Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
You need to play a total of 5 battles to post in this section.
mofton

Logistics Tidbit 1: Tirpitz Fuel Consumption

17 comments in this topic

Recommended Posts

2,045
[SYN]
[SYN]
Members
6,666 posts
9,985 battles

Howdy,

So I was recently reading a newish book, which takes a look in particular at the production battle between the Western Allies and Germany through the critical war years of 1941-1943.

'The Allies Strike Back, the War in the West 1941-43' by James Holland. It covers a bit of Barbarossa, North Africa/Egypt, Allied bombing, the U-boat war and overall it has a bit more of a slant towards logistics and production than most:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35034443-the-allies-strike-back-1941-1943

One of the interesting tidbits was a compilation of fuel figures for Germany vs. the UK in that period:

Fuel United Kingdom (tons) Germany (tons)
1941 13,051,000 4,920,000
1942 10,232,000 4,988,000
1943 14,828,000 5,647,000

Source - 'The Strategic Air Offensive Against Germany 1941-45' and 'Fighting with Figures'

Coincidentally while this little tidbit was in my mind @dseehafer and I were discussing Tirpitz, I observed that filling Tirpitz' tanks just once would be an appreciable fraction of the entire German fuel reserves - Tirpitz could hold 8,297t of fuel. That's 0.16% of the entire annual German fuel supply. Fill the tanks a few times and one ship is making a real difference.

Then dseehafer pointed out that Tirpitz had to keep some power up 24/7. At the time steam turbine engines if completely shut down took a long time to build up sufficient steam to move, and the ship would also have 'hotel services' to maintain - heating, hot water, electricity etc. That combines to require some power be kept on at all times - there was no shore power supply available in Norway.

According to 'Battleships of the Bismarck Class' by Koop and Shmolke the class would have to operate 3 boilers while in harbor:

r896f4A.png?width=900&height=468

That figure would require 5,000 shp x 500 grams of fuel per hour, or 2,500kg (2.5 tonnes) which would be 60 tonnes/day. There are 365 days in a year for a total of 21,900 tonnes of fuel just to keep the lights on on Tirpitz.

In addition to that, Tirpitz sortied on Operation Sportspalast in March 1942:

During that operation Tirpitz plus escorts burned a total of 8,230 tonnes of fuel (though I guess at least we can subtract a few days of the 'lights on fuel'!).

So, just combining Sportspalast plus 'lights on' (plus a couple of moves around Norway) Tirpitz required about 31,000 tonnes of fuel or 30,500 imperial tons. Or Tirpitz and escorts undertaking a single sortie plus upkeep consumed 0.66% of Germany's entire national fuel supply in 1942 - that's a fuel supply which is already incredibly pressured by the demands of other Kriegsmarine ships, the Luftwaffe, the Heer in Russia, as well as industry, logistics etc. etc. etc.

Not just is that fuel a not insignificant total, but that was fuel that had to be taken by ship all the way up to Northern Norway - burning more fuel in the process.

Or put another way, the Type VII U-boat required about 100 tons of diesel to fill the tanks - the fuel Tirpitz consumed is the equivalent to 300 U-boat sorties worth.

The more you know.

 

mofton

  • Cool 10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
96
[HDR]
[HDR]
Members
1,174 posts
2,197 battles

A interesting post and read. :Smile_great:

+1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4,717
[HINON]
Beta Testers, In AlfaTesters
8,856 posts
3,680 battles

Tirpitz, the lonely queen gas-guzzler of the North! :Smile_teethhappy:

 

Fantastic thread mofton!

  • Cool 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
239
[HC]
[HC]
Beta Testers
1,312 posts
9,399 battles

I would have to wonder how much of that fuel was tankered up from Germany, and how much was taken locally from Norwegian reserves. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
96
[HDR]
[HDR]
Members
1,174 posts
2,197 battles
2 minutes ago, SgtBeltfed said:

I would have to wonder how much of that fuel was tankered up from Germany, and how much was taken locally from Norwegian reserves. 

Interesting thought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4,717
[HINON]
Beta Testers, In AlfaTesters
8,856 posts
3,680 battles
18 minutes ago, SgtBeltfed said:

I would have to wonder how much of that fuel was tankered up from Germany, and how much was taken locally from Norwegian reserves. 

 

Good point! :cap_hmm:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32
[BORK]
[BORK]
Supertester
253 posts
4,726 battles

I bet giving her a nameplate in game would make her fuel efficiency go way up. :Smile-_tongue:

Edited by Doors_The_Dwarf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4,717
[HINON]
Beta Testers, In AlfaTesters
8,856 posts
3,680 battles
14 minutes ago, Doors_The_Dwarf said:

I bet giving her a nameplate would make her fuel efficiency go way up. :Smile-_tongue:

 

Funnily enough, she was actually more fuel efficient than her sister. If both ships travel at their cruising speed of 19kn until their tanks run dry Tirpitz will be able to go 345 miles further than Bismarck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
241
[OPEC]
Members
925 posts
5,108 battles

Now I know why I can't seem to accumulate that much oil in my port.  Never should have bought Tirpitz!

 

Nice research!  :cap_like:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,045
[SYN]
[SYN]
Members
6,666 posts
9,985 battles
2 hours ago, SgtBeltfed said:

I would have to wonder how much of that fuel was tankered up from Germany, and how much was taken locally from Norwegian reserves. 

It is a very interesting thought - I'd suspect most of it was tanker. The Norwegian Navy was tiny (destroyers with 100t fuel reserves - the coastal defense ships were still coal powered so not that handy). The Norwegian merchant marine was large, but mostly wouldn't have operated to and from Norway specifically, so not much need to fuel them (plus merchant ships are very fuel efficient and even in 1940 a lot would have been coal fired).

Wikipedia says that the ~8,000 tons used on Sportspalast took 3 months to replenish - so tankers working their way up the coast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4,717
[HINON]
Beta Testers, In AlfaTesters
8,856 posts
3,680 battles

Despite the amount of fuel she was using, even that wasn't enough. A planned raid on convoy PQ-8 (Junuary/1942) had to be canceled because Tirpitz did not have enough fuel. After Operation Sportpalast (March/1942) it took until June/1942 for enough fuel stocks to be accumulated to attempt another sortie. Luckily enough, convoy PQ-17 departed in June, unluckily several of the ships in Tirpitz's battle-group ran aground before reaching open ocean and instead the Luftwaffe was sent to destroy the convoy. Because Tirpitz would not receive enough fuel for another sortie before the end of the year it was decided to move her out of the range of the RAF to Trondheimfjord where she would spend the rest of the year and receive a much-needed refit.

 

One can only imagine what Tirpitz could have/would have done if lack of fuel was not an issue...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,344
[HINON]
Beta Testers, In AlfaTesters
7,179 posts
2,029 battles
On 12/4/2017 at 3:09 AM, dseehafer said:

One can only imagine what Tirpitz could have/would have done if lack of fuel was not an issue...

 

It depends heavily on the decisions of the convoy commander. Dreams of large-caliber shells smashing into convoy ships and light escorts are nice, but in reality battleships in theory and especially practice were awful weapons for intercepting convoys aside from maybe suppressing cruisers & large escorts. A battleship, especially one like Tirpitz (sole true BB left to the Kriegsmarine at this point in time), is simply too valuable to throw away in a convoy interception mission... and thus is far to easily dissuaded by an handful of light ships that can threaten it with torpedoes and smokescreens. The same can happen even with cruisers if they're valuable enough (i.e., you don't have enough). The Battle off Samar, 2nd Sirte, and Barents Sea are all good examples of this. Yamato essentially removed herself from the action because maneuvered to dodge a torpedo and in doing so accidentally ran from the battle. Hipper was forced to disengage because of torpedoes that weren't even fired, and then did so again with Lützow because of the continued threat of torpedo attack... and that's in spite of her giving off an absurdly phenomenal gunnery performance in the action. 2nd Sirte was probably the most aggressive action of the war regarding battleships as far as how close Iachino pushed Littorio to the British destroyers & cruisers, but the combination of smokescreens and the threat of torpedoes was always enough to keep the battleship from breaking through to the convoy. Granted, the awful weather conditions were a huge aid to the British defense (beam roll rates were 5º for Littorio, 10-12º for the heavy cruisers, and 25-27º for Bande Nere, visiblity conditions were crap, and the wind was aiding British smoke screen efforts), but even in clearer weather with a longer engagement period, I'm still skeptical that Iachino would ever have broken through to the convoy. British casualties most like would've been much worse, but the threat of torpedoes and the use of smokescreens would probably been enough to stave off Iachino until dark.

 

The biggest affect a battleship could have was the imagined one; the threat of what they could do if they were able to intercept a force convoy, and the belief that they would do so. Hence, the defeat of Operation Vigorous, and the scattering of PQ.17. While I certainly don't mean to dismiss Tirptiz's capabilities, I have an inherent skepticism of any battleship's capability to intercept a convoy unless the escort is widely inadequate, or the intercepting forces' command is entirely prepared to throw the battleship away on a roll of the dice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4,717
[HINON]
Beta Testers, In AlfaTesters
8,856 posts
3,680 battles
2 hours ago, Phoenix_jz said:

 

It depends heavily on the decisions of the convoy commander. Dreams of large-caliber shells smashing into convoy ships and light escorts are nice, but in reality battleships in theory and especially practice were awful weapons for intercepting convoys aside from maybe suppressing cruisers & large escorts. A battleship, especially one like Tirpitz (sole true BB left to the Kriegsmarine at this point in time), is simply too valuable to throw away in a convoy interception mission... and thus is far to easily dissuaded by an handful of light ships that can threaten it with torpedoes and smokescreens. The same can happen even with cruisers if they're valuable enough (i.e., you don't have enough). The Battle off Samar, 2nd Sirte, and Barents Sea are all good examples of this. Yamato essentially removed herself from the action because maneuvered to dodge a torpedo and in doing so accidentally ran from the battle. Hipper was forced to disengage because of torpedoes that weren't even fired, and then did so again with Lützow because of the continued threat of torpedo attack... and that's in spite of her giving off an absurdly phenomenal gunnery performance in the action. 2nd Sirte was probably the most aggressive action of the war regarding battleships as far as how close Iachino pushed Littorio to the British destroyers & cruisers, but the combination of smokescreens and the threat of torpedoes was always enough to keep the battleship from breaking through to the convoy. Granted, the awful weather conditions were a huge aid to the British defense (beam roll rates were 5º for Littorio, 10-12º for the heavy cruisers, and 25-27º for Bande Nere, visiblity conditions were crap, and the wind was aiding British smoke screen efforts), but even in clearer weather with a longer engagement period, I'm still skeptical that Iachino would ever have broken through to the convoy. British casualties most like would've been much worse, but the threat of torpedoes and the use of smokescreens would probably been enough to stave off Iachino until dark.

 

The biggest affect a battleship could have was the imagined one; the threat of what they could do if they were able to intercept a force convoy, and the belief that they would do so. Hence, the defeat of Operation Vigorous, and the scattering of PQ.17. While I certainly don't mean to dismiss Tirptiz's capabilities, I have an inherent skepticism of any battleship's capability to intercept a convoy unless the escort is widely inadequate, or the intercepting forces' command is entirely prepared to throw the battleship away on a roll of the dice.

 

Scharnhorst and Gneisenau destroyed 16 ships from 2 separate convoys during Operation Berlin. And that was just one operation. As a whole Scharnhorst and Gneisenau proved to be as successful as you could hope a battleship to be in the commerce raiding role. Of course the reality is that battleships are not the best tool for commerce raiding, but the events of the war forced them into that role. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,344
[HINON]
Beta Testers, In AlfaTesters
7,179 posts
2,029 battles
1 hour ago, dseehafer said:

 

Scharnhorst and Gneisenau destroyed 16 ships from 2 separate convoys during Operation Berlin. And that was just one operation. As a whole Scharnhorst and Gneisenau proved to be as successful as you could hope a battleship to be in the commerce raiding role. Of course the reality is that battleships are not the best tool for commerce raiding, but the events of the war forced them into that role. 

 

And, out of all the convoys they engaged and sank ships in... what exactly was the escorting force? If I'm remembering correctly, there weren't any for the engaged merchantmen, and the escorted ones weren't engaged.

 

At that point, does it really make sense to use something like a Scharnhorst-class battleship over, say, an Admiral Hipper? I imagine Hipper has longer legs at probably a faster speed, while not burning as much fuel... and one could probably build more of them. It only makes sense to raid a convoy with a battleship over a cruiser if you're trying to smash past a cruiser escort... at which point you run into the torpedo + smoke conundrum.

 

And, to quote myself;

 

Quote

... I have an inherent skepticism of any battleship's capability to intercept a convoy unless the escort is widely inadequate, or the intercepting forces' command is entirely prepared to throw the battleship away on a roll of the dice.

 

In the case of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau's case, I think the first condition applies. There was no risk, thus they were free to engage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,045
[SYN]
[SYN]
Members
6,666 posts
9,985 battles
46 minutes ago, Phoenix_jz said:

And, out of all the convoys they engaged and sank ships in... what exactly was the escorting force? If I'm remembering correctly, there weren't any for the engaged merchantmen, and the escorted ones weren't engaged.

I think a half dozen 'Fleet' destroyers, or some combination of cruisers, or a battleship is about the minimum escort to try and brazen it out. Set a big smoke screen and threaten anything moving in on you with 50-odd torpedoes and you may get away with it.

1 hour ago, Phoenix_jz said:

At that point, does it really make sense to use something like a Scharnhorst-class battleship over, say, an Admiral Hipper? I imagine Hipper has longer legs at probably a faster speed, while not burning as much fuel... and one could probably build more of them. 

I think using Scharn/Gneis for commerce raiding in Berlin was a not unreasonable idea. What other purpose did they have? Use it or lose it. There's no point holding them back for, well I'm not even sure for what - being a fleet in being until you get bombed/X-crafted/bombed in port?

In early 1941 the Germans had Scharn and Gneis available, Blucher was at the bottom of a Fjord, Prinz Eugen was working up/damaged until May '41, and Hipper was out attacking convoys including mauling SLs 64 - so they were using the biggies in addition to, rather than in lieu of the Hipper's - they just didn't have much available. Keep the pressure on I say.

The other problem with the Hipper's was apparently machinery. Prinz Eugen's one Atlantic cruise ended in breakdown and failure, Hipper did better but had a major breakdown on one cruise and then spent almost all of March '41 to March '42 in refit or re-working up, which is a long time for a cruiser refit - something was very wrong.

 

Overall though I think Scharn/Gneis should have been used more aggressively, when confronted with opportunities to engage Malaya or Ramillies on hugely favorable terms they should have gone for it. If the British had lost a convoy even when escorted by a battleship and lost one of their finite supply of battleships... well that would have been a huge headache, if the tactic of assemble large convoys and provide a battleship is demonstrated to have failed, what do you try? Bigger convoys with even heavier escort with all the disruption that will cause if it's even possible - delayed sailings, inferior routings. Nightmare.

Saving your capital ships from damage at sea, just so they can be damaged in port to no purpose is kind of silly. Any asset that's too valuable to use has a value of effectively zero.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×