For Phylo!!!! BATTLECRUISERS!!!

First World War 1914-1918 from the German perspective.

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For Phylo!!!! BATTLECRUISERS!!!

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:19 pm

Say Phylo, recall when I closed my Battlecruiser Thread because I had posted one before? Well, a new look at them, especially for you!

First issue! Most modern shipologists (I just made that term up for this thread!) regard the Derfflinger class as the ultimate WWI class of WWI battlecruisers. Personally, I don't agree, as S.M.S. Seydlitz seems to me to be just as survivable a design. What are your thoughts?

Secondly, remember the small affair of S.M.S. Goeben making its way to Turkey and the reluctance of four British armored cruisers to fight them? I remember that the British Admiral in charge of those four cruisers was court-martialed, but acquitted. What would you have done in his circumstance, considering that Goeben was only escorted by Breslau, a light cruiser?

Third--and here comes the fun stuff--supposing that Imperial Germany didn't muster its Battlecruiser force into one squadron! Supposing that each Battlecruiser, with a fast consort, were sent out to raid the sea lanes--would this have caused a fatal weakening of the Grand Fleet, as it deployed Battlecruisers and Battleships away from it to fight the raiders?

Would this have given the High Seas Fleet a better chance at a decisive engagement? Remember too, please, the disruption that the Bismarck sortie in WWII caused to the Royal Navy and the number of ships deployed to sink her! I assume that the British wouldn't have sent a single ship out alone after a German Battlecruiser, or, if they did, they might well have lost that ship....

So, what do you think?

P.S., despite its title, this Thread is hardly meant for Phylo alone, but for all Feldgrauians who like "What If?" theories! So, enjoy, my many friends!!!

Bestens,
~D, Kapitan Zur See
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Post by phylo_roadking » Thu Mar 20, 2008 7:22 am

I'll take the first aspect first

SMS Seydlitz, laid down 1913, enlarged/modified Moltke class

Speed: 26.5 knots
Range: 4,700 nm at 14 knots
Complement: 1,068
Armament: 10 × 11.2 in (284 mm) / 50 caliber guns (5 × 2)
12 × 5.9 in (150 mm) guns
12 × 3.45 in (88 mm) guns

Notable features - raised forecastle improving her seakeeping over the original Moltkes, 1 knot faster, thicker armour and new turret design.

SMS Derfflinger, laid down 1913, Moltke-class "successor"

Speed: 25.5 knots
Range: 5600 nmi at 12 kn
Complement: 44 officers and 1,068 men
Armament: 8 x 30.5 cm (12") SK L/50 in 4 twin turrets
12 x 15 cm (5.9") SK L/45 in 12 single turrets
4 x 8,8 cm (4 x 1) in 4 single mounts
4 x single 50 cm torpedo tubes

Notable features - the first German capital ship to have a flush deck design, secondary armament wasn't casemated.

I think the BEST way to compare them is to find a good comparison we're probably more used to - the Hurricane and the Spitfire! BOTH are RAF monoplane fighters of the late 1930's, both designed as fast eight-gun interceptors and air superiority fighters.

BUT the Hurricane is the end-design of Hawkers' development path through the very late 1920s and the early 1930's and have significant features, sometime even gross overall design features, carried through from earlier biplane fighters and light day bombers from that factory. Only limited further development was done through the first five years of the war, with these limited to adaptation for new roles and easier production, rather than any overall performance increases that couldn't be accomodated as the design was firmly "dated".

An old design stretched to the nth of its possibilities - like the Seydlitz.

Whereas the Supermarine Spitfire, the first monoplane fighter produced by the company and pulling in new design principles from Supermarine's racing experience, was the better candidate for further development and design "stretching" including a far greater number of "mark" improvements stretching it's base performance considerably and keeping it competitive throughout the war.

A new class with modern design features incorporated at start of project - like the Derfflinger.

It's comparing two different design paths, one at the end of it's design life where no real major differences are possible after the Seydlitz, the other a new design commencing at "state-of-the-art" point with room for much more development - the Derfflinger.

The damage both took and how survivable they proved at Jutland is notable. First the Derfflinger -
she was herself heavily damaged by hits from ten 15-inch, one 13.5-inch, and ten 12-inch heavy shells, and took on 3,000 tons of water. One 15-inch shell struck Derfflinger's "D" turret and detonated inside, killing most of the turret crew, rendering it useless. One 15-inch shell from Revenge penetrated Derfflinger's "C" barbette, knocking it out of action. She nevertheless was able to limp home, and the resulting repairs took her out of commission for four months. This was the highest amount of hits on a ship not sunk at the Battle of Jutland;
Now the Seydlitz;
Seydlitz was heavily damaged herself, being hit by twenty-one heavy shells and one torpedo and suffering 98 men killed and 55 injured. She shipped over 5,000 tons of water, reducing her freeboard to almost nothing, but made it back to the Jade Estuary, where she was deliberately beached...Thereafter, Seydlitz was extensively lightened by removing as much equipment from her as possible, including her guns, and refloated so that she could limp into port. She was immediately taken in hand for repairs - a process that took five months to complete - and was back in service with the High Seas Fleet in November, 1916. She would serve as Hipper's flagship for most of the rest of the war
Given the notable vulnerability of battlecruisers as a class - leaving aside the problem that the BRITISH battlecruisers were far worse LOL - the older-but updated Seydlitz took greater damage from the same number of hits and took longer to repair than the Derfflinger, which absorbed greater damage but remained afloat and made it to dock under her own steam...AND took a marginally shorter time to repair. AND she was a harder hitter in the battle itself.

Don't forget - Seydlitz almost HAD succumbed to the deadly magazine fire weakness of early and mid battlecruiser designs at Dogger Bank in 1915 :wink: On that occasion only fast human intervention saved her, definitely not any facet of her design :wink: Seydlitz had the more eventful, longer career, but wasn't the better ship.
Last edited by phylo_roadking on Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by phylo_roadking » Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:05 am

The Goeben Incident in a Wiki-Style nutshell...
The pursuit of Goeben and Breslau began on 1 August when the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, ordered the British Mediterranean Fleet, commanded by Admiral Sir Berkley Milne, to shadow the German ships and prevent them from disrupting the transport of French troops from Algeria to France. Souchon managed to slip away from his pursuers while returning to Messina. Unclear orders to Milne that he was to avoid engagement with a superior force (intended to refer to the Austrian fleet) inhibited him from attempting to interfere with Souchon's squadron.

Souchon was intent on taking his ships to Constantinople, a course the British did not anticipate, and when he emerged from the Straits of Messina heading east, only the "Town" class light cruiser HMS Gloucester was in a position to pursue. On 7 August, Gloucester engaged Breslau and Goeben, despite being outgunned, in an attempt to delay their escape. The engagement ended without any hits being scored and Gloucester resumed tailing the German ships until ordered to disengage.

Souchon had a trouble-free passage through the Aegean Sea, replenishing coal on 9 August, and anchored at the Dardanelles on 10 August. After several days of diplomatic negotiations, Goeben and Breslau passed through the mine barriers guarding the Straits and were conducted to Constantinople where on 16 August they became ships of the Turkish navy in a diplomatic manoeuvre that assisted in bringing the Ottoman Empire into the war on the side of the Central Powers.
and
Near the western coast of Greece, the pursuit of the Goeben and the Breslau was taken up by four more British ships, led by Milne's second-in-command, Admiral Sir Ernest Charles Thomas Troubridge. Troubridge's ships were smaller and slower than the Goeben, they were also outgunned. Troubridge and his gunnery officer determined they could not intercept the German ships before daylight. They concluded that the enemy battlecruiser's superior speed and range would allow it to maintain enough distance to pick off Toubridge's ships at leisure before they could ever get close enough to engage effectively
The term "Court Martial" can often be misleading - as it is in THIS case :wink:
The escape of the Goeben and the Breslau effectively ended the careers of British admirals Milne and Troubridge. Milne served out the rest of the war without commission on half-pay, while Troubridge was assigned to land-based duties below his rank for the remainder of the war. Only the captain of the Gloucester received commendation, for having at least exchanged gun fire with the fleeing Germans.

Troubridge was granted his request for a review of his actions. The review found no fault, but Troubridge was still never given another command at sea. Troubridge later served with professionalism in the difficult post of naval attache to the Serbs, who faced a considerable "brown-water" threat from Austrian gunboats on the Danube River
He made a sound decision in combat conditions, and when HE asked for a judicial review by the only mechanism available in the Royal Navy - his actions were vindicated. What happened afterwards - given that vindication - to Milne and Troubridge was definitely the sh1tty end of the stick, and was simple payback for the arrival of the Goeben and Breslau bringing Turkey into the war on the enemy side.
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Post by phylo_roadking » Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:42 pm

Remember too, please, the disruption that the Bismarck sortie in WWII caused to the Royal Navy and the number of ships deployed to sink her! I assume that the British wouldn't have sent a single ship out alone after a German Battlecruiser, or, if they did, they might well have lost that ship....
I'll deal with this bit first LOL The Bismark Sortie didn't cause disruption...it caused dispersal. By the start of WWII it was quite clear that apart from the Mediterranean, where it was possible the British could end up fighting the Italians - the Home fleet's role was to prevent the breakout of German commerce raiders. What else in real terms did the KM consist of??? A handful of badly-handling destroyers that exited stage left off Narvik, a hanful of WWI and before light cruisers...and the Panzerschiffe. There was aboslutely NO way this mixed bag of ships could field anything more than a battlegroup-sized balanced force at one time, leaving one or more classes fatally vulnerable in the fleet mix...

Therefore it was obvious from BEFORE Day One of the war - and merely confirmed when the Graf Spee began operations - that the KM's "capital" ships were going to be used as primarily commerce raiders OR in support of other Wehrmacht operations, the KM fleet couldn't and from Day One of the war didn't operate as a fleet, so the RN was free to draw up plans accordingly. And among those plans was the tripwire scenario of dispersing fleet units from Scapa to patrol the four channels of the Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap once a breakout of one or more KM capital ships was confirmed.

The only time the Admiralty's plans for handling a panzershiffe breakout threatened to come apart was when the Hood was lost. THAT allowed the Bismark to get into the Atlantic...without the POW in immediate pursuit because of the damage done to her. The only "disruption" therefore was actually the calculated stripping of a number of other major fleet units from convoy duty and Gibraltar to put themselves across various courses the Bismark could take. In other words - the Admiralty immediately and from scratch created a range of OTHER tripwires...

This is hardly "disruption" LOL, its actually VERY good planning; short-notice planning maybe, but still "planned" ...
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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Thu Mar 20, 2008 9:15 pm

Hi Phylo! Gods, you can be counted on to pick up an honest challenge, can't you!!!

Well, give me a day to get my sources in order and we can go about it properly!!!!

Very Best, Good Friend!!

David :D :up:
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Post by Andy H » Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:26 am

One of the biggest restrictions upon these ships carrying out a prolonged merchant raiding campaign would be the lack of suitable coaling or re-supply stations available to them in distant waters

During WW1 the British naval dominance and proliforation of coaling stations etc was more pronounced than in WW2 and any diversion of resources would have been minor in my opinion.

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Re: For Phylo!!!! BATTLECRUISERS!!!

Post by Davide Pastore » Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:10 pm

Commissar D, the Evil wrote:Most modern shipologists (I just made that term up for this thread!) regard the Derfflinger class as the ultimate WWI class of WWI battlecruisers. Personally, I don't agree, as S.M.S. Seydlitz seems to me to be just as survivable a design. What are your thoughts?
The disposition of guns is Seydlitz is, to use the most diplomatic term, not very rational. Actually I would use other terms...

IMHO this reason alone is sufficient to classify Derfflinger as superior.
Commissar D, the Evil wrote:Supposing that each Battlecruiser, with a fast consort, were sent out to raid the sea lanes
Problem A - calculate how many days such huge beast will burn its finite load of fuel, without any hope to refuel anywhere.

Problem B - IMHO (I might be wrong) Tirpitz era German warship designers could dedicate more tons to armor than RN ones because they devoted less tons to seakeeping. ISTM as a rule German freebord was lower than RN one, ship per ship (but the odd Seydlitz may be an exception, at least on the bow). For a fleet designed to operate into North Sea and Baltic this may be the correct solution, but it is no good for oceanic operations.

Early KM battleships (Deutschland & Scharnhorst) had originally a similar bow profile to Tirpitz's BCs, soon converted to clipper type as soon as oceanic operations became common. However Scharnhorst class remained a very wet ship even on a flat calm. Ans she was an updated version of Hipper's ships.

Problem C - Explain why it takes a battlecruiser to do a work an armed merchant could do just the same :wink:
Davide

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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Fri Mar 21, 2008 6:11 pm

Hi Andy! Hi Davide!!!! AH, good to see that an odd naval topic would lure you!!!

Okay, the coal issue is clear problem, as it was for virtually all warships in WWI.

I can't agree that Seydlitz took less damage than Derfflinger, but that is largely a matter of how one interprets the hits. Seydlitz' gun arrangement was an anarchism, but it still allowed for a ten-gun 11" broadside. Seydlitz made 28.13 knots on trial and I'd suggest that the two ship's deep water speed in loaded conditions was comparable. The sea-keeping ability of Seydlitz (ignoring the coal issue, again) is a double-edged sword, as usual.

If the purpose of sending the S.M.S. battlecruisers out is to both disperse British capital resources and sink convoys, then the armor devoted at the expenses of the sea-keeping ability is well spent. As with Bismarck, I don't see how the British could have used less than two battlecruisers to attack one Seydlitz or Derfflinger.

Which leads me back to one of Phylo's earlier posts. Admiral Troubridge was in fact court-martialed, the charge being Section 3 of the Naval Discipline Act, "..in that on the 7th day of August, 1914, from negligence or other default, you did forbear to pursue the chase of His Imperial German Majesty's ship Goeben, being an enemy then flying".

Troubridge's grudgingly successful and ultimately Pyhrric defense hinged on whether or not the Geoben and her consort were a "Superior Force" to his First Cruiser Squadron.

The fact that the Court's Martial accepted this defense proves only how deadly the specter of the Battlecruiser loomed in WWI naval minds. The subsequent destruction of Admiral Spee's cruiser squadron could only have reinforced this perception. So, I argue that the sight of three or four German battlecruisers reaching the atlantic would have been certain to provoke a drastic response by the R.N. in terms of deploying its cruiser and battlecruiser forces.

This may have been enough of an edge to enable the Hugh Seas Fleet to make a successful sortie against a weakened Royal Navy. And perhaps a shift in the naval balance of power, even if one or two of the German battlecruisers were ultimately destroyed.

Bestens,
David
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Post by Davide Pastore » Sat Mar 22, 2008 12:32 am

Commissar D, the Evil wrote:I don't see how the British could have used less than two battlecruisers to attack one Seydlitz or Derfflinger.
In their shoes, I won't.

I would have kept the extant three-groups divisional structure, and send them on chase in the Atlantic. Meanwhile the two dozens+ dreadnoughts wait at Scapa Flow, to trip any German ship trying to return.

P.S. remember that German raiders in the oceans can't afford the slightest speed reduction, or they will became easy prey by battleships. So, even if on paper Hindenburg vs. 3rd BCS looks at least even, in reality the German commander should think twice or thrice before accepting the combat.
Commissar D, the Evil wrote:This may have been enough of an edge to enable the Hugh Seas Fleet to make a successful sortie against a weakened Royal Navy
The balance between GF & HSF 'with' or 'without' BCs is more or less the same. Your scenario is true only if HSF manages to perfectly coordinate the movements so that the two fleets meet when most German BCs are returning but most British BCs are lost in the ocean. Very unlikely.

P.S. the reason behind me being cold toward Tirpitz's toys, is that I'm deeply convinced the existence of those toys was the one and only reason why Germany didn't win WW1 before Christmas (or, the one and only reason why Germany lost WW1).
Davide

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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:03 am

P.S. the reason behind me being cold toward Tirpitz's toys, is that I'm deeply convinced the existence of those toys was the one and only reason why Germany didn't win WW1 before Christmas (or, the one and only reason why Germany lost WW1).
Well Davide, I can't resist this one, would you care to elaborate?

Best,
David
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Post by Davide Pastore » Sat Mar 22, 2008 12:22 pm

I hope you didn't suppose Tirpitz's toys were given to him by Santa Claus...

1) Take the money wasted into those useless ships

2) Spend it in the army budget

3) Take the two-three extra armies so created and place them on the German right flank along the Marne

4) notwithstanding the little fact that Germany is not at war with Britain in 1914 (actually, Britain is possibly in friendlier terms with Germany than with France)
Last edited by Davide Pastore on Sat Mar 22, 2008 12:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by phylo_roadking » Sat Mar 22, 2008 12:36 pm

I COULD be wrong....but in some of those LOOOOOONG threads about the causes of WWI on AHF - did I read that actually the German Army was under-establishment on artillery in Summer 1914??? I could stand to be corrected though. I'm NOT going to read back through several dozen pages...
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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sat Mar 22, 2008 12:54 pm

I hope you didn't suppose Tirpitz's toys were given to him by Santa Claus...
Uh gee Davide, should I take the rest of your post in the same vein?

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Post by Davide Pastore » Sat Mar 22, 2008 1:05 pm

Commissar D, the Evil wrote:Uh gee Davide, should I take the rest of your post in the same vein?
The point looks obvious, if one thinks about costs.

IIRC (vague memories of Ritter's mammoth work) the army foresaw the problem since the beginning of Tirpitz era, but the Kaiser really wanted the battleships (for reasons better explained by Freud 8) ) so the objection was overruled.
Davide

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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sat Mar 22, 2008 1:59 pm

I hope you didn't suppose Tirpitz's toys were given to him by Santa Claus...
The point looks obvious
Yes, precisely.

Forgive me Davide, but I think that amongst adults--particularly those who have corresponded with each other in the past--it is very bad form to begin a post with an implied insult to the other person's intelligence. This should be an absolute rule of courtesy between us, considering that, while I may have disagreed with you in the past, I have never disrespected you!

Do I have to pull out the books to tell you exactly how much each of these BBs and BCs cost in early 1900's currency, or will you grant me the point that I am not totally foolish enough to ignore the economic consequences of building a modern battle fleet from scratch?

The question after that, of exactly what those consequences meant, in terms of the Germans waging a successful war in 1914, was the portion of your red-printed post that interested me.

You can argue that all of this expense and the manpower involved in maintaining the High Seas Fleet, deprived Germany of an additional army corps or two at the beginning of WWI. Or you can argue that, had the fleet fulfilled it mission, the English economic blockade of Germany would have failed. Of course, if you argue the first point, then you have to think that perhaps nothing would have changed if Samsonov and Rennenkampf had immediate support from another Russian Army during the Prussian campaign or, even if the Germans had an extra army available, it wouldn't have mattered, since, if the Russians had been successful in their invasion, they would have reached Berlin before the Germans reached Paris.

I don't mind either argument, as it is all theory, but please do not treat me like an idiot in your opening remarks. It is not something a gentleman should do......

Bestens,
David

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