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  #76  
Old 16-04-2012, 17:04
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

So OK- the 4.5" hits were made at 0425, when the range was near to 18000 yds;surely that strengthens the case for two hits being from 4.5"guns???
What is it that makes you think the hits were made at 0425; and why is it so significant???

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  #77  
Old 17-04-2012, 04:04
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Here's where the 4:25 time is from:

(Remember the German times are 1 hour ahead, so 5:00 = 4:00 in British accounts)

The map I posted notes a 114 mm (4.5-inch) hit on Turret Anton at 5:15 AM and the foretop hit by the 381 mm (15-inch) shell at 5:25.

However, according to the KBismarck discussion - Gneisenau's war diary puts the foretop hit at 5:16, but Lutjen's log has it at 5:25 - agreeing with the map. Who is right?

The flooding of Anton is what occured heavily at 5:34, which seems to have lead to the assumption that a hit occured at that time. But it may well have been due to the new course of Gneisenau, retreating from Renown at that time, that took her into the wind and waves at increasing speed causing a deluge of seawater over her bows. The damaged turret was therefore inundated.

So I think in my account I may have transposed the times and put the foretop hit first and the smaller hits at the later time... That may not be correct!

Confused? I don't blame you... I don't know if it is even possible to rationalize all this!
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  #78  
Old 17-04-2012, 07:38
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Paul-your fastidiousness is amazing and is to be admired; but when push comes to shove; it still comes down to the fact that these last hits on Gneisenau WERE from 4.5" shells.
The order of the hits; as Vince has them, is possibly incorrect. Anton turret's flooding occurred at 0534 (0434=Vince's given time of the strike on Anton turret)

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  #79  
Old 18-04-2012, 03:32
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Jim, you are way too kind!

I guess it's a little frustating not to be able to dissect this action down to the minute as has been done and done and done with the Denmark Strait, but sometimes you are forced to leave well enough alone!

I really must thank EVERYONE who has contributed to this thread. I've been so gratified by the response (including those who read, but did not post - I thank you for your attention!) and I'm sure we've all learned something.

Renown, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were all great ships in their own right - fast, powerful, beautiful and all made major contributions to the war effort of their respective side.

Though this battle between them was inconclusive, it did set the tone for most future encounters between major British and German warships for the rest the war, based on the German naval directive that opponents of equal or greater strength should be avoided - "No unnecessary risks!". The Kriegsmarine could ill afford to lose its ships - a small, but highly potent and capable force.

The Royal Navy could ill afford not to make every effort to subdue them. As the Admiralty grudgingly stated after the vindication of Admiral Somerville's conduct of the Spartivento action in its ill-advised inquiry:

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No opportunity must be allowed to pass of attaining what is in fact the ultimate objective of the Royal Navy - the destruction of the enemy's forces whenever and wherever encountered.
Renown certainly gave it her all off Stromvaer Light.

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  #80  
Old 18-04-2012, 03:34
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

I note the contradictions in the timing of events and I'll see where I got the times that I cited in my book, hopefully tomorrow. One generic comment I'll make that will come as no surprise to anyone here is that the accounts of most naval actions are full of discrepancies and contradictions. One of my favorite examples can be found in the London Gazette (12 May 1948) account of the action off Sfax on 16 April 1941. The Gazette reprints the reports of the British destroyer captains who participated. Jervis gives the time when she opened fire as 0220, Janus says it was 0222, Nubian 0210 and Mohawk 0205.

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  #81  
Old 18-04-2012, 07:10
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Excellent postscript Paul and one of the finest photographs of the great ship that was Renown.

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  #82  
Old 18-04-2012, 13:48
Vince O'Hara Vince O'Hara is offline
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul C. View Post
Here's where the 4:25 time is from:

(Remember the German times are 1 hour ahead, so 5:00 = 4:00 in British accounts)

The map I posted notes a 114 mm (4.5-inch) hit on Turret Anton at 5:15 AM and the foretop hit by the 381 mm (15-inch) shell at 5:25.

However, according to the KBismarck discussion - Gneisenau's war diary puts the foretop hit at 5:16, but Lutjen's log has it at 5:25 - agreeing with the map. Who is right?

The flooding of Anton is what occured heavily at 5:34, which seems to have lead to the assumption that a hit occured at that time. But it may well have been due to the new course of Gneisenau, retreating from Renown at that time, that took her into the wind and waves at increasing speed causing a deluge of seawater over her bows. The damaged turret was therefore inundated.

So I think in my account I may have transposed the times and put the foretop hit first and the smaller hits at the later time... That may not be correct!

Confused? I don't blame you... I don't know if it is even possible to rationalize all this!
The 0434 time cited for the second hit comes from the British Naval Staff History reprinted in Naval Operations of the Campaign in Norway which states on page 21: "At 0434 the Gneisenau received a second hit which struck 'A' turret by the left hood of the rangefinder."

The war diary for Gneisenau reprinted in Battleships of the Scharnhorst class has this entry for 0534 (German times are an hour ahead) "'A' turret flooding due to heavy seas. Large pumps requested. Heavy quantities seawater coming in through left optic of rangefinder cupola after hit knocked away cover."

I don't know if this relieves the confusion any but at least it provides an authority for the 0434 time. Looking at it now and in light of this discussion, I'd guess the first 4.5-inch hit occured some minutes before 0434.

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  #83  
Old 18-04-2012, 14:00
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

The above statement from Vince echoes what I said in #78.

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  #84  
Old 27-12-2013, 13:41
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Hi ,i am at home with my grandads medals,photos and pendant HMS RENOWN (action 1940)this is a great read for me things i just did not now. my grandad was a stoker W.V.DAVEY . THANKS ANDY.
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Originally Posted by Paul C. View Post
Hi all,

I did a search and could not find a thread devoted to the details of this action, so I thought I'd put something together. Hope you'll enjoy reading it and will add your comments.


Basic Background

This action took place during the ultimately successful invasion of Norway by the Germans in April 1940. With British and German naval forces at sea carrying out various operations it was inevitable that clashes would and did occur.


Main References:

Peter C. Smith – The Battlecruiser Renown 1916-1948
Garzke & Dulin – Battleships – Axis and Neutral Battleships of WW2
Fritz Otto Busch – The Sinking of the Scharnhorst
John Jordan – An Illustrated Guide to Battleships and Battlecruisers
KBismarck Forum Thread – “Battle of Stromvaer”
WNS Forum Thread – “Galloper’s Good Gunnery”
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  #85  
Old 02-01-2014, 08:50
Rupert Rupert is offline
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

In terms of what the RN could have done better, the one possibility that has not been discussed (I think) is for the destroyers to hold fire. It is not clear that their presence would have been known without the fireflashes.

Holding fire could have encouraged to the German ships to turn and close on (apparent) lone RN vessel.

Far from certain and only with the benefit of hindsight, but it is a possibility
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  #86  
Old 04-01-2014, 16:15
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Quote from#1
The British destroyers made a spirited attempt to take part in the battle, firing their 4.7-inch guns, but they were eventually left behind, unable to keep pace with the speeding Renown in the heavy seas. Their gun flashes, however, looked impressive enough to the Germans to influence their continuation of the action.

The above is from paul C's original post and certainly bears out Rupert's assertion that the destroyers shell flashes may well have influenced the German decision to break off the action-the destroyers, in any case; being left behind. In those circumstances the RN could not have done better

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  #87  
Old 08-07-2014, 13:32
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Gneisenau and Scharnhorst closed formation and reduced speed because of flooding in their forward turrets.Despite their complaints that Renown fired fast and continuously while they were being handicapped by the heavy seas and machinery breakdowns;and the top heavy Renown laboured much harder in the heavy weather that the two modern battleships.
Renown fired 230 15" rounds- mostly from A and B turrets;and 1065 5.5" rounds,Severe blast damage allowed sea water to flood into her A and Y shell rooms. Scharnhorst fired 195 11" rounds from from Caesar turret and 91 5.9" rounds. Gneisenau fired only 54 main battery rounds and nothing from her secondary armament.
German 11" shells hit Renown twice for a hit rate of 0.8%.Renown landed but one 15" shell hit Gneisenau's foretop, for a hit rate of 0.4%.The German's mounted 18 X 11" guns to Renown's 6 X 15" guns .In the circumstances Whitworth was lucky that Lutjens chose to run rather than fight-what if they had chosen to stay,deploy and fight?? Question is -why didn't he???
The German battleships returned to Germany on 12th April;after the British sank all ten destroyers they were supposed to support.

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  #88  
Old 08-07-2014, 15:20
M. A. Rozon M. A. Rozon is offline
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Quote:
Originally Posted by jainso31 View Post
In the circumstances Whitworth was lucky that Lutjens chose to run rather than fight-what if they had chosen to stay,deploy and fight?? Question is -why didn't he???jainso31
Admittedly a quote from Wikipedia but, perhaps to answer some of this particular question:

"At the outbreak of World War II, Lütjens was Commander of Scouting Forces. In April 1940, during the invasion of Denmark and Norway (Operation Weserübung), he served as Vice Admiral, commanding the distant cover forces in the North Sea—which consisted of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. His superior, Vizeadmiral Wilhelm Marschall, had fallen ill just before the operation, so he assumed command of the Narvik and Trondheim landings.

Lütjens' mission was to draw British units away from Narvik and facilitate the landings there. During the landing phase, his forces were approached by an Royal Navy task-force led by the battlecruiser HMS Renown. The British ship engaged at 05:05 and Lütjens was forced to fight an inconclusive battle with Renown. He succeeded in extracting the German vessels without incurring major battle damage. He viewed his operation as a success.

It may have been possible for him to turn on and sink Renown by attacking from different directions, using Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, but the accompanying British destroyers were well placed to join the fight had he done so. His Commander-in-Chief, Erich Raeder, endorsed his actions which would have placed him against a clear eastern horizon as opposed to an enemy that was positioned against a darkened western horizon. Action at that time would have given the enemy a clearer silhouette to aim at while obscuring the British ships somewhat. Under those circumstances, Raeder felt the British would have had a tactical advantage. Lütjens later rendezvoused with the Admiral Hipper and reached Wilhelmshaven on 12 April, having avoided a major fleet action.

Lütjens nearly changed his mind during the battle, believing a pitched fight may bring relief to the German destroyer force at Narvik—a force which he had effectively been forced to abandon in the face of enemy sea superiority. But the prospect of running into HMS Rodney, now known by German naval intelligence to be in the vicinity, was too much of a risk. In the resultant Battles of Narvik 10 German destroyers were sunk and the campaign for the port lasted until June. In the wake of Lütjens return, he learned Marschall had recovered to assume command."

In short, it would seem that his orders were not to seek battle but to draw heavy enemy forces away from other German naval operations. He carried out his orders and for this he was rewarded. Marschall would later seek battle against orders, sinking Glorious but taking serious damage in the course of that engagement and was sacked.

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  #89  
Old 08-07-2014, 15:53
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

"Quote by M A Rozon

"Lütjens nearly changed his mind during the battle, believing a pitched fight may bring relief to the German destroyer force at Narvik—a force which he had effectively been forced to abandon in the face of enemy sea superiority. But the prospect of running into HMS Rodney, now known by German naval intelligence to be in the vicinity, was too much of a risk. In the resultant Battles of Narvik 10 German destroyers were sunk and the campaign for the port lasted until June. In the wake of Lütjens return, he learned Marschall had recovered to assume command."

Leaving the "what if" (Rodney) out of the issue-what does the statement "in the face of enemy sea superiority " mean precisely in this particular case.The British destroyers made a spirited attempt to take part in the battle, firing their 4.7-inch guns, but they were eventually left behind, unable to keep pace with the speeding Renown in the heavy seas.

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  #90  
Old 08-07-2014, 16:41
PhilipG PhilipG is offline
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Quote:
Originally Posted by jainso31 View Post

Leaving the "what if" (Rodney) out of the issue-what does the statement "in the face of enemy sea superiority " mean precisely in this particular case
Jim I feel that the phrase comes from German intelligence, Rodney was meant to be close by, Renown was known to be there as they had engaged, there were probably over a dozen RN destroyers with the capital ships and the aircraft carrier Glorious was not too far away.

As a German Navy leader in this position, with ships that had been damaged by shell fire and the weather, the thought of dealing with any of these more powerful fleet units would have been daunting if not verging on the insane.

I am not sure what effect on German battle doctrine the loss of the Admiral Graf Spee had, the Kriegsmarine did not have many major units.

What would have been interesting is if Glorious and Ark Royal had been in the area, the Germans must have been aware that Glorious was back with the Home Fleet after her refit in Malta.
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  #91  
Old 08-07-2014, 17:18
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Quote Philip

"Jim I feel that the phrase comes from German intelligence, Rodney was meant to be close by, Renown was known to be there as they had engaged, there were probably over a dozen RN destroyers with the capital ships and the aircraft carrier Glorious was not too far away."

I see where you are coming from Philip but :-
1 Rodney was not close by- she was with the HF leaving Scapa on the 8th
2 Renown's destroyers had been left behind during the chase and
3 Glorious was proceeding to GB and was sunk by Scharnhorst as she left the scene of action with Gneisenau

However I concede that these "what ifs" would have to be taken into the German viewpoint as being "real" dangers.They had carried out part of the task, by luring Renown away from the scene at Narvik.

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  #92  
Old 09-07-2014, 03:31
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Hi all,

I find the Rodney reference a bit ironic since Luetjens was on Gneisenau whose spotters had identified Renown as "Nelson" - hence they fired mostly base-fused HE shells after 2 opening salvos of AP. It was Scharnhorst that correctly identified the Renown.

I would think they would have figured out that it could not be a Nelson when they had such a hard time getting away.

Jim, I don't see why Renown was "top heavy" - her full reconstruction made her handle "like a destroyer". It was Hood and Repulse that may have had that problem with all their pre-war and wartime additions that cost them freeboard. Her main problem with her hull in the heavy seas was her bulges which were torn away.

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  #93  
Old 09-07-2014, 07:32
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Paul-In 1936 it was decided to give Renown a massive rebuild, in the line of the rebuilds of the Queen Elizabeth-class ships. Her entire superstructure was torn down to the deck and completely rebuilt. Her engines were replaced with modern, more powerful, machinery. After the rebuild, Renown was actually capable of surpassing the speed of one of the fastest battlecruisers in the fleet: HMS Hood.
Her secondary battery was also completely overhauled, removing the 4" guns and replacing them with dual-purpose 4.5"/45 Mark I and III guns. The torpedo tubes were removed and the AA guns were replaced by three octuple 2-pounder Pom-Pom AA emplacements.According to her 1939 statistics-she was 4000 tons heavier.

Perhaps my original source misconstrued this aspect.

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  #94  
Old 09-07-2014, 10:42
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

The eminent naval historian Correli Barnett in his book "Engage the Enemy more Closely"pub 1992 p111 and I quote:-

"In the event it was Whitworth with Renown who encountered the Scharnhost and Gneisenau and their destroyer escort at 0337 9th April,some 50 miles off Vestfjord; as the German ships were steering north on their "diversionary" course-simulating a breakout into the Atlantic.It was now blowing a full gale,with mountainous seas and sudden curtains of snow or rain.

At 0405 Renown opened fire with her 15" guns at a range of about 15000yds-twelve minutes later she knocked out Gneisenau's main gunnery control system,which persuaded the enemy to run for it.In the stern chase that ensued,Whitworth hit Gneisenau twice at 0434 and knocked out a forward turret.However the weather was on the side of the German ships and which caused the Renown to slow down in order to fight her fore turrets and the speeding Germans to fight their after turrets.

Although at times Whitworth drove Renown up to 29kts,the two German ships had disappeared from view amid a squall.Nevertheless,a british force had asserted a moral supremacy.The fact that Whitworth had been compelled to fight two modern battlecruisers was mark of the Admiralt's failure to read German strategic intentions correctly and concentrate Britain's naval resources in the key areas-as opposed to protecting minelayers elsewhere"

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  #95  
Old 09-07-2014, 11:21
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Quote:
The eminent naval historian Correli Barnett in his book "Engage the Enemy more Closely"pub 1992 p111 and I quote:-

"In the event it was Whitworth with Renown who encountered the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and their destroyer escort
Uh oh...Mr. Barnett seems to have switched the side of the destroyer escort!

Quote:
The fact that Whitworth had been compelled to fight two modern battlecruisers was mark of the Admiralt's failure to read German strategic intentions correctly and concentrate Britain's naval resources in the key areas-as opposed to protecting minelayers elsewhere"
Well we know that Repulse was in the general area and joined with Renown later that day (about 1400), obviously way too late. It would have been an interesting scenario if she'd been there for the battle.
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  #96  
Old 09-07-2014, 11:45
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

I would assume here Paul- that they (S&G) were shepherding the destroyers to the Narvik area-yes- all ten of them; and which they signalled to go on to their appointed areas when they came under fire from Renown; and these were the destroyers that were sunk in the Vestfjord on the 10th to 13th April 1940. So no I do not think he got them wrong but misnamed them, by calling them "escort"; but again what else would they do "en voyage"???

Re. Repulse-she may have made a difference- IF she were deployed such that she was NOT also following in the wake of the German capital ships.

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  #97  
Old 09-07-2014, 18:28
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

[quote][...The fact that Whitworth had been compelled to fight two modern battlecruisers was mark of the Admiralt's failure to read German strategic intentions correctly and concentrate Britain's naval resources in the key areas-as opposed to protecting minelayers elsewhere"
/QUOTE]

But it would certainly have suited British 'strategic intentions' if one or both of the German battleships had failed to make it back to port.
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Battlecruiser Renown in 1936 - looking as splendid as ever.
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  #98  
Old 10-07-2014, 06:05
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Default Re: "Duel off Stromvaer" - Renown vs. Gneisenau & Scharnhorst

Quote Monty

"But it would certainly have suited British 'strategic intentions' if one or both of the German battleships had failed to make it back to port".

Unfortunate that was ,at the time,something we were unable to do;although Renown had tried hard enough.She hit Gneisenau- but failed to stop/slow down or otherwise put her in a position- where she could have sunk the German battlecruiser.

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Operation Neptune by Ivan Berryman.
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 Skuas flew from HMS Ark Royal through much of the 1940 campaign off Norway, and one is seen getting airborne in typically grey North Sea weather. The Blackburn Skua had many remarkable firsts to its credit; the first all-metal monoplane built for the Fleet Air Arm (FAA); the first dive bomber in British air services; the first enemy aircraft shot down in WW2 fell to a Skua; the first fighter ace in the FAA (Lt. Bill Lucy DSO) flew Skuas and the first warship (Konigsberg) destroyed by dive bombing was sunk by Skuas.
Supreme Courage by Philip West. (Y)
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 With her pennant number GO4 painted out to accommodate a western approaches camouflage the destroyer HMS Onslaught punches her way through a heavy swell during escort duties in the north Atlantic

HMS Onslaught by Ivan Berryman.
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February 1942 and Viz. Admiral Ciliaxs mighty Scharnhorst leads her sister Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen up the English Channel during Operation Cerberus, their daring breakout from the port of Brest on the French Atlantic coast to the relative safety of Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbuttel. All three ships survived what became known as the Channel Dash, not without damage, but the operation proved a huge propaganda success for Germany and a crushing embarrassment for the British. A number of torpedo boats are in attendance, including Kondor and Falke and the Z class destroyer Friedrich Ihn in the distance.

Operation Cerberus, Channel Dash by Ivan Berryman.
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 Considered by Lord Nelson as <i>The finest 64 in the Service</i> - indeed, his favourite ship, HMS Agamemnon was a two-deck third rate warship, lighter and faster than most 74s. Launched at Bucklers Hard in 1781, she saw action in many great battles, among them the Battle of Ushant, the Battle of Copenhagen and Trafalgar, by which time she was a veteran of 24 years service.

HMS Agamemnon by Ivan Berryman. (P)
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SPORT PRINTS

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 Marlboro McLaren Mercedes MP4/11. 1996.
David Coulthard by Michael Thompson.
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 Colin McRae and Nicky Grist.  Ford Focus WRC
High Flier by Michael Thompson.
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 The Welsh Six Nations Grand Slam of 2005 is completed as Wales beat Ireland in their final game. <br>Results : Cardiff, 5th February : Wales 11 - 9 England<br>Rome, 12th February : Italy 8 - 38 Wales<br>Paris, 26th February : France 18 - 24 Wales<br>Edinburgh, 13th March : Scotland 22 - 46 Wales<br>Cardiff, 19th March : Wales 32 - 20 Ireland.

Grand Slam 2005 by James Owen. (Y)
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 Colin Edwards gave Honda racing another victory with an inspired performance during the last race of the season to put rival Troy Bayliss into second place. Bobs painting depicts the typically-aggressive cornering style of the Texas Tornado in his winning leathers as he threw the mighty Honda around the Imola racing circuit.

Down to the Wire by Robert Tomlin.
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AVIATION PRINTS

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 Pushing the concept of the Spitfire almost to the limit, the sleek F Mk212 represented the ultimate in fighter design at the end of the Second World War. Powered by the mighty Griffon 61 engine driving a five blade propeller, its armament consisted of four 20mm British Hispano Cannon, two in each wing. This example is LA200 (DL-E) of 91 Sqn in 1945.

Spitfire F Mk21 by Ivan Berryman. (E)
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 Throughout four long years of war Allied air and naval forces endeavoured to sink the German battleship Tirpitz. The mighty warship was a constant threat to Allied shipping, even while lying at anchor in her lair among the fjords of Norway. Her very presence demanded constant attention and hampered all naval decision making till she was sunk at the end of 1944. Without so much as weighing anchor, Tirpitz could disrupt the north Atlantic convoys by tying up urgently needed escort vessels in readiness in case she made a run for the open sea. Churchill was exasperated and called upon RAF Bomber Command to make a decisive bid to finish her off once and for all. On November 12, 1944 Lancasters of Number 9 and 617 Squadrons set forth towards the Norwegian fjord of Tromso where Tirpitz lay at anchor surrounded by a web of protective submarine nets. Armed with the 12,000lb Tallboy bomb devised by Barnes Wallis, the Lancaster crews arrived in clear skies overhead the fjord to see the great battleship sharply contrasted against the still deep waters some 10,000ft below. As flak from the ships heavy armament burst all around them, one by one the 31 Lancasters rolled in for the attack. In a matter of three minutes the devastating aerial bombardment was completed, and eleven minutes later, her port side ripped open, the Tirpitz capsized and sank. The Coup de Grace was complete. <br><br><b>Published 2000.</b>

Sinking the Tirpitz by Nicolas Trudgian. (Y)
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VAR325.  Duxford and Shuttleworth by John Wincentzen.

Duxford and Shuttleworth by John Wincentzen.
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 HMS Ajax was built as a light cruiser at Barrow and launched in 1935. She saw service initially in the American and West Indies theatre before temporary commission in the Mediterranean. Then followed her never to be forgotten role in the Battle of the River Plate ending in the scuttling of the Graf Spey. She is seen here entering Portsmouth Harbour with the Isle of White in the background.

HMS Ajax by Ivan Berryman.
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MILITARY PRINTS

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 As 1944 drew to a close, Hitler made his final gamble of the war, mounting a massive strike force aimed at splitting the Allies forces advancing upon Germany. His armour, supported from the air, would rip through the Ardennes to Antwerp, capture the Allied fuel supplies, and cut off all the opposing forces to the north. Hitlers commanders were dubious of the outcome but nevertheless obeyed orders, and the operation was launched on 16th December. Allied intelligence had discounted any German counter-offensive and the initial wave, comprising 8 Panzer divisions, took the Allied forces completely by surprise. A parachute drop of English-speaking German soldiers in American uniforms behind the assault zone added to the confusion. Advancing some 30 miles, and almost in sight of the River Meuse, by 26th December the SS Panzers had ground to a halt with empty fuel tanks, and were at the mercy of Allied counter-attacks. By 16th January the German penetration was repulsed and Hitlers beloved Panzer units retreated in tatters. The Fuhrers last gamble had failed. Fw190s of JG1 provide close support to the 9th SS Panzer Division, as they spearhead Germanys final major offensive of World War II. Seen advancing on the 82nd Airborne Division, the King Tiger tanks, with the aid of Luftwaffe ground-attack fighters, drive the Americans back through the snowy fields of the Ardennes on Christmas Day, 1944. It was the last, short-lived and ultimately unsuccessful advance made by the German forces during World War II. <br><br><b>Published 2001.</b>

Ardennes Offensive by Nicolas Trudgian (Y)
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 St Mere Eglise, Normandy, 6th June 1944.  U.S. Paratroops of the 82nd <i>All American</i> Airborne Division, descend on occupied France.

First to Fight by David Pentland. (AP)
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9th (Irish) Field Battery firing on the Run-in-shoot to Queen Beach. They were the first rounds fired at the Normandy Coast, D-Day 6th June, 1944. Queen Beach, one of the 4 sectors of Sword Beach, where most of the landings of D-Day were carried out. The Queen Beach sector which extended for 1.5km between Lion-sur-Mer and the western edge of Ouistretham. The attack was thus concentrated on a narrow one-brigade front. For once the DD tanks and other armour came in exactly on time and ahead of the infantry. The 8th brigade, with the 1st Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment on the right and the 2nd East Yorkshire on the left.

Operation Overlord by David Rowlands (B)
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 A Tiger (P) Ferdinand, 7th Company, 654th Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung passes a knocked out Soviet Su122 on the German advance towards the village of Ponyri.  The fighting around this small agricultural settlement was some of the most savage of the entire battle.

The Battle for Ponyri Station, Kursk, 9th July 1943 by David Pentland.
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