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Epilogue by Joseph Gilbey: 5 December, 2018.

After twenty-plus years of intensive research into the Graf Spee saga and publishing a couple of books I have unearthed an incredible military cover-up. Maybe the best kept secret in German naval history!

During Admiral Graf Spee's 1939 mission, Captain Hans Langsdorff wrote in his log book (kriegstagebuch) detailed evidence of his ship's engine problems. Equipped with eight M.A.N. diesel engines, Graf Spee could not maintain a reliable speed above 20-knots. This fundamental technical problem was common to Germany's three diesel driven pocket battleships. It also implicated two H-class super battleships under priority construction in 1939. These monsters were designed to use larger but similar M.A.N. diesel propulsion.

At the beginning of 1940 Germany's naval yard space and special materials were stretched to maximum capacity. They could not build 300 submarines that Captain Doenitz had requested - without a drastic schedule adjustment. The new battleships Bismarck, Tirpitz, & a/c Graf Zeppelin were well advanced. Should the navy cancel or postpone the two H-class giants because of the engine problem and switch to U-boats? C-in-C Admiral Raeder decided to "bide his time."

During WWl in 1917, Germany had used "unrestricted" submarine warfare and almost gained the sea advantage. Now, in 1940 Germany seemed destined for military success against Great Britain and France. Although, Raeder had achieved an amazing rejuvenation of the high seas fleet, he needed powerful battleships to round off his "post war" Z-plan ambitions. Admiral Raeder decided to rely on the navy to fix the H-class "teething problems". This unhappy choice cost Germany at least two years of maximum submarine construction.

Joseph Gilbey, Hillsburgh, Ontario, 5 December, 2018

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