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Biggest mistake of the Kriegsmarine: not putting any aircraft carriers into service.

Discussion in 'Atlantic Naval Conflict' started by DerGiLLster, May 13, 2016.

  1. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    During the elaboration of the famous Plan Z, there were supporters of an alternative Kriegsmarine with much more aircraft carriers as the heart of their fleet. But they couldn't answer the question how these carriers could reach the Atlantic Ocean without the aid of powerful battleships, so they kept relying on huge BBs like the H-Class.
    But this happened in late 1938 and not a single ship of the Plan Z was finished during the war.

    If the commander of the Kriegsmarine was a genius like the generals Guderian, Manstein or Rommel, who knew that tanks will change the warfare completely, he possibly would have started building aircraft carriers in 1935 with a design much like the japanese Hiryu. Simple, big enough, easy to build and fast. And would be clever enough to build ships which could easily be converted in carriers to avoid suspicion.
    And, most important, modern purpose built aircraft and no Me 109 T or Ju 87 with all their flaws.

    But Admiral Raeder wasn't a genius and no one did know how to build a carrier so it went the usual way.
     
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    The real problem with this discussion is its premise.

    From its inception to the start of WWII the Z Plan effectively had 6 years to prepare for war, far too short a time period to effectively be implemented.

    You could possibly build and launch a Destroyer in a year, a Cruiser in twice that and a Capitol ship in 3 years. Work up and training adding more time. All of which is constrained by the number of shipyards and availability of resources. Imperial Germany had more than a generation to build her fleet and this was a era where war production for ground forces was much simpler and for air forces practically non-existent.

    This is not to say the Kriegsmarine did not make errors, the Royal Navy certainly did. Reader/Donitz probably should have invested more heavily in more light forces, U-boats & S-boats, and land based naval aviation prewar. Once the war began less micro managing of the commerce war with the continuous back in forth communication that led to greater losses than was needed.

    The counter argument is always that if Germany built more U-boats, Britain would build more escorts. I'm not so sure.

    First there is actual history. Britain in 1939 did not have enough escorts to deal with the 40-50 ocean going U-boats that Germany did possess and scrambled to put escort hulls into service. Many of these were slapdash affairs of marginal value except as a morale boost to merchantmen and to pick up shipwrecked crews from the ocean.

    Secondly its tough to hide the construction of a Capitol ship, but something the size of U-boat is much easier. Germany was very effective at exaggerating the size and power of the Wehrmacht before the war, certainly they could confuse the total number of actual U-boats in service.

    Lastly, there is the institutional mind of the times. As in most navies of the era, the Battleship lobby still had catbird seat and all others had to settle for the leavings. As evidenced by the loss of the Royal Oak at her moorings and the scramble for escorts after the war began it seems evident that the RN underestimated the threat of Germany's prewar U-boat fleet.

    This of course does not win the Battle of the Atlantic for Germany, but it probably extends that battle and prolongs the life of the Reich.
     
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  3. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    I would not talk about ocean going U Boats: in 1939 most merchant ships were lost east of Iceland from the North cape to Gibraltar .
     
  4. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    So with the Z-Plan, Germany was consciously planning a war with the West after the 10 or so years when the completion of his naval build-up was complete? Not just a war by chance, where England and France declared war because Germany attacked Poland, and Germany accepted that premise.
     
  5. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    So the US flight decks of carriers from the Pacific war weren't armored or reinforced at all? Just solid wood and no reinforcement underneath or extra layers?
     
  6. Rantalith

    Rantalith Member

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    The Germans were planning the war to start in 1945 or so. Hitler could not wait, why it started sooner
     
  7. Rantalith

    Rantalith Member

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    They were reinforced, but not armored per se
     
  8. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The flight deck was wood over steel, but the steel only provided rigidity, not armor or structure. The main upper structural deck was the hanger deck, which was armored. Until the Midway CVB was built, carriers simply weren't big enough to carry an armored flight deck and the complement of aircraft required by U.S. Navy doctrine, especially given the way the aircraft size was growing.

    F3F - 4,795 lbs.
    F4F - 8,762 lbs.
    F6F - 15,415 lbs.
    F8F - 13,460 lbs.
    F9F - 16,450 lbs.
     
  9. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    From my reading the Z plan would still be only 70-75 complete (by optimistic estimates) and would not be complete till 1948-1950.

    With or without the war the core of the Kriegsmarine (BB's/BC's) would be obsolete by this point, though to be fair in the case of no war much of the allied fleets would be the same.
     
  10. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    Hitler wasn't really interested in a war against GB, he hoped they will allow him to occupy eastern europe approximately to the famous AA-line (Archangelsk-Astrachan). When finished the expansion, a conflict with the West was more or less inevitable and then he needs the fleet of the Z-Plan and was able to supply its thirst for oil.
     
  11. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    That is meaningless : "the war " does not exist .
     
  12. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    *Sigh*

    They call the body of water that encompasses the area you describe the Atlantic Ocean.
     
  13. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    And I disagree with "they " ,because there is an expert who agrees with me, and he is considered as the BEST one:Clay Blair , who writes in "The Hunters" :

    In 1939, (September-december ) 5756 ships had sailed in convoys, MOSTLY HOME WATERS and NORTH SEA (my emphasis) of which 14 were lost (0.25 %) .

    Of those that not were sailing in convoy (for which no figures are available ) 109 were lost .

    In this period, there were 16 Atlantic patrols,which means that most U Boats were not ocean going capable .
     
  14. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Ahem, as you are so fond of saying...Wrong.

    When the U-Boats exited the North Sea, they entered...Say it with me class...The Atlantic Ocean.

    Unless, LJAd, and Clay Blair are saying that the U-Boats never left the North Sea, and instead, transited south using the English Channel.

    You can easily check the patrol routes here: http://www.uboat.net/boats/patrols/
    As you can plainly see, the U-Boats did enter the Atlantic as the transited around Britain.

    To use the required automotive reference...
    My car is able to go 120+mph, just because I usually drive 55 or slower, does not mean that my car is not capable of going faster.
     
  15. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    My first instinct was to ignore him.....gotta trust my instincts more.
     
  16. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Red Herring : Clay Blair did not say that the U Boats never left the North Sea .There were 16 Atlantic patrols and all authors are saying that only a minority of the 57 German U Boats were ocean going : Keegan said 27, others said 26 or 22 .

    Besides : if U Boats left the North Sea, mostly they entered the British Home Waters .
     
  17. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    On 15 october 1939 ,9 U Boats were patrolling : 5 in the North Sea,3 in the Atlantic and 1 on the border between the Atlantic and the Norwegian Sea .
     
  18. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Hyper War War at sea : Volume I Chapter IV : at the end of 1939 Germany had 56 operational U Boats of which 8 could go as far as gibraltar, 18 to 15 ° West and 30 only in the North Sea and Coastal Waters .

    Conclusion : the majority of the German U Boats were not ocean going .

    This was one of the reasons why the battlefield was limited to the North Sea and the Coastal Waters, the other reason being that the chances to hit a ship were less on the Atlantic Ocean .
     
  19. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    You're confusing two different things. The Atlantic Ocean encompasses the North Sea. However, there were only 19 long-range U-Boote types (Typ-Vii and IX) operational in September 1939, the rest were Typ-II short-range coastal types incapable of operations outside the North Sea and Baltic. The average number of operational ocean-going types available monthly in the first year of the war was just 18.93.
     
  20. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Don't confuse the man with actual fact's
     

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