TCG Torgud Reis (BC-1938)


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Already having a German battlecruiser with 11" guns the Turks went back to Germany when it was looking for a new ship. The Turks specified a ship which could use the same 11" shells as the Yavuz. To counter what the Greeks and Russians currently had the new ship would require as many guns as possible at the 11" size. A ship design with three quad turrets was the best that could be done within the tonnage available. To be able to dictate terms of engagement with enemy ships the Torgud Reis would need to be fast. Because of the Salamis and Rurik were armed with 14" and 12.6" guns, the Germans recommended the ship be armed with the new 13.8" weapons made up for the Deutschland class ships.

Laid down in 1934 (Torgud Reis) and 1937 (Barbaros Hayreddin) at Blohm and Voss, Hamburg, the Torgud Reis completed in November 1938 while the Barbaros Hayreddin was due to be completed in January 1941. The Torgud Reis arrived in Turkish waters in mid-1939 and changed the balance of power in the Balkans and Black Sea regions. The German designers and Naval Attaches had prevailed and the two ships were armed with 9x13.8" weapons. The 13.8" gun system was far superior to the older US 14" on the Salamis (my next drawing) and the 12.6" on the Rurik III. It was a pity the Barbaros Hayreddin had not been completed in time as having both of these modern capital ships would have given the Turks complete sea power dominance over their sphere of influence.

The Barbaros Hayreddin was completed by the Germans in June of 1940 and went on to join in the fleet and single raids in the North Sea, North Atlantic and then Arctic waters. The Barbaros Hayreddin having been built for the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean Sea areas, the ship had a very short range. That was all that was required.

In real life Turkey was neutral during World War Two, thankfully for the Allies, and the Torgud Reis would have swung around an anchor in the Sea of Marmora. But what if Turkey had joined the Axis forces in May 1941 on the fall of Greece? Much as the Italians had joined in with the Axis at the Fall of France in July 1940. That would give the Allies a much greater headache. Think of German forces attacking into the Caucasus from Turkey. German forces coming down toward Egypt through Lebanon/Syria/Trans-Jordan. No coup in Iran to displace the pro-Axis forces there. If the Axis forces had been able to add both Spain and Turkey to their forces, the world would look a completely different place.

Time to do some history changing events.
June 1941 and Germany attacks Russia. Turkey has been part of the Axis powers since May 1 1941. That 5-6 weeks has seen German troops join Turkish troops on the Caucasus border. These attack into Russia also in June 1941 with the Torgud Reis covering the coastal road the troops are moving along and up to 18 miles inland. The Black Sea is constricting smaller and smaller for the Russians. Pressure from the Odessa region around to Sevastopol keeps the Russian Navy going backwards. The Russians have the new Rurik III, and two old Gangut class 12" battleships against which the Turks can put the Torgud Reis and two Yavuz class ships against them. The Russians have no choice, they have to try to relieve the pressure along the coastal areas for their army. The Russian ships will be naked except for any aircraft they can launch themselves. The German fighter aircraft of the time have swept the Russian opposition from the skies. On the other side, co-operation between the Germans and Turks has been uneasy, it would be unlikely that the Germans would spare any aircraft to help the Turkish battle squadron fight the Russians.

Torgud Reis 9x13.8"
2 x Yavuz 10x11"
2 x Caka Bay 9x5.3"
6 x Destroyers

Rurik III 12x12.6"
2 x Gangut 12x12
2 x Kagul 8x7.1
8 x Destroyers

On paper the Russian forces look more formidable, but the two Gangut class battleships have been poorly maintained and are unlikely to make 20 knots in a flat calm. The guns have not been maintained either and the spread of shot is enormous and range is pitiful. Exploding munitions in the breech blocks and barrels is a distinct possibility. Four of the destroyers are from 1916 and have the same problems as the Ganguts.

The two lead contenders will settle the battle. The Turkish Fleet is cruising along the coast as it has done foe the last few weeks giving support to the army. A spotter aircraft is in the air to assist with fall of shot. The spotter radios in that a group of ships is coming in from the north, range about 40,000 yards. Current visibility is about 25-28,000 yards. The Russians are unaware how close they are getting to the Turkish ships. The Turks will have the advantage.

The Turkish Admiral gives his orders, for both his own battle line placement and fire orders for his ships. The Turks are at battle stations the Russians are not. The Turkish spotter moves toward the Russian ships which finally spot the aircraft and fire a few shots at it but the spotter is there to spot not get shot at and withdraws a few thousand yards out of range. At 27,000 yards the Russian ships come into view of the Torgud Reis' top director and the Admiral ordered the ship to open fire. The German 13.8" is a splendid gun with good range (40,000 yards) and accuracy. The help of the spotter is important. With the third salvo the Torgud Reis starts hitting the Rurik, and from then on it is just a matter of time. Four hits on the Rurik and the aft pair of turrets are knocked out and the Rurik's first salvo is only six guns. The firing from the Rurik is wild. While it is aimed at the Torgud Reis, the Yavuz gets a near miss. At 24,000 yards the two Yavuz class open fire on the Ganguts. The Ganguts open fire with a forward turret each but are very short only going out to about 19,000 yards. The Ganguts will have to endure fire without return for a few minutes more.

The two Kagul class are firing at the two Yavuz class battlecruisers, the 7.1" shells not piercing the armour but the odd hit on unarmoured areas helping the Russian cause. An explosion aboard the Gangut and the forward turret leaps into the air and jumps over the side going AWOL. The Yavuz claims the hit, but the truth is a cordite charge prematurely explodes in the turret and sets off other charges, boom. The explosion has cracked the hull bottom and the sea is pouring in. The Gangut plunges to starboard and out of the firing line. The Poltava is now receiving fire from both battlecruisers and is very shortly plunging to starboard to join the Gangut in a sinking condition. The two Yavuz class now change targets to the two Kagul class cruisers. The Torgud Reis is making the Rurik look very second hand. The Rurik is down to one main turret left and the Admiral aboard has decided that he would like to save his own is if he can and orders a general withdrawal with an order to his Captain (D) to cover the fleet with smoke. The Tashkent and two other destroyers go alongside the Gangut and Poltava, rescuing the crews, then torpedoing the hulks which capsize, roll over and disappear into the depths. The Russian fleet returns to Novorossiysk where it is later scuttled to avoid capture by the Germans. So ends the Battle of Sochi.

That was the Torgud Reis' finest hour, crippling the Rurik. The remaining time in the Black Sea was as fire support ship while the Axis forces took the Russian oil fields and stop the Russians in their tracks.

The Torgud Reis remained the Queen of Marmora right through to 1980 when the ship was put into a drydock that was then filled in. The ship would become a permanent fixture of Istanbul.

Displacement 30,500 tons std  35,750 tons full load
Length 775 ft
Breadth 98 ft
Draught 30 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 140,000shp
Speed 32 knots
Range 4000 miles at 18 knots (1200 at 28 knots)
Armour 11" Side armour, 5.9" deck armour, 11" turrets
Armament Torgud Reis?

12 x 11" (3x4)

16 x 5.1" (8x2)

20 x 37mm (10x2)

44 x 20mm (10x4 4x1)

Barbaros Hayreddin?

9 x 13.8" (3x3)

16 x 5.1" (8x2)

20 x 37mm (10x2)

44 x 20mm (10x4 4x1)

Torpedoes 6 x 21" (2x3) 6 x 21" (2x3)
Aircraft 3-4 (Arado) 3-4 (Arado)
Complement 1850 1900
Notes TCG Torgud Reis

TCG Barbaros Hayreddin (completed as KM Brandenburg)



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