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Deutschland Class.Sucess or Failure?
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Joined: 21 Feb 2008
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Nightfall wrote:

As were their orders. They were told not to DARE lose a ship.

I never questioned that. Nelson was told that the 1801 Battle of Copenhagen was 'lost'. He was ordered not to hazard his ships but he turned a blind eye to the signal and he kept going until it was won. There's being given orders and then there's obeying them. The KM, at captain and admiral, level seemed only to willing to obey Hitler's orders.

Historically matters were just the same in WW1, the Kaiser was horrified by the losses at Jutland and made it clear he did not want the fleet hazarded again. It was not. In both World Wars Germany played 'the fleet in being' card, i.e. if the fleet still exists then it is a threat.

The problem is that a fleet 'in being' is just thatů apart from being seen as a distant threat it is impotent. It is bottled up in harbour and not sinking enemy ships. The Royal Navy and the US Navy have often taken bold decisions, often successfully. Strangely it was the Axis (including the Japanese) who were more cautious and risk averse at sea. This is not a wise strategy.

Yes Hitler gave the order but, to quote just one example, did the Hipper really have to break-off in its Christmas Day 1940 action against HMS Berwick off the Azores AND after scoring four major hits on Berwick?


Any RN or USN captain worth his gold braid would have kept going at the Azores. Of course the RN does have a history of 'going in hard', especially after we shot Admiral Byng in 1757. As novelist Voltaire later put it: "it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others".

Perhaps, historically, the Germans should have shot a few admirals of their own. Naval tradition and ethos is not created in a generation, it takes centuries.

'Master and Commander' afloat on the seas of life...
PostMon Jun 22, 2015 10:18 pm
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The problem was the KM could win the 1st battle, i.e. Graf Spee vs. Force H and Bismarck vs. Hood and PoW. But once out of range of supporting escorts and land based air they weren't going to win the next engagement, or 2, or 3, etc. It would be a death by a thousand cuts.

If Langsdorff had fought his way out of Montevideo where was he going to go in a damaged ship with no real hope of a place to repair it, refuel it, no reinforcement, and multiple allied TF's closing?

The RN was able to hunt Bismarck down with massive overkill because they knew nothing was coming behind her.

The Deutschlands were designed to outrun anything bigger than them and outgun anything smaller.  The problem, as at River Plate, was there was no need for the RN to fight them 1 on 1, because they had so many more ships, planes, logistical support, and bases than the German's did and could overwhelm them with sheer numbers.

I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm's way.
PostWed Dec 16, 2015 10:33 am
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