Poll

Please cast your votes

NATION: Maximum Brexit (GB)
9 (14.8%)
NATION: Sleeping Giant (USA)
6 (9.8%)
NATION: Flying Ferraris (ITALY)
10 (16.4%)
NATION: USSSSSSSSR (RUSSIA)
8 (13.1%)
NATION: Zero to Hero (JAPAN)
2 (3.3%)
NATION: Mirage de Baguette (FRANCE)
6 (9.8%)
GAMEPLAY: Let's play format (traditional)
9 (14.8%)
GAMEPLAY: Collaborative format (details TBD)
11 (18%)

Total Members Voted: 26

Voting closed: April 25, 2019, 04:30:47 pm

Author Topic: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]  (Read 50434 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline crizza

  • 210
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Quote
The role of submarines in the modern navy

It is true, especially after the latest victory of Hipper off the coast of Ireland that the kaiserliche Marine can stand against the British grand fleet.
But while naval high command refuses to engage in a decisive battle, the U-Boote must play their part.
And by god, what a part this is.
If the Hochseeflotte are the sword and shield of the German Empire, knights in shining armor protecting the Vaterland, then what about the U-Boot Flotte.
I have long argued that the development of submarines has pushed these boats into a role, which they could even better fulfill.
Our boats close in on enemy freighters submerged, but they cannot engage them that way.
They need to resurface and fight that way.
Granted, a 100mm cannon is great for sending freighters to the bottom, but this is an unnecessary risk.
If the Hochseeflotte are knights, the the U-Boot Flotte are assassins. They are the blade in the darkness, ambushing unsuspecting freighters and retreating.
One month into the war Konteradmiral Hippers force of three Zerstörer and two Schlachtkreuzer have sunk 8 merchantmen, one Zerstörer and two Schlachtkreuzer, all the while the U-Boot assassins have claimed 33 confirmed kills, while only losing two of our own.
As it stands, everyone should have realized by now, that the Hochseeflotte is not the undisputed king of naval warfare.
The Admiralität on both sides refuse to risk their shiny big ships, for the affection they hold with the population.
But while both navies continue to circle each other, the boats of the U-Boot Flotte continues to starve the British Isles.
The Admiralität should take heed and invest into true submarines, ships that can attack their targets submerged, not with a 100mm gun, but with torpedos.

All the while I have forwarded a petition to the Reichstag honoring the brave submariners with a monument. It is high time the get the respect they deserve. To quote a popular saying:
“Und Gott fragte die Steine: Wollt ihr U-Boot-Fahrer sein? Und die Steine antworteten: Nein, wir sind nicht hart genug.“

Christopher Schulz
Reichstag respresantative of Hesse
« Last Edit: September 06, 2017, 09:45:30 am by crizza »
Check out my blog:

http://geo.schulzbert.de/

 

Offline Enioch

  • 210
  • Alternative History Word Writer
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
<3

Is this:

“Und Gott fragte die Steine: Wollt ihr U-Boot-Fahrer sein? Und die Steine antworteten: Nein, wir sind nicht hart genug.“

an actual quote of something? Because it's badass as all hell.
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline crizza

  • 210
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Well, I heard it as outro in a documentary about submariners, but honestly, I don't know.
Using Google it seems to be quite a standard thing for all kind of things.
I read it with tanks, local groups of people etc.
Check out my blog:

http://geo.schulzbert.de/

 

Offline The E

  • He's Ebeneezer Goode
  • Global Moderator
  • 213
  • Nothing personal, just tech support.
    • Steam
    • Twitter
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
[From the Admiralitätsarchiv, a briefing by Admiral Tirpitz for the Admiralty staff]

Gentlemen,

As you are aware, when we recalled Vice Admiral Hipper and his Schlachtgeschwader, I gave explicit orders that he is to reach german harbours while doing his utmost to evade british patrols and avoid battle. He chose not to follow these orders, and instead went on a little hunt.
In a lesser officer, this would have been grounds for immediate dismissal. However, through his actions, he has reminded us all that, if we are to be victorious in this war, we must not just be brave, not just be aggressive, not just be willing to roll the dice and see our decisions through to the end: We must be willing to do all this, at once, and pair it with the skills and smarts we have developed over the past 18 years.

The british know this. By sinking HMS Indomitable and HMS Tiger and their charges, we have asserted our ability and willingness to challenge the Royal Navy in its home waters and not only emerge victorious, but so utterly dominant that they dare not strike back at us. We have the initiative in this war, and it is vital that we do not relinquish it.

We have not beaten the brits yet. Right now, the fate of our fleet, and Germany's fate with it, still hangs by a thread. But if we can embrace what Admiral Hipper has done, if we can avoid getting suckered into an endless game of reacting to what the british are doing and instead make them react to us, we will win. This will not be easy; if any of you still believe it will be, I invite you to go over the yard's report on the damages Derfflinger and Wittelsbach have suffered while bringing us this victory. But a victory handed to you is no victory, as we all know. We know it will be hard, we know it will be painful, but in the end, as we have always done, we will emerge victorious.
Let there be light
Let there be moon
Let there be stars and let there be you
Let there be monsters and let there be pain
Let us begin to feel again
--Devin Townsend, Genesis

 

Offline TwentyPercentCooler

  • Operates at 375 kelvin
  • 28
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Quote
"It penetrates its paper-thin underwater armor, buries itself deep into Turret A's cordite magazines; and explodes, taking the magazine with it."

Carrying on the proud tradition of British battlecruisers, even in an alternate history.  :wtf:

 

Offline CKid

Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
+1 for adding the detonation badge.
If I agreed with you, we would both be wrong

  

Offline Enioch

  • 210
  • Alternative History Word Writer




"Steel and Blood has freed our Vaterland of foreign rule. Steel and Blood brought about the unification of our Reich. And it is with Steel and Blood that we now stand, united, against our greatest challenge yet."

Stand beside us, united and strong, and prove yourselves worthy of our heroes on the High Seas!"


-Excerpt of a speech of the Reichskanzler Johann Albrecht Herzog zu Mecklenburg to the Reichstag, 15 June 1917.



It is the 9th of June 1917. The HMS Tribune and HMS Sappho, two ultra-light minelaying cruisers of the Royal Navy, less than two years old, are escorting a nine-ship convoy from South Africa to Portsmuth. The time is 18:11 and sunset is less than two hours away. The crews are halfway through the gauntlet of the German submarine hunting grounds; and, God providing, they will be at port before sunrise.

They are almost two hundred miles south of Cork, not far from where the Tiger and Indomitable met their fate, when the Sappho's lookouts spot a cloud of smoke from out of the south-western glare. At first, they believe it is a friendly patrol ship, but their signals remain unanswered. It is at a range of less than ten thousand yards that the Tribune's watch officer identifies the incoming ships, and his blood runs cold.

Somehow, impossibly, the Germans are here. The silhouettes of the incoming ships resolve into the threatening hulls of SMS Frauenlob, who has returned to the crime scene, and her sister: the SMS Bremen.


SMS Frauenlob, crossing the Kaiser Wilhelm Kanal

These are old ships, reaching the end of their second decade of operations. Their last overhaul took place more than five years ago, and they are still limited to a top speed of 24 knots. The British cruisers can run circles around them. But they are still more than capable of catching up to slow, fat-bottomed merchantmen, and each of them carries more (and heavier) guns than the entire escorting force combined.

They have left the North Sea anchorages under cover of darkness, clouds and the morning mist; and they have evaded British patrols for a nerve-wracking three days, all to reach this point. These are not raiders - these are assassins.

 
Karl von Müller (left) and Felix von Lückner (right), the commanding officers of Frauenlob and Bremen, respectively.

The two ships are commanded by two of the most hell-for-leather daredevils in the Kaiserliche Marine, Korvettenkapitäne Karl von Müller and Felix von Lückner, both Galster's protegés and both willing to take insane risks to maximise what little profit Germany can squeeze out of their old, obsolete ships. They have argued for an independent light cruiser raid since the opening hostilities; after Hipper's success, the Admiralität was willing to entertain the idea. They have sailed hundreds of miles, evading British patrols, to strike here, along the jugular connecting Britain to all traffic sailing north from the Mediterranean and the Southern Atlantic.



The Sappho and her sister are wrongly positioned to intercept. They are faster, but the Germans have attacked from out of the setting sun and they are almost upon the freighters, before the British cruisers jump into action.

It's too little, too late. At a range of three thousand yards, the German guns flash in a double broadside, right into the scrambling merchantmen. And, a few seconds later, again, in frantic double-time.

The Benmohr, a 10k ton freighter is hit first; a fire breaks out on her upper decks and it quickly reaches her bridge and wheelhouse. Then, the Ponrabbel follows suit, the nitrates she is carrying burning sky-high. Then, the Bremen closes the range even further and fires from both sides of the ship, cracking the hulls of the Troilus and the Iphigeneia in rapid succession.

And then, the German cruisers have sailed past the convoy; and they are engaging the British escorts in a close-range brawl.




At under 2.5k yards, the two Germans focus their fire on the Sappho. Now. Some points of interest:

The Gazelles are protected cruisers; their armor, essentially, only encompasses their underwater 'citadel' (the term used loosely here). But it is a consistent 2 inches thick; their engine compartments, steering (and everything they really need to get back home) is invulnerable to high-explosive splinter damage. And armor-piercing projectiles, at this range, even the 5-inch armor piercing slung by the British cruisers, will five times out of ten, just sail through and out of their unarmored sides without exploding.

Furthermore, the German ships displace more than 6k tons each, to the Sapphos' 3.2k tons. They can simply afford to take more damage.

The Sapphos, on the other hand, are true light cruisers, with a sloped armored deck and true armor 'belts'. But their armor is only one inch thick, not nearly enough to stop the explosion of a six-inch shell. The Germans only have to load high-explosive and blow them out of the water; and they have sacrificed any and all torpedo armament, so they can carry mine- and depth-charge racks against the German subs.

They can still escape. Point their noses north; make flank speed. The Germans won't be able to catch them. But the commander of the Sappho, Captain John Drummond, refuses to abandon his charges, or to retreat before the enemy.

"It took twenty months to build this ship," he is said to have stated, calmly. "but five centuries to build a tradition on the seas. We shall not retreat. Helm, close the range."

A few minutes later, the Bremen finds the range; and three Sprenggranaten send red-hot shrapnel scything through the Sappho, killing her captain, along with thirty-four other crewmen.



The British desperately turn away; but now it's too late. The Sappho is already slowing down, one of her boilers cracked and venting steam all over her engineering spaces; the Tribune just runs, in a mad dash to the north that will cost her commander his rank and commission.



Less than an hour later, the Sappho is a burning wreck. She stops, dead-in-the-water; rolls over, and sinks at 20:38. The Germans pick up fourty-six survivors out of the water; and then, they begin the nerve-wracking trip back.



The U-109, the submarine that had spotted the convoy and radioed in its position for the cruisers takes the opportunity to fire a cheap parting shot against the patrol ships to flock to the area to escort the surviving freighters safely home. PB9 takes a torpedo to the side; she sinks quickly, but with no loss of life.





The cruisers reach Helgoland four days later. Their mission is a resounding success, despite the damage and casualties they suffered. Six freighters (almost 50k tons of cargo) are lying at the bottom of the sea, accompanied by one of the most modern light cruisers (and a dangerous minelayer, at that) of the Royal Navy. Müller and Lückner both receive Iron Crosses for their valiant efforts; and Galster rejoices at the opportunity this raid gives him to petition for new cruisers.



Cruisers like the Hansa. No revolutionary designs here. The Hansa is a Prinz Heinrich with her coal-fired boilers replaced by oil-fired designs. Nothing else is changed; Germany does not have the funds to justify a completely new cruiser design for now. This leaves the Hansas (a class of two ships, like their older sisters) with a rather clumsy implementation of the oil-fired boilers in their engineering spaces, because of weight distribution issues; almost six hundred tons of displacement are left unutilised.



This does mean, however, that construction can begin immediately, with only a downpayment of half a million Reichsmark (instead of the four and a half million that the development of an optimised hull would have required.) Galster (and the Admiralität are more than happy with this compromise).



Meanwhile, the Graf Spee completes her training cruise. All three Zähringens are now operational and ready to engage the Grand Fleet.







R & D are proving once again that German science is the best in the world.



The U-Boote do their thing again. Holy crap. OK, it's not the 33-ship slaughter of the first month, but twenty-six ships (especially if one takes the light cruisers' haul into account) is still a massive blow.



And the Piepers shut the door hard on any British submarine efforts.



And they manage to open passages through British minefields for our raiders and subs to operate! Bei Gott und alle Engel, these little wonders are amazing. Worth every Pfennig.



July rolls in, Frau Zelle visits the Admiralität...

...and holy ****.

So. This is what the British have rolled out to match the Zähringens.

This is...surprisingly terrifying. OK, its belt and turret armor are butter, as British belts and turret armor tend to be - but fourteen 15-inchers? Controlled by a Fire Director system?

This thing might be a glass cannon, but it is very definitely a cannon, and it must be treated with the respect it deserves. Thank God, it's slow - if things get hairy, the Schlachtkreuzer fleet can disengage.





Galster and Tirpitz immediately start training the fleet in the appropriate tactics. A very promising Vize-Admiral is placed in command of the Schlachtkreuzer squadrons for the maneuvers: a man called Reinhard Sheer.





Well done, submariners, as usu-





****.


« Last Edit: May 31, 2018, 10:07:14 am by Enioch »
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Enioch

  • 210
  • Alternative History Word Writer
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
WHO PUT THAT HOSPITAL SHIP THERE.

Oh well, one ship out of a confirmed eighty-five legal submarine kills.

That means that statistically we've only ****ed up 1.17% of the time. Nobody's perfect. You gotta admit, those are pretty good statistics.

I mean, they were probably Spaghettis, anyway
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline The E

  • He's Ebeneezer Goode
  • Global Moderator
  • 213
  • Nothing personal, just tech support.
    • Steam
    • Twitter
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
For those who don't know: The battle turn-away (german: Gefechtskehrtwendung) was one of the major tactical innovations the german navy made in WW1. The basic problem is this: If you have a fleet in line formation, and the enemy manages to cross your T, how do you disengage? Ideally, you'd want to reverse course, but that's more difficult than it sounds, especially if you want to retain your formation. The issue here is that this requires precise coordination between the ships so that they don't run into each other, and that coordination was rather difficult without good radios. What the germans realized was that you didn't need to do a lot of coordination if the trailing ship in formation starts the turn, so the Gefechtskehrtwendung was always initiated by the ship in front signalling the turn, every ship repeating that signal, and the last ship putting her rudder over immediately upon seeing the signal. The next ship in line would watch the bow of the last ship, and put her own rudder over as soon as they saw the last ship turning away, repeating until the first ship in formation sees the second ship in formation start to turn.
It should be noted that this maneuver requires a lot of discipline.  The foremost ship in particular needs to hold its course for a very long time, which as you might imagine is pretty stressful when you're looking into the amassed broadsides of the enemy fleet.

This maneuver was incredibly effective historically. At Jutland, Scheer used it to get his ships out of trouble twice.
Let there be light
Let there be moon
Let there be stars and let there be you
Let there be monsters and let there be pain
Let us begin to feel again
--Devin Townsend, Genesis

 

Offline crizza

  • 210
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Interesting.

A hint: Heligoland is called Helgoland in german and it is Reichsmark, 1 Reichsmark, 2 Reichsmark, a million Reichsmark and so on :D
Besides that: Keep it up.
If a sub sinks a cruiser or something of that magnitude, gimme a call, I'm recalling a german sub recieving the Iron cross for such a thing.
Also considering that Hospital ship... it is not called Lusitania I hope...
Check out my blog:

http://geo.schulzbert.de/

 

Offline Spoon

  • 212
  • ヾ(´︶`♡)ノ
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Quote
Thank God, it's slow - if things get hairy, the Schlachtkreuzer fleet can disengage.
I like how R&D is all like "Disengage? We've got just the thing for you"
Urutorahappī!!

[02:42] <@Axem> spoon somethings wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> critically wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> im happy with these missions now
[02:44] <@Axem> well
[02:44] <@Axem> with 2 of them

 

Offline Enioch

  • 210
  • Alternative History Word Writer
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Interesting.

A hint: Heligoland is called Helgoland in german and it is Reichsmark, 1 Reichsmark, 2 Reichsmark, a million Reichsmark and so on :D
Besides that: Keep it up.
If a sub sinks a cruiser or something of that magnitude, gimme a call, I'm recalling a german sub recieving the Iron cross for such a thing.
Also considering that Hospital ship... it is not called Lusitania I hope...

Fixed, and noted, thanks!

Sadly, no capital ship sinkings by submarine in this war. As for the hospital ship; no. Given the rise in tensions, it must have been Italian. Some sort of Red Cross relief vessel. Who cares, amirite?  :drevil: :nervous:

Quote
Thank God, it's slow - if things get hairy, the Schlachtkreuzer fleet can disengage.
I like how R&D is all like "Disengage? We've got just the thing for you"

"Just do this":



"No, of course it's not dangerous. Don't be ridiculous, man!"

And The_E being a boss with the historical notes again.  :yes: :yes: :yes:
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Spoon

  • 212
  • ヾ(´︶`♡)ノ
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
We spend thousands upon thousands of marks to research the novel concept, of turning away from the enemy.

Maybe the french has rubbed off just a bit, during the alliance?  :p
Urutorahappī!!

[02:42] <@Axem> spoon somethings wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> critically wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> im happy with these missions now
[02:44] <@Axem> well
[02:44] <@Axem> with 2 of them

 

Offline The E

  • He's Ebeneezer Goode
  • Global Moderator
  • 213
  • Nothing personal, just tech support.
    • Steam
    • Twitter
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
We spend thousands upon thousands of marks to research the novel concept, of turning away from the enemy.

Maybe the french has rubbed off just a bit, during the alliance?  :p

(I realize this post was in jest, but...) Not really -- As I tried to explain, the Gefechtskehrtwendung wasn't a novel concept by itself: It's the obvious counter if your T is crossed. But before the Kriegsmarine figured it out, it was generally thought to be impractical, as naval tacticians were perhaps a bit too preoccupied with making sure that the leading ship gets out of danger as fast as possible. The Kriegsmarine recognized that, assuming the commander had enough time and data to see the T-crossing coming, his lead ship would be able to tank a few rounds of shellfire, and that getting most of the formation out is more important than getting the lead ship out (despite the lead ship traditionally carrying the fleet commander).
Let there be light
Let there be moon
Let there be stars and let there be you
Let there be monsters and let there be pain
Let us begin to feel again
--Devin Townsend, Genesis

 

Offline Spoon

  • 212
  • ヾ(´︶`♡)ノ
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Realizes post is a joke, continues to reply seriously anyway.
Why though?
Urutorahappī!!

[02:42] <@Axem> spoon somethings wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> critically wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> im happy with these missions now
[02:44] <@Axem> well
[02:44] <@Axem> with 2 of them

 

Offline Enioch

  • 210
  • Alternative History Word Writer
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Because Germany. Clearly.
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Enioch

  • 210
  • Alternative History Word Writer




British 1917 Cartoon, ridiculing the German 'submarine blockade' in the aftermath of the Glenart Castle incident

"There is little question that Kapitänleutnant Valentiner broke the rules we set for ourselves here. We cannot prosecute one of our own for what I am sure most of the world would (and already is) label a war crime - the effect on the submariners' morale would be devastating. But he is never to command again; and strict measures are to be taken to prevent such incidents in the future."

-Personal memo signed by Admiral von Tirpitz to an undisclosed recipient in the Oberste Merineleitung, declassified in the 1950s



Not the proudest moment for the Admiralität, not to mention the U-Boot Command.

Well...

When dealing with such unfortunate events, von Müller and von Lückner decide, the best thing to do is organise another daredevil run. To raise the spirits of the Matrosen and to perform to the highest standards of seamanship!



And so, on the foggy, hazy morning of the 18th of August, they take their old, obsolete protected cruisers through the Channel (!), braving minefields, patrols and shore batteries along the way.



By noon, they have evaded British patrols and reached as far west as Plymouth, passing less than fourty nautical miles away from the British naval base in Portsmouth.



During the afternoon, they retrace their steps, spending the night cruising at low speed near Dieppe.





And, shortly after sunrise the next day, they cross the strait at Calais. Von Müller feels cheeky; he takes Frauenlob near the coastal batteries in Dungeness and opens fire, taking the dozing garrison there by complete surprise. Two eight-inch coastal guns are destroyed and six gunners are wounded in their barracks beds; the German cruisers make good their escape, suffering only minimal damage from sporadic 4-inch return fire.



It's no major victory, but it's a glorious display of German seamanship. Von Müller and von Lückner have taken the Frauenlob and the Bremen right into the Brits' front yard, essentially unchallenged.

It is interesting to note that the first British reports on the incident mention that a 'German probing raid near Dover was repulsed'; no mention is given to the German cruisers' crossing of the channel. It is only after the war that the German Admiralität figures out that the Brits had never realised that the cruisers had ever passed Dover in the first place.



In early September, Britain probes for a white, compromise peace. Von Mecklenburg consults the Admiralität; Tirpitz and Galster both agree that, even though they have no answer to the British surface blockade (yet), the Navy is willing and able to continue the fight and, perhaps, grant von Mecklenburg a considerably better negotiating position.





Taking his cue from the submariners, the Kaiser proceeds to absolutely torpedo the peace negotiations.





Hmmmm. While one can hardly fault the R & D department for their efforts, light cruisers are simply not the German...thing anymore. Not when the Prinz Heinrichs and the Hansas so greatly outperform the light cruisers of other nations.



THIS, on the other hand, has Tirpitz, Hipper and Sheer drooling. The potential benefits from equipping the Zähringens (never mind the Wittelsbachs) with the new 30.5 cm SK L/60 rifles would be enormous. But there is no question of taking the biggest and nastiest capitals in Germany's fleet out of active service for now.











German submarine warfare continues to bleed the Brits dry, although their performance in October leaves something to be desired. Increased U-Boot losses may be due to the launch of new British patrol ships; or the implementation of new ASW techniques. The Admiralität keeps a close eye on the situation.

What is clear, however, is that it works, for now at least. [Holy ****, two 'starvation' triggers in September!]



And the bloody Piepers (the name ship, no less, well done you little scamp!) find and clear another British minefield in the North Sea.





Oho. Ohohohohoho.

On the evening of October 2nd, U-110 reports from the North Atlantic near the Faroes. There is a massive convoy moving in, under heavy capital ship support. They have tentatively identified at least one Sutlej-class battlecruiser: the newest and most dangerous 15-inch British capitals.

Mackensen is currently at the yard, with condenser troubles; but the rest of the Hochseeflotte sorties immediately and in force, making their best speed to intercept. This is what Galster and Tirpitz have been waiting for: a chance to choose the engagement and to encounter a small, vulnerable part of the Grand Fleet with the maximum available force on their end.

The Germans bring five Schlachtkreuzer to the fight. The Wittelsbach, Derfflinger and Hindenburg lead the fleet as a scouting element in force, with a small Zerstörer screen. The Zähringen and Graf Spee follow them as a main strike element, escorted by Hertha, Victoria Louise and Vineta. Their flanks are guarded by Frauenlob and Bremen and their own complement of Zerstörer.



Unfortunately, weather worsens, quickly. By the time the German forces reach the expected intercept point near Lerwick, in the early morning of the 4th of October, they are sailing into a gale, that swamps the decks of the Zerstörer and limits visibility to a maximum of just under 6k yards.



Hipper, from on board the Wittelsbach suggests that the force withdraw: an engagement under these circumstances would be a gamble that the Germans can ill afford. Sheer, captaining the Graf Spee, concurs. The German force turns to the south.



Ten minutes after that fateful decision, a cluster of dark shapes emerges from the rain and squalls, less than two thousand yards to the east of Hipper's force. The Schlachtkreuzer go into immediate evasive maneuvers, turning their bows toward the sleek black shapes of the British destroyers; but it's too late for Derfflinger. A torpedo, either lucky or perfectly aimed, hits her in her aft, locking her rudder for a few critical minutes and leaving her unable to follow her sisters in their turn towards the north.

In return, the Wittelsbach opens fire with her main and secondary armaments, scoring a hit against what seems to be a British cruiser to the north-east and raking one of the destroyers with 5-inch fire.



A couple of minutes later, the lookouts identify the British capital. Yes, she's a cruiser: an armored cruiser of the Hogue class. An old ship - not surprising to see her on convoy duty. By this time, Hindenburg has her range.





And she blankets the old cruiser with a full broadside of main and secondary guns. At least two shells strike the Hogue and, for a moment, the German gunners think they were duds; and then the Hogue goes up like a roman candle, the shockwave of the explosion reaching the low clouds above. If there are any survivors, it's impossible to pick them up in these seas.





But the same waves that prevent the German Zerstörer from closing in to assist the castaways, also make life difficult for the Derfflinger's damcon teams. They have restored steering, but her flooding is less easy to bring under control. Her portside compartments are flooded and it is impossible to access them from outside; two bulheads have ruptured; and she can only do 16 knots. But, thankfully, her pumps are operational; and the water has not reached her magazines. She is crippled, but she can fight, if necessary; for now, Hipper signals her to retreat towards the north-west, until they bring their flooding under control.

And then, fifteen minutes after the Hogue's violent death, with the Graf Spee and the Zähringen having reached the scene, the Hindenburg pokes through another squall, to find an enemy capital ship almost two thousand yards to her north-east, again.

The two ships open fire at each other simultaneously, before their lookouts have the time to identify each other. At this range, it's not really necessary. The British ship scores one hit on the Hindenburg's superstructure, a massive shell screaming through the unarmored forward mast structure without its fuze arming. In return, the 12'' German shell punches clean into the foredeck of the British battlecruiser. The hit is followed by one, two, three internal secondary explosions...





...and then the ship goes up, a massive fireball annihilating everything forward of her smokestacks.

Holy crap.





Into this mess, the Graf Spee and the Zähringen ride, going too fast to change course in time. They are immediately punished for it, as the British destroyers flush their torpedo tubes in their direction.

But these ships are made of stern stuff. At flank speed, the Graf Spee passes less than 500 yards from a second British capital, pumping two shots into her belt. The Zähringen, following her closely, puts another two shots into the enemy ship. And then, the Brit fires back, in a thunder of heavy guns, raking the Graf Spee with six heavy shots into her forward belt, superstructure, and her 'C' turret.



The turret cracks; in an instant, the crew die at their stations.



Finally, the lookouts of the Graf Spee manage to identify their target. She's a Sutlej alright, and the German guns erupt in fury again. Three more hits are scored by the batteries of Graf Spee and Zähringen; Frauenlob closes into suicidal range and pumps high explosive shots into the Brit's fire directors and superstructure.

The two forward turrets of the Sutlej fall silent, dead on their bearings; the two rear turrets fire again, but only score an overpenetrating hit on the Graf's superstructure.

And then Graf Spee fires back, her 'B' turret putting three shots into the Sutlej's belt; and Derffliner, her flooding finally under control, appears from out of a nearby fog bank and thunders a reply to her bigger sister's broadside. The Sutlej shudders...





...and goes up, much like her sister.

Meanwhile, Frauenlob has reached the transports.



She's immediately followed by the rest of the fleet, and the British destroyers scatter like cockroaches. The Hindenburg takes the destroyer leader (an Andromache-class light cruiser) under fire, scoring several hits; the German Zerstörer take up the hunt. Frauenlob and Bremen deal with the convoy, boarding and taking on the crews before sinking the ships with torpedoes and gunfire.

The battle is over.



And a good thing too. The German ships have suffered considerably and the Graf Spee floats very low at the waterline. Note that she and the Derfflinger have not suffered much damage; it is the flooding from the torpedo hits that threatened their survival.



But they make it home, despite the best efforts of the British to intercept them. U-Boote cover their retreat path; they are in Helgoland by noon of the 5th of August.

With the exception of the unfortunate torpedo hits, it's textbook fight and victory; and the Kaiser is jumping for joy. The Zähringens have given a good accounting of themselves, tanking most of the damage that would have otherwise been spread around the fleet and yet surviving to fight another day; the convoy was sunk; and the British have lost two of their most modern (and dreaded) 15-inch battlecruisers, without any returns.

When His Majesty congratulates Hipper, Sheer and the Admiralität in general, however, Sheer, pale and shaken, states:



"We must never fight a battle in such weather conditions again"

And he is right. The Hochseeflotte was this close to losing the Graf and the Derfflinger; and these ships will now be undergoing extensive repairs. The fleet cannot take such a risk again.





Nevertheless, this is still a glorious victory.

The British have lost HMS Essex and HMS Berwick, as well as HMS Drake and three of their destroyers. HMS Latona, the Andromache-class light cruiser that Hindenburg had taken under fire only barely manages to reach Scapa Flow. And, out of the six massive tankers that the British were escorting, only two managed to slip away in the rain.



Once again, the Admiralitätsarchiv comes to our assistance with their map records. Note the 'node' in the centre of the map, where the quick decisive engagement took place; and the paths of retreat of the German forces (south-east, to Helgoland) and the British surviving ships (south-west, to Scapa Flow).





It is a glorious victory, indeed, made even more devastating to the British by the fact that they lost three capital ships to flash fires and magazine explosions.

For a long time, the reasons for these devastating explosions were obfuscated by the Admiralty: originally, the blame fell on the weak belt and turret armor of the British ships. However, as future research into these battles and the records of the Admiralty would prove, this was, in fact, a disingenuous campaign by certain high-ranking officers of the Admiralty, to cover up near-criminal negligence in the implementation of the proper safety procedures in British ships. Both the Essex and the Berwick were sailing with many of their bulkhead doors open, for the ease of their crews, not expecting any action. Furthermore, fire doors and hatches in the turret barbettes and magazines were left opened as crews rushed to their stations. This allowed explosions in the turrets to travel down to the magazines, with disastrous effects. On the other hand, despite having her 'C' turret penetrated by a 15'' shell, the Graf Spee had survived, because her crew had followed all mandated security precautions

And now, after their experience, the Germans put even more stock on keeping their ships alive. On the other hand, the British-

-well, how much they learned from the disaster at Lerwick is debatable.


« Last Edit: May 31, 2018, 10:06:51 am by Enioch »
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Enioch

  • 210
  • Alternative History Word Writer
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
THERE IS DEFINITELY SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUR BLOODY SHIPS TODAY, BRITS.

'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Darius

  • 211
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Does the British trait of turret flashfires remain a thing throughout the entire game or do they eventually research it away?

 

Offline Enioch

  • 210
  • Alternative History Word Writer
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
From what I understand, it is gradually phased away.
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)