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Author Topic: German Naval Vessels of WW2  (Read 1703 times)

Colin Bishop

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German Naval Vessels of WW2
« on: March 30, 2018, 11:38:01 AM »

 Nick’s unfortunate encounter on Facebook got me thinking about some of the things that some people unquestioningly believe such as Bismarck was a ‘supership’ and other German naval vessels were bigger and better than their counterparts abroad.
During WW1 German capital ships were certainly tough and absorbed a huge amount of punishment often thanks to their extensive compartmentation which was at the expense of liveability with the crews often in barracks when the ships were in port. The destroyers, many of them not more than torpedo boats were generally not very successful designs.
After the war however the Germans seemed to fall short with their designs, probably as a result of the armed forces being run down, and many of their vessels had quite serious faults. For example, off the top of my head:
The larger vessels had a propensity for the sterns to fall off as they were constructed with hull discontinuities where the ends of the armour belt were closed off by an athwartships bulkhead beyond which the stern was ‘tacked on. So damage in this area could result in the loss of the stern. Bismarck’s stern came away as she sank. Other ships also lost their sterns when torpedoed.
The high pressure steam plant in many ships gave constant problems, I think all the capital ships suffered to some extent as did the Hipper class cruisers and the big destroyers were notoriously unreliable
There were often serious seakeeping issues, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau had to have their bows rebuilt to give additional freeboard (the ‘Atlantic bow’). The big destroyers were top heavy and suffered from having the weight of a 5.9 inch twin turret well forward. The RN and USA had long realised that a 6 inch gun was pretty useless on a lively destroyer and unlikely to hit anything.
The ‘Pocket Battleships’ were an ingenious concept as being able to beat anything they couldn’t run away from but were of course vulnerable if confronted by a group of cruisers as at the River Plate. The Germans were quite alarmed that Exeter’s 8 inch shells were able to penetrate the Graf Spee’s armour. More importantly the PB’s diesels, intended to give a long cruising range were very unreliable as with the high pressure steam plants in other ships. They were also very large vessels for simply commerce raiding and converted merchant ships were far cheaper and more effective.
Bismarck was a beautiful looking ship but her great size masked a lot of fundamental faults apart from the weak stern. At a time when other navies were saving weight by using dual purpose secondary armaments she had a tertiary AA outfit which absorbed a lot of space and weight. She suffered from the same faults as the WW1 ships in that her cabling and communications were routed above the armoured deck and thus vulnerable to shellfire. Her armour belt was in fact thinner than British battleships although it seems to have stood up well in her final battle.In many respects she was indeed a ‘jumped up’ Baden which the RN had considered inferior to contemporary British ships when examined post WW1.
Submarines of course were another matter, maybe because the Germans had continued to develop deigns secretly after WW1.
Of course all the above can be discussed at great length which is rather more interesting than the dogmatic responses Nick got as to what constitutes a Dreadnought.
Colin
 
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raflaunches

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2018, 02:07:33 PM »

Hi Colin


It's certainly an interesting read and mis-conceptions about the WW2 German ships are very true. I think people think that because the ships were newer compared to many of the allied ships they were up against so automatically think that they must be better. The German resourcefulness used to make them however was phenomenal using techniques that were brand new which we still use today.
I think (other than U-Boats) the vessels that they certainly had a massive superiority over anything we had were the S-Boats or E-Boats as we called them. They were fast, powerful and could carry some serious firepower compared to the MTBs we operated. We didn't really match their standards of fast motor boats until 1943/4, and even then, they weren't as fast. The U-Boats were excellent vessels especially the later variants but I do think the earlier versions were no better than our P, S or T subs, just more fortunate with more targets available compared to what the allied submarines had to sink.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2018, 02:27:10 PM »

If you want to get into the subject of Bismarck in REAL depth.....  :o

http://www.combinedfleet.com/okun_biz.htm

Colin
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ballastanksian

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2018, 05:08:20 PM »


Then there is the issue of who were ships designed to fight?

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tassie48

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2018, 01:18:49 AM »

Colin the German S38 and the S100 class of Schnellboot were first class fighting machines 2 to 4 Torpedos up to 7 X 2cm guns some had the 3.7 cm gun aft or a Bofors 40mm Mine is fitted with the Flakvierling 4 Barrel 2cm gun they were quick handled well and after the war they were inspected by both the RN and the USN whom did like their performance and ride handling some MTB captains commented that they could have done with them in some firefights that took they toll .to each their own I like them tassie48
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Colin Bishop

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2018, 04:48:37 PM »

Yes, quite right, the Schnellboots were very effective craft, their diesel engines were a lot better, safer and more reliable than our petrol ones too.

Colin
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roycv

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2018, 10:44:47 AM »

Hi all, nice thread.  My understanding was that the Graf Spee was out manouevred with false information regarding the British ships waiting for her so leading to her being scuttled.
From memory the Graf Spee was launched in 1934 but when refitted in 1937 had the first ship radar installed.  Although the presence in Montevideo was filmed and reported no one grasped the significance of the wireless aerials on board.
I agree that our own commerce raiding using Q ships was based on converted merchant ships, and you make a valid point in posing the question of "Who were these ships meant to fight"?  Something already in the mind of the Allies as they became called and no doubt partly concerned with the cost and benefits of a ship. 
Where as in 1934 Germany regaining 'respect' and extravagent planning was not looked on as having to be paid for. Their own Z Plan for capital ship building was never going to be fulfilled.   I believe that after invading another country the first places they went to were the Banks!
In the end everything has to be paid for.
regards Roy
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roycv

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2018, 11:01:06 AM »

Another thought.  In Model Boats this month we have a nice investigation into stability by Glyn Guest.  He points out how important the meta-centric height is.  This links back to the first item from Trevor about the destroyers bobbing about. 
They have a quite large Meta-centric height, however to fire a big gun you have to have a large steady platform, Battleship, and the M-C-H for those was typically 2 feet, yes just 24 inches.  This enables the slow roll to be anticipated and the guns fired at the right moment. 
The other extreme were the Corvettes based on the Whale catchers and these had to be quickly stable to deal with some of the extreme weather that they endured. These had a relatively large M-C-H.   I think the expression ' they would roll on wet grass' came from sailing on board.

In case anyone has not read Glyn's article, the meta-centric height is the difference between the centre of boyancy and the centre of gravity.  If the c of g is above the c of b then the boat will turn over. Just don't ask about submarines!
regards Roy
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roycv

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2018, 06:07:43 PM »

Hello all, just ignore the last paragraph in the above contribution it is incorrect.  It is best to read what Glyn wrote in the May issue of Model Boats magazine for a complete explanation.
Apologies to Glyn
regards Roy
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RST

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2018, 11:07:48 PM »

Apologies to Glyn and I may not practice my profession these days but I would take that article with a rather large modicum of salt from what I have read of it so far as it completely misses the fundamentals of the subject.
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dodes

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2018, 09:33:03 PM »

For those that may be interested the Graf Spee radar was kept at HMS Collingwood after the war.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2018, 09:51:37 PM »

Quote


For those that may be interested the Graf Spee radar was kept at HMS Collingwood after the war.

I do seem to recall a report that the British salvaged it - is that correct?

Colin
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Arjan

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2018, 09:03:36 AM »

What is usually missing in general discussions about the Kriegsmarine is the vital role played by German transport (landing) craft (ferries and lighters) . These craft are probably not as sexy as battle ships, Schnellboote and U-Boote but they were invaluable for supplying the German Wehrmacht on practically all fronts. Without these, Germany would probably not have been able to sustain its war efforts in the Mediterranean. Many of these craft were built in occupied countries and transported over land to the Mediterranean.










[/size]




Arjan

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derekwarner_decoy

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2018, 09:17:15 AM »

Thanks for sharing images Arjian ...interesting to see long range fuel tanks? .......on the transport vehicles.......

Derek
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Arjan

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2018, 10:02:49 AM »

Hi Derek,


The trucks would indeed have used quite a bit of fuel. In the spring of 1943 34 Marinefährprähme (mostly built in Holland) started their journey in Vlissingen. They sailed along the coast to Le Havre, there they travelled along the river Seine to Auxerre. In Auxerre the MFPs were taken out of the water and put on Culemeyer trailers. Over land they travelled to Chalon-sur-Saon where they were transferred to the River Saone and via the river Rhone they reached Marseille. Gibraltar was controlled by the British so they simply had to travel over land.


Siebel ferries were also frequently used for transport but these were much easier to transport over land (by rail) because they could be completely disassembled as they consisted of separate pontoon sections. Here's a nice video to show all the landing craft developed by  Sonderkommando Siebel in Antwerp. Among these are some rather bizar designs :


http://archiv-akh.de/filme/2395#1




Regards,




Arjan
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deadbeat

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2018, 02:44:35 PM »

I've just attended a lecture at my Naval History Group of the local U3A on the St Nazaire raid. As an aside it was stated that after a sortie out into the Atlantic by the Tirpitz from its Norwegian Fiord it took the Germans three months to get enough fuel to her by sea and land to replenish her tanks. the British intelligence were unaware of this for the entire war. Has anyone else heard of this? Personally, I can't help thinking that they would have had a tanker on site and the tanker would need replenishing. Can anyone add anything to this?
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dodes

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2018, 09:08:23 PM »

Hi Colin, in reply to your query, I remember my brother telling me about seeing the radar at Collingwood when he was in training there in the 1960's.
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dodes

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Re: German Naval Vessels of WW2
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2018, 05:06:12 PM »


One thing the Germans had at a very good level was accuracy of their gunnery, compared to the British, heard some interesting tales from wartime survivors about the efficiency of their gunnery.

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