The Scharnhorst

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de-gouden-ridder
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The Scharnhorst

Post by de-gouden-ridder » 08 Sep 2002 16:15

It is said that after in British trap, the Scharnhorst had been destroyed very fast.

Please, could anyone say me way the Scarnhorst sunk so quickly.

PS: a photo of the ship is included.
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Ovidius
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Post by Ovidius » 08 Sep 2002 16:32

Most of the text below it's a re-post of my message here: http://www.thirdreichforum.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2981

Battle description:

26 December 1943: At 0834 is detected by the heavy cruiser Norfolk from a distance of 30,000 meters (32,800 yards). Shortly afterwards the light cruisers Belfast and Sheffield of "Force I" (Vice-Admiral Burnett) also obtain contact. At 0924, the Belfast opens fire on Scharnhorst from 11,900 meters (13,000 yards), and is followed by Norfolk at 0930. Scharnhorst replies with her after turret but obtains no hits. Scharnhorst is hit by two 20.3cm projectiles from Norfolk. One shell strikes the battery deck but fails to explode. The other hits the foretop and disables the radar apparatus (FuMo 27). Scharnhorst turns away southeast at 30 knots and then north again. Shortly after 1200, Scharnhorst runs once again into the cruisers of "Force I", and opens fire at about 1230 with her main and secondary batteries. In this second engagement, the Norfolk is hit twice by 28cm shells. Turret "X" is put out of action after a hit in the barbette, while another shell disables the radars and kills seven men. The Sheffield is hit by splinters. At 1241, Scharnhorst turns away south and ceases fire. At 1617, the battleship Duke of York of Force II (Admiral Fraser) obtains radar contact with Scharnhorst from 42,500 meters (46,480 yards), and after closing the range to 10,900 meters (11,920 yards) opens fire at 1648. Almost immediately the Scharnhorst is hit by a 35.6cm projectile in turret "Anton" which is put out of action. Another shell from Duke of York demolishes the hangar. At 1657, Belfast and Norfolk open fire. Scharnhorst is repeatedly hit but manages to increase the distance with "force II" to 19,600 meters (21,435 yards). At 1820, a 35.6cm projectile passes through Scharnhorst's upper belt and reaches the No.1 Boiler room (section IX) that becomes a total loss. The speed drops to 22 knots. At 1850, the destroyers of "Force II" close on and obtain one torpedo hit on Scharnhorst's starboard side and three more on the port side. Speed drops to 20 knots. Duke of York and Jamaica open fire again at 1901 from 9,600 meters (10,500 yards) obtaining numerous hits. Scharhorst still fires back with turrets "Bruno" and "Caesar" but obtains no hits. At 1912, the cruisers of "force I" open fire. Thereafter cruisers Jamaica and Belfast launch all their torpedoes, and destroyers Musketeer, Opportune and Virago 19 more. The Scharnhorst finally capsizes and sinks at 1945. 36 survivors.


Battle analysis by Chuck Hawks:

Chuck Hawks wrote:Scharnhorst and her five destroyers put to sea from Alten Fjord on Christmas Day. The next morning (the 26th), Admiral Bey deployed his destroyers in a scout line on a south-westerly course. Scharnhorst continued on to the north. The German force was divided. You would think that after four years of war, German Admirals would have learned not to divide their numerically inferior forces, but apparently not. As Scharnhorst blundered around in the fog and snow, plunging into heavy seas, she was suddenly engaged by the British heavy cruiser Norfolk and the light cruiser Belfast. The light cruiser Sheffield trailed the other two, but could not get within gun range. This cruiser force was again commanded by Vice-Admiral Robert Burnett, hero of the battle against Hipper and Lutzow the year before. Almost immediately an 8in shell knocked out Scharnhorst's forward radar. She was left almost blind in the prevailing conditions of very poor visibility. She maneuvered to escape the British cruisers, succeeded, then turned back to her northerly course to again seek the elusive convoy. Admiral Bey tried to summon his destroyers, but by then they were far away, and unable to make good speed because of the heavy seas. Bey then ordered them farther to the west to search for the convoy. Aerial reconnaissance advised Bey of an enemy naval force to the southwest of him (between his position and safety), but he continued north.

Shortly after noon, Scharnhorst was again surprised by the British cruisers. A twenty minute gun battle ensued, in which Scharnhorst scored heavily on Norfolk. Sheffield dropped out with engine trouble, and the other two cruisers fell back and began shadowing the German battleship. Bey made no attempt to shake off the British cruisers, instead ordering his destroyers to meet him back at Alten Fjord, and set course for home.

Admiral Bey's false sense of complacency was shattered four hours later when starshell illuminated Scharnhorst, and radar directed 14in shells from the battleship Duke of York, plus 6in shells from the light cruiser Jamaica, started falling around her. Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser's covering force had arrived. From approximately six miles away, Duke of York straddled the German battleship. Scharnhorst returned fire and ran to the east to open the range. After twenty minutes of this running gun battle, Scharnhorst had been hit repeatedly. Her forward turret was jammed, and a hit aft caused flooding which slowed her slightly. Nevertheless, she had opened the range to 10 miles, and both battleships temporarily ceased firing.

A few minutes later two destroyers crept up on each side of the German battleship. Scharnhorst's lookouts spotted the pair of destroyers to port, and she engaged them with her secondary battery, but the starboard pair got to within one mile before being spotted, and put a torpedo into her. As she turned to avoid them, the port side pair pumped three more torpedoes into her. One hit flooded a boiler room and Scharnhorst's speed dropped to eight knots. Quick work in the engineering spaces got her speed back up to over 20 knots, but it was not enough. Duke of York closed the range and opened fire, joined by all three cruisers and four more destroyers. Fourteen inch shells and multiple torpedo hits from the cruisers and destroyers sank the Scharnhorst after 36 minutes. Only 36 of her crew survived the battle and the icy water.

This battle is often referred to as the last single ship battleship duel, but it wasn't, really. Scharnhorst was overwhelmed by superior forces in conditions very much more favorable to them than to her. Probably Duke of York could have taken Scharnhorst in a true one-on-one battle, but that is not what happened off the North Cape of Norway in December, 1943.


Emphases are mine.

This sounds more like tactical error than a fault of the ship's design.

As we see above, the main causes for the quick defeat were:

1. Lack of destroyer escort - tactical error;
2. Loss of Scharnhorst's radar;
3. Very close range(under 11,000m, closer than the immune zone) + one ship had "eyes"(could use the radar) and the other couldn't = lethal and accurate punching of a blind Scharnhorst

~Ovidius

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Post by Ovidius » 08 Sep 2002 16:37

Please take a look here http://www.thirdreichforum.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2981 and scroll down, I've also posted some info on German vs. British fire control.

~Ovidius

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Richard Murphy
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Post by Richard Murphy » 08 Sep 2002 16:46

Reading Burkard von Mullenheim-Rechberg's memoirs of his service on the Bismarck (Battleship Bismarck, Triad/Panther 1982, sadly, I disposed of the expanded version (In hardback.) in order to fund acquiring more on the Heer!) he makes the same complaint that one of the first things to be damaged and put out of action was the fire control systems.

Regards from the Park,

Rich

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Erik E
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Post by Erik E » 08 Sep 2002 17:14

A few years ago the Norwegian navy found the ship for the first time after the war. ROV photos shows that the entire bow had broken off between the 2 front turrets. The team did not find the missing bow and the "lost" turret anywhere near the ship, so the conclusion was that it broke off before it sunk!

Btw I have a 1 hour documentary about this search. They also simulated the last hour of the battle in a very advanced simulator in the naval academy.......

EE

JariL
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Scharnhorst did not use it's radar

Post by JariL » 09 Sep 2002 11:42

Hi all,

As far as I can recall, Schanrhorst did not use it's radar. Germans had early on detected that a radar can be spotted and used the technique repeatedly to locate allied objects that were using radar. Thus Scharnhorst was forbidden to use it's radar as the Germans thought that it was the surest way of getting detected. Had Scharnhorst used it's radar it might have avoided the trap alltogether. Surprisingly western allied did not actively use radar spotting technique during WWII.

Regards,

Jari

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Tactical errors

Post by varjag » 09 Sep 2002 11:51

Certainly the death-ride of the SCHARNHORST is riddled with 'tactical errors'. But wasn't Adm. 'Achmed' Bey's persistance in trying to find and damage, the convoy consistent with the orders he had from Doenitz? Orders which he tried to fulfill to the best of his ability and determination. I understand that Adm. Bey was a 'destroyer man', thus perhaps difficult to understand his detaching the destroyers that found the going tough in the prevailing weather. He lost his ship, his life and his mission - but we should not forget that apart from the R.N. battlegroup he had against himself also the Ultra interecepts that made Adm. Fraser privvy to just about his every move. In her death-throes, the SCHARNHORST fought as splendidly as her WW 1 namesake did in the South Atlantic.

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Re: Tactical errors

Post by Ovidius » 09 Sep 2002 13:54

varjag wrote: In her death-throes, the SCHARNHORST fought as splendidly as her WW 1 namesake did in the South Atlantic.


No other battleship could have resisted to 14in shells from 9,000-10,000m. That's why battleships have long-range guns - to fight far from each other, where (hopefully) one can punch her enemy without being damaged. Scharnhorst could have escaped Duke of York if she could open the range and fire from 20,000-25,000m, where her guns designed specifically for "plunging fire" could have allowed her to keep the enemy at respect while returning to safe waters. Allowing the enemy to come so close had been the worst tactical error in the battle, and direct result of Bey's blunder with the destroyers.

~Ovidius

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Erik E
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Post by Erik E » 09 Sep 2002 17:02

Anyone who knows the name of these 5 destroyers??

EE

Ovidius
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Post by Ovidius » 09 Sep 2002 17:14

They were just numbered: Z-29, Z-30, Z-33, Z-34 and Z-38.

~Ovidius

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Post by Erik E » 09 Sep 2002 22:07

Thanks a lot Ovidius! Helps a lot!!

EE

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admfisher
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Re: Tactical errors

Post by admfisher » 10 Sep 2002 04:34

Ovidius wrote:
varjag wrote: In her death-throes, the SCHARNHORST fought as splendidly as her WW 1 namesake did in the South Atlantic.


No other battleship could have resisted to 14in shells from 9,000-10,000m. That's why battleships have long-range guns - to fight far from each other, where (hopefully) one can punch her enemy without being damaged. Scharnhorst could have escaped Duke of York if she could open the range and fire from 20,000-25,000m, where her guns designed specifically for "plunging fire" could have allowed her to keep the enemy at respect while returning to safe waters. Allowing the enemy to come so close had been the worst tactical error in the battle, and direct result of Bey's blunder with the destroyers.

~Ovidius


In this battle the Duke Of York left the destruction of the Scharnhorst to the torpedo's of the cruiseres. The 14 gunned DoY could of hammer on Scharnhorst all night with out sinking her.

The sea were very ruff thus the lack of the full potential of the radar guided shells of the RN ships.
Then we take a look at Bismarck. She had a 12 inch main belt well Scharnhorst had a belt of 350 mm or 13.8 inch. When the Bismarck was engaged it was in decent seas, with a 16 in battleship as well as the sister of DoY the King George V.

Overall the Germans lost due to the superior gunnery of the allied ships and the number of them. Dont forget that the Scharnhorst lost her main director to a 8 in shell in the opening engagement.

In WWI the RN learned how well the Germans ships were made. Class for class they were better built warships. Not cruising ships. Doesnt matter the role the are built for what matters is a warship has to be able to take what is thrown at it.
In Jutland the Germans battlecruisers performed extermly well when compared to the British. When it came to punishment not one German ship went down in the fighting. After the the fight the Lutzow was lost but only because of fear that the RN would find her the next day and the crew had to saved. The ship was shambles but could of been rebuilt.
What this comes down to is simple the German's made warships at least capital warships. The RN caught with the QE's and R class, but it took a punishing lesson to teach the RN about the ship building qualities in Germany.

Back to the DoY. This is the reason she left the seen. Once the ship was no longer a harm to the cruisers the DoY pulled back.

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de-gouden-ridder
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Post by de-gouden-ridder » 10 Sep 2002 19:03

Wow, what a lot of information.
well thanks a lot friends.

Thanks for all this effort.

I think I have an idee now

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admfisher
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The twins

Post by admfisher » 10 Sep 2002 22:18

I am supposed to be recieving some video of the Scharnhorst over the next couple of days, if your interested I can send it to you.

Grant

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de-gouden-ridder
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Post by de-gouden-ridder » 11 Sep 2002 05:50

A video? I would say: 'do you want to sent it to me when you saw it'.
But unfortunatly, we do not live in the neighberhood. :(

I'll think There will be vidoes in the bigger bibs of the counrty, maybe I will check them out.

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