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After sinking HMS Hood, Bismark finishes off PoW, and returns to Germany?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by Shadow Master, Feb 7, 2009.

  1. justdags

    justdags Member

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    would hitler have pressed the advangtage to brake the back of the Royal Navy completly if so could he have assuming he brought up the Italian "Carbord" Fleet to support his navy. what would Grand Admrial Dornitz stratigy have been at this point

    personally i see it as the opening of the sea route of the invasion of England
     
  2. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    There were never any realistic prospects for an invasion of England. At this late date, it would be unthinkable.
     
  3. justdags

    justdags Member

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    then maybe he would tighten the grip of the U-Boat blockade by adding the surface ships to the mix
     
  4. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    The loss of the Hood and Pow is really that big a blow for the RN as it is being suggested, or even the survival of the Bismarck. She would have suffered the fate as the majority of the other German capital surface ships.

    The RN would still be the most powerful navy in the world and they would still have a mighty fleet protecting Britain, they also still did have the airpower so the fact the Britain would be invaded wouldn't happen and like i said, overall nothing would change.
     
  5. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    The big picture is not likely to change, certainly no invasion of the British Isles was possible in 1942.
    But if Bismark survives and PoW sinks it could change a lot of details. Entually Bismark will probably suffer the same fate as Tirpitz but if does not happen before 1944 it will have effects, the following are not completely unreasonable.
    - No force Z, this IMO is the biggest event as a different force mix sent East, or not sent at all, may cause the Japanese to revise their oprtions.
    - Stronger forces needed to watch for Bismark and Tirpitz will have to come at the expence of the Med theater, so Rommel may get some more critical supplies.
    - No Murmansk convoys? providing an escort strong enough to beat back Bismark, Tirpitz and Sharnhost plus a couple of heavy cruisers/pocket battleships is going to tax RN resources to the limit (I'm assuming Gneisenau suffers her historical fate though the prestige aquired by the Kriegsmarine may allow her repairs getting more priority. Zeppelin may get built but, unless the Japanese send some good advisors, the Germans will be unable to iron out carrier operations before the end of the war). The Allied covering force will have to risk attrition by U-Boats and possibly planes while the Germans will only sail when they feel they can achieve local superiority, even with 5 fast BBs in the Home Fleet (the 4 KGV and a US reinforcement) it's likely the rate of shipments will be at least slowed down by the need to assemble a heavy escort capable of defeating a Germans intercept.
    None of the above will change the final outcome but they are not irrelevant either.
     
  6. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Hitler never had the sea power to "break the back of the Royal Navy".

    Had the Bismarck attempted to sink the Prince of Wales, it's likely she would have collected a lot more damage than she did historically. This would raise the possibility that the other RN ships then at sea hunting her, would have caught and sunk her. In other words, she doesn't make it back to Germany. But assuming she get's lucky and manages to crawl back to some French or German port, she's going to be under repair for a lot longer than a couple of months. It will be sometime in 1942 before she is ready to sortie with any other ships. By then, the USN is in the fight and there are just too many Allied ships in the Atlantic to make commerce raiding by surface ships practical.

    It's simply a fantasy to think that one more battleship would make an invasion of Britain feasible.

    It would just be a good way to lose them. The U-boat blockade was never that effective; less than 2% of the ships crossing the Atlantic in convoy were lost, 98% arrived safely. This was never enough to decisively threaten Britain. By 1942, the addition of American heavy units had effectively closed the Atlantic to German surface ships.

    Except for the morale value of sinking two British battleships at one time, there would likely be little change in the course of the war if this scenario took place.
     
  7. Shadow Master

    Shadow Master Member

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    I agree that the Bismark surviving isn't going to be a war winner for Germany, as you rightly pointed out, if the Bismark isn't able to sail till mid 1942, then there really isn't going to be much of a chance she will ever survive making an attempt to break out into the Atlantic. I just wonder to what extent 'special ops' would play a role in her eventual sinking (seems that what works against her sister ship would work equally well against her), and whether or not the Brits would be willing to wait until she makes a move before going after her.

    The biggest threat I can see being increased is to the arctic convoys sailing to the USSR. Based on the use of a bomb ship against a dry dock, would something like a submarine, stripped on all her normal gear and loaded to the gills with explosives, might be of any use is trying to seal some of the narrows in the Norwegian fjords? Or are there no realistic opportunities for sealing a fjord with the Battleship(s) trapped inside the collapsing sides?

    I agree that neither Sea lion nor D-Day are going to be affected by the somewhat longer life of the Bismark, just curious about just how determined Churchill would be to send her to the bottom.
     
  8. Shadow Master

    Shadow Master Member

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    As a way of making it possible to narrow down the discussion, lets assume that:

    If the Bismark doesn't attempt to break out into the Atlantic until mid '42, then she never will.

    That this limits her to operations to the interception arctic convoys, and this makes her being based in Norway somewhere almost a certainty.

    I personally know next to nothing about the defenses the Germans had in place against submarine attacks on the fjords (I assume that the defenses are meant to keep a sub from sneaking all the way into the fjord), but would it be possible for a special ops plan to use a sub as a bomb to cause the narrow canyon cliffs to collapse? Can anyone post on the amount of explosives that would be needed to seal the fjord in such a matter, or is the idea to far fetched to consider?

    And if such a strategy were possible, and attempted, how long would the fjord stay sealed? I know the Germans would try if at all possible to remove the debris, but could some strategic bombers be assigned during the meantime to carry out raid after raid, trying to 'shoot fish in a barrel' type thing.

    Have some fun with this, and let everyone else enjoy reading how this is a stupid idea, or a brilliant plan, or whatever.

    Any thoughts?
     
  9. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    British special ops managed to damage the Tirpitz with secret two man subs called (I think) the X-craft which were towed to a point outside the fjord in which it was moored and one of them exploded under it. The damage was enough to keep the Tirpitz stationary for a great deal of time, and eventually it was sunk by those "Tallboy" bombs delivered by Lancasters. End of the line for the Bismarck's sister ship.

    Only a small portion of the Lend-Lease to the USSR went through the Murmansk run in actuality, more was delivered through the Iran/Persian corridore and the Vladivistok norther Pacific route. I forget the exact percentages, but they were the larger of the three routes.
     
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If she's still around particularly in 43 or 44 and in Norway the US may keep a couple BBs at Scapa. A couple of Iowa's might be useful in trying to intercept either or both of the German BBs. An ambush might even be considered using a convoy as bait.
     
  11. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Wouldn't have been Iowa class BBs, probably would have been one or both of the North Carolina class, or representatives of the four South Dakota class BB, since they were available by late 1941, or perhaps both of the older Wyoming class since they both survived WW2.

    Or even Arizona’s sister the Pennsylvania? Or both of the New York class, the Texas or the New York? They both survived WW2 as well as both of the Tennessee Class BBs. Neither of the Nevada class could have been sent, since they were both damaged at Pearl in ’41.

    But we could probably have spared a representative or two from the three New Mexico class BBs, or from the three Colorado class BBs if we had to help the RN against the Kreigsmarine. So let’s see, not counting the not yet existing Iowa class BBs we had a "few" that might have been of aid to the British. I believe we (USN) had 17 Battleships in service at the time of Pearl Harbor, and really only lost the Arizona since the Utah wasn’t on the roles anymore. But historically the Brits didn’t need ‘em really.

    But just for the fun of argument, say none of those USN ships were able to "contain" the Kreigsmarine in aid of the Royal Navy (it is to laugh), then the two last Iowa class ships may not have been canceled (Illinois and Kentucky), and the giant Montana class might have gotten beyond the keel laying stage. Even without those canceled Battleships the USN had 19 online in Dec. of ’42, then 21 in Dec. of ’43, and ended the war with 23 BBs afloat.

    The "wondership" Bismarck makes no difference in the least, as per the sea power in the Atlantic.
     
  12. justdags

    justdags Member

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    IN the atlantic no but what might it have done to Russia in the Baltic?
     
  13. Gen.grant

    Gen.grant Member

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    What Allied Fleets even operated in the Baltic and i think it would be funny if the Bismark hit an iceburg and sank like the titanic
     
  14. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    I've often mused about the potential of the German fleet in the Baltic, as it had a clear superiority over the Soviet Baltic surface fleet. However, the Germans were much more concerned about Soviet subs, and they basically forfeited whatever their surface ships might have accomplished in the Gulf of Finland by cordoning it off behind mine barrages (which were, by the way, magnificently successful).
    Even if Bismarck had survived her cruise, it's probable the Germans would have understood that the time of warships performing high-seas raiding cruises was over. They would have perceived the improbability of adequate logistical support and switched to the fleet-in-being that they adopted historically.
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If the object is to intercept Bismark and or Tirpitz it pretty well calls for a fast BB. That means North Carolinas, South Dakotas, or Iowas. I wouldn't expect to see any until after Midway. At that point I'd expect to see the US basing a pair at Scapa as long as the German BBs were operational. The US liked to operate BBs in pairs of comparable speed so initally probably NCs or SDs or one each. Once a couple of Iowa's are around then I suspect a pair of them for a while. Likely they would come with an Essex or two.

    It depends on how much of a threat the German BBs are viewed as. If it's enough then you might actually see an invasion in northern Norway in 43 to force out the German BBs and secure the convvoy route to the Soviet Union.
     
  16. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    I think it's safe to say that the British would continue trying to neutralize any surviving German capital ships through the use of midget subs, special bombing units, and anything else they could think of. I doubt they would wait for the Bismarck to make any kind of move to break out into the Atlantic. I think that by 1942, the Germans would not risk a capital ship in the Atlantic and would be very circumspect in risking any in the Arctic as well.

    First of all, the KM was extremely leery of risking capital ships in the Arctic, especially if there was any chance of encountering an Allied carrier group. For this reason, the arctic convoys would only be attempted when when carrier cover was assured. The Ranger, another US carrier, or British carriers would utilized to intimidate then German forces in Norway.

    In any case, the Arctic convoys, after 1942, weren't all that important. Slightly more than 50% of Lend-lease aid went through Vladivostok, another 25% went through the Persian Gulf, and less than 25% went through the Arctic.

    I don't think there was ever much chance of "sealing" either of the German battleships up in a Norwegian fjord with an explosive submarine. The fjords are very deep and the ones the Germans used weren't all that narrow. The simple fact is, the Germans never managed to put a credible naval force together to seriously challenge the RN except for certain very local operations and temporary periods of time. The Bismarck surviving wouldn't do much to change that.

    I think Churchill would always be interested in sinking any German capital ship, but it would always be a lower priority than the really important Allied strategic objectives. As a "fleet in being" the KM wasn't very successful; it never kept the Allies from executing the naval missions deemed critical to the prosecution of the war. Once the US got in the war in 1942, the KM lost any chance it might have had to influence the course of the European war.
     
  17. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    I agree with general idea but I thing that if operation Wesenburg had gone as described we would see a more aggressive KM. IMO the loss of Bismark was one of the main reasons behind the caution. Whether this would lead to a disruption of the convoys or to an early demise of the German ships I would not dare to guess, either is quite possible.
    A bit off thread but as lots of people brougth that up I think legitimate, as Vladivostock is in the Japan Sea so how did convoys get past the Japanese ? This has always been a mistery to me, if they were under Soviet flag even after 12/41 Japan was not at war with the USSR but would still be entiled to seize US origin goods a war contraband. I know planes did fly over to from Alaska to Siberia but all the other goods?
     
  18. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    IIRC the ships were US ships flying a Soviet flag. The Japanese were afraid of violating there agreement with the SU and so refused to attck or search the ships. They didn't want to have to fend off a Soviet invasion from the north while fighting in both the south and east.
     
  19. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    The loss of the Bismarck undoubtedly reinforced the caution with which the KM faced operations against the Royal Navy, but the sense of being overwhelmingly outmatched was always there. The losses in the Norwegian operation were as great a factor if not more so. The German navy was always an underdog and nothing was going to change that. The KM knew it could only operate at sea by stealth and guile.

    As for the Soviet Union receiving lend-lease aid through Vladivostok, it was a result of Japan's relative weakness. Once Japan had made the decision to take on the US in a war in the Pacific, it was vital to placate the Soviet Union and at least keep it neutral towards Japan. Therefore, it could not move against Lend-lease shipments from the US to the USSR even when they moved through Japan's territorial waters. Soviet-flagged ships built in the US and carrying US war materials sailed through the La Perouse Straits between southern Sakhalin island and northern Hokkaido on an almost daily basis up until the Soviet attack on Manchuria in 1945.

    The Japanese did not dare interfere with these shipments, and in fact, I have read that US submarines, operating against Japan sank more Soviet ships than were lost to any other cause. Clay Blair, in "Silent Victory" even quotes an American sub skipper as knowing a ship was Soviet, but he sank it anyway because it did not have the proper markings and lights.
     
  20. cliffrommel

    cliffrommel recruit

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    the royal navy would have had more cause to destroy the german battle fleet
     

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