What was the most powerful CA and CL in a straight duel, December 1941?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Lucky13, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Just thought that we could have the same discussion about the WWII cruisers....

    Any crusier that was completed and commissioned when US entered the war in December we'll talk about. So, which of the light and heavy stood above the rest by then?

    Who did most for the development of the cruiser USN, RN, IJN, Kriegsmarine or Regia Marina....?
     
  2. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    The Italians the French were pushing each other into the development of fast cruisers, with their CA's able to do 34 or 35 knots. The CL's could do up to 36. By contrast the RN KM heavy cruisers were designed for only 32.5 knots. The German "Hipper" CA's were also much heavier, about 14,000 tons standard, as the Germans ignored the treaty {or maybe Hitler was not good at math :lol: }

    The British heavy cruisers were also designed for long distance endurance, as they were expected to operate many 1,000's of miles from home. The US cruisers were good boats too, US doctrine ibefore during WWII didn't build many of the smaller boats that the RN had {RN - 5,600 ton "Dido"s, 7,000 ton "Leander"s} but instead their so-called CL's "Brooklyn" were as heavy {or heavier} than the British county class CA's. The Japanese CA cruisers Takao were very fast, well armed and heavy. They carried 5 x twin 8" guns and could go 35 knots.

    I would recommend the site WWII cruisers, it has lots of good information, the photos are some of the best that I have seen.

    World War 2 Cruisers
     
  3. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Yeah, it's a good site..!
     
  4. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Would go with the Brooklyn class when it came to a CL in 1941. Those things could toss something like 10 rounds per tube, per minute. Given they have 15 6" guns, that's something on the order of 150 rounds down range.

    A veritable deluge of shells.
     
  5. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    I would go with Wichita,CA45. She was complete in 1939 and based on the Brooklyn class but with 9- 8 inch guns in 3 triple turrets. This was the template for the future US cruisers with good armor, 5 inch side, 3 plus 2 inch decks and 5 - 6 inch turret faces. One of my sources gives speed of 34 knots. She carried 1650 tons of fuel and because she was a US ship with more efficient boilers that gave her a range of 15000 miles at 15 knots. Example: Berwick class CAs- 3400 tons fuel gives range of 10400 miles at 11-14 knots. Source is from Janes, 1945.
     
  6. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    In a slug fest I would take the Graff Spee. Slow certainly but you cannot argue about the 11in guns and 5.9in secondaries.

    Second choice the Myoko, 10 x 8in and if you want to get close, long lance torpedos
     
  7. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Graf Spee was formidable but she was not a cruiser so I don't think she is eligible. On paper the Japanese cruisers were formidable also but two of the ten gun IJN CAs fought a 4 hour duel with CA25, good old Salt Lake City, one of my uncles was a CGM on her, and it was essentially a draw as far as hits and the IJN withdrew. It was fought mostly at about 18000 yards.
     
  8. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I would say that there is a case for the Graf Spee being a cruiser. Her size, dimensions and armor were cruiser equivalent, but they traded speed for weapons.
    Its similar to a BC trading armour for speed.
     
  9. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Glider, I believe that the naval treaties in the 20s and 30s defined light cruisers as ships with no more than 6 inch guns and heavy cruisers as ships with no more than 8 inch guns. In addition, heavy cruisers were not to exceed 10000 tons. That would probably disqualify the Scheers on gun size and tonnage although several countries, Germany and Japan, cheated on tonnage. However, a duel between a well handled CA or even CL in poor visibility could have had a negative outcome for the "pocket battleship" I believe during one of the convoy battles on the Murmansk run the CL Sheffield snuck up on the Scheer in atrocious weather and deluged her with 6 inch bullets causing her to run from the fight. The Scheers had armor much like a cruiser and of course they were 4 to 6 knots slower than cruisers.
     
  10. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    Ipersonally like the good old SALT LAKE CITY class most for a gunnery match. Not perfectly balanced but well designed and architectonically beautiful.

    Whether or not the Pb´s are cruisers is difficult to say. LÜTZOW as comissioned was 10.000t. std. displacement and thus fullfilled the requirement. Furtherly, Germany by this time was no signatory nation of the Washington treaties and their Versailles treaty did not limit gunsize either. The Pocket battleship thus was a "legal" design originally. It was termed "Panzerschiff" in congruence with the term used in the Versailles treaty but later they were reclassified as heavy cruisers, again this was legal due to the end of the Washington treaty -of course now they cheated with the displacement. They may have been cruisers but definetely no Washington-Treaty-cruisers.

    On the other hand, the PB´s had numerous design aspects not common for cruisers, such like extensive torpedo protection and battleship sized firecontroll gears. The latter is indicative for them trying to fullfill capital ship purposes despite their cruiser origin, much like the later Alaska´s.

    In a close range gunnery duel, they are not that impressive and in fact may be overwhelmed by a number of other cruiser designs. Long range engagements against this type of cruiser, however, is deadly. Her better firecontroll and armement is telling.

    If someone classifies best for this role, I am tempted to give the title to one of the japanese designs. Their Long Lance torpedoes can ruin Your night...
     
  11. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Then I take the Mogami (which weighed more than the Graf Spee) as my heavy cruiser. I am sure there is some logic in this somewhere as she was originally built with 15 x 6in so presumably, I can also have her as my best CL as well.

    Small point of interest. The treaty also limited the size of destroyers to 1,500 tons apart from an allowance for Flotilla Leaders. So an awful lot of cruisers were built in WW2, like almost everything in the German, American and Japanese navy that we call a destroyer. As I said, there must be some logic somewhere.
     
  12. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Del, you make good points, as usual. Your post brings to mind that the Alaskas were called large cruisers by the USN when by any measure they should have been called battle cruisers. The fact that SLC had two turrets aft with 5 guns stood her in good stead with the 2 IJN cruisers since it was mostly a stern chase. Interestingly I don't remember reading that the Japanese employed their torpedoes in that battle. They certainly had plenty given the two CLs and the DDs plus the CAs. The US did mount a "Charge of the Light Brigade" with their four DDs but the torpedoes missed. By the end of the war, the US decision to delete the torpedoes on cruisers was vindicated by the increasingly efficient gunfire from cruisers but that was not true in the early going. However, at no time during the war, in decent visibility, would torpedoes have been that useful in an engagement with only a few ships. Examples: River Plate, Komondorski, the engagements during Murmansk runs.
     
  13. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Its a fair point but the Graf Spee took on the three smaller cruisers and had she stayed at sea could have easily sunk all three of them. She was in all key aspects, undamaged at the end, they were not.

    No, if you let me I will stick with the Graf Spee
     
  14. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The Mogamis were not that successful as originally designed. They tended to come apart during use of their guns. They grew to 11200 tons during their conversion to CAs. The Pensacola class with their 10 8 inchers were much more efficient than the Mogamis with the limited arc of fire for the #3 turret, and they were only 9100 tons.
     
  15. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    :D :D :D I think most people would take them given the 11" guns. But I don't think they can be compared with the cruisers, they are in a category all on their own. {Battleships under 12,000 tons? :lol: }

    Glider imagine if they had been upgunned along with that planned for Scharnhorst, {triple 11" switched for twin 15"} Interesting thought...
     
  16. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Graf Spee had less than half her ammo left. She had been holed many times, 3-8 inch hits and 17- 6 inch hits. Her gunnery officer remarked the 8 inch hits had been devestating. She had put Exeter out of action and had hit the CLs several times but they were still full of fight. Her fuel and lube oil filtration had been destroyed and she was already experiencing engine problems. She had shell holes in her forecastle which was not good if going into the North Sea. If she had stayed at sea she would have been shadowed by the CLs until other units had arrived. If she had left harbor she would face the two CLs plus Cumberland a full grown CA with 8-8 inch guns instead of six like Exeter. I would say her survival was more than problematical. Langsdorff made the correct decision.
     
  17. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    On this we will have to differ. The Exeter was totally out of the fight with no guns. Ajax and Achilles had both received damage the Ajax lost two turrets badly impacting her ability to fight.
    The Graf Spee still had all her guns, speed and fire control, the forward Director was damaged in the fight but was I believe repaired. The firing of 50% of her ammunition isn't a suprise after such a fight. Also despite being hit 17 times she most certainly hadn't been swamped by the fire of the smaller vessels. This was the reason for raising the point.

    Re the damage she received there is some debate.
    ::The Battle of the River Plate::
    Whether the Graf Spee was so badly damaged is open to question. The ship had been hit by seventeen shells but one gunnery officer recorded that three of these hits had simply bounced off of the armour and that the others had hit the ship "without causing damage". The authorities in Uruguay, on inspecting the Graf Spee when it reached the River Plate, commented that the largest hit was six feet by six feet but was well above the waterline - as was all of the damage to the ship.

    The Graf Spee made for the River Plate - the Plate estuary is a huge bay 120 miles across. The two remaining cruisers, Ajax and Achilles, patrolled the estuary to ensure that the Graf Spee could not slip out back into the Atlantic under the cover of dark. The crews later called this the 'death watch'.

    The attached link shows a number of photos of the Graf Spee in harbour. You can see how well she handled the damage

    Battle of the River Plate, December 1939
     
  18. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    At the end of the fight on Dec. 13, Exeter was out of action, withdrawing to the Falklands. Ajax had two turrets out of action, (two left) and Achilles still had all guns in action. The cruisers had at least a four knot speed advantage and were shadowing the GS in good weather. GS had been hit 17 times with 6 inchers and 3 times with 8 inchers. Well more than half her ammo was expended. She had 36 KIA and 59 WIA. She had shell holes in her forecastle. Her diesel engines were overdue for overhaul, were not reliable to begin with and her fuel and lube oil filtration had been destroyed. Big problems for already problematic diesels. My reference does not mention it but I believe one of her 5.9s had been put out of action. Langsdorff knew that reinforcements were hastening to the scene. He had thousands of miles to go to reach friendly waters and it was winter in the North Atlantic. One option was to trust his engines would continue to operate, hope he could elude his shadowers before reinforcements arrived, hope he could elude the other five hunter groups converging on him and hope he could reach the friendly waters. If those hopes did not materialise, he would be battered into a hulk and most of his crew and captives would die. Another option was to haul into a neutral port to make repairs and off load his captives. The night of Dec. 13-14 he chose the second option. The night of Dec. 14-15, Cumberland arrived. On the night of 17 Dec. GS stopped just outside of territorial waters, as the British cruisers cleared for action, put off her crew and set off scuttling charges. Hitler concurred with the action as he could not stand to see a German ship defeated in action. I don't see any other plausible outcome.
     
  19. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    Renrich is right about GS status. The only critical hit on GS (all other damage was superficial) was made by Exeter on the Panzerschiff´s fuel oil filtration system. The Diesels relied on the preprocession system of the low grade oils buncered. The low grade oil was pumped to the filtration system, which was located just above the armoured deck near of the funnel amidships. Filtrated oil was pumped back into a ready tank close to the diesels, where it was warmed up before beeing fed into the MAN Diesels. When GS entered Montevideo, it was estimated that GS had 6 hours fuel left in the preprocession tanks before the Diesels had to be switched to low grade fuels with very probable major machinery breakdowns to follow soon after. The repair of this unit was possible but required a week and some spare parts not on board.

    The ammo status of Ajax and Achilles, however, was pretty low, as a matter of fact they were running shorter on ammo than GS.

    A more reasonable scenario for a successful retreat would have been into an argentinian harbour instead. Political relations to Uruguay were poor. But I agree in the decision as it was done. I hardly can see how GS manages to dodge five hunter groups in the south atlantic...
     
  20. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    I always wonder, if the press-term that stick to the Deutschlands was inappropriate; they were dubbed as 'pocket-battleships', but for all practical purposes, they were pocket-battlecruisers.
     
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