Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

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Geoffrey Cooke
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Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by Geoffrey Cooke » 24 Nov 2022 05:05

I remember this came up some time ago on the navweaps forums.
https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/warship ... -s210.html

Solandarman makes a good argument that after the loss of Bismarck, for example, they should have retained their ships in the Atlantic rather than the (admittedly successful) Channel dash gambit.

But even earlier in the war they could have benefitted I think. The order for anything smaller than a Bismarck-class battleship to avoid action with a British battleship escort being toned back to allow for actions to distract a battleship while the other ship attacked the convoy (as Scharnhorsts captain suggested to Adm Lütjens during its encounter with HMS Ramillies during operation BERLIN) would have helped a lot. Readers original plan was to have a fast naval task force operating in the Atlantic and targeting convoys guarded by old R/QE class British battleships, he abandoned it after Bismarck was intercepted by the home fleet, but that was a fluke based on its interception in narrow waters rather than the open Atlantic thanks to Swedish intelligence informing the Brits of the sortie.

It at least would have led to some notable KM vs USN engagements. Like what was discussed here…
https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/warship ... 7-s70.html

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/warship ... 42346.html

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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 24 Nov 2022 18:15

The effect of turning Bomber Command loose on the Ships when in the Atlantic ports looks understudied in those discussions. The reluctance of Bomber Command to divert sorties away from their embryonic campaign against German industry & cities. As it was the relatively ineffectual air attacks did get some damaging hits. It was the fear of what a greater effort that was one of the motivations to retire the fleet back to the Baltic & Norway.

Another understudied item is the better Luftwaffe support of the BoA. A stronger German effort to provide VLR bombers & reconissance & operating in coordination with the surface fleet and submarines would have made all three more effective. and better protected those ports & ship refitting in them.
after Bismarck was intercepted by the home fleet, but that was a fluke based on its interception in narrow waters rather than the open Atlantic thanks to Swedish intelligence informing the Brits of the sortie.
Actually Enigma decrypts, and air reconissance also warned of the sortie. The reports from the Norwegian underground & other eyes on siting provided details, but the Brits had been alerted by radio & air intel as well.

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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by T. A. Gardner » 24 Nov 2022 19:03

Surface raiding was pretty much doomed by the airplane and radar. For a surface raider to effectively operate, it needs to be able to hide, and airplanes and radar make that a near impossibility in much of the planet's ocean areas during WW 2. In the earliest days of WW 2, neither the aircraft nor radar sets were available to make that a reality. By the end of 1940, things were rapidly changing in that respect and that'd be about the latest the KM could send warships out as a squadron to try and do merchant raiding, with the very occasional exception.

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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by AnchorSteam » 25 Nov 2022 04:32

Luck was never with these guys.
A carrier would have been a key item, but they had the ridiculously bad luck of seeing their Teak (for the decking) burn up during an air-raid, and then Goring pinched their flak while theNavy was wondering what to do.
The KM was also badly punished for being aggressive during the Norway operations. Sure, the success in taking Norway was more than worth it, but I think they were right to concentrate on U-Boats from then on. As it was, Prinze Eugen was the only thing heavier than a Light Cruiser to survive the war.HOw much more aggressive could they have been with that they had?

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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 25 Nov 2022 07:02

How much can a aggressive surface fleet accomplish? Lets assume worst case with the Bismarck & Prinz Eugen break out into the Atlantic raid some convoys, and reach the Atlantic ports unscathed. How much damage is this raider fleet going to do in the remainder of 1941? For eventual comparison here's what the Submarine fleet, air attacks, mines, and surface raiders did accomplish. From Table 8 John Ellis 'Brute Force':

...........Net Tons Docked in UK.........Net Sunk Atlantic.......Net Sunk by Submarine.......Sunk as % of Total Docked..... Sunk by Sub %
1940............41,660,000..................2,082,000.....................1,506,000........................4.99%..........................3.61%
1941............25,496,000..................1,979,000.....................1,390,000........................7.76%..........................5.45%
1942............24,480,000..................3.694,000.....................3,408,000.......................15.01%........................13.90%

Let Assume all four can sortie once in 1941 & sink 100,000 tons cargo each. that adds 400,000 to the 1941 total for a post in overall percentage to 5.5%

If each is able to sortie multiple times in 1942 & sink 200,000 tons card each, the percentage is boosted to 18.35%

I expect some folks will see this as overly optimistic. The actual estimated average per sortie for the heavy surface raiders was a lot less

Scheer Atlantic/Indian Ocean raid 14 cargo ships sunk = 112,000 tons. Arctic raid two cargo ships sunk = 16,000 tons

Hipper Two Atlantic sorties 9 total for 72,000 tons sunk (estimated0

Scharnhorst/Geisenau one sortie each sinking 11 cargo ships for 88,000 tons

That averages out to 48,000 tons each. Take your pick or search for more accurate numbers for Allied cosrgo ships sunk in these operations.

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by T. A. Gardner » 25 Nov 2022 18:01

And, that shows the futileness of using warships for surface raiding. On the other hand, if the Germans had an aircraft carrier or carriers, they could have done some real damage in the Atlantic. Consider, that TF 38 from January to March 1944 swept through the central Pacific, including the raid on Truk atoll, and sank right at 1 million tons of shipping in that time. The aircraft carriers literally swept the central Pacific clean of everything Japan had afloat other than submarines.

While that might be just a bit hyperbolic, carriers can scout vast swaths of ocean submarines and surface ships can't. They'll find far more targets and can strike them up to hundreds of miles from the carrier. Given the weakness of British air defenses, particularly on merchant ships, and the general lack of carriers with anything approaching a first quality fighter, a pair of German carriers could have wreaked some real havoc on British merchant shipping.

But Germany's navy was really stuck with a 1916 mentality when it came to naval warfare and they built what worked then: Battleships and submarines.

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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by Kingfish » 25 Nov 2022 20:55

T. A. Gardner wrote:
25 Nov 2022 18:01
On the other hand, if the Germans had an aircraft carrier or carriers, they could have done some real damage in the Atlantic.
Escorted by what? Supplied by what?
Without Weserubung a KM breakout would have been very difficult if not impossible, and after Weserubung the KM was left with just four operational destroyers.
The gods do not deduct from a man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing.
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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by Kingfish » 25 Nov 2022 20:55

edit: double post
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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by T. A. Gardner » 25 Nov 2022 21:39

Kingfish wrote:
25 Nov 2022 20:55
T. A. Gardner wrote:
25 Nov 2022 18:01
On the other hand, if the Germans had an aircraft carrier or carriers, they could have done some real damage in the Atlantic.
Escorted by what? Supplied by what?
Without Weserubung a KM breakout would have been very difficult if not impossible, and after Weserubung the KM was left with just four operational destroyers.
The KM already had reliable supply ships like the Dithmarchen available. All they need to go with say two carriers are 3 or 4 cruiser escorts and about 8 to 10 destroyers. Of course, these have to be A. Reliable, and B. reasonably long ranged, two things their historic ones weren't. Even the invasion of Norway would have benefited from the KM having carriers.
Given the paucity of aircraft and pathetic nature of most of what they did have, the FAA and RN would have been at a big disadvantage facing a carrier-centric navy.

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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 25 Nov 2022 21:46

Kingfish wrote:
25 Nov 2022 20:55
T. A. Gardner wrote:
25 Nov 2022 18:01
On the other hand, if the Germans had an aircraft carrier or carriers, they could have done some real damage in the Atlantic.
Escorted by what? Supplied by what?
Without Weserubung a KM breakout would have been very difficult if not impossible, and after Weserubung the KM was left with just four operational destroyers.

The Graf Zeppelin as designed would have had a low capacity & sortie rate. Nothing on the scale of the Essex class that did the 'sweeping'. Or the Brit fleet carriers that crippled the Italian fleet in the Cape Matapan battle or the Bismarck. My take is operating along with the land based air, submarines, and surface ships it would have some utility harassing Arctic convoys. Have also amused myself working out a plan for ambushing Brit reconnaissance aircraft and ASW patrols over the North Sea. But, it looks like a waste trying to accomplish anything with this in the Atlantic. Sure one can send it out as a raider, but the Brits, nailed the Graf Spee and Bismarck, which was about 25%. Maybe 20% if you count the Arctic raids. Given its small air wing I don't see the Graf Zeppelin as designed being anymore effective than the Hipper or Giesenau. Maybe if a better ship than designed were built it might have been more effective.

Looking back over the numbers from Ellis Table, and from other sources My guess is better support from the German Air Force would have been far more productive. More VLR reconnaissance into the Atlantic, more VLR bombers for attacking the Norther & Wester Approaches, more mine laying sorties, more night attacks on the Liverpool & other ports docks. maybe some VLR fighters to harass Coastal Commands ASW patrols.

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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by thaddeus_c » 27 Nov 2022 15:04

T. A. Gardner wrote:
25 Nov 2022 21:39
The KM already had reliable supply ships like the Dithmarchen available. All they need to go with say two carriers are 3 or 4 cruiser escorts and about 8 to 10 destroyers. Of course, these have to be A. Reliable, and B. reasonably long ranged, two things their historic ones weren't. Even the invasion of Norway would have benefited from the KM having carriers.
they could have created a German version(s) of the French Force de Raid which was 2 BBs, 4 cruisers, 8 "super-destroyers, and a sole carrier.

neither the French carrier Bearn or the seaplane tender Commandant Teste were very fast, just IMO, they could have adapted the Dithmarschen-class to handle seaplanes and flying boats to great advantage.

if they wanted a carrier there was the obsolete ocean liner Columbus which could have been converted, mirroring the Italian effort.

the weak spot would be the cruisers and destroyers, there was the tonnage from the heavy cruisers and destroyers they did build, they would just have to be sorted better?

(this projecting two task forces, just from my POV, building a second set of Scharnhorst-class BBs with same 11" guns but sorting out some of the design.)

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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by glenn239 » 27 Nov 2022 15:16

Geoffrey Cooke wrote:
24 Nov 2022 05:05
Solandarman makes a good argument that after the loss of Bismarck, for example, they should have retained their ships in the Atlantic rather than the (admittedly successful) Channel dash gambit.
Once the invasion of the Soviet Union was underway, did the KM have the fuel supply for an aggressive campaign? Also, with the US Atlantic Fleet now in play, would good results be likely?

Norway did not pan out as a useful operational theatre for various reasons. The choices were to stay in France and absorb air attacks, make the run back to Germany, attempt operations in the Atlantic, or break out into the South Atlantic and sail to Japanese territory.

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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by Takao » 27 Nov 2022 17:51

Columbus? The liner would be lucky to make 20 knots, 17 or 18 with a fouled bottom.

Aquila was brand new construction rated for 30 knots.

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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by thaddeus_c » 28 Nov 2022 00:26

thaddeus_c wrote:
27 Nov 2022 15:04
if they wanted a carrier there was the obsolete ocean liner Columbus which could have been converted, mirroring the Italian effort.
Takao wrote:
27 Nov 2022 17:51
Columbus? The liner would be lucky to make 20 knots, 17 or 18 with a fouled bottom.

Aquila was brand new construction rated for 30 knots.
a quick glance shows Aquila https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_a ... ier_Aquila was converted from the Roma https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Roma_(1926)

that was my allusion to "mirroring the Italian effort."

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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by Takao » 28 Nov 2022 04:51

thaddeus_c wrote:
28 Nov 2022 00:26
thaddeus_c wrote:
27 Nov 2022 15:04
if they wanted a carrier there was the obsolete ocean liner Columbus which could have been converted, mirroring the Italian effort.
Takao wrote:
27 Nov 2022 17:51
Columbus? The liner would be lucky to make 20 knots, 17 or 18 with a fouled bottom.

Aquila was brand new construction rated for 30 knots.
a quick glance shows Aquila https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_a ... ier_Aquila was converted from the Roma https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Roma_(1926)

that was my allusion to "mirroring the Italian effort."
Aquila was given the new propulsion plants of two recently canceled Italian light cruisers. The Germans have nothing similar to spare.

Thus, you are mirroring the slow French carrier Bearn, rather than the fast Italian Aquila.

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