Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

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Carl Schwamberger
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Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 10 May 2020 00:36

Assuming command decisions and weather allows the Bismarck to reach Brest with only the damage from the Battle of the Denmark Straits. What then? Is there any chance the intent to sortie more than two raiders into the Atlantic can be pulled off? Is it practical to rebase the four warships further south to reduce attacks by the RAF? Can they be repaired at those ports? How much damage could these ships do if sortied & how does the RN deal with two or three of the enemy entering the Atlantic?

What would a maximum effort of the RAF, including Bomber Command look like vs these in the ports?

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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by T. A. Gardner » 10 May 2020 00:54

Reaching Brest only helps a little. I don't think there's a drydock at Brest big enough to take Bismarck. Without drydocking to repair Bismarck's damage in full, it's more likely that the ship gets sufficient temporary repairs initially to keep her able to steam to a limited extent under control.
If Bismarck reached Brest repairs would likely take 6 months or more to complete and might be extended if the British try to bomb the ship while drydocked.
Going to St. Nazaire to the Normandie dock only works if the British don't blow it up as they did historically. Without drydocking facilities, repairs would be much slower to complete.

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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 10 May 2020 01:25

Operation CHARIOT was not executed until March 1942. Can we assume the Brits could swiftly execute the same in 1941? The Normadie dry dock is one of the reasons I'd mentioned redeploying the German squadron further south and east in the Biscay coast.

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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by Kurt_Steiner » 14 May 2020 21:26

When the Tirpitz was declared operation in January 1942, the British began to plan how to attack her and determined that if St. Nazaire was unavailable, the Tirpitz would not depart. Chariot was the answer.

With the Bismarck in Brest, they would fly to find a way to put her out of action at any cost. The safest option for the Germans is to send the Bismarck further south, as aways as possible from the RAF bombers.

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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 May 2020 00:46

Yes the RAF made multiple attacks on the German ships in Brest from February or March 1941, on to the evacuation the squadron from Brest. & yes it makes sense to relocate the ships further south to make attacks on them more difficult for the RAF.

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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 May 2020 03:43

The average scenario might be the undamaged sister & the Prinz Eugen able to sortie on a raid in June.

Better case would be a completely undamaged Bismarck able to sortie as well.

Best case for the Germans is all four ships able to raid the Atlantic in June.

Can the Brits cope with all three cases? Can the raiders do enough damage to justify the cost in fuel & other material? I tried of scrap paper estimates but failed to come up with anything I'd present now. Any other opinions on this?

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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 20 May 2020 13:11

Carl Schwamberger wrote:I tried of scrap paper estimates but failed to come up with anything I'd present now. Any other opinions on this?
DRZW v6 has following at pages 408:
In far-off· Tokyo the German naval attache learnt ‹
of a remark made by his British counterpart that was noted in the Naval War
Sta· and transmitted to subordinate sta·s: if the four German battleships
were to operate from the French Atlantic coasts once their repairs or work-up
training had been completed, ‘there would be no prospect at all of putting paid
to them until further notice, since the English ships currently in service are
utterly inferior to them. The danger was so considerable because the German
battleships might possibly give cause for the abandonment of the convoy system, though such a step would of course make the task of the U-boats easier
again.
That's with Tirpitz operational but with Hood sunk maybe it's a similar feeling for the RN.

That said, this quoted reaction is a bit hysterical. Before abandoning convoys I'd expect at least an adaptation via greater reliance on carriers even if that means weakening the Med. After a couple torpedoes a fast battleship isn't so fast anymore, allowing the WW1 battle line to overwhelm it.

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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 May 2020 14:00

"A couple torpedos."

Might this result in relocating the T class to the routes out of the French ports? Not a panacea, but those beasts had been designed to harass the Japanese fleet. How might they do vs this enemy squadron?

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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by Russ3Z » 20 May 2020 14:22

Assuming all/most of its large units managed to be operational after this, just what did German naval doctrine of the time have to say about sending out raiding capital ships? Was their preference to send them out in one large battlegroup, or disperse into smaller squadrons?

While the former would give them a decisive edge in combat vs any lone battleship escort, would they still be averse to the risk of damage to their own vessels?

Or would they instead rather disperse them into 2 or more groups, so as to not only increase the chances of finding convoys, but also to force the RN to disperse its own assets to hunt them?

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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by Kingfish » 20 May 2020 23:00

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
20 May 2020 14:00
"A couple torpedos."

Might this result in relocating the T class to the routes out of the French ports? Not a panacea, but those beasts had been designed to harass the Japanese fleet. How might they do vs this enemy squadron?
What is the "T class"?
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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by OldBill » 21 May 2020 03:29

British Submarine.

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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by T. A. Gardner » 21 May 2020 04:26

Kingfish wrote:
20 May 2020 23:00
What is the "T class"?
A class of small torpedo boats that are sort of like US destroyer escorts or the British Hunt Class.

Image

3 or 4 10.5cm guns, six torpedo tubes, about 20 to 30 mines. Speed is about 34 knots, displacement is just shy of 1,000 tons.

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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 21 May 2020 06:34

Kingfish wrote:
20 May 2020 23:00
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
20 May 2020 14:00
"A couple torpedos."

Might this result in relocating the T class to the routes out of the French ports? Not a panacea, but those beasts had been designed to harass the Japanese fleet. How might they do vs this enemy squadron?
What is the "T class"?
T or Triton class were series of Brit submarines intended for longer range deep water operations. When designed in the mid 1930s the Brits were thinking of long range felt operations in the Pacific vs Japans Navy.

https://uboat.net/allies/warships/class/53.html

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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 21 May 2020 07:04

Russ3Z wrote:
20 May 2020 14:22
Assuming all/most of its large units managed to be operational after this, just what did German naval doctrine of the time have to say about sending out raiding capital ships? Was their preference to send them out in one large battlegroup, or disperse into smaller squadrons? ...
I can't say what doctrine was but there were at least five occasions when the raiders were to operate in pairs.

The Scharnhorst & Gneisenau were sortied as a team-Operation Berlin. Conversely the Admiral Scheer & Admiral Hipper were sortied alone. The Bismarck & Prinz Eugen were sortied together & were to have raided the mid Atlantic before heading into Brest. Later the Tirpitz was to sortie on several dates with the Admiral Scheer & Scharnhorst against the Arctic convoys. For technical reasons several had one or another ship remain in port. In Op. Unternehmen Rösselsprung the Tirpitz & Admiral Hipper did sortie together & the Lxutzow & & Admiral Scheer sortied together as separate group. The latter pair aborted when the Lxutzow suffered grounding damage. In 1943 the last German capitol ship raid was to have been the Tirpitz & Scharnhorst together. Image from a air attack kept the Tirpitz in port & the Scharnhorst was sunk.

One of the technical problems in this were significant disparities in speed between the ships. It would have been tactical unsound in some cases to pair a slower ship with a very fast one. Convoy location in 1941 was aided by the ability to penetrate the Brit convoy codes. That allowed prediction of the specific routes.

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Re: Operation Rheinübung: Lütjes Reaches Brest

Post by Old_Fossil » 21 May 2020 15:18

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
10 May 2020 01:25
Operation CHARIOT was not executed until March 1942. Can we assume the Brits could swiftly execute the same in 1941? The Normadie dry dock is one of the reasons I'd mentioned redeploying the German squadron further south and east in the Biscay coast.
I recall reading somewhere that the reason the big German capital ships could not operate from Bordeaux was because the Garonne river that runs through Bordeaux to the Gironde estuary is a very silty river (it runs brown with silt) and the water intake filters for cooling the engines would be clogged by the silt. I also recall reading that these same ships had problems operating in the far south of the Atlantic ocean because the warm waters there made cooling more difficult. This certainly did not apply the the diesel powered submarines operating out of Bordeaux and probably would not have applied to the Deutschland-class cruisers.
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