|I'm interested in exploring the pro's, con's and possibilities of an alternative German Naval Strategy in WW1. To me it seems that the strategy that the German High Command adopted was an integral part of why they couldn't break the British blockade, bought the American's into the war and consequently lost.
As I'm sure most people here know the High Seas Fleet was much smaller than the British Grand Fleet and the German high command were retiscient about engaging the Royal Navy directly. Instead they tried to lure parts of the Grand Fleet out of Scapa Flow through hit and run shore bombardment raids with Battle Cruisers on English Coastal towns and destroy them, wearing down the British Fleet bit by bit.
The problem with this as I see it was that there was in reality very little strategic value in the shore bombardment missions themselves, the battles that resulted like Jutland were inconclusive and killing civilians just enraged the British public and international opinion. While their later resort to unrestricted submarine warfare had a strategic impact on the British war effort, the killing of civilians by submariners including neutrals played a big part in bringing the US into the war and ultimately losing it for Germany.
What I a wondering is if an alternative strategy concentrating on the use of the 5 battle cruisers in a surface raiding role might have allowed the Germans to impact more on shipping to and from Britain, without killing civilians and bringing the US into the War? None of the Battle Cruisers were less than a knot slower than their RN equivelents so it is reasonable to assume that they would have been able to make the dash out through the North Sea and to the Atlantic. There they would have been able to conduct hit and run attacks on convoy's, with minimal chances of being caught by the 9 RN equivilents.
To my way of thinking it would have forced the RN to deploy all of its battle cruisers into the Atlantic to hunt for the German ships and a fair number of the RN battleships in the convoy escort role to protect against the battlecruisers. They could have still used submarines against the convoy's, but instead of hitting the merchantmen they could have concentrated on sinking the escorting battleships and reporting the position of the convey to nearby battle cruisers waiting to pounce. The net effect of this is that shipping to and from Britain would have been interdicted without killing civilians and bringing the US into the war, and the British fleet would have been worn down to the point where the High Seas Fleet's battleships could sortie against the remainder with a higher degree of confidence of winning and breaking the blockade.
Finally I'd suggest that had the German's emphasised further battle cruiser rather than submarine production before and once the war commenced, then the strategy would have had an even greater chance of success.
Thoughts? (positive, critical, alternative all welcome?)