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Three Town class cruisers at the River Plate

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  • Three Town class cruisers at the River Plate

    Thinking about the recent thread on ww2 cruisers.
    If the Exeter, Achilles and Ajax were replaced with three Towns would they have been able to sink the Graf Spee on their own?
    "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

  • #2
    I'm not sure. From things that I have read, the 6" didn't do much damage to the Graf Spee. I think that 2 of the latter County-class heavy cruisers could've done it, though.

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    • #3
      Exeter had 8" main guns. The Graf Spee"s main guns were so slow firing that they had to be concentrated on one target at a time, usually Exeter. The secondary guns (5.9" were used on the other two. Even when the Exeter retired to fix battle damage, the GS had a hard time hitting the six inch cruisers. The Admiral Hipper or Prinz Eugen may have been a better choice to fight three British Cruisers, but would it have had the range?

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

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      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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      • #4
        The Graf Spee's belt armour was no better than Hipper's. A British 6"could penetrate Hipper's armour. With 36 guns with a rate of fire 8 per minute Graf Spee would have sustained many more hits. The belt armour on a Town was actually thicker than that on the Spee. At the ranges the Plate was fought at most of the shells would hit the belt or superstructure.
        "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Surrey View Post
          The Graf Spee's belt armour was no better than Hipper's. A British 6"could penetrate Hipper's armour. With 36 guns with a rate of fire 8 per minute Graf Spee would have sustained many more hits. The belt armour on a Town was actually thicker than that on the Spee. At the ranges the Plate was fought at most of the shells would hit the belt or superstructure.

          If the British 6" guns can penetrate Graf Spee's armor then the massive volume of fire from all those guns would swamp the German ship.
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          • #6
            Does any one have figures on how much armor a British 6 inch gun penetrate at various ranges?

            I have only found figures on velocity and impact angle at various ranges.

            Same with USN 6 inch guns. They fire a slightly heavier projectile at a slightly lower velocity so their armor penetration would be similar. Can't find figures on USN 6 inch armor penetration either.
            "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
            Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

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            • #7
              I just read an article in Warship 2018 by William Jurens, a naval architect. He states that the British 6in gun couldn't penetrate the armour belt of the Graf Spee at the ranges fired in the battle. It is an actual hit-by-hit study of the battle. There is a second article in the same book on the tactics used. The author is very critical of Harwood because he didn't get closer with the Achilles and Ajax, even when Exeter was down to one gun and being battered.
              Earlier this year, I visited the RNZN museum at Torpedo Bay, which had an exhibit on the battle, due to the Achilles being largely crewed by New Zealanders. I'm going to have to study this battle more thoroughly, since I have a fixation on battles in that part of the world--Coronel, Battle of the Falkland Islands, River Plate and the Falklands War
              Last edited by johns624; 22 Jul 18, 19:15.

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              • #8
                Not all areas on the Graf Spee were armored heavily. Off Guadalcanal a Japanese Battleship was attacked by a number of American Cruisers. The American Light Cruisers had a very high rate of fire. The Light Cruisers did not sink her, but the American Air caught her drifting only a few miles away and THEY sank her. Because the American Admirals had no faith in Radar, the IJN was allowed into almost point blank range.

                If the British 6" Cruisers had been allowed to close they could have hit the Graf Spee above the armor belt and cause much damage.

                Pruitt
                Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                • #9
                  Just because the 6" shells could not penetrate armour does not mean they could not destroy other very useful equipment such as command and control, fire control/direction, electrical systems, etc. They might not land an immediate 'killing' blow, but they can certainly contribute to everything up to that point.
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                  • #10
                    All I know is that the shot-by-shot analysis of the 6 inch hits show that they didn't do any damage at all that mattered.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by johns624 View Post
                      All I know is that the shot-by-shot analysis of the 6 inch hits show that they didn't do any damage at all that mattered.
                      Ah, but they did. While Exeter's 8" hits caused enough damage that mattered, it was the 6" guns of the Leanders that actually chased Graf Spee into Montevideo and caused intangible damage beyond physical measure, the rest i.e. the shot-by-shot analysis, is all academic.
                      Last edited by Marmat; 25 Jul 18, 12:01.
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                      • #12
                        I thought the British Naval 6" gun was a tad slow loading when they used manual loading?

                        Pruitt
                        Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                        Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                        by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                          I thought the British Naval 6" gun was a tad slow loading when they used manual loading?

                          Pruitt
                          The British 6" Mark XXIII, new in 1930 for the Leanders, used bagged propellant, manual ram and breech, but could still manage 6-8 rounds/minute, about the same as the German 15 cm (5.9") aboard Graf Spee, which used separate loading cartridge. The 6" Leanders managed 16 hits, while Graf Spee's 5.9"'s managed some splinter damage on the British Cruisers, but 0 hits.
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                          • #14
                            It largely comes down to what the British hit. 6" shells, particularly common rounds could turn the Graf Spee's topsides into a shambles. You get a fire or two started and that would pretty much doom the ship even if Graf Spee sank all three opponents. Things like damage to ventilation and boiler air intakes would make the ship uninhabitable in the South Atlantic. Trashing the fire controls and bridge structure would make any future battle very much more one-sided. Loss of things like the galley, freshwater production, might make it nearly impossible for the ship to remain at sea for anything but a short period of time. Splinter damage to the hull where you have many small penetrations would make flooding a dangerous reality.

                            The US off Guadalcanal had the great advantage that any ship that was heavily damaged could move to nearby Tulagi harbor and undergo emergency repairs and expect help from other vessels to remain afloat. The Japanese were hundreds of miles from a friendly port and could expect their ships attacked by air in daytime.

                            Graf Spee was in a worse position than the Japanese.

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