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Older BBs at convoy escort against surface raiders.

Discussion in 'Convoys and Troopships' started by OpanaPointer, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Any references you'd recommend for this subject? Any anecdotes come to mind? I have something perking in the back of my head but it is playing hide-and-seek with me right now.
     
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    I seem to recall that Britain used them early in the war (I want to say the "R" class ships) when German raiders were active, then usually only to escort Russian convoy's.

    After this the well ran dry :)

    Good luck!
     
  3. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The British did use the Rs, but with Atlantic convoys early in the war. They were considered a suitable deterrent to the 11" armed German ships; during Operation Berlin Scharnhorst and Gneisenau declined action with a convoy escorted by Ramillies and another with the slightly older but more modernized Malaya. IIRC Malaya was involved on one Russian convoy operation, but the Rs were not; the main concern there was encountering Tirpitz, for which modern ships were considered necessary.

    Revenge and Ramillies were briefly involved in the Bismarck chase, which raises the possibility of encountering Bismarck one-on-one or even supported by Prinz Eugen. Their unmodernized WWI-ear protection was similar to Hood's, and the would have been similarly vulnerable, plus Bismarck could choose to engage at long range, so it's just as well this didn't happen. Presumably the RN was hoping other ships would be hot on the Germans' trail.

    Other than that I'm not aware of old battleships' convoy adventures or much written about them on escort duty.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If you include the battlecruisers there were a few more. Also may depend on whether or not you consider Rodney and Nelson to be "old" or not. I think some older US BB's also pulled escort duty in the Atlantic early war. For instance Texas:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Texas_(BB-35)#Convoy_duty
     
  5. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Hey guys,did the older "R"class have up to date gunnery radar,which may have helped in battle against the bismarck.? Cheers,Lee.
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Sounds like a research project. Maybe in my spare time.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    I'll pull out British Battleships of WWII when I have a chance. I do recall it saying that there was no record of Barham, the least modernized unit of the Queen Elizabeth class, receiving any radar prior to her loss in November 1941, so I would guess probably not for the Rs in May. Accounts of the Bismarck action often mention Suffolk's Type 284 using wording which implies other ships in company did not have it; apparently it was still a fairly rare item.
     
  8. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    Did not some of the older French Battleships do some convoy duty before the fall of France?
     
  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    According to naval-history.net, Revenge in 1941 had a Type 279 air warning radar only; this had some capability for detecting surface targets. Type 273 surface search and Type 284 main battery gunnery control radars were fitted in February 1942. BB of WWII credits her with Type 285 for high-angle gunnery also in 1942.

    Her three sisters lacked radar at the time of the Bismarck chase but received the full outfit in refits from August-Novemebr 1941.
     
  10. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Pity we couldn't get blimps over the convoys the whole way. I understand U-bootenmenschen hated them.
     
  11. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Why would the range of the Revenge class armed with 15" guns be much different than the Hood's 15" guns? The firepower of the R class (8 x 15" guns) is the same as the Hoods, and presents a similar threat to the Germans. Now granted, their age and lack of radar etc limited their effectivness, but the Bismarck is still vulnerable to 15" shells, both at long and short range
     
  12. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I have read in the past that the blimps never lost a transport or tanker that they were escorting due to u-boat activity. They could loiter over a convoy or target quite well. Not sure how this would work at night though.
     
  13. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Actually the British wasted an opportunity to use the two French Battleships, Courbet and Paris as convoy escort. Although old and slow, they were armed with 12 x 12" guns, and were certainly more than capable with dealing with a Pocket Battleship, and would even pose a serious threat to a KM battlecruiser. Sadly, although seaworthy, these two ships ended up serving the war moored in British ports, with Courbet as an AA/depot ship for the Free French and Paris as a floating barracks for the Poles. Meanwhile, the Admiralty used lightly armed and unarmoured AMC's to defend convoys, with tragic results when the Jervis Bay & CPR's Beaverford took on Admiral Scheer. BTW, there is an interesting decription on the CPR in WWII here: Role of the CPR Ships in WWII
     
  14. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The issue with range was the vulnerability of WWI-era ships like Hood or Revenge to plunging fire at long range. As you probably know, this was why Admiral Holland on Hood sought to close the range before turning to bring his full broadside to bear. In an encounter with Revenge, Bismarck would probably try to avoid action; but if they did engage it might be at ranges where Revenge would be vulnerable to the same sort of hit that blew up Hood.

    The situation would be a bit different if Bismarck was still being pursued by other British ships when Revenge appeared ahead of her; that may be what the Admiralty were hoping for when they ordered the old ship into the chase.
     
  15. freebird

    freebird Member

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    The Bismarck was also vulnerable to plunging fire from 15" shells, so could easily suffer the same fate as the Hood. The Bismarck's 2" - 4" deck armour was thicker than Hood's 1"-3", but still not proof against 15" shells. Somehow I doubt that they would choose to engage any British battleship, given their ability to withdraw due to greater speed
    from: Bismarck's Final Battle - Part 1
     
  16. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Bismarck's deck protection was inferior to contemporaries with the all-or-nothing system but still superior to WWI-era ships. If these fellows call her 'extremely vulnerable' I wonder how they would describe Hood or Revenge?? Admiral Holland clearly considered that Bismarck had the advantage at longer ranges, so much so that he was willing to forego the fire of his after turrets while closing to around 16,000 yards.

    Hood appears to have been hit while turning to port, which causes a ship to heel slightly to starboard, making her deck a little more vulnerable than it would have been on an even keel at the same range. Bismarck hit her at just the wrong moment.

    Thanks for the link! The paragraph on gunfire control was interesting, an area that I don't think gets enough attention. It ends with:

    When the authors interviewed Admiral (then Lcdr.) J.M. Wellings (USN), who was aboard HMS Rodney during the 27 May 1941 action and had been on board Hood in late 1940, he commented that the firecontrol system of the Hood was no better than that he had used aboard USS Florida back in 1927.

    Not so surprising since it was installed in 1919..... Had war not intervened, Hood would likely have received a modernization similar to Valiant or Renown.
     
  17. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Quite well I think. The sub would have to be the surface to keep up with the convoy and that means she'd leave a wake. If the weather were clear enough for the sub to track the convoy visually the LSMF would be able to see the wake.

    The Germans hated the blimps because they could loiter over a sub's position and drop depth charges directly on her. The rule was "go deep or die."
     
  18. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    In Kaigun the authors speculate that a plunging shot went into the water short of the ship and hit the hull below the armor belt, and this was why ships tried to shorten the range, so they'd take hits on the armored deck.
     
  19. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    In Kaigun the authors speculate that a plunging shot went into the water short of the ship and hit the hull below the armor belt, and this was why ships tried to shorten the range, so they'd take hits on the armored deck.

    That is one speculation, and that danger would be reduced due to the greater distance a shell would have to travel through the water when striking at a shallower angle, but they certainly were not trying to take hits on the deck. Closing the range reduced the likelihood both of shells striking the deck and of them penetrating if they did strike, and that's the most commonly cited rationale for Holland's tactics. Hood's 12" side armor was comparable to Bismarck's 12.6", so a broadside-to-broadside engagement at 16,000 yards or less was a reasonable proposition.

    Although it wasn't the point I was addressing earlier, Hood's 15" did have a greater range than the same guns on the R class. Her unique Mark II turrets had 30 degree elevation vice 20 on the Mark I or I*. Modernized Mark IN or I*N turrets on ships like Valiant and Vanguard had elevation increased to 30 degrees, but the only range increase in Rs was the use of super charges (some sources suggest that some of the guns in Resolution were increased to 30 degrees during her refit in the US May-Sept 1941). Incidentally the 30 degree turrets still could not load above 20 degrees.
     
  20. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Did the side armor on both ships go as far below the water line?
     

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