New Timeline: HSF Sorties to assist the German 1918 Spring Offensive

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Eternity, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. Eternity Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Somewhere in North Shore City, New Zealand
    I have re-written my 'plot' and have a general idea of what I am doing now. My thanks to all those that gave me new ideas after my origional idea was proved un-workable.

    I will start my new TL on March 20th 1918 when the HSF sails. This is an incomplete background written to explain a few things, including the plan. It starts in January 1918.


    Background - Background changes to the German Navy
    [SIZE=-1]Non-Historical changes the the High Seas Fleet after The Battle of Jutland[/SIZE]

    I wish to thank the members of the Board for their comments and suggestions with relation to the background of this history changing sortie of the German High Seas Fleet in March 1918. The thread can be found here, but please post comments in this thread as I am changing the 'plot' so to speak!

    [SIZE=-1]NOTE: Changing the history of the HSF may be viewed as cheating by some, but historically in 1918, while the HSF may have been able to put to sea, most of its best personnel had been transferred to the submarine and small craft branches of the fleet. These changes are based around that and aim to produce a smaller fleet made up of the more advanced ships available.[/SIZE]

    January 1918

    In January 1918, Admiral Henning von Holtzendorff, the head of the Kaiserliche Admiralstab (German Imperial Admiralty) was informed in a meeting with General Paul von Hindenburg, the head of the German Oberste Heeresleitung or OHL (Supreme Army Command), that the Army was planning to conduct an assault in March against the Allies in the hope of capturing the three channel ports at the Eastern end of the English Channel. (The Lys Offensive) The three channel ports were Dunkirk, Calais & Boulogne and General Hindenburg asked Admiral Holtzendorff for any assistance that the navy could give in support of the offensive.

    Admiral Holtzendorff ordered Admirals Reinhard Scheer and Franz von Hipper to report to him at the Admiralstab and together they discussed the options before them. They were all in agreement that the Unrestricted Submarine Warfare (USW) campaign should continue, as it seemed the most practical way of pushing England out of the war, and stopping American supplies and reinforcements from reaching the Allied front line. Admirals Scheer and Hipper returned to the fleet to consider options for the fleet in relations for a sortie and to draw up several outline proposals before returning to the Admiralstab on February 1st 1918 for discussions on the proposals with Admiral Holtzendorff.

    February 1st 1918

    Admirals Scheer and Hipper reported to the Admiralstab as ordered on 1st February with their proposals. They were as follows:

    a) The HSF does nothing in support of the Lys Offensive. This would keep the fleet intact, but may decrease moral among the navy and army.

    b) The HSF conducts limited sorties with small, fast craft. Destroyers (DD) and Light Cruisers (CA) that can sail at 25+ Knots. They will conduct operations into the English Channel to harass Allied shipping. This is a moderate risk operation due the presence of the HMS Dreadnought and the HMS Dominion and multiple smaller units. If the Channel Fleet could catch the Light German forces deployed, then the German forces would be destroyed by superior firepower.

    c) The same as above but including several Battle Cruisers (BC). The two surviving Derfflinger class (SMS Derfflinger & SMS Hindenburg) and the SMS Seydlitz. All of these ships were rated at 26.5 Knots and so constituted a fast attack force. Their 12" and 11.2" guns were also comparable to the guns of HMS Dreadnought and HMS Dominion (Both 12" main batteries), and with a 5 knot advantage over HMS Dreadnought and 8 knot advantage over HMS Dominion, they could take the initiative in any battle. This option was risky as while they could defeat the Channel Fleet, if they were slowed down due to battle damage then they would be annihilated should a squadron of the Grand Fleet intercept them. As this squadron was made up of Battle Cruisers, it would be under the command of Admiral Hipper.

    d) The same as above, but with the HSF covering the Eastern End of the English Channel should the Battle Cruiser Squadron of the GF appear. This would give the HSF the opportunity to destroy a squadron of the GF, before the main portion of the GF arrived. The main fleet would be under the command of Admiral Scheer if this option was selected.

    Option 'd' was the most attractive to Admiral Holtzendorff as it gave the opportunity to destroy the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron of the GF, and sink four modern British Battle Cruisers for minimum risk. There were problems with this plan however. Should the HSF sortie, then the GF would be aware of it through Radio Direction Finding (RDF), and the GF would sortie in an attempt to destroy the HSF. Precautions would therefore have to be taken to ensure that the HSF attacked the Channel Squadron by surprise, thus allowing the HSF to make port again before the GF could intercept. Also, due to the ongoing transfer of personnel to the submarine and small craft arms of the fleet, several ships had reduced crews. Something would have to be done about this as well.

    All three Admirals decided that option 'd' was to be chosen, provided that the risks to the fleet could be minimised, and the British kept unaware until the fleet attacked the English Channel. Admirals Scheer and Hipper were therefore told to develop a rough plan for option 'd' and return in a week with his proposal for submission to Admiral Holtzendorff. If he approved then the plan would be submitted to the Kaiser for final approval.

    February 7th 1918

    The meeting on February 7th went ahead with several Admiralstab planners in attendance with Admiral Holtzendorff, and Admirals Hipper and Scheer, along with several senior HSF Squadron Commanders. During discussions with his Squadron commanders, Admirals Scheer and Hipper had produced the following plan:

    The whole HSF sortie on March 20th 1918, scheduled to arrive in the English Channel at 09:00 hours on March 21st, after the Army attack had begun so as not to give away the element of surprise. The fleet would sail under complete radio silence until the naval attack began, and was to be controlled by flag and light signals prior to this.

    It was also recommended that since the GF successfully intercepted the HSF at Jutland in 1916, then German codes may be broken. Although codes had been changed in 1917 all orders in relation to the sortie were be given by written orders, flag and light signals. The radio was not to be used to communicate any orders in relation to the sortie so as not to warn the Allies through increased radio traffic. Codes were not to be changed again, as it may warn the Allies that something was planned. After the sortie, new codes were to be introduced.

    Zeppelin and seaplane patrols over the North sea were to continue and report Allied shipping as usual, but the number of patrols were to gradually increase so as not to alarm the Allies.

    It was also suggested that the HSF be re-organised into more condensed squadrons. Older ships were to be retired from the fleet. By doing this, it was hoped that all ships that sortied would have a full compliment, and high moral as the core ability of the fleet was to be maintained.

    The overall plan was to sortie the fleet under a complete radio blackout. Light forces first to sweep for Allied submarines, followed by the Channel Squadron. These would form up and head West for their destination at 15 knots. The main HSF would follow two hours behind them. The fleet would sail over the horizon and out of sight of land.

    At 05:00 hours on the 21st March, the Channel Squadron under Admiral Hipper would increase speed and head for the channel. Their orders were to destroy the Channel Fleet, shell Dunkirk, Calais & Boulogne on the French coast along with Dover and Folkestone on the English coast, sinking ships in the harbours and destroying facilities.

    At 13:00 hours the fleet was to retire towards the HSF and CA were to lay mines outside the entrances of the French ports and in the approach channels. They were not to worry if the Allies saw this as sweeping efforts would stop the use of the Eastern Channel ports for supply ships. CAs that could sail at 27+ knots and could carry either 120+ mines would be choses. Once the mines were laid, they were to return to the HSF.

    The Channel squadron was to rejoin the HSF and then they would all sail back to German ports at 20 knots, to be back in harbour before the GF could intercept. If the Battle Cruiser Squadron (or any other portion of the GF) intercepted them, then it would be destroyed by superior numbers, and the HSF would retire at maximum speed afterwards should this occur.

    Admiral Scheer also recommended that new minefields be laid by submarine along the most probable lines of approach that the GF would take to intercept the HSF, and that submarines are placed outside GF harbours and along these lines of approach to attack the GF and report its position to him.

    Admiral Holtzendorff approved the Admiral's general plan and asked them to draw up a list of ships that were to be retired for his approval, and the reasons for retiring them. They were also to draw up lists of ships to be used as part of the main HSF fleet, the Channel Squadron and the mine-laying squadron. They was then to return to the Admiralstab as soon as possible to discuss this with Admiral Holtzendorff.

    As he had given his approval to further develop the plan, Admiral Holtzendorff contacted the Kaiser's staff and requested a meeting for the following morning. The next day, at 10:00am sharp he entered the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm II and explained that General Hindenburg had requested the HSF's assistance in the March Offensive against the Allied Channel Ports.

    Admiral Holtzendorff explained the proposed plan to the Kaiser, and told him that he had given Admirals Scheer and Hipper his approval to proceed with detailed plans for the operation, and that they had been ordered to report back as soon as detailed plans and ship lists had been made.
    Kaiser Wilhelm II said that while he would wish for his navy to do everything possible to assist the Army in it's offensive, he would not approve an outline plan. When Admirals Scheer and Hipper had drawn up their detailed plans and ship lists, then all three of them were to report to him and explain the plan to him. At that time, he would decide whether to risk his navy or not on the sortie against the English Channel.


    Please note: The operation now occurs in March 1918, the HSF will retire all older (slower, under armed) ships. Only 25+ knot ships will ender the channel and all the CAs that go in will be brimming with mines to lay. BCs & DDs will attack the Channel Fleet, leaving the CAs intact with their explosive loads!

    Most importantly, the HSF is expecting to return to port! I am not saying that the GF will not catch them, but the plan is to get home again before they are intercepted by the bulk of the GF, hence the sortie is not viewed by the sailors as a death ride.



    1/ I am still looking for a firm date of the departure for HMS Dreadnought from the channel fleet, and therefore it's dissolution. If I can't find a date, then HMS Dreadnought will sail with escort that morning. So will HMS Dominion. Upon hearing of the attack, they will turn round to attack the HSF and both get sunk, but will do damage/take DDs with them.

    2/ I have tried to think up reasonable options that Admiral Hipper may come up with for a sortie. Nothing, light forces, small but strong force, full fleet. If anybody has any other options for the HSF (Not subs as they mostly continue the merchant war) then please suggest them.

    3/ As far as the BCs slated for the Channel go, I selected the 3 most modern that the HSF had. I may add a few more/change to BBs, but I want to keep the Channel Squadron at a 25+ knots, and the Bayern Class BBs were maxed at 22 Knots, and the rest of the HSF BBs were similar speeds.

    4/ Is 75 miles off land too far? THe horizon is approximatly 25 so I would think it is a safe distance for not being seen.

    5/ Does anybody know which English ports supplied Calais, Dunkirk & Boulogne?

    6/ For the mine-laying CAs, I chose all HSF CA Classes over 25 knots. I will write a list for those that go in to mine the French ports. I know several of the ships were lost by that time in the war. Those are the Classes available for use, nothing more.

    6/ I have tried to paste together a reasonably planned, well thought out sortie, but if anybody can see an obvious fault with it then please say!


    I have checked spelling and grammer, but if you notice anything feel free to tell me. Comments welcomed as always, but let's not revisit the old ones again please.

    Oh BTW can a mod lock my old thread please? I can't figure out how to do it. It's

    Last edited: Nov 17, 2009
  2. rast Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    Nice plan, but for this time (early 1918) you still need the OK of the Emperor, who was in fact executing his right as supreme naval commander.
    So, no action without Willy's agreement.

    Early 1918: Scheer was still fleet commander, Hipper was chief of recce, Chief of Staff was still Henning von Holtzendorff. (They only changed in mid-1918, when Holtzendorff retired.)
  3. Eternity Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Somewhere in North Shore City, New Zealand
    Thank you & opps my bad! I knew they changed and thought it was shortly after Jutland. I will modify the names now. Scheer to command the main HSF, Hipper to command the Channel Squadron. Both will report to the Admiralty.

    When would they seek the Emperor's approval do you think? He will naturally give it! :D

    a) When Hindenburg asks if the HSF can assist (January 1918)
    b) When the HSF have a rough plan (Febuary 1st 1918 after option 'd' selected)
    c) When the plan is more detailed (February 7th 1918)
    d) When the plan is finalised and ready to be distributed - ie ship lists known?

    Option 'c' seems most approprate to me - and I have added it in. The last three paragraphs are new rast. Since Wilhelm would not wish to risk his navy without the final plan, they are going to go back for final approval in the next installment.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2009
  4. rast Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    Wilhelm was kind of overanxious for his precious ships, so he needs to be convinced that this is a good opportunity for action that does not risk the ships - but offers a good chance of success.
    One must inform him early on (before he gets to know about it from a third side) and keep him appraised of the procedure. However, he only needs to OK a general offensive posture, no details required.
    If Hindenburg, Holtzendorff and the Chancellor all together tell him it's necessary, he will finally OK that (although it can be tricky - he might try to avoid a decision, this may quite take some time. He could fall ill suddenly, when forced to make decisions he didn't like.)
    Having Admiral von Müller, the Chief of the Naval Cabinet, on the side of the fleet action would also help tremendously. He had daily contact with Wilhelm.

    BTW: That was the charme of your initial plot, in October 1918, Wilhelm would have given his 'placet' much more easily - perhaps in deed in the form you described. (I don't like it, but I won't stop it as well.)
  5. HMS Warspite Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2009
    2nd star to the right and then straight on.
    Good actionplan, but in the timeline a little too late to be of much influence, as the war ws effectively lost by this time in Belgium, due to the ever going reenforcements of new troops on Allied side, while the Germans could not do any better anymore, after four long years of struggle. A better sollution would have been to do the same sort of operation a year earlier, before the USA went into the war, with its industrial might.
  6. Eternity Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Somewhere in North Shore City, New Zealand
    Thanks for the comments guys.

    rast - Thanks. You posted while I was updating my inital post! The last three paragraphs are new and refer to Wilhelm being told. The next portion I am writing deals with the meeting the Kaiser is in and a much more detailed plan followed by his decision & the reasons for.

    I may thin out the inital post a bit in terms of the plan so I can include additional details in this next part, Wilhelm's briefing.

    HMS Warspite - Yes, far too late to help Germany win the war. Say - does anybody actually know WHAT the German objectives of the war were? I have done some reading and it seems like not even they were sure! lol

    Anyway, Germany is NOT going to win in this TL. That's for sure. Annoy the RN? Yes. Annoy the French & Dutch? Definatly. Perhaps better terms at Versallies or force a stalemate. I have a few ideas on doing that which I have touched on, but will elaborate on at the required time.

    I did think about doing the operation a year earlier to be honest but I decided against it. I like it more towards the end of the war. A slight sense of despiration, and also because it allowed me to get Hindenburg to ask the Navy to sortie. I can't really think of an offensive in 1917 in which the Navy could help. I would be happy to be proven wrong here. The capture of/assault on the Channel Ports does give me that option.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2009
  7. HMS Warspite Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2009
    2nd star to the right and then straight on.

    General German Warobjectives of the great War:
    1.Destruction of France as a continental power in Europe.
    2. End the "Encirclement" of Germany by France and Russia.
    3. Recognition of Germany as the leading European military and industrial superpower, with a colonial empire, possibly taken from a defeated France.
    Equality with the UK in oversea iperial issues was wanted, but not at all price. The USA were still very much out of consideration, as it was far away and not yet the superpower it later would become, although industrially and economically rapidly growing.
  8. rast Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    German war aims (why they went to war):
    - Reduction of military threat posed by France and Russia, i.e. becoming the dominating military power on continental Europe (and thus secure)
    - Equal status with Britain worldwide, i.e. overturning the old British balance of power system and installing a new one.
    (Old: There's equilibrium in Europe, and Britain rules the world. New: Germany rules Europe, and there's equilibrium worldwide)

    Destruction of France never was a consideration. All ideas about annexations are wartime, not pre-war, and due to the British blockade. If the British could do this (with consent of 'neutral' America and the other neutrals) - then Germany had to look for secureness by exploiting continental Europe, comparable to what Napoleon was forced to do.
  9. HMS Warspite Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2009
    2nd star to the right and then straight on.

    Good point,

    By the way, the "Destruction of France as a continental power" indicates not the destruction of the nation, or people, but its military capabilities.

    Primary warobjective was the end of the encirclement of hostile nations on both east and west side of Germany. Germany did not want to fight a two front war, in case of an armed conflict and wanted security on at least one side, so it could focus on the other, if necessary. Germany wanted savety for its own, which could only be achieved, at least thought by the then ruling leaders, by being the strongest and most dangereous power on the continent, frightening off potential aggressors, with planes to attack Germany.
  10. Eternity Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Somewhere in North Shore City, New Zealand
    Thanks for the info guys. Very useful in trying to figure out what is going to happen after the sortie!

    I have made a few adjustments to the inital post. Lightened up the details of the plan for this update - the Kaiser's briefing.


    February 17th 1918

    As ordered, Admirals Scheer and Hipper reported back to the Admiralstab to meet Admiral Holtzendorff to submit to him their final plan and ship lists. Admiral Holtzendorff met them outside the meeting room to tell them that the Emperor had insisted on being present for the detailed plan presentation, and had invited General Hindenburg so that the Army would know what support the Navy was planning and Chancellor Georg Friedrich Graf von Hertling. Admiral Holtzendorff had therefore invited Admiral Georg Alexander von Müller - the Chief of the Naval Cabinet - in case his support was required to sway the Kaiser or Chancellor.

    Upon entering the room and saluting the Emperor, they proceeded to elaborate on the plan that they had given to Admiral Holtzendorff ten days earlier, including the quantities of each type of ship that were to be included in each squadron. The finer details of ships could wait until their meeting with Admiral Holtzendorff afterwards.

    On the 20th March 1918, the remaining DD & CA of the HSF would leave harbour to sweep for Allied submarines. They would be followed by the BC squadron slated to attack the channel. These would form up and head West for their destination at 15 knots. The main HSF would then leave harbour and follow two hours behind them, also travelling at 15 knots. All ships would sail 75 miles off the German and Dutch coasts so as to be out of sight of land.

    The Admirals explained that the fleet would sortie under the strictest radio silence with no radio communication beforehand relating to the sortie what-so-ever, so as not to make the British aware of the impending sortie. The Channel Squadron (CS) was to include ships capable of sustained 25+ knot speeds only, as a speedy exit may be required. The Battle Cruisers SMS Derfflinger, Hindenburg, Selditz and Moltke were to be included in the squadron along with 20 destroyers. The SMS von der Tann was considered, but as she could not sustain 25+ knots, she would sortie with the remainder of the HSF.

    At 05:00 hours on the 21st March, the Channel Squadron under Admiral Hipper would increase speed to 20 knots and head for the channel. Their orders were to enter the English Channel no earlier than 09:00 hours and no later than 09:30 hours on the 21st March 1918 and engage and destroy the Channel Fleet, then proceed to shell supply ports on the English and French coasts, attempt to sink ships in the harbours and destroy dockside facilities.

    The Royal Navy's Channel Fleet was known to include HMS Dreadnought (10x12" Guns, 21 knots) and the old pre-dreadnought HMS Dominion (4x12" Guns, 18 knots). The four BCs selected were deemed to be sufficient to engage and destroy both ships. The SMS Derfflinger and Hindenburg would engage HMS Dreadnought and the lighter armed SMS Selditz and Moltke would engage the older HMS Dominion.

    Once the Channel Fleet was destroyed, the ports of Dunkirk, Calais, Boulogne and Dover would be shelled by the BCs and Light Cruisers laden with mines, with dockyard facilities and ships in the harbour targeted. Civilian structures were to be avoided. The objective here would be to disrupt the function of the ports and therefore slow down the supply lines. At the same time, any merchant shipping in the channel would be attacked and sunk by the destroyers.

    The CS would start its withdrawal no later than 13:00 hours, and the CAs would lay minefields outside the English and French ports of Dunkirk, Calais, Boulogne, Dover and Folkestone, and in the shipping channels. Cruisers of the Koln, Brummer, Königsberg, Wiesbaden, Pillau, Graudenz & Magdeburg Classes were to be considered for this task, as they could steam at over 27 knots and carry a minimum of 120 mines.

    The Allies would no doubt see this but they would have to sweep the area for mines before they could allow merchant shipping to recommence. This would delay the flow of Allied supplies in the Eastern Channel. It was also hoped that some minefields would be missed and merchant ships would be sunk by these later, forcing the Allies to re-sweep the channel adding further delays. Admirals Hipper and Scheer voiced their opinion that in the event of the sortie proceeding to plan, then the English would simply use their ports at the Western end of the English Channel, but if the HSF attempted to attack these ports then they would be trapped in the English Channel by the GF and destroyed, so they would not attempt to disrupt this shipping at the current time.

    Once the CS retired, they would rendezvous with the bulk of the HSF and return to German ports at 20 knots, before the GF could intercept. Again, Admirals Hipper and Scheer voiced their opinion that it would be possible for the BC Squadron of the GF to intercept them before they returned to harbour. They claimed that in this event, the HSF could easily defeat the BC Squadron before the GF arrived, as the BC Squadron comprised of only four known BCs. The HMS Repulse (6x15" Guns), Renown (6x15" Guns), Princess Royal (8x13.5" Guns) and Tiger (8x13.5" Guns), along with accompanying CAs & DDs.

    Should this squadron intercept the retiring HSF, then after combat with them ended, the HSF would retire at maximum possible speed for home. They would not be lured North by the BC Squadron as they were at Jutland.

    Prior to the HSF sailing, submarines would be deployed under the strictest secrecy into the North Sea to lay minefields outside of the GF harbours, and along the most probable line of the GF to intercept a retiring HSF. Submarines would also be stationed outside the harbours and along the projected line of approach, to attack the advancing HSF and only break radio silence to report the GF heading South.

    They also said that they hoped to re-organise the HSF prior to the sortie to maximize efficiency. All pre-dreadnoughts and older CA & DDs were to go as they would be a hindrance to the operation. Each ship was to be considered for suitability for the operation in turn. It was hoped that by doing this, then all ships that sortied would have a full compliment, and high moral as the core ability of the fleet was to be maintained, also if the fleet was detected, then as they were reducing the size of the HSF, the Allies may not consider the operation a full fleet sortie, and may not send out the entire GF. They wished to discuss this further, but at a later briefing with Admirals Holtzendorff and Müller.

    Finally, they said that since the German Army was attacking three Channel ports over a large area, should the Army not concentrate on one only - say Dunkirk (The nearest) - and be assured of it's capture so that submarines be allowed to use it as soon as possible as a re-supply station to allow attacks on merchant shipping in the English Channel, and further interrupt the Allied Supply lines?

    They hoped that the interruption to the three main channel supply ports would allow the Army to advance fast and capture Allied supply dumps and at least one port. The Navy should be ready to use the port to supply submarines making attacks in the English Channel, as while they may not be able to stop all Atlantic shipping, in the confined waters of the English Channel they stood a much better chance and should not waste any time.

    Once they had finished submitting their plan, they asked for questions from those present. Admirals Müller and Holtzendorff had none (Admiral Holtzendorff had told Admiral Müller the outline earlier), General Hindenburg took on board what they suggested about Dunkirk, and said he would consider assigning extra troops to that area of the assault, but that the German Army would attack all three ports as planned. However, he did like the idea of submarines operating in the Channel and disrupting Allied shipping at will as it would aid his Army in the future.

    Chancellor Hertling asked what chance the fleet had of succeeding in its proposed objectives and returning to port intact. Admiral Scheer voiced the opinion that if the GF was unaware of the operation and only sortied when they heard news of the attack, then they would stand no chance of reaching the HSF before it made port again. As such, and given the force they were sending into the channel would overwhelm the Channel Fleet, they could achieve their primary objectives and return to port successfully.

    The Chancellor then asked what chance they would have of being able to defeat the GF BC Squadron, and still return to port before the GF intercepted them, if the BC Squadron should manage to intercept them. Admiral Hipper said that with the overwhelming firepower of the HSF attacking the four known ships of the BC Squadron, then the BCs would either be driven off or sunk as the GF BCs were at Jutland, and that under all circumstances, the HSF should not be drawn North by the GF BC Squadron into the waiting arms of the GF. If however the location of the GF was known to be far enough away not to be able to assist the BCs, then they should not waste the opportunity presented to destroy a portion of the GF.

    Admirals Müller and Holtzendorff both agreed with Admiral Hipper on this, but stressed that should the HSF choose to follow the BCs, then they must be positive that the GF was not waiting for them as they were at Jutland as the fleet could not be un-necessarily risked for such a gain.

    Finally the Kaiser spoke. He said that he had listened intently to the plan, and had no questions regarding it, but asked all present if they believed that the gains to be had were worth the potential loss of his entire fleet should the GF manage to intercept the HSF before it returned to port.

    The four admirals present all assured the Kaiser that unless the GF were already at sea (to which their submarines would inform them) at the time they sailed, then there was no chance of the GF intercepting the HSF in the sortie timescale as the HSF only had half the distance to go to return to port that the GF had to go to intercept them.

    The Kaiser re-iterated his question: Were the gains to be achieved worth the potential sacrifice of the HSF?

    General Hindenburg thought that they were, as the interruption of supplies should allow the Army to easily achieve its objectives, after which Britain and France would sue for peace under the onslaught of the German Army, and as such, a sacrifice of the HSF in allowing the war to end was worth it.

    Chancellor Hertling replied that he did not believe that the fleet was worth sacrificing, but that every effort should be made to allow the Army Offensive to succeed, and if the Admirals did not believe that the GF could intercept them before they returned to port, then the sortie should be allowed to proceed.

    The four Admirals all believed that the GF could never intercept the HSF, and as such, the Kaiser's question was moot so they all said yes.
    With everybody in agreement that the sortie be allowed to proceed, Kaiser Wilhelm II said that providing that the GF was not at sea at the time the HSF sailed, and did not set to sea before the Channel Fleet was attacked then he would allow the sortie to proceed. If however the GF put to sea before the Channel Fleet was attacked, then he wished for the HSF to return to port so as not to risk itself in a pointless fight.


    As far as the fleets go, I will look up what happened to each ship. Obviously a sunk ship by then is still sunk, those in repair are still unavailable.

    The 4 BCs for the Channel will go in with the 20 most modern and advanced German DDs.

    I have 7 CA Classes that can go into the channel. Looking at 14 ships. I may go for just 200+ mines into the channel, the rest stay with the fleet. These are the Koln, Brummer & Konigsberg Classes or 8 ships.

    With regards the rest of the HSF, I will look at it and probably ask you guys what you think of the numbers I come up with.

    In the meantime, what do you think of the update? I know some of the info is repeated from the first post (I have thinned some of the "repeats" out of the 1st.)
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2009
  11. Eternity Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Somewhere in North Shore City, New Zealand
    Those ship lists now. They are a bit long and I have been accurate I think. I checked sunk dates and the like and didn't include sunk ships.

    All pre-dreadnoughts
    Nassau Class BB (12x11", 20 Knots) First German BB Class [Due to gun calibre and speed]
    SMS Nassau, SMS Posen, SMS Rheinland, SMS Westfalen

    CAs [Due to gun calibre or speed]
    Nautilus Class (3.85", 20 Knots)
    Konigsberg Class 1905 (4.1", 24.1 Knots)
    SMS Stettin (Planned for conversion to Seaplane Carrier) & SMS Stuttgart (Converted to Seaplane Carrier)
    Bremen Class (4.1", 22.9 Knots)
    Gazelle Class (4.1", 19.5 Knots)

    DD [Due to lack of sea-keeping abilities and gun calibre]
    Torpedoboot 1914
    Grosses Torpedoboot 1911
    Grosses Torpedoboot 1898
    All older DDs

    Mine-Laying Squadron:
    Koln Class (200 Mines, 27.5 Knots)
    SMS Koln, SMS Dresden - (Flagship)
    Brummer Class (400 Mines, 28 Knots)
    SMS Brummer, SMS Bremse
    Königsberg Class (200 Mines, 27.5 Knots)
    SMS Konigsberg, SMS Karlsruhe, SMS Nurenberg, SMS Emden
    Wiesbaden Class (120 Mines, 27.5 Knots)
    SMS Frankfurt
    Pillau Class (120 Mines, 27.5 Knots)
    SMS Pillau
    Graudenz Class (120 Mines, 27.5 Knots)
    SMS Graudenz, SMS Regensburg
    Madgeburg Class (120 Mines, 27 Knots)
    SMS Strassburg, SMS Stralsund
    Torpedoboot 1916 (x11)
    A56, A57, A58, A59, A60, A61, A62, A63, A68, A69, A70

    Channnel Squadron:
    Derfflinger Class (8x12", 26.5 Knots)
    SMS Derfflinger, SMS Hindenburg - (Flagship)
    Seydlitz Class (10x11.2", 26.5 Knots)
    SMS Seydlitz
    Moltke Class (10x11", 25.5 Knots)
    SMS Moltke
    Grosses Torpedoboot 1916Mob (x10)
    G96, V125, V126, V127, V128, V129, V130, S131, S123, S133
    Torpedoboot 1916 (x10)
    A71, A72, A73, A74, A75, A76, A77, A78, A79, A80

    Bulk of HSF:
    Bayern Class (8x15", 22 Knots)
    SMS Bayern, SMS Baden - (Flagship)
    Konig Class (10x12", 21.2 Knots)
    SMS Konig, SMS Grober Kurfurst, SMS Markgraf, SMS Kronprinz
    Kaiser Class (10x12", 21 Knots)
    SMS Kaiser, SMS Friedrich der Grosse, SMS Kaiserin, SMS Prinzregent Luitpold, SMS Konig Albert
    Helgoland Class (12x12" 20.5 Knots)
    SMS Helgoland, SMS Oldenburg, SMS Ostfriesland, SMS Thuringen

    SMS Von der Tann (8x11", 24.8 Knots)

    Kolberg Class (5.9", 26.3 Knots)
    SMS Kolberg, SMS Augsburg

    Torpedobootzerstorer (x7)
    B97, B98, V100, B109, B110, B111, B112
    Torpedoboot 1915 (x23)
    A26, A27, A28, A29, A30, A31, A33, A34, A35, A36, A37, A38, A39, A41, A44, A45, A46, A48, A49, A52, A53, A54, A55
    Grosses Torpedoboot 1913 (x49)
    V26, V28, v30, S32, S33, S34, S36, G38, G39, G40, G41, V43, V44, V45, V46, V47, S49, S50, S51, S52, S53, S54, S55, S56, S50, S61, S62, S63, S65, S66, V67, V68, V69, V70, V71, V73, V74, V77, V78, V73, V80, V81, V82, V83, G86, G89, G91, G92, G95
    Grosses Torpedoboot 1906 (x51)
    S138, S139, S140, S141, S142, S143, S144, S145, S146, S147, S148, S149, V151, V152, V153, V154, V155, V156, V157, V158, V159, V160, V161, V163, V164, S165, S166, S167, S168, G169, G170, G172, G173, G174, G175, S178, S179, V180, V181, V182, V183, V184, V185, V186,
    V189, V190, G192, G193, G195, G196, G197


    This is their maximum realistic power I believe. I am considering SMS Von der Tann staying in port with the Nassau Class BBs. What are your thoughts please?

    Also, I am scrapping alot of torpedo boats in the classes being withdrawn.
    The 161 left (20 to channel, 141 HSF) are the best that Germany have.
    If the bulk of the fleet sortied, would they really need 141 DDs? They have 17 CA, BC or BBs.
    141 DDs = 8DD to one larger ship. This may be a bit many?
    If I say 5XDD for every larger ship I still take 85 and drop the Grobes Torpedoboot 1906 Class.
    This feels like a more reasonable number to me. What do you guys think please?

    Thanks, David.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2009
  12. rast Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    They wouldn't leave SMS Von der Tann at home. After Jutland the fleet had realised (what Tirpitz had been claiming all the time) that the German 28 cm guns (11") were at least as good as the British 30,5 cm (12"). And SMS Von der Tann was fast and stable under fire - and had prestige.

    Concerning the cruisers: Most of them would not run with design speed, in real life their speed was about 25 knots.

    They would take as many small craft with them as possible in order to provide a wide screen, detect enemy submarines and small vessels, - and conduct torpedo attacks on the enemy plus stop enemy torpedo attacks against the own fleet. - And although they expect to fight a daylight battle, the small vessels are indispensable in bad visibility and at night.

    Spelling: It's Großes (or Grosses) Torpedoboot (large torpedo boat). Grobes Torpedoboat means 'gruff torpedo boat'.
  13. Eternity Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Somewhere in North Shore City, New Zealand
    Late April and March 1918

    With the Kaiser's permission, the required actions for the planned 20th March 1918 sortie proceeded at a rapid pace. All ships to be decommissioned or transferred to training duties were transferred to the Baltic ports, and the crews returned to Wilhelmshaven, to be stationed on other ships. This was followed by an intensive training period to familiarize the crews with their new ships. The rest of the fleet was re-organized into more condensed squadrons, and into the sections required for the operation, and flag and light signals practiced.

    At the same time, new radio codes were developed and given to all HSF ships due to sail on the operation. They were sealed and were not to be opened until 09:30 hours on the 21st March 1918, once the Channel Squadron attached the Allied Channel Fleet.

    By the 10th March 1918, all ships were organized and crewed, and munitions were in the required areas of the harbors, ready to be loaded. The loading schedule was organized to be completed one day before the operation, with the mine-laying cruisers receiving their deadly loads last. Also, on the 10th, the first of the submarines slated to scout and attack the GF slipped her moorings and headed for the sea. Over the next several days, another 19 submarines were to join her on allocated patrol lines. The mine-laying submarines were scheduled to lay their mines during the night of the 19th/20th March at the earliest, to attempt to avoid Allied sweeping measures, and so left several days later. All submarines were under radio silence unless they were reporting the GF, or any part of it, leaving harbor before the 21st March.

    The aerial sweeps over the North Sea had detected no abnormal Allied activities that would indicate that the GF was aware of the impending sortie by the HSF. Increased anti-submarine patrols in the area North of the HSF harbors had also failed to detect any Allied submarines, but both Admirals Scheer and Hipper knew that this could change at any time.

    With the entire fleet aware that something major was planned, moral was running high. The ships captains had been given sealed orders, to be opened on the evening of the 19th March. Everybody was confined to ship from the Morning of the 19th March, so hopefully the crews would not be able to talk to others about the operation. The ships captains were only to inform their crews as to the nature of the operation once they made the open sea, so the exact details could not leak out that way.

    Certainly, Admirals Hipper and Scheer were sure they had covered all possible options regarding secrecy, but also knew that they would only be absolutely positive once they returned to port after the successful operation, and they testified to this when they reported to Admiral Holtzendorff in Berlin on the 18th March for their final meeting before the operation, during which they were reminded of the Kaiser's instruction regarding the Grand Fleet. Since no reports regarding it's sailing had been received from either the submarine stationed off the GF harbors, or from the seaplanes and zeppelins flying over the North Sea, this was not yet a worry, and they were told that they could proceed with the operation.

    Once back in harbor, the Admirals called all ships captains aboard their respective flagships during the morning of the 19th March to inform them about the details of the operation, give them their sealed orders and codebooks and to address any final issues that there may be, before the fleet sailed the next day. Many captains couldn't believe that they were going to make port again before the GF intercepted, but they were assured that it had been worked out so that if the GF only sailed after 09:00 hours on the 21st March, then even at maximum speed, they would not catch the HSF before it made port again.

    With all fears allayed, and munitions and provisions loading completed, the fleet waited, quietly holding its breath, in the lull before the coming storm.
  14. rast Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    Did the II. Torpedobootsflottille from Flanders destroy the Dover - Calais mine barrier on February 14th, 1918, like they did IOTL?
  15. Eternity Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Somewhere in North Shore City, New Zealand
    :eek: Yes, that operation occured as normal, and they will go back again ;)
  16. rast Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    Have to correct my previous post: II. Flotilla did not operate out of the Flanders bases, but came down from the German North Sea ports under radio silence. - Thus, this was a kind of rehearsal for the operation now starting.

    However, they retreated to the Flanders bases after destroying the British guarding boats - and after refueling returned home on February 16th.
    The II. Flotilla had the most powerful small vessels - B 97, B 98, V 100, B 109, B 110 - 112, G 101 - 104 - real destroyers, equal to British destroyers.
  17. HMS Warspite Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2009
    2nd star to the right and then straight on.
    I see the order of battle makes sense, except for the SMS Vond der Tann, which was nearly capable of reaching the 25 knot speed, wanted, but had the superior advantage of longer ranging guns, which at Jutland/Skagerak sank HMS Indifatigable. SMS Von der Tann's 11 inch guns elevated to 20 degrees, rather than the normal 13.5 degrees on the other battlecruisers. Her effective rangefionder and firecontroll allowed her to accurately shoot at long distances, far more superior to the contemporary British Fleet. So SMS Von der Tann had to be incuded as well in the Vanguard Force in the Channal.
  18. Eternity Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Somewhere in North Shore City, New Zealand
    Still subject to change to be honest. The SMS Von der Tann is the big question mark.

    If I do include her (I probably will) then I only included her in the main fleet as I wanted 25+ knot ships into the Channel. This is because if the Battlecruiser Squadron of the GF intercepts BEFORE the Channel Squadron rejoins the main HSF then you are talking 12" at best against 15" of the RN (Repulse, Renown) and also a speed advantage. If I kept the Channel Squardon at 25+ knot then at least the can run back to the HSF instead of get decimated. I do realise that she is only 0.6 knots slower than the next slowest ship, but in a running battle, you can only go as fast as your slowest ship.

    Before you all get into the arguments of the Repulse and Renown being seriously under-armoured (I agree!) I would point out that at 31.7 knots she is faster than the HSF ships, and with 15" guns she also out-ranges them and can thus stand off and shell them. Much like the British Battlecruisers at the Battle of the Falklands in 1914.

    The words "Ass whooping" spring to mind IF the Battlecruiser Squadron catch the Channel Squadron before they reach the HSF, hence the desire to only include the fastest ships. If they would have included her historically though, I would include her for continuity.
  19. rast Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    Breyer's "Schlachtschiffe und Schlachtkreuzer" says that SMS Von der Tann had a design speed of 24.8 knots, but could run up to 27.4 knots on full power.
    In parallel, SMS Moltke and Goeben had design speeds of 25.5 knots, but Moltke could run at 28.4 knots and Goeben at 28.0.
  20. Eternity Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Somewhere in North Shore City, New Zealand

    Well, just goes to show! I should have realised though as I am looking into the SS Ohio (1940) and her design speed was 16 knots, but she managed 19 knots on trials!

    I did not realise that the SMS Von Der Tann could hit 27.4 knots. If she could achieve this in March 1918, then I see no reason why she could not be included in the Channel Squadron. Can you confirm the date of her 27.4 knot speeds please rast?