Unluckiest Warship

General naval discussions that don't fit within any specific time period or cover several issues.
VeenenbergR
Senior Member
Posts: 273
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 5:52 pm
Location: Vinkeveen

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by VeenenbergR » Mon May 11, 2009 12:10 pm

WWII:

Which ships were expensive, accomplished (almost) nothing and suffered from "bad luck"???

Japan:

Carriers: Shinano, Taiho & Unryu (all brand-new and sunk on first trip)
Battleships: Mutsu (fatal explosion)
J.Cruisers: Mikuma & Mogami (the collision girls)

In the crucial battles of Midway and later Leyte the Japanese fleet was extremely unlucky loosing heavily and accomplishing almost nothing.


Germany

All 4 Battleships: Tirpitz, Gneisenau (both were repeatedly heavily damaged and fared bad); Bismarck (brand-new and sunk on first trip, early lucky hits on director and forward main turrets) fatefull torpedo hit on rudder), Scharnhorst (early lucky hits on director and forward main turrets);
H.Cruiser: Blücher (brand-new and sunk on first trip).

French
Almost the whole fleet was unlucky!!

Italian
Almost the whole fleet was unlucky!! Especially the impressive Zara Class fared bad.

Britain
Carriers: Courageous, Glorious.
Destroyer: Glowworm

USA
Battleships: Arizona & Oklahoma

So almost all fleets suffered extensively from bad luck except the Royal Navy and US Navy.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7588
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by RF » Mon May 11, 2009 1:32 pm

I think classifying Glowworm as a failure rather harsh: this ship damaged a German destroyer and then successfully rammed Hipper. The damage to the Germans in this action was prOportionately greater than the looss of one destroyer by the RN.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7588
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by RF » Mon May 11, 2009 1:36 pm

VeenenbergR wrote:
In the crucial battles of Midway and later Leyte the Japanese fleet was extremely unlucky loosing heavily and accomplishing almost nothing.
I don't think that is quite right.

Prior to the dive bomber strikes on Soryu, Kaga and Akagi the Japanese were actually ahead due to the numbers of attacking US planes shot down. And of course one US carrier was sunk and another damaged.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7588
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by RF » Mon May 11, 2009 1:42 pm

Neither do I think the four German battleships achieve next to nothing. Collectively they sank a battlecruiser, an aircraft carrier, two destroyers, twenty two merchant ships and damaged another battlecruiser plus another two battleships. In addition to that there are the strategic dislocations to the British simply caused by their presence and activities, including the heavy losses to convoy PQ17.

Not exactly nothing.....
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
rtwpsom2
Member
Posts: 87
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:13 am

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by rtwpsom2 » Mon May 11, 2009 5:54 pm

RF wrote:Neither do I think the four German battleships achieve next to nothing. Collectively they sank a battlecruiser, an aircraft carrier, two destroyers, twenty two merchant ships and damaged another battlecruiser plus another two battleships. In addition to that there are the strategic dislocations to the British simply caused by their presence and activities, including the heavy losses to convoy PQ17.

Not exactly nothing.....
If you look at the numbers, if we have 26 ships lost out of the thousands that actually participated in the war on the allied side, then the big four didn't even make a dent in the war effort. So the only benefit they had was psychological. If that is the case, we have to take into account the negative psychological effects to the axis war effort that they caused.

When you hear that the might of your navy is being systematically sent to the bottom of the ocean one by one, well that tends to offset the agrevation the ships were causing the allies. And realistically , they were just agrevations to the allies as a whole. Any negative effect they had on the allied psychology was easily offset by the propgandists, who turned their sinkings into glorius, desperate battles narrowly won by the morally superior, instead of what they really were; turkey shoots whose only delays were in finding the turkeys. By the end of the war, the US Navy had twice the number of ships than all the other combatants ships combined including the other allies, and thats not counting the merchant vessels employed in the war effort. If the German capital ships were that dangerous, entire flotillas would have been dispatched to off them, as it was the odds of your convoy running into them were in the 1:100 range or better. The only desparation involved was to see who got to kill them first. Am I making light of the devastation and loss they caused to the crews on the ships they sank, maybe a little, so I'll shut up now, but my point about Gneisenau being the unluckiest ship remains valid. She costs the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars, had s ervice life of about three years, but spent half that time being repaired, and didn't even get to go down with guns blazing, unless you count that explosion in Anton turret.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by lwd » Mon May 11, 2009 7:28 pm

If you want to use sisterships as comparisons the Nagatos certainly show the two extremes. Nagato is the only Japanese BB to survive the war and Mutsu is destroyed in an acidental magazine explosion.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7588
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by RF » Tue May 12, 2009 7:56 am

rtwpsom2 wrote:
If you look at the numbers, if we have 26 ships lost out of the thousands that actually participated in the war on the allied side, then the big four didn't even make a dent in the war effort. So the only benefit they had was psychological. If that is the case, we have to take into account the negative psychological effects to the axis war effort that they caused.
Their effect was far more than being psychological. Their effect went way beyond what they actually acheived at sea, which is the narrow parameter you are taking.
Add to the ships sunk and damaged the effect on the Allied war effort and grand strategy, the resources put into achieving destruction of these ships and the opportunity costs involved in doing so.
Hunting these ships was hardly a Turkey shoot, only three German warships engaged on commerce war were caught and lost at sea, one of them destroyed by its own crew in a neutral harbour.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7588
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by RF » Tue May 12, 2009 7:59 am

rtwpsom2 wrote:
....but my point about Gneisenau being the unluckiest ship remains valid. She costs the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars, had s ervice life of about three years, but spent half that time being repaired, and didn't even get to go down with guns blazing, unless you count that explosion in Anton turret.
At least Gneisenau got to sea and took an active part in the war - unlike my nomination of Graf Zeppelin, which never even got to that stage......
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
rtwpsom2
Member
Posts: 87
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:13 am

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by rtwpsom2 » Tue May 12, 2009 9:31 am

RF wrote:Their effect was far more than being psychological. Their effect went way beyond what they actually acheived at sea, which is the narrow parameter you are taking.
Add to the ships sunk and damaged the effect on the Allied war effort and grand strategy, the resources put into achieving destruction of these ships and the opportunity costs involved in doing so.
Hunting these ships was hardly a Turkey shoot, only three German warships engaged on commerce war were caught and lost at sea, one of them destroyed by its own crew in a neutral harbour.
The four ships combined to sink, what, a quarter million tonnes? That is less than 1/80th of all allied shipping lost during the atlantic war. I did mention that the only thing that hindered the turkey shoot was finding them. But when they were found, every available ship was dispatched to deal with them. During their final battles, Bismarck and Scharnhorst didn't sink any of their attackers and were soon overwhelmed while inflicting a disproportinately small amount of damage to their foes. If that isn't a turkey shoot, I don't know what is. The allies had a much larger problem to deal with in the shape of some 1500 u-boats which accounted for over 14 million tonnes sunk. Compared to that, the four capitals were minor annoyances. Compared to the u-boats, they were ONLY effective psychologically, and only because allied propagandists used their "threat" to rally support for the war effort. Please keep in mind this is just a fun little debate to me, I am not looking to start a flame war, I am just sitting back here grinning that someone actually replied to my comments. I'll debate you till I am blue in the face about this, but in the end it doesn't have a really big effect on the thread. :D

As for Graf Zeppelin, I will admit is isn't very lucky to not be finished, but is it really a ship if it hasn't been commisioned?

VeenenbergR
Senior Member
Posts: 273
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 5:52 pm
Location: Vinkeveen

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by VeenenbergR » Tue May 12, 2009 11:53 am

I must admit that there is substantial truth in the statement that 1200 (peak operational strenght in 1942 perhaps 250 boats) German U-boats augmented by the large Italian Supermarina submerged fleet and the 200+ large Japanese boats formed the real menace on the seas.

The Germans however fielded to few U-boats (of the 1200 produced) in the early years, the Japanese doctrine stupidly did NOT focus on the enemy mercantile fleet and the Italians were simple bottled up in the shallow Mediterranean. The last ones even gave away many of their own mercantile vessels at start of the war and the Japanese did not seriously protected their own mercantile fleet vessels. They were sunk by the thousands!!!!

The 4 German capital ships augmented by 3 pocket battleships and 10 commerce raiders (auxillary cruisers) were an important psycholigical a menace when their advisaries were not as strong as is suggested. They alltogether destroyed more than 150 commerce ships, 2 capital ships and a couple of (aux.) cruisers and destroyers. Now this score is quite substantial, especially since these 150 were scored in the years the allies lost heavily on the seas by the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe.

But if looking to the actual small number of U-boats the Germans could bring to battle in the Atlantic in 1940, 1941 and 1942, the few German air units equiped for commerce raiding (JU88 and Condors of KG40, Heinkel 111's of KG26) each Kampfgeschwader with about 100 machines (at most 50 operational) and the 17 commerce raiders these forces are rather meagre compared to what was neccessary to win over growing enemy numbers.

But going back to the topic: all 4 german capital ships fared bad and 3 of them (B,S,G) were most unlucky when they were attacked from the air or on the sea. On the many actions (Weserübung, Rheinübung, Cerberus, aso..) they were repeatedly torpedoed, mined or suffered critical hits early in a fatefull and decisive battle. Long repair times aggravated the German situation in the sea war.

In my opinion the reason for their "not being lucky" must be fully credited to their professional and determined adversaries of the Royal Navy and Royal Airforce: strategically their planning was sound, oparationally their attacks were all carried out with great resolution and determination. Like that brave tiny Glowworm against the big Admiral Hipper. This action tried to wreck the German plans with their few heavy units by 1 tiny destroyer: a well calculated risk! That the Glowworm went down hearing the ship bell of the Hipper as the last sound, was a small price payed for victory.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by lwd » Tue May 12, 2009 1:22 pm

What is "luck" in this case? For instance Saratoga was damaged several times but never sunk was she unlucky or lucky? Or another more extreme example. I've read of a merchant marine sailor that was on a ship that got torpedoed between the US and Britain. He was picked up by another ship and it also was sunk. The process repeated itself several more times before he finally reached shore again. Was he "lucky" to survive so many sinkings in such a short period of time or "unlucky" to have been on so many vessels that were sunk?

Perhaps the measure of bad "luck" in a warship is not that she was sunk in combat but was sunk by extremely unlikely circumstances. If this is the measure I dont' see any of the German BBs being unlucky ships. Hood may qualify, Mutsu defintily does. Mary Rose was overloaded and the results should have been predictable so by this measure she doesn't qualify.

JtD
Member
Posts: 216
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 11:37 pm

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by JtD » Tue May 12, 2009 5:58 pm

I think the German BB's did not accomplish less than the average BB in WW2.

User avatar
rtwpsom2
Member
Posts: 87
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:13 am

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by rtwpsom2 » Tue May 12, 2009 8:05 pm

I will concur that the term lucky is unneccessarily vague, in this case as there can be different kinds of luck. The german bb's and bc's were unlucky because they never had a chance to live up to their potential, but others were unlucky because they went from mishap to mishap and ended their days poorly.

As for the sailor, he was lucky because he lived. He would be unlucky if he had died on the first ship, he would have been REALLY unlucky if he had died on the last ship.

VeenenbergR
Senior Member
Posts: 273
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 5:52 pm
Location: Vinkeveen

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by VeenenbergR » Wed May 13, 2009 9:13 am

Luck or Bad Luck always play an important role in any operation. If Bismarck remained undetected for another day, if Bismarck had suffered no critical hit on the rudders, if Bismarck was not critically hit early in her last battle on the forward gunnery director, if Bismarck aso..........

These (Bad) Luck events may be seen otherwise if statistics or simulation models show that discovery should have occurred anyway within a given timespan and area with X-number of reconnaissance planes; that a hit on the rudder section with the 3rd hit has a statistical probabillity of say 24% (so it WAS a lucky hit in this respect because only after the 6th torpedo hit the chance was > 50%!). I assume that the rudder section hads an length of 20 meters on a total hull length of 250 meters and a hit on the 25 meters is also 8%.

Incoming shells tend to hit the area of the forward turrets and bridge/fighting mast MORE because of they large area they portray if seen from an oblique angle from the front. So early hits tend to target this area, exactly what happened to both Bismarck and Scharnhorst. Both were crippled from the start and were eventually sunk.

The long distance hit on the Scharnhorst aromd 18.00 hour which penetrated the deck armour were it was weak and crippled a boiler room, slowing her markedly down and presenting her at the "mercy" of the destroyers was definitely a real "lucky hit". Any other hit which did not slow her down had not prevented her escape!!!
The qestion remains if the hit had occurred not at exactly at the weak point if it had penetrated the armour deck of the Scharnhorst at that long distance of 28.000 yards/ meters. The angle being quite steep, also increasing the penetration capability of the shell. Studies on penetration capabilities suggested that the Scharnhorst could have penetrated the armour deck of DoY only at longer distances of 32.000 yards!! The hit probability diminishes also with increasing distance!!

So I judge the 3rd torpdo hit on the Bismarck and that crippling hit on the Scharnhorst both as lucky/unlucky (depending from which side you look at them). They both prevented a sure escape (at least that of the Scharnhorst) and delivered both "victims" to the butcher with high loss of life to the German crews (4000 lost their lives!!)
That the butcher got early critical hits on both ships forward directors and also the 2 forward main turrets I don't see as luck or bad luck because stastistically they should have occurred with the amount of firepower which was brought in the air.
This was were Tovey hoped for. And it happened. :pray:

Rob

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Unluckiest Warship

Post by lwd » Wed May 13, 2009 1:20 pm

VeenenbergR wrote:...
The long distance hit on the Scharnhorst aromd 18.00 hour which penetrated the deck armour were it was weak and crippled a boiler room, slowing her markedly down and presenting her at the "mercy" of the destroyers was definitely a real "lucky hit". Any other hit which did not slow her down had not prevented her escape!!! ...
The problem with this is quite a few of the other possible hits would have slowed her as well. How much is a question but any slowing leaves her in a position to recieve even more hits some of which are likely to slow her even more. Her bad luck was more in that she ran into superior forces and didn't realize it in time.

Post Reply