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Cargil48
Post subject: Re: AU WWII scenarioPosted: September 4th, 2020, 12:11 am
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A bit of History to place in context the upcoming events in this AU:

"The Leningrad Naval Base may be roughly divided as follows:
(a) The city of Leningrad, including nearby islands—the location of most of the ship building and ship repair facilities of the Baltic Sea, as well as that of a naval base,
(b) Kronstadt, on Kotlina Island—the chief naval base and naval operating base for the Soviet Baltic Fleet. A few ship building and ship repair facilities were located here. Kronstadt, together with smaller nearby islands, contained most of the coastal defense batteries of Leningrad.
(c) Oranienbaum—a subsidiary naval operating base.
(d) Peterhoff—a small naval harbor.
(e) Schlusselburg—the base of the Lake Ladoga Flotilla for the protection of Leningrad from the east and north. A seaplane station
was located here as well as a shipyard capable of carrying out repairs to the local flotilla.
Prior to the outbreak of the war, Leningrad possessed the following ship building and ship repair yards:

(1) Imeni S. Ordzhonikidze Shipbuilding Yards (at Kronstadt and Leningrad) This yard could construct 2 large vessels and as many as 12 submarines or 15 small vessels simultaneously. There was a large section for the production of engines and boilers of all types and the yard was important as being the only one in the north which could make round hulls for submarines.
(2) Imeni A. Marti Shipbuilding Works. Number 194. (at Leningrad).
This yard was located on Galerni Island. It was capable of building 2 up-to-date capital ships and about 8 smaller vessels or submarines -simultaneously. Associated engineering- works constructed engines, boilers, and auxiliary machinery for all tjrpes of smaller vessels. There were two graving docks and on« floating drydock of 4000-ton capacity,
(3) Sodomekh Shipbuilding Works. Number 196 (at Leningrad)
Prior to the outbreak of the war, this yard was reconstructed and fitted but for building submarines.
(4.) Imeni A. Zhdanov Shipbuilding Yard. Number 190 (at Leningrad).
This was formerly Putilov Works;, it was capable of building 2 3000-ton destroyers and about 5 small vessels (or of assembling 5 submarines) simultaneously.
(5) Izhbrski State Works (at Kolpino, southeast of Leningrad)
This yard was located at Kolpino on the Izhora River. It was capable of building 4- destroyers and of assembling 4- submarines simultaneously. This yard specialized in the production of armor plating.
(6) Admiralty Dock Yard (at Kronstadt)
(7) Schlusselburg Shipbuilding Yard (at Scnlusselburg)
This yard was capable of carrying out necessary repairs to units of the Lake Ladoga Flotilla."

This means that destroying the naval facilities at Krohnstadt would not be sufficient, since at Leningrad itself were also important installations. Taking Krohnstadt would only be the first step, while the Finns began to fight back on the Karelian Isthmus, along the previously built "Mannerheim line". And all had to be done before the feared ice period of the Baltic Sea, normally from January to end of March, every year.


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Cargil48
Post subject: Re: AU WWII scenarioPosted: September 4th, 2020, 12:56 pm
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After the "Machtergreifung" of the nazis (take-off power), one of the categories of new laid down ships were the so-called "Tender", initially intended as smaller boats, around 50 to 60 meter long, serving as "go between" a fleet and shore, either because on shore there was no suitable port for the fleet to enter, or becauswe the fleet did not want to be seen by the respective country's authorities. Later, in 1937, during the first redefinition of the DKM, it was decided to build five new ships with better seagoing capabilities. These five ships were designated as "Mehrzweckschiffe" (multi purpose ships) because they could be outfitted for different tasks: Command ship for a submarine flotilla, or for a fast patrol boat flotilla ("Schnellboot- or Torpedoboot-Flotille") or even itself playing the role of patrolling certain areas.

These MZS were to be good in rough seas and fast in speed. This is how the "Dichter-Klasse" (poet class) was born, initially with five ships, all named by German poets and writers, later followed by further twelve, with slightly different sizes to be able to carry also enough fuel to replenish the flotilla they protected, should by any reason this become necessary.

[ img ]

The first of these ships, MZS-1, later "DKM Heinrich Heine", was ordered 1936 at the Stülcken-Werft in Hamburg and laid down in February of 1937. She was commissioned in Mai 1939 and after six weeks of satisfactory sea trials, handed over to the DKM command at Kiel. The ships of this class had a length of 96,5 meter, a beam of 12,6 m and a draft of 4 meter at full load for a displacement of 2.290 tons light and 2.545 t at full load. The propulsion wasw made by four MAN nine-cylinder double-acting two stroke Diesel engines each delivering 4.600 shp and paired onto two shafts driving four bladed controllable pitch screws. Electricity and hydraulic power aboard was provided by two six cylinder four stroke Daimler-Benz Diesel engines driving gensets and hydraulic pumps.

The ships were able to reach a max speed of 34.8 knots and had a normal range of 3.875 sm. Armament were four new 127mm DP guns paired by two, five single AA10,5-cm SK C/32 (L/45) and four 1 × 3,7-cm SK C/30 (L/83) AA guns.


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Cargil48
Post subject: Re: AU WWII scenarioPosted: September 4th, 2020, 7:12 pm
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In the meantime, intense diplomatic activities unfolded, Finland seeking international help and Germany not wanting to be the sole nation to come up with this responsability. First intention of the German government was to gain international reputation by standing to its allies and the signed treaties. Secondly, Germany wanted to avoid at all cost that Stalin made advances also towards the Baltic nations (Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania).

In the first moments, the Finns could sustain the Soviet advances in the Karelian Isthmus. The "Mannerheim defense line" was very well laid out and the Soviets had a very difficult time in trying to progress through the heavily snow filled terrain. Details of this effort are abundant in the net.

The German high command tried as quickly as possible to put up a plan on how to proceed, because the Soviet advance had in total four main vectors, the 3d and the 7th Soviet armies trying to overrun the "Mannerheim line" in the south; the 8th Army progressing on the northern shores of lake Ladoga, trying to reach Vipuri from the east; the 9th Army invading middle Finland trying to reach Kemijarvi and finally up in the north the 14th Army marching to the west from Murmansk to take the port of Petsamo.

Obviously Sweden and Norway were also more than concerned and mobilized their armed forces, however without giving formal assistance to Finland. Poland did the same, to try to be ready on its eastern frontier. Romania was also more than concerned because of its Ploesti oil fields and taking into account the increasing need of fuel on the part of the USSR.

But, since in the first fortnight of December nothing more happened apart from a "strong protest" from the part of the League of Nations, the German government took the iniative to make the Baltic countries the proposition of building up a joint force, which became quickly known as the Baltic Alliance. Poland gave Germany unofficially permission for a big quantity of German trains to pass through the Danzig corridor to deploy a vast amount of troops and equipment in East Prussia and from there on to the Baltic States, to mount a "claw movement" to trap the Soviets from the south/southwest.

On the naval side, which is the part interesting us more here, as already said target number one was to use the ship's AA gunnery to protect mainly Helsinki and Vipuri, but soon BB Gneisenau and BC Graf Spee positioned themselves near the shore of the border between Finland and the USSR and began shelling the Soviet positions with their heavy artillery. The respective coordinates were constantly been given to the Germans by the Finn troops along the Mannerheim line. This had a devastating effect on the part of the Soviets, with all the mechanized forces stuck in the deep snow, not able to move back or forth... (Note: Apart the shelling on the side of the German battleships which is AU, you can go and confirm the real difficulties of the Soviets as described here and how this contributed to the resistance of the Finns).

Third task was - as already said - try to hamper as much as possible the Soviet Baltic fleet, first at Krohnstadt, then the massive yards at the mouth of the Neva river, at Leningrad. Here, a plan was rapidly drawn, joining the "Stuka" aboard CV von Zeppelin to the ones arriving from Germany through the Baltic States. As soon as "Kampfgeschwader 1" arrived at Finland with its He 111 medium bombers, the strategy was laid out to combine the sixteen Ju 87 "Stuka" aboard the German aircraft carrier with the Heinkel He 111 operating at medium altitude (2.000 m), BB Gneisenau, BC Graf Spee and CA Deutschland shelling heavily the port of Krohnstadt.

Very bad weather did not allow any deployment of any kind of forces, except the big naval units, but Germany did not want to start to shell Krohnstadt military facilities outside of the laid up plan, it should come as a complete surprise as soon as the weather permitted the airplanes to fly. In the meantime, at 18th December 1939 I./StG 1 Sturzkampfgeschwader 1 (StG 1 - Dive Bomber Wing 1) could manage to arrive at Finland. I./StG 1 means "Group 1 of StG 1", each group consisting of three "Staffel", each one of them with 12 to 16 planes plus the ones used by the "Staffel Stab" (Squadron command). I./StG 1 consisted therefore of 36 Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" plus six Ju 87 of the respective squadron commands (the commander of each one and his 1A, or first officer). These 36 Ju 87 "Stuka" would operate together with the "Trägerstaffel" (carrier squadron) aboard von Zeppelin under the unified command of the carrier Staffel's captain.


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Cargil48
Post subject: Re: AU WWII scenarioPosted: September 5th, 2020, 12:25 pm
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At this point, the main force of the Soviet Baltic Fleet stationed at Leningrad and some in the Kronstadt advanced post were: 2 battleships, Marat and October Revolution, 2 cruisers, 2 flotilla leaders, 12 destroyers, 28 MTBs (Motor Torpedo Boats), 35 submarines and several other support ships.

Given the very bad weather situation, the Germans soon detected the Soviet Navy's strategy which consisted of sending its entire fleet of submarines and MTB to try to localize the German ships and damage them with torpedos. This action would also be only possible unti8l the end of the year, before the ice covered that part of the Baltic Sea. The first section of the German flotilla to detect Soviet submarines were the ships stationed at the entrance of the twisted Viborg bay. Captain Harald Netzband of Gneisenau had ordered some of the destroyers of his flotilla to take position near the small town of Viborg, as previously said to attack the Soviet bombers with their AA artillery, while DD Köln and four other destroyers remained near the mouth of said bay. It were these vessels that on the 6th December spotted Soviet submarines with their GHG and sonar devices. While one of the four destroyers remained near Köln, the other three were sent out to attack said submarines with depth charges. Results are unknown since it was imopossible to see any debris coming up to the surface, should any submarine have been hit. Through their radar set in at close range, the destroyers detected also some of the MTB and here they could witness the destruction of at least eight of them, since the Germans could detect the MTB but the opposite was not possible for the Soviets. Visibility at sea level rarily was over 300 meter, on many occasions the German destroyers fired "blind" into the hail and snow, only guided by the radar data (bearing and aproximate range).

This fact led the DKM command at Kiel to speed up the installation of radar sets of the type FuMO 30 Seetakt aboard the German submarines because with these devices, suited for closer ranges than the radar sets of the destroyers, tracking would become easier. Six of the German submarines belonging to the German flotilla had already these radar devices installed and they began immediately to operate in the Viborg area although operating their 8,8cm guns on the deck was more often than not impossible due to the waves washing the entire decks of the U-boats. Only the smaller 20mm cannons mounted above, on the bridge's level, could safely be operated. And success they had! Another eight MTB could be destroyed before the ice season began; a fact which led the Soviets to drastically diminish their activities on this level.

[ img ]

FuMO 30 antenna installed on an U-Boot


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Cargil48
Post subject: Re: AU WWII scenarioPosted: September 5th, 2020, 2:45 pm
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In the meantime, the general mobilization in Germany made it necessary to charter some merchant ships to transport men, material and goods mainly from Germany to Finland. Here we are going to see some of these vessels which travelled in the Baltic Sea first in secured convoys, because of the threat of the Soviet submarines and MTB and then without escort as soon as this threat was eliminated.

First we will see MS Kurmark built 1930 by Blohm & Voss for HAPAG. She was 148 meter long, had a draft of 18,6 m and a draft of 8,2 m with a total displacement 0f 15.700 tons. The propulsion consisted of two steam turbines by B&V geared onto one shaft and producing a total of 6.200 shp which gave the vesselç a max speed of 14,8 knots.

After being chartered by the DKM, the ship was renamed to DKM Polarstern and armed with a total of four 3.7 cm SK C/30 in single mounts and mainly for AA defense. She had other four sister ships also chartered by the DKM to HAPAG, named Atlantis, Widder, Komet and Kormoran. All ships could make their voyages during the 1940 winter because the Finnish navy sent out two heavy ice breakers to the point where ice began to be too thick for normal merchant vessels to brake.

[ img ]

Then, MS Havel

[ img ]

With these ships, the DKM was able to transfer to Finland during the month of December the heavy equipment of the 4. Panzerdivision (Generalleutnant Georg-Hans Reinhardt) to Helsinki as well as the 1. Gebirgsdivision (Oberst Hubert Lanz) to Viborg, while the pesonnel was transferred by passenger ships of the German merchant navy.

When travelling in convoys, the merchant ships used to be escorted by escort destroyers of Typ 1930 like the one shown below.

[ img ]


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Cargil48
Post subject: Re: AU WWII scenarioPosted: September 5th, 2020, 6:31 pm
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Now, here we have an aerial pic of the Krohnstadt Naval Base. North is up. We can see in detail that the German aerial attack could be made without harming the civil part of the town, if bombing conditions were ideal, that means late detection on the part of the Soviet defence batteries placed on the islands in front of the base (to the south).

[ img ]

A - General area of the base
B - Dry docks
C- Arsenal
D- Shpyards (4 in total)
E - AA and coastal defence positions
1 to 5 - Several vessels

The aforementioned strategy from the Germans was to make their bombers fly in at medium altitude (2.000 m) from the East (against the predominant wind) aiming at the base and the yard facilities. Between bomber groups 1 and 2 the Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" would fly in from the North (up) some 500 meter lower than the He 111 bombers (1.500 m) and make their dive attack dropping the wings to the left in a 180º sweep and aiming at the ships in the base. Immediately afterwards, bomber wing 2 would come in again from the East and again 500 m lower (1.000 m) to puzzle the AA defences which had to cope with different directions and different altitudes. During the time of the approach of the first bomber group, Gneisenau would be positioned some 5 miles to the southwest, shelling the AA positions and Graf Spee to the north, doing the same with its shells buzzing over the city. This scenario, obviously if the ceiling allowed the bombers to fly in at the pre-determined altitudes, was the so-called "Operation Crown, plan A".

Plan B, should the weather persistently not allow plan A, would require a ceiling of at least 300 to 400 meter and the bombers, including the "Stuka", would have to make low level bombings.

It must be said here that this part of the Gulf of Finland, called the Neva Bay is very shallow, not allowing boats with more than three meters draft to operate. A narrow canal linking Kronstadt to the mouth of the Neva river was digged to allow boats and small ships to access Lake Ladoga and St. Petersburg itself but this implies obviously a very careful navigation.


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emperor_andreas
Post subject: Re: AU WWII scenarioPosted: September 6th, 2020, 2:01 am
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Awesome...even merchant ships! I'm guessing that the liner Vaterland is also completed?

_________________
[ img ]
MS State Guard - 08 March 2014 - present

The Official IJN Ships & Planes List


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Cargil48
Post subject: Re: AU WWII scenarioPosted: September 6th, 2020, 11:29 am
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emperor_andreas wrote: *
Awesome...even merchant ships! I'm guessing that the liner Vaterland is also completed?
Vaterland, later SS Leviathan after WW I??

Oh, I've searched and learned that there was a second Vaterland for Hapag, with 41.000 ton. She was commisioned during the year of 1940.

For my story here, I will take Wesley Westland's very nice works on fictional big ocean liners of the Lusitania and Mauritania types made prior to WW I.


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Cargil48
Post subject: Re: AU WWII scenarioPosted: September 6th, 2020, 4:35 pm
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emperor_andreas wrote: *
Awesome...even merchant ships!
Yes, the DKM saw itswelf suddenly in need to transfer quite a lot of men and hardware from Germany across the Baltic Sea to Finland and this before the heavy ice season began. Above are already shown some merchant ships the DKM rented in teh beginning of December 1939, on thye third week of that month it could rent another merchant ship to a Dutch company, the MS Tjibantjet normally used by its company to haul freioght and postal service between The Netherlands and its East India possessions. But given the situation and given the fact that Germany and The Netherloands had signed the Amsterdam Treaty and - last nor least - given the sympathy of the majority of the Dutch population to the people of Finland who bravely stood up against a massive Soviet force, the Dutch government convinced the owning company of said freighter to lease it to Germany.

[ img ]

For its use by the German KM, the ship was renamed M/S "Düren", a small city near the German/Dutch border. The ship had a gross displacement of 7.876 tons, two deep decks for goods storage and it could accomodate also 26 passenger. It was powered by two two-stroke double action Diesel engines each one delivering 5.560 shp, paired with a reduction gear on one shaft. It came in time to participate in two convoys during the month of December, before ice closed the access to Finland. The vessel had a strong cargo handling gear, some booms able to haul up to ten tons, though most part handled up to 6,5 tons a time.

At that time the Baltic Alliance mentioned in a previouys post had just been formed, and Norway though not joining it permitted the Germans to use the western port of Narvik and the Finns to use their Ofoten railway linking Narvik to Lulea in Sweden, but with a derivative to Kemi in Finland and from there to Oulu, the major city where the shipments coming in from Narvik were sorted out and redirected to the places they were needed.


Last edited by Cargil48 on September 6th, 2020, 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Cargil48
Post subject: Re: AU WWII scenarioPosted: September 6th, 2020, 5:24 pm
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On a naval base (i.e. German ships and their deployment on the Baltic Sea to assist Finland in the Winter War through which Russia wanted to regain the terrains it had lost in 1919, first Finland, then the Baltic states) the main story is more or less described here in this AU topic. More could be said, since in my AU said Winter War did not end the way it historically came to an end and the Baltic Alliance grew in size and in activity from 1940 to 1945, changing until 1950 its designation, goals and member states, becoming at the end that what we know as NATO but on a broader way.

But, sincerely, I have my doubts that this AU - as close to reality it may be - finds a big interest here on the part of the members of Shipbucket and I hate to bother members of a forum with constant postings of doubtful interest (for them).


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