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With battlecruisers' abysmal performance at Jutland and HMS Hood being very quickly sunk by the Bismarck, why would I be wrong in concluding that the battlecruiser concept was a failed idea?

If they were, then we must accept that these ships were also a failed idea:HMCS Huron, a Tribal-class destroyer. The Tribals were bigger and more heavily-gunned than previous British destroyers, optimised for the surface gun action at high speed. They were the RN’s ‘destroyer of destroyers’, the cream of the crop.Out of 16 ships built for the RN, TWELVE were lost during the war. Six of those were losses to aircraft.Pretty terrible, huh? It shouldn’t be a surprise, after all they:had main guns which couldn’t elevate high enough to engage aircraft properly,had the terrible HACS anti-aircraft director system,had the obsolete 2-pdr pom-pom which was no Bofors gun!And on and on. These are the typical criticisms which get trotted out about the equipment on board Tribals.Yet, they’re not actually maligned ships. Because most understand that they were:A) Awesome.B) So awesome and fast and powerful that they were the first choice destroyer to deploy pretty much anywhere a dangerous job needed to be done.There are very few old, bold warships.So it was with Royal Navy battlecruisers. (For the question, as writers have called out, considers the British type and not the German, somewhat disingenuously.)And before we go any further, a teaser:HMS Hood has been swept under the carpet of history by you!The battle-cruiser was a fantastic idea. An up-armed, turbine-propelled armoured cruiser which had become so much more powerful than earlier types that, much like the Blake-class ‘first-class cruisers’ of 1889, the British Admiralty came up with a new classification for the type. (Initially this was the prosaic ‘dreadnought armoured cruiser’, before the fabulous ‘battle-cruiser’ was settled upon).Like the first-class protected cruisers of near twenty years prior, the battle-cruiser was not only faster than its predecessors, but was bigger and had longer-ranged guns of greater hitting power. All of this was achieved without sacrificing protection. (Because, as armoured cruiser replacements, you have to compare them with pre-dreadnought armoured cruisers and semi-dreadnought battle-cruisers, not with dreadnought battleships.)The battle-cruiser then outgrew the original design template as the ‘mode’ changed for major warships. So, echeloned and wing turrets went by the board and were replaced by superfiring all-centreline main armament, accompanied by a jump in gun calibre. The British Lions adopted the rather good 45-calibre Mk V 13.5-inch (replacing the 45-calibre Mk X 12-inch of the Indefatgables), while the German Derfflingers mounted the new 50-calibre 30.5cm in place of the Seydlitz’ 50-calibre 28cm.(Actually, I want to come back to German gun choice in a bit.)The resulting warships started to look very much like stretched battleships. Here is where confusion sets in.The modern reader tends to see battlecruisers (like Derfflinger, above) as stretched battleships. This causes them to view the designs in the context of taking a dreadnought battleship concept and then applying high speed while ‘sacrificing armour’, which was simply not the case at all. At no point did the first-class battlecruisers ever sacrifice armour in comparison to the earlier armoured cruisers of equal rank (which never carried greater than 6 inches and some as little as 4 inches). The general trend, in fact, was to increase armour thickness over time, in an effort to keep pace with enemy armaments developments and, ultimately, to approach the standard of a battleship.Belt armour of battlecruisers:Invincible class (1907, UK) - 6 inches max.Lion class (1910, UK) - 9 inches max.*Hood (1918, UK) - 12 inches max.Von der Tann (1909, Germany) - 9.8 inches max.Moltke class (1910, Germany) - 11 inches max.Seydlitz - (1912, Germany) - 11.8 inches max.*(The British Renown class of 1916 were retrograde in genuinely ‘sacrificing’ armour thickness on the belt - 6 inches max - compared to the Lions, in a successful effort to achieve incredibly high speed, but actually maintained the same 9-inch thickness of armour on their main turrets as the earlier ships. They carried no less armour than either an Invincible or a Warrior-class; in fact, they carried more. The Courageous class of 1916 were a bizarre hybrid of big light cruiser and shore bombardment monitor and genuinely do not fit into the scheme of battlecruiser development in any meaningful way!)Did the battlecruisers fail their mission?The British ships were very successful when deployed to chase down & destroy powerful enemy commerce raiders at the Falkland Islands in 1914 (their primary mission as conceived). Concept validated.They were also successful in being able to intercept and chase off enemy battlecruisers to counter their threat (their secondary mission as later implemented), being the only ships in the RN both fast enough and powerful enough to do so. Concept validated.The German ships were very successful as fast strike or scout units which could defend themselves against enemy battlecruisers (primary mission), with a high chance of survival. See Dogger Bank and Jutland. Concept validated.They were also surprisingly successful in the role of fast wing of the battle fleet (secondary mission), again showing a remarkable degree of resilience to heavy damage so as to permit a high chance of survival. Only one was lost to damage incurred at Jutland, despite the German battlecruisers having faced the dreadnought battleships of the British Grand Fleet in addition to fighting enemy battlecruisers. Concept validated.So far, so good. Let’s go back to those German guns for a second.As the Germans fully intended their battlecruisers to function as a fast wing of the battle fleet , they gifted them with heavier armour than their more heavily-gunned British counterparts (which was sensible) and they also selected guns of increasingly high velocity for their type, in order to deal with British battleship armour. While British heavy guns tended to be of 45 calibres in length, relying on their larger shells to deliver a solid blow against armour, German guns were developed into 50 calibre length models.This increased length gave the German weapons higher muzzle velocity than most British heavy guns, granting both excellent range and performance against armour for their calibre when compared with British weapons. That would be important when facing 12-inch armoured battleships. And a gun which can tackle 12 inches of armour should have no trouble dealing with a ship carrying a mere 9 inches, right?Well, that’s the popular idea, anyway.Now, those British losses.Exploding myths:Three British battlecruisers met with exceptionally violent, swift ends at the Battle of Jutland, when they blew up under heavy enemy fire. This, as has been pointed out by Michael Hirst (easily one of our most learned Quorans), was the single episode which “unfairly poisoned the reputation of RN battlecruisers for ever”. Read his excellent original comment and digest what he says about anti-flash measures, because it is truly the key to understanding why all those men died and why HMS Lion was not destroyed by her turret fire.In short, the three lost ships exploded because lax ammunition handling procedures placed a chain of explosives along uninterrupted routes between their main gunhouses and the magazines. It was like a powder trail leading to a keg of the stuff in an old western movie, and it had the same disastrous effect.And yet the ships were not designed like that!The removal of internal anti-flash measures which had been built into the ships was what left them susceptible to blowing up as they did, not their as-fitted armour schemes. There was no simply no need for the explosions which did happen to have happened at all.Look at what the armour actually did:New Zealand, hit once at Jutland on ‘X’ barbette, had a chunk of armour blasted off and the turret was temporarily disabled. ‘X’ turret was back in action during the same battle. The ship survived.Tiger, hit six times at Dogger bank, took a hit on the roof of ‘Q’ turret, which was penetrated by splinters and knocked out with casualties to the turret crew. The ship survived.Tiger again, was hit eighteen times at Jutland (mostly by Moltke), including a penetration of a turret roof and an impact against ‘X’ barbette which blew a hole in the armour. ‘Q’ and ‘X’ turrets were temporarily knocked out early in the battle and returned to action. The ship survived.What is most interesting about the examples of British battlecruiser armour permitting the ships to withstand penetrating hits from heavy shells without blowing up or being crippled, is that this is exactly what it was supposed to do!I note that nobody ever really talks about how many times the machinery spaces of British battlecruisers were penetrated by enemy shells in WW1, how many times their boilers or turbines were knocked out by the same, or even how many times their main magazines were penetrated by direct hits during that conflict.I think that it’s because the answer is too simple, too boring and just doesn’t make for good ‘pop chat’ about how badly-armoured the RN battlecruisers were.The answer is zero. Zero documented penetrations of the machinery spaces and magazines at the Falklands, Dogger Bank or even Jutland.The armour was supposed to stop intermediate shells of up to about 9 or 10 inches in calibre (and anything smaller), while triggering the detonation process of shells which penetrated. This would ensure that a shell which got through the main belt would not make it far into the hull before exploding, thus defending the vitals deep inside the ship. A blast just inboard of the belt was never going to greatly imperil a battlecruiser.So, really, we need to stop slating the ‘thin’ armour of battlecruisers. We need to also stop referring to them as ships which ‘sacrificed protection’ to achieve the design goals, because they didn’t. They carried as much as was possible - in fact, as much as was chosen to satisfy Admiralty requirements, and you would imagine that maybe they would understand a thing or two about how much armour their ships needed? Why should we know better? There were only two types of warship with heavier armour than WW1 British battlecruisers: German battlecruisers (with their short range and intended anti-battleship mission) and actual battleships.No other warship type came close to matching it until the 15,000 to 20,000 ton heavy cruisers of the late-war US Navy in 1943, and they only matched the Renown class!Had the RN battlecruisers all been following regulations (again, I urge you to read Michael’s comment) and kept their flash doors closed, there would probably have been discussions to this day about the remarkable toughness and resilience of British battlecruisers in WW1.What about that crack about ‘Hood’ then?Yes, the legend of Hood. I see an awful lot of dismissive talk from certain sides of the timeless debate about the loss of HMS Hood whereby her loss is put down to the fact that “Hood was a battlecruiser and should never have been facing Bismarck in the first place”, “She blew up because she was a battlecruiser; after all, three of them blew up at Jutland” and so on.What’s irksome about this is that it blames the loss of Hood on the fictitious design flaws of the battlecruiser as a type, rather than trying to examine what exactly happened to one specific warship during her fateful last minutes. I mean, we already know that armour was not to blame for the demise of British battlecruisers at Jutland - bad safety practice was - and we know that the same bad practice was not at all to blame for Hood’s loss.So how do we keep lazily drawing the comparison?HMS Hood’s loss is still a mystery and will always remain so. Some great theories prevail, but they are just that, and two stand head & shoulders above the rest: The upper belt penetration theory and the AA ammunition fire theory. Neither of these has any relevance to the RN Battlecruiser Fleet’s losses in 1916.Let’s separate the two and put it to bed.And what about the ‘Tribal-class’ destroyers?Yes, that reference comes back around again. When a warship is so fast and so heavily-armed that it stands apart from the crowd, it will be selected for the dangerous missions which need a fast, hard-hitting unit to get the job done. And war is dangerous work indeed. The Tribal-class destroyers and the battlecruisers always seemed to be the fastest and best-armed units available for whatever needed to be done, so they kept on getting picked, until their luck finally ran out.You can’t keep putting the same elite units in harm’s way and not expect them to suffer. It’s just that a procedural failing made one of those two types suffer far more than they should have done, one misty afternoon in the North Sea.

How can an expat from the US go about getting their clothes, electronics, and makeup over to Mexico once they are already here? Can a friend back home fill out forms and send it through USPS or how does that work?

My recommendation is to travel and rent a truck or moving van and for you to personally travel along with your items for any clarifications, and fill the appropriate paperwork as described below.Mexico has a law named “menaje de casa”. Menaje de casa means “household furnishings+items”. This is a right to bring your household items when moving to Mexico temporarily or permanently.When moving to Mexico, you have a “household furnishings” import allowance (usually in a truck, since it will include furniture) to bring essentially whenever you want, old or new (but bought over six months before), including furnishings and electronics (but not vehicles), that is reasonably part of your household and for personal use (and will exclude any goods for sale or of a commercial nature, but usually a home office including computers and any specialized equipment for doing your work is okay). You need your Mexican rental agreement or mortgage/house title, and proof that you have resided in another country for an uninterrupted six months or more, plus some other documentation to prove your citizenship origin and Mexican residence as per the page linked (and if bringing “specialized equipment” other than the typical office stuff, some sort of proof that this is what you use for work, with some fairly obvious exceptions - dangerous chemicals or firearms, for example). Your shipment has to come with a list of everything in a spreadsheet file (essentially a shipping manifesto) and is assumed to be a one-time thing (don’t expect to do this a lot unless you live in both countries for extended periods and don’t mind raising eyebrows and having extra scrutiny). There is a flat fee of $140 for foreigners and $105 for Mexican citizens. And assume it will definitely be searched.This page at the Mexico’s embassy in Spain explains it and has a sample templates for your documentation: Certificado de menaje de casa a extranjeros. Note the legal authority on this is the SAT (Tax authority), not the consulate or immigration office.The original law was for citizens but but foreigners also have this right, although their import license is temporary and renewable for the term of their temporary residence (or permanent yet revocable if permanent residence).Call the consulate or embassy nearest you (the US has many, at least one in every state, plus “mobile consulates” on wheels) for any questions about this and to verify that you have the proper documentation.Since you mention you are already in Mexico, go to the SAT office nearest you or the SAT website linked above; they are the authority on import/export, they will help you with the paperwork for someone else to send your items once given the appropriate paperwork and fee paid; along with it they will provide all instructions on how to ship it and label it.Since it’s such a large shipment it is much better to be safe than sorry.Here is a short instructional video (in Spanish). The related videos has a lot more.

How closely allied were Germany and Japan in WWII? They had common enemies, but did they really have common interests (apart from defeating the common enemies)?

Actually they were never allies to each other. It was just a political interest at different points in time that determined their commitment towards each other.Geographical locations of these countries was also a barrier as they were located very far from each other.In September 1941 Japan began its southward expansion by expanding its military presence in Indochina and decisively increased the number of stationed personnel and planes.That’s is how Japan entered world war 2This provoked the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western governments to freeze Japanese assets, while the US (which supplied 80 percent of Japan's oil ) responded by placing a complete oil embargo ( a prohibition of the trade of petroleum from one country to another) on the Japanese Empire.This resulted in Japan being forced to choose between expansion in South-East Asia and its will to go on a war against China, or seizing the natural resources it needed by force.Moreover, many officers considered America's oil embargo as indirect declaration of war.United States imposed high oil sanctions on Japan due to which prevented Japan from expanding it’s territory further.Germany too refused to sell Japan the blueprints to make synthetic oil, so Japan's only hope for oil was to invade the Dutch East Indies, which would result in war with the United States and Britain.To succeed the Japanese had to neutralize the powerful United States Pacific Fleet, so they could prevent it from interfering with future Japanese movements in South-East Asia and negotiate peace terms.On 25 November 1941, Germany tried to further solidify the alliance against Soviet Russia and was joined by Hungary and Romania.However, Germany's offensive substantially slowed with the onset of the Russian winter in November and December 1941.In the face of his failing Blitzkrieg tactics, Hitler's confidence in a successful and swift conclusion of the war diminished, especially with a US-supported Britain being a constant threat in the Reich's ( his parliament ) western front.Furthermore, it was evident that US provided unlimited support to Britain against Germany.Hitler thus welcomed Japan's sudden entry into the war with its air raid on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 and its subsequent declaration of war on the United States and Britain, just as the German army suffered its first military defeat at the gates of Moscow.Upon learning of Japan's successful attack, Hitler even became euphoric, stating:"With such a capable ally we cannot lose this war."Preceding Japan's attack were numerous communiqués between Berlin and Tokyo.The respective ambassadors Ott and Ōshima tried to draft an amendment to the Tripartite Pact, in which Germany, Japan and Italy should pledge each other's allegiance in the case any one signatory is attacked by – or attacks – the United States.Although the protocol was finished in time, it would not be formally signed by Germany until four days after the raid on Pearl Harbor.Also japan announced to the media about their rejection of any war plans against Russia:In case Germany demands that we participate in the war against the Soviet Union, we will respond that we do not intend to join the war for the time being. If this should lead to a situation whereby Germany will delay her entry into the war against the United States, it cannot be helped.— Japan to BerlinNevertheless, publicly the German leadership applauded their new ally and ambassador Ōshima became one of only eight recipients of the Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle in Gold, which was awarded by Hitler himself, who reportedly said:You gave the right declaration of war. This method is the only proper one. Japan pursued it formerly and it corresponds with his own system, that is, to negotiate as long as possible. But if one sees that the other is interested only in putting one off, in shaming and humiliating one, and is not willing to come to an agreement, then one should strike as hard as possible, and not waste time declaring war.— Adolf Hitler about the Japanese raid on Pearl HarborAdolf Hitler declares war on the United States on 11 December 1941 in the wake of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.Although the changes to the Tripartite Pact ( a defensive military alliance against US between Germany, Italy and Japan , later joined by Hungary and Romania )was not yet in force, Hitler chose to declare war on the United States and ordered his parliament, along with Italy, to do so on 11 December 1941, three days after the United States' declaration of war on the Empire of Japan.His hopes that, despite the previous rejections, Japan would reciprocally attack the Soviet Union, were not realized, as Japan stuck to its Nanshin strategy of going south, not north, and would continue to maintain an uneasy peace with the Soviet Union.Nevertheless, Germany's declaration of war further solidified German–Japanese relations which was now encouraged to cooperate against the British.To some degree, Japan's actions in South-East Asia and the Pacific in the months after Pearl Harbor were a tremendous blow to the United Kingdom's war effort .Until the attack on the Soviet Union, Germany and Japan were able to exchange materials and personnel using the Trans-Siberian Railway.Afterwards, submarines had to be sent on so-called "Yanagi" (Willow) – missions, since the American and British navies rendered the high seas too dangerous for Axis surface cargo ships.However, given the limited capacities of submarines, eyes were soon focused directly on the Mediterranean, the Middle East and British India, all vital to the British war effort.The choice of potential trading partners was very limited during the war and Germany was anxious for rubber and precious metals, while the Japanese sought industrial products, technical equipment, and chemical goods.By August 1942 the German advances in North Africa made the Suez Canal feasible, which, in turn, had the potential of enabling trade between Europe and Japan through the Indian Ocean.On the other hand, in the face of its defeat at the Battle of Midway in June 1942 with the loss of four aircraft carriers, the Japanese Navy decided to pursue all possibilities of gaining additional resources to quickly rebuild its forces.As a consequence, Ambassador Ōshima in Berlin was ordered to submit an extensive "wish list" requesting the purchase of vast amounts of steel and aluminium to be shipped from Germany to Japan.German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop quickly dismissed Tokyo's proposal, since those resources were vital for Germany's own industry.However, in order to gain Japanese backing which should also secure the rights of German companies in South-East Asia, he asked Hitler to at least partially agree upon the Japanese demands.Despite this German-Japanese relations were deteriorating day by day.The British kept control of the Suez Canal and submarines with very small cargo capability remained the main method of contact.With the loss of North Africa and the heavy defeat at Stalingrad, Germany was in a defensive posture by early 1943.Japan was being outproduced in carriers and was unable to launch any offensives after its defeat at Midway in June 1942.It was overextended and could not even feed its garrisons on islands across the Pacific.Japan's invasion of India had been halted at Imphal and Kohima, rendering impossible any joint operations against India.With submarines remaining practically the only link between Nazi-controlled Europe and Japan, trade was soon focused on strategic goods such as technical plans and weapon templates.Only 20–40% of goods managed to reach either destination and merely 96 persons travelled by submarine from Europe to Japan and 89 vice versa during the war as only six submarines succeeded in their attempts of the trans-oceanic voyage.During this meeting on 28 April 1943, Indian freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose transferred to I-29, thereby becoming the only civilian exchange between two submarines of two different navies in World War II.U-234 on the other hand is one of the most popular examples of an aborted Yanagi mission in May 1945.In the face of their failing war plans, Japanese and German representatives more and more began to deceive each other by exaggerating minor victories and deemphasizing losses.Being forced to watch the continued reinforcement of Soviet troops from the east without any Japanese intervention was a thorn in Hitler's flesh.During a private briefing on 5 March 1943, Hitler remarked:They lie right to your face and in the end all their depictions are calculated on something which turns out to be a deceit afterwards!— Adolf Hitler about the JapaneseAs the war progressed and Germany began to retreat further, Japanese ambassador Ōshima never wavered in his confidence that Germany would emerge victorious.However, in March 1945 he reported to Tokyo on the "danger of Berlin becoming a battlefield" and revealing a fear "that the abandonment of Berlin may take place another month". On 13 April, he met with Ribbentrop — for the last time, it turned out — and vowed to stand with the leaders of the Third Reich in their hour of crisis but had to leave Berlin at once by Hitler's direct order.On 7 and 8 May 1945, as the German government surrendered to the Allied powers, Ōshima and his staff were taken into custody and brought to the United States.Now fighting an even more hopeless war, the Japanese government immediately denounced the German surrender as an act of treason and interned the few German individuals as well as confiscated all German property (such as submarines) in Japanese territory at the time.Four months later, on 2 September, Japan had to sign its own surrender documents.

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