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After sinking HMS Hood, Bismark finishes off PoW, and returns to Germany?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by Shadow Master, Feb 7, 2009.

  1. Shadow Master

    Shadow Master Member

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    As the title says, what if the Bismark, having finished off the UK's greatest warship, proceeded to chase down and sink the Royal Navies flagship (even though it was the PoW, and not the KGV), and then returned home?

    Never mind that wasn't their orders, what would the propaganda and strategic situation have been like with these two battleships sunk, and the Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, and Gneisenau all getting ready to sail?

    The PoD in this thread is that, for whatever reason, the German commander pursues, catches, and sinks the PoW, and then returns to Germany to repair the expected heavier battle damage, which would keep her from leaving home waters for at least a few months, during which, the other three heavies would be getting ready to goto sea again.

    Would there have been a "Battle of German held ports", as the RAF makes determined, all out, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead attacks against the German heavies? Would Churchill have forced the RAF to "Avenge the Hood" similar to the mistake Hitler had forced on the Luftwaffe in the "Battle of Briton"? How would these operations, and the losses they incurred have affected the war effort in other theaters?

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Liberator

    Liberator Ace

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    Crap, you live in a world of you own. It didn't happen. What ifs are pure fantasy and should not even be discussed.
     
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  3. Shadow Master

    Shadow Master Member

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    Lol, well thanks for your insightful, well thought out, intelligent and eloquent response.:eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:

    You do realise that some people, if fact quite allot of people, even here on the ww2f, actually like discussion what if's? And that this is the reason there is a 'What If' forum in the first place?
     
  4. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

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    If you don't like the threads, do not post in them. Seriously, i am sick and tired of fellow Rogues bickering and picking on each other. Its like babysitting a bunch of two year olds! Liberator, your comment was out of line. Just IGNORE a section if you don't like it! Really simple! Shadow, you did nothing wrong, but don't rise to the bait. Just ignore it and share your own view/thoughts on your What If... theory.
     
  5. Shadow Master

    Shadow Master Member

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    I see What IF's as a means for the curious to posit alternative outcomes, and as an invitation to those that have knowledge to share their own views on the subject at hand. To that end...

    What operations, Carried out by the Royal Navy historically, would be affected by the Bismark having survived to fight another day as specified in the OP?

    What operations would have to be carried out, to avenge the loss of two of Britons best Battleships? How many missions of the RAF would have to be diverted to the sinking, or at least damaging enough to keep them from going to sea, of the German heavies, and what would the effect of these diversions be in the short term? And what if the RAF should try and fail, again and again, month after month, to sink the Bismark. Would the losses force the RAF to wait for the Bismark to sail again? Would the possibility of all four heavies putting to sea simultaneously force a larger portion of the RN to stay in home waters?

    Here is a golden opportunity to share your knowledge of naval and aerial operations in the months following the Historic Bismark episode. Please feel free to develop your ideas of what forces could have been involved in the follow up efforts.

    Any thoughts?
     
  6. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    One that obviously will not happen as history is Force Z :D,
    Also I would expect the RN to put every available sub in the North Sea so Rommel may get some more supplies.
    On a more serious note this thread is interesting but horribly open ended, I tried to put some ideas together but got a "domino effect" which would need some serious research before posting to avoid making a fool of myself.
    The Royal Navy in 1941 is still pretty stretched thin and as soon as you reassign a piece .....

    Still the most likely outcome is that luck turns against the Germans (after all they used up a lot of it to bag Hood and PoW and survive) and Bismark is lost to a combination of light forces, aircraft, subs, and surface action when she tries to sortie again in late 41 early 42 so history resumes along historical tracks.
     
  7. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    After Hood sank, PoW scored a good half dozen hits on Bismarck including two that opened holes below the waterline. The hit forward caused Bismarck to ship nearly 2000 tons of water while the other shipped about 800 tons in side compartments within the torpedo defense system. This put Bismarck down by the bows in heavy weather and slowed her to about 20 - 24 knots at most.

    PoW then broke off the action being low on fuel and just made Iceland (if I recall correctly or was it Scapa) for refueling. Anyway, Bismarck was in no shape to close and finish PoW so this what if is irrelevant given the point of departure.
     
  8. Shadow Master

    Shadow Master Member

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    In the interest of getting a longer lasting, more in depth thread going, lets consider the OP PoD suitably amended so that the PoW is also sunk (say both sides just decided to slug it out, for whatever reason), and the Bismark, more damaged than historically, manages to return to a German port.

    What then?

    I'm not trying to offend people, nor is this a situation where there is any right or wrong answer. I would like people to accept the idea (for the sake of discussion) that both the HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales get sunk in the battle, and the DKM Bismark, having failed to breakout into the Atlantic intact, instead withdraws back to Germany.

    Here is kind of a personal challenge to you Terry (read as: "Your mission, if you choose to accept it").:D

    You find yourself tasked with coming up with a plan to counter the threat of the Bismark sailing again, perhaps accompanied by her sister ship this time, as well.

    Have some fun with this, and think about this situation, and tell us how you would proceed to first contain, and then sink, the Bismark and the other German heavies.

    I have enjoyed many of your WI's, and you have shown a great knowledge of and interest in, the many varied aspects of WWII, so I think that if you have the time and inclination, you could come up with a very good, well thought out plan, and that this would make both good, entertaining reading, and quite probably a very educational thread.

    What say you?
     
  9. Shadow Master

    Shadow Master Member

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    As a way of limiting the scope to a more doable level, lets confine the time frame to say one year, and say that propaganda plays such an important role that the British are compelled to mount an attack against the Bismark, before she can be repaired, and that if this attack fails, then another MUST be attempted asap.

    So at least one attack, whether by a sub sneaking into the port (aka Royal Oak), or determined air strikes, or whatever, has to be made prior to the end of the year at the latest, and dedicated forces must be held ready in case the attempts should all fail and the Bismark should set sail again.

    I'm not by any means an expert on the repair of naval damage (though I suspect terry is):D, but lets say that allied intelligence thinks the Bismark is out of action for at least three, but no more than 6 months, and has to plan accordingly.
     
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm trying hard to visualize just how this could happen. If Bismark persues POW the likely rusult is both BBs accumulate a fair amount more damage with POW accumulating more but the danger is greater to the Bismark. By the time Bismark and Eugen can catch up to POW a good portion of her main battery will be back on line and the British cruisers will likely be in the action as well. IF Bismark gets slowed down any more there are British DDs in the area and more British captial ships are within a few hours sail. If Bismark gets much more in the way of damage especially if Eugen accumulates significant damage as well the RN will have a pretty good idea where to look.

    If the Germans ships survive the run through the guantlet the question is do or can they get to Germany or do they stop for at least temporary repairs in Norway. In the latter case expect the British to do all they can to sink or damage her further. Air raids certainly maybe subs or even attacks by RN BBs depending on where in Norway and what the defences are.
     
  11. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    Whichever French Port the Bismarck puts into, Hitler crowds in dozens and dozens of flak batteries and Luftwaffe aircraft, making the port a veritable hedgehog of defensive fires, in order to keep Bismarck safe from RAF Bombers during its repair period.
     
  12. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    So now the assumption is Bismark immobilized for a few months (and to put an end to the PoW question let's assume she gets very unlucky and meets an U-Boat on a roll on the way back), the pressure on the RN to do something and fast will be enormous.
    The big question, I had put that in but it got lost when I scratched my post as it was getting absurd, if where is Bismark? If she goes to France, St Nazaire was the only dock available, as we all know, so we will probably have the historical raid a bit sooner and with stronger forces (2 or 3 destroyers instead of just one and the MLs) as first attempt. The RAF will obviously have a go at it but looking at the results against the battlecruisers it's likely to be inconclusive and could result in horrible losses if the Germans assign a few more squadrons than they historically did to the defence. If she goes to Norvay for quick repairs the RAF will also have a go and we may expect a strong sub concentration in the North Sea with patrols pushing inside the Skagerrak/Kattegat in the hope of catching her when she attemps to move to a Baltic port for final repairs. Also likely is subs or planes putting mines on critical chokepoints. But as these are ambush tactics they will do nothing for propaganda and while German ASW is nothing to write home about operating in such closed waters is very risky so it may actually put more oil on the propaganda fire with the loss of a couple of subs.
    While she is in Norway the problem, and possible solutions, are exactly the same as for Tirpitz but the technology is not there yet, mounting a raid with Albacores escorted by Fulmars is a a more risky proposition from Barracudas escorted by Corsairs but would probably be tried, as the X-Subs are not yet ready it's likely some other sort of special op will be tried especially as the Norwegian resistance is available to help at least with intelligence. As special ops do not require commitment of large forces (just brilliant ideas, great planning and lots of luck ) we have no domino effect there. Once she makes it to the Baltic there is little the 1942 RAF can do about it, she is outside land based fighter range, and night bombing is too inaccurate to have much chance of doing damage. The land front is already stabilized around Leningrad so using Soviet bases as "shuttle" will not solve the problem, and the Soviets are desperate so more likely to grab anything that lands in the USSR for their own use than to provide effective support. Once again special ops are the most likely route, immagine something like X MAS, maybe basing in Sweden, as the Italians did in Spain to attack Gibraltar, or carried by a sub. Not likely to destroy her as she will have unloaded the main and secondary gun ammo during repairs so there is little chance of a devastating secondary explosion but likely to cripple her for another year and provide the propaganda victory we are looking for. And if everything fails, speed up the remaining KGV and Valiant as much as possible, ask the US to lend two or three fast BBs intead of one and pray for better luck next time she sails. If Bismark and Tirpitz are still afloat in mid 1942 the Lion class may not get cancelled and this will cause all sort of domino effects on escort and landing ship production.
     
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  13. Shadow Master

    Shadow Master Member

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    Very good post! This is more along the lines of what I was wanting to achieve with this WI. A thoughtful exchange of ideas in the exploration of what might have been. I don't know enough of the Norwegian theater to comment to much about operations there, but unless someone else with better info posts a better plan, I say you covered that well.

    The only thing you didn't mention was the (very risky) option for daylight bombing raids against the Bismark while in port, which I will assume someone will cover in detail if there is enough interest in this thread. Given the propaganda value of sinking the Bismark and avenging the Hood and PoW, I'm sure an air attack would at least be considered as one of the options.

    You mentioned the X subs, I wonder if there would be thought given to somehow getting them close enough to make a try (what could be more ironic, than sinking the mighty Bismark in a German port, thus getting poetic justice for the Royal Oak indignity), and vengeance for the Hood and PoW at the same time.:D
     
  14. Liberator

    Liberator Ace

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    I would like to apologise to Shadow Master and all the fans of 'What If' threads for making the above remark, I was totally out of order and unreservedly apologise.

    Regards

    Liberator.
     
  15. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    The equipment of Bomber Command had not changed much from the 1939 North Sea raids on that sufferred huge losses while the Germans are likely to have a working early warning radar that will negate any chance of surprise. I would not give a Wellington much of a chance in daylight raid, the 7.7mm MGs of it's armament were no enough against 20mm armed interceptors.
     
  16. Shadow Master

    Shadow Master Member

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    Apology accepted, and respect earned! It's all good, man.:D:D:D
     
  17. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    I think the effort it took to nuetralize the Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, Geniasneau, ect.. would give some clues about the Bismarcks eventual fate. Where the RAF could get at the German ships they were eventually driven away or sunk. Most likely outcome is the Bismark spends the next year in repair & out of reach in the Baltic. Another attempt to sortie the battle ships might be made in 1942, but the more likely course is they would stay close to home and the Bismark end up sunk in a port in 1945 and cut up for scrap by 1950.
     
  18. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    My 2 cents worth on the subject is that the Bismark doesn't sortie to the open expanses of the Atlantic for the rest of the war. She gets repaired and remains as a part of the "fleet in being" that the major surface units of the Kreigsmarine were relegated to as during the war. Maybe she'd slip out and bash a few convoys on the Murmansk Run, or perform big-gun support on the Eastern Front when air cover was available. But without the Graf Zeppelin or some real aircraft carrier to provide air support, a USN task force built around the USS Ranger and some jeep carriers would make short work of Bismark and her sister ships in the Atlantic. If they did happen to survive the war, their end probably would have been at Bikini Atoll in 1946. Gentlemen, counterpoints welcome!
     
  19. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    I would expect that Bismarck would probably have ended with the same result as the Tirpitz, with the RN, RAF as well as the smaller special forces units constantly harrassing her. She would probably live out her life in Norwegian forjds or German ports.

    However to avoid a similar loss as the Tirpitz she may have had better luck out in the Atlantic, avoiding the RAN, possibly causing great damage, and causing mass units to be moved from the British ISle's, which would ceratainly give teh Uboats a break.

    However overall I don't think it would change anything in the end.
     
  20. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I tend to agree and as is well-known, I hate 'what-ifs' ;) - but I'll break a personal rule to contribute to this one :eek:

    In this case the main benefit for Germany would have been a strong blow to British morale and prestige at a difficult time. Loss of the Hood was, as is well-known, a tremendous psychological blow to Britain, partially 'redeemed' by the 'revenge' meted out to Bismarck ( at least, that's how the media of the time saw it ). So it depends on how you view the importance of 'propaganda victories' in the great scheme of things.

    After that, as is said above, the 'what-if' element becomes too open-ended ( the loss of the ???? and Repulse ? :confused:) - and Bismarck would most likely have suffered the same fate as Tirpitz ie hounded from pillar to post by combined forces and Bomber Command......
     
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