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The Sailor
29-12-2007, 23:58
Warship Strengths

This is how we went to war.

At the start of World War 2, the Royal Navies, still the largest in the world in September 1939, included:

15 battleships & battlecruisers, of which only two were post-World War 1. Five 'King George V' class battleships were building.

7 aircraft carriers. One was new and five of the planned six fleet carriers were under construction. There were no escort carriers.

66 cruisers, mainly post-World War 1 with some older ships converted for AA duties. Including cruiser-minelayers, 23 new ones had been laid down.

184 destroyers of all types. Over half were modern, with 15 of the old 'V' and 'W' classes modified as escorts. Under construction or on order were 32 fleet destroyers and 20 escort types of the 'Hunt' class.

60 submarines, mainly modern with nine building.

45 escort and patrol vessels with nine building, and the first 56 'Flower' class corvettes on order to add to the converted 'V' and 'W's' and 'Hunts'. However, there were few fast, long-endurance convoy escorts.

Included in the totals were the Commonwealth Navies, including:

Royal Australian Navy - six cruisers, five destroyers and two sloops;

Royal Canadian Navy - six destroyers;

Royal New Zealand Navy, until October 1941 the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy - two cruisers and two sloops.

herakles
07-02-2008, 13:10
It's an impressive list.

What a pity so few were sent to the Far East. Two ships and no air support. Suicide as it turned out.

The Sailor
07-02-2008, 13:17
In fact at the outbreak of war, the Fleet was reasonably well-equipped to fight conventional surface actions with effective guns, torpedoes and fire control, but in a maritime war that would soon revolve around the battle with the U-boat, the exercise of air power, and eventually the ability to land large armies on hostile shores, the picture was far from good.

ASDIC, the RN's answer to the submarine, had limited range and was of little use against surfaced U-boats, and the stern-dropped or mortar-fired depth charge was the only reasonably lethal anti-submarine weapon available.

The Fleet Air Arm (FAA) recently returned to full control by the Navy, was equipped with obsolescent aircraft, and in the face of heavy air attack the Fleet had few, modern anti-aircraft guns. Co-operation with the RAF was limited although three Area Combined Headquarters had been established in Britain.

Coastal Command, the RAF's maritime wing, had only short range aircraft, mainly for reconnaissance. And there was little combined operations capability.

On the technical side, early air warning radars were fitted to a small number of ships.
The introduction by the Germans of magnetic mines found the Royal Navy only equipped to sweep moored contact mines.
Finally, the German Navy's B-Service could read the Navy's operational and convoy codes.

There was one hell of a lot to learn and apply before final victory.

herakles
07-02-2008, 13:31
They could read our codes?

'Cos we sure could read theirs!

tim lewin
08-02-2008, 05:56
for those who want to understand the minute detail of the rationale behind limiting what units were sent to the Far East should read Arthur Marder's book "Old friends, new enemies" which studies intimately the relationships between the RN and the IJN as services and the politics leasding to Japanese expansionism in SE Asia. He had intended this to be the first of two volumes but tragically died of cancer before he could write the second. This is probably the definitive work on the genesis of the Japanese conflict.
tim

herakles
08-02-2008, 06:11
I need to share this with you, Tim.
I went on-line and checked out that book. I found a copy for 165 (gasp).

There were 2 reviews - the first gushing with praise.

Here's part of the other review:

"Ever since the annihilation of RN's Force Z by the IJN, the British Far East and Pacific Fleets had avoided battle whilst goading the USN to come forward to recover the rotten Empire's colonies on its behalf (even the minuscule Dutch Fleet had seen more battles than the cowardly RN).

No wonder why such a crappy and sycophantic historian as Marder was honoured by the HM the Queen and knighted, whereas other much more deserving, serious academic historians like AJP Taylor and Paul Schroeder were not."

I had to read this twice. What extraordinary crap this is!!

The Sailor
08-02-2008, 07:22
There was a price to be paid to win the war.
By wars end:
British Naval Casualties.

Royal Navy - 50,758 killed, 820 missing, 14,663 wounded

Women's Royal Naval Service - 102 killed, 22 wounded

Merchant Navy - 30,248 lost through enemy action

It is of interest to note the difference when comparing navy wounded and killed proportions with army casualties.
With the army, the figures would be reversed. It shows how dangerous the naval war was to combatants.


ROYAL NAVY
TOTAL SHIP LOSSES


Capital ships 5

Carriers 10

Cruisers 34

Destroyers 153

Submarines 76

TOTALS 332

Merchant marine

2,426 British registered ships were lost, with a tonnage of 11,331,933 grt.

Harley
08-02-2008, 09:24
I need to share this with you, Tim.
I went on-line and checked out that book. I found a copy for 165 (gasp).

There were 2 reviews - the first gushing with praise.

Here's part of the other review:

"Ever since the annihilation of RN's Force Z by the IJN, the British Far East and Pacific Fleets had avoided battle whilst goading the USN to come forward to recover the rotten Empire's colonies on its behalf (even the minuscule Dutch Fleet had seen more battles than the cowardly RN).

No wonder why such a crappy and sycophantic historian as Marder was honoured by the HM the Queen and knighted, whereas other much more deserving, serious academic historians like AJP Taylor and Paul Schroeder were not."

I had to read this twice. What extraordinary crap this is!!

That is highly amusing. Considering Marder was a Yank he did a pretty fair job of documenting the early twentieth century history of the Royal Navy - he deserved a knighthood for "From Dreadnought to Scapa Flow"!

I haven't read Old Friends, New Enemies for a while. Definitely need to re-read it as the non-renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and its consequent effects on British (and Imperial) history are quite shocking.

Tim, if I recall the second volume was completed by 2 colleagues of Marder's a number of years after his death.

Harley

herakles
08-02-2008, 09:31
Tim, if I recall the second volume was completed by 2 colleagues of Marder's a number of years after his death.

Harley

I understand it was his students who finished volume 2.

Harley
08-02-2008, 10:11
Former successful doctoral students of his, so I'm sure they'd rather be called colleagues than students of a man who'd taught them a decade earlier :D.

Harley

The Sailor
08-02-2008, 12:10
[QUOTE]They could read our codes?



Actually I didn't know this either Herk.
I wonder if any member can elaborate on this?
So much has been said about the Allies and their code cracking.

DJBlackburn
12-02-2008, 18:21
Former successful doctoral students of his, so I'm sure they'd rather be called colleagues than students of a man who'd taught them a decade earlier :D.

Harley

One's mentor should never be considered one's colleague; to do so, is to remove the shoulders upon which one stands.

tim lewin
13-02-2008, 05:26
fascinating; I read vol one which I found to be absolutely objective and actually very much more focussed on the political environment and not the actual seaborne results. In no part of the book did I notice anything critical of the Service itself although there is plenty of unbiased explanation of the thinking behind the decisions to employ it. His research was practically microscopic which to me made the book a bit heavy going but it certainly took the lid of the question of "how did we get here"? The loss of the PofW and Repulse (any deployment) was practically inevitable almost from the mid-thirties as there were just not enough ships to stretch to the obligations. His coverage of the IJN side is almost man by man and day by day in regard to the loss of power and influence by the leaders of their Navy to the young revolutionaries of the Army, one can almost compare this aspect to the rise of the Nazis in Germany which possibly explains their attraction to the young militarists. The relationship between the IJN and RN, "Old friends" was seen as a cosy club of yesterday's men.
I never knew him, AM, but those I know who did found him absolutely without bias. Sometimes it is painful to have your faults explained by others but it doesnt mean that it isnt necessary! He certainly made no references such as those mentioned in the review, he was just not that knid of historian.