Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

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

Post by Urmel » 15 Jan 2023 15:37

Peter89 wrote:
15 Jan 2023 07:58
Urmel wrote:
14 Jan 2023 23:11
Peter89 wrote:
14 Jan 2023 22:04
glenn239 wrote:
14 Jan 2023 16:25
Peter89 wrote:
14 Jan 2023 14:59
Really? Never heard of this one! The French delivered supplies to the Axis forces in Africa? Were these supplies more like stockpiles or new deliveries?
I think The War Against Rommel's Supply LInes covers this. When Rommel took over DAK, I recall that one of his original recommendations was the occupation of Tunisia in order to take advantage of the excellent deep water ports there. This was obviously rejected, but the idea of contracting supply via Vichy Tunisia was pursued. I don't think it had amounted to much actual material delivered to Tripoli by the time of Torch though.
In theory the Germans were free to use French ports from May 1941 onwards. However, cargo arriving to Tunisia is half a continent away from Egypt, so I'm not sure how big of a help it would be.
I think the bigger benefit would have been the use of the railways in Tunisia, even though that ended at Gabes.

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ma ... ruary-1943
Weren't they allowed to use that railway, or any railway for that matter?
I think that the only way this would have worked was by occupying Tunisia. You cannot have a supply run through a country you don't control. As that request was turned down again and again, there was no point using it.
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: Kriegsmarine surface ships are more aggressive in the Atlantic.

Post by glenn239 » 15 Jan 2023 15:45

Peter89 wrote:
15 Jan 2023 09:19
Hello Paul, I do not see how extensive refuelling and cooperation would work without interpreters, joint exercises and the such. I doubt that the IJN would send its limited number of fleet oilers into the Indian Ocean to support German operations there. It was also quite rare to use prize crews and send the ship to a foreign port; not to mention that Japan had conquered a proper resource base by 1942.
Paul's proposal was on how the Axis could have better coordinated in the Indian Ocean. Talking about intra-allied friction as the means to bailing out the British is not convincing. What the British could have done about it, had it occurred?

Also the Japanese would never send a sizeable portion of their fleet into the Red Sea. It would be a recipe for disaster. The fleet contingent would be totally exposed to aerial attacks, mines and land-based batteries. Also the Suez Canal could not be approached without encountering an armed patrol. And this is not a "what if", but a certainity.
Invading Ceylon was a legitimate 2nd Phase option - it was actually contemplated. A lighter version requiring less IJA cooperation might seize the Maldives and Madagascar.

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

Post by Peter89 » 15 Jan 2023 17:14

glenn239 wrote:
15 Jan 2023 15:45
Peter89 wrote:
15 Jan 2023 09:19
Hello Paul, I do not see how extensive refuelling and cooperation would work without interpreters, joint exercises and the such. I doubt that the IJN would send its limited number of fleet oilers into the Indian Ocean to support German operations there. It was also quite rare to use prize crews and send the ship to a foreign port; not to mention that Japan had conquered a proper resource base by 1942.
Paul's proposal was on how the Axis could have better coordinated in the Indian Ocean. Talking about intra-allied friction as the means to bailing out the British is not convincing. What the British could have done about it, had it occurred?
A lot. The British controlled all strategic points around the Indian Ocean. The Axis have lost ports on the west side of the ocean in the Spring of 1941, thus rendering the Japanese occupation of the eastern side in early 1942 a semi-success.

Earlier Japanese invasion was unlikely and the Germans could only cling to their bases on the west side if they embarked on a Southeastern / Mediterranean strategy, which they didn't for multiple reasons. Even then, their cooperation with the IEA and Japan would be seriously marred with material deficiencies and the strong British positions at virtually all key points.

What a better coordinated Axis effort could achieve was more sunk ships in the Indian Ocean and probably the fall or the evacuation of the Suez base. But for the fall of the British Empire nothing less would do than the fall of British India, and even then it was questionable. And that was not about to happen unless some event occured that is beyond the scope of rational analysis, and rather belongs to the realm of fantasy.
glenn239 wrote:
15 Jan 2023 15:45
Also the Japanese would never send a sizeable portion of their fleet into the Red Sea. It would be a recipe for disaster. The fleet contingent would be totally exposed to aerial attacks, mines and land-based batteries. Also the Suez Canal could not be approached without encountering an armed patrol. And this is not a "what if", but a certainity.
Invading Ceylon was a legitimate 2nd Phase option - it was actually contemplated. A lighter version requiring less IJA cooperation might seize the Maldives and Madagascar.
Invading Ceylon is rather dubious, it was the main source of natural rubber for the Allies, thus they would not let it go smoothly. Japanese amphibious capabilities might have been enough on the spot, but unlikely to be enough if the British try to retake the island so far away from Japanese bases and so close to theirs.

As Allied numbers grew and Axis numbers dwindled, the ultimate fate of an Axis occupation of Ceylon is not a mystery to me.

Also do not underestimate the strategic importance of the British strongpoints and their capabilities to patrol and control the seas. I went through the reports of the Indian Ocean blockade runners, and I am familiar with the Axis voyages into the Indian Ocean as well. Chances are that the American industrial output combined with the British key strategic positions would destroy the Axis presence in the Indian Ocean by 1944 the latest - and that is actually something the Axis could do nothing about.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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

Post by glenn239 » 17 Jan 2023 00:27

Peter89 wrote:
15 Jan 2023 17:14
A lot. The British controlled all strategic points around the Indian Ocean. The Axis have lost ports on the west side of the ocean in the Spring of 1941, thus rendering the Japanese occupation of the eastern side in early 1942 a semi-success.
The results of the Indian Ocean Raid seem to suggest that even a partial application of Japanese naval power was more than the British could handle, even in the heart of their position around Ceylon.
What a better coordinated Axis effort could achieve was more sunk ships in the Indian Ocean and probably the fall or the evacuation of the Suez base. But for the fall of the British Empire nothing less would do than the fall of British India, and even then it was questionable. And that was not about to happen unless some event occured that is beyond the scope of rational analysis, and rather belongs to the realm of fantasy.
So if the British did face the fall of India, would they press the US for a separate peace with Japan in order to stave off total disaster?

Invading Ceylon is rather dubious, it was the main source of natural rubber for the Allies, thus they would not let it go smoothly. Japanese amphibious capabilities might have been enough on the spot, but unlikely to be enough if the British try to retake the island so far away from Japanese bases and so close to theirs.
British supply sources were the United Kingdom, which was not anywhere near Ceylon.
Also do not underestimate the strategic importance of the British strongpoints and their capabilities to patrol and control the seas. I went through the reports of the Indian Ocean blockade runners, and I am familiar with the Axis voyages into the Indian Ocean as well. Chances are that the American industrial output combined with the British key strategic positions would destroy the Axis presence in the Indian Ocean by 1944 the latest - and that is actually something the Axis could do nothing about.
Speaking of unlikely forms of Allied cooperation, I would rate the US as somewhat uninterested in the Indian Ocean.

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

Post by Peter89 » 17 Jan 2023 08:05

glenn239 wrote:
17 Jan 2023 00:27
Peter89 wrote:
15 Jan 2023 17:14
A lot. The British controlled all strategic points around the Indian Ocean. The Axis have lost ports on the west side of the ocean in the Spring of 1941, thus rendering the Japanese occupation of the eastern side in early 1942 a semi-success.
The results of the Indian Ocean Raid seem to suggest that even a partial application of Japanese naval power was more than the British could handle, even in the heart of their position around Ceylon.
That "partial application" of Japanese naval power actually exceeded that of Midway where carrier forces were concerned. Also the uncanny resemblance of the two operations suggests that the problem was with the Japanese carrier doctrine - and with Nagumo's leadership as well.

The British were not defeated with the loss of an old light carrier, two cruisers and merchant shipping equalling the Scheer's sortie. By June the defences of Ceylon were greatly improved, its aircraft forces beefed up and the navy's base of operations relocated to East Africa.

Chances are that the Japanese - even if they embark on a joint mission with the Italians and Germans to defeat Britain - would continue to attack the way they did at Ceylon and Midway, thus they would be soundly defeated at one of the British or American strongholds. And because there were so many...
glenn239 wrote:
17 Jan 2023 00:27
What a better coordinated Axis effort could achieve was more sunk ships in the Indian Ocean and probably the fall or the evacuation of the Suez base. But for the fall of the British Empire nothing less would do than the fall of British India, and even then it was questionable. And that was not about to happen unless some event occured that is beyond the scope of rational analysis, and rather belongs to the realm of fantasy.
So if the British did face the fall of India, would they press the US for a separate peace with Japan in order to stave off total disaster?
If the fall of India happened before the US entered into the war and without the SU being in the war, then I think yes, the British might consider to cut a deal with at least one of the Axis powers. But of course the liberation of India can only be done by the Indians.
glenn239 wrote:
17 Jan 2023 00:27
Invading Ceylon is rather dubious, it was the main source of natural rubber for the Allies, thus they would not let it go smoothly. Japanese amphibious capabilities might have been enough on the spot, but unlikely to be enough if the British try to retake the island so far away from Japanese bases and so close to theirs.
British supply sources were the United Kingdom, which was not anywhere near Ceylon.
Hardly. Supplies does not simply mean manufactured goods like weapons, and I think you know that as well. For example, the majority of the supplies to the Suez base in this time period actually came from India, not to mention a significant number of troops.
glenn239 wrote:
17 Jan 2023 00:27
Also do not underestimate the strategic importance of the British strongpoints and their capabilities to patrol and control the seas. I went through the reports of the Indian Ocean blockade runners, and I am familiar with the Axis voyages into the Indian Ocean as well. Chances are that the American industrial output combined with the British key strategic positions would destroy the Axis presence in the Indian Ocean by 1944 the latest - and that is actually something the Axis could do nothing about.
Speaking of unlikely forms of Allied cooperation, I would rate the US as somewhat uninterested in the Indian Ocean.
I have no idea about that. What I know for sure is that the Americans played for world domination in WW2, which only the British could give them; and for that they would try to defeat Britain's enemies on every ocean and every patch of land.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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

Post by Orwell1984 » 17 Jan 2023 15:23

ImageImage

For those interested in the Indian Ocean Campaign, I would highly recommend these two titles.
The author is currently studying and living in Japan, speaking the language fluently ( conclusion drawn from the fact he is presently studying law at the Tokyo Metropolitan University) Extensive use is made of Japanese archives as well as Admiralty and other English sources and the author has received an award for his research from the Japanese government.

Summarizing his conclusion, he argues that this operation was a tactical victory but not a strategic one for the Japanese. British losses were not crippling (he ranks the loss of Cornwall and Dorsetshire higher than Hermes) and the Eastern Fleet remained a threat. Ceylon reinforcements arrived quickly with air losses made up in a short time (22 fighters sent from Middle East for example to deal with immediate losses). Given this and other historical factors he does not rate the chance of a successful invasion of Ceylon highly.
A very interesting part of the second book is the inclusion of the Battle Lessons report from the Hiryu and 5th Carrier Division. One thing that is referenced is the poor Japanese reconaissance abilties. The 5th's report mentions " the search unit's poor reconnaissance performance". Mention is also made of the attack by 11 Squadron's Blenheims which took the Japanese completely by surprise. From the report " In the raid by the twin-engined heavy [sic] enemy bombers on 9 April, the actual situation was that none of the vessels spotted the enemy until just before being bombed from right above their own unit or until just after being bombed". Lookout skills on Japanese ships were lamented and needed to be upgraded.

As I stated at the beginning these two books contain a wealth of information for those interested in this subject.

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

Post by Asher S. » 02 Mar 2023 07:36

Sad to see this thread completely derailed by discussions about nonesense like Japan sailing its fleet to Germany somehow to help the KM. Anyone remember when Russia tried that against Japan? The steel behemoths beneath the Tsushima straits can attest the outcome, and that’s without the Japanese bases dotted all around the global route of getting there in 1905 that the British had in the 1940s.

The original thread topic is actually reasonable, nowhere is it said this would “win Germany the war”, only a far better use for its surface ships than up against the more strongly escorted Arctic convoys.

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

Post by Peter89 » 02 Mar 2023 08:34

Asher S. wrote:
02 Mar 2023 07:36
Sad to see this thread completely derailed by discussions about nonesense like Japan sailing its fleet to Germany somehow to help the KM. Anyone remember when Russia tried that against Japan? The steel behemoths beneath the Tsushima straits can attest the outcome, and that’s without the Japanese bases dotted all around the global route of getting there in 1905 that the British had in the 1940s.

The original thread topic is actually reasonable, nowhere is it said this would “win Germany the war”, only a far better use for its surface ships than up against the more strongly escorted Arctic convoys.
Well the idea behind the original post is problematic.
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.
The problem what ""Solandarman" doesn't see is that ships did not operate in a vacuum. They needed intelligence data, air cover of many sorts, supply ships, dockyards and bases. At the time of the Channel Dash, there was no more chance for a linkup with the Italian fleet, gradually waning chance to break out into the Atlantic undetected, they were constantly bombed and the supply network was practically destroyed. No more long voyages into the South Atlantic or into the Indian Ocean. Also the chance for relocating into Casablanca, Dakar, IEA, Madagascar, etc. was practically zero as the Vichy French became gradually estranged from the Germans and the Germans used up their resources for the battle of survival in the Soviet Union.

The decision to relocate the fleet was sound under the circumstances it was made. The Norwegian bases were close to an important supply route, thus there was no need for new bases or supply ships. The Luftwaffe was much stronger there than the Allied air forces thus it removed the threat of aerial inferiority. Also the polar nights gave the surface ships a chance to launch an operation and get into striking range without being detected - something the French coast could simply not offer.

The window of opportunity for surface actions ceased to exist when Hitler attacked the SU instead of the Mediterraneum.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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

Post by glenn239 » 04 Mar 2023 20:53

Asher S. wrote:
02 Mar 2023 07:36
The original thread topic is actually reasonable, nowhere is it said this would “win Germany the war”, only a far better use for its surface ships than up against the more strongly escorted Arctic convoys.
There was a thread on Alternative History on the possible use of the Graf Zeppelin and II zeppelins in WW2. These were scrapped in April 1940 and melted down to make aircraft, (a zeppelin weighed as much as about a dozen twin engine bombers).

One proposal (mine) was that if something like a Freya radar and other sensors could be adapted to these ships, that they might be able in 1940/1941 to contribute to the Atlantic convoy wars by detecting and tracking convoys at long range, allowing surface ships and U-boats to be used more efficiently. (I thought that a zeppelin with an adequate radar might be able to sweep as much as 600,000 square km a day in the Black Gap, the deep Atlantic outside Allied air patrol range). Presumably at some point a fighter or four-engine patrol aircraft would catch up with them.

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

Post by Peter89 » 05 Mar 2023 16:29

glenn239 wrote:
04 Mar 2023 20:53
Asher S. wrote:
02 Mar 2023 07:36
The original thread topic is actually reasonable, nowhere is it said this would “win Germany the war”, only a far better use for its surface ships than up against the more strongly escorted Arctic convoys.
There was a thread on Alternative History on the possible use of the Graf Zeppelin and II zeppelins in WW2. These were scrapped in April 1940 and melted down to make aircraft, (a zeppelin weighed as much as about a dozen twin engine bombers).

One proposal (mine) was that if something like a Freya radar and other sensors could be adapted to these ships, that they might be able in 1940/1941 to contribute to the Atlantic convoy wars by detecting and tracking convoys at long range, allowing surface ships and U-boats to be used more efficiently. (I thought that a zeppelin with an adequate radar might be able to sweep as much as 600,000 square km a day in the Black Gap, the deep Atlantic outside Allied air patrol range). Presumably at some point a fighter or four-engine patrol aircraft would catch up with them.
The operational problem with Zeppelins is their limited ability to withstand bad weather conditions, and their limited speed, which is not ideal for this kind of missions. Being such huge, lumbering targets filled with flammable gas doesn't help their cause either. It was no wonder why the flying boats defeated them at the transatlantic and extremely long range flights' market. As the WW1 experience with airships made it clear, these were not really reliable maritime patrol aircrafts.

But by far the biggest practical problem with the Zeppelins is the first RAF attack on the Zeppelins' base. It would have been impossible to camouflage them, to shelter them or in any way to protect them. If one tiny HE bomb or a single salvo of machine gun fire gets through the German AA fire and fighters, then 10 FW 200 worth of materials go infernal.

I would think, however, that the only real use of airships would be the occasional air transport (not air assault) of very heavy or special equipment over great distances where enemy air defenses were minimal or nonexistent. Germany was capable of supplying its troops in Southeastern Africa already in 1917, as the journey of L59 shows us. By WW2, the LZ 127 and LZ 130 could have been employed on a number of missions, to deliver supplies, troops or weapons to places where its technological edge mattered, like the vertical landing or the nonexistent need for airfield facilities. Narvik, the Middle East and Africa immediately comes into my mind. I find it a bit strange that Göring scrapped them for that very small amount duraluminium (representing about 2% of the Luftwaffe's allocation for that year) before Germany could extend its aerial dominance over much of the continent, and also the prior experiences proved the LZ 127 to be a very good aircraft with an extremely experienced crew.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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

Post by glenn239 » 07 Mar 2023 18:32

Peter89 wrote:
05 Mar 2023 16:29
The operational problem with Zeppelins is their limited ability to withstand bad weather conditions, and their limited speed, which is not ideal for this kind of missions. Being such huge, lumbering targets filled with flammable gas doesn't help their cause either. It was no wonder why the flying boats defeated them at the transatlantic and extremely long range flights' market. As the WW1 experience with airships made it clear, these were not really reliable maritime patrol aircrafts.
To be specific, the Graf Zeppelin II could do abut 70kt, stay aloft for 5 days, and fly at altitudes up to 6,000 feet. In terms of material, it was about the same as about 9 Sunderland flying boats by weight. In terms of search capacity, assuming good radar performance, maybe about the same as 30 U-boats. As you say, if encountering a 4-engine patrol aircraft, its destruction would be likely. OTOH, if a zeppelin put even one wolf pack onto an east bound fully loaded convoy, it had already 'paid' for itself, and a militarized version of the airship could seek to replace the civilian gondola with something more survivable in a shoot down scenario.
But by far the biggest practical problem with the Zeppelins is the first RAF attack on the Zeppelins' base. It would have been impossible to camouflage them, to shelter them or in any way to protect them. If one tiny HE bomb or a single salvo of machine gun fire gets through the German AA fire and fighters, then 10 FW 200 worth of materials go infernal.
RAF night raids into central Germany in the 1940-1941 time periods had difficulty finding entire cities. By 1942, any Zeppelin strategy would be getting long in the tooth as escort carriers and the Azores closed The Black Gap.

I would think, however, that the only real use of airships would be the occasional air transport (not air assault) of very heavy or special equipment over great distances where enemy air defenses were minimal or nonexistent.
Assuming a Zeppelin could detect a convoy at 100-150 miles using a modified radar setup, then obviously its primary utility would be tracking convoys to guide surface warships and U-boats onto target, or assisting warships being pursued.
I find it a bit strange that Göring scrapped them for that very small amount duraluminium (representing about 2% of the Luftwaffe's allocation for that year) before Germany could extend its aerial dominance over much of the continent, and also the prior experiences proved the LZ 127 to be a very good aircraft with an extremely experienced crew.
Agreed. The loss of the two zeppelins in operation would amount to the negligible, but their operational characteristics were extremely useful. There was a 3rd zeppelin being built when the war broke out, but apparently it was not far along when also scrapped in 1940.

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

Post by Orwell1984 » 07 Mar 2023 18:58

I notice the first part of Peter's reply has been glossed over.
The operational problem with Zeppelins is their limited ability to withstand bad weather conditions
What part of the world's oceansare noted for having particularly bad weather?

The North Atlantic.

This was a huge challenge for ships during WW2 let alone lighter than air vessels.

This whole passage from the Airships website is worth a read :
https://www.airships.net/hindenburg/fli ... rocedures/
The Weather

The weather was perhaps the single most important factor in zeppelin operations. As Captain Lehmann once told a group of passengers on a tour, the meterological space “is where our mental processes begin; we study the weather and then we plan our flights.”

Weather Maps

During a north Atlantic crossing, the officers of Hindenburg drew four weather maps a day, based on information received by radio from land stations and ships at sea, as analyzed and relayed by the Deutsche Seewarte at Hamburg and radio station NAA of the United States Weather Bureau. Hindenburg would also contact ships sailing over its intended course for additional weather information, and a chart showing the location of seagoing vessels on the Atlantic was maintained for this purpose.

Hindenburg’s officers spent much time preparing the daily weather maps and consulted them extensively while flying the ship. The first duty of an officer beginning his watch was to make a detailed study of the most recent weather map.

The officers used these maps both to avoid dangerous fronts and squalls when possible, but also to take advantage of storms to increase speed and efficiency through the technique of pressure pattern navigation.

Two of the daily maps were large scale, covering the entire area from the interior of the United States to Russia, while two of the maps were less extensive, and covered primarily the Atlantic ocean. The relative scarcity and frequent inaccuracy of the weather reports passed on by ships at sea, however, was a source of of difficulty for the officers relying on this information to chart the weather.

Thunderstorms

While the German officers generally viewed Hindenburg as an all-weather ship, they were very sensitive to the danger of thunderstorms and generally kept their ship below the clouds so they could observe and assess threatening clouds before entering them. In Hugo Eckener’s 1919 instruction guide for zeppelin operations (the closest thing the crew of the Hindenburg had to a flight manual), Eckener stated: “The fundamental principle covering squalls and thunderstorms is: If possible, avoid such cloud formations!”

Thunderstorms presented two principal risks; the potential for structural damage, and the possible ignition of hydrogen by electrical activity. The Germans were very sensitive to the possibility of structural damage caused by the violent convective activity in and around thunderstorms (such as the structural failure which destroyed the USS Shenandoah). The Hindenburg’s officers were also aware of the danger posed by thunderstorms when operating with hydrogen as a lifting gas. Since the strong updrafts of a thunderstorm could cause the ship to rise above pressure height, resulting in the automatic release of flammable hydrogen in an electrically charged environment, Hindenburg’s officers generally went to great lengths to avoid operating in or near thunderstorms, and one of Hugo Eckener’s basic operating rules was that a zeppelin should never valve hydrogen in a thunderstorm.
At the time the use of Zeppelins are being posited for convoy work, I'm quite sure weather reports from the United States Weather Bureau will no longer be accessible to the crew.

Ships at sea? Few and far between and as noted not that accurate or available to the Germans.

Given the German's experience with lighter than air craft, reliable weather reporting is essential for them to operate any Zeppelins over the North Atlantic.

Until reliable and consistent weather reporting is available to them, this plan is a non-starter.

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

Post by Peter89 » 07 Mar 2023 19:11

glenn239 wrote:
07 Mar 2023 18:32
Peter89 wrote:
05 Mar 2023 16:29
The operational problem with Zeppelins is their limited ability to withstand bad weather conditions, and their limited speed, which is not ideal for this kind of missions. Being such huge, lumbering targets filled with flammable gas doesn't help their cause either. It was no wonder why the flying boats defeated them at the transatlantic and extremely long range flights' market. As the WW1 experience with airships made it clear, these were not really reliable maritime patrol aircrafts.
To be specific, the Graf Zeppelin II could do abut 70kt, stay aloft for 5 days, and fly at altitudes up to 6,000 feet. In terms of material, it was about the same as about 9 Sunderland flying boats by weight. In terms of search capacity, assuming good radar performance, maybe about the same as 30 U-boats. As you say, if encountering a 4-engine patrol aircraft, its destruction would be likely. OTOH, if a zeppelin put even one wolf pack onto an east bound fully loaded convoy, it had already 'paid' for itself, and a militarized version of the airship could seek to replace the civilian gondola with something more survivable in a shoot down scenario.
I have doubts about that. A Fw 200 cruising at 330 km/h can do different things than the Graf Zeppelin II at 110 km/h. It's not as simple as "3 times of that".
glenn239 wrote:
07 Mar 2023 18:32
But by far the biggest practical problem with the Zeppelins is the first RAF attack on the Zeppelins' base. It would have been impossible to camouflage them, to shelter them or in any way to protect them. If one tiny HE bomb or a single salvo of machine gun fire gets through the German AA fire and fighters, then 10 FW 200 worth of materials go infernal.
RAF night raids into central Germany in the 1940-1941 time periods had difficulty finding entire cities. By 1942, any Zeppelin strategy would be getting long in the tooth as escort carriers and the Azores closed The Black Gap.
(Excerpts from Fw 200 Condor vs Atlantic Convoy 1941-43 by Robert Forczyk)

The first raid on Bordeaux-Merignac took place on the night of November 22–23, 1940, and saw 32 bombers destroy four hangars and two Fw 200s on the ground.

So yes it happened, and quite early in our timeline to make a real impact on the Atlantic operations.

Three follow-up raids were unsuccessful and it was not until the raid on April 13, 1941, that three more Condors were destroyed at the base.

Thus it was not a one-time wonder.

Bomber Command continued to raid the airfield on occasion, but Luftwaffe anti-aircraft defenses improved to the point that no more Condors were destroyed on the ground. Given that Bomber Command’s aircraft had little ability to hit point targets at night and were generally missing their aim points by about 3km (2 miles) or more in 1940–41, the fact that 191 sorties on Bordeaux-Merignac destroyed five Condors on the ground is remarkable.

I'm not inclined to call it an inescapable rule or historical necessity that planes like FW 200 would be destroyed on the ground. I'd accept if you'd call it a bit lucky, given Bomber Command's poor performance in other occasions.

But how hard could it be to hit one zeppelin? The RAF destroyed the gigantic Ju G38 on the ground in May 1941 (~300 m2 wing area). Ju 90 had ~184 m2 wing area, the Condor ~120 m2. The LZ 127 had ~5700 m2 vertical surface, the LZ 130 ~7900 m2. We're talking about a 40 times bigger target, thus a 40 times bigger chance to hit it. If we count with the historical ~2.5% sortie-per-hit rate, it's about 100%.
glenn239 wrote:
07 Mar 2023 18:32
I would think, however, that the only real use of airships would be the occasional air transport (not air assault) of very heavy or special equipment over great distances where enemy air defenses were minimal or nonexistent.
Assuming a Zeppelin could detect a convoy at 100-150 miles using a modified radar setup, then obviously its primary utility would be tracking convoys to guide surface warships and U-boats onto target, or assisting warships being pursued.
I seriously doubt that it could be the case in 1939-1941, when the opportunity existed at all.
glenn239 wrote:
07 Mar 2023 18:32
I find it a bit strange that Göring scrapped them for that very small amount duraluminium (representing about 2% of the Luftwaffe's allocation for that year) before Germany could extend its aerial dominance over much of the continent, and also the prior experiences proved the LZ 127 to be a very good aircraft with an extremely experienced crew.
Agreed. The loss of the two zeppelins in operation would amount to the negligible, but their operational characteristics were extremely useful. There was a 3rd zeppelin being built when the war broke out, but apparently it was not far along when also scrapped in 1940.
The Germans never really gave a thought about their expeditionary forces, although those were extremely successful in both world wars.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 08 Mar 2023 16:00

At the time the use of Zeppelins are being posited for convoy work, I'm quite sure weather reports from the United States Weather Bureau will no longer be accessible to the crew.

Ships at sea? Few and far between and as noted not that accurate or available to the Germans.
There were post war records found of Abwehr agents that survived in the US into the war. One into 1945. They provided a thin trickle of information on weather reports from open sources and ships they could observe docking and departing east coast harbors. How useful that was I cant say. Successful intelligence is seldom based on the 'Golden Message', but rather on endless reading and analysis for bits and fragments. So, whatever the Abwehr obtained from the US agents had some sort of utility at least for background.

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 08 Mar 2023 16:09

I think that the only way this would have worked was by occupying Tunisia. You cannot have a supply run through a country you don't control. As that request was turned down again and again, there was no point using it.
The French did allow a token amount of iIalian material via Tunisia. Less than 100,000 tons over two years. That effort illustrated the limits. While the ports of Tunis & Bizerte were relatively high capacity the railway running south to Sfax was not. It had some limits & a typical army size transport of 50,000 to 100,000 tons daily was not possible. The greater problem was the rail terminated at Sfax. The material had to be sent on by automotive transport to Tripoli, along a paved but low capacity automotive road. Or by coastal freighter/barge.

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