Plan Z

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
User avatar
miro777
Member
Posts: 222
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2006 2:13 pm
Location: Hamburg, Germany

Plan Z

Post by miro777 » Sun Sep 14, 2008 11:45 pm

Hey

in a book I read lately, it was stated that Dönitz fought for puttin U-boots into massproduction since the beginnging and that Raeder wanted to carry out his Plan Z.

The fact that with this Plan Z he tried to create a "balance of power" with the RN. This though was not accomblished because the war started too early for Raeder.

Now I've come to the point to agree with Dönitz. Was Plan Z a complete waste of time?
I dont want to play down the accomplishments of the Surface Fleet of the KM, but what did the big ships do?
Yes they were a threat and yes they sank several enemy "big" ships.

But wouldnt have been a mass production of Uboots been a better choice for Raeder and the KM?

With the money and time it took to build Bismarck, the KM could have build 40 subs....

Of course without Plan Z we would have never seen such beautiful ships like the Bismarck.... :wink:


What do you think?

adios
Die See ruft....

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: Plan Z

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:15 am

Miro,

In the last couple of years this topic has been raised. I agree (hindsight has a lot to do) with the massive building of U Boats.

The resources needed for a Bismarck Class BB (50,000 tons of important material) could have been very welcome in other areas of military buildup programs. Not only U-Boats but also the very important tanks and aircraft. I don´t remember well but a Type VII displacement was about 700+ tons, then from a Bismarck we can have 71 subs that could have done the difference in the Atlantic Battle.

But the very important issue here is that Nazi Germany didn´t had a Total War conduct since the begining of the war, but only after the defeat of Stalingrad (the most important single battle of WWII). So, whatever happened between 1939 and 1943 was, from a Nazi point of view, part of a "contained" conflict that they were surely winning. So, the fact of a mass production of U Boats or Tiger Tanks has to be put into this context.

Of course, 71 subs from Bismarck + 71 subs from Tirpitz could have done the diference in the Atlantic in 1940-1941. As could have been one hundred Tigers at Kursk or at the Normandy beaches: those hundred Tigers could have changed History.

Best regards.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

Tiornu
Supporter
Posts: 1222
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2004 6:13 am
Location: Ex Utero

Re: Plan Z

Post by Tiornu » Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:56 am

Should the Germans have understood the pointlessness of planning a war against France that did not also involve Britain? I think that's a central consideration in this topic.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: Plan Z

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:23 pm

Tiornu´s had made the important point here: Germany overall strategy depended a lot in their perception of what the allies (in this case Great Britain) would do, maybe because they believed that Chamberlain would behave as he had already done in the late 30ies. It´s obvious he didn´t believe that Churchill will be PM.

Again, the main flaw here is that Nazi Germany (ie. Hitler) didn´t adopted a Total War strategy from the very begining. Because he didn´t then the production policies were not in line for a global conflict against Great Britain, Russia and the US.

If we add to that the fact that Raeder was still living WWI and expecting a revenge for the scuttling of the HSF then Germany was, in every sense, not ready to fight the Battle of the Atlantic, maybe not ready to fight WWII at all.

Best regards
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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

Re: Plan Z

Post by lwd » Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:19 pm

While I agree with most of what is said above. I'm not sure the following is quite right.
Karl Heidenreich wrote:... the main flaw here is that Nazi Germany (ie. Hitler) didn´t adopted a Total War strategy from the very begining....
Germany actually devoted a huge amount of her GNP to rearming. The problem they had was starting from zero and needing to build the industiries as well as the equipement. I'm in the process of reading Wages of Destrution and there is a lot of good info in there that I at least was not aware of before. One warning is that it's not a book you should plan on reading from cover to cover in one sitting or even a week unless you are really dedicated to it.

dougieo
Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:36 am
Location: Scotland

Re: Plan Z

Post by dougieo » Mon Sep 15, 2008 11:14 pm

miro777 wrote: The fact that with this Plan Z he tried to create a "balance of power" with the RN. This though was not accomblished because the war started too early for Raeder.
Did Reader think that the RN would allow the Germans to achieve parity in the first place?

I am pretty sure that once all these new ships began to be laid down and other navys ecame aware of them they would start there own contingency plans.

Dougie

ufo
Supporter
Posts: 84
Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 8:00 pm
Location: Rhu, Scotland

Re: Plan Z

Post by ufo » Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:25 pm

dougieo wrote:
miro777 wrote: The fact that with this Plan Z he tried to create a "balance of power" with the RN. This though was not accomblished because the war started too early for Raeder.
Did Reader think that the RN would allow the Germans to achieve parity in the first place?

...
Dougie
Hm – I think it is a bit of a misconception to think that Raeder ever wanted to achieve parity with the RN.

He might have gone down the wrong road and he might have thrown his lot in with the wrong kind of government but he was not an idiot. The Germans were aware of the building capacities of the empire. (I think they had no clue as to what the Americans were able to do but that only hit them later.)

The Z Plan asked for a balanced fleet able to challenge (!) the RN. That does in no way mean parity! Raeders strategy build on the fact that the Empire had commitments far larger than it's fleet could sustain under massive pressure. He was hoping that the fleet of the Z Plan could provide just that pressure.

A very (!) enlightening read on Erich Readers naval thinking is Kenneth P. Hansons wonderful article:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m ... _n15979337
(page 12 onwards as to how the Z Plan would have worked)


After the war Raeder was a frail old man and he (just) managed two volumes of justification-literature.
Doenitz still had an army of writers ready to fight for his glory. It is not surprising that the last Fuehrer came up with several ways to win the war in retrospect; one of that his somewhat famous 300 U-Boats.
(May be someone should write us naval enthusiasts a film along these '300'; the last stand with the last few U-Boots in a circle and hundreds of Fido torpedos coming in, the sky darkening under rockets and depth charges ... :lol: )

If we look a little more closely at these famed and feared 300 U-Boats one wonders how much they could have done.

Could it have worked?

No! Hitler would never have wanted it in the first place. He wanted Lebensraum in the east, restoration of superiority on the Continent (i.e. war with France) and then … a long way down the line … he wanted to inherit the spoils of the collapsing Empire.
The Empire relied on growth (or external pressure) and approaching mid 20th century it ran out of steam. Its economy was frail and everyone with eyes to see knew that there would be a more or less sudden and violent break up right round the next cornerstone of history. Hitler wanted Germany to be the next successive superpower. He did not necessarily want war with Britain. He wanted to wait and gather.

Had one of his Admirals come and suggest in 1936 or 1937 to build a fleet so obviously only (!) useful short term against the Royal Navy, he would have kicked him out of the door with epaulettes flying. War with Britain might have to come in 1945 but better even never. Arming so obviously to trigger war with Britain would have been an absolute No.

Now – had Hitler allowed it – could it have worked?

Not really! The British knew very well what the German Navy was building and what they were planning to build. This somewhat funny 300 U-Boats quote always assumes that the boats suddenly fall from heaven. Well – they would have not, would they?
Cut a single King George from the building list and build escorts instead. If that seems not enough cut two and build even more escorts. It is not that even with the war as it went HMS Anson and HMS Howe were that desperately needed. Take away Bismarck and Tirpitz and the Royal Navy has leeway galore to pile up U-Boat killers to fill whole harbour basins.

Would that have worked in turn?

Yes – I think so!

Looking out for fine literature is sometimes like waiting for the bus: you stand for ages and then come two in a row. In this case:
"Britain's Anti-Submarine Capability 1919 – 1939" by George Franklin in 2003
and:
"The Royal Navy and Anti-Submarine Warfare 1917 – 1949" by Malcolm Llewellyn-Jones early in 2006.

Both agree that the Royal Navy was (relatively) ill prepared for the defense against packs of U-Boats acting as torpedo boats on the surface. But that was more down to shortage of escorts than to missing concepts. Caught below the surface or driven below the surface the chances were much more even and the German losses even in the early years of the war are quite impressive. And Doenitz quite happily acknowledged that fact. His tactics all the way until finally using the Dutch Schnorchel concept relied on the expendability of his U-Boats.

Had he had more, he would have lost more. Had there not been any pressure on the Royal Navy in Europe to strengthen the battlefleet and had there been so obvious signs of Germany arming against Britain the percentage of escort per boat might have even been higher than it was as in real life.


U-Boats instead of Bismarck and Tirpitz?

The war at sea would have been very different. The German chances of winning it … still around zero.



As for the Z Plan – it would be in fact quite interesting to speculate how far Raeders ideas would have worked. As dougieo quite rightly writes the response would have been impressive. For the Royal Navy one can look at a strategy paper dating April 1937 where the 'new standard' is described (Sorry – I do not have the ADM file number right here). In 1945 that envisages a Royal Navy with 20 battleships and 15 fleet carriers as a backbone, some 100 cruiser (around 40 heavy and 60 light), 22 destroyer flotillas, … quite an armada!
German parity with that – no way! The Z Plan is half that size.

So there was more to the Z Plan than just numbers. It included a finely designed concept as to what to do with the ships. There was no second Jutland planned be the Germans.




@tiornu

If you think of Mers el Kebir the idea in some German circles to let the Entente Cordiale come to breaking point was not that far flung. I think the British determination to fight it out all the way to the end, is at best loosely linked to the Germen French war.

The Germans completely underestimated the British will to fight for relatively abstract values like self determination of nations, balance of powers and human rights. (Not that the British government took much notice of this lofty concept if they disliked the nation in question but in principle they were some few steps further on the ladder of civilization than the Germans at that time.) If you look at early war diary entries from various German sources you often find puzzlement as to why the Brits went to war for Poland. And Britain stayed in the war even when France opted out. (One might argue that Britain later happily sold Poland for 30 pieces of silver to the next best dictator that came around but by then the war had become something more personal to Britain.)

But I think the German assumption that the war against France could be a separate affair from a war against Britain was not that far off the mark.

Ciao,
Ufo

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

Re: Plan Z

Post by VeenenbergR » Tue Sep 16, 2008 6:50 pm

That is what I always have found strange of the British:
- they went to war because of Hitlers invasion of Poland, but at the end of the war they
easily gave it away to the next usurper: Stalin. Nothing less aggressive or dangerous than Hitler.
General Sikorski which came to know of these intentions was killed in an aircraft accident.......
Conclusion: the British were very keen in blocking Germany's ambitions (whatever that needed)
but refused to block the even stronger Russian ambitions.
The British massively bombed German cities and culture, with it the many women and children.
Even up to now most British dislike Germany and even do not want to understand it.

If Germany had carried out Plan Z the (poorer) British would have totally exhaust themselves to built an
even bigger fleet. That seems stupid to me.
The better strategy here was to create an alliance against Germany and let them pay their share.

To Karl: 100 Tigers more would not have made any difference. The Germans relatively easily knocked out the 3600 Soviet tanks (50% of their entire arsenal) at Kursk, loosing between 350-400 of their own (14%), most on mines, howitsers or AT-guns. It was their lack of sufficient infantry, which after Stalingrad, became the reason Germans could not consolidate their gains (like Charkow 1943). Guderian better had 1500 Mark IV's than 100 Tigers (which needed also an awfull lot of maintenance efforts to be kept in battle). German gear was mostly the weak point. Like Scharnhorst!!!! :clap:

Then the too late effort put in the Luftwaffe and wrong requirements for the Me262 jet-fighter and He177 long range bomber both cost Germany the war. Air power, radar (intelligence) and oil (supply) were the key factors of WWII.
Hitlers very well trained large infantry force with the best MG in the world (became dead meat during 1944/45), the best armoured force ever seen and most the most beautiful capital ships on the seas added by a large and powerfull submarine force (the largest ever built) could NOT make up for lack of air power, radar (intelligence) and oil (supply), which the Allies had no lack of.

Germany lost 50% of her military losses of WWII on the East Front during 1944 and part of 1945 .
IF Germany could have enough oil it would have been a close thing, because at the beginning of 1944 the Allies were lossing the battle over Germany to win it wenn the oil industry was flattened mid/fall 1944.
Germany had a very efficient fighter production of very high quality fighters in 1944, but lacked the fuel to train its many pilots, so that they were shot down by hundreds during each air raid.

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

Re: Plan Z

Post by lwd » Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:54 pm

VeenenbergR wrote:That is what I always have found strange of the British:
- they went to war because of Hitlers invasion of Poland, ...
Conclusion: the British were very keen in blocking Germany's ambitions (whatever that needed)
but refused to block the even stronger Russian ambitions.
Germany was closer and the USSR was not as agressive as Hitler. Indeed Stalin backed down a number of times when challenged.
...If Germany had carried out Plan Z the (poorer) British would have totally exhaust themselves to built an
even bigger fleet.
Germany was hardly richer than Britain at that point in time and Britain already had a significant fleet. If Germany had gone ahead with the Z plan then the German military would have suffered elsewhere and the western allies would probably have been in better shape overalll.
Then the too late effort put in the Luftwaffe and wrong requirements for the Me262 jet-fighter and He177 long range bomber both cost Germany the war.
That's been pretty much debunked. Changing requirements had little to do with when the Me262 became operational and even if it had been operational a year or two earlier it wasn't going to win the war in the air for Germany. Niether were unescorted long range bombers.
Air power, radar (intelligence) and oil (supply) were the key factors of WWII.
Hitlers very well trained large infantry force with the best MG in the world
That's pretty debateable and of little relevance in any case.
.... the best armoured force ever seen
Again debateable. Very dependent on how you define best and what your time frame is.
... most the most beautiful capital ships on the seas
Again a matter of opinion and irrelavant to power in any case.
.. could NOT make up for lack of air power, radar (intelligence) and oil (supply), which the Allies had no lack of.
There were times the allies were short on oil at least. There were numerous other areas where the German effort was outclassed by that of the allies.
...IF Germany could have enough oil it would have been a close thing, ....
Not really. It was more than just oil that Germany was short on.

Tiornu
Supporter
Posts: 1222
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2004 6:13 am
Location: Ex Utero

Re: Plan Z

Post by Tiornu » Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:24 pm

If you think of Mers el Kebir the idea in some German circles to let the Entente Cordiale come to breaking point was not that far flung.
Even closer, what about the collapse of the Stresa Front? And I can't find any way to view the Anglo-German naval agreements except as a disaster for Britain.

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

Re: Plan Z

Post by VeenenbergR » Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:01 pm

To Iwd: I understand all the comment you posted. I was provoking perhaps a little too much.

But intelligence, radar, oil and great production potential (together with the massive human resources) were superior over what Germany could mobilize. In my vision Germany in 1939 was a leading Power (100 milion inhabitants on 2 milliard people on the globe). Leading in (all) sciences, leading in medics (!) and leading in the professional military.
The road to war was the end of this dream.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7603
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Plan Z

Post by RF » Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:31 pm

miro777 wrote:
Of course without Plan Z we would have never seen such beautiful ships like the Bismarck.... :wink:

adios
Bismarck and Tirpitz were conceived pre-Z Plan, so they were already under construction as at January 1939 when the Z Plan received official go-ahead.
The battleships envisaged first under the Z Plan were the H Classe.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7603
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Plan Z

Post by RF » Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:36 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:Tiornu´s had made the important point here: Germany overall strategy depended a lot in their perception of what the allies (in this case Great Britain) would do, maybe because they believed that Chamberlain would behave as he had already done in the late 30ies. It´s obvious he didn´t believe that Churchill will be PM.

Again, the main flaw here is that Nazi Germany (ie. Hitler) didn´t adopted a Total War strategy from the very begining. Because he didn´t then the production policies were not in line for a global conflict against Great Britain, Russia and the US.

If we add to that the fact that Raeder was still living WWI and expecting a revenge for the scuttling of the HSF then Germany was, in every sense, not ready to fight the Battle of the Atlantic, maybe not ready to fight WWII at all.

Best regards
The fact is that Raeder was told by Hitler repeatedly throughout the period 1933-summer 1939 that there would be no war with Britain and that Germany's surface fleet would not be needed until the period 1944-46. This indeed was the basis for the Z Plan and why the KM was so unprepared for war in 1939.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7603
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Plan Z

Post by RF » Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:39 pm

Tiornu wrote:Should the Germans have understood the pointlessness of planning a war against France that did not also involve Britain? I think that's a central consideration in this topic.
Note that they did manage this in 1870. The difference of course was that the Germans in the nineteenth century were allies or at least friendly with Britain.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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

Re: Plan Z

Post by lwd » Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:10 pm

VeenenbergR wrote:...Leading in (all) sciences, leading in medics (!) and leading in the professional military....
They were hardly in the lead in all sciences. In several areas they did have a clear lead, in others they were on par with the other major powers, and in yet others they were behind. The same can be said about the military aspect of things. For example they clearly had little idea of carrier ops, their army was still mostly dependent on horse drawn transport, even their docrine drew heavily on writings of the French, British, and Soviets, and we won't even get started on their logistics planning capability.

Post Reply