The Battleship Debate

31
594
HMS Vanguard

The comments on last week’s column (Aberfan – Disaster Or Attack?) threw up some unexpected comments about battleships, and the causes of World War I. As you can tell, it was a wide-ranging discussion! It also showed that that a number of myths about battleships, not to mention the causes of World War I, are still prevalent. First however, some comments on the exciting presidential race.

republican-democrat-cartoon

Trump or Clinton?

I’m still predicting a win for Trump. The polls have tightened, which is not good news for Hillary, and the first straws in the wind suggesting a landslide for Trump have appeared. Some polls are still showing a lead for the Democrat, but the most reliable ones seem to be showing Trumpy ahead by 1 or 2 points.

A delighted Washington Post predicted this week that Trumpy has “next to zero” chance of winning. I’m not sure that’s true even if you accept the polls as accurate. The polls are suggesting a tight race. However pollsters have a history of getting it wrong when it comes to races involving conservatives. The margin of error in favor of liberal positions differs from one pollster to another, but between 2.5 and 5% seems about right.

Since the last two Republican candidates were scarcely conservatives, the reasonably good performance of most polling organisations in 2008 and 2012 has to be viewed with reserve. Polling performance breaks down when you have serious conservative opposition. They can be still an indicator, however, of momentum.

_________

The FBI

Photo credit: Hurricane Bianca
(Photo credit: Hurricane Bianca)

I have heard of October surprises, indeed the Democrats sprang one over Bimbogate, or at least gave it the good old college try. It might have been better choosing bimbos who had actually met the Republican candidate, or at least met him without witnesses present, but there it is.

Having the FBI act with integrity when the suspect is the Democratic candidate for president and polling day is less than two weeks away wasn’t so much an October surprise as an October shock, no offense to the Fibbies intended.


Assuming – just assuming – that this wasn’t part of a deal between Mr O and Mr T, whereby Mr T agreed to keep quiet about Mr O’s Kenyan/Zanzibari origins in exchange for Mr O backing off the FBI, the timing of the FBI’s move was extraordinary. They are saying that it was due to fresh evidence coming into their possession, so it can’t have been that.

It is just possible that the boys in the Hoover building (that’s Hoover as in J Edgar, BTW, not as in the vacuum cleaner) were not aware of the large sums of money slushing, sorry finding, its way to the wife of their Deputy Director from the Clintons. It’s a bit of a mystery, and I don’t pretend to know the answer. Astonishing as it may sound, with respect, it may even be that the FBI have finally started to act with integrity and good faith. If so, that would be a positive development, although don’t expect the CIA to follow suit! If they did, the world really will have turned upside down.

_________

The CIA and Wikipedia

People sometimes ask me why I write for VeteransToday, given the lousy pay (!) The short answer is that they are good people and don’t interfere with my freedom of expression. VT is also something of an intelligence clearing house, however. I hope readers learn something from my weekly columns (that’s why I write ‘em), but I also learn things.

One of the things I learnt this week via VT is that the CIA have a thing going with Wikipedia. I thought I was dealing with operatives – it was strange that so-called volunteer editors responded within minutes to any attempt by me to balance the Wikipedia attack piece on me. Turns out the CIA have an active interest in about 10% of Wiki sites, including mine.

Given that Director Brennan is an enemy of mine, with Jesuit connections, I helped expose the role of the Jesuit Order in providing the pretext for World War I and the Agency are heavily penetrated by my bitter enemies the DVD, via the Correa/COREA Group in Frankfurt, that would make sense.

The next installment in my WikiWar should be mediation. Goodness knows who they’ll suggest as a mediator – Angela Merkel probably, or the President of the European Commission. The mediator will definitely be driving a Volkswagen.

_________

The Naval Race

Rear Admiral Sir Christoper Cradock
Rear Admiral Sir Christoper Cradock

I’m inter alia an intelligence historian, so it’s nice to turn to an historical topic. It is incredibly important to get history right – otherwise we just repeat the same mistakes.

A number of commenters last week seemed to be laboring under the delusion, no offense intended, that World War I was started by the naval race between the British and German Empires. This nonsensical view, widely propagated since 1918 by German Intelligence and their allies, is still recycled on the BBC and by liberal faculty members, i.e. just about all of them.

World War I was not started by the British Admiralty, nor by accident. It was started by the Germans, who set up the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his lovely wife Sophie on June 28th 1914. The German army was already mobilising, implementing a war plan drawn up years before.

The build-up of the Imperial German Navy had similarly been underway for years, for purely offensive purposes. The German Navy was not designed to protect German interests abroad – its capital ships lacked the range and the habitability for that. It was aimed at bringing the Royal Navy’s Atlantic and Channel Fleets to battle in the North Sea (the famous Grand Fleet was only formed on the outbreak of war).

There is no way the German Navy could have matched the rapid, hemispheric deployment of a battlecruiser squadron to the farthest reaches of the South Atlantic in 1914, e.g., after the destruction of a weak British squadron under Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock at the Battle of Coronel. Vice-Admiral Sturdee’s great victory in the Battle of the Falkland Islands was of course made possible by the Naval Intelligence Department.

The boys had spotted that the First Sea Lord, von Battenberg, was a German spy and had deliberately refused to reinforce Cradock’s squadron. Von Battenberg was left in place and fed false position reports – no wonder the sight of the fighting tops of a British battlecruiser squadron in Port Stanley harbor so rattled the Hun commander, Graf von Spee, who was the runner-up in the battle which followed.

The true position was stated millennia ago by the Roman general Vegetius: si vis pacem, para bellum. If you wan’t peace, prepare for war. Great Britain did not encourage the First World War by taking the limited steps that she did to prepare for it.

We needed more battleships and battlecruisers, not fewer. Sadly, the Liberal government decided to encourage German aggression by holding back spending on the Royal Navy. Had we been stronger, the Hun would not dare have invaded Belgium and Luxembourg in a flanking attack on the French army.

_________

Next Myth

HMS Barham
HMS Barham

The next myth propagated last week was that battleships were vulnerable to U-Boats. The truth is that the only British battleships sunk by U-Boat in both world wars, HMS Barham and HMS Royal Oak, were betrayed.

Royal Oak was sunk because the First Sea Lord Sir Dudley Pound was being blackmailed by Jerry and agreed to hold up the badly-needed block-ships requested for Scapa Flow by the C-in-C Home Fleet.

Had the block-ships been in place, as requested, Gunther Prien wouldn’t have got within five miles of Royal Oak. It is not even clear that the dear old Barham was actually sunk in November 1941 by U-331. It is more likely that her magazines were detonated by a radio-controlled IED set off by a German agent on the battleship ahead, which happened to have a cameraman ready to film the sinking.

All battleships after the turbine-powered Dreadnought were too fast for submarines, which until the advent of the first true submarine, the German Type XXI, had limited underwater speed and endurance. Forget the headline figure for underwater speed – at top speed a U-Boat’s batteries would be drained quickly. This made achieving a firing solution difficult. Battleships were also usually too well screened by destroyers.

They were such difficult targets that in practice only a U-Boat lying in wait could torpedo them. Then there was the difficulty in sinking them. Older battleships could indeed be sunk by a single submarine, even a single torpedo, ditto battleships whose design was held back by the absurd limitations in the Washington Treaty, designed to make the next world war winnable for the Bad Guys.

It is, however, intellectually dishonest to compare the latest subs with older battleships, or battleships, like the King George V class, designed to artificial limits. In World War II modern battleships designed without reference to the Washington Treaty, such as the wonderful Iowa class, incorporated excellent anti-torpedo protection. A single Jap sub, e.g. would have had trouble hitting an Iowa class fast battleship with enough torpedoes to sink her.

The King George V classic were a classic illustration of the dangers posed by the Washington Treaty. To save weight their outer prop-shafts weren’t armored, a weakness which proved fatal when HMS Prince of Wales was struck by a Japanese aerial torpedo in December 1941.
In practice battleships were much less vulnerable to torpedo attack than any other type of warship. That is why all Japanese submarine attacks on American battleships in World War II failed, indeed the Japs only ever managed to sink American battleships in harbor in peacetime, and even then they only actually sank two. The other battleships damaged at Pearl Harbor were repaired, modernised and went on to avenge their sisters.

_________

Third Myth

HMS Repulse
HMS Repulse

The vulnerability of battleships to air attack in World War II has also been greatly overstated. They were of course invulnerable to air attack in World War I, as no aircraft could carry an armor-piercing bomb heavy enough to sink them. No German or Italian battleship was sunk at sea by airpower in the whole of the war.

No American battleship was sunk at sea in either war, period. Only one British battleship, HMS Prince of Wales, was sunk by airpower in World War II, and she was betrayed. HMS Indomitable, the carrier designated as her escort, had been run aground, on Pound’s orders, whilst working up out of Kingston Harbour in Jamaica.

Attacking as they did outside fighter range, without combat equipment such self-sealing tanks, the Jap bombers would have been very vulnerable to Indomitable’s cannon-equipped fighters.

As I explain in Spyhunter, Force Z’s course had been betrayed to the Japanese in Saigon, via radio, by the German spy Rear-Admiral Palliser. Had Palliser not betrayed the British squadron it’s unlikely that the Japs would have found them. They had poor air reconnaissance, limited fuel reserves and could not just stooge around the South China Sea trying to find them.

HMS Repulse was a battlecruiser, not a battleship. Unlike her sister Renown, she had not been modernised. In particular, she lacked Renown’s modern 4.5” Dual Purpose (DP) battery, much more effective in the AA role than Prince of Wales’s DP fit.

Bismarck firing at HMS Hood
Bismarck firing at HMS Hood

HMS Hood, blown-up during the course of the Battle of the Denmark Strait, was also a battlecruiser and, like Repulse, she had not been modernised. The Chamberlain government and the Treasury denied the Admiralty the funds for her much-needed modernisation, precisely in order to make her easier for Jerry to sink.

As I explain in Spyhunter, it is very doubtful that Hood was actually sunk by KMS Bismarck and much more likely that she was blown up by an IED in either a 4” magazine, leading to secondary detonation of a main magazine, or a main magazine.

None of the broadsides fired by either Bismarck or her accompanying heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen is a good candidate for the alleged fatal shot. Prinz Eugen’s main battery was only 8”/60 caliber – her 270 lb shells were too small to have penetrated Hood’s heavy belt armor.

For decades, we have been favored with nonsense from pro-Germans about Hood’s main deck armor being much weaker than Bismarck’s (the true figures are 3” over the magazines for Hood and 4.7” for Bismarck) and Bismarck sinking her with plunging fire at long range. Bismarck, however, was photographed firing at Hood from the Prinz Eugen. As you can see from the photo, Bismarck’s main battery is nowhere near maximum elevation.

The Hun-loving editors of Wikipedia, BTW, still cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that the Bismarck was sunk by the Royal Navy. She was in fact finished off by torpedoes from the heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire, sinking shortly after the last torpedo hit, which Wikipedia would have us believe was a strange coincidence.

HMS King George V
HMS King George V

As I have mentioned, the King George V class, of which Prince of Wales was a member, suffered from design limitations imposed by the Washington Treaty. They also suffered from several design flaws, which would not have been repeated in later classes and partly flowed from the lack of cash given to the Admiralty in the 1930s.

They sacrificed AA firepower for spotter aircraft. Whilst the planes were well-protected in an armored hangar, it would have been better to rely on more powerful spotter/recon aircraft flown from escorting carriers.

The 5.25” DP secondary armament was an excellent anti-destroyer weapon, probably the best ever deployed on a battleship, but had too poor a rate of fire (around 12-16 rounds per minute) to be an effective weapon against aircraft. The dedicated AA gun, the multiple 2-pounder ‘pom-pom’, was the best in the world when it came into service in the late 1920s, but had been overtaken by the 40-mil Bofors. The mounts were not tri-axially stabilized and the class lacked tachymetric AA fire-control.

These specific weaknesses however afford no grounds for saying that battleships generally were unduly vulnerable to aircraft. So far to the contrary, they were better able to stand up to bombs and torpedoes than carriers, were more stable gun platforms, had better firing arcs (this was particularly true of the US Navy – the Iowa class had superb firing arcs for their secondary and AA armament, e.g., whereas the firing arcs on the Essex-class carriers were limited) and better fire-control. Unsurprisingly, US fast carrier task forces in the Pacific used battleships to protect carriers against aircraft.

HMS Inflexible
HMS Inflexible

Of the five British capital ships sunk during World War II, two were unmodernised battlecruisers, two were probably sunk by IEDs and all five were betrayed in one way, shape or form. Without the assistance of the Abwehr, including interference by political assets in Number 10, the Cabinet Office and the Treasury with their design or modernisation, probably none of them would have been sunk at all.

The US Navy had the right idea. What was needed was balanced all-arms task forces, combining battlewagons, carriers, cruisers and destroyers. Admiral Henderson of the Royal Navy had in fact come up with the idea of fast carrier task forces protected by capital ships in the Mediterranean in the 1930s, but the Royal Navy lacked enough fast battleships and carriers to really make it work until 1945, with the

_________

British Pacific Fleet

Oh yes, we were in the Pacific alright, although the lack of defense expenditure and serious planning for war by pro-German weanies in Downing St before the war meant that it took three years for us to get there. Apart that is from our fine armored carrier HMS Victorious, which served briefly in the Pacific in 1943, flying USN squadrons, an episode which would make a fine war movie, if a movie-maker could be found with the guts to make it.

President Reagan also had the right idea in reactivating the Iowa class in the 80s. Had the Royal Navy not been forced to scrap HMS Vanguard, our last battleship, by the German asset Harold Macmillan, it is doubtful that General Galtieri would even have started the war.

HMS Vanguard
HMS Vanguard

Falklands War

The very thought of that elegant and powerful fast battleship, virtually immune from the Exocet sea-skimming missiles (her belt armor was too strong for an Exocet to penetrate) emerging from the gloom of the South Atlantic to pulverise the Argentine Fleet or smash up Argentine forces ashore, would have given the Argies the willies. Vanguard’s deck armor, BTW, would have been too strong for any bomb the Argentine Air Force could carry.

No ship in the Argentine Navy could have remained operational after a single accurate broadside from HMS Vanguard, and she had fully-synthetic fire-control, i.e. could land her main battery guns on target whilst maneuvering. She was a formidable surface combatant.

_________

This Week’s Movie Review: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016, dir. Edward Zwick)

This movie is huge fun. The first Jack Reacher movie, also starring Tom Cruise, was also huge fun, with the Bad Guys getting whacked all over the place. It’s always nice to see dirty cops getting their come-uppance! We could do with Jack Reacher in Thames Valley. No jury would convict.

Unusually for a sequel, this movie is as good as the original. If anything, it’s even better. Tom Cruise is excellent as the lead, although it was a disappointment for me that Robert Duvall was not retained. He’s one of my all-time favorite actors. Robert Knepper, as General Harkness, provides strong support, however, as does Cobie Smulders, who I think we’ll be seeing again.

The plot, based around bent military contractors, is more believable than most of the anti-military, anti-American rubbish emerging from liberal Hollywood, and the heroes come from the military. The movie moves at a cracking pace, and you are kept in suspense until the end about whether Jack is a father or not. I’m not going to spoil it for you by revealing the plot! It’s well worth going to see.

_____________


EDITORIAL DISCLOSURE
All content herein is owned by author exclusively.  Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, technicians or Veterans Today Network (VT).  Some content may be satirical in nature. 
All images within are full responsibility of author and NOT VT.
About VT - Read Full Policy Notice - Comment Policy

31 COMMENTS

  1. I really hope people are taking a break from politics to watch a historic World Series end tonight. Game 7, bottom of the 9th, and they are tied 6-6. Chicago Cubs haven’t won the series in 108 years. Cleveland Indians have not won the pennant in 68 years. I’m rooting for the Cubs.

    • They won. Miracles happen. They last won in 1908, 10 years before sliced bread was invented. Comedian Bill Murray is a happy man now.

  2. I see there is some debate over the nicknames that Allies gave the German forces in the 2 world wars. The Canadians used the term Heinie (short for Heinrich) for Germans, by 1907. It wasn’t pejorative, and they used it throughout WWI and possibly WWII as well. Kaiser Bill himself used the word Hun, so it sounds fair to use it, and it rhymes nicely with sun. Hence the good advice for aviators: “Beware of the Hun in the sun.”

    • The Canadians were called Charlie, from the Morse code phonetics. But I’m sure they were called some bad names, too.

  3. Staying with the sad sinking of HMS Glorious, Captain d-‘Oyly-Hughes’s handling of his carrier was frankly a disgrace. He was took keen on getting back to Scapa for a court-martial, the idiot, and was sailing along without a CAP or recon aircraft out, in dangerous waters, with enemy battlecruisers around. He also failed to have a response flight of Swordfish ready for take-off, failed to get off an enemy sighting report and failed to increase speed to flank once he’d had a report of smoke, very obviously coming from enemy warships. It was a very mysterious incident, indeed.

  4. Even the Hun-loving editors at Wikipedia, ever-ready to push pro-German propagnda, aren’t prepared to credit Scharnhorst with the longest-range hit on a moving ship, so it’s a fair bet that the record belongs to that grand old lady of the sea HMS Warspite, for her hit on the Eyetie battlewagon Guilio Cesare (from memory) at the Battle of Calabria in July 1940.

    Our community partner Mussolini was a lot less keen to commit his battleships to action after that hit, which may even have saved Malta, as the Eyetie invasion plan was abandoned.

    Jerry’s claim to have hit Glorious at 24,000 metres is unsubstantiated. These were the same Jerries who left the men of the Glorious, Ardent and Acasta to drown. German propaganda claims should never be accepted at face value. It was a long-range hit, yes, as Jerry would have been nervous about Glorious’s escort.

    I’m not sure that Warspite had fire-control radar as early as July 1940. Valiant did, but she had been modernised later. I think she only had a surface search set at Calabria.

  5. Lloyd George was responsible for the Dardanelles going wrong – it was he who betrayed this brilliant plan to the Hun, allowing him and Johnny Turk to make defensive preparations.

    I am sorry to see you criticising dear old Bomber Harris for his splendid work in Iraq, bombing Islamist rebels in league with the Hun. The tribesmen were a lot better behaved after they were bombed!

    I don’t accept your timeline, with respect, re Randolph Churchill’s syphilis. It came on a lot later. Germany was in the process of formation of formation in the 1860s. The use of syphilis as a weapon was fully understood by the Jesuits, the spiritual heirs of the Borgias, and they backed the creation of the Second Reich.

    Yes, Winnie was a heavy drinker, but he could handle his liquor and wasn’t an alcoholic. He enjoyed his drink. Nobody did his great speeches in the House of Commons or to Congress for him! I daresay he had a speechwriter, as did Roosevelt, but he was a wonderful writer and his mastery of our language was complete.

  6. Of course Winnie won a war, the big one! World War II! How many world wars do you have to win before being acknowledged as a great war leader!

    With respect to Ian, natural causes were responsible for the tragic Bengal famine, and primary blame for the failure to do more about it rests with the Japanese, who were waging aggressive war against us at the time,

    Since the Cabinet Secretary was a German spy we don’t actually know how much Winnie was told about the famine, or what options he was given. Given the desperate shortage of transport aircraft and MT in India there weren’t that many. It is unfair both to blame Winnie for the tragedy and say he didn’t care – he both knew and loved India.

    The Auk was a fine soldier, I agree, and I would have promoted him, rather than replace him, but so too was Monty. He was too good for Rommel in North Africa and Normandy, partly because a late friend of mine used to take him Ultra decrypts. He was vain, yes, but he had a lot to be vain about.

  7. Didn’t know about the hit on the oil filter, surprised that such a critical system wasn’t duplicated or better protected, but she didn’t have to run into Montevideo and the Altmark would have carried spares, I am sure.

    Diesel engines made them ideal blockade-runners as well!

    Agreed re the weight-saving advantages of the forward armament in the Dunkerques, but they had tactical advantages as well, in that the entire main battery could be brought to bear on a fleeing target.

    Not so negative about the good old 12″ The Admiralty kept faith with the 12″, moving to 50 cal, for several classes of ships. You are probably right re bore-wear on the 12″ Mark XII, but the 13.5″/45 cal Mark V was also introduced for accuracy, as well as greater shell weight. I know Wiki don’t say that, but they usually only present the Hun’s point of view.

    Until the new barrel design introduced for the KGVs longer, high-velocity barrels tended to flex, reducing accuracy. The Admiralty went down to 42 cal for the 15″ Mk 1, but they were a superb gun, even fitted to dear old Vanguard.

    You are wrong with respect re the greatest range hit – that honor goes to the mighty HMS Warspite, with the good old 15″/42, at over 26,000 yds, on an Eyetie battlewagon – wonderful shooting, and a great tribute to Warspite’s captain and gunnery team.

    • The 12″/45 was a good gun, it was the 12″/50 that was a failure, the barrel life was too short due to bore erosion and the accuracy was poor due to shot dispersion caused by uneven burning of the cordite propellant. The problem with droop on longer barrels was largely an issue with wire-wound guns, the built-up type were more rigid. British guns were a mix of wire wound and built up with a preponderence of the former, whereas Krupp guns were the built-up type and inherently more rigid.

      Scharnhorst’s hit on the British carrier off Norway was the longest hit at that time – 1940. Warspite’s hit during the Battle of Cape Matapan was over a year later and was enabled by the fact Warspite was equipped with gunnery radar.

      Neither was the longest hit by a naval gun however, the range of the big guns on battleships was restricted by the maximum elevation the mounting was capable of. When mounted on railway carriages on land, the exact same naval guns regularly fired much further during WW1.

  8. I have to respectfully differ re dear old Winnie! I knew his grandson, and I am quite sure Winnie didn’t know half of what Whitehall was up to, although I agree that Whitehall was complicit.

    He was definitely Randolph’s son – Randolph was assassinated by the Hun using the old asymptomatic mistress with syphilis trick, the syphilis hit in later years.

    Dear old Winnie didn’t start any wars, he just won them!

    • There is no way that Lord Randolph was assassinated by the Germans, he contracted Syphillis in the 1860s, before Germany existed! He was already being treated for the disease by the time Winston was born in 1874 and was insane due to the disease by the mid 1880s, however he lived until 1895. Funny sort of assassination that takes the best part of 30 years to cause the death of the victim.

      Churchill didn’t win any wars, he was worse than useless as a war leader, he was directly responsible for the pointless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of British and Empire troops at Gallipoli and during ww2 was so drunk as to be worse than useless, he was a damn liability and thank god the British military knew better than to pay attention to the old fool. When Churchill did interfere it invariably had disastrous results. He removed the extremely capable Auchinleck from command in the desert and replaced him with Montgomery who was a rotten commander, so bad that the Americans suspected he was actually working for the Germans. The things Churchill gets most praised for – those rousing evening radio speeches weren’t written by him and were read by the actor Norman Shelley because dear Old Winnie was always far too drunk by the evening to have been able to read the paper the words were written on, let alone speak coherently.

      One day the time limit will be up on the wartime papers that are still locked away under secrecy seals and the full truth of what a monster Churchill was will be laid bare for all to see. Of course, many around the world are already well aware of his monstrous nature, the Indians haven’t forgotten that Churchill was responsible for the 1942-44 famine that killed millions, the Kurds, Iraqis and Afghans haven’t forgotten that Churchill had the RAF bomb them including the use of poison gas. Churchill is the man who said ‘I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes.’ Sir Arthur Harris commanded the RAF units who carried out the atrocities in Iraq, the same Arthur Harris who later committed far worse war crimes against the Germans. He wrote in the 1920s ‘The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means in casualties and damage. Within forty-five minutes a full-size village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured.’ The RAF used a whole range of horrible weapons against those ‘uncivilised’ people including poison gas, white phosphorous, shrapnel bombs, metal crowsfeet to main livestock, delayed action bombs (particularly effective in killing curious children), rockets and liquid fire. Many of these were used for the first time in Kurdistan, Churchill used that conflict as a grotesque laboratory to test new weapons.

  9. Sweden doesn’t have gold! By British complicity Ian, I think you mean Cabinet Office complicity. Of course Jerry had people working for him in London, including Sir Edward Bridges, the Cabinet Secretary, who did everything he could to aid the German war effort.

    Churchill would have been kept in the dark, as he was over the sailing of Force Z, which Bridges wanted sunk.

    All large warships can carry gold, in the magazine spaces if need be. It’s dense, and a large cargo by value will occupy a small amount of space. By the 30s 11″ wasn’t a particularly large gun – the Royal Navy moved to 15″ with the Queen Elizabeth class in 1915 and even the KGVs carried 10″. The main battery was designed to overwhelm cruisers and destroyers, which could catch them.

    There is evidence in the published accounts of the Graf Spee’s final voyage – unexplained gaps in the timeline, and a move to very cold waters, i.e. Antarctica, a known trans-shipment point between Japan and Germany. Interestingly Jap subs were large and long-range, ideally suited for carrying cargo across the Pacific. Slow to dive they were next to useless in combat and large numbers were lost.

    Yes the Dunkerque and Strasbourg were aimed at countering the pocket battleships, with 13.4″ guns, all mounted forward, i.e. designed for chasing attacks.

    • You can’t blame the cabinet office for the wartime trade that was carried on between Britain and Germany, it was such a large and obvious enterprise that the entirety of government and Whitehall was complicit, as were many others in industry and finance. Churchill most certainly knew all about it, it is hard to think of anyone else more guilty when it comes to creating the frauds that were the two world wars. Churchill himself was a total fraud, even his name is a fraud as he was not the son of Lord Randolph Churchill who was sterile from his 20s due to syphillis. There are few more incompetent figures in the history of British government than Churchill and few more downright evil men in any period of history, the sheer amount of deaths he was responsible for runs into the tens of millions, be they Indians starved to death, Germans terror bombed or ‘dark skinned savages’ slaughtered in the name of Imperial conquest.

      The KGVs had 14 inch guns due to the limitations of the naval treaties. The German 11 inch gun may have been smaller in calibre than most battleship guns of the period, but they were high velocity pieces that fired a particularly long and streamlined shell, therefore they had a range to match the heavier, lower velocity British guns. The British never managed to match the Germans in the quality of their large naval guns – the British 12 inch guns as carried by HMS Dreadnought and others were pretty much a failure due to excessive bore wear resulting in a short barrel life and inconsistent burning of the cordite charges resulting in innacuracy. This is why the RN dumped them and went to a 13.5 inch design of lower velocity with a higher weight shell to compensate for the reduced velocity. The German 12 inch guns were high velocity and highly accurate without suffering from the issues that plagued the British 12 inchers – Krupp had a lead over almost everyone else in the construction of large calibre artillery. Actually, the best 12 inch gun was the Russian one, which continued in service upto the 1950s.

      Dunkerque and Strasbourg had all the main armament placed forward for the same reason the British Rodney and Nelson did – the tonnage limits imposed by the naval treaties. Having all the main armament up front meant all the engines and machinery could be placed at the stern, resulting in short prop shafts, this made for a lighter design and meant that it was possible to have both an effective level of armour protection and a heavy main armament without violating the treaty limits.

  10. The answer to the mystery of Graf Spee’s run into Montivideo is I think that which I gave in Spyhunter – she was running Chinese and or Japanese gold into Germany. The pocket battleships weren’t commerce raiders, they were blockade runners. Hitler wasn’t smart enough to work this out and neither Canaris nor Raeder was going to tell him.

    The limited amount of commerce raiding Graf Spee did was an intelligence blind, to disguise her real mission. This also explains why German assets were desperate to hold up the rebuilding of Britain’s fats and powerful battlecruiser squadron. They were the only ships fast enough to catch the pocket battleships and powerful enough to sink them.

    The Germans were desperately anxious about the Renown getting a high-pressure steam plant, and her speed was limited to about 29 knots after her refit, compared to 32 before.

    • Why on Earth would you build a blockade that heavily armoured and carrying 11 inch main armament? That makes no sense at all. Such bold statements need to be backed by evidence. The pocket battleships didn’t have any cargo spaces, they were warships so what use could they be as a blockade runner? Besides, in both wars, Germany got vast quantities of supplies of essential materials via Sweden, with the full complicity of the British, so what use did the Germans have for a blockade runner? Read The Triumph of Unarmed Forces by Rear Admiral Consett, it destroys any notion that Germany was blockaded with extensive factual data on the huge quantities of goods Britain shipped to Germany to enable the German war machine to keep running and exposes the fact that the war was a total fraud. There were other ships that could catch and sink the pocket battleships – the French built the battlecruisers Strasbourg and Dunkerque specifically for that task.

    • I agree with all your points. In WW1, the British supplied Germany via Scandinavia and the Netherlands, primarily the former. In WW2, it was via Spain – the Germans were getting the bulk of their oil not from Ploesti in Romania nor their own hydrogenation plants that turned coal into liquid fuel, but from Standard Oil via Spanish ports then the Spanish and French railways. This continued until France was liberated in 1944 and that was when the fuel shortages started to really hurt the Germans.

      The Soviet Union would have been defeated in ww2 if it were not for the vast supplies coming from the Allies. The Red Army ended up wearing uniforms and boots made in America, being supplied by Ford and Studebaker trucks made in America, eating food imported largely from America, to say nothing of all the aircraft, tanks and other weapons set by Britain and America.

      On the me-262, it wasn’t aluminium that was needed for the jet engines, it was metals needed to produce high temperature alloys, I forget exactly which metals now. The lack of high temperature alloys reduced the life of both the BMW and Jumo jet engines to a mere fraction of what was possible with the right alloys. The design of the turbine blades had to be changed to incorporate pathways for cold air to be passed through to achieve a cooling effect, a design that is still used to this day in jet engines, but still, without the proper alloys, the life of the turbine blades was very poor. The BMW design was developed by the French postwar into the ATAR series of engines which powered all of the French jet aircraft and was very successful as in postwar France, there was no problem obtained the proper alloys.

  11. Captain Langsdorff of the Graf Spee was indeed a fine man, a gentleman Jerry of the old school, far more admired and respected in my country than any modern German.

    History has judged his tactics unkindly – he almost certainly had secret orders to avoid battle.

  12. I made a fine mechanized model of the Hood, turrets moved ,guns articulated, the bow made a nice wake from her single electric power plant. So, Trump, Clinton, or Lamb Chop. Suppose they are all still relatives like the good old days.

  13. Ian is right, with respect. ‘Hun’ came into vogue as an affectionate term for the Germans in 1914, and they can also be referred correctly as Fritz or the Jerries. The French term Boche(s) can also be used. I suspect that Ian also right about the etymology, i.e. that it was our community partner the Kaiser who got the ball rolling.

    Lloyd George was evil, not stupid!

    I find Edward’s comments about the Prinz Eugen absolutely fascinating. Naval historians who say the Hood was sunk by an incoming shell, in the absence of a satisfactory ballistic trajectory for Bismarck have come up with the theory that it was an 8″/60 cal shell from Prinz Eugen, but if Captain Brinkmann was indeed using HE that blows the theory out of the water higher than the poor old Hood. What is your source, Edward?

    I am not saying that you are wrong, indeed I make the point in Spyhunter that it was not a serious naval battle. Lutjens was indeed a coward, although he also had his eye on higher things. I suspect he tried to fly off the Bismarck in her remaining Arado, but PoW had damaged the catapult.

    It is a well-known fact that the Hun does not like getting his feet wet and his tactics at sea in both the world wars he started were quite defensive. However Graf Spee had the gold Dresden was carrying to worry about, as did Captain Langsdorff in the pocket battleship named after him.

  14. This is a fallacious argument made so by the deployment of hypersonic surface ship killer missiles all these machines battle ships air craft carriers are are huge radar reflective targets! Ripe for destruction.

  15. Herr Schrimpton is not an intelligence historian. He is a confabulist. His interpretation of the world is his mental manipulations masquerading as phantasmagorical erudition throwing a shadow of unreason dressed as verisimilitude onto the historical canvas being obscured by dark covert forces intent on world conquest. [again]

  16. History was and is always about the cabale of the Royalty with their lust and greed for other countries and ressources while they bleed their “pawns”, we the little people, to death. And history is falsyfied by several factions of this power cabale and priesthood since the last iceage in their favour by detroying ancient knowledge, libraries and the “people of knowledge”. So I don´t trust anything that comes from “Hear-say”.

    • You used the word “Hun” for germans like the Zionists used it in their declaration of war against germany so let me guess who you are ? And that assassin who murdered the Arcduke and his wife was paid by whom ? We all know it but seems you try to ignore it.

    • The term Hun to describe Germans comes from a comment made by Kaiser Wilhelm at the beginning of WW1, he said something like ‘we shall descend upon them like the Hun’. The British also called the Germans Fritz and Jerry.

    • I see you know what you’re talking about, I agree with all your points. On Jutland, I would add that the British had failed to practice their gunnery to the same degree as the Germans had, largely due to where we had based our ships – they would have had to put to sea in order to be able to fire their guns without causing significant damage to the local area – the blast from a 15 or 13.5 inch broadside is a phenomenal thing. Also, too much emphasis was put on speed over accuracy, which had lead the British to circumventing the safety procedures. This lead to the losses Beatty’s battlecruisers suffered. One other point – the incredible sight of the entire British fleet opening fire turned the darkness into light and the entire horizon was a sheet of flame, as seen from the German ships. The psychological effect of this was felt two years later when the German fleet was unable to put to see for a final showdown because the sailors mutinied, clearly many remembered that sight and knew how lucky they had been to escape. Several of the German ships were very badly shot up, with many dead and injured men, but they were able to absorb the damage, one reason being the difference in design to the British ships. The British ships needed to be able to accommodate their crews for extended periods of time so had large, open mess decks; the German ships however, did not have these and instead had much smaller more compartmentalised living quarters because the crews lived in barracks ashore most of the time and the ships were not intended to sail all over the globe like the British were.

    • You are absolutely correct in your assessment of the Falklands battle. The British ships were faster and had longer range main armament, therefore the moment Spee decided to make a run for it, his fate was sealed. The British could simply catch up and pound the German ships at ranges at which the Germans could not respond. Perhaps Spee hoped to lose the British in the dark, who knows, but the losses to the Germans were huge in numbers of men and it has to be pointed out that those German sailors fought right to the bitter end with great bravery, they must have known long before they died that it was a hopeless battle; one must salute such men, regardless of nationality.

    • On the ‘hobby’ there is a story that I am sure is true. Kaiser Wilhelm spent summers as a boy with his cousins Nicky and Georgey (later to become Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and King George V of England) staying with their grandmother, Queen Victoria in England. While there he witnessed the amazing spectacle of the Spithead Review where the entire British fleet lined up and sailed past the Isle of Wight under the gaze of the Queen. Little Willy always had an inferiority complex, his withered arm being a factor, and when he grew up and became Emperor of the German Reich, he wanted to build his own fleet to match what he had seen as a boy so he no longer felt inferior to cousin Georgey and his immense Royal Navy.

      About Prince of Wales, she was brand new, only just handed over from the builders and her main armament was barely working, during the battle it gave a lot of trouble, some guns were not able to fire. She was actually carrying a number of civilian technicians who had sailed with her in order to work on these troublesome guns and hopefully iron out the issues before she had to use them in anger. The guns were a new design, 14 inch calibre, rather than the tried and tested and superb, 15 inch guns carried by Hood and many other British battleships. The reason Prince of Wales had 14 inchers was the restrictions put in place by the interwar naval treaties.

    • Seems he had the same prophet like the persians when she declared that the emperor would destroy a big empire if he makes war, was it the Sybillian orakel ?

Comments are closed.