Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

German super-battleships

Discussion in 'Ships & Shipborne Weaponry' started by Sakhal, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,230
    Location:
    Michigan
    Did experiance teach them otherwise or did they just learn how to do it right? The trick seemed to be to either neutralize the opposing airforce or get in and out fairly quickly. Even in the North Sea to get the range she would need a German carrier would have to be close enough to British airbases that I don't think they could all be neutralized for the period required and radar would likly spot the raid incoming which would point to her location.
     
  2. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    449
    The German goal is to disrupt the convoys, a strong surface squadron that can outrun anything it can't outfight is the best way to do it and Bismark, Tirpitz and Graf Zeppelin come pretty close to that definition. If they manage to do that they can win the war for Hitler, the stakes are that high. For that objective a carrier is a lot worse than than a heavy surface squadron, it can effectively raid but is will outrun it's avgas and bomb stocks much faster than a BB will run out of shells so it will not represent a persistent threat like a surface squadron would.

    A night attack from Swordfishes require either a dusk spotter or a lot of luck, a loaded Sworfish has not that big a speed advantage over the ships and cannot afford to search for long, Me 109s and radar make a spotter survival problematical in daylight so the most likely outcome is the planes missing the fleet, (can they land with the torpedo attached or do they have to gettison it? if the later they will quickly run out of fish, I haven't got figures for the British carriers but Japanese ones carried only enough for two or three strikes). Not saying it has no chance but it's far from a sure thing and with those stakes the RN needs something better than an "iffy" proposition.
     
  3. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    67
    That's what the pocket battleships were for and its a great theory, but still not viable. The Graf could not out run the cruisers and it would have been a matter of time before heavier ships came in.
     
  4. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    449
    The pocket battleships at 26 knots were not capable of outrunning what they couldn't outfight, given the number of 8" cruisers available to the allies, the existing French and British battlecruisers and the fast battleships entering service.
    A 30 knots squadron with some air cover is a very different story, the sisters proved the concept when they met 3 British BBs during Berlin that were unable to give chase and without the rudder damage Bismark would have been impossible to catch.
    The hypotetical full German squadron (2 BB, 2 BC, 1 CV) based at Brest in 1941 is a very real threat to the convoys, the RN can create at most a couple of hunting groups with a chance of a successful engagement and none with the speed to pursuit, compare that witrh the half dozen or more groups createed to hunt Graf Von Spee or her namesake's squadron in WW1.
    There'se worse, if the surviving pocket battleships operate at the same time any cruiser squadron detached to hunt them risks a big surprise if it meets the main force instead, IIRC the sisters can match the average RN cruiser's speed tohough Bismark cannot, so there is a real chance to disrupt the covoy system, consider both the German and RN pre war planning assumed Baltic bases, being able to operate from Biscay Bay ports gave them a huge "force multiplier" they failed to exploit to the full.
    The biggest German handicap is refueling, while all the ships are long legged getting enough fuel for the whole squadron without attracting RN attention is nearly impossible, so they will need to get back to port.
    The diesel powered very long ranged superbattleships followed the same concept, but by the time they would be ready radar, long range patrol planes and more and better carrier aviation would have made the concept a lot more risky if not outright unworkable.
     
  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,230
    Location:
    Michigan
    Perhaps they have a better chance of it but if they are going out as a squadron there will be periods that they will be in port further more the British can increase the escorts to the point where the raiders have to think hard before engageing an escorted convoy.

    By 42 the British were putting radars on at least some of their torpedo planes.

    If the Germans are using their radars these can be give away their postions and be used essentially as homeing beacons. Fighter direction control was an art that even the USN and the IJN who had been practiceing carrier ops for some time did not perfect until well into 42 if then. Wittness the fact that the Japanese recon planes that spotted the USN carriers at Midway were not intercepted.

    I'm not all that sure. Let's see they encountered Ramailies and broke off. But Ramalies was a slow old battleship escorting a convoy so not hard to run from. Then the same story with Malaya. Then they site Rodney but the latter was hardly a fast battleship in any case. As one gets into 42 the situation changes. For one thing the British have the KGVs coming on line, while they can't necessarily chase down the Germans when both are running at full speed they can force the Germans to burn a lot of fuel running from them. Note also that the British caught most of the German resupply ships used during Bismarck's sortie.

    Except the larges the German squadron in Brest in 41 can be is 3 battleships. Tirpitz might make it in late 41 and the CV isn't going to be operational until 42 at the earliest. Given the state of the German battleships that were in Brest it's unlikely that the full force will be able to sortie at any one time and the british can build a couple of fast battleship groups in 41 that have a carrier and speed similar to the German ones. When you get into 42 then US ships start becoming available and things get worse for the Germans.

    I'm not at all convinced this is "worse". If the twins try chasing cuisers they are going to be burning a lot of fuel and they will be forced to leave the Bismarcks. I'm also not sure that they will want to engage the cruisers in a night action as even a single torpedo hit could be a serious problem to a raider. Certainly they could cause some disruption to the convoy system but for how long? Also consider that if they get in trouble that may end the threat of German battleships.

    Not just fuel but ammo. Any encounter that leads to a long range gunnery can burn through a lot of ammo.
     
  6. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    67
    were forgetting that if the Germans waited for the Z force to go to war they will not have France as a base unless things go the same way. It will be much easier for the British to deal with the threat just from the Baltic.
     
  7. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    449
    The Z plan was based on the assumption of North Sea bases, the choice of diesels is an indication they were meant as raiders not just to act as "fleet in being" like the short legged WW1 high sea fleet.
    If we pospone the war start to get the H in service it becomes very open, the Italians and French will both have four modern ships, the British the five rather poor KGV and the Lions on the way though Vanguard is less unlikely to happen, but the big if is long range aviation and radar technology, without an active war it will not have progressed as far as it did. My impression is that the Z ships will it still be "too little too late" especially considering the lack of carriers.
    On the other hand the axis has a chance in 1941 do some real damage if they concentrate the available ships, even a month of no convoys is going to have really bad effets on the British war effort, with a German squadron at large the RN need to give heavy escorts to the troop convoys leaving very little for the ordinary merchs.
     
  8. freebird

    freebird Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2007
    Messages:
    687
    Likes Received:
    54
    The German's couldn't concentrate their ships in 1941, for the simple fact that they didn't have them available.

    The 2 battlecruisers arrived in Brest on 22 Mar 1941, and neither was fully operational until Christmas 1941, so if the Bismarck doesn't sail on her final cruise in May 1941, then either the concentrated German fleet waits until 1942, or else it is just Tirpitz & Bismarck + a cruiser or two that will try the operation in the fall.
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,230
    Location:
    Michigan
    I wouldn't rate the KGV's as "rather poor" especially if they had time to work up. Indeed I'd give them an almost even chance of winning a duel with any of the modern BBs except the Yamatos and possibly the Iowas. The British were pushing naval radar as were the Germans it might not be developed quite as fast but even if it's half the rate if the Z plan isn't finished until 45 you end up with radar from roughly 42 or 43 which is going to make things much harder on the Germans than it was in 40 and 41.

    From what I've read the Brtish never had less than a 6 month period before they would have suffered severe effects from the interruption of merchant traffic. One month wouldn't be good but it would hardly be devestating. Then there's the question of how many troop convoys were being sent out during this period? Also note that from what I've read the German raiders preferred not to attack convoys head outbound from the UK.
     

Share This Page