Op Alphabet meets Op Juno

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today.
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Kingfish
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Op Alphabet meets Op Juno

Postby Kingfish » 11 Nov 2017 23:18

Historically HMS Glorious and her two escorting destroyer proceeded independently of the main convoy withdrawing from Narvik, and thus fell easy prey to the twins.

For this WI we can assume Glorious and her consorts are instead ordered to sail with the evacuation convoy (Grp II). The order of battle is now Glorious, the cruisers Southampton and Coventry, and the destroyers Ardent, Acasta, Havelock, Fame, Firedrake, Beagle and Delight. These would be escorting the troop and cargo ships with over 25,000 British, French and Polish troops.

We can further assume the Glorious again fails to launch reconnaissance aircraft or man her crows nest, and thus the twins are again able to spot the convoy first.

What would be the result?

The troop and cargo ships would most likely scatter north or northwestward with Glorious not far behind, while the cruisers and destroyers would do their best to screen and delay the twins. The two German ships clearly have a major advantage in terms of fire power and range, but the British have numbers, and as HMS Acasta showed (as did USS Johnston off Samar) you can't discount the threat posed by a determined DD captain.
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maltesefalcon
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Re: Op Alphabet meets Op Juno

Postby maltesefalcon » 12 Nov 2017 09:34

The German ships would have a hard time of it. The Allied ships could divide the fire of the German main guns. If a couple destroyers got within torpedo range they could inflict serious or fatal damage.
Under those circumstances a prudent commander would try to break away or risk suffering the fate of Graf Spee.

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Re: Op Alphabet meets Op Juno

Postby Kingfish » 13 Nov 2017 00:16

Perhaps, or maybe the thought of tearing into a convoy of troopships would overrule such caution

From Ark Royal's detail of war service (date is June 6th, 1940)
http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-04CV-HMS_Ark_Royal.htm:

[At 1925 the GNEISENAU [flag Admiral Wilhelm Marschall], SCHARNHORST, heavy cruiser ADMIRAL HIPPER, with destroyers HERMAN SCHOEMANN, KARL GALSTER, ERICH STEINBRINCK and HANS LODY on Operation JUNO RVed with the fleet supply ship DITHMARSCHEN in approximate position 67-52N, 2W and refuelling of the HIPPER and the destroyers commenced.

Whilst refueling Admiral Marschall received a reconnaissance report of a seven ship convoy on a south westerly course, whose course and speed would put it about 110 NM south east of his current position.

(This was the Group 1 troopship convoy comprising the MONARCH OF BERMUDA, BATORY, SOBIESKI, FRANCONIA, LANCASTRIA and GEORGIC escorted by the VINDICTIVE)

Admiral Marschall, who was unaware that the Allies had commenced the evacuation of Norway, was undecided what to do about the convoy believing it to be of empty ships. So at 2030 Marschall called a captains' conference on board the GNEISENAU. Just as the conference was ending Marschall received a signal informing him that only one warship remained at Harstad. From this he deduced that the evacuation had begun so he could profitably attack south bound shipping.

At 2215 the captains' conference ended and at 2300 the Force got under way. The ships set off due south in line abreast 10 miles apart]


Historically the Hipper and destroyers detached from the Twins and made for Trondheim prior to the engagement with the Glorious
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Gooner1
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Re: Op Alphabet meets Op Juno

Postby Gooner1 » 13 Nov 2017 14:37

Historically the Destroyers got one torpedo hit (on the Scharnhorst) between them. With seven Destroyers plus Southampton the odds are there'd be more hits, statistically four. Which isn't good for S&G.
OTOH the twins could concentrate their main gun fire on the Cruisers and Destroyers but this would allow Glorious to get her Swordfish airborne - only minutes away from happening historically.


Discretion the better part of valour on this one I think.

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Re: Op Alphabet meets Op Juno

Postby Carl Schwamberger » 13 Nov 2017 21:51

On another forum the question of the torpedo squadron on the Glorious came up. The idea the squadron would have started launching in another 5-15 minutes was re[eated there. After some discussion of other torpedo attacks at sea there was evidence the squadron could have gained 1-2 hits, given the experience, training, weather, and sea conditions. So if the destroyers get 4-5 hits then the Swordfish bombers raise that to 5-7 hits total. If however either ship has a propulsion casualty & is slowed to under 15 knots, then the potential hits from air launch goes up to 3-4. That brings it to a possible sinking.

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Re: Op Alphabet meets Op Juno

Postby gurn » 13 Nov 2017 23:15

The Southhampton and Coventry are light cruisers with 12 and 5, six inch guns respectively, speed of 32 and 29 knots as well.
The twins top out at 31 knots, would it not be possible to stay out of range of the light cruisers while dealing damage to the british cruisers and aircraft carrier? The 7 destroyers will be problematic, but depending on their positioning at the start of the engagement they may never fire a shot.

Would it be considered a good trade to lose the twins but sink the carrier, cruisers and troop ships?

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Re: Op Alphabet meets Op Juno

Postby maltesefalcon » 14 Nov 2017 01:23

gurn wrote:The Southhampton and Coventry are light cruisers with 12 and 5, six inch guns respectively, speed of 32 and 29 knots as well.
The twins top out at 31 knots, would it not be possible to stay out of range of the light cruisers while dealing damage to the british cruisers and aircraft carrier? The 7 destroyers will be problematic, but depending on their positioning at the start of the engagement they may never fire a shot.

Would it be considered a good trade to lose the twins but sink the carrier, cruisers and troop ships?


Agreed the destroyers would be outmatched and possibly ineffective in a gun duel. However it would be harder for the German ships to stand off and fire at long range if the British ships split up and surrounded them. This would both divide the fire of the German turrets as well as offer a chance to get torpedoes in.
If they could distract the twins long enough, perhaps the Glorious could either escape or launch torpedo planes as well.

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Re: Op Alphabet meets Op Juno

Postby Kingfish » 14 Nov 2017 02:21

An edit from my OP, thanks to the very detailed service history of the Ark Royal it appears the Grp II convoy was much stronger than originally posted. In addition to the ships already listed there was also the destroyers Campbell, Echo, Vanoc and Veteran. In addition the Ark Royal was close by as she was constantly sending up CAP throughout the day to protect herself and the convoys.

With two carriers, two cruisers and now 11 destroyers I doubt the Twins would take this on. In fact they might be in danger if the carriers get off a decent strike package. Ark Royal's air wing consisted of 24 Skuas and 21 Swordfish.
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Re: Op Alphabet meets Op Juno

Postby Gooner1 » 14 Nov 2017 18:02

Carl Schwamberger wrote:On another forum the question of the torpedo squadron on the Glorious came up. The idea the squadron would have started launching in another 5-15 minutes was re[eated there. After some discussion of other torpedo attacks at sea there was evidence the squadron could have gained 1-2 hits, given the experience, training, weather, and sea conditions. So if the destroyers get 4-5 hits then the Swordfish bombers raise that to 5-7 hits total. If however either ship has a propulsion casualty & is slowed to under 15 knots, then the potential hits from air launch goes up to 3-4. That brings it to a possible sinking.


I don't think the twins were that tough. Scharnhorsts torpedo hit from Acasta caused it to ship 2,500 tons of water, to list by three degrees, sink by three metres at the stern and limit the ship to a speed of 20 knots. One more hit might have done for her even.
http://www.scharnhorst-class.dk/scharnh ... njuno.html

The fortune of war that the hit upon Glorious came early and the torpedo strike late in the battle.


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