Taranto-like attack vs. Kriegsmarine: feasible undertaking?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The RN night attack at Italian Navy was one of RN's major undertakings in 20th century. It very much hampered Italian Navy, and proved that air attack on ill-defended ships is a dangerous threat.
    My question: was the RN capable to undertake something similar vs. German Navy, especially (but not limited to) in 1939-40 time frame?
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    RAF Bomber Command, RAF Coastal Command and the RN launched thousands of sorties against German warships in port. What makes your scenerio different from historical events?
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Would the extensive deployment of torpedo nets not have made that sort of attack problematic?
    Steve
     
  4. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    Fear of the RN kept the Nazi battleships under control.
    The potent KM forces were never really used effectively to destroy allied shipping.
    In those days Britannia really did rule the waves.
    Cheers
    John
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Just like WWI.

    The German Navy apparently learned nothing during 1914 to 1918. In fact WWII era Germany took a significant step backward concerning naval aviation.
     
  6. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    How many, percentage damage-wise, were comparable with Taranto operation?

    Swordfishes were carrying bombs during Taranto op.

    Small KM assets were tying up considerable RN assets - not some good arythmetics for RN?

    Agreeable.
     
  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #7 stona, Dec 13, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012
    You could equally argue that fear of the KM informed the disposition of valuable RN Forces.

    The Germans did learn something from WWI. That was how effective unrestricted submarine warfare could be against a maritime power. They didn't pull it off,the Battle of the Atlantic was,with the benefit of hindsight,not even a closely run thing,but they'd learnt the lesson.They just hadn't intended to fight that kind of war.
    The Germans didn't plan for or want to fight a naval war. You can blame us for forcing them into one,it would have been so much easier if they could have forced us to terms in 1940.
    All their perceived enemies were on the European continent and that was the sort of conflict in which aircraft carriers would have no role. You can't sail one across the steppes. Naval air power didn't figure in their planning as anything other than a half hearted diversion at all.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  8. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    The key to a 'Copenhagen' action, using old Royal Navy parlance is the element of surprise, which, with the declaration of war in September 1939 eliminated that. The disposition of German ships was never in great enough numbers to enable such an attack; German ships were invariably sent out on cruises or were in dry dock after attack from late 39 on and after the invasion of Western Europe were dispersed to ports in France and to Norway. At that time the RAF was tasked with 'blockading' German shipping, either using bombers or torpedo aircraft. Such an attack could not really have happened on a scale like Taranto.

    During WW1 such an attack was proposed against the High Seas Fleet, but not much enthusiasm was shown toward it by the Admiralty, although some 200 torpedoplanes were ordered in support of the raid. The lack of effort from the RN is often mistaken for a lack of imagination, but in reality, the Admiralty did not consider the High Seas Fleet a threat in mid 1917; the biggest threat to Britain was U-boats, so converting merchant ships into aircraft carriers, as was proposed, was not going to happen.
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Some were. In the first two waves more carried torpedos. All three most substantially damaged Italian vessels were struck by one or more torpedos. Only one vessel was damaged by a bomb,though some failed to explode.
    Good job for the British that we used torpedos and a good job for the Italians that we didn't come back the next night to give them some more,as originally planned.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    If that were true the 27 Jan 1939 KM Z Plan would fund procurement of submarines like hot rolls rather then six very expensive H class battleships.
     
  11. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    The Italians did not have radar, the Germans did. The first RAF attempt to hit a German naval base was slaughtered in 1939, which directly led to the RAF stopping daylight attacks on Germany until 1944.
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    That raid should not have any bearing to this, being a daylight raid?
     
  13. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    The radar let the Germans scramble well in advance. They started having night fighters available in 1939, though the effectiveness was somewhat limited. Part of the problem for the British is that the Germans have experience being attacked by aircraft carrier in a raid like this, the Zeebr├╝gge raid in WW1, so have their defenses arranged to prevent such an attack. Also I think the port conditions in Germany was different than the Mediterranean area, so it was harder to attack with torpedoes...?
    Frankly the British never tried anything like this to Germany, though they did do some mining over the Danube with flares at night in 1944 in Hungary where German defenses were really weak. There must have been a reason the British never tried this, because they had every reason to try. Perhaps it was the Uboat threat keeping the navy away, while the RAF was focused on other things.
     
  14. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    In fact the RN undertook many operations similar to taranto on German ships. The attack on a light cruiser in Stavanger, by RN Skua preceded taranto, and proved quite successful. Subsequently there was a sustained camapign against the german BCs bottled up in Brest, and after that, against the tirpitz. There were varying levels of success, and some ships suffered greater damage than the italians at Taranto but as a rule German Damage Control was able to contain the spread of fire and/or flood within the ships

    The defining feature of taranto was that the attack was carried out at night. this was a skill only acquired toward the end of 1940 by some RN naval squadrons, after much training, trials and development of techniques

    Raids directly into german ports were attempted in 1939, by the RAF, with disastrous results
     
  15. Tante Ju

    Tante Ju Banned

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    The Italians did have radar on their ships AFAIK. The question is, wheter it had air search capability?
     
  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Why? In January 1939 the Germans had no intention of waging a war at sea against anybody. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but not a luxury afforded the German planners in the mid 1930s. That's why they had only 57 boats in September 1939. Battleships in the 20s/30s were viewed somewhat like nuclear arsenals in the post war years,as a deterrent. It was only the failiure to force terms on the British 18 months after that plan was drawn up,in the autumn of 1940, that forced them into a conflict at sea.

    The U-Boats still put the fear of God into the Royal Navy. In September 1939 they nearly got HMS Ark Royal,that month U-29 did get HMS Courageous. In October U-47 got into Scapa Flow,sank HMS Royal Oak and caused the dispersal of the Home Fleet.

    Once they were committed to a war with Britain they accelerated the production of U-Boats. In 1939 they built eighteen,in 1940 fifty and in 1941 two hundred.
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    There is a big difference between PLANNING to spend money on a program or ships and ACTUALLY spending the money.

    How much of the planned or allocated money was actually SPENT on those battleships and how much was spent on other things?

    The Germans needed 48 16in barrels for the main armament, not including spares, how many were actually built?
    How many of the diesel engines were actually built?
    How much of the armor plate was actually rolled out?

    This continued harping about how much the the "Z" plan hurt the Germans is a red herring.

    Building submarines like "HOT ROLLS" unless you are very, very good at building submarines (lots of trained workers in well equipped yards) doesn't work so well. You can usually get a defective destroyer or cruiser back to port from it's initial trials. Defective submarines tend to stay on the bottom of the sea. It could take years to develop the ability to build submarines like hot rolls.
     
  18. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Quite a bit of resources were actually wasted on the "Z"Plan. Daves actually got a bit of a point, but hes added 1 plus 1 and got 3. SRs right too....nowhere near the full expenditure on those 6 BBs was undertaken.

    I remember we did a bit of a study on this at OTS when I was young. We did some good work, as i recall. We calculated that if the Germans had not adopted the Z plan, and instead opted for enhamced U-Boat production, they might have had another 30 or so boats by outbreak of war, but few of these would be ready for sea duty until early 1940. The net effect however was bad for the KM, as early production of U-Boats generates a quid pro quo in Britian...they in turn start building (and far more easily than the Germans) and getting sea more escorts, and earlier and quicker than the Germans can ramp up their U-Boat deployments. And the British do that by building less blue Navy and more "wavy" navy (ie escorts)
     
  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    That isn't supported by facts though. The Royal Navy didn't build proper convoy escorts and was desperately short of suitable vessels at the outbreak of war. Had the Germans had more U-Boats we'd have been even shorter. We needed something like the River Class Frigate that didn't arrive until 1941. A frigate of this type is about equivalent to a USN detroyer escort. Later the Loch,Bay and Colony class frigates arrived,the latter built for the RN by the Americans. Until then the RN depended on the ancient Town Class Destroyers and various other unsuitable types (there are too many destroyer types to type here) until the Hunt Class,arriving from early 1940 onwards.

    Even though my dad was FAA he wouldn't have been happy to read you describing RN escort vessels as "wavy navy" even if the officers commanding many of them had come through the RNVR :)

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  20. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    So you think those expensive H class battleships were intended to be pier decorations?
     
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