WW1 Airborne Fleet Raid

I have heard tell that GB/the RN was considering an airborne raid on the German Fleet in its home anchorage using primarily torpedos. But that the war ended before they could finalize the plan and assemble the assets needed to conduct it.

Assuming that either the war lasted a bit longer of the planning and assets were brought together sooner and we actually saw a raid on the German Fleet in horbor. by RN aircraft using topeados. What do you think this would have done to the WW2 Peril Harbor raid?

I assume that if the RN WW1 raid had accomplished anything at all, that it would have resulted in all the navies be more concerned with the possibility in the future. That being said we had the RN WW2 raid on the Italian Fleet and still the US did not seam to step up its game so i guess it is possible that a successfull WW1 raid would not have changed much. at Peril Harbor.

Note i dont know enough about RN WW1 Aircraft and torpedoes to make any predictions on the. success or lack of if they managed to get the raid off. much less about the German port.
I would however assume that the more successful the raid more serious the navies of the world would take the danger and address the mater. Still that brings up what the US Navy could have done even if they had an example of how dangerous an air raid on ships in harbor could be.

Ao what is everyones thought?

I would guess that a sucsesfull WW1 raid. will mean a bit more attention to defensis in PH and probably more attention is paid to aircpatrols and radar. But the budget issues and human nature being what it is would i believe minimize these so called improvements.
 

Driftless

Donor
"The Whale Has Wings" 20+ years earlier.

With the short ranged planes of that era capable of carrying torpedoes, you'd probably need a spectacular diversion to allow seaplane carrier(s) to get close enough for a launch. Plan "B" for damaged aircraft would be to land in neutral Netherlands or Denmark (with expected German diplomatic sword waving to follow)
 
So you mean this- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raid_on_Cuxhaven

But directed at the High Seas Fleet at anchor?
There was advanced planes for a torpedo attack on the high seas fleet.

Beatty did plan in 1917 with plans that involved converting 8 emergency carrier conversions and an April 1918 attack. The Admiralty said no and slower planning towards a 1919 attack commenced.

There was big risks of running into submarines off the German coast as you had to come in quiet close.

I believe they did a dummy attack on portions of the Grand Fleet in Portland Harbour 1919 in an exercise with over a hundred torpedo planes.
 
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I would guess that a sucsesfull WW1 raid. will mean a bit more attention to defensis in PH and probably more attention is paid to aircpatrols and radar. But the budget issues and human nature being what it is would i believe minimize these so called improvements.
If it was sucessful given it would be a torpedo attack that and not bombs would be seen to be the way to go attacks by aircraft on shipping.. If it was a diasaster it could set back carrier warfare.

I do not think that it would influence air defences any more or less than the German airships bombing London.
 
The Royal Navy’s Air Service in the Great War: David Hobbs

The proposed 1917 raid would have used eight converted ships carrying 121 aircraft, 120 with torpedoes and 1 brightly coloured aircraft to act as raid commander which would stay in the area to co-ordinate the three waves and the H-12 flying boats flying from Felixstowe that would attack at the same time with 230lb bombs directed against floating docks, dockyard engine houses, magazine and submarines moored alongside each other in the basin.

Five aircraft flights from each of the eight ships would make up each wave of 40. As soon as the first flight of five had taken off, the second and third flights would be ranged and launched. Five was a good number to handle into position and launch quickly from a deck; there was at the time no experience of launching larger numbers in sequence. Furthermore, engines tended to overheat if kept running on deck so they were just started prior to take off; again five seemed to be a practical number to start and get airborne in a single batch. It was also deemed the minimum necessary to cripple a single capital ship at anchor.

The 8 ships would have a flight deck above the superstructure with no hanger.

Each ship would carry up to 17 Cuckoos and 2 Camel fighters.

Cover story was that the ships were destined for the Persian Gulf, Egyptian waters or the Red Sea and additional features were to be added to make this look the case such as fans, ventilation etc

The flying boats would refuel from destroyers on the way back.



Cruisers and destroyers would provide the close escort while mines would be laid in the theoretical way of German light forces from Emden and the Grand Fleet would provide distant cover.



The proposed 1918 raid would have used Furious, Vindictive and Argus,



On 6th September 1919 a demonstration raid was carried out on Portland with eleven aircraft in two groups, one with five torpedo aircraft with torpedoes with inert warheads and two aircraft with smoke bombs and the other with three aircraft with torpedoes with inert warheads and one aircraft with smoke bombs. The first group scored one hit each on Barham and Malaya, two on Implacable with the fifth torpedo diving into the seabed. The second group scored two hits on Queen Elizabeth, the last seems to have been a mistake as the crews claimed they thought they thought they were attacking Barham, with one torpedo diving into the seabed.
 
How about having the Cuxhaven raid in 1914 achieve much more success (ie hitting a couple of Zeppelin sheds and burning down the Airships), so that the RNAS pushes the development of torpedo bombers more.

This pushes the Vickers Vimy (which could carry two torpedoes) in to service faster, so enough are in available in 1918 to launch the strikes from the UK.

I'm sure a successful raid would cause a kerfuffle amongst many Admirals
 
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Garrison

Donor
Ironically this might be the solution to the issue in the Kriegsmarine Carriers thread in that a successful raid might well get Germany to take aircraft carriers seriously.
 
How deep was the harbour in question? The RN at Taranto and the IJN at Pearl Harbour used two different innovations to keep the torpedoes from hitting bottom. The IJN solution was pretty complex and involved years of development.

Or do the old torpedoes dropped by low and slow biplane torpedo bombers not dive so deep?

At least the 1818 AAA on the ships and in the harbour would be less of a threat than the early 1940s guns the Taranto and Pearl Harbour raids faced.
 
Here is a big old map of the fleet anchorage at Wilhemshaven. Depths in meters.

Here is a GPS map of the anchorage. I expect it would be dredged deeper now than it was then. I also am not really sure where the fleet anchorage was.

The fleet, or part of it, also spent time at Kiel and/or Cuxhaven.

When testing the unmodified Type 91 torpedoes for attacking Pearl Harbour, the IJN found that even dropping at 100 knots at a height of 10m, the torpedoes would still dive as deep as 20m, necessitating further measures to make them run shallower right from the drop.
 
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When testing the unmodified Type 91 torpedoes for attacking Pearl Harbour, the IJN found that even dropping at 100 knots at a height of 10m, the torpedoes would still dive as deep as 20m, necessitating further measures to make them run shallower right from the drop.
100 knots is about the maximum speed of the Cuckoo, so they'll be going slower when they drop the torpedo.
 
This was on the Secret Projects website, courtesy of Tzoli

Admiral Lazarev monitor as an Aircraft Carrier.png



It is apparently a 1910 proposal to convert the Russian monitor Admiral Lazarev to an Aircraft Carrier.

From the wiki article

The ship was stricken on 14 August 1907 although one naval architect proposed a conversion into a flush decked Aircraft Carrier in July 1910. The turrets and superstructure would be removed and replaced by a full-length flight deck, measuring 251 by 49 feet (77 by 15 m), supported on stanchions above the original deck. The aircraft would be stowed below the flight deck and a small navigation bridge fitted there as well. The funnel would be split and redirected to exhaust on each side outboard of the flight deck. This may have been the first serious proposal by a designer for an aircraft carrier that utilized most of the features of modern carriers. Although perfectly feasible given the low take-off and landing speeds of the aircraft of the day, the proposal was not accepted, possibly because it would have been relatively expensive at a time when the Naval Ministry was struggling to finance the Gangut class Dreadnought battleships and other modern ship


According to Tzoli, it could carry 10 planes, French Bleriot XI type.


Now this is smaller than the converted ferries used on the early raids so what if those ferries had been converted to something like this and had less issues launching aircraft, could it see more attention sooner towards larger more capable ships.

Could one of the pre-Dreds or Campania have had similar treatment?
 
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Whether the raid is a success or not the immediate result is that the High Seas Fleet is withdrawn into the Baltic now the RN has shown they can get at them. This drastically changes the war at sea allowing the Grand Fleet to release destroyers to act as convoy escorts. The RN now no longer has to watch for an attack by the H.S.F on shipping in the English Channel and the Harwich force and Channel Fleet can take an offensive role, even raiding the German North Sea Coast. If so much as a single German Battleship is actually damaged or sunk in the raid (and with the number of torpedoes in the water that's likely and probably more than one,) then there is no way in hell that when the RAF is set up they're getting control of aircraft on ships. Those aircraft are from then on a key weapon in the RN's arsenal as a proven method of attacking ships in port.
 
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The short of it, in 1917, an attack on the German Fleet by planes equipped with torpedoes has a 50/50 chance to sink a Dreadnought.

If it fails, not much changes. If it succeeds... suddenly the RNs air wing has a reason to exist and doesn't have to play second fiddle to the RAF. The biggest implication is the improvement in engine technology. The RN will want planes with a single powerful engine to take off as quickly as possible with a relatively heavy torpedo strapped to it. The RAF will use the same engine for their own projects. The result would be the British entering WW2 with potentially a 1,500hp engine in production.

Apart from that, it isn't actually going to affect the rest of the world much. The Air Force was the main political arm, it needed political independence from the army by terror bombing and defending from terror bombing, the naval air arm of other navies were never really struggling to justify their existence, and wouldn't be particularly motivated to produce Fleet Carriers at a faster rate.
 
The Royal Navy’s Air Service in the Great War: David Hobbs

The proposed 1917 raid would have used eight converted ships carrying 121 aircraft, 120 with torpedoes and 1 brightly coloured aircraft to act as raid commander which would stay in the area to co-ordinate the three waves and the H-12 flying boats flying from Felixstowe that would attack at the same time with 230lb bombs directed against floating docks, dockyard engine houses, magazine and submarines moored alongside each other in the basin.

Five aircraft flights from each of the eight ships would make up each wave of 40. As soon as the first flight of five had taken off, the second and third flights would be ranged and launched. Five was a good number to handle into position and launch quickly from a deck; there was at the time no experience of launching larger numbers in sequence. Furthermore, engines tended to overheat if kept running on deck so they were just started prior to take off; again five seemed to be a practical number to start and get airborne in a single batch. It was also deemed the minimum necessary to cripple a single capital ship at anchor.

The 8 ships would have a flight deck above the superstructure with no hanger.

Each ship would carry up to 17 Cuckoos and 2 Camel fighters.

Cover story was that the ships were destined for the Persian Gulf, Egyptian waters or the Red Sea and additional features were to be added to make this look the case such as fans, ventilation etc

The flying boats would refuel from destroyers on the way back.



Cruisers and destroyers would provide the close escort while mines would be laid in the theoretical way of German light forces from Emden and the Grand Fleet would provide distant cover.
I wonder what makes the RN decide to push ahead with the 1917 plan? Perhaps a Jutland with the same strategic outcome but the Grand Fleet takes much more of a battering? Or there's no Jutland, the fleets keep missing each other and the RN want to break the stalemate?

The RN OTL didn't push ahead with the Cuckoo, Government deprioritizing it for engine allocations (in favor of fighters for the Western Front) and allotting production to two companies that had never built aircraft, which is why the first production delivery took 11 months after first flight in June 1917. On the other hand, when the original contractors fell over Blackburn got into mass production of the things in less than four months. Say Beatty presents the "1917" plan as OTL in September of that year and the Admiralty immediately go for it, top priority. They'd have the aircraft available in Feb/Mar 1918. In OTL it took the Cuckoo three months from squadron service to IOC, call it two if they're really pushing things ahead, so the Kiel raid goes off no earlier than the end of April 1918.
 
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According to Tzoli, it could carry 10 planes, French Bleriot XI type.


Now this is smaller than the converted ferries used on the early raids so what if those ferries had been converted to something like this and had less issues launching aircraft, could it see more attention sooner towards larger more capable ships.

Could one of the pre-Dreds or Campania have had similar treatment?
Not the Pre Dreds, they're too useful as monitors or in the Med. Campania on the other hand could be done. Perhaps if instead of being sent to Cammel Laird when hauled out of the scrapyard for conversion she's sent to Beardmores to see what they can do with her. Beardmore had submitted a proposal for a (very bad , but no one knew that at the time) carrier in 1912.

OIP.4i_7_uTqH7bS___GCuEJ5gAAAA

My idea for how Campania could have looked if converted by Beardmore. (I wouldn't want to try landing on, but then again you wouldn't get me in any 1915 vintage aircraft either). If memory serves the initial plan for HMS Argus was for her to have a funnel on each side with a flying bridge between the two, then they did some testing in a wind tunnel,

1720632550106.png
 
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Driftless

Donor
Re Beardmore carrier: were the superstructures on both sides of the deck mainly for hanger space? I realize some of the topside would be for guns and bridge. Your photo looks more suitable. Still a bit hair-raising to land on :biggrin:
 
Re Beardmore carrier: were the superstructures on both sides of the deck mainly for hanger space? I realize some of the topside would be for guns and bridge. Your photo looks more suitable. Still a bit hair-raising to land on :biggrin:
I suspect the flying bridge would be very quickly done away with, reducing at least some of the turbulence.

Yes on the 1912 proposal the superstructures did contain hanger space.
 
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Driftless

Donor
IF there is/are hits on a capital ship, depending on damage level, does that alter new warship design going forward? i.e. More emphasis on underwater protection than was built to in the early 20s?
 
I wonder what makes the RN decide to push ahead with the 1917 plan? Perhaps a Jutland with the same strategic outcome but the Grand Fleet takes much more of a battering? Or there's no Jutland, the fleets keep missing each other and the RN want to break the stalemate?
There could be many reasons. A desire to release squadrons of destroyers to the convoys would be a good one.

Jellicoe historically was one of the biggest critics of the ideas of introducing convoys. Mainly because there wasn't sufficient escorts.

What if instead of saying no to convoys he says instead let's see what we can do to break the German fleet so ships can be released.
 
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