Peter89 wrote: ↑16 Sep 2021 22:51
The whole operation was doomed from the beginning.
The SKL wanted to force an entry into the Atlantic to stretch British resources thin and bring the battle into the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Let's not forget that by this time, the Scharnhorst, the Gnisenau, the Hipper and the Scheer completed their voyages which somewhat justified the otherwise idiotic idea of a surface merchant marine raiding fleet. The Paris Protocols have been signed recently, and it was possible to cooperate more closely with the Vichy, and thus, bases from Dakar to Madagascar were possible. It was also possible to launch Felix and take Gibraltar, thus linking up with the Italian fleet. Also, the British bombing and commando raids on the French Atlantic ports were not yet serious. On the other hand, the Baltic sea was neutral and the largest German ship could not do anything useful there. Let's not forget that this happened before Barbarossa; there was almost no British merchant traffic in the Arctic waters.
Although turning back might have been the prudent choice, there were very strong incentives to keep on and pressing forward. German planners at SKL did not really take the aircraft carrier risk seriously.
Looking at all this from the PoV of May 1941 the operation makes more sense.Peter89 wrote: ↑17 Sep 2021 11:43
In the light of the further events, however, the whole operation did not make any sense and it was typical for the SKL. If the attack of the Soviet Union was decided, then the Germans needed their ships to endanger the shortest route of supply and keep the Baltic Fleet in check, and for that, Norway and Germany was perfect.
Besides, if the majority of the air force was to focus on the SU, they could not protect the French Atlantic ports effectively. The Paris Protocols had only meaning if there was no war in the east, and if Germany focuses all of its energies to finish off the British Empire. Because without that, there would be no German base at Gibraltar, no possible linkup with the Italians in the Mediterraneaum, and no sensible possibility to bring the battle into the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Operation Cerberus was the admission of the defeat that the Operation Rheinübung started.
1. The current strategy was to destroy the USSR, then resvisit the British question in late 1941 or 1942 at the latest.
2. The USSR was to collapse in a few moths as had France.
In that context it makes sense to start setting up for the next round against Britian. Keep the pressure on and stage things for a couple moves further along.
3. The previous sorties by the capitol ships had been a qualified success. The Graf Spee got caught by circumstances, but the other sorties had much better success. With lessons learned and all that even better opportunities could be seized.
A coordinated set of operations, including the submarines and whatever could be teased out of the Luftwaffe could be contemplated. Sure there were difficulties visible then, but there were advantages.
Several British naval codes had been penetrated. The German naval communications were well secured by the Enigma system.
After difficulties in British home waters in latter 1940 the submarine fleet was finding solid success in the mis Atlantic & the Brits seemed to becoming ineffectual.
A reasonable system for coordinating air recon, radio intel, and the spys in the UK had been worked out. Growth in that direction was anticipated.
The Japanese were becoming even more aggressive in Asia. Best case scenario they scare the Brits into shifting part of the fleet to the far east.
Rader had reason to be optimistic & take some calculated risks.