The question that I will try to consider here is inspired by the previous article (“On the role of the Soviet Navy in the Great Patriotic War”).
Yes, the answer to the question “And if” lies in the realm of fiction, and often not even scientific. Nevertheless, it makes sense to consider the Navy of the Red Army and Kriegsmarine in a hypothetical confrontation. Moreover, such a thing could easily take place.
And this is where we will begin. And really, where could the German and Soviet ships measure themselves?
First of all, in the Baltic. Moreover, the ships of both countries took part in the battles in the Baltic Sea as floating batteries. Let me remind you that the Second World War began precisely with the shots of the Schleswig-Holstein, an armadillo who had served Kaiser Germany in the Poles. And the Prince Eugen ended the war with shots at the advancing Soviet troops.
Of course, ours answered the same, regularly sending “greetings” (including German ones) to the soldiers of the Wehrmacht when the war came to us.
However, they did it sporadically. Ours are around and near Leningrad, the Germans are in East Prussia and further west.
Why - the answer is known. The Baltic Sea, in particular, the Gulf of Finland, was not in vain called "soup with dumplings." It was mined by ours, Germans, Finns, and some of the barriers remained from before the war, and some were "fresh". Plus, the Germans also added submarine network barriers.
In general, the operation to mine the Baltic fleet was very successful. That only confirmed the loss on mines at the BF in the early days of the war. Despite the fact that the Germans put mines especially without hiding.
And everyone was happy with everything. The Germans and Swedes dragged iron ore along the sea, meeting the needs of the Reich, the Finns waged their strange war, ours sat in Kronstadt and waited for the Luftwaffe raids.
If suddenly our admirals decided to shut off the oxygen (more precisely, iron) to the Germans, for this it was necessary to really try and clear the barriers so that both surface and submarine ships could be brought to the operational space.
And that was real. Remove the Porkkala-Udd barrier - and you could do things in the Baltic puddle in full.
At the beginning of the war, the Baltic Fleet had 24 minesweepers. In general, enough for mine clearance.
But minesweepers would need cover, both ship and air. For this, the BF had everything. Both ships and planes.
Composition: 2 battleships, 2 light cruisers, 2 leaders of destroyers, 19 destroyers (12 "sevens" and 7 "Novikov"), 68 submarines and 95 boats.
Also, aviation the fleet was also quite confident in such a formation. 725 aircraft, 188 torpedo bombers and bombers, 386 fighters and 151 seaplanes.
This is power? This is power. Especially if you imagine how to hit her. In our case, the fleet is not a fleet, but a squadron to disperse shipping on the route "Sweden - Germany" easily recruited. And then the Germans would have to react in full.
And what could the Nazis put up?
In numbers, everything is very confident. We immediately remove the drowned, that is, Bismarck, Blucher, Admiral Count Spee, Karlsruhe and Koenigsberg, since at the time of June 22.06.1941, XNUMX they were rusting safely somewhere, but below sea level.
But what was left would be enough to try to interfere.
3 battleships, 4 heavy cruisers, 4 light cruisers, 2 armadillos, 19 destroyers, 57 submarines.
All aviation (except seaplanes) was under the jurisdiction of Goering. German could be generous, but he might not give as many planes as would be required to counteract BF aviation. Policy…
As you can see, the Kriegsmarine figures seem to look cooler, but ... This is the ENTIRE composition of the German fleet!
Yes, of course, the German fleet looks more impressive in numbers than the Baltic Fleet. And it is clear that the German battleships were superior in head to the ancient "Sevastopol" BF. Alas, the Marat and the October Revolution were only old battleships of the pre-war construction.
Only war was World War I, not World War II. That is, in fact, they were nothing more than floating batteries (and Marat also re-qualified Rudel and the company as non-self-propelled), with scanty air defense, naturally, without a radar.
Plus, the 305 mm guns of the Russian battleships fired 7 km closer than the 380 mm Tirpitz guns and the 283 mm Scharnhorst guns.
Speed, armor, radars, firing range - are all on the side of the Germans and prospects not observed?
We did not have heavy cruisers, the Germans had 4 light and 2 against 26, but the question was who was worse: our projects XNUMX or the German Cologne, Leipzig and Nuremberg. “Emden” I immediately pushed aside, this old trough could only be listed as a cruiser.
And here I would definitely put on our “Kirov” and “Gorky”, because they were armed stronger than the Germans, and on occasion the alignment could be sad for the German cruisers.
Alas, the advantage in the form of “Hipper”, “Sheer”, “Eugen” and “Deutschland” has not been canceled.
The destroyers are equally divided, the German “1936” had some advantage, but not critical.
Submarines - wow, that’s the power on the BF side.
The whole problem of Kriegsmarine is that the Germans fought on three fronts at once. The British had to be pulled, and this was mainly a violation of the supply of the metropolis with colonies and an ally of the United States. Both in the Atlantic and elsewhere. Then the North was added in full.
In the end, what could the Germans exhibit in the Baltic? Especially considering that the BF had more submarines at the start of the countdown than all Kriegsmarines? Yes, the Germans built more than a thousand boats during the war, but that was all after. And the boats were supposed to sink ships that brought the British everything, from steel to meat.
And little by little a picture is drawn of what could have been, but what did not happen.
Instead of isolating itself in Kronstadt, the Baltic Fleet is clearing barriers, especially since many mines have already been discovered during the Tallinn campaign.
Minesweepers begin their work under the cover of destroyers, cruisers and battleships loom in the distance. Just in case, because all that the Germans can quickly transfer from Polish ports are the old troughs “Schlesien” and “Schleswig-Goldstein”, standing in Polish ports. Which are quite the same age as Oktyabrina and Marat (the latter is still on the move, as it were), which means that 8 x 280 mm versus 24 x 305 mm do not look very good. And the German 150-mm guns of cruisers and armadillos are not a very large counterbalance to the 180-mm and 130-mm guns of Soviet ships.
Of course, in the event that such a real threat as the clearing with the subsequent release of ALL Baltic Fleet submarines to hunt for ore carriers was discovered, the Germans would move like a heavy bomb. This is clear.
Another question is that hunting for such an underwater squadron is not the greatest pleasure. Too many ships would have to be sent to guard the ore carriers, form convoys, and so on. That is, to do everything that the allies did for the Soviet Union.
Yes, a well-guarded convoy is a toughie. Incidentally, it was proved by the same Scharnhorst, whose commander took a very zealous approach to smashing the JW-55 convoy. But the British fleet could afford such things as escorting a convoy with a battleship and three cruisers, which broke off the Scharnhorst horns until they were completely destroyed.
Could the Germans afford this?
Purely theoretically. Without own aviation in sufficient quantities, without any advantages over the enemy, and, as you see, they were not there, moreover, do not forget about the war on at least two fronts.
Convoys, then, are not a German business. Accordingly, it would be necessary to destroy the problem in the bud, that is, to arrange Moonsund on the contrary. Assemble a squadron and try to stop clearance.
And here Her Majesty Aviation enters the scene.
The artillery duel of the First World War is, of course, fascinating and beautiful in its grandeur.
The Second World War was already taking place in a completely different scenario. The battle of Narvik is more likely the exception, as is the battle at Savo Island between the Japanese and the Americans, which are united by the fact that they took place without the participation of aviation. As well as the mockery of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau over Glories. Normal exceptions, but exceptions.
In our case, when both sides had plenty of airdromes and airplanes, the question was only in the capricious Baltic weather, which could really land both our aces and German.
There are numbers on BF aviation, what did the Luftwaffe have on the Eastern Front?
German aviation on the Eastern Front was represented by the 2nd Air Fleet consisting of 954 bombers (Ju.88 - 520, He.111 - 304, Do.17 - 130), 312 dive bombers Ju.87. Fighter aircraft - 920 Bf. 109 of all modifications and 90 Bf. 110, that is, 1100 units.
Yes, our sailors are becoming more modest, 725 aircraft, (188 torpedo bombers and bombers, 386 fighters and 151 seaplane). But who said that land aviation could not be involved? It could be used, yes, land pilots did not have such experience flying over the sea, but who said that all Germans had docks in this?
And then, the Germans' figure is almost ALL Luftwaffe aviation on the Eastern Front. Yes, one could add from Norway 5 air fleets and there was still the 1st air fleet in the north, small in composition, logically transferred later to the command of the Courland. Three squadrons on Ju.88 and one on Bf.109F (Green Hearts, JG54). That is, about 300-400 bombers and 120 fighter jets.
In turn, the Air Force of the Leningrad Military District from among the air divisions located near the district, for example, 39 IAD (Pushkin), 54 IAD (Levashovo), 41 BAA (Gatchina), 2 BAA (Staraya Russa), numbering another 848 fighters and 376 bombers , something could be allocated to help the fleet.
And there could well be an air battle, not inferior in intensity and mass to the air battles in the Kuban in 1943. And it is not a fact that success would be on the side of the Germans, the difference in numbers was clearly in favor of the Red Army Air Force. The question was only in management and command.
That is, in the case of flying weather, the side whose aviation would have acted more effectively really won.
The Germans, from my point of view, were masters in creating an advantage in a separate sector of the front by aviation. And very beautifully they got a transfer. A variant of such a transfer in our case is quite possible, but all this would be at the expense of other sectors of the front. That is - for the benefit of us.
Nevertheless, to create a group of aircraft to cover a large squadron is a troublesome business. The more ships, the more targets. And don’t say that more barrels of anti-aircraft artillery, on the “Prince of Wales” and “Ripals” also thought so, but it won’t work out ...
Another question is that the quality of mine-torpedo aircraft of the Red Army was very doubtful. There was practically no practice, the war showed that our torpedo bombers, frankly, are very far from ideal. By ideal, I mean pilots capable of getting a torpedo into a ship.
Yes, our pilots tried to hit torpedoes on some steamers with a very modest displacement throughout the war. There were no other goals, there was nothing to be done. Nevertheless, one would certainly not have counted on successful torpedo attacks at the beginning of the war.
On the other hand, with proper control, Soviet fighter aircraft could well repel the Luftwaffe and protect airspace from German bombers. Accordingly, to enable the BF ships to perform the demining task.
So, we have two factors that can level the work of the Luftwaffe. This is the whimsical Baltic weather and our own aviation. Both factors are completely imagined, I personally have the highest opinion of both. And the weather could be selected for the operation with the highest level of abomination, and the aircraft could work out pretty well. In theory.
But here there is a nuance.
Well, rain, fog, low cloudiness, the Luftwaffe and ours are sitting on airfields, the ships go to mine, the Germans have no choice but to crawl out too.
And here such a nuisance is drawn. Yes, the absence of the Luftwaffe is good. Especially in 1941. But there is a more unpleasant absence. I'm talking about the radar in Soviet ships.
Well, if the ancient German armadillos converge with no less than the ancient Soviet dreadnoughts. It will be peculiar, but not very deadly. Throwing suitcases “to whom God will send” in the fog and all. They fought, covered, counteracted.
But what about Scharnhorst and Gneisenau? Admiral Scheer? I simply won’t believe in Tirpitsa in the Baltic, it’s a little narrow, and then, should someone frighten the English on the other side? But the three named gentlemen above the roof to spoil the mood, because with the radars on them a complete order.
That is, in the conditions of disgusting weather, the Germans will shoot at radars, fortunately, we have already learned, but here we are ... And we will shoot at the level of the First World War, that is, by visual detection.
That turned out to be a very strong scenario. Good weather is bad, because the Luftwaffe can do things. Bad weather is also not very, because on the side of the Germans there are more heavy ships, and these ships are better equipped technically.
The large firing range of the German 380 mm and 283 mm guns generally puts the whole venture at risk. And with radars and even more so. 7 kilometers of difference is a lot.
Of course, it’s difficult to guess at the coffee grounds how the German command would react to such an operation. As well as fantasizing about how real such an operation would be.
In fact, the Baltic Fleet was completely isolated at its base in Leningrad, and in fact only submarines and boats participated in the war. By the way, the loss of submarines in the Baltic was significant: 27 out of 68. This is a lot, given that most of the boats died on land mines.
Could a fleet release operation be carried out? Can. Could she succeed? Could. But only with a good study and command. Could the Germans organize a shock detachment of ships and disrupt the operation? Could. But only if intelligence had recognized everything in advance.
The fact is that from the main naval base of the German fleet Wilhelmshaven to the place of this hypothetical operation about 2 kilometers. Through the Danish straits, where you’ll not be particularly dispersed.
And there is such a consideration that the Germans might not have time to start the operation or even come to an end. 2 km - go cruising for almost three days. And it’s cruising to go, because the fuel will be needed for maneuvering and battle, and you should not be distracted somehow by refueling, because the enemy will not wait.
It is clear that no one canceled reconnaissance flights, nor did the Finns. And the exit of a large detachment of ships would hardly have gone unnoticed. But what could be opposed to him, except for aviation?
It turns out that nothing special. It is clear that the German fleet did not stand all in Wilhelmshaven with full tanks and cellars and did not wait for the command to go east. Some ships on campaigns, some in repairs, and so on. It is difficult to say how many and whom it was possible to disrupt by alarm, although by digging through a bunch of documents, one could calculate.
But the ships must be prepared, this is not cavalry after all. And three days on the road. And it would be quite possible to sail in the literal sense of the word to a hat analysis. And see the Soviet ships leaving back. And just imagine in terrible dreams submarines and surface ships spreading all over the Baltic, which now would have to be caught and drowned by all possible methods.
A very interesting scenario could have turned out. But история completely wrong, and the Baltic Fleet passively stood from 1941 to 1944 at the berths. Alas.
For my part, I perfectly understand the Soviet admirals. The events of that war showed the degree of absolute unpreparedness of the command of the Baltic Fleet in particular, since we are talking about it.
The passage along completely unexplored routes during the evacuation of the fleet from Tallinn, accompanied by huge losses, the fear of a mine threat and the fear of the Luftwaffe did their job: the fleet was blocked by the admirals themselves, and for three years no attempt was made to somehow change the situation.
It would be possible to carry out an operation to block ore carriers in the Gulf of Bothnia, but ... History does not know the subjunctive moods, because the Baltic Fleet stood up all the war on jokes, and German and Swedish ore carriers regularly dragged the finest and richest ore from the Kirunavara deposits to Germany.
Although the scenario could have taken place in real life. But this is already a question for the command of the fleet.