they only had 57 so we’re giving them 243 extra boots….the surface ships do seem to have been a waste, but that’s because there was no precise vision of how they’d be used without wasting them, and no idea what Germany would have done without any surface ships at all.
Which is precisely my point. There was basically no strategic thinking going on in the Kriegsmarine prior to the war.
Germany’s only true naval rival was England.
England could not be caught in a naval arms race.
The logical extension is to engage in some sort of asymmetrical campaign that enables you to close the gap in capability. Add to that the fact that England is an island nation, and the goal should have been crystal clear.
If they had the capability and long range to control the material war at sea, then that would have been decisive.
Exactly. The British knew what was up. The Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935 was specifically negotiated by the British to discourage Germany from building a navy to fight a Commerce War…submarines, armed merchant trawlers, fast cruisers.
They instead graciously allowed them to build a “Balanced” fleet 1/3 the size of the Royal Navy, made of ships that would be of little use to Germany in a wider war.
But they didn’t have any of the things they would need to beat each enemy in turn, it was built “just in time”. Some of it (4 engine bombers) was never built or even seriously considered, partially because of dissipation of effort.
The submarine strategy was very strong when there was no counter, and very weak once there was, so reliance on that to win the war probably wouldn’t work , it meets an escalating counter-response.
Well in spite of the fact that later U-Boat designs would be more effective, there was nothing about the U-Boat arm in 1939 that prevented it from defeating the UK aside from the fact that it was too small.
Also, England was well aware of the threat that U-Boats posed to their empire. The Royal Navy was not standing still prior to the war in regards to the need to defend their supply lines from U-Boats. But it was tactics and technology that were the hurdles from 1939 to 1943, not some failure by the British to respond at a strategic level.
Early in the war they would send merchants out alone and unguarded, while warships engaged in Search and Destroy operations over thousands of miles of open ocean. MADNESS. The needed goods were completely unguarded, while combat forces wasted their time in fruitless searches.
Even after the Convoy System was implemented it took YEARS to train both Merchant and Escort crews to maintain fleet discipline during an attack…and even then the need for more long-range aircraft to close the Mid-Atlantic gap was basically unaddressed for months.
Needed technlogies like Leigh Lights and Centimetric Radar would not be refined until 1941-1943. Those first couple of years were absolutely critical to Britains survival, and the “escalating counter-response” was not simply a matter of trying harder. Without the tactics or technology available, I don’t see a way out for Britain in 1940 if the Germany Navy is properly directed in its mission to strangle English commerce.
It’s hard to crank out fighters in those factories if the raw materials are on the ocean floor.
The problem with Germany’s navy is that it was built for one thing and then deployed for another. If Hitler allowed Plan Z to be completed, then it would put the Kreigsmarine on par with UK’s Home Fleet.
In 1948. If the UK stood still and did nothing to counter the build up of their rival.
I maintain Germany could never win a naval arms race against the British Empire.
I know Germany merchant fleets were able to supply their forces in Norway since UK never deployed in the Baltic.
Most of the goods transported in the Baltic were in vessels under Scandinavian flags. Most of Germanys merchant fleet was sunk, captured or interned early in the war.
I wonder about that. Germany’s maritime trade wasn’t in the same league as Britian’s, and I doubt that it had a domestic merchant fleet on the same scale as Britain’s, and I’m not aware of Germany operating convoys on anything like the scale of the Allies. Moreover, the concept of defending merchant ships with surface warships (or with anything else, for that matter) is a concept that only applies in wartime…and in both World Wars, German merchant shipping was quickly eliminated by the Allies (chiefly Britian, probaly) from pretty much everywhere (except possibly the Baltic in WWII). So if the point of Germany having a surface fleet in WWII was to protect its merchant ships, then that strategy was a colossal failure.
Nobody “guarded” merchants with warships. Ever. If you want to “protect” your merchant, you put a gun on it. If you need to defend shipping lanes, only a proper convoy system can do the job, and Germany simply didn’t have need of it, having access to most of what it needed on the continent, oil being a very notable exception.
The conventional view is actually that the point of Germany’s surface-combat warship fleet in both World Wars was, with slight variations in the two conflicts, to tie down the Royal Navy at its home bases by offering a constant threat that Germany’s own warships might be deployed. This is the “fleet in being” concept, and Admiral Tirpitz in WWI was pretty blatant about it.
While true, this, to me, demonstrates a lack of critical thinking by both sides.
What was the German surface fleet going to do if the Royal Navy just sailed for the Caribbean?? What possible goal could it have achieved, especially in the face of the Royal Air Force, that it could not achieve while the Royal Navy was a factor? Certainly not an invasion. They couldn’t close the Channel. They couldn’t reinforce the Mediterranian.
So…what??? Seems to me like the German surface fleet as it stood historically was of no use to Germany and no threat to England. Norway, sure, but not England.
As it was, I’m sure that it was for propaganda/morale reasons that the Home Fleet was kept at home, to keep those in England feeling safe and protected, but I’d argue that that decision lengthened the war. England should have just sent the bulk of the Home Fleet to Singapore in December of 1941. Probably would have saved that city from the Japanese and shortened the Pacific War.