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  • #16
    Well, I can't help Hitlers proclivities when it comes to sleeping habits and warships. Maybe he would have been less nervy had there been more of those warships at sea at any given time, thereby making them less of an individually valuable commodity.

    As far as a damaged lone raider, I'd note that a Q ship, once revealed and damaged, is equally or more likely to be destroyed. By virtue of it having far less combat power or resistance to damage than an actual warship, and its stealth now having been defeated. Not to mention that they're incapable of escaping pursuit under any circumstances. A 28kt cruiser is at least capable of effecting an escape if conditions permit.

    If we look at the history of the other German heavies, Bismarck and Tirpitz were a waste of resources, and IMHO would have been better spent into 4-6 cruiser-types for commerce raiding (since Bismarck's mission was actually commerce raiding as well, a waste for a battleship). S & G similarly, though they actually did have some success.

    The real point about having 10+ Deutschlands in service in 40-41 wouldn't have necessarily been the damage they'd inflict, but the huge expenditure of resources to hunt them. Think of all the hunting groups out for Graf Spee. Now imagine 5-6 raiding parties of 2 Panzerschiff each. The hunting groups would have to be individually strengthened, as 2 CLs and 1 CA wouldn't be nearly enough to even defend themselves if the wolves turned on them. There were 16 cruisers (heavy and light), 4 carriers, 2 battleships, and a battlecruiser involved in that hunt. A HUGE expenditure of fuel and resources. With 5 such groups worldwide at the start of the war with Britain, it's reasonable that the better part of the RN would be wearing out engines worldwide hunting them down. Convoys would have to have a battleship, battlecruiser, or more than 2 cruisers, reasonably more than 2 heavy cruisers escorting them.

    With 2 Panzerschiffe per raiding party, you'd double your losses when the convoy scattered. Maybe slightly more than double since that'd be two planes able to transmit information back and forth about locations of cargo ships, reasonably squaring the area that you could hunt in during the limited time before the scattered ships are too far apart to hunt for effectively. In any case, breaking up a convoy, sinking 8-14 of the ships in it, and driving off or sinking (more likely the latter if the Brits hold to form) the escort (until battleships or numbers of CAs were put escorting at great expense) would be something the Admiralty couldn't stomach.

    In short, they wouldn't win Germany the war. But they'd make the Brits expend a lot more resources to win theirs. And the hidden benefit would be to the Italians and Japanese. With the British fleet worldwide hunting Panzerschiffe, there would have been fewer ships in the med to escort convoys, and to go after the Italian Navy. With more Panzerschiffe at sea Hitler might have pushed Mussolini to employ his fleet more aggressively, citing that the Germans were doing all the heavy lifting. So it's possible that you get unintended consequences, like the Malta convoys being hit harder, no Taranto as the Illustrious could be in the Atlantic instead, or fewer British ships in the PTO.
    Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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    • #17
      Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
      With 5 such groups worldwide at the start of the war
      That's a sort of Achilles' heel, I think. The main problem with the German naval war was not in ship design or availability, it was in geography. The auxiliary cruisers could and did get out of the bottle unnoticed, mostly making use of their key advantage, camouflage, and one going to the length of using the Soviet icebreakers' assistance to get around North of Siberia, even.

      The Deutschland-class heavy cruisers would have found it pretty hard to get out of the bottle. We all remember the occasions in which the German surface raiders made it out of it, especially out of the GIUK gap - but we seldom remember how many times they set forth, only to be spotted prematurely, and turned tail to the safety of their ports. Add another 10 such surface raiders, built, of course, over several years before the war, and the Royal Navy would take measures; not just of the sort that you mention (more warships, which is indeed costly), but also more watchdogs at the bottleneck. It's also possible that Coastal Command's clamor for more and longer-legged aircraft would be heeded.

      Now, of course, several years before the war means before the London Naval Agreement. What would the British attitude be in 1935-36, if they knew the Germans already had in their yards some 8 Deutschlands?

      The alternative to breaking out of the bottleneck obviously is the one you mention above - having a dozen long-ranged German warships already stationed all over the world before the beginning of the war. Would that be practically feasible?
      Michele

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      • #18
        The French answer to the Deustchlands were the Strassbourg class, which by coming along later were superior in all respects.
        More of one means more of the other.

        One solution was demi-carriers like the Ise Class. The heavy cruiser Seydlitz was getting this treatment, and on paper it looked pretty good.
        But, somewhere along the way, someone in Germany was so underwhelmed with the whole idea that it was sold to the Soviets while incomplete ... who also ended up doing nothing with it.
        "Why is the Rum gone?"

        -Captain Jack

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        • #19
          Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
          Well, I can't help Hitlers proclivities when it comes to sleeping habits and warships. Maybe he would have been less nervy had there been more of those warships at sea at any given time, thereby making them less of an individually valuable commodity.

          As far as a damaged lone raider, I'd note that a Q ship, once revealed and damaged, is equally or more likely to be destroyed. By virtue of it having far less combat power or resistance to damage than an actual warship, and its stealth now having been defeated. Not to mention that they're incapable of escaping pursuit under any circumstances. A 28kt cruiser is at least capable of effecting an escape if conditions permit.

          If we look at the history of the other German heavies, Bismarck and Tirpitz were a waste of resources, and IMHO would have been better spent into 4-6 cruiser-types for commerce raiding (since Bismarck's mission was actually commerce raiding as well, a waste for a battleship). S & G similarly, though they actually did have some success.

          The real point about having 10+ Deutschlands in service in 40-41 wouldn't have necessarily been the damage they'd inflict, but the huge expenditure of resources to hunt them. Think of all the hunting groups out for Graf Spee. Now imagine 5-6 raiding parties of 2 Panzerschiff each. The hunting groups would have to be individually strengthened, as 2 CLs and 1 CA wouldn't be nearly enough to even defend themselves if the wolves turned on them. There were 16 cruisers (heavy and light), 4 carriers, 2 battleships, and a battlecruiser involved in that hunt. A HUGE expenditure of fuel and resources. With 5 such groups worldwide at the start of the war with Britain, it's reasonable that the better part of the RN would be wearing out engines worldwide hunting them down. Convoys would have to have a battleship, battlecruiser, or more than 2 cruisers, reasonably more than 2 heavy cruisers escorting them.

          With 2 Panzerschiffe per raiding party, you'd double your losses when the convoy scattered. Maybe slightly more than double since that'd be two planes able to transmit information back and forth about locations of cargo ships, reasonably squaring the area that you could hunt in during the limited time before the scattered ships are too far apart to hunt for effectively. In any case, breaking up a convoy, sinking 8-14 of the ships in it, and driving off or sinking (more likely the latter if the Brits hold to form) the escort (until battleships or numbers of CAs were put escorting at great expense) would be something the Admiralty couldn't stomach.

          In short, they wouldn't win Germany the war. But they'd make the Brits expend a lot more resources to win theirs. And the hidden benefit would be to the Italians and Japanese. With the British fleet worldwide hunting Panzerschiffe, there would have been fewer ships in the med to escort convoys, and to go after the Italian Navy. With more Panzerschiffe at sea Hitler might have pushed Mussolini to employ his fleet more aggressively, citing that the Germans were doing all the heavy lifting. So it's possible that you get unintended consequences, like the Malta convoys being hit harder, no Taranto as the Illustrious could be in the Atlantic instead, or fewer British ships in the PTO.
          The point is that a lone raider must be considered expendable, and in such circumstances a converted merchantman is much to be preferred to a regular warship. Firstly, the merchantman has a better opportunity of avoiding detection, as it is not immediately recognizable for what it is, as a 'Deutchland' would be. Secondly, the cost of producing such a vessel is tiny when compared to the cost of building a 'Deutchland.' The hulls are already available, and, given Anglo-French naval superiority, they would otherwise simply be trapped in port. All that is needed are a few WW1 era 5.9 inch guns. Thirdly, an expensively trained naval crew is not needed. Other than a few specialists, the crew can be drawn from the German mercantile marine. As once the raider is engaged it is not likely to survive for long, then in coldly practical terms the loss of a merchant ship and crew with a few obsolete guns is much to be preferred to the loss of a major warship. Even Graf Spee, with her 26 knots, heavy armour, and big guns, failed to escape the Hunting Group which she encountered.

          On the subject of Hunting Groups, there were actually eight assembled. Three were pairs of eight inch cruisers, one a carrier & two eight inch cruisers, one a battlecruiser, an aircraft carrier & 3 six inch cruisers, two were a battlecruiser and aircraft carrier each, and the last two eight inch & two 6 inch cruisers. This last was the group which actually encountered Graf Spee, at a time when one of the eight inch cruisers (the more powerful one) was away from the group undergoing a short self-refit. Given the desperate vulnerability of the lone raider (or even, as you suggest) pair of raiders, I suspect that any German commander in the circumstances would have made strenuous efforts to avoid action. In point of fact, whilst the Anglo-French did indeed deploy a large number of heavy warships to hunt down the raider (in fact, the allies thought that there were two raiders at large) to be blunt about it this (the maintenance of allied sea supremacy) was what the vessels had been built for in the first place.

          Finally, the arguments against the nine or ten 'Deutchlands' are essentially the same as those against suggestions elsewhere that Germany should have concentrated on building a much larger pre-war submarine force. Firstly, the British would, similarly, have adjusted their pre-war construction to meet the changed circumstances, and secondly, both arguments pre-suppose that Hitler, in the lead up to WW2, regarded Britain as his main enemy, when this was clearly not the case.

          Incidentally, Tirpitz did make a useful contribution to the Axis cause. She was a classic example of the fleet in being, preventing numerous allied heavy ships from being deployed more usefully elsewhere.

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