Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

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panzerkrieg
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Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by panzerkrieg » 10 Dec 2008 04:08

Can some knowledgable members comment on luftwaffe anti-shipping capability against warships esp cruisers and battleships early in war i.e 1939-41
at that time they had no aerial torpedoes , and no glide bombs

how effective wud be the 500kg and 1000kg bombs be against battleships
i know that marat was holed by rudel with one , but against older RN battleships like warspite, renown etc was luftwaffe really a credible force? able to seriously damage these ships ?

also kinda related question what kind of armor piercing bombs did they have in those days ?
what were the heaviest one ?

thanks
nathan

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mescal
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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by mescal » 10 Dec 2008 11:16

The Luftwaffe did have aerial torpedo from 1939 on (not especially good, but they did exist).
from http://www.navweaps.com :
45 cm (17.7") F5 Torpedo
.
Ship Class : Used On Aircraft
Date Of Design 1935
Date In Service 1939
Weight 1,625 lbs. (737 kg)
Overall Length 15 ft 9 in (4.804 m)
Explosive Charge 441 lbs. (200 kg) Hexanite
Range / Speed 2,200 yards (2,000 m) / 33 knots
Power Decahydronaphthalene (Decalin) Wet-Heater
Notes: The F5 was a low-performance Norwegian Torpedo developed by Schwarzkopf. Dropping speed was 75 knots from 50 - 80 feet (15 to 25 m).
The 500kg SAP bombs should be enough to break any cruiser deck.
I do not know the effect of such ammunition on a battleship armored deck. I recall that the Japanese used modified 14 inch AP shells for their level bombers at Pearl Harbor. These were around 1400 lbs, that is 635 kg.
So any 1000 kg SAP bombs should be enough.
However I do not know whether the Luftwaffe possessed SAP ammunition at the beginning of the war, or if they just had HE type bombs.
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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by Pips » 10 Dec 2008 12:22

As far back as 1915 the Germans were dabbling in aerial torpedoes, and in that year actually developed and experimented with an torpedo aircraft, a modified D. 4 trainer. Work in secret continued throughout the 20's and 30' so that by the start of WWII Germany possessed several variation sof aerial torpedoes and the aircraft to carry them.

The best book on the subject I have come across is "Luftwaffe Aerial Torpedo Aircraft and Operations in WWII", by Harold Thiele. The book goes into detail on the development of aircraft and torpedo's in German service, with many photographs and listing of all known Luftwaffe torpedo attacks. Here's a sample fo the quality of information contained in the book.

9 October 1939 - North Sea
Eight He 59's from either Ku.Fl.Gr 706 or 406 attempted an attack on Royal navy vessels with airborne torpedoes, but the enemy was not located.

5 November 1939
A scramble by 3./Ku.Fl.Gr 106 with airborne torpedoes against reported English destroyers had no result.

7 November 1939
At dawn three He 59's were sent against two british destroyers to the eat of lowestoft and for the first time in WWII made contact with the enemy. The result however, was disappointing as apparently only one aircraft released its torpedo which missed its target.

18 December 1939
North north-west of rattray Head, the British fishing steamer Active (185 GRT) was sunk by an airborne torpedo launched by 3./706.

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LWD
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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by LWD » 10 Dec 2008 14:18

mescal wrote:...I do not know the effect of such ammunition on a battleship armored deck. I recall that the Japanese used modified 14 inch AP shells for their level bombers at Pearl Harbor. These were around 1400 lbs, that is 635 kg.
So any 1000 kg SAP bombs should be enough. ...
In effect the Japanese bombs were full up AP bombs not SAP. They also had to be dropped from pretty high up to penetrate. This means their HP vs a moving target would be pretty low.

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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by Urmel » 10 Dec 2008 22:39

Pips wrote:As far back as 1915 the Germans were dabbling in aerial torpedoes, and in that year actually developed and experimented with an torpedo aircraft, a modified D. 4 trainer. Work in secret continued throughout the 20's and 30' so that by the start of WWII Germany possessed several variation sof aerial torpedoes and the aircraft to carry them.

The best book on the subject I have come across is "Luftwaffe Aerial Torpedo Aircraft and Operations in WWII", by Harold Thiele. The book goes into detail on the development of aircraft and torpedo's in German service, with many photographs and listing of all known Luftwaffe torpedo attacks. Here's a sample fo the quality of information contained in the book.

9 October 1939 - North Sea
Eight He 59's from either Ku.Fl.Gr 706 or 406 attempted an attack on Royal navy vessels with airborne torpedoes, but the enemy was not located.

5 November 1939
A scramble by 3./Ku.Fl.Gr 106 with airborne torpedoes against reported English destroyers had no result.

7 November 1939
At dawn three He 59's were sent against two british destroyers to the eat of lowestoft and for the first time in WWII made contact with the enemy. The result however, was disappointing as apparently only one aircraft released its torpedo which missed its target.

18 December 1939
North north-west of rattray Head, the British fishing steamer Active (185 GRT) was sunk by an airborne torpedo launched by 3./706.
I think this is a very rosetinted view of Luftwaffe torpedo capabilities, and its anti-shipping capacity early in the war in general, leading to a wrong impression. According to Neitzel's study on the role of the Luftwaffe in the war in the North Sea and the Atlantic, the infighting between the KM and the LW delayed the development of a proper torpedo and the formation of units to carry it, including a failure to train its crews in over-water navigation and ship identification (see the embarassing failure of the 'sinking' of HMS Ark Royal in the North Sea in 1940. While Active may have been sunk by a torpedo, it is interesting that apart from this success none was to follow for quite a while with torpedoes.

The Luftwaffe was not at the start of the time you are talking about capable of dealing very well with ships in general, unless they were stationary or almost stationary (which was the case at Dunkerque or Norway). By the end of this time they were much better at this task, but throughout they struggled dealing with ships capable of defending themselves (a lot of the losses at Crete were due to AA ammo having been fired off; while in the Channel successes were often against destroyers with very weak AA armament).

Of course, a highly successful attack was that carried out on 22 February 1940, leading to the sinking of two destroyers. Just a shame they were German.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by panzerkrieg » 11 Dec 2008 01:51

thanks for responses everyone
But by 1941 the luftwaffe crews must have had much practice in hitting ships esp. after norway and crete

at times i have read accounts of Ju-88s carrying 1000kg bombs to attack land targets , wud such bombs be lethal against older RN battleships
and can anyone guess approximately how many % will score hits or near-misses ? assuming no fighter interference and only AA from battleship and its escorts

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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by panzerkrieg » 11 Dec 2008 01:53

LWD wrote:
mescal wrote:...I do not know the effect of such ammunition on a battleship armored deck. I recall that the Japanese used modified 14 inch AP shells for their level bombers at Pearl Harbor. These were around 1400 lbs, that is 635 kg.
So any 1000 kg SAP bombs should be enough. ...
In effect the Japanese bombs were full up AP bombs not SAP. They also had to be dropped from pretty high up to penetrate. This means their HP vs a moving target would be pretty low.
yes but approx. how low ....e.g like 1 in 20 be successful ?

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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by Ironmachine » 11 Dec 2008 08:21

Regarding Japanese bombing (and torpedo) accuracy, this may be of interest:
http://www.ospreypublishing.com/article ... t_counted/

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mescal
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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by mescal » 11 Dec 2008 12:28

LWD wrote:
mescal wrote:...I do not know the effect of such ammunition on a battleship armored deck. I recall that the Japanese used modified 14 inch AP shells for their level bombers at Pearl Harbor. These were around 1400 lbs, that is 635 kg.
So any 1000 kg SAP bombs should be enough. ...
In effect the Japanese bombs were full up AP bombs not SAP. They also had to be dropped from pretty high up to penetrate. This means their HP vs a moving target would be pretty low.
panzerkrieg wrote: at times i have read accounts of Ju-88s carrying 1000kg bombs to attack land targets , wud such bombs be lethal against older RN battleships
It will depend on a lot of factors :
First the deck armour is generally not homogeneous on the whole surface of the ship : the effect will depend on the exact location of the hit (and the vitals were the best protected parts) as well as the disposition of the armour.
For example, HMS Resolution had a deck 5 inch thick at it's thickest, whereas HMS Queen Elizabeth had 3 decks, totaling 6.25 inches at it's thickest.
Then it will depend on the type of the bomb : if it's HE, it will trigger outside of the armor and won't do significant damage. Only SAP or AP ammunition can have an effect on armoured decks.
Finally it will also depend on the striking velocity of the bomb, and then on the profile of the attack (dive-bombing ? level bombing ? from which height ? ...)

To give you a (very) rough idea, a full AP shell of 1764 lbs will require an angle of fall greater than 30° and a striking velocity of around 470 m/s to break through a 5 inch deck.
(you may find a lot of tables on naval gunnery here : http://www.geocities.com/kop_mic/)

Finally, keep in mind that bombs do not sink battleships.
Torpedoes do.
Olivier

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LWD
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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by LWD » 11 Dec 2008 14:33

mescal wrote: ...Finally, keep in mind that bombs do not sink battleships.
Torpedoes do.
Arizona and Tirpitz are two of the obvious counter examples. I can't remember off the top of my head if it were bombs alone that got the Soviet BB. Didn't the Italians loose a BB or two to bombs as well although to be fair I think those were guided bombs. I'm not sure if any of the above were underway. Arizona and Tirptiz weren't.

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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by mescal » 11 Dec 2008 16:00

LWD wrote:
mescal wrote: ...Finally, keep in mind that bombs do not sink battleships.
Torpedoes do.
Arizona and Tirpitz are two of the obvious counter examples. I can't remember off the top of my head if it were bombs alone that got the Soviet BB. Didn't the Italians loose a BB or two to bombs as well although to be fair I think those were guided bombs. I'm not sure if any of the above were underway. Arizona and Tirptiz weren't.
I saw this objection coming as soon as I first re-read my post :D

Just for my defense :
Tirpitz was indeed sunk by bombs, but I consider that the Tallboy bombs were quite special bombs (12,000 lbs, requiring a 4 engines heavy bomber specialy adapted), on which you cannot rely except on special circumstances (static target, complete air superiority ....)
The bomb hit on Arizona triggered a magazine explosion IIRC.
The Roma, hit by guided bomb in september 1943, also suffered a magazine explosion.
In my view, these magazine explosions were what sank those ships :
what I mean is that the bomb hits were critical, because without them the ship wouldn't have exploded, but if the magazine hadn't detonated, the ship would have remained afloat.
Regarding the Marat, it was a pre-Jutland unmodernized dreadnought.
Of those ships, only Roma was underway when struck.

My point is not that bomb-loaded aircrafts are useless against BBs, but merely that they cannot generally send them down by themselves. They can (and did) however mission-kill them, and if lucky sink them through magazine explosion.

Here is a list of the causes which sank BBs during the war (including those sunk in shallow water & later raised) :
Royal oak : torpedo (sub)
Barham : torpedo (sub)
PoW : bombs & torpedo (air)
Repulse : bombs & torpedo (air)
Queen Elizabeth : explosives (frogmen)
Valiant : explosives (frogmen)
Hood : shells (ship) Magazine explosion
Bismarck : shells & torpedoes (ship) Scuttled ??
Tirpitz : bomb (air)
Scharnhorst : shells & torpedoes (ship)
Arizona : bomb (air) Magazine Explosion (also one torp hit IIRC)
Oklahoma : torpedoes (air)
(Utah) : torpedoes (air)
West Virginia : torpedoes (air)
California : bombs & torpedoes (air)
Bretagne : shells (ship) Magazine Explosion
Strasbourg : scuttling
Dunkerque : scuttling
Conte Di Cavour : torpedoes (air)
Littorio : torpedoes (air)
Caio Duilio : torpedoes (air)
Roma : guided bomb (air) Magazine Explosion
Hiei : shells, bombs, torpedoes (ship + air)
Kirishima : shells (ship)
Kongo : torpedoes (sub)
Fuso : torpedoes (ship)
Yamashiro : torpedoes + shells (ship)
Musashi : bomb + torpedoes (air)
Yamato : bomb + torpedoes (air)
Mutsu : Magazine Explosion
Marat : bombs (air)
I do not know if torpedoes or bombs finally disabled Hyuga, Ise & Haruna.
Olivier

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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by LWD » 11 Dec 2008 16:23

mescal wrote: ...I saw this objection coming as soon as I first re-read my post :D
....
Not so much objections as exceptions that prove the rule.
Consider alsot that:
1) The marat was the only one struck by conventional bombs I believe and as you point out she was hardly a modern warship.
2) Only one was moving (again as you pointed out) and she was struck by a guided bomb.

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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by mescal » 12 Dec 2008 12:08

Hello,

I dug yesterday into some data regarding cruiser losses.
I found 41 cruiser lost to air power during the war, 11 of them being sunk by the Luftwaffe.
(those statistics are not 100% reliable, since there are always problems : what is the real cause of the sinking of a ship first hit by submarine torpedo and then by bombs ? what if such situation is reversed ? -- However, I hope they give hints as to the role of airpower agaisnt cruisers.)

Anyway, it shows that the Luftwaffe was a real threat to the RN, especially in the confined waters of the Mediterranean.
Note also that most of those cruisers lost to Luftwaffe where geographically tied (by land support, by convoy protection ...) and that they did not have freedom of maneuver.

Here is the list :

Code: Select all

Country	Ship	Date 	Area	Attacker	ordnance type	Notes
UK	Curlew	26/05/1940	off Narvik	Luftwaffe	bombs	
UK	Southampton	11/01/1941	East of Malta	Luftwaffe	bombs	scuttled
UK	York	22/05//1941	Suda Bay, Crete	Luftwaffe	bombs	Already severely damaged by Italian MTB
UK	Fiji	22/05//1941	Med	Luftwaffe	bombs	
UK	Gloucester	22/05//1941	Off Crete	Luftwaffe	bombs	
UK	Calcutta	01/06/1941	East Med	Luftwaffe	bombs	
UK	Coventry	14/09/1942	Off Tobruk	Luftwaffe	bombs	scuttled
UK	Carlisle	08/10/1943	Scarpanto Strait	Luftwaffe	bombs	Heavy damage, never repaired
UK	Spartan	29/01/1944	Off Anzio	Luftwaffe	glider bomb	
RUS	Chervonaya Ukrainia	02/04/1942	Sevastopol	Luftwaffe	bombs	
RUS	Komintern	16/07/1942	Novorossisk	Luftwaffe	bombs	Damaged beyond repair, breakwater
For those who are interested, I posted a more general view of cruiser losses here :
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 4&t=146932

edit : if someone has an idea on how to have a better table presentation , I'm interested :D
Olivier

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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by Kurfürst » 12 Dec 2008 19:18

Armour piercing capabilities of Luftwaffe bombs:

AP bombs:

PD 500: 120 mm
PC 1000: 100 mm
PC 1400: 120 mm

SC series GP bombs:

SC 500: 40 mm

SD series semi-AP bombs:

SD 500: 90 mm
SD 1700: 70 mm

via Hahn.

Stukas were the most effective anti shipping tools of the Luftwaffe early in the war.

During the Dunkirk operation 89 merchantmen (of 126,518 grt) were lost, and the Royal Navy lost 29 of its 40 destroyers (6 sunk, 23 damaged and out of service), mostly at the hands of the Ju 87s.

During the Battle of Britain, Stukas sunk six warships, fourteen merchant ships.

During the Crete operations, on 21 May HMS Juno was sunk, and the next day battleship HMS Warspite was damaged and the cruiser HMS Gloucester was sunk with the loss of 45 officers and 648 ratings. The Ju 87s also crippled HMS Fiji that morning, (she was later finished off by Bf 109 fighter bombers) whilst destroying HMS Greyhound with a single hit. On 23 May the Royal Navy also lost HMS Kashmir, HMS Kelly sunk followed by HMS Hereward on the 26 May. HMS Orion and HMS Dido were also severely damaged. HMS Orion had been evacuating 1,100 soldiers to North Africa and lost 260 of them killed and another 280 wounded during the attacks.

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Re: Luftwaffe anti-shipping capability

Post by LWD » 12 Dec 2008 19:50

Thre's a detailed list of British ships lost at the time of Dunkirk at:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 1&start=75
The summary is follows:
Total was 94 lost or sunk and 77 damaged.

Of those lost:
51 were primarily due to bombing/air attack;
11 were abandoned;
9 were to unknown causes
8 were to mines;
7 were to collisions;
4 were to S-Boote;
3 were to shore guns;
1 was to U-Boote; and 1 was to mine or torpedo.

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