Why were the German capital ships so ineffectual during WWII?

Why were the German capital ships so ineffectual during WWII?

9 Responses

  1. Patrick McManus

    Because the German Navy was designed for commerce raiding and therefore sortied individualy and were always outnumbered. Plus the narrow exit from German ports allowed the British to keep an eye on them.

    Reply
  2. Mike H.

    In Addition to Patrick’s well-made points, Capitol Ships (Battleships, Cruisers, etc.) were already obsolete by the onset of WWII as the Aircraft Carrier was making it’s presence well-known. BTW welcome back to the HistoryNet Daily Qestion. We missed you!

    Reply
  3. Bob Simpson

    There was no Germany Navy.Only a group of inexperienced sailors. When Hitler took power, he wanted a powerful german fleet and it’s building was in the works. Only the first two ships, Bismarck and Tirpitz, were ever finished. Insisting on results, the german navy sent out 1-2 ships at a time. However the commanders of the ships were ordered not to risk their ships at any time. Graf Spee fought three cruisers crippling two of them. Then another cruiser showed up. End game. Bismarck sortied with a heavy cruiser. Sank 10 ships and ended up being sunk because of a lucky hit on its rudder by a 1925 airplane.
    By 1942 Hitler was determined to change to Uboats and the surface fleet was scrapped.
    Another example of the inexperience of the german navy was their operations in Norway. Putting heavy and light cruisers and destroyers in narrow fjords less than 1000 meters away from land based torpedoes and coastal artillery left 50% of the german surface fleet sunk or heavily damaged. Somthing the british would never do.
    On the plus side, the Uboats sank 2500 ships and 500,000 tons of warships. Not too shabby. Never forget the Uboats were part of the german navy.

    Reply
  4. Chuck

    I don’t believe that the commanders of these ships could do any thinking on their own. All had to be cleared through Hitler.

    Reply
  5. daniel rugeroni

    First of all, the Germans had an experienced navy and sailors. Unluckily the strategical mind of the leaders was oriented towards a land battle, as they were a Central Power. Also der Fuehrer gave Admiral Raeder and the KriegMarine Staff 1944 as the first date of hostilities. The planning was set on this date. Even Adm. Doenitz had pnly a small fraction of the Uboat he needed. I reckon that he had about 25 operational when hostilities broke, and his planning for a major submarine campaign was around 200. The big boys were sent to Norway after the Bismarck was sunk. By the way, Bismarck did not sunk a single merchant ship. His partner/escort Prinz Eugen, did after they separated. Hitler did not understand sea warfare, and did not allowed any major sortie by all the heavy ships, only sending piecemeal. As the KriegsMarine lacked own air cover (carriers) , they had to use

    Reply
  6. daniel rugeroni

    First of all, the Germans had an experienced navy and sailors. Unluckily the strategical mind of the leaders was oriented towards a land battle, as they were a Central Power. Also der Fuehrer gave Admiral Raeder and the KriegMarine Staff 1944 as the first date of hostilities. The planning was set on this date. Even Adm. Doenitz had pnly a small fraction of the Uboat he needed. I reckon that he had about 25 operational when hostilities broke, and his planning for a major submarine campaign was around 200. The big boys were sent to Norway after the Bismarck was sunk. By the way, Bismarck did not sunk a single merchant ship. His partner/escort Prinz Eugen, did after they separated. Hitler did not understand sea warfare, and did not allowed any major sortie by all the heavy ships, only sending piecemeal. As the KriegsMarine lacked own air cover (carriers) , they had to use Lufwaffe recce sqdrs. with the results known.

    Reply
  7. Clyde Howard

    I remember reading an article a few years ago, That might be pertainent.
    It seems Krupp big bore cannons had a tendency to blow out their breeches. This made the crews reluctant to fire them. It almost cost Krupp his life,but he was to valuable to the war effort. The kicker is I can’t remember if it was WW1 or WW2. Anyone have more information?

    Reply
  8. Dr N Webber

    Dear Bob.
    Please dont forget it was 14,000,000 tons of shipping sunk by u boats in total.
    Also what 10 ships did the Bismark sink?
    1 Hood
    2 EH
    3 EH
    4EH
    And so on ,in its short life how ten is your figure you tell me?

    Reply
    • T.L.Rouhier

      A photo of the shell that sank the hood shows that it was a plunging projo. The Bismark was to far away to have plunging fire. Hence it was Eugen’s shell that sank Hood. This is from a 80’s mag that I read back thene.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.