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Imperial Germany's SMS Derfflinger

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Tanz #1 Posted 21 October 2012 - 05:14 PM

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SMS Derfflinger
(This ones for JeeWee  :Smile_honoring: )

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SMS Derfflinger was the first ship of the Derfflinger class of battlecruisers, widely considered to be the best battlecruisers of the First World War. She was easily distinguishable from earlier German battlecruisers by the all centerline turrets in two superimposed pairs forward and aft.

Construction

She was ordered in 1911 and named after Georg Reichsfreiherr von Derfflinger, a Brandenburg general of the seventeenth century. She was built in Hamburg by Blohm & Voss, where her keel was laid in January 1912. She was launched on July 17, 1913 and joined the fleet in November that same year, being assigned to the 1st Scouting Group.

(The 1st Scouting Group was commanded by Admiral Hipper and was made up the Battlecruisers SMS Von der Tann, Moltke, Seydlitz, Derfflinger, Lutzow, & Hindenburg)

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This class ship saw the introduction of the 12 inch gun to German battlecruisers which along with the superior layout more than compensated for the reduction in guns carried when compared with their predecessors (Derfflinger became one of the most powerful German battlecruisers). The original elevation of the guns was 13.5 degrees giving a maximum range of 20,450 yards (this was increased post Jutland to an elevation of 16 degrees and maximum range of 22,300 yards).

Along with the similar Hindenburg class they were the only German capital ships with flush decks and were considered excellent sea boats although the casemates were wet and they suffered from having tandem rudders.

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Yet she had good protection, speed and adequate firepower.

Life in the Imperial Navy

Soon after entering service the Derfflinger along with the rest of the 1st Scouting Group took part in the raid on the Yorkshire coast on the night of December 15th through the morning of the 16th 1914. This was an attempt to draw out the part of the Royal Navy. The 1st Scouting Group had split in two and Derfflinger went south where she took part in the bombardment of Scarborough and of Whitby. At 09:45, the two groups had reassembled, and they began to retreat eastward.

The Royal Navy had moved out to intercept the Germans, but they both failed to effectively engage each other.

Dogger Bank

She took part in the battle of Dogger Bank (24 January 1915). In the first phase of that battle she was not the target of any of the British battlecruisers, allowing her to fire undisturbed on the Lion. Two of Derfflinger's 12in shells hit Lion, one of which struck the waterline and penetrated the belt, allowing seawater to enter the port feed tank. She caused much of the damage suffered by Admiral Beatty’s flagship, and in return was directly hit once when a 13.5mm shell burst on the main belt of armor. She returned to port where she was repaired and was back in action by the 14th of February.

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Yarmouth and Lowestoft

Derfflinger also took part in the bombardment of Yarmouth and Lowestoft on 24–25 April 1916. Derfflinger, her newly commissioned sister ship Lützow, and the veterans Moltke, Seydlitz and Von der Tann left the Jade Estuary at 10:55 on 24 April. They were supported by a screening force of 6 light cruisers and two torpedo boat flotillas. The heavy units of the High Seas Fleet, under the command of Admiral Scheer, sailed at 13:40, with the objective to provide distant support. The British Admiralty was made aware of the German sortie through the interception of German wireless signals, and deployed the Grand Fleet at 15:50.

By 14:00, the ships had reached a position off Norderney, at which point they turned northward to avoid the Dutch observers on the island of Terschelling. At 15:38, Seydlitz struck a naval mine, which tore a 50-foot hole in her hull, just abaft of the starboard broadside torpedo tube, allowing 1,400 short tons (1,250 long tons) of water to enter the ship. Seydlitz turned back, with the screen of light cruisers, at a speed of 15 knots (28 km/h). The four remaining battlecruisers turned south immediately in the direction of Norderney to avoid further mine damage. At 04:50 on 25 April, the German battlecruisers were approaching Lowestoft when the light cruisers Rostock and Elbing, which had been covering the southern flank, spotted the light cruisers and destroyers of Commodore Tyrwhitt's Harwich Force. The German fleet commander refused to be distracted by the British ships, and instead trained his ships' guns on Lowestoft. At a range of approximately 14,000 yd (13,000 m), the German battlecruisers destroyed two 6 in shore batteries and inflicted other damage to the town.

At 05:20, the German raiders turned north, towards Yarmouth, which they reached by 05:42. The visibility was so poor that the German ships fired one salvo each, with the exception of Derfflinger, which fired fourteen rounds from her main battery. The German ships turned back south, and at 05:47 encountered for the second time the Harwich Force, which had by then been engaged by the six light cruisers of the screening force. The German ships opened fire from a range of 13,000 yards (12,000 m). Tyrwhitt immediately turned his ships around and fled south, but not before the cruiser Conquest sustained severe damage. Due to reports of British submarines and torpedo attacks, the Germans broke off the chase and turned back east towards the High Seas Fleet. At this point, Scheer, who had been warned of the Grand Fleet's sortie from Scapa Flow, turned back towards Germany.

Jutland

The same thing happened at the start of the battle; that happened to Derfflinger at Dogger Bank. For ten minutes the Derfflinger was not the target of any of Beatty’s battlecruisers, and was able to fire undisturbed. This error was soon rectified, and she was under fire.

Following severe damage inflicted by Lutzow on Lion, Derfflinger lost sight of the British ship, and so at 17:16 transferred her fire to HMS Queen Mary, who was also being engaged by the Seydlitz. Under the combined fire of the two battlecruisers, Queen Mary was hit repeatedly in quick succession. Observers on New Zealand and Tiger, the ships behind and ahead, respectively, reported three shells from a salvo of four struck the ship at the same time. Two more hits followed, and a gigantic explosion erupted amidships; a billowing cloud of black smoke poured from the burning ship, which had broken in two. The leading ships of the German High Seas fleet had by 18:00 come within effective range of the British battlecruisers and Queen Elizabeth-class battleships and had begun trading shots with them. Between 18:09 and 18:19, Derfflinger was hit by a 38 cm (15 in) shell from either Barham or Valiant. At 18:55, Derfflinger was hit again; this shell struck the bow and tore a hole that allowed some 300 tons of water to enter the ship.

Shortly after 19:00, the German cruiser Wiesbaden had become disabled by a shell from the battlecruiser Invincible; the German battlecruisers made a 16-point turn to the northeast and made for the crippled cruiser at high speed. At 19:15, they spotted the British armored cruiser Defence, which had joined the attack on Wiesbaden. Hipper initially hesitated, believing the ship was the German cruiser Rostock, but at 19:16, Lutzow's opened fire. The other German battlecruisers and battleships joined in the melee; Defence was struck by several heavy-caliber shells from the German ships. One salvo penetrated the ship's ammunition magazines and a massive explosion destroyed the cruiser.

By 19:24, the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron had formed up with Beatty's remaining battlecruisers ahead of the German line. The leading British ships spotted Lützow and Derfflinger and began firing on them. In the span of eight minutes, the battlecruiser Invincible scored eight hits on Lützow. In return, both Lützow and Derfflinger concentrated their fire on their antagonist, and at 19:31, Derfflinger fired her final salvo at Invincible. Shortly thereafter the forward magazine detonated and the ship disappeared in a series of massive explosions.


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The Derfflinger took the most damage during when they encountered the main force of the Grand Fleet. By 19:30, Scheer was considering retiring from battle but ran into the main body of the Grand Fleet by surprise. In an attempt to save his pre-drednaughts, Scheer ordered his ships to turn 16 points to starboard which would bring the pre-dreadnoughts to the relative safety of the disengaged side of the German battle line. Once completed Scheer then ordered a second 16-point turn, which reversed course and pointed his ships at the center of the British fleet.

Admiral Scheer was forced to order his battlecruisers to launch an apparently suicidal attack on the British fleet in order to cover the retreat of the main battle fleet. By 20:17, the German battlecruisers had closed to within 7,700 yards of HMS Colossus, at which point Scheer directed the ships to engage the lead ship of the British line. Three minutes later, the German battlecruisers turned in retreat, covered by a torpedo boat attack.

A pause in the battle at dusk (approximately from 20:20 to 21:10) allowed Derfflinger and the other German battlecruisers to cut away wreckage that interfered with the main guns, extinguish fires, repair the fire control and signal equipment, and prepare the searchlights for nighttime action. During this period, the German fleet reorganized into a well-ordered formation in reverse order, when the German light forces encountered the British screen shortly after 21:00. The renewed gunfire gained Beatty's attention, so he turned his battlecruisers westward. At 21:09, he sighted the German battlecruisers, and drew to within 8,500 yards (7,800 m) before opening fire at 21:20. In the ensuing melee, Derfflinger was hit several times; at 21:34, a heavy shell struck her last operational gun turret and put it out of action. The German ships returned fire with every gun available, and at 21:32 hit both Lion and Princess Royal in the darkness. The maneuvering of the German battlecruisers forced the leading 1st Battle Squadron to turn westward to avoid collision. This brought the pre-dreadnoughts of the 2nd Battle Squadron directly between the two lines of battlecruisers. In doing so, this prevented the British ships from pursuing their German counterparts when they turned southward. The British battlecruisers opened fire on the old battleships; the German ships turned southwest to bring all of their guns to bear against the British ships. This engagement lasted only a few minutes before Admiral Mauve turned his ships 8-points to starboard; the British inexplicably did not pursue.

By battles end Derffliner had only two operational guns, and had been hit 17 times by heavy caliber shells and nine times by secondary guns. She had fired 385 shells from her main battery, another 235 rounds from her secondary guns, and one torpedo.

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The crew of the Derfflinger suffered 157 dead and 26 wounded; the highest number of casualties for any ship that survived the battle on either side. She took on 3,000 tons of water, and needed 4 ½ months worth of repairs. The British nicknamed her "Iron Dog."

While in for repairs Derfflinger was equipped with the heavy tripod mast that replaced the original pole mast and along with her near sister Hindenburg were the only German battlecruisers fitted with them, Lutzow being sunk before the modification could be made.

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She was finally back at sea by mid-October, and rejoined the fleet in November 1916.

Towards Wars End

She took part in most of the remaining sorties of the High Seas Fleet, including the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight in November 1917. The British had already departed by the time she reached the area. Then the final major sortie for the High Seas Fleet; on the 23rd-24th of April 1918 in an unsuccessful attempt to attack the ships escorting a Scandinavian convoy. This was again an attempt by Scheer to lure part of the Grand Fleet out and destroy it, but it was not to be.

An Inglorious End

Derfflinger was to have taken part in what would have amounted to the "death ride" of the High Seas Fleet shortly before the end of World War I. The bulk of the High Seas Fleet was to have sortied from its base in Wilhelmshaven to engage the British Grand Fleet; Scheer by now was the Grossadmiral of the fleet & intended to inflict as much damage as possible on the British navy, in order to retain a better bargaining position for Germany, whatever the cost to the fleet. While the fleet was consolidating in Wilhelmshaven, war-weary sailors began deserting en masse. As Derfflinger and Von der Tann passed through the locks that separated Wilhelmshaven's inner harbor and roadstead, some 300 men from both ships climbed over the side and disappeared ashore.

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On 24 October 1918, the order was given to sail from Wilhelmshaven. Starting on the night of 29 October, sailors mutinied on several battleships; three ships from the III Squadron refused to weigh anchors, and the battleships Thuringen and Helgoland reported acts of sabotage. The order to sail was rescinded in the face of this open revolt. The following month, the German Revolution toppled the monarchy and was quickly followed by the Armistice that ended the war.

Following Germany's capitulation, the Allies demanded that the majority of the High Seas Fleet be interned in the British naval base in Scapa Flow. On 21 November 1918, under the command of Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, the ships sailed from their base in Germany for the last time. The fleet rendezvoused with the light cruiser Cardiff, before meeting a massive flotilla of some 370 British, American, and French warships for the voyage to Scapa Flow. Once the ships were interned, their breech locks were removed, which disabled their guns.

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The fleet remained in captivity during the negotiations that ultimately produced the Versailles Treaty. It became apparent to Reuter that the British intended to seize the German ships on 21 June, which was the deadline by which Germany was to have signed the peace treaty. Unaware that the deadline had been extended to the 23rd, Reuter ordered his ships be sunk. On the morning of 21 June, the British fleet left Scapa Flow to conduct training maneuvers. With the majority of the British fleet away, Reuter transmitted the order to his ships at 11:20.

Derfflinger sank at 14:45. The ship was raised in 1939 and was anchored, still capsized, off the island of Risa until 1946. Derfflinger was then sent to Faslane Port, where she was broken up by 1948.

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SMS Derfflinger
Nickname: "Iron Dog"

Displacement:
Normal: 26,180 t (25,770 long tons; 28,860 short tons)
Full Load: 31,200 t (30,700 long tons; 34,400 short tons)
Length: 210.4 meters (690.32 ft)
Beam: 29.0 meters (95.14 ft)
Draft: 9.20 meters (30.18 ft)

Propulsion: 4 shaft Parsons turbines; 18 boiler; 76,634 shp
Speed: 26.5 kn (49.1 km/h; 30.5 mph)

Range: 5,600 nmi (10,400 km; 6,400 mi) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)

Complement: 44 officers and 1,068 men

Armament:
8 × 30.5 cm (12") SK L/50 in 4 twin turrets
12 × 15 cm (5.9") SK L/45 in 12 single turrets
4 × 8.8 cm (4×1) in 4 single mounts
4 × single 50 cm (20 in) torpedo tubes

Armor:
Belt: 300 mm (12 in)
Command Tower: 300 mm
Deck: 30 mm (1.2 in)
Turrets: 270 mm (11 in)

Edited by Tanz, 21 October 2012 - 07:35 PM.


JeeWeeJ #2 Posted 21 October 2012 - 05:29 PM

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Ah, the good old Iron dog. Great piece Tanz, and thank you! :Smile_honoring: Derfflinger was one of those ships which was "lucky" that the British shells weren't as reliable, otherwise the damage would have been a lot worse. Still, she was one tough battlecruiser!
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Wake_Island #3 Posted 21 October 2012 - 05:35 PM

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Amazing!
Great great job!
Hey you should do one of the USS Wake Island! :3

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Go to it!!! ^


Huitzilopochtli #4 Posted 21 October 2012 - 06:10 PM

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Interesting read. Is that a bath tub among the wreckage in your picture JeeWeeJ?

JeeWeeJ #5 Posted 21 October 2012 - 06:13 PM

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View PostHuitzilopochtli, on 21 October 2012 - 06:10 PM, said:

Interesting read. Is that a bath tub among the wreckage in your picture JeeWeeJ?
Now that you mention it, it looks like one to me! Those small doors look like locker doors to me, so maybe it hit in a bathroom or something.


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Tanz #6 Posted 21 October 2012 - 07:49 PM

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View PostJeeWeeJ, on 21 October 2012 - 05:29 PM, said:

Ah, the good old Iron dog. Great piece Tanz, and thank you! :Smile_honoring: Derfflinger was one of those ships which was "lucky" that the British shells weren't as reliable, otherwise the damage would have been a lot worse. Still, she was one tough battlecruiser!
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Welcome JeeWee. She reminded me of your Bayern..but like a mini version. I was a bit surprised reading that during Dogger Bank and Jutland, they didnt really seem to pay attention to her for a bit  :Smile_amazed: which just let her blast away  :Smile_playing:. I wonder why  :Smile_unsure: I mean was it common to go after the fleet flagship?
These ship on ship battles are great. No carriers or subs...just gun vs gun relying on good leadership, training, tactics, and luck  :Smile_ohmy: . I need to get some up to date books on both battles.

As to your pic.. :Smile_teethhappy: that does indeed look like a bathtub.


JeeWeeJ #7 Posted 21 October 2012 - 07:57 PM

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I think it was a leftover from the line-fighting of Nelsons time. Pick on the first ship and work your way down the line amd i believe the first ship was usually the flagship in those days. And you're right, there's something magical about these old beasts. Pretty much everything is based on the Mk. 1 Eyeball, just like during the age of sail...only the guns became a little bit bigger. :Smile_teethhappy:


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MM2ss #8 Posted 21 October 2012 - 08:04 PM

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Mk1 Eyeball?  Nah, the Germans were too advanced for that, they used the Mk2 eyeball(meaning they had both eyes open)...   :tongue:

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JeeWeeJ #9 Posted 21 October 2012 - 08:07 PM

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View PostMM2ss, on 21 October 2012 - 08:04 PM, said:

Mk1 Eyeball?  Nah, the Germans were too advanced for that, they used the Mk2 eyeball(meaning they had both eyes open)...   :tongue:
Lol, true! With a little bit of help from Zeiss stereoscopic rangefinders.. :Smile_smile:


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Gigaton #10 Posted 23 October 2012 - 03:12 PM

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It's funny that you guys decided to talk about the various marks of German eyeball in thread on Derfflinger. Derfflinger's first gunnery officer von Hase has given what is probably the best account of the German WW1 firecontrol systems available in English in his book Kiel and Jutland.

You can find the book online here: http://archive.org/d...tland00haseuoft

MM2ss #11 Posted 23 October 2012 - 03:27 PM

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Sometimes things just work out better than hoped for.  ;)

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IlonginusI #12 Posted 28 December 2012 - 05:50 PM

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This was a good read. thx

Capcon #13 Posted 28 December 2012 - 06:41 PM

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View PostTanz, on 21 October 2012 - 07:49 PM, said:

Welcome JeeWee. She reminded me of your Bayern..but like a mini version. I was a bit surprised reading that during Dogger Bank and Jutland, they didnt really seem to pay attention to her for a bit  :Smile_amazed: which just let her blast away  :Smile_playing:. I wonder why  :Smile_unsure: I mean was it common to go after the fleet flagship?
These ship on ship battles are great. No carriers or subs...just gun vs gun relying on good leadership, training, tactics, and luck  :Smile_ohmy: . I need to get some up to date books on both battles.

As to your pic.. :Smile_teethhappy: that does indeed look like a bathtub.

It was indeed common to go after the flagship if it was known in those early days of radio. Often maneuvering orders were based on the motions of the flagship so disrupting the flagship disrupted the entire squadron and perhaps a whole fleet.

Excellent post BTW.

I wonder what she might have looked like had she survived until the 1940's?

Edited by Capcon, 28 December 2012 - 06:42 PM.

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BigWaveSurfer #14 Posted 28 December 2012 - 06:48 PM

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Derfflinger and the never finished Mackensen are by far my favorite BC's of all time
at least the Germans saw more from then BC's then just hunting down Armored Crusiers ie. Britian's BC's intended job

Capcon #15 Posted 28 December 2012 - 06:54 PM

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So, the French get an unfinished Machensen as war reparations and replace her planned guns with 340mm/45 guns produced for the unfinished Normandie class.

I wonder how that might have turned out?
"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." - Theodore Roosevelt

JeeWeeJ #16 Posted 28 December 2012 - 07:03 PM

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View PostCapcon, on 28 December 2012 - 06:54 PM, said:

So, the French get an unfinished Machensen as war reparations and replace her planned guns with 340mm/45 guns produced for the unfinished Normandie class.

I wonder how that might have turned out?
In that case i'd say: keep the 350mm/45's! As they'd probably have to redesign the whole turret to fit in the French guns. And those German 15" rifles were excellent guns. So why discard them?


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BigWaveSurfer #17 Posted 28 December 2012 - 07:23 PM

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View PostJeeWeeJ, on 28 December 2012 - 07:03 PM, said:

In that case i'd say: keep the 350mm/45's! As they'd probably have to redesign the whole turret to fit in the French guns. And those German 15" rifles were excellent guns. So why discard them?
Mackensen only had 13.75in (350mm) guns

Capcon #18 Posted 28 December 2012 - 07:30 PM

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View PostJeeWeeJ, on 28 December 2012 - 07:03 PM, said:

In that case i'd say: keep the 350mm/45's! As they'd probably have to redesign the whole turret to fit in the French guns. And those German 15" rifles were excellent guns. So why discard them?

Ammo commonality with the existing french ships/guns would be the reason that comes to mind. maybe re-line the 350mm down to 340mm to use the french ammo? Would make them 340mm/46.3 or something. It would depend on the construction of the rifles for the re-lining to work of course.
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Capcon #19 Posted 28 December 2012 - 07:31 PM

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View PostBigWaveSurfer, on 28 December 2012 - 07:23 PM, said:

Mackensen only had 13.75in (350mm) guns

True,  but this is a "what if" question.
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BigWaveSurfer #20 Posted 28 December 2012 - 07:35 PM

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well here is hopeing they put them both in the game  :Smile_teethhappy: