Seelöwe - let's discuss German naval escorts

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Christian W.
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Seelöwe - let's discuss German naval escorts

Post by Christian W. » 25 Apr 2007 07:54

Split from: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=117160 by the moderator - Andreas

It seems that people are forgetting that Germans were not planning to send the vessels carrying the invasion forces to the channel all by themselves. Germany had several major and minor surface warships warships that could be used to provide cover for the invasion fleet and soften up enemy defenses. Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper, pocket battleships Admiral Scheer and Lützow, light cruisers Nürnberg, Köln and Emden, 9 destroyers and a number of torpedo boats, E-boats, minehunters and smaller vessels.

Obviously because these vessels would posses (and would certainly be increased for the invasion) formidable anti-aircraft weaponry.

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Post by Andreas » 25 Apr 2007 09:21

Christian W. You really need to inform yourself a bit better before barging in:

Scharnhorst was in repair June - December 1940
Gneisenau was in repair July - December 1940

Both due to damage received in their sortie in June, Scharnhorst hit by a torpedo from Acasta, Gneisenau by a torpedo from submarine Clyde.

Lützow was in repair until spring 1941 due to hits when breaking into Oslo and a crippling torpedo hit by submarine Spearfish.

Scheer was undergoing trials in the Baltic until October following her conversion work earlier in the year. She could have been pulled out, but whether she would have been ready is questionable without further investigation.

That leaves the light cruisers. At least with those you are right. Hipper you did not mention, but she was available (repairs finished 7 September - but see below post by Rich).

Weserübung and the follow-on battles were the equivalent of a train wreck for the German surface units. They lost over half their destroyers, a CA sunk (Blücher), a CL sunk by air (Königsberg) and one CL sunk by sub (Karlsruhe), one artillery training ship lost to British sub Sterlet (Brummer), and one torpedo boat lost at Oslo (Albatross). In terms of temporary losses, they had their two most powerful units (Scharnhorst and Gneisenau) disabled for up to half a year, lost a Panzerschiff for almost a year, and had a CA taken out for almost half a year (Hipper).

http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=632

http://www.magweb.com/sample/sconflic/co03wesn.htm

http://www.germannavy.de

If you have comparative (and real!) numbers for E-boats and MTBs in German and British service, step right up. I count 31 E-boats for the Germans (assuming that conversions of the oldest did not happen until after Seelöwe was supposed to take place).

All the best

Andreas
Last edited by Andreas on 25 Apr 2007 15:39, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Andreas » 25 Apr 2007 09:55

Now, with the nonsense about the availability of the large units out of the way.
Christian W. wrote:Obviously because these vessels would posses (and would certainly be increased for the invasion) formidable anti-aircraft weaponry.
Obviously, these vessels would be quite busy defending themselves against the British fleet, which would come bearing down on them with a bit more than 1 CA, 3 CLs and 9 destroyers. This would make their contribution to aerial defense of convoys highly doubtful. You need to keep in mind that the convoy will run at an average speed of 2.5 kts, while any naval unit, as soon as it starts to maneuver to engage a British naval unit, would need to pick up speed and have to abandon close escort of the convoy (if indeed they were in close escort in the first instance). Again, this would make it impractical for naval escorts to contribute to aerial defense of convoys.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by LWD » 25 Apr 2007 12:56

Even if they did that's less than 1 naval vessel of DD size or bigger for every 100 or so transports, barges, and tugs.

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Post by RichTO90 » 25 Apr 2007 14:48

Andreas wrote:That leaves the light cruisers. At least with those you are right. Hipper you did not mention, but she was available (repairs finished 4 September).
Actually Andreas, she wasn't at least not in the real world. :D In Fantasyland™ she may have been operational (after an unsuccessful Arctic cruise, 25 July-9 August, she put into Wilhelmshaven for maintenance, 12 August-9 September), but infortunately when she put to sea for trials when the work was completed on 30 September 1940 she suffered a major engine casualty, which put her out of action until 28 October. :P :roll:

As for the rest, I've had some fun digging into the reality.

KA Availability circa 15-30 September 1940

Heavy Units = zero

Light Units
CL Emden – built in 1921 and considered obsolete, used only as a training ship, although she was also utilized as a troop transport for Weserübung. Armed with 8 15cm, 2 8.8cm, and 2 2cm guns, 4 torpedo tubes, and 120 mines.
CL Königsberg – sunk 10 April 1940.
CL Karlsruhe – sunk 9 April 1940
CL Köln – the sole survivor of the K-class, they were collectively considered to be of short endurance and structurally unsound. Armed with 9 15cm, 6 8.8cm, and 8 2cm guns, 12 torpedo tubes, and 120 mines.
CL Leipzig – damaged by torpedoes of HMS Salomon 15 December 1939 and out of commission until 1 December 1940.
CL Nürnberg – armed with 9 15cm, 8 8.8cm. 8 3.7cm, and 4 2cm guns, 12 torpedo tubes, and 120 mines.
Bremse (training ship) – armed with 4 12.7cm, 4 3.7cm, and 2 2cm guns.

Number Available = Four, except they weren't part of the escort force, they were to be a diversion in the North Sea.

Destroyers and Torpedo Boats
Z1-Z3 – sunk
Z4 – Available
Z5 – Available
Z6 – Available
Z7 – 25 August 1940 puts into Kiel following major engine casualty. Unavailable.
Z8 – Available
Z9 – sunk.
Z10 – Available
Z11-Z13 – sunk
Z14 – Available
Z15 – Available
Z16 – Available
Z17-Z19 – sunk
Z20 – Available
Z21-Z22 – sunk
Z23 – commissioned 15 September 1940 and working up until March 1941
Z24-Z25 – not commissioned yet.
Z26 – commissioned 11 January 1940 and possibly available.

Number Available or Possibly Available = 10

TB Möwe – torpedoed by HMS Taku on 9 May 1940 and in repair until spring 1943.
TB Seeadler – Available
TB Albatros – sunk by coastal batteries at Oslo Fjord 10 April 1940.
TB Greif – Available
TB Kondor – Available
TB Falke – Available
TB Wolfe – Available
TB Iltis – Available
TB Luchs – torpedoed and sunk 26 July 1940 by HMS Clyde.
TB Tiger – sunk in collision 25 August 1939.
TB Jaguar – Available
TB Leopard – sunk in collision 30 April 1940.
T1 – damaged by bomb hit 18 September 1940 and in repair until 5 October 1940.
T2 – Available
T3 – Heavily damaged in air attack at Le Havre 19 September 1940 and not re-commissioned until 12 December 1943.
T4 – commissioned 27 May 1940 and first operational 5 October 1940.
T5 – Available
T6 – Available
T7 – Available
T8 – Available
T9 – commissioned 4 July 1940 and first operational 5 October 1940.
T10 – commissioned 6 August 1940 and first operational 27 October 1940.
T11 – Available, but badly damaged by bombs on 17 September
T12 – commissioned 3 July 1940 and first operational 27 October 1940.

Captured
TB Panther – Norwegian, available, but used for coastal escort between Norway and Germany
TB Löwe – Norwegian, available, but used for coastal escort between Norway and Germany
TB Leopard – Norwegian, available, but used for coastal escort between Norway and Germany
TB Tiger – Norwegian, available, but used for coastal escort between Norway and Germany
TB Troll – Norwegian, too old for active duty and converted to a supply ship by fall 1940
TB Zick – Norwegian, available, but used as harbor patrol vessel in Norway
TB Zack – Norwegian, available, but used as harbor patrol vessel in Norway
KT1 – Norwegian, used as coastal patrol in Norway
NS28 – Norwegian, used as coastal patrol in Norway
Kürassier – Norwegian, used as coastal patrol in Norway
Tarantel – Norwegian, used as coastal patrol in Norway
Balte – Norwegian, used as coastal patrol in Norway, salvaged after being scuttled it was in poor condition
Admiral Deinhard – Norwegian, used as a utility harbor boat
Schlange – Norwegian, used as coastal patrol in Norway
Eidechse – Norwegian, used as coastal patrol in Norway
Schildkröte – Norwegian, built in 1899 and too old for service, used for harbor patrol in Norway
Seestern – Norwegian, built in 1900 and too old for service, used for harbor patrol in Norway
Qualle – Norwegian, built in 1902 and too old for service, used for harbor patrol in Norway
Krokodil – Norwegian, built in 1902 and too old for service, used for harbor patrol in Norway

Total Available = 12
Possibly or Nearly Available = 6
Available, but operating in Norwegian waters = 19 (only four of which may have been useful)

U-Boot
At the beginning of August there were 18 U-Boot available and two new boats became operational. However, two were lost and two old boats were retired as training vessels, leaving 16 available at the beginning of September. Another three became operational in September giving a maximum of 19 available (and the strength did not change in October, one joined but one was lost, leaving 19 – see Clay Blair’s two-volume history for additional details on the proposed operations).

Total Available = 19

S-Boot
31 were in commission, with two of those actually commissioning in September. Most accounts report about 24 operational along the Channel in September.

Support Vessels
To provide fire support for the landings the Germans planned on using a number of ancient, captured vessels. They were:

Norwegian – Harald Harfarge (1897) and Tordenskjöld (1897), each 2 21cm, 6 12cm, 6 7.6cm, and 6 1-pdr guns, their machinery was still capable of 14 kt. They were converted to AA batteries and renamed Nymphe and Thetis.
Holland – Vlieereede (1902) and Ijmuiden (1906), one with one and one with two 24cm guns
Denmark – Niels Juel (1918, 10 15 cm and 15.9 kts)) and Peder Skram (1910, 2 24cm and 4 15cm)

Smaller 'Escort' Vessels included (note that the numbers of each of these actually available is uncertain, I am going by the numbers specifically or typically assigned to each flotilla and I would be greatful for any additional information):

Minensuchboot – Either purpose designed minesweepers of the 1935-class (M1-39), which were armed with one 10.5cm and 2 2cm guns, 4 depth charges, and could carry 30mines in a mine laying role or fishing trawler conversions, typically with one 8.8cm and one or two 2cm guns. 29 of the 1935-class were available, plus at least 66 converted fishing trawlers were available according to the layout of the flotillas.
Vorpostenboot – Patrol boats typically armed with one or two 8.8cm, up to 9 2cm, and a number of MG. At least 67 were available according to the layout of the flotillas.
Räumboot – Mineclearing vessels converted from small fishing cutters and armed typically with three or four 2cm guns. At least 45 were available according to the layout of the flotillas.

Hope that helps.

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Post by Andreas » 25 Apr 2007 15:37

Thanks Rich, that is an extremely useful list. And thanks for the correction regarding Hipper. I mistyped the date (should be 7, not 4), but the info on German Navy.de indicated it would be available.
German-Navy.de wrote: 12.08 - 07.09.1940: Repairs in Wilhelmshaven.
12.09 - 18.09.1940: Admiral Hipper is planned to be used for support operation for "Operation Seelöwe".
30.09 - 28.10.1940: Repairs in Hamburg after engine failure.
All the best

Andreas

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Post by Andreas » 25 Apr 2007 15:50

Rich

One class of ships you have not in your list were the 1935 Flottenbegleiter, apparently an unsuccessful design.

http://www.deutsche-kriegsschiffe.de/Sc ... leiter.htm

F5 may still have been available, and F6 was actually slated for Seelöwe duty and sent to Rotterdam - of course, they may not have made it to the Channel due to their apparently unreliable engines, but they were there, and at least reasonably armed (2x10.5, 4x 3.7 in double mount, 4x 2 in single mount, depth charges, mines).

All the best

Andreas

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Christian W.
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Post by Christian W. » 25 Apr 2007 16:27

Scharnhorst was in repair June - December 1940
Gneisenau was in repair July - December 1940

Both due to damage received in their sortie in June, Scharnhorst hit by a torpedo from Acasta, Gneisenau by a torpedo from submarine Clyde.

I am aware of that, but my memory regarding the damage caused was clouded (I have done quite a bit of actual research regarding the ships in the past), and the german-navy.de which I used as a quick source merely stated that the ships were "in dock", not that they were undergoing major repairs.
Lützow was in repair until spring 1941 due to hits when breaking into Oslo and a crippling torpedo hit by submarine Spearfish.
Yes, I made a mistake with that. German-navy.de does say so too but I read wrong. I'm sorry.
Hipper you did not mention
Actually I did.
she (Admiral Hipper) suffered a major engine casualty, which put her out of action until 28 October.
How do you know that the engine failure could not have been avoided? I am not familiar with details of the breakdown. Are you?
Heavy Units = zero
I do not agree with this. For me the case of Admiral Hipper is still questionable and so is the case of Admiral Scheer.

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Post by Andreas » 25 Apr 2007 17:08

Lemaire Soft's Naval Ecyclopedia wrote:Troubles with machinery obliged her to break off her mission and sail back to Wilhelmshaven, where she arrived on August 11th for a four weeks revision. Under the orders of her new commandant, Kapitän zur See Meisel, she prepared for a new mission.

The first raid in the Atlantic (Operation "Nordseetour")
In the morning of September 24th, the Hipper left Kiel with an escort of four torpedo boats for an attempt to break into the Atlantic, but a technical hitch while in the Skagerrak forced her to make a stop in Kristiansand in the South of Norway for repairs. The second attempt two days later ended even more quickly with a new machinery problem, which left the ship dead in the water for two hours, with wind force 8 to 9. A makeshift repair allowed her to reach Kiel and then Hamburg for definitive repairs. These lasted until October 28th and were followed by trials in the Baltic before an after-test revision in Kiel (November 17 to 25th).
Looking at this, I doubt she would have been available. It appears as if the engines had not been adequately fixed during the month in dock.

I think that leaves Scheer as the only realistic large unit (excluding the two pre-dreadnoughts).

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Christian W. » 25 Apr 2007 17:13

(excluding the two pre-dreadnoughts).
I was going to mention them, and as far as I know neither had sustained damage during the Norwegian campaign. They were old, slow, but well armored to take fire from cruisers (not battlecruisers, of course) and minor warships and had firepower to fight back.
Last edited by Christian W. on 25 Apr 2007 17:40, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Andreas » 25 Apr 2007 17:16

They had also just been retired in July, and turned into dormitory ships. It would be interesting what exactly that meant, and where their crews went.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Tim Smith » 25 Apr 2007 17:30

Christian W. wrote: I do not agree with this. For me the case of Admiral Hipper is still questionable and so is the case of Admiral Scheer.
I agree with Christian (for once!)

In the case of Operation Seelöwe, we are talking about sheer, absolute desperation on the part of Grand Admiral Raeder. He'd be even more desperate than Admiral Kurita of the IJN was at Leyte Gulf. With his massively outnumbered force, Raeder HAS to protect the invasion fleet - there's no choice, no option, no room for caution, standard operating procedures (S.O.P.) get thrown out of the porthole.

The Germans would be forced to throw in every vessel they had, fully serviceable or not, fully worked up or not, ready or not!


Hipper would be thrown into the fray - and would likely suffer the historical engine failure actually during the operation itself (oops!) If that happened, it means that Hipper would almost certainly be sunk.

Admiral Scheer would also be thrown in, even with her trials following the recent refit still incomplete. Likely she too would suffer some reliability issues, hopefully minor as during the trials, but possibly more serious given the greater stress of combat operations. And being the heaviest ship available to the Kriegsmarine, the greater part of the RN effort would be focused against her, which means that she would likely be sunk too.

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Post by Andreas » 25 Apr 2007 17:35

Tim

Since the first engine failure occured when Hipper passed the Skaggerak, I think it is reasonable to assume that she would be committed, but not make it to the battle. ;-)

Regarding Scheer I tend to agree - had the invasion been ordered, she would have been sent to protect it. I also think that had they been in active service, the Schlesien and Schleswig-Holstein would be sent, but I am not sure what their conversion in July meant for their ability to participate in the task.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Christian W. » 25 Apr 2007 17:36

It would be interesting what exactly that meant, and where their crews went.
The crews were obviously still around, as both ships took part in military operations during Operation Barbarossa.
I am not sure what their conversion in July meant for their ability to participate in the task.
Just something temporary I'd say.

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Post by RichTO90 » 25 Apr 2007 17:50

Andreas wrote:Thanks Rich, that is an extremely useful list. And thanks for the correction regarding Hipper. I mistyped the date (should be 7, not 4), but the info on German Navy.de indicated it would be available.
Why yes, in Fantasyland™ she could have been, which likely means that in the middle of the operation they would have been trying to figure out how to tow her out of the Channel. :D

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