotan soft, which were developed for welding. If this theory would be correct, all german ships from the Deutschlandc lass (Hipper Class, SH Class, BS Class), would be suffer from this problem, because they were all welded with the same steel. The only part which was revited was the main belt of SH/GN and BS/TP, because KC/nA couldn't be welded, but the cruisers and Panzerschiffe had an inclined main belt from woton hard, so the main belt could be welded.
Thanks for that, I'm glad that theory has been disproved at last, does anyone know what the fuel situation was on the British ships?
Paul

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

Post by Francis Marliere » Thu Sep 25, 2014 10:10 am

paul.mercer wrote:Thanks for that, I'm glad that theory has been disproved at last, does anyone know what the fuel situation was on the British ships?
Paul
Ajax and Achilles were rather low on fuel and toped their tanks from the tanker RFA Olynthus on 15th and 17th December.

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

Post by aurora » Thu Nov 13, 2014 3:01 pm

Apart from the damage to fuel oil purification plant-has anyone mentioned that the most critical damage was the destruction of the desalination unit.???? Fresh water was essential for the running of diesels and also for crew use. Captain Langsdorff and the Chief Engineer carefully kept this problem secret. Although the specific details were signalled to SKL (Seekriegsleitung: Naval Warfare Command) in January 1940, this vital information lay buried from public knowledge for sixty years.
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by alecsandros » Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:52 pm

aurora wrote:Apart from the damage to fuel oil purification plant-has anyone mentioned that the most critical damage was the destruction of the desalination unit.???? Fresh water was essential for the running of diesels and also for crew use. Captain Langsdorff and the Chief Engineer carefully kept this problem secret. Although the specific details were signalled to SKL (Seekriegsleitung: Naval Warfare Command) in January 1940, this vital information lay buried from public knowledge for sixty years.
... Still, Graf Spee took in stores from merchant "Tacoma" while in Montevideo. This included fuel and probably fresh water as well.

The key issues Langsdorff mentioned in his report were the holes above the waterline and destruction of the kitchens on board, making a long voyage very difficult for the crew.

Most likely, his decision to blow off the ship was because he feared Ark Royal and Repulse were already outside the estuary, waiting for him.

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

Post by aurora » Thu Nov 13, 2014 6:28 pm

"Most likely, his decision to blow off the ship was because he feared Ark Royal and Repulse (Renown) were already outside the estuary, waiting for him".In actuality they were 2500nm away-too far away to actually be any real danger.
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by alecsandros » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:50 am

aurora wrote:"Most likely, his decision to blow off the ship was because he feared Ark Royal and Repulse (Renown) were already outside the estuary, waiting for him".In actuality they were 2500nm away-too far away to actually be any real danger.
He did not know that. He thought they already arived and were waiting for him...

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

Post by aurora » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:57 am

I was aware of that alecsandros-just making the point was all :wink:
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by RF » Fri Nov 14, 2014 11:12 am

aurora wrote:Apart from the damage to fuel oil purification plant-has anyone mentioned that the most critical damage was the destruction of the desalination unit.???? Fresh water was essential for the running of diesels and also for crew use. Captain Langsdorff and the Chief Engineer carefully kept this problem secret. Although the specific details were signalled to SKL (Seekriegsleitung: Naval Warfare Command) in January 1940, this vital information lay buried from public knowledge for sixty years.
The destruction of this plant was mentioned in Rasenack's book along with the damage to the galleys. Apparently it was mentioned to the Uruguayan inspection team as part of the effort to persuade them to grant a substantially longer time period in Montevideo than 3 days, however the Uruguayans did not view the damage as being sufficiently serious to render the AGS unfit to go to sea. So the 3 day time limit was sustained.
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by RF » Fri Nov 14, 2014 11:24 am

alecsandros wrote:
Most likely, his decision to blow off the ship was because he feared Ark Royal and Repulse were already outside the estuary, waiting for him.
Rasenack records that the decision to scuttle was made in view of the shallow depth of the Plate estuary. AGS had a limited supply of ammunition with which to ensure total destruction, the consideration was on the lines of a long action to fight their way out into the open Atlantic. This would cause substantial reduction in ordnance which could prejudice effective destruction if AGS was slightly damaged in battle and settled lower in the water. The Germans feared AGS running aground on the shallow depth sea bed and the British being able to board the ship because scuttling couldn't then achieve total destruction. Better to destroy the ship with the full amount of explosive available without it being reduced by further battle.
Going to Buenos Aires was also rejected because of the shallow waters of the Plate, together with the risk of mud in the water clogging up the engine room water intakes for the diesels. This was accentuated by the fact that it also means a longer shallow depth exposure in any break out attempt from Argentina.
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Re: Graf Spee trying to escape back to Germany...

Post by aurora » Fri Nov 14, 2014 12:41 pm

RF stated
"The Germans feared AGS running aground on the shallow depth sea bed and the British being able to board the ship because scuttling couldn't then achieve total destruction. Better to destroy the ship with the full amount of explosive available without it being reduced by further battle.
Going to Buenos Aires was also rejected because of the shallow waters of the Plate, together with the risk of mud in the water clogging up the engine room water intakes for the diesels. This was accentuated by the fact that it also means a longer shallow depth exposure in any break out attempt from Argentina."

Excellent post RF- one learns something new every day-this is the first time that I have
seen any other reason than those given in previous posts- for destroying AGS
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