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The German Navy


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Shaka

Great stuff. I can personally attest that the last remark in the Navy entry is absolutely true!

What always seemed odd to me is the Z-Plan's first two 16" battleships would have been named after generals! -- Hindenburg and Ludendorff. But then Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were also named after Army figures.

Sure, the Tirpitz, Graf Spee, Hipper and Scheer were named after admirals, but there doesn't seem to be the same inter-service rivalry you'd see in the U. S. or Britain. You don't see British BBs named after Wellington nor American BBs named after Grant or Sherman. In fact I'm curious as to whether any American warships are named after generals, with the possible exception of George Washington.

[ May 29, 2003, 04:58 PM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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To JJ

USS D.D. Einsenhower CVN-69

Was also a President besides a general.

USS Theodore Roosevelt CVN-71

USS Harry S. Truman CVN -75

Both Army Officers and Presidents

But in the past Carriers had different name, Enterprise, Hornet, Kitty Hawk, Lexington, beside Presidents.

In WW2 the USN had 35 Essex class carriers and 75 Jeep Carriers, they all had different kinds of names!

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Shaka

Yes, especially a good one with good plumbing and that is kept well maintained. It would be the truest immortality with fond memories to last the ages! :D

The names of those capital ships were generally states and battles or memorable places during the war, with cities for smaller ships. I think the practice of naming U. S. warships after people only started late in the Second World War and has followed afterwards.

SeaWolf

True, but they were named because those men had been presidents, not army officers. Harry Truman didn't exactly establish himself as a military legend! Which is not to say he wasn't a fine soldier and an excellent artillery officer, which is more than enough for anyone to be proud of.

In the German Navy capital ships were named after a chancellor -- Bismarck. A fieldmarshal and head of state -- Hindenburg. A great general -- Ludendorff (generaloberst never promoted to fieldmarshal though, for a while, he was virtual dictator of Germany [1917-18]). Two 19th century military theorists and administrators -- Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. With planned battle ships also slated to be named after great generals, such as the H-class BB Moltke . Oddly enough only a few great German naval officers had ships named after them. Admirals Tirpitz, Scheer, Hipper and Graf von Spee. This is consistant with Germany's basically Prussian Military tradition and I don't mean it as a put down, only an oddity.

I haven't seen the Naval Deptartment name any ships after purely Army luminaries. The USS George S. Patton? Perhaps an ocean going tug.

Not that the Navy should; the Army has yet to designate one of it's tanks The Nimitz.

[ May 30, 2003, 01:37 AM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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I think it is a pride thing will Germany. The fact is that Boats were in short supply after WW1 and noone takes greater pride in naming a Ship after a famous Military Man. Of course in Germany most of them were landbased leaders. A defiance i.e. "Look we have great Ships too!" We name them after Great Leaders cause we have Greatness in our blood and their ships weren't bad.

I think the US and UK navies had too many ships to name. They'd of run out of famous generals, admirals fast.

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Wachtmeister

Good site, just read though it. Confirms my earlier statements.

Liam

I agree with your point. Most of Germany's great historical wartime leaders were soldiers and it followed in the naming of their warships.

I like the classic British Battleship names, such as Warspite and Dreadnaught (Fear Nothing) -- a ship of the line name going back to the eighteenth Century, Conquerer and Thunderer. And famous admirals, Nelson, Rodney, and Hood.

Hitler had a good point when renaming the pocket battleship Deutschland to Lutzow. He did not want a single ship seen as representing the nation as it's loss would receive too much propaganda value.

As for the German's building fine ships. In 1942, when the Scharnhorst, Gneisnau and Prinze Eugen broke from Brest and started up the English Channel, they were spotted by a swordfish on a recon mission. At first believing them to be British vessels, the Royal Navy pilot said, "Odd, I didn't realize we had such beautiful ships!" He went on to describe them and when the flack started in mid sentence he suspected he'd been mistaken. smile.gif

[ May 29, 2003, 08:43 PM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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:D Excellent!

Barbarossa was a medieval German warrior/monarch -- not sure offhand what his title was. A renowned soldier, he joined Richard the Lion Heart in the Third Crusade but died before reaching the Holy Land. Supposedly he fell down a well. Sounds a little suspicious.

[ May 29, 2003, 09:00 PM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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Originally posted by JerseyJohn:

:D Excellent!

Barbarossa was a medieval German warrior/monarch -- not sure offhand what his title was. A renowned soldier, he joined Richard the Lion Heart in the Third Crusade but died before reaching the Holy Land. Supposedly he fell down a well. Sounds a little suspicious.

What was his title? Holy Roman Emperor!
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CvM

Okay, but the Holy Roman Emperor was selected from a root position, which is what I'm talking about. He was either King or Grand Duke of some part of the Empire before being made Holy Roman Emperor -- a mostly honorary title even at that time. They ruled at the Pope's pleasure.

Anyhow, in answer to my own question, he was the Crown Prince of Swabia, received the title of King of Germany -- but again, it wasn't a single unified nation, and was later rewarded by the Pope for sevice in Italy by being named Holy Roman Emperor. Sorry, I never took the Holy Roman Empire very seriously; it was a confederation of far too many small independant states with a figurehead who they owed practically nothing to by way of obedience.

When one Holy Roman Emperror tried excercizing a little independance the reigning Pope excommunicated him and he had to spend a few days on his knees outside the Pope's window in the cold before he was reinstated and allowed to reclaim his so called "Thrown".

That is not an Empire.

Here's a link about our Barbarossa.

Link to biography of Frederick the First, known as "Barbarossa"

[ May 29, 2003, 09:44 PM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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I read that the US Navy had a policy of naming Battleships after US States to get more Battleships. The reasoning was that every State would want a Battleship named after them. Therefore, the Navy's budget would have great political support to be increased. The same reasoning was used in naming US Cruisers after US cities.

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Well, the U.S. did name their tanks after Sherman. I don't think the Russians named anything after their generals. I wonder why. tongue.gif

And Barbarossa was a medieval general who went on a crusade, but drowned in a river halfway there becuase his armor weighed so much.

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Why Sherman got his name on the US main battle tank and not Lee or Grant (well I can see why Lee smile.gif ) always puzzled me. Surely whoever was in charge of such things had to know the Grant's wouldn't be the cream of the tank crop. Now the tank names afterwards have been better, Pershing, Patton, Abrams. I wonder who's next? Powells or Franks?

Don't get me started with British names.........Matilda and Firefly anyone???

England also had a funny way of naming BB's. They went from emotions, Revenge, to Royal figures, King George IV.

Funny thing about naming a ship Bismarck was that Bismarck was very against Germany becoming a Sea Power!!!

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Dan

Awfully sly of the Navy, giving them the potential at the time for 48 Battleships! No wonder they get enough money for the best uniforms.

TC

I think the Soviets wanted to downplay individualism.

Panzer

"England also had a funny way of naming BB's. They went from emotions, Revenge, to Royal figures, King George IV.

Funny thing about naming a ship Bismarck was that Bismarck was very against Germany becoming a Sea Power!!! "

Very interesting observations. Can't figure the English system out either -- Admirals, Kings, Queens and Verbs -- ! As you also point out, their tank names also tend to be bizarre, although they did have a Churchill Tank, at least that made sense, especially as in WW I he was one of the prime movers in it's creation.

That Bismarck remark is a riot, never occured to me but you're right and it's more than a little ironic.

The Grant Tank came out shortly before the Sherman. It had a heavy fixed gun on it's right side and a much lighter gun in it's turret. The British used them more than the Americans and mainly in North Africa. They were the main British tank for a long time and performed better than the Pz III and short barrelled, low velocity Pz IVs. They were done in by poor tactics and the German 88mm. The German Pz IV specials, long barelled, high velocity gun, closed the gap and was superior to the Grant and Sherman in over all performance.

The Grant Medium Tank on display.

montytank2.jpg

The only movie I know of where you can see one in action is the war time flick Sahara (1943) starring Humphrey Bogart. As far as I know no tank was named after Lee, but the WW II (J. E. B.) Stuart light tank was a mainstay, especially in the Pacific.

The Stuart Light Tank in New Guinea.

2-6%2001.jpg

[ May 30, 2003, 02:01 PM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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JJ:

I agree. German's build nice clean things it seems.

Irony also in the Bismark, maybe a part of the undoing of the Reich. Too much wasted finances.

In simulations I've played however Ahistorical the Panzer4 is a headache. Closing the range in a desert is even harder than in forest in Northern Europe where you can hide and flank. The Matilda is unbreakable. She is a task to defeat with any Mainstay German tank including the Panzer IIIH with a Heavier mount Gun and better armor<though slower>

That US tank you referred to the Grant looks like a German Stug modified. Excellent Heavy Tank Killer...

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Barbarossa [=Redbeard]:

http://bay4.de/Literature/8fmtm10/node24.html

It is written and proven that Barbarossa really stayed in the mountains of the Kyffhaeuser.

When the ravens cease to fly round the mountain," said the legend, "Barbarossa shall awake and restore Germany to its ancient greatness

There is a tale, that every 100 years Barbarossa awakes. Then he sends a boy [or dwarf} up to the top of the (mountain/fortress) Kyffhaeuser. If he find out that the ravens are still flying around, Barbarossa and his Knights have to sleep another 100 years. But a day will come when an eagle appears who will devour all the ravens; then Barbarossa will go forth to restore German greatness.

t_kyffh028.jpg

Maybe another reason why the 3rd Reich used so many eagle symbols. And the hope for new german gloss in the east brought the world the "Operation Barbarossa".

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Originally posted by TCPilot:

Well, the U.S. did name their tanks after Sherman. I don't think the Russians named anything after their generals. I wonder why. tongue.gif

The russians were pretty informal about naming their tanks and such.

Sometimes it was named after the designer/design bureau, especially Aircraft.

There was the Joseph Stalin series of tanks, the JS1 & JS2. There was a JS3 but that entered so late as to make little impact in the war.

I'm thinking down the list of soviet armour and really that's about the only one. There were T's and SU's and JSU's and OT's and all sorts of them but those were designations.

There were plenty of slang names. Similiar along the lines of the US soldiers calling the Sherman a "Ronson". The soviets called the SU-76 "suka" which I can't translate in a family forum.

This weekend I will be at an old factory complex in minnesota fighting the Fascist Beast. We are doing pre-kursk 1943. I'll see if there are any other informal names. Russian slang is quite difficult. I think a friend of mine who is in college and taking the language mentioned there is 20+ different ways to tell someone "to go to #$%^".

Of course I'd have to look closer at the red navy. I know that they tended to have interesting names like "Paris Commune" and "October Revolution".

The naming of these things is all over the place.

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Liam,

Agreed on the waste of resources Germany put into the big ships Bismarck, Tirpitz, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau – not that the ships themselves were wastes but the fact Germany didn’t get a real return for the manpower, wealth and resources they consumed. The main function of the Tirpitz and Scharnhorst turned out to be tying British warships up in the North Sea region, the Fleet in Being role. It’s arguable that each of these ships represented at least one panzer division (not equitable in MPP terms) that was never built.

Regarding the Panzer IV, I’m pretty sure you’re talking about the short-barreled model. Once a heavier weapon with an appropriately long ranged gun was mounted the Pz IV became more than the equal of both the Grant and the Sherman. The Matilda, for it’s day was a good tank, as you say. It was considered an infantry tank, designed to move with foot soldiers, providing firepower while itself being almost oblivious to enemy fire. The same role was later performed with greater efficiency by assault guns. Agreed, the Grant was more a tank destroyer than a tank, but by late 1942 it was obsolete by European War standards – no match for the Pz V & VI or the upgraded Pz IV.

The problem with the Pz III and IV arose from the early tank doctrine. Hitler insisted the Pz IV, Germany’s largest tank (except for a pair of discarded large prototypes) was to be used in breaking infantry positions while it’s protection would be the smaller tank, Pz III which mounted a tank killing weapon. This view came into doubt during the Polish Campaign and was shown as being faulty in France. The Africa Corps was put together quickly, odds and ends sent to Tripoli under the designation Fifth Light Division – later to become the Twenty-first Panzer. Only a handful of the tanks were the rearmed Pz IVs, the remainder being short-barreled models and Pz IIIs. Which is why Rommel was virtually forced to rely on his 88mm guns. The British were obliging enough to attack them almost cavalry style till El Alamain.

xwormwood

Great Link and thanks for the info. I’m glad to see Barbarossa drowned fording a river instead of falling down a well, the death usually cited. Good legend. His greatness was really in having the vision of a truly United Germany instead of the meaningless amalgamation the Popes manipulated as the Holy Roman Empire. Had he lived it’s possible he would have achieved this over eight hundred years before Bismarck and Wilhelm I brought it about. European and world history would have been vastly different and probably better.

Panzer,

I thought I’d heard something somewhere about a Lee Tank but, as I never read about it in action, I thought it never left the drawing boards. It’s strange they should have given that tank two different names, although I don’t recall it ever being known in battle accounts as anything other than the Grant Tank. Possibly they realized that Robert E. Lee was no longer a U. S. citizen and felt that was a prerequisite. Eventually it was reinstated, in 1972 I believe, probably too late for him to vote in the presidential election.

Konstantin

Sounds like fun. Hope your friends have the answers.

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JJ:

Those Capitol ships of the Germans did pose a threat to England with Airpower and an enhanced navy. Never finished, no good<too early a War for a true German Navy and perhaps a German Navy brought up in Parliment by spies would've finally been the last step for Brits?>. I think after the window of opportunity of '40 was over there went any chance of ever utilizing Battleship size vessels for the Kriegsmarine. Even large Cruisers would be a target and from what I heard Bismark was sunk instantly and Tirpitz was raided in Norway and rendered ineffective for the most part during the most crucial times for Germany<borrowed the idea from the Italians ;) who says they didn't make a contribution, minisubs). Even more U-Boats in the place of these vessels would've been a wiser investment. If you say they could equal a Panzer divsion, sheesh 3-4 of those puppies on the Eastern Front may have made the difference. They were quite effective, especially because of their speed. Something I do know about.

The PanzerIII was fast and it's armor and gun was so so. It was best to flank tanks like the Matty,Char1bis,Somua-35, and A13 it's even steven competitor> Hit them in their vulnerable places. Thing is that the enemy always had vulnerabilites. Slower moving also makes you very appealing to Stukas or disabling by ME110 cannonfire. Complete air supremacy in the Fall of France may have attritted the Germans or cost them more than enough to stop near future expansion. They had fine aircraft and even Udet said their Pre-War versions of the Hawk was finest aircraft in the World. Sad to thing nothing was ever utilized and that the BEF/French didn't prepare for a "real war," The French had impressive AT guns, they sported some of the biggest in the World at the time. The Bofors British<Swedish> AT gun is still utilized today and has a fire rate that is amazing. The 88 was fearsome but vulnerable to infantry and enemy Air. I think that a big plus in the Brits favour was the fact they had the best fighter in 1940 and '41... Considering the FW190 was never fully utilized as the staple fighter VS Britian early on.

I would Prefer to be in a Matty or a Char1bis if I had Air supremacy and I was defending. There is no way I'd want to roll into a heavily fortified bunker of Frogs and Brits with at guns hanging from the trees. Life is short in the early Panzers if you do not have #s and experience.

Why perhaps the Germans copied the heavier tanks later. Why didn't America follow suite a bit?

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Liam

Great points.

Up till the replacement of Raeder by Doenitz fairly late in the war, the Kriegsmarine had conflicting interests. Doenitz wanted all production shifted to U-boats and small torpedo craft (Q-boats, similar to PT boats but larger) while Raeder always wanted a conventional navy based on capital ships.

Doenitz felt he could force Britain out of the war by sinking her merchant marine with nothing but U-boats. He may well have been right. His Achilles heel was research. While covering all other aspects of training elite crews and building and protecting his submarines in port (the concrete emplacements in France), he neglected -- especially before the war -- to push for technological advancement. The early WW II U-boats were almost identical to their late WW I predecessors. The only saving grace was Allied inability to counter even obsolescent submarines.

Agreed that Germany's complete control of the French skies enabled to Panzer Divisions to cut through the French rear areas.

The British had a pair of great fighters, true. The Spitfire was generally used in dogfights against Me-109s while the Hurricane, not quite as effective against fighter planes, proved deadly against bombers and the Me-110. Agreed that the FW-190 was Germany's best and should have been produced much earlier and in greater numbers. The Me-109 was no slouch either.

Getting back to Germany's Blitzkrieg success in 1940. I don't think equipment was as important as doctrine, training and leadership. Neither the French nor British had any clear idea of how to fight massed armored advances -- no doctrine -- their soldiers were not trained very well to confront tactics along those lines and neither were their officers. They couldn't possibly be as there was no doctrine to base that training on.

While the Germans may not always have been correct, they always knew exactly what they wanted to do. Generals such as Rommel and Guderian also proved better able to adjust to unforeseen circumstances than their less skilled and doctrinally backwards opposite numbers.

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Excellent discussion and good points made by all. Even the most well-documented facts of WWII are more interesting to read about for the thirteenth time than some new revelation about most any other subject.

Well, time to leave work now and go play some SC 8), but I did want to add that the German navy was not supposed to be ready by 9/1/1939 as referred to by Liam.

The brilliant Doenitz (IMO anyway) would have became a Naval icon if he had his fleet of 300 U-Boats at the onset of War, wither in 1939 or later, especially the Type IX seagoing version. With the tactical use of wolf pack attacks, milk cows to extend time in the areas of operation, sub bases like Brest within a day of the shipping lanes, and long range aircraft to locate targets the German U-Boats could have delayed the opening of a Western front.

Whether or not the UK could have been starved is another matter for debate, but a second front could never had been launched in 1944 if the ground war equipment and men used for D-Day had been hunted and sunk by a fleet of 300 U-Boats, of which some 100-175 would be on station at all times. Those wicked charts of Churchill portraying the Battle of the Atlantic would have looked even worse, or perhaps would have become archives in the Thrid Reich war museum in Berlin.

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