Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

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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 » 28 Nov 2022 05:46

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
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.
This really wouldn't have mattered that much early war against the British and the RN and FAA. Most RN carriers in 1940 had at most a couple dozen marginal aircraft aboard. The biggest problem the KM faces in getting carriers to sea is Herman Göring. Göring wanted control of all of the aircraft on those carriers, and that was going to be a major problem in terms of what was going aboard, to keeping them flying, and even keeping planes available.

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

Post by EwenS » 28 Nov 2022 10:12

In 1942 the Kriegsmarine considered the following vessels for use as carriers, albeit only briefly, in addition to completing Graf Zeppelin:-

Seydlitz - heavy cruiser. Work actually began to strip her hull.
Joffre - French carrier, 20,000 tons, still incomplete on the slips at St Nazaire.
Europa - 55,500 ton liner, 27.5 knots. 18 bombers & 24 fighters. Hull to be bulged.
Potsdam - 17,500 ton liner, 21 knots. 8 bombers & 12 fighters.
Gneisenau - 18,000 ton liner, 21 knots. 8 bombers & 12 fighters.

Completion of the last 3 was not expected until end of 1944 or early 1945.

The latter pair were sisters to the Scharnhorst, which was sold to the Japanese Navy in early 1942 while she lay at Kobe. In due course she was converted to the escort carrier Shinyo, with a capacity of 27 aircraft plus 6 spares.

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

Post by thaddeus_c » 28 Nov 2022 14:30

Takao wrote:
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.
sigh ... the engines from the historical carrier Graf Zeppelin have vaporized?

this is a pointless discussion as I have suggested an alternative building program for the KM of four Scharnhorst-class battleships, "some" number of additional light cruisers, an improved version of the Leipzig-class, whereby they end up with at least eight to accompany the BBs.

below that "some" number of DDs capable of Atlantic operations, with at least sixteen to serve, split between two "task forces" (I would speculate they would use the hybrid steam-diesel arrangement they employed for their light cruisers, which they had considered for a class of destroyers.)

with no heavy cruisers or Bismarck-class or the historical DDs built, the historical production of engines is completely different (albeit my speculation is for somewhat smaller total tonnage than they completed historically)

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

Post by Kingfish » 30 Nov 2022 01:09

T. A. Gardner wrote:
28 Nov 2022 05:46
This really wouldn't have mattered that much early war against the British and the RN and FAA.
Which brings us back to my original question of what assets would the KM use as escort post-Weserubung?
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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by T. A. Gardner » 30 Nov 2022 02:34

Kingfish wrote:
30 Nov 2022 01:09
T. A. Gardner wrote:
28 Nov 2022 05:46
This really wouldn't have mattered that much early war against the British and the RN and FAA.
Which brings us back to my original question of what assets would the KM use as escort post-Weserubung?
If we assume the Germans are a carrier-centric navy during the Norway invasion, it's highly likely they suffer far fewer losses to the RN while the RN is punished for their own lack of a viable and high-quality carrier air arm. So, the real question should be, what does the RN do post Norway to step up their game with carriers and the FAA because sending them to sea individually equipped with a pathetic, motely, bunch of obsolete and obsolescent aircraft in small numbers isn't working?

Clearly, a RN carrier in early 1940 with say, 15 Skua and 20 Swordfish aboard--to be generous--is pretty much looking at having its air wing decimated if the KM is using the Me 109T. It would be worse if you had say 5 Sea Gladiators and 20 Swordfish aboard an RN carrier. If the KM carrier delivers a strike against it, it's probably going to the bottom and that's that.

The KM problem was always where to get the planes given Göring's demand he control the aircraft.

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

Post by thaddeus_c » 30 Nov 2022 04:03

What If the KM built destroyers and torpedo boats capable of Atlantic operations? they had the diesel powered Bremse which could have been the basis for a class of torpedo boats and they had the hybrid steam/diesel used in light cruisers that could have powered destroyers.

they certainly were aggressive with ships below capital ships.

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

Post by EwenS » 30 Nov 2022 08:11


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

Post by Peter89 » 30 Nov 2022 08:52

After the Bismarck's raid the British have systematically hunted down the German supply ships. They also took IEA. All German ports, including those in Atlantic France were in range of the British bombers - the pressure on them became unbearable by late 1941. Possibilities for operations became in fact very limited.
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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by Kingfish » 30 Nov 2022 11:50

T. A. Gardner wrote:
30 Nov 2022 02:34
If we assume the Germans are a carrier-centric navy during the Norway invasion, it's highly likely they suffer far fewer losses to the RN while the RN is punished for their own lack of a viable and high-quality carrier air arm.
A carrier-centric KM during the Norway campaign means no Narvik and quite possibly no Trondheim invasion groups. Practically every German warship was assigned to troop transport, leaving none available for escorting duties. This means Weserubung -if it goes off at all- would be restricted to Bergen and all ports south. Operating so close to Scapa Flow the KM would no doubt provide a heavy escort for the carrier. My guess would be at least 4, possibly 6 DDs and a couple of cruisers.
So, the real question should be, what does the RN do post Norway to step up their game with carriers and the FAA because sending them to sea individually equipped with a pathetic, motely, bunch of obsolete and obsolescent aircraft in small numbers isn't working?
The RN would have stepped up their game much earlier on. There is no way the Germans could conceal a carrier-centric ship building program, and such a revelation would prompt the RN to respond in kind. Historically HMS Illustrious and Formidable were commissioned in late 1940. A German carrier program could see both ships laid down sooner and rushed to completion. Now it would be the Germans asking how do they step up their game against an opponent that already outnumbers them, and can put more ships at sea much faster.
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Re: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by EwenS » 30 Nov 2022 14:42

Kingfish wrote:
30 Nov 2022 11:50


So, the real question should be, what does the RN do post Norway to step up their game with carriers and the FAA because sending them to sea individually equipped with a pathetic, motely, bunch of obsolete and obsolescent aircraft in small numbers isn't working?
The RN would have stepped up their game much earlier on. There is no way the Germans could conceal a carrier-centric ship building program, and such a revelation would prompt the RN to respond in kind. Historically HMS Illustrious and Formidable were commissioned in late 1940. A German carrier program could see both ships laid down sooner and rushed to completion. Now it would be the Germans asking how do they step up their game against an opponent that already outnumbers them, and can put more ships at sea much faster.
I agree about Germany not being able to hide a carrier building programme but under the Anglo German Naval Agreement of 1935 (signed in June that year) the aggregate tonnage of the German Fleet couldn't exceed 35% of that of Britain and that was to be applied to each category of warship. So for carriers Germany the carrier limit was 47,250 tons. Graf Zeppelin was laid down on 28th Dec 1936 just before the expiry of the 1922 Washington and 1930 London Treaties and was theoretically to have a standard displacement of 23,200 tons, so allowing only 2 ships.

Laying down the first 2 Illustrious class from the 1936 Programme (Illustrious & Victorious) more than a few months earlier is impossible for a number of reasons.
1. Treaty limits prior to 31 Dec 1936. Ark Royal saw the last of the Treaty tonnage limit used up, with Argus being reclassified as an unarmed auxiliary and converted to a Queen Bee carrier in 1936-38 to free up enough tonnage for her. To get another 46,000 tons for the pair means accepting that two of Eagle, Hermes & Furious will have to be scrapped (which was permitted under the 1922 Washington Treaty depite their age as they were deemed "experimental"). (Look at how the USN dealt with CV-1 Langley to free up tonnage for CV-7 Wasp in 1936 to comply with the Treaties as another example of how they were being interpreted). Once the 1936 London Treaty becomes effective you can have as many new 23,000 ton carriers as you like. But Britain went into that Conference (Dec 1935-Mar 1936) wanting a 22,000 ton limit.

2. So taking AGNA 1935 into account, the Admiralty would already be figuring the possibility of 2 German carriers into their planning.

3. Design of the Illustrious class didn't begin until Jan 1936, and reflected experience of the Med Fleet in 1935 during the Abyssinian Crisis. The first proposal was circulated in June for comment i.e. after the 1936 London Treaty had been signed. The final design wasn't signed off by the Admiralty Board until 14 Dec 1936. I'm really not sure how that can be shortened.

4.The issue then becomes one of money and the industrial capacity to build them. Much of the armour for the Illustrious class had to be imported by Czechoslovakia. While there were some building delays, 3 years is about the practical minimum time to build a carrier under peacetime conditions in either the US or Britain.

So unless Germany decides to bin AGNA 1935 to get more carriers, I really don't see the RN changing its tentative, but never formally adopted, planned build of 1 fleet carrier per year 1936 - 1942 plus one trade protection carrier 1936-40 , any more than it did. It dropped the trade protection ship altogether in favour of an extra fleet carrier in 1936 & 1937 Programmes.

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

Post by thaddeus_c » 30 Nov 2022 15:56

thaddeus_c wrote:
30 Nov 2022 04:03
What If the KM built destroyers and torpedo boats capable of Atlantic operations? they had the diesel powered Bremse which could have been the basis for a class of torpedo boats and they had the hybrid steam/diesel used in light cruisers that could have powered destroyers.

they certainly were aggressive with ships below capital ships.
TBs of (approx.) 1,700t which fits either Bremse or the 1939 Elbing-class or the 1944 design https://german-navy.de/kriegsmarine/shi ... index.html , perhaps they could start with diesel as the Bremse was early 1930's design and available, and progress to steam power if the range was adequate?

for destroyers I was speculating on ships of (approx.) 3,700t not something so large as the Spahkreuzer design, the diesel engines might not be ready in the early 1930's, thus my mention of a hybrid arrangement, while they could use only diesels on later vessels.

the fantasy Plan Z projected 90 each for destroyers and torpedo boats, the KM only achieved half that number counting both categories, and that being over the course of the war, for instance the Elbing TBs only arrived '42 - '44, thus too late to have much impact.

IDK the effect(s) of having some much greater number of DDs and TBs (and vessels with some significant increase in range from historical), their minelaying operations certainly could have been improved. beyond that it would depend on what larger ships were built?

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 30 Nov 2022 18:32

For basic raiding the Germans did not send escorts. I don't see them provided for the Scheer, Hipper, Ugly Sisters, or Bismarck/Prinz Eugen in any of their Atlantic or Indian Ocean raids. If the Graf Zepplin is on a similar raid would escorts even be worth considering?

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

Post by T. A. Gardner » 30 Nov 2022 18:41

Kingfish wrote:
30 Nov 2022 11:50
A carrier-centric KM during the Norway campaign means no Narvik and quite possibly no Trondheim invasion groups. Practically every German warship was assigned to troop transport, leaving none available for escorting duties. This means Weserubung -if it goes off at all- would be restricted to Bergen and all ports south. Operating so close to Scapa Flow the KM would no doubt provide a heavy escort for the carrier. My guess would be at least 4, possibly 6 DDs and a couple of cruisers.
It would have made it possible for the Germans to use merchant ships to transport the troops instead. A carrier force that can go toe to toe with the RN makes that possible.
The RN would have stepped up their game much earlier on. There is no way the Germans could conceal a carrier-centric ship building program, and such a revelation would prompt the RN to respond in kind. Historically HMS Illustrious and Formidable were commissioned in late 1940. A German carrier program could see both ships laid down sooner and rushed to completion. Now it would be the Germans asking how do they step up their game against an opponent that already outnumbers them, and can put more ships at sea much faster.
Historically, even as the Germans built and were fitting out the Graf Zeppelin, the RN did nothing to increase their own carrier forces or improve the FAA as war approached. I see the RN in this case as bean counting and saying something like "Well, we have 7 carriers (or whatever the number is), the Germans have 3 (or whatever they have), so we're good on numbers..."

Even after the war started, the FAA remained inadequately equipped with mediocre aircraft in insufficient numbers. A good part of that remained that the RN's leadership remained wedded to the idea AA fire alone could protect ships from air attack--Even as Crete proved otherwise.

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 30 Nov 2022 18:55

Just for deep background understanding: When did the Brits change from Japan as its sole likely opponent, to include the Italians, and Germany? The Ethiopian crisis for Italy? 1937 with Germany?

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

Post by EwenS » 30 Nov 2022 20:01

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
30 Nov 2022 18:55
Just for deep background understanding: When did the Brits change from Japan as its sole likely opponent, to include the Italians, and Germany? The Ethiopian crisis for Italy? 1937 with Germany?
1935/36. The Abyssinian Crisis and the threat to the Med Fleet saw a switch from a double hangar Ark Royal with 60 aircraft to the Armoured Illustrious class with 33. (Both figures being at service entry and reduced from those originally envisaged due to increasing aircraft size)
https://www.armouredcarriers.com/projects

They very quickly realised that the reduction was a step too far if going to face the Japanese. The result was the Implacable class designed in 1938 with a capacity of 48 aircraft, and subsequent mods to Indomitable.

By May 1939, and looking forward to 1942 deployment, the carrier allocation in the event of war in Europe would have seen 2 Illustrious class & Indomitable in home waters, 1 Illustrious at Gibraltar, the Implacables in the eastern Med and Ark at Singapore.

If war with Japan, Illustrious class at home, Ark,Indomitable & Implacables at Singapore.

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