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SireneRacker

ZG-3 Hermes, Germany's busy bee of the mediterranean sea (pictures included)

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This is going to be a bit of a historical write-up on ZG-3 “Hermes”, her background, her service and a few pictures for those that prefer something for the eye.

Why that ex-Greek destroyer? Because she is in her form a unique ship. Germany only operated one destroyer in the Mediterranean Sea (and a good number of torpedoboats, although the line between DD and TB for the Germans was purely a question of what staff was on board, hence why the then ex-Italian Soldati-class were considered TBs), and it was one of the few Greek ships to fall into Axis hands. During her career she was without doubt the largest Kriegsmarine-operated warship in the Mediterranean, and one of the most active destroyers that Germany had during the entire war.

Being only one and being deployed in a theatre that in the mainstream-view on history kind of ignored, she has been dropped under the table. An unfortunate fate, especially given her short but still busy life.

 

Background

The Greek Navy at the outbreak of WW2 was a mostly outdated Navy, which starting with the destroyers was to be modernized. Borrowing design elements from the British H-class destroyers, yet carrying German main weaponry and Dutch fire control equipment, she was the nameship of the most powerful class of Greek destroyers. The standard displacement was 1,350t which would go up 1,890t when fully loaded, and her 34,000shp machinery would permit a speed of up to 36kn. Four German 128mm (identical to those found on German destroyers), two quadruple 533mm torpedo launchers of British origin supplemented the armament, with four 37mm guns in single mounts and ASW being the final touch.

Entering service on February 15th 1939 under the name Vasilevs Georgios I., she was damaged at her aft two years later by German dive bombers, and while being in a floating drydock to get repaired the entire drydock was sunk on April 20th 1941. Following the surrender of Greece the sunken ship, contrary to the German-Italian agreement which said that all captured ships would become Italian property, was integrated into the Kriegsmarine. Many repairs being necessary she was raised and repaired by workers of the Germania-yard.

Those repairs, often being improvised in their nature, led to a few changes in her characteristics. The displacement rose to 1,414t standard and 2,088t full, which alongside the problems arising from previous bomb damage to the aft resulted in a lowered maximum speed of 32kn. The torpedo armament was modified to fit German torpedoes, whereas the artillery due to the German origin required no changes. Four 20mm guns were added for additional anti-air defense and throughout her service the older 37mm cannons, which proved unsatisfactory, were replaced by guns of the same caliber taken from Uboats. What was liked was her seakeeping, she was noted to be very smooth in her movements and having excellent turning capabilities, although when sailing against the waves she would take on a lot of water.

She was recommissioned under the designation ZG-3 (which is short for Zerstörer Griechenland 3, Greek destroyer 3, with the 3 indicating that she was the third captured destroyer under the German flag) on March 3rd 1942.

 

Under the German flag

While the ship was commissioned in March, it took until June before she was deemed ready for combat. Although to spoil that part, there is no indication that she ever fired her main guns in anger. Interestingly enough she was at first called into service only as ZG-3, and only on August 22nd 1942 was she officially given the name Hermes. Considering how the Kriegsmarine stopped naming their destroyers with the outbreak of the war, this is a very unique event and definitely worth a mention.

Hermes was deployed as a vessel for various tasks, or as the German saying goes as a “girl for everything”, and until the end of April 1943 she would be deployed over 50 times, escorting in total 74 merchant ships, eight troop transports and eleven other crafts such as netlayers and repair ships. Despite being alone in terms of nationality she was rarely alone on the water, during most of her trips she was accompanied by Italian destroyers, torpedoboats and occasionally by subchasers. Her only chance to see surface action was when Italian cruisers and destroyers were prepared for an expected movement of British reinforcements targeting Egypt. However, her order for assisting the Italians was recalled shortly before the operation began.

Not facing surface ships did not exclude her from engaging submarines during her voyages, which happened twice during Hermes’ career. On November 16th 1942 Hermes spotted the Greek submarine Triton, and the assisting subchaser UJ2102 moved in for the kill. A similar fate struck HMS Splendid on April 21st 1943, although this time Hermes operated alone and had to sink the British submarine by herself.

A more positive experience was granted to the German Uboats U-83 and U-97, who due to damage and the consequential inability to dive required assistance. Hermes escorted both of them back to port, former on August 18th 1942, latter on August 5th of the same year. As it was the case for many smaller German ships, Hermes would also be used for mine warfare. No less than three mine operations marked her career.

Having plenty of experience escorting troop transports, she would eventually be used as a transport herself to quickly deliver troops and ordnance to Tunis. During her second run on April 30th 1943 air attacks first sank the accompanying Italian destroyer and then turned their attention to the now alone ship. Near misses resulted in the loss of lubrication pumps, and her engines were forced to full stop as the shafts ground against the hose without grease in between. Surviving the attack, a tugboat pulled her towards her destination Tunis where work was started to restore the combat readiness. However, the collapsing front at Tunis meant that survival would not be possible and she would be blown up by her own crew at the harbor entrance as a blockship.

This marked the end of ZG-3 Hermes, during her 431 day long career as the only German destroyer on the Mediterranean she would be outside of a port for 124 days. Not much is known about her conduct and the impressions she left on those that had the pleasure of meeting her, but it is said that the crews of the merchants held a high opinion on Hermes and her crew for the dedication they showed even if the escorting would go without notable events.

Her service, while not being as remarkable as that of the legends such as Johnston or Hatsuzuki, demonstrated how monotone yet crucial the role of a destroyer can be. A role that in Germany was rarely granted to destroyers.

 

Picture section

 724158497_HermesPlan.thumb.jpg.6b74ed5c3ff9b8eeff66b40387dcc734.jpg

Blueprint-like drawings of Hermes in decent quality are difficult to find. This is the best one I could dig up, although it is not showing the added 20mm weaponry and is likely showing her in her pre-captured shape.

 

 2037211755_HermesFront.thumb.jpg.f5007ddf21b4f7b0aa32f3e9736b5019.jpg

A front view from her deck towards the superstructure. Interesting to note are the aerial recognition stripes on her deck (or called candy cane camo) which are typical features of Italian ships. Given how Hermes spent most of her time alongside Italian ships, wearing their recognition marks to avoid getting bombed by Allied forces a la Leberecht Maass was a reasonable thing to do.

 

 202438173_HermesProbefahrt.thumb.jpg.2954d991cae4f2dd645de877d222aa7a.jpg

Hermes during her trials in 1942. Note the empty AA platform, although around the rear superstructure you can see a 20mm gun.

 

 554261127_HermesBug.png.c83e3ada60ec1867150b4eb212bc8256.png

While only displaying a relatively small portion of the ship, this shot shows the typical German 128mm mounts and the 20mm gun mounted at the tip of her bow.

 

 1099484501_HermesverschiedeneBilder.thumb.png.0f7873f43dd2e60b247a807829d60807.png

Various pictures of Hermes. She is wearing a similar camouflage to the Italian destroyers and torpedoboats.

 

Afterword

Playing this game just like most of you do, the question “Would she fit in-game?” deserves a quick answer. And the answer is yes. Her specs would fit perfectly at T5 if you kept the 32kn speed, T6 if you decided to let her run around with permanently overloaded engines. T-22’s sad state would be good enough of a justification to do a swift replace, or if WG wants to make Hermes a T5 premium (which would be better than T-22 in basically every way).

 Hope you enjoyed this short overview over Germany's only destroyer in the Mediterranean Sea, if you got questions, feel free to ask. Cheers~

 

References

"Die deutschen Zerstörer 1935-1945" written by Gerhard Koop and Klaus-Peter Schmolke

"Z-Vor! Internationale Entwicklung und Kriegseinsätze von Zerstörern und Torpedobooten 1940-1945", written by Harald Fock

"Marine Arsenal Band 46 – Beute-Zerstörer und Torpedoboote der Kriegsmarine", written by Dr. Z. Freivogel

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Pretty interesting article :Smile_great:

Out of the Greek Navy there's also Vasilissa Olga that could make it into the game, a G class, so Gallant ingame but armed with German 127mm guns. Quite the eventful history with that one too.

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5 minutes ago, warheart1992 said:

Pretty interesting article :Smile_great:

Out of the Greek Navy there's also Vasilissa Olga that could make it into the game, a G class, so Gallant ingame but armed with German 127mm guns. Quite the eventful history with that one too.

In her pre-refit (she received a typical refit for British destroyers, one gun, one torp launcher and all AA was removed in exchange for a 76mm dp gun and a handful of 20mm guns plus a lot of ASW equipment) I can see her working as a T6 candidate in the Pan European destroyer tree. I am all in for her.

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24 minutes ago, SireneRacker said:

In her pre-refit (she received a typical refit for British destroyers, one gun, one torp launcher and all AA was removed in exchange for a 76mm dp gun and a handful of 20mm guns plus a lot of ASW equipment) I can see her working as a T6 candidate in the Pan European destroyer tree. I am all in for her.

In general I think Pan EU DDs will be one of the more interesting lines to join the game in the future.  There are quite a few designs around that I hope we won't be having too many clones.

Oh yeah, forgot to say T-22 is an abomination whose only saving grace is you can see the peashooters  raised at an almost 90 degree when rotating. :Smile_sceptic:

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I can perhaps add some extra information to the final mission of Hermes.

Accompanying her was the Italian destroyer Leone Pancaldo. A member of the large Navigatori-class 'esploratori leggeri' (light scouts), she was laid down in July 1927, launched on 5 February 1929, and was completed that November. As completed, the scout was 1,935 tons standard and 2,580 tons fully loaded. Equipped with four Odero boilers and two Parsons-type turbine groups in a unit-type, her full standard power output was 50,000 shp for a design top speed of 38 knots (although service speed was closer to 34 knots). The ships with through several revisions in the 1930s, with an especially radically one in 1939-1940 after being re-rated to destroyers in 1938.

Leone Pancaldo's luck was not great. She had seen some action in WWII, but was sunk on 10 July 1940 at anchor in Augusta by a British torpedo-bomber, only a month after Italy declared war. Fortunately, the water was shallow, and only 16 men were lost. She was recovered, restored, and put back into service on 12 December 1942.

After all these modifications, as of 12/12/42, her standard displacement was now 2,125 tons, and at full load she reached 2,888 tons. Her top speed was now reduced to around 34 knots, with typical service speeds being in the range of 28 knots. Main armament consisted of 3x2 120mm/50 Modello 1926 turrets, which fired 23.25 kg shells at 920 m/s to a maximum ballistic range of 19,600 meters at +45° elevation (although engagement ranges typically maxed out at 15,000 meters). The guns were director-controlled (2x 3-meter ST-T type rangefinders) and used the RM Type-1 1a Version fire control computer. In order to make room for more anti-aircraft guns, the torpedo battery had been reduced to a single 533mm triple mount (the forward mount, over the forward machinery room). The main battery could be used for low-angle AA fire, but the true anti-aircraft battery consisted of a collection of auto-cannons - in place of the aft torpedo point, a pair of the excellent Breda 37mm/54 single mounts, while scattered elsewhere on the ship there was a total of nine Breda 20mm/65 single mounts. ASW arrangements remained the same as completed - two 50 to 100 kg depth-charge throwers, as well as the capacity for up to 56 mines. Also installed was a EC-3/ter 'Gufo' combined surface & air search radar (as mounted on  destroyers - 80 km against aircraft, 15 km for surface ship detection), and a German S-Gerät type sonar.

 

8uR69PI.jpg

Leone Pancaldo shortly after her restoration in December 1942

 


 

 

Leone Pancaldo was assigned to the 15th Destroyer Squadron, who were deployed escorting convoys to and from Tunisia - a task so hazardous, the Tunisian passage had been dubbed by Italian sailors, without affection; the 'route of death' - riddled with mines and submarines, and entirely under Allied-dominated skies.
 

In late April 1943 Pancaldo and Hermes were assigned to transport German troops and supplies to Tunisia, as mentioned above, only the second time on the route of death for Hermes. They embarked their loads at Pozzuoli, Hermes taking 215 men, and Pancaldo 247 (5 officers, 34 NCOs, 208 troops), and departed Italy for the last time immediately after this was complete (19.30, 29 April 1943).

The evening passage and the early morning went by without even, but at around 09.00 on the morning of the 30th the first Allied air attacks began. Five torpedo bombers attacked the pair of destroyers while they were steaming west of Pantellaria, to which they immediately responded with anti-aircraft fire. This proved quite effective, and the torpedo drops were ineffective. About an hour later, at 10.10, a much stronger attack developed - twelve P-40 Kittyhawk fighter-bombers from the 7th Wing of the 2nd South African fighter squadron. This time, however, the destroyers were not alone, and the attacking aircraft were jumped by C.200 Saetta providing cover for two ships. An aerial melee developed, joined next by Bf.109's of JG.27 joined the action, followed by another twelve P-40's. Ultimately, the attack was repulsed, costing a Bf.109 for the Axis and a P-40 for the South Africans, with a second seriously damaged.

At 11.22, steaming off of Cape Bon, a third attack arrived - another eighteen bombers escorted by fighters, however this attack was against resisted, and the destroyers persisted. More aircraft joined them and they attacked again in force (50 aircraft now!), but once again failed to score any hits.

At around 12.00, however, a fourth attack developed - P-40 Warhawks of the USAAF's 86th and 87th Squadrons. This time, the luck of Leone Pancaldo and Hermes would not hold out. The Italian destroyer was struck by numerous bombs, two of which blew large chunks out of the bow. An even greater fell into the water around the ship, the near-misses causing severe shock damage. Pancaldo's speed dropped as she belched thick black smoke, until finally she stopped, dead in the water. Her attackers dropped to low altitude in order to strafe the ship, but were jumped by fifteen Bf.109's of JG 77 and JG 53. Three P-40's were downed in exchange for a lost Bf.109 and another badly damaged, but this could not save the destroyer. With her machinery damaged and the hull breached and flooding in numerous places, and dozens of wounded (including her captain), Leone Pancaldo finally sank at 12.30 two miles north/northeast of Cape Bon. Hermes, heavily damaged with many dead and wounded, but still afloat, could not give aid or she would suffer the same fate. She was able to make Tunis, but was immobilized as Sirene described above. Of Pancaldo's 280 crew, 156 were rescued, while another 124 went down with their ship. Of the 247 German troops aboard her, 172 were rescued while 75 perished. 

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Excellent article!

 

Though, I'd rather T-22 not be replaced entirely. What she lacks in 'being good' she more than makes up for with dashing good looks, in my opinion. Still, good looks don't win games.

 

Adding ships as premiums must be a real headache for WG sometimes. For example, people demand a 1944 version of the West Virginia, a ship which is superior to Colorado in just about every meaningful way at tier 7, but inferior in just about every meaningful way to North Carolina at tier 8. Meaning that in order to fit at either tier her soft stats would have to be fiddled with to force her to be balanced. For example, you could nerf her dispersion into the dirt at tier 7 and while she would be 'balanced' in comparison to Colorado she wouldn't necessarily be 'fun' (bad accuracy is infuriating to play with unless you're slinging a crud ton of shells, which doesn't apply to Colorado and her 8 barrels) and ships that arent 'fun' don't sell.

 

I digress. Once again, excellent article! Her story makes one think of Goeben and Breslau a couple of decades earlier who, while not captured vessels themselves, also found themselves separated from the rest of the German navy and also did what they could to help with the war effort despite being separated (though they did so under the flag of the Ottoman Empire but retained their German crews during the war) 

 

 

Edited by WirFahrenGegenEngeland

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1 hour ago, Phoenix_jz said:

-snip-

I can always rely on you to fill in some of the gaps I left open.

As a little fun fact since you mentioned Leone Pancaldo‘s 37mm guns, from what I could gather from some pictures Hermes was not among the poor fellows with hand loaded 37s, but had clip fed 37s. Not sure which one exactly and from when, although maybe once the book arrives I can drown this place with pictures...

13 minutes ago, WirFahrenGegenEngeland said:

Though, I'd rather T-22 not be replaced entirely. What she lacks in 'being good' she more than makes up for with dashing good looks, in my opinion. Still, good looks don't win games.

I played with the thought of proposing a German torpedoboat line, which would feature homing torpedoes as their gimmick while being mediocre in armament and speed. Although I dismissed that idea because pff, homing torps, that would never happen. How wrong I was...

In a nutshell it‘d take the German DD lines proposed here, and then replace T-22 with Hermes and have the torpedoboats start at T5. T6 would be the 1941 torpedoboats, T7 the 1944 torpedoboats, T8 the 1941A torpedoboats. After that go the extra step and combine the speed and agility of the 1944 type with the armament of the 1941A for the T9, and and replace the torpedo launchers with quads for T10.

22 minutes ago, WirFahrenGegenEngeland said:

Her story makes one think of Goeben and Breslau a couple of decades earlier who, while not captured vessels themselves, also found themselves separated from the rest of the German navy and also did what they could to help with the war effort despite being separated (though they did so under the flag of the Ottoman Empire but retained their German crews during the war) 

Indeed, and a service similar to Kaiserin Elisabeth of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, who during the war was the only larger ship of her navy outside the Mediterranean Sea.

She would go and earn herself the title of being the first ship attacked by a ship launched aircraft, quite sure no one on board realized how much of a historical event they just witnessed as they tried to shoot down that plane with carbines.

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2 hours ago, warheart1992 said:

In general I think Pan EU DDs will be one of the more interesting lines to join the game in the future.  There are quite a few designs around that I hope we won't be having too many clones.

I have high hopes for Pan Europe in general. Having roots in Austria it goes without saying that I would love to see some of those ships represented, even if most of their ships would be T2 or 3 (excluding the Tegetthoffs).

But this is a story for a different thread...

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1 hour ago, SireneRacker said:

I have high hopes for Pan Europe in general. Having roots in Austria it goes without saying that I would love to see some of those ships represented, even if most of their ships would be T2 or 3 (excluding the Tegetthoffs).

But this is a story for a different thread...

The built ships, perhaps, but there are unbuilt projects that can go higher.   

 

ZG-3 Hermes is definitely a ship that deserves to be more widely recognised. 

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9 hours ago, SireneRacker said:

Borrowing design elements from the British H-class destroyers, yet carrying German main weaponry and Dutch fire control equipment, she was the nameship of the most powerful class of Greek destroyers.

Well, elements from including the entire hull design! Built in Yarrow's yard in Scotstoun along with 2 British H class destroyers!

It is interesting though that British FC and gunnery kit wasn't as much in demand as the ships and in some cases propulsion systems. These two Greek 'export-H' types went for German guns which seems unusual (there aren't any other German destroyer gun exports I'm aware of). There were also 6 more 'export-H' class destroyers intended for Brazil which had British guns but a different FCS. The two Grom class built for Poland by J. Samuel White had Swedish Bofors main armament. Yugoslavia wanted home-grown Skoda 140mm's for their Dubrovnik also built by Yarrow.

Also interesting that ZG-3 probably kept her British Type 124 Asdic, though in at least the case of the Splendid I don't think it was an Asdic sighting. By sinking two submarines she's also as far as I'm aware the only German destroyer to destroy any submarines in WWII, overall a small force with a small ASW role in the North Sea and Northern waters in general while the Med was more conducive to submarine attack.

 

In game I guess it's a question of avoiding turning her into a direct T-61 competitor at tier 6, and I suspect she could work at T6 with a design 36kt, 4x1 128's, 2x4 TT with the German fish and of course the hydro/smoke combo. Bit pointless compared to T-61 though. As a T5 she might also work.

Her sistership, Vasilissa Olga would be an interesting inclusion and a nice ship for the Greeks. I'm pretty keen on getting the unsung destroyers of the occupied nations into the game in greater numbers: VO, Grom, Isaac Sweers, Stord or Svenner, some unique classes and worthy reminders of those who fought on in a grim circumstance.

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4 hours ago, mofton said:

Yugoslavia wanted home-grown Skoda 140mm's for their Dubrovnik also built by Yarrow.

Skoda is Czech, not Yugoslav. Minor nitpick, but still worth mentioning.   

Part of the reasoning, at least from what I've seen, is that fire control was one of the major bottlenecks in outfitting ships, and the British needed more, so they limited exports in order to produce what they needed domestically (because exports tend to be a little more lucrative). Not sure if that is the only reason, but it seems plausible enough. 

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8 hours ago, mr3awsome said:

Skoda is Czech, not Yugoslav. Minor nitpick, but still worth mentioning.   

Part of the reasoning, at least from what I've seen, is that fire control was one of the major bottlenecks in outfitting ships, and the British needed more, so they limited exports in order to produce what they needed domestically (because exports tend to be a little more lucrative). Not sure if that is the only reason, but it seems plausible enough. 

Ah, clearly I psychologically fail to deal with the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire!

Fair point on the FCS.

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