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Convoy PQ17 - Wichita & Tuscaloosa versus Tirpitz & Admiral Hipper

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  • Convoy PQ17 - Wichita & Tuscaloosa versus Tirpitz & Admiral Hipper

    Could the American Cruisers have done sufficient damage to the German surface warships to have prevented the PQ17 Convoy disaster?

    First Sea Lord Admiral Dudley Pound made a fateful decision to scatter the PQ17 convoy. I would have said "Nuts" and proceeded to prepare for battle with the American forces on hand against the Germans.

    Convoy PQ 17
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convoy_PQ_17

    USS Wichita (CA-45)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Wichita_(CA-45)

    USS Tuscaloosa (CA-37)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Tuscaloosa_(CA-37)

    German battleship Tirpitz
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_battleship_Tirpitz

    German cruiser Admiral Hipper
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German...Admiral_Hipper

  • #2
    Originally posted by OttoHarkaman View Post
    Could the American Cruisers have done sufficient damage to the German surface warships to have prevented the PQ17 Convoy disaster?
    In a word no
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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    • #3
      There were two British cruisers, London and Notfolk along with four destroyers in the covering force.

      So total of four cruisers plus four destroyers against a battleship and a cruiser. With a further two battleships plus escorts on the way. The Germans would probably withdraw.
      "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

      Comment


      • #4
        Why?

        There is a lot of variables in a sea battle, weather, aggressiveness, morale not to mention the technical aspects of spotting and target acquisition.

        I would have sailed the whole convoy towards the German units and yes have lost some merchant ships but used the cover of so many ships to have closed with the enemy.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Surrey View Post
          There were two British cruisers, London and Notfolk along with four destroyers in the covering force.

          So total of four cruisers plus four destroyers against a battleship and a cruiser. The Germans would probably withdraw.
          Yes I think the British forces would have joined in

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          • #6
            If you have poor visibility and weather it would be like Scharnhorst's last battle except without a BB present Tirpitz would survive having broken off the action due to topside damage.

            Comment


            • #7
              Why do people think that two heavy cruisers would or could take on and defeat a pocket battleship and a battleship?

              18 X 9" guns versus 8 X 15" and 6 X 11" guns?

              11' and 15' guns against >200mm armour.

              9' guns against >200 armour and >360mm armour.

              I suspect the BB would order its "little" sister home while it smashes the two impertinent cruisers into razor blades.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by OttoHarkaman View Post
                Why?

                There is a lot of variables in a sea battle, weather, aggressiveness, morale not to mention the technical aspects of spotting and target acquisition.

                I would have sailed the whole convoy towards the German units and yes have lost some merchant ships but used the cover of so many ships to have closed with the enemy.
                You would have been cashiered from the navy in that case.
                The whole point of the convoys was to protect the merchant shipping, not use them as cover and what makes you think that the civilian captains of the merchants would have gone along with your plan, will they and their crews be as full of martial zeal as you, knowing they are to be expended so you can close the range with the enemy?
                Don't forget that they could barely make 8 knots, are you going to creep along in giant CC's and hope the Germans have never seen a warship before?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by OttoHarkaman View Post
                  Why?

                  There is a lot of variables in a sea battle, weather, aggressiveness, morale not to mention the technical aspects of spotting and target acquisition.

                  I would have sailed the whole convoy towards the German units and yes have lost some merchant ships but used the cover of so many ships to have closed with the enemy.
                  Because they were under strict instructions to preserve their ships and run for home if a threat materialises.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The convoy was virtually destroyed anyways. If you read the the accounts of naval battles they don't play out like some perfect scientific analysis. Didn't the first couple salvos of the Bismark knock out their own radar from the concussion? I think the ship was taking in water also flooding the front turret from heavy seas. I think things are much more crazy that trying to say X size gun against Y thickness of armor. A good hit on the bridge would change a lot of things. How would they know from a distance what ships were engaging them? I know crazy thoughts but I think battles are very crazy things.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by flash View Post
                      Because they were under strict instructions to preserve their ships and run for home if a threat materialises.
                      3/4s of the convoy ended up being destroy, what good did it do running away?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by flash View Post
                        Why do people think that two heavy cruisers would or could take on and defeat a pocket battleship and a battleship?

                        18 X 9" guns versus 8 X 15" and 6 X 11" guns?

                        11' and 15' guns against >200mm armour.

                        9' guns against >200 armour and >360mm armour.

                        I suspect the BB would order its "little" sister home while it smashes the two impertinent cruisers into razor blades.
                        Because, as with the Scharnhorst in 1944, the USN and RN cruisers have far superior radar and crew that knows how to use it at sea well. If the weather were poor and / or visibility poor, the cruisers could repeatedly run into gun range pepper the German ships with shells, and retreat.
                        RN cruisers did that against the Scharnhorst, taking out her radar, and doing minor damage. Blinded she blundered into British ships and finally was surprised by the Duke of York that blew her out of the water before she even knew the British battleship was present.

                        The Germans would have two choices:

                        Continue to operate at sea not knowing if the Allies had battleships on the way or present and risk being sunk...

                        or...

                        Withdraw having lost surprise and live to fight another day.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          PQ17 order to scatter

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by OttoHarkaman View Post
                            The convoy was virtually destroyed anyways. If you read the the accounts of naval battles they don't play out like some perfect scientific analysis. Didn't the first couple salvos of the Bismark knock out their own radar from the concussion? I think the ship was taking in water also flooding the front turret from heavy seas. I think things are much more crazy that trying to say X size gun against Y thickness of armor. A good hit on the bridge would change a lot of things. How would they know from a distance what ships were engaging them? I know crazy thoughts but I think battles are very crazy things.
                            You are committing the elementary error of transporting yourself back to the commanders seat armed with present day information.

                            But no,Bismarcks primary radar was not working before she engaged.

                            Yes, night fighting at sea was a confused affair back then but it affected both sides equally and as the Japanese showed you,radar was not infallible.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                              Because, as with the Scharnhorst in 1944, the USN and RN cruisers have far superior radar and crew that knows how to use it at sea well. If the weather were poor and / or visibility poor, the cruisers could repeatedly run into gun range pepper the German ships with shells, and retreat.
                              RN cruisers did that against the Scharnhorst, taking out her radar, and doing minor damage. Blinded she blundered into British ships and finally was surprised by the Duke of York that blew her out of the water before she even knew the British battleship was present.

                              The Germans would have two choices:

                              Continue to operate at sea not knowing if the Allies had battleships on the way or present and risk being sunk...

                              or...

                              Withdraw having lost surprise and live to fight another day.
                              How resilient was the CC's radar, would it have stood up to the shock of repeated broadsides,and the pounding of the wild sea at speed, not to mention the odd 15" hit?

                              I don't believe it would have, unless US radar in 1942 was far advanced over everybody elses, wasn't your radar based on British design at that point, you know, the whole cavity magnetron thing?

                              Accounts are filled with failed radar stories, even in gunnery exercises, it was far from perfected.

                              Tirpitz would know something was firing at her with less than BB sized guns and therefore well within her own range,what's to stop her closing with the strangers, they only have a 2 knot advantage over her and might not have been able to use that due to the sea state?

                              During HMS Norfolk's pursuit of the Bismarck she was repeatedly caught by Bismarck turning and firing very accurate salvoes at extreme range when she was caught napping dodging in and out of rain squalls.

                              Had she been close enough to return fire and been caught napping there is little doubt that Bismarck would have hit her repeatedly before she was able to duck into cover.

                              Same for these two US cruisers, I believe their radar wouldn't have survived prolonged firing, not in 42, and not with that sea running.

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