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Was it possible for the Graf Spee to break out of Montevideo?


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#1 mikebatzel

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 04:27 PM

Moderator Edit - I moved this out of the What If forum, it seems to be more of a request for an explanation, rather than a "wht if teh Graff Spea had ben able to unleesh its weepons on the Birtish cruisers?" type questions :D we sometimes get here. Carry on, my friend.



I have seen this question raised several times, and would like to know the opinion of the Rouges, of what might have happened. For this what if I respectfully request that hindsight is not used.

Graf Spee is ready to sail. Significant repairs have yet to be made to the ship. From the point of view of where the ship is docked, you can see three British cruisers laying smoke and preparing for battle. They know you are coming. Beyond the smoke screen you have no idea, but talk around town says a British carrier and battleship have reinforced the cruisers. Graf Spee has approximately 1/3 of her ammunition for the main 11” guns. Range is on your side, but the enemy cruisers are faster and can close the gap fairly quickly. Out of action are the port 6” gun, starboard AA guns, and rangefinders. On top of this you have a fuel problem. Unable to fix the fuel-separating system, Graf Spee has approximately 4 and ½ hours of usable fuel left.

My take on any attempt to break out of Montevideo is that the Graf Spee would have been immediately attacked by two British cruisers while the third maneuvered around for a torpedo attack. Graf Spee would have proven herself against the British once again, causing heavy damage to Cumberland (I estimate Cumberland since I believe she was the biggest). After about a half hour fight Graf Spee would be forced into a closer battle than she would have liked being forced to use the 6” guns, since ammunition for the 11” guns has been depleted. In the end Graf Spee would be sitting upon the bottom of the ocean floor. I do not believe in any way she could have broken out. Had she succeeded she would have soon run out of fuel, and would be dead in the water. The biggest difference I see is another 500-750 dead sailors on both sides.

What’s your take?
Please give the Combined Fleet the chance to bloom as flowers of death. This is the navy’s earnest request. RADM Tasuku Nakazawa prior to the Battle of Leyte Gulf
It is the function of the Navy to carry the war to the enemy so that it will not be fought on U.S. soil. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

#2 lwd

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 05:00 PM

I'm not sure she would run out of fuel if she managed to break out but I seam to recall that her desalinziation plant was non functional and she didn't have enough fresh water to make it back to Germany. I suspect if she engaged the British ships all three would have closed although they might have split up two and one as before with the CA somewhat distant from her. Had her fire control damage been fixed yet? If not she may not give nearly as good of an account of herself. Cumberland also has more guns than Exeter from what I recall. If Spee concentrates on Cumberland there's the possibity that she makes smoke and maneuvers to minimize hits while the other two cruisers get a free ride. Spee wasn't going to make it home in any case.

#3 Tiornu

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 07:12 PM

There was very little chance of a successful return to Germany. The auxiliary boiler had been wrecked, but I don't recall if it was on the list of irreparable items. I don't know about the status of the forward 28cm turret, which had been malfunctioning. But in any case, she was in worse circumstances than she had been before the battle when she could not free herself of the British cruisers. An attempt to fight it out, then, might accomplish several things: getting more crewmen killed, inflicting some casualties on the British, avoiding the German humiliation and British morale boost that occurred historically, and negating any chance of the British examining top-secret German radar gear.

#4 mikebatzel

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 01:40 PM

Thanks for your input guys. Both of you had mentioned no chance of making it back to Germany. Was it possible for her too possibly make Mar del Plata, Argentina? Would Argentina have allocated the requested two weeks for repairs?
Please give the Combined Fleet the chance to bloom as flowers of death. This is the navy’s earnest request. RADM Tasuku Nakazawa prior to the Battle of Leyte Gulf
It is the function of the Navy to carry the war to the enemy so that it will not be fought on U.S. soil. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

#5 lwd

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 01:55 PM

Given two more weeks the British have at least one BC available and maybe a CV. Best move if the Germans want to see her in Argentina is to sell her to the Argentines and let them move her.

#6 Flag Des Div 98

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 07:59 PM

I'm not sure she would run out of fuel if she managed to break out but I seam to recall that her desalinziation plant was non functional and she didn't have enough fresh water to make it back to Germany. I suspect if she engaged the British ships all three would have closed although they might have split up two and one as before with the CA somewhat distant from her. Had her fire control damage been fixed yet? If not she may not give nearly as good of an account of herself. Cumberland also has more guns than Exeter from what I recall. If Spee concentrates on Cumberland there's the possibity that she makes smoke and maneuvers to minimize hits while the other two cruisers get a free ride. Spee wasn't going to make it home in any case.



The Battle of River Plate - Damage, Loss and Status The balance sheet of damage and loss resulting from the Battle of the River Plate (all damage to the British ships having been inflicted by the German ship's main 28 cm armament) was:
Exeter: 61 dead, 23 wounded. "A" turret shut down due to flooded magazine, "B" turret knocked out. Hits in forecastle, serious fire and flooding below decks. Bow-heavy trim, speed reduced, enforced retirement from battle.
Ajax: 7 dead and wounded. "X" and "Y" turrets plus one 6 in gun on forward turret knocked out. Mainmast demolished.
Achilles: 4 dead. Superficial damage only.
Graf Spee: 36 dead, 60 wounded. Seventeen 6 inch hits causing minor damage, two 8 inch hits in nonvulnerable areas below armour deck, but oil purification and desalination plants destroyed, all kitchens wrecked. Ammunition stocks very low.
Essential repairs at Montevideo would have kept Admiral Graf Spee there for more than 72 hours, that being the maximum period allowed a belligerent warship to repair in a neutral port under international law. Cut off from home bases and having no hope of convincing this pro-British neutral state to bend the rules, the ship's captain saw himself caught in a trap.



You could breakout...
Fresh water could have been found in the 72 hrs

internal communications repaired to some degree.....runners will have work,
maybe flag messages with spotters reporting as to firing and what ship to fire on.
for torpedo firing...

You breakout near dusk,
your attempt is too break the line and run east towards Africa.
you have the setting sun/night sky silhoette the enemy behind you,
you make smoke.

your turns if needed to fire main battery and torpedo's at British ships chasing.

anything to break up their persuit.

#7 Flag Des Div 98

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 09:33 PM

Moderator Edit - I moved this out of the What If forum, it seems to be more of a request for an explanation, rather than a "wht if teh Graff Spea had ben able to unleesh its weepons on the Birtish cruisers?" type questions :D we sometimes get here. Carry on, my friend.



I have seen this question raised several times, and would like to know the opinion of the Rouges, of what might have happened. For this what if I respectfully request that hindsight is not used.

What’s your take?


Well.....first off,.....you fight,
you do not leave the enemy a trophy like this to use a media win !

Posted Image


Graf Spee has the advantage of surprise and distance of her main battery's.
You breakout at Dusk.

In a break out....she can split the British line by a series of shooting designed to make the British ships move.
She does not have to hit any....simply get them moving.
as she nears....quick turns to unmask rear turret to fire....
and to fire a spread of torpedo's.
Make smoke,....quick turns...and look for the opening to dash thru.

once thru....she has the British ships sihloetted behind via the setting sun/night sky
and advantage for her rear turret.
Graf Spee can still make a few more turns to unmask and fire torpedo's....
then run for Africa : )

On a final note,.....Captain Hans Langsdorf was wrong to have put into a neutral port,
and wrong in his decision to scuttle the proud Battle Cruiser.
From photo's I have seen....this ship had many operational guns.
Hitler had every right to be furious and kick chairs around,
the war has just begun.....and now you have a powerfull battle cruiser
which has dinged the enemy good,
go and lay prostrate in cowardice.
If Langsford could not make the call.....lock him in a room and let the Exec
fight the battle to its conlcusion.
Images are powerfull mediums....
take the Flag Hoist pic on Iwo Jima....
images can win or lose a war for you.
Langsdorf wasn't thinking....he gave the British a better victory than they could imagine.
not likely the Brits get a pic of Graf Spee going down at night.

Did Langsdorf disobey standing orders?

What does blowing your brains out on the ships battle flag in a hotel room signify to your nation?

#8 urqh

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 12:34 PM

Yes, it was the ships job to fight, no question of that.

But are we privvy to what infomation as to regard forces await outside.

I have no quibble with the rest, putting into neutral port etc, a commanders job to lead, fight, etc.

But I dont know what he was informed or thought lay out there beyond the 3 curisers.
Destroyers? A force of destroyers doing what they do best and their duty and orders would have pressed home their attack even if suicidal. Langsdorf had to think, I am going no where...no hindsight allowed, so we cant say that indeed he could have made it out past the cruisers...This though was probably not his primary thought...It was whatever lay beyond those cruisers he was most probably worried about...And for this reason the British art of deception and intrigue...Always fight with words and ideas before closing if indeed you have to...seems to have worked.

Still his job to fight...But he was obviously thinking of his crew and what he thought was a suicidal fight.

He bottled it...plain and simple...that doesnt mean cowardice...it means pressure and I give him a lot of understanding...yes he should and it was his duty to sail and fight...but I take nothing away from the British victory here, which was based on intigue and deception. Something we used to be quite good at.

Langsdorf was a commander of a major fleet unit, and as such is not allowed PTSD.

His exec...he didnt know what was out there either...only would have had the information his commander had...and he probably sighed a big sigh of relief himself when Langsdorf made the decision he did...

British Army 1939-1945 - World War II Tribute Video

 

 

[URL="http://youtu.be/Zbp_4XBmD4w"]

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 


#9 lwd

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 01:27 PM

Graf Spee has the advantage of surprise and distance of her main battery's.
You breakout at Dusk.

No she doesn't have the advantage of surprise. When she leaves port the British diplomats will radio ahead to the ships waiting outside. Note that the British were able to control to some extent when the GS left due to regulations about the timing of when she could leave in regards to other ships.

In a break out....she can split the British line by a series of shooting designed to make the British ships move.
She does not have to hit any....simply get them moving.

I don't think I understand what you are saying here. The British would be moving even without GS firing.

as she nears....quick turns to unmask rear turret to fire....
and to fire a spread of torpedo's.
Make smoke,....quick turns...and look for the opening to dash thru.

The British ships also have torpdos and she will have been in range of their guns for a considerable period of time before she gets into torpedo range.

once thru....she has the British ships sihloetted behind via the setting sun/night sky
and advantage for her rear turret.

How is she going to leave them behind when she's slower than the British ships? No reason they have to allow her to sihloett them.

Graf Spee can still make a few more turns to unmask and fire torpedo's....
then run for Africa : )

And what happens when/if she gets there?

On a final note,.....Captain Hans Langsdorf was wrong to have put into a neutral port,

He needed port repairs to make it home. This worked well for the Goeben in WWI. Why was he wrong here?

and wrong in his decision to scuttle the proud Battle Cruiser.

GS was a long way from a BC. This class was rerated heavy cruisers from armored cruisers somewhat latter. A farily apt designation IMO.

You also said that she could get water in 72 hours. Where and would it be enough?

And you mentioned her outranging her opponents. While the 11 guns did have a range advantage p(H) at those ranges was pretty low. Furthermore GS had sustaind damage to her fire control systems and was low on ammo. Engaging in a long range battle would likely have left her out of ammo without incapacitating more than one of her foes if that.
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#10 Devilsadvocate

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 05:20 AM

No she doesn't have the advantage of surprise. When she leaves port the British diplomats will radio ahead to the ships waiting outside. Note that the British were able to control to some extent when the GS left due to regulations about the timing of when she could leave in regards to other ships.

I don't think I understand what you are saying here. The British would be moving even without GS firing.

The British ships also have torpdos and she will have been in range of their guns for a considerable period of time before she gets into torpedo range.

How is she going to leave them behind when she's slower than the British ships? No reason they have to allow her to sihloett them.

And what happens when/if she gets there?

He needed port repairs to make it home. This worked well for the Goeben in WWI. Why was he wrong here?

GS was a long way from a BC. This class was rerated heavy cruisers from armored cruisers somewhat latter. A farily apt designation IMO.

You also said that she could get water in 72 hours. Where and would it be enough?

And you mentioned her outranging her opponents. While the 11 guns did have a range advantage p(H) at those ranges was pretty low. Furthermore GS had sustaind damage to her fire control systems and was low on ammo. Engaging in a long range battle would likely have left her out of ammo without incapacitating more than one of her foes if that.


Concur.

Realistically, the GS had incurred serious damage and was not really battleworthy. The damaged FC system, combined with her very low ammo status made it unlikely that GS would be likely to inflict enough damage on Force H to allow her to shake her pursuers. She had had her galleys destroyed and her fresh water evaporators damaged, so feeding the crew and supplying drinking water was going to be a big problem. In addition, the British were gathering additional ships to pit against her. All Force H had to do was maintain contact until these new ships arrived.

All of this meant that there was little hope of escaping, or being able to return to Germany, so what was the point of sacrificing the crew for the sake of "tradition"?
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#11 ickysdad

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 03:10 PM

Hey guys this thread brings up an issue I'm debating elsewhere and one which I've started a thread on this forum about under the heading "The Hague Convention of 1907" . So just what was the Montivideo government required to provide the Graf Spree?Fuel? Food? Did they even have to allow the ship to enter their port? Assuming they're strong enough to do anything about it. I've seen it debated that they would be required to refuel the ship if they were a signatory to that certain Hague Convention. below is the link to the debate taking place . The issue I'm asking about is just one small part of another much bigger debate .

http://warships1disc....com/topic/9025

Edited by ickysdad, 07 April 2009 - 03:15 PM.


#12 Flag Des Div 98

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 04:16 PM

No she doesn't have the advantage of surprise. When she leaves port the British diplomats will radio ahead to the ships waiting outside. Note that the British were able to control to some extent when the GS left due to regulations about the timing of when she could leave in regards to other ships.

I don't think I understand what you are saying here. The British would be moving even without GS firing.

The British ships also have torpdos and she will have been in range of their guns for a considerable period of time before she gets into torpedo range.

How is she going to leave them behind when she's slower than the British ships? No reason they have to allow her to sihloett them.

And what happens when/if she gets there?

He needed port repairs to make it home. This worked well for the Goeben in WWI. Why was he wrong here?

GS was a long way from a BC. This class was rerated heavy cruisers from armored cruisers somewhat latter. A farily apt designation IMO.

You also said that she could get water in 72 hours. Where and would it be enough?

And you mentioned her outranging her opponents. While the 11 guns did have a range advantage p(H) at those ranges was pretty low. Furthermore GS had sustaind damage to her fire control systems and was low on ammo. Engaging in a long range battle would likely have left her out of ammo without incapacitating more than one of her foes if that.


Graf Spee is a warship....not a coal hauler......you fight!
Its the beginning of the war as I mentioned,.....it matters to moral.

I'm sure the Spartan 300 sacrifice inspired the Greeks to resist and push away the Persians.

The question was posed about a possible break out.
I personally do not have the time to waste on forums which flame people
who offer participation on a hypothetical topic.

as Long as Graf Spee could move....
She could break out...
and sure....she's gonna get hit,
but she does have firepower,........and fortune does favor the bold
many battles.....many desperate battles were fought against greater odds.

Who says The British will be so successful stopping her,
3 ships had failed to sink her,....and now they are damaged,
what says Graf Spee does not clobber the bridge of the command ship and damage another British ship leaving them with 2 distinct problems
[One British ship allready had 2 rear turrets offline if I recall]

Its likely they Break off in such condition.....yes...they break off

This is why Graf Spee can escape.
If you lose....you lose in Battle,
and you do not give the enemy a Trophy pic like the above posted.

as for moral question,
I would expect my Commanders to fight ....
fight....and then make the surrender/capitulation call as the battle unfolds.

Those plucky tin cans and De's from Taffy 3 which fought against greater odds,
some of them had turrets out of action,
fired all the torpedo's they could,.....operated with bridge command nearly annihilated from damage taken.

all of a sudden its heroic when you fight and have a few ships survive,
Americans are damn proud of those commanders and brave men.

Germany has only shame....the pictures prove that.
So what if Graf Spee gets sunk,

There's 3 British warships out there to damage and sink......make the enemy pay,.....make it count,.....attrition of assets is what you want to
do to the enemy in war.

#13 lwd

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 04:57 PM

[quote name='Flag Des Div 98']Graf Spee is a warship....not a coal hauler......you fight!
Its the beginning of the war as I mentioned,.....it matters to moral.
[/quote]
You fight if you think you can acomplish something by doing so. Low on ammo and fuel with a damaged fire control system and expecting to meet a force that included a British BC GS could expect to acomplish little. The pictures of the British curisers beating up on her might well have been worse for moral than her scuttling.
[quote]
I'm sure the Spartan 300 sacrifice inspired the Greeks to resist and push away the Persians.
[/quote]
But that's a considerably different situation. The Spartans were fighting for time for most of the rest of the Greek force to escape.
[quote]
The question was posed about a possible break out.
I personally do not have the time to waste on forums which flame people
who offer participation on a hypothetical topic.
[/quote]
Yes it was. Who's flamed you for participating?
[quote]
as Long as Graf Spee could move....
She could break out...
[/quote]
No. At least not if you mean she could have escaped the British.
[quote]
and sure....she's gonna get hit,
but she does have firepower,........and fortune does favor the bold
many battles.....many desperate battles were fought against greater odds.
[/quote]
Sure when there was a reason to.
[/quote]
Who says The British will be so successful stopping her,
3 ships had failed to sink her,....and now they are damaged,
what says Graf Spee does not clobber the bridge of the command ship and damage another British ship leaving them with 2 distinct problems
[One British ship allready had 2 rear turrets offline if I recall]
[/quote]
Ajax did have her 2 reaar turrets disabled but it's not clear when they came back on line. At HMS Ajax, British light cruiser, WW2 they mention that it was more than a month after the battle before she was detached back to the UK for yard work. According to http://www.bobhenneman.info/bhbrp.htm Ajax and Achillies were both low on ammo of course the Germans wouldn't have known this. And Cumberland was undamaged with a full load of ammon and had more guns than Exeter. Furthermore on the 13 Ark Royal, Renown, and Neptune were 1,000 miles away. At 25 knots they could cover that in a couple of days. At 20 knots your only looking at a bit over 2 days. When GS left on the 17th they had to be getting pretty close. Oh and Spee had fired at least one set of torpedose alread so she only had 4 left unless she carried reloads and provided she hadn't used any ealier in her cruise.
[quote]
Its likely they Break off in such condition.....yes...they break off
[/quote]
No it's not likely they will have to break off. Spee isn't going to be able to take all three out of action and what's left will shadow here even if they are out of ammo. With Ark Royal, Renown, and Neptune closing from the North and Dorsetshire and Shropshire closing from the South East Spee was doomed.
[quote]
This is why Graf Spee can escape.
[/quote]
No that's why Spee couldn't escape. Even if she could shake her shadowers she didn't have the supplies to make it back to a friendly port.
[quote]
...
Those plucky tin cans and De's from Taffy 3 which fought against greater odds,
some of them had turrets out of action,
fired all the torpedo's they could,.....operated with bridge command nearly annihilated from damage taken.
[/quote]
1) They had little choice
2) They were like the 300 trying to allow their friends to escape. Note that the CVE's didn't charge the Japanese warships.
[quote]
...
Germany has only shame....the pictures prove that.
[/quote]
Not in my book
[quote],.....make it count,.....attrition of assets is what you want to
do to the enemy in war.[/quote]
If you can make it worth the cost yes. It's far from clear GS could have and based on what the Germans knew they had even less reason to believe that it was possible.

#14 Flag Des Div 98

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 05:19 PM

No she doesn't have the advantage of surprise. When she leaves port the British diplomats will radio ahead to the ships waiting outside. Note that the British were able to control to some extent when the GS left due to regulations about the timing of when she could leave in regards to other ships.

I don't think I understand what you are saying here. The British would be moving even without GS firing.

The British ships also have torpdos and she will have been in range of their guns for a considerable period of time before she gets into torpedo range.

How is she going to leave them behind when she's slower than the British ships? No reason they have to allow her to sihloett them.

And what happens when/if she gets there?


First off...a coment on Graf Spee from the web:
As far as the Pocket battleship goes, the only problen was that there were not enough of them. During the first 2 years of the war, the British had a very hard time with surface raiders. Not only the pocket battleships, but the Sharnhorst and Gniesenau were very effective during 2 separate raiding sorties in 1939-1940. The RN and the French had over 50 units searching for the Graf SPee. Even a couple of German merchant ships-turned raiders scored impressively.

Staying alive as a commerce raider = the above,

Graf Spee can move.....thus...she continues to be a going concern,
and should she break the line to escape,
more so!,
Altmarks out there........possibly other ships to refuel and resupply her.

In the endeavor to sink her,.....she could create more attrition loss to the
British Navy.
Thats her job as a warship......even though her munition supply is low,
she does have an advantage of gunnery range over the British.

Did those 9 merchant ships which Langsdorff sunk have a chance?
well.....?
If I'm sending a capital warship out to sea with powerfull guns...to sink
helpless merchant shipping,
what am I to think of the outcome when my ships captain takes my property and scuttles it in a peacefull situation,.....not in battle,

and then blow his brains out in a hotel room?

Graf Spee's cost to build....vs 9 Merchant ships sunk.
No....I'm definitely not getting my moneys worth in that exchange.

#15 General_Patton

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 06:03 PM

Graf Spee's cost to build....vs 9 Merchant ships sunk.
No....I'm definitely not getting my moneys worth in that exchange.


unfortunately there are situations where you dont get your moneys worth out of the exchange... like take those japanese super battleships, the Musashi and the Yamato, they were never really involved in any real major surface action... i mean the Yamato was during the engagement with Taffy 3, but none of her shots were all that effective... you can't always expect to get your money's worth out of everything that you create, thats just the way war was... and i agree with everybody else about the fate of GS... no matter what, it was doomed, and i think that the captain was thinking on a level of "why condem the rest of your comrades to a fight that will surely end most of their lives" in that way, i think it was right for him to do what he did... those are just my thoughts on the whole situation
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#16 lwd

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 06:07 PM

First off...a coment on Graf Spee from the web:
As far as the Pocket battleship goes, the only problen was that there were not enough of them.

Perhaps and perhaps not. If there had been more of them Britain may have built more ships to hunt them down. There's also the fact that the more of them are at sea the more likely they are to encounter British units.

.... Even a couple of German merchant ships-turned raiders scored impressively.

Even! The merchant raiders outscored the regular warships by a considerable margin.

...
Altmarks out there........possibly other ships to refuel and resupply her.

In the highly unlikely event she did manage to break contact how much fule did Altmark have? how much ammo? Fire control components?

In the endeavor to sink her,.....she could create more attrition loss to the
British Navy.
Thats her job as a warship......even though her munition supply is low,
she does have an advantage of gunnery range over the British.

A marginal advantage which she can't make much use of.

Did those 9 merchant ships which Langsdorff sunk have a chance?
well.....?
If I'm sending a capital warship out to sea with powerfull guns...to sink
helpless merchant shipping,
what am I to think of the outcome when my ships captain takes my property and scuttles it in a peacefull situation,.....not in battle,

and then blow his brains out in a hotel room?

Graf Spee's cost to build....vs 9 Merchant ships sunk.
No....I'm definitely not getting my moneys worth in that exchange.

Well given the situation the best bet was for the Germans to arrange a fire sale. Argentina might have taken her and then you at least get some return. If Hitler was that upset about things then he should have ordered Spee to engage the British but I don't remember reading that he did. Again photo's of British ships pummeling a helpless Spee wouldn't have done much for German moral now would they.

#17 Flag Des Div 98

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 08:49 PM

Well given the situation the best bet was for the Germans to arrange a fire sale. Argentina might have taken her and then you at least get some return. If Hitler was that upset about things then he should have ordered Spee to engage the British but I don't remember reading that he did. Again photo's of British ships pummeling a helpless Spee wouldn't have done much for German moral now would they.


Returning to the original thread topic.....Was it possible for the Graf Spee to break out

Without getting all super technical,....I believe I forwarded reasonable hypothesis.
and sited why you do so....[ie....the Trophy image posted above]
I read in a post on the net
quote: The damage done to the Graf Spee during the Battle of the River Plate did not appear to be great. Even those on board, according to the ship’s records, were surprised at Langsdorff’s decision to sail to the neutral harbour in Uruguay. The British naval attaché in Montevideo, Henry McCall, and an Intelligence officer, Captain Rex Miller, got into a boat and sailed around the pocket battleship. They both saw little wrong with the ship’s structure and the crew seemed to be working normally as if nothing was wrong. Both British naval officers assumed that the engines were in working order as the ship had sailed at speed to Montevideo to escape the Ajax and Achilles

also..

However, a ship like the Graf Spee would easily catch up with any merchant ship even with a 24 hours start. McCall and Miller even contemplated some sort of sabotage to the Graf Spee's rudder (“the means were available”) but decided against it as a great deal of the world’s media was reporting what was happening. Any negative press release would have been damaging to the Royal Navy and would give the Germans an excellent propaganda opportunity.[excerpt end -The Graf Spee in Montevideo]

now then,...after studying Graf Spee's actual damage on the net,
and the Royal Navy group of 3 ships,

I* conclude that Graf Spee is capable of combat.....even with 70% or less of her main 11inch armament spent,
she is recorded as having some 43% of ammunition available.....so ..the 5.9 inchers can contribute,....allong with Torpedo's.

In my view.....If Graf Spee can navigate out without getting stuck on a sandbar...she has a good chance of breaking the line and running for Africa.
As mentioned in my earlier posts,
The idea is to breakout and run,
We have Altmark out there....and if I'm correct,...a picture of Tacoma pulling into Uruguay while GS is there.

so...thats 2 possible support ships for GS.

from the data pull on Royal navy ships,....they are wounded,
a few lucky hits or well placed salvo's could easily knock them offline...
offline as to enable GS to run,
as they are reasonably going to have to tend to their condition,
and possibly have to take on survivors should a sinking occur or abandon ship.

I disagree that the situation was hopeless and that GS was doomed,
rather....the RN was crippled and Langsdorff should have noticed this,
allong with the political push and deception by the British,
he should have been bold....the signs indicated the British were the ones in the
non confidence postion.

If Graf Spee's engines were non functional,
if her main 11 inch turrets had no power,

then yes....its over.








#18 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 09:24 PM

And if the British simply choose to shadow Graf Spee until more of their fleet arrives then what? The Graf Spee doesn't have the speed to out run either light cruiser or run them down for a gunfight.

#19 lwd

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 10:11 PM

Returning to the original thread topic.....Was it possible for the Graf Spee to break out

Ok just to make sure we're on the same wave length. Break out means to leave harbor and escape the British force outside the harbor. Correct?

If so may I quote: http://www.bobhenneman.info/bhbrp.htm

The German Captain continued, 'no prospect of breaking out into the open sea and getting through to Germany. If I can fight my way through to Buenos Aries with ammunition remaining I shall endeavor to do so'.

But Langsdorff knew that all of the reason why Buenos Aries was a bad choice still held true, and that he had no hope of disabling Ajax, Achilles, and Cumberland, let alone Renown and Dunkerque, with his remaining ammo, a mere 20-30 minutes supply.

So in the words of the officer on the scene he didn't think it was possible.

also..

....
I* conclude that Graf Spee is capable of combat.....

None have said she was not capable of combat but there is some question of how effective she could have been. Certainly with a limited supply of ammo and fire control damage she was not likely to be able to disable 3 British ships when she hadn't the first time.

she is recorded as having some 43% of ammunition available.....so ..the 5.9 inchers can contribute,....allong with Torpedo's.

Any idea how many torpedoes she had left? Note to use them she must close and render herself vulnerable to the more numerous torpedoes of the British.

In my view.....If Graf Spee can navigate out without getting stuck on a sandbar...she has a good chance of breaking the line and running for Africa.

I hadn't read that anyone expected her to run onto a sandbar. On the other hand making Africa is a bit more.

...
We have Altmark out there....and if I'm correct,...a picture of Tacoma pulling into Uruguay while GS is there.

so...thats 2 possible support ships for GS.

Which doesn't do any good if she can't break contact with the British.

from the data pull on Royal navy ships,....they are wounded,
a few lucky hits or well placed salvo's could easily knock them offline...
offline as to enable GS to run,

2 of the 3 are damaged. But it's going to take an awfully lucky hit to remove them from combat and Spee needs to take out all three.

...
I disagree that the situation was hopeless and that GS was doomed,
rather....the RN was crippled and Langsdorff should have noticed this,

The most seriously damage of the three ships waiting for him wasn't sent back to Britain for more than a month after the battle. While Exeter was in bad shape she wasn't there any more. For him to get away he can't just set back at range either. The need to disable 3 ships means that he has to close and risk being disabled or torpedoed himself. Then there's Ark Royal and Renown now known to be only 2 days away and capable of running him down. Especially if he is slowed and can't shake the British cruisers.

#20 urqh

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 10:34 PM

Just a section from the University of Wellingtons website on the state of GS on her making for M v d o.

Yet, according to the German account of the action, the Admiral Graf Spee had sustained only two 8-inch and eighteen 6-inch hits. One officer and thirty-five ratings had been killed and sixty wounded. ‘The fighting value of the ship had not been destroyed,’ the report ran. The main armament was ‘fully effective’, but there remained only 306 rounds of 11-inch ammunition, representing 40 per cent of the original supply. ‘The survey of damage showed that all galleys were out of action, with the exception of the admiral's galley. The possibility of repairing them with the ship's own resources was doubtful. Penetration of water into the flour store made the continued supply of bread questionable, while hits in the fore part of the ship rendered her unseaworthy for the North Atlantic winter. One shell had penetrated the armour belt and the armoured deck had been torn open in one place. There was also damage in the after part of the ship…. The ship's resources were considered inadequate for making her seaworthy …’ and ‘there seemed no prospect of shaking off the shadowers.’ Captain Langsdorf therefore decided to make for Montevideo. He signalled his intentions to Berlin and received from Admiral Raeder the reply: ‘Your intentions understood’.

British Army 1939-1945 - World War II Tribute Video

 

 

[URL="http://youtu.be/Zbp_4XBmD4w"]

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 


#21 urqh

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 10:41 PM

For anyone lurking and wanting a brief overview...without joining in...

Achilles at the River Plate | NZETC

British Army 1939-1945 - World War II Tribute Video

 

 

[URL="http://youtu.be/Zbp_4XBmD4w"]

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 


#22 Devilsadvocate

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 11:39 PM

First off...a coment on Graf Spee from the web: As far as the Pocket battleship goes, the only problen was that there were not enough of them.


The KM had two more of them, Deutschland/Lutzow and Graf Scheer, both of which were fairly inactive for most of the war. Germany had more than enough "pocket battleships".

During the first 2 years of the war, the British had a very hard time with surface raiders. Not only the pocket battleships, but the Sharnhorst and Gniesenau were very effective during 2 separate raiding sorties in 1939-1940. The RN and the French had over 50 units searching for the Graf SPee. Even a couple of German merchant ships-turned raiders scored impressively.

Staying alive as a commerce raider = the above,


The days of commerce raiding at sea were effectively over; efficient radio communications, aircraft, and radar had made commerce raiding a losing game. The German commerce raiders of WW II were able to achieve nothing more than pin-prick results against Allied merchant ships.

Graf Spee can move.....thus...she continues to be a going concern,
and should she break the line to escape,
more so!,


Yes, but she can't move as fast as the British ships waiting for her. All they have to do is shadow GS and keep contact until heavier British units arrive, a matter of two or three days. Your idea of "breaking the line" is meaningless; the British cruisers don't need to stop the GS, so there is no "line" to break. They simply need to maintain contact, they don't have to outgun her or anything else, just keep GS under surveillance. Since they are all faster than she is, they can determine the range and stay out of effective gunnery and torpedo range.

Altmarks out there........possibly other ships to refuel and resupply her.


Replenishment ships do the GS no good whatsoever, unless she can shake her pursuers and disappear into the Atlantic. It would be impossible to replenish the GS with any British vessels nearby.

In the endeavor to sink her,.....she could create more attrition loss to the British Navy.
Thats her job as a warship......even though her munition supply is low,
she does have an advantage of gunnery range over the British.


It's unlikely that the British cruisers will try to sink the GS, they will wait to heavy surface units appear, or more likely, a British aircraft carrier. The GS won't have much chance to do significant damage to the RN.

Did those 9 merchant ships which Langsdorff sunk have a chance?
well.....?
If I'm sending a capital warship out to sea with powerfull guns...to sink
helpless merchant shipping,
what am I to think of the outcome when my ships captain takes my property and scuttles it in a peacefull situation,.....not in battle,
and then blow his brains out in a hotel room?


Well, if you have any sense, you'll be thinking that is what is likely to happen if you send out commerce raiders against a much more powerful navy; that they will eventually all be harried to destruction by superior forces.

Graf Spee's cost to build....vs 9 Merchant ships sunk.
No....I'm definitely not getting my moneys worth in that exchange.


That's the breaks in a war. The Deutschland were no originally built to be commerce raiders, so using them that way risks them being destroyed before paying for themselves.

#23 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 08:00 AM

Yes, but she can't move as fast as the British ships waiting for her. All they have to do is shadow GS and keep contact until heavier British units arrive, a matter of two or three days. Your idea of "breaking the line" is meaningless; the British cruisers don't need to stop the GS, so there is no "line" to break. They simply need to maintain contact, they don't have to outgun her or anything else, just keep GS under surveillance. Since they are all faster than she is, they can determine the range and stay out of effective gunnery and torpedo range.


I think you are making things too easy for the RN here,
a) Mantaining contact is likely to mean keeping well into 11' gun range, so a lucky hit is possible, what was the maximum visibility in the area at the time?
B) AFAIK none of the ships present had a working radar set so what happens after sunset? In just 6 hours "unobserved steaming" the GS would make 120 miles and if the British guess wrong this value can double. Think of the Indian Ocean raid, the two fleets steamed within 150 miles of each other but did not spot despite both having carriers and the British even radar equipped planes.
c) Was there an advantage for the GS due to engine technology? I'm not sure but I suspect her diesels could mantain near top speed for a lot longer than the British cruiser's steam turbines, if only because of the horrible fuel consumprtion of steam boilers at top regimes.

This doesn't mean a breakout is likely to succeed but a possibility exists.

IMO what doomed the Graf Spee was the same thing that doomed the German military overall, the operational plan did not take into account the human factor, especially combat stress and fatigue. We usually do not think of "morale" in connection to naval battles as it's often overshadowed by technology (an luck), in this case it was not.

#24 lwd

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 12:28 PM

I think you are making things too easy for the RN here,
a) Mantaining contact is likely to mean keeping well into 11' gun range, so a lucky hit is possible, what was the maximum visibility in the area at the time?
B) AFAIK none of the ships present had a working radar set so what happens after sunset?

I suspect that the British cruisers would attack. If they do so the CLs and Spee are all likely to run out of main battery ammo in the first half hour. If the British have torpedoes left at that point Spee may be in immediate trouble. If not as long as one of them is not dissabled they can maintain relativly close contact. Remember they don't have to do it for long. Two more British forces are within a couple of days and closing from opposite directions. The only dirrection Spee can go that puts her further from them is SSW. That's not a direction she wants to go.

c) Was there an advantage for the GS due to engine technology? I'm not sure but I suspect her diesels could mantain near top speed for a lot longer than the British cruiser's steam turbines, if only because of the horrible fuel consumprtion of steam boilers at top regimes.

My understanding is that GS enines were in need of considerable work and that her top speed had been considerably reduced not from battle damage but age and her long cruise.

#25 Devilsadvocate

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 04:03 PM

I think you are making things too easy for the RN here,
a) Mantaining contact is likely to mean keeping well into 11' gun range, so a lucky hit is possible, what was the maximum visibility in the area at the time?


I don't think so.

Visibility was reportedly good in the area during the battle. The maximum range of GS's 11" guns was something like 30,000 yards, but, in daylight, the British cruisers could maintain contact from outside that range. At night, the range at which the british cruisers could see GS would be probably half or perhaps even a third of GS's main gun range. But at night, especially with her main battery FC damaged (range finder destroyed, and FC computer damaged) the GS isn't lkley to get a "lucky" hit on any of the British cruisers. and it's going to take a lot more than one or two hits to disable all the British cruisers.

If it did come to a gunfight, the Cumberland was a much more powerful cruiser than the Exeter (Eight 8" guns to six for Exeter) and completely undamaged with a full ammo load. The British light cruisers still had around 20-30 minutes worth of ammo left and thus could force GS to split her fire, which means that only three 11" guns could be brought to bear on each British cruiser. Under the circumstances, the British are far more likely to hit GS than she is to hit them.

In addition, at least one of the light cruisers has an operational plane and the Cumberland has three, so the British have air search/surveillance capability.

B) AFAIK none of the ships present had a working radar set so what happens after sunset? In just 6 hours "unobserved steaming" the GS would make 120 miles and if the British guess wrong this value can double. Think of the Indian Ocean raid, the two fleets steamed within 150 miles of each other but did not spot despite both having carriers and the British even radar equipped planes.


Against THREE cruisers, the GS has to steam pretty much in a straight line away from them, so her course is predictable. She can't double back or turn radically or she will be seen by one of the cruisers, even at night. That means the GS isn't going to get six hours or even three hours steaming out of sight of the crusiers on an unpredictable course. Given that, with air search capability, the British are extremely likely to sight her again in the unlikely event they lose contact in the hours of darkness.

c) Was there an advantage for the GS due to engine technology? I'm not sure but I suspect her diesels could mantain near top speed for a lot longer than the British cruiser's steam turbines, if only because of the horrible fuel consumprtion of steam boilers at top regimes.


Actually, I think the advantage mechanically, was with the British. The GS's engines needed an overhaul and she wasn't able to make top speed, so the British had a speed advantage of at least 5 knots. Moreover, the plant that purified GS's diesel oil before being burned, had been destroyed, so there was a definite possibiity that her engines might be stopped due to fouled oil. There is no reason to think the diesel engines conferred any advantage in this situation over the British steam turbines

This doesn't mean a breakout is likely to succeed but a possibility exists.


Definitey, the possibility exists; there are no gurantees in war. But the odds are very markedly against it.




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