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German High Seas Fleet, Worth The Investment?


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#21 Ken Estes

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 2148 PM

Ah, now you are talking about Plan Z, the ambitious scheme hatched starting 1930 for a commerce raiding strategy intended to bring the RN to defeat by killing the pursuing TFs. Funded starting 1938, it was DIW by 1940. It was also based upon no war before 1944-48!


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#22 RETAC21

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Posted 20 April 2015 - 0026 AM

Andrés 14 years later the U boat proved it's worth


note the lack of success of U boats vs battleships, more of them wouldn't have altered rhe balance of forces, and the boats were able to inflict the losses of 1917 only because the Admiralty refused to implement convoys. By 1918 their menace had been conjured and they had no way to go back to happier times, unlike the electrobooten of ww2.
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#23 Markus Becker

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Posted 20 April 2015 - 0542 AM

"Yes, but how small? I also think the German Navy
could have relied on minefields and a smaller navy."

It needs to have more battleships(PDN and DN) than the Russian Baltic Fleet to keep that fleet bottled up. No need for any BC at all. Would not worry about the French. Distance and the Italians(naval rivals in the Med) would have much complicated an attempt to get into tje Baltic.
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#24 T19

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Posted 20 April 2015 - 0831 AM

True Ken, but spending money on those technologies would have had a better payoff. 



#25 glenn239

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Posted 20 April 2015 - 1429 PM

RETAC21 note the lack of success of U boats vs battleships, more of them wouldn't have altered rhe balance of forces, and the boats were able to inflict the losses of 1917 only because the Admiralty refused to implement convoys. By 1918 their menace had been conjured and they had no way to go back to happier times, unlike the electrobooten of ww2.

 

 

 

Demonstrated poor performance against modern battleships (almost always encountered in ‘convoy’) and less effective against convoys in general, at least until ‘wolfpack’ tactics could evolve.  But in the main the biggest drawback was that USW tactics would risk war with the United States.

 

Markus Becker - It needs to have more battleships(PDN and DN) than the Russian Baltic Fleet to keep that fleet bottled up. No need for any BC at all. Would not worry about the French. Distance and the Italians(naval rivals in the Med) would have much complicated an attempt to get into tje Baltic.

 

 

The 1935 Anglo-German naval treaty suggests that the British would have been happy with a 35% ratio, which is also about par for dominating the Russians in the Baltic.  However, if limiting themselves to 8 dreadnoughts, these maybe could have been kitted to the pips – heavily armed and armored, 25kt, long range.   

 

Stuart The only ones who seemed not to see that it was a serious option, ironically, were the Germans themselves.

 

 

 

E-boats would have been an asset in the Channel, pretty handy for the small Belgian ports. 


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#26 Markus Becker

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Posted 20 April 2015 - 1520 PM

Heavily armed and heavily armored, very fast and with a long range?

The mind boggles given the technical complications. The ships of the German Navy had highly inefficient direct drive turbines for starters. I'd cut DN construction in half: two Helgolands, two Nasssus, two Kaisers, two Königs and not a single BC.
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#27 Markus Becker

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Posted 21 April 2015 - 0916 AM

There was some speculation in an online article (I forget where) that the Battlecruisers were, potentially, the most useful of the lot. Germany had the ability to put one of the BCs into an commerce raiding role in the atlantic.

 

One word: Range!

 

Without geared turbines and oil fired boilers the ship would not have had the required endurance. One or two high speed sprints and the coal bunkers are empty.


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#28 glenn239

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Posted 21 April 2015 - 0930 AM

The ships of the German Navy had highly inefficient direct drive turbines for starters. I'd cut DN construction in half: two Helgolands, two Nasssus, two Kaisers, two Königs and not a single BC.

 

 

 

I was thinking something like –

 

VDT (1905)

 

Moltke (1906)

 

Seydlitz (1907)

 

Derfflinger (1908)

 

Derfflinger (1909)

 

4x Mackensen (1910, 11, 12, 13)

 

4x Super Mackensen (1914, 15,16,17)

 

 

Assuming an Anglo-German treaty limit of 8 ship in service, then the older ships eventually get sold to foreign customers.  Germany would have a fleet that can protect the hell out the Baltic, but also could undertake oceanic missions as well.


Edited by glenn239, 21 April 2015 - 0942 AM.

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#29 Markus Becker

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Posted 21 April 2015 - 1323 PM

My point is that in wartime steaming at the most economical speed is usually impossible and steaming at higher speeds consumes a disproportionate amount of fuel.

I'd still put merchant raiding high on the agenda of an alternate German Navy. With French shipping being the prey of small cruisers and armed merchant ships.
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#30 RETAC21

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Posted 21 April 2015 - 1345 PM

If you are going for a smaller fleet, avoiding the antagonising of the British Empire is a good thing. Then neutral bases are not a problem. Further, the RN can help breaking any blockade the French put up if they can be convinced the French are Bad. But that runs in the inability of the Kaiser in keeping in good relation with anyone.


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#31 Andres Vera

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Posted 21 April 2015 - 1359 PM

I'd argue that it was worth the cost, the problem was that it never was used so... fully committed against the RN as was, for example, the Imperial Army. Jutland made the HSF pointless, how different would it have been if something decisive (in a daily, strategic way) would have happened at Jutland.


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#32 RETAC21

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Posted 21 April 2015 - 1652 PM

Dont forget that in Jutland the Grand Fleet main body was scarcely engaged, the fleets were large enough that decisive results were not achievable.
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#33 Ken Estes

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Posted 21 April 2015 - 1823 PM

Jutland was a defeat for the Germans at the outset. The HSF was not intended or desired to confront the entire GF at sea, prepared, as was the case. Tirpitz and the fleet commanders clearly knew this.

 

Tirpitz mentioned in his memoirs that the one opportunity for success was in 1914, to use the HSF to interrupt the LC of the BEF and engage a portion of the GF, or both. But of course, this was ignored in the rush to the modified Schlieffen Plan operations of the army. T thought that the opportunity came in the immediate aftermath of the Scarborough Raid, where Adm Ingenohl was at sea with the entire HSF [85 ships, but had not told the Kaiser of such intentions] backing up Hipper, and only Beatty and a single squadron of the most modern BB's were sent to sea, under VAdm Warrender. Had the HSF continued past Dogger Bank, Beatty was understrength with only four battlecruisers [3 sent to S American waters] and Warrender had 6 BBs. Hipper had his 4+Bluecher and Ingenohl had 22 battleships. 

 

The Kaiser was upset at the lost opportunity to engage under such favorable conditions, but did not modify his restrictions that had led Ingenohl to withdraw upon Hipper's return.

 

At Scapa, Jellicoe protested that Warrender's force was adequate to defeat Hipper, but not if the HSF was at sea. He did not know then that it was because only the signal of Hipper's departure had been received and decoded. J resolved to use the entire GF in the future for such operations and moved Beatty's command to Rosyth to better counter further raids by Hipper.

 

The potential loss of ten of the best capital ships of the RN, reversing the odds in the No. Sea, was thus in the offing but never again. The chance never again occurred. That's a very narrow premise to build the German fleet.


Edited by Ken Estes, 21 April 2015 - 1825 PM.

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#34 Andres Vera

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Posted 21 April 2015 - 1959 PM

Also, those two years between the start and Jutland, gave the British time to aquaint themselves with screwed torpedoes, and their actual effects in actual war, something that affected the actions at Jutland.


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#35 Adam_S

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Posted 21 April 2015 - 2230 PM

It's worth remembering that the Grand Fleet didn't really do what the Germans expected it to do. RN fleets had always carried out close blockade of an enemy coast and this would have the HSF an excellent opportunity to whittle down RN numbers by action between capital ships as well as by mines, submarine torpedoes etc.

 

Sadly for the HSF, the RN wasn't stupid, hence distant blockade instead.


Edited by Adam_S, 21 April 2015 - 2231 PM.

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#36 glenn239

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Posted 23 April 2015 - 0902 AM

 

Markus My point is that in wartime steaming at the most economical speed is usually impossible and steaming at higher speeds consumes a disproportionate amount of fuel.

 

 

 

The idea is that navies have to build the ships they need and can’t make excuses about how things should be easier.  Tirpitz decided he needed a navy whose strategic function Ken Estes just summarized with, “that's a very narrow premise to build the German fleet.”

 

 

Hindenburg was 26,500 tons, 8 x 12” guns, about 27kt with battleship scale armor and 4,900 tons of fuel including 1,200 tons oil capacity, allowing for underway at-sea refueling.  At 12kt Stuart says she was good for 6,400nm, or 1.3 miles per ton.  At 24kt, maybe .33 miles per ton, or a ‘sprint’ range on oil of 400nm or a ‘cruise’ range on oil of 1,500nm.  The oil capacity is crucial because this is the at-sea refueling capacity.

 

Instead of 8 x 12” guns for Hindenburg, make it 6 x 15” guns instead – that’s a net increase in firepower on roughly the same weight.  Increase the range capacity to 12,000nm with speed  at maybe 26kt and the armor weight as is.  Triple the oil capacity from 1,200 to 3,600 tons and double the coal capacity from 3,700 to 7,400 tons, so that the ‘sprint’ range on oil is over 1,000nm – this allows a BC to ‘break out’ using only oil.

 

To build Derfflinger like that, you’re probably looking at a 36,000 ton ship, but with the combat power of a 26,000 ton ship.  To do it for the Mackesen Class, maybe 40,000 tons instead of 30,000 tons, and for the Super Mackensens, maybe 50,000 tons instead of 40,000.  Well, that’s tough – if Germany wanted a free lunch it should have been where Spain is instead, right?

 

If the six classes of battleship from Deutchland to Baden are not built, and nor are Scharnhorst Class, Seydlitz, Blucher, or Hindenburg, that’s 675,000 tons of warships not built.  It’ll cost maybe an extra 20,000 additional tons to build a pair of Derfflinger BC’s for 12,000nm range,  maybe another 160,000 tons for the Mackensens at 40,000 tons each, and maybe 200,000 tons for the Super Mackensens.  Plus maybe another 20,000 tons cost to expand the Kiel Canal even further for the SM’s.  That’s 420,000 tons, or a net savings of 255,000 tons, the savings which can be spent on a nice class of 8,000 ton ocean going  6” cruisers with scads of endurance and speed, a duo or trio of 35,000 ton 24kt underway replenishment ships with 6” guns and maybe 22,000 tons fuel capacity, more submarines and seaplanes, E-boats, and a strategic oil reserve for the fleet.


 


Edited by glenn239, 23 April 2015 - 0905 AM.

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#37 glenn239

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Posted 23 April 2015 - 1535 PM

Stuart Im sure there are flaws, but as far as theory goes, its not a bad one.

 

 

 

There’s a discussion elsewhere to the effect that fleet in being is a useless strategy that has never worked.  Say what one will about commerce raiding, it’s not fleet in being.  (Breaking out is harder than breaking in, but for breaking out at least the supply ships can be pre-positioned in the Norwegian Sea and North Atlantic).

 

It’s not often discussed, but I think the Germans played a poor hand in The Hague conventions that set the international law for neutrality, in war on land and war at sea.  I don’t know enough about the negotiations to say they were outfoxed or not, just that the end product doesn’t look like the best case scenario for the German navy. 


Edited by glenn239, 23 April 2015 - 1537 PM.

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#38 Adam_S

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Posted 23 April 2015 - 2053 PM

 

Hindenburg was 26,500 tons, 8 x 12” guns, about 27kt with battleship scale armor and 4,900 tons of fuel including 1,200 tons oil capacity, allowing for underway at-sea refueling.  At 12kt Stuart says she was good for 6,400nm, or 1.3 miles per ton.  At 24kt, maybe .33 miles per ton, or a ‘sprint’ range on oil of 400nm or a ‘cruise’ range on oil of 1,500nm.  The oil capacity is crucial because this is the at-sea refueling capacity.

 

Instead of 8 x 12” guns for Hindenburg, make it 6 x 15” guns instead – that’s a net increase in firepower on roughly the same weight.  Increase the range capacity to 12,000nm with speed  at maybe 26kt and the armor weight as is.  Triple the oil capacity from 1,200 to 3,600 tons and double the coal capacity from 3,700 to 7,400 tons, so that the ‘sprint’ range on oil is over 1,000nm – this allows a BC to ‘break out’ using only oil.

 

To build Derfflinger like that, you’re probably looking at a 36,000 ton ship, but with the combat power of a 26,000 ton ship.  To do it for the Mackesen Class, maybe 40,000 tons instead of 30,000 tons, and for the Super Mackensens, maybe 50,000 tons instead of 40,000.  Well, that’s tough – if Germany wanted a free lunch it should have been where Spain is instead, right?

 

If the six classes of battleship from Deutchland to Baden are not built, and nor are Scharnhorst Class, Seydlitz, Blucher, or Hindenburg, that’s 675,000 tons of warships not built.  It’ll cost maybe an extra 20,000 additional tons to build a pair of Derfflinger BC’s for 12,000nm range,  maybe another 160,000 tons for the Mackensens at 40,000 tons each, and maybe 200,000 tons for the Super Mackensens.  Plus maybe another 20,000 tons cost to expand the Kiel Canal even further for the SM’s.  That’s 420,000 tons, or a net savings of 255,000 tons, the savings which can be spent on a nice class of 8,000 ton ocean going  6” cruisers with scads of endurance and speed, a duo or trio of 35,000 ton 24kt underway replenishment ships with 6” guns and maybe 22,000 tons fuel capacity, more submarines and seaplanes, E-boats, and a strategic oil reserve for the fleet.

 

That all makes sense, but the question is what does the RN do in response? Do we get a load of proto-Hoods or more Tigers instead of some of the BB's built for the Grand Fleet historically? If so, that makes the job of German heavy raiders a bit tougher.


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#39 glenn239

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Posted 24 April 2015 - 0805 AM

That all makes sense, but the question is what does the RN do in response?

 

 

 

The RN would build similar ships in twice the numbers, I’d guess.  And since the RN doesn’t have to waste 25% of displacement (or whatever) for additional range, their Lions would be bringing the same combat power to the party on 26,000 tons as a Derfflinger would be on 36,000 tons.  Big ocean though.

 

Another option might be based on the Blucher.  She already was a decent raider (6,600nm cruise).   Add another 5,000 tons displacement for additional range, and instead of 12 x 8.3” in six turrets, make it 6 x 11” in three turrets.  Eight of these would be a flexible fleet for under 200,000 tons, albeit, which could not stand up to a BC one on one.


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#40 Marek Tucan

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Posted 24 April 2015 - 0822 AM

This is just pointless exercise in resource wasting. The KM was bottled up in case of war against Britain due to geography - few raiders breaking through would not change much, they would just take longer to be hunted down (by superior Allied forces). Coal/oil is not all and Allies would have big leverage with the neutral countries - even bigger, possibly, if the raider's actions threatened the neutral countrie's trade.

 

Really the only way how to keep empire and have useful navy would be alliance with Britain and navy for Baltic and flag showing. War with Britain means loss of oversea communications anyway and even without battleships to match RN invasion/bombardment is unlikely as long as Germany maintains good enough North Sea coastal defences.


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