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 Post subject: What if the French show up during Jutland?
Unread postPosted: 01 Feb 2017, 15:59 
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The question is simple, what if the French showed up during Jutland?

By extension, what would have happened had a battle such as Jutland had taken place between only the French and German fleets?



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 Post subject: Re: What if the French show up during Jutland?
Unread postPosted: 01 Feb 2017, 16:15 
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Interesting question.

Depends on when and how the French participated in the battle. Had elements of the French fleet joined the Royal Navy before the battle, and sailed into action under the command of British admirals, then the battle would likely have played out in a similar fashion to what actually happened, except that the firepower advantage and the number of cruisers and destroyers would have firmly have been in favour of the Allies and German losses would have been significantly worse. The Anglo-French fleet may well have lost more ships as well, but Germany could ill-afford to lose their capital ships.

On the other hand, had the French joined the battle after it had begun, and approached from the south east, then the German fleet would have run the real risk of being surrounded. British and French battlecruisers could have formed a pincer to cut off the German fleet, and the encircled fleet would be forced to surrender or be destroyed. Even if they broke out, casualties would be in the extreme.

Of course, this relies on the German fleet even leaving port, which they may well have not done had the British and French navies cooperated fully. Also worth mentioning that the Royal Navy really didn't need much help!



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 Post subject: Re: What if the French show up during Jutland?
Unread postPosted: 05 Feb 2017, 23:30 
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Interesting points, I don't think it would be likely that the French fleet would sail under British command!

And if the French fought the battle alone?



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 Post subject: Re: What if the French show up during Jutland?
Unread postPosted: 06 Feb 2017, 00:15 
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Oh, if the French fought the German's alone, in a Jutland style engagement, they have lost.

France had a large navy, but it was considerably smaller than Germany's. This on its own means little, as Germany sailed against the Grand Fleet despite being outnumbered and they gave a good account of themselves at Jutland. However, the French were very slow to incorporate new naval developments and lagged behind not only the Germans and the British, but probably the Americans, Italians, and Japanese as well.

Had the Russians not lost most their navy in 1905, I'd have wagered it would have been a more powerful force than the French Navy in WW1.

This is not a failing of the French though, they had no real need for a strong navy. Their primary concern was the Med Sea, the only theatre they could contest British supremacy, and this need to defeat the British obviously disappeared with the Entente Cordiale. The alliance also secured Frances North Sea and Atlantic coasts and allowed the French to focus purely on their land campaign.

The French primarily escorted shipping through the Mediterranean, which meant troops from Africa could be redeployed to France in time for the First Battle of the Marne - a critical war-altering moment. They also supported the blockade of the Adriatic, penning in the Austro-Hungarian Navy, and saw action in the Dardanelles Campaign. They also bombarded Greece, changing the stance of the Greek government, and their small ships were useful in the fight against the U-Boats.

Basically, the French Navy was potentially a powerful enhancement of British power, but on its own, it was not too much of a force to be reckoned with. It is their strength in destroyers, torpedo boats, and cruisers which would be of benefit, and not their small number of dreadnought and pre/semi-dreadnought battleships.

In 1914, the French only had 21 Battleships, of which just 4 were modern. They also had 35 ageing cruisers, but over 200 destroyers and torpedo boats. Naturally, throughout the war, losses and modern replacements changed these figures and France ended the war with 20 battleships, 7 of which were modern, and roughly equal numbers of other ships when compared to the 1914 figures.

Ultimately, to operated in the North Sea, the French would have to divert a sizeable chunk of their navy from the Med, which may not have made too much of a difference, as the British, Japanese, and Italians operated in that theatre, but it would have noticeably strained them.

The French might have felt obliged to engage the Germans had they managed to enter the Atlantic, but this could only have happened in one of two ways, either the German fleet forces the Channel, breaking through, but taking losses. Or, they defeated Beatty's battlecruisers at Jutland, and for some reason or another Jellicoe is delayed and is forced to chase the Germans as they make for the Atlantic.

In this scenario, the French fleet would have been most useful in sandwiching the Germans, and would likely have been the first ships (other than perhaps chasing British destroyers) to intercept them, but British ships of the line better be within an hour or two of the battle when it started, otherwise it would not have ended well - perhaps the Americans would be forced to act?



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 Post subject: Re: What if the French show up during Jutland?
Unread postPosted: 15 Jun 2017, 21:53 
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USN Battleships were pretty powerful by 1916 standards.



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