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Henry Harwood versus Hans Langsdorff: A German pocket battleship under Langsdorff is hunting merchant shipping when he comes face to face with a British hunter cruiser squadron under Harwood. Whose force really is the hunter: Harwood’s fast cruisers or Lansdorff’s powerful pocket battleship?
In his survey of Kriegsmarine engagements during World War II, O’Hara draws two conclusions about the German navy, both of which are strongly evident in the Battle of the River Plate. O’Hara first concludes that “the record of the [German] navy’s surface fleet is one of failure and lost opportunity” (2004: 259). More importantly, he concludes that there was
a systemic problem within the navy, evident in the way these commanders displayed excessive caution in the face of the enemy and even let victory slip away. The question is, why?
The British did not hazard ships recklessly, but they were usually willing to take chances because they could afford to and this is what their tradition expected. The Germans believed they could not afford losses and their naval tradition did not approve of combat for the sake of combat. (2004: 259)
This is one of the last naval confrontations between surface ships and merely confirmed why Britain dominated the global seas for so long.
Because this was the first naval battle I animated, I chose to animate this one in particular because it was simple and involved few ships. I discovered that animating naval battles is completely different from land battles and requires different procedures. Nonetheless, it turned out to be very effective and was well-received so there will definitely be more naval battles to come.
Bennett, Geoffrey. Battle of the River Plate. Surrey: Ian Allan Ltd, 1972.Howarth, David. Famous Sea Battles. Toronto: Little, Brown & Co., 1981.O’Hara, Vincent P. The German Fleet at War, 1939-1945. Annapolis: United States Naval Institute Press, 2004.Pearce, Frank. Sea War: Great Naval Battles of World War II. London: Robert Hale Ltd., 1990.Pitt, Barrie. The Battle of the Atlantic. New Jersey: Time-Life Books, 1977.
Pope, Dudley. The Battle of the River Plate. London: Kimber, 1956.
Hans Langsdorff: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_LangsdorffHeavy cruiser: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Exeter_(68)Henry Harwood: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/programmes/timewatch/diary_plate_01.shtmlLight cruiser: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMNZS_AchillesMap of the South Atlantic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_River_Plate
Map of the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_map_projections
Pocket battleship: http://members.tripod.com/~colemangr/River_Plate.htm
If you enjoyed the Battle of the River Plate 1939 battle animation, you may also enjoy these other battle animations:
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