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Bismarck, Ramillies, Revenge

Discussion in 'Surface and Air Forces' started by Carronade, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. Marmat

    Marmat Member

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    ... it's all a matter of time and distance.

    I'd remembered the bit on Renown being told she couldn't go to the dance, wasn't sure where, checked my old copy of Ludovic Kennedy and went no further. I could've gone on about ABC sending his "R's" out of the Med., to preserve them from long range gunnery, air attack, et. al., the Admiralty later telling Somerville to get his "R's" to the East African coast and out of the way when the Japanese raided the Indian Ocean, leaving Ceylon & India etc. ...


    In any case, I've since checked Roskill. Rodney and her 4 destroyers "were ordered to close" as in the enemy, Edinburgh was to "join the shadowing force" Ramillies on the other hand was ordered to "place herself to the west of the enemy" (by a strange quirk, Revenge was ordered to leave Halifax and close towards Bismarck, but on the 24th was to meet with HX128 - semantics? change of mind? I dunno).

    Checking a diagram as well, had Bismarck held onto a steady heading on the 25th, Tovey with KGV & Repulse, Rodney, Edinburgh would have converged 1800-2100 hrs., Wake-Walker with PoW and the 2 cruisers shadowing Bismarck from the north, Ramillies to the south. At 18 knots, it's hard to judge whether Ramillies would've made the party or not, but she wouldn't be the 1st there anyway, and there was no need for her to be.

    With Bismarck lost, i.e. somewhere off to the east, Repulse broke off W for Newfoundland at 1047 hrs., KGV and Rodney headed NE noonish before they could meet up, PoW broke off NE for Iceland at 1500 hrs., but what's noteworthy is that Repulse passed a short distance to the north of Ramillies, which turned south at 1700 hrs. Prinz Eugen, of little apparent interest to everyone else, was to the east of Repulse & Ramillies, not all that far off. Of course this is all open to interpretation, mine is that Ramiliies was initially placed there i.e. "to the west" to protect shipping as she'd already been doing for months anyway, her duty would be to go into "Harm's Way" to defend a convoy to the utmost of her ability if required, not go one-on-one with Bismarck in the Western Atlantic to prevent her from escaping.



    Incidentally, Force H had already lost its destroyers due to fueling, as Rodney and KGV were about to engage, Ark Royal and Renown were heading east as well. There's a bit somewhere about a U-Boat skipper inbound to L'Orient, watching the pair go sailing by; he'd already spent his torpedos.
     
  2. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Wohlfarth in U-556, which ironically was a 'chummy ship' to Bismarck. Wohlfarth had 'borrowed' Bismarck's band to play at U-556's commissioning ceremony, and von Mullentheim-Rechsburg reproduces a 'sponsorship certificate' in which Wohlfarth - an amateur artist - depicted U-556 protecting Bismarck from aircraft and torpedos and offering a tow. Wohlfarth, devoid of torpedos, logged passing within easy range of "King George V" and Ark Royal. "KGV" was a misidentification of Renown, whose reconstruction included block superstructures similar to new-construction battleships, with a distinct gap for the cross-deck catapult, plus two turrets forward and one aft, an easy mistake in a hasty look through a periscope.
     
  3. Marmat

    Marmat Member

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    I don't know if you remember Dan Henke from THC? Anyway, he sent me his copy of Baron von alphabet's book, good read. It turns out he spent time at the Bowmanville PoW Camp, (the MacKenzie Break?), my home town, my father-in-law remembers the prisoners marching down the main drag. The Baron liked the place so much he later returned to Toronto as West Germany's Consul-General, caught a photo of him addressing the Bowmanville Rotary Club in 1970 or so.
     
  4. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Don't recall Dan Henke specifically, did he have a different username? von M-B apparently did get along well with his former opponents; he mentions appearing on a "This is Your Life"TV show with Esmond Knight who was wounded - blinded but happily recovered - while serving on Prince of Wales.
     
  5. Marmat

    Marmat Member

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    It took me a while to figure it out. Dan was a Prosecuting DA in Fishers, IN, outside of Indy, nice guy. von M-B was decidedly anti-Nazi; he was career navy, and former aristocracy.
     
  6. CTBurke

    CTBurke Member

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    I certainly think the Ramilles would have a chance in a sea fight against the Bismarck, but I don't think a prudent Lutjens would allow such a brawl. Any lone raider at sea is very vulnerable to a crippling hit, and with the Brits "closing in" the Biz would be foolish to engage and risk further impairment. I think the Ramilles was part of the "net" of British seapower trying to hem in the Biz to bring her to battle somehow. The fact that the Ramilles was where she was meant the the Biz would have to avoid her or fight her, and be more likely to head in the direction of some other British warship. I don't think radar would have helped the Biz. As I recall, German naval radars were very blast-sensitive, really only good for the opening salvos, and Biz's deplorable shooting against KGV and Rodney (*NO* hits registered) speaks well for the Brits in an engagement against Ramilles. And look what destroyers did against heavy cruisers at Samar---another "shouldn't have been".

    As far as basing in Brest/St. Nazaire is concerned for the Biz, maybe the inclusion of the Biz there would induce greater Luftwaffe air support to stave off British air attacks long enough to get the battle squadron ready for another sortie. I think it was appalling that (other than "Operation Cerebus") the Kriegsmarine got so little Luftwaffe support, especially when that fleet was "poised" for possible devastating effect in the open Atlantic if they could be properly protected in port and its approaches.

    PS--Yes, I remember Dan Henke from the old HistoryChannel WWII Messageboards.

    CAC--love your avatar of the Bf-162 "Jaguar"! I cobbled together a model of it some time back.
     
  7. Triton

    Triton New Member

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    To attack Bismarck or Tirpitz with an old, slow and obsolete "R" would have been the dream of the RN. Churchill even considered to use the faster Barham as a block ship, because she was too slow to engage anyone of the Italian or german Fleet.

    The R-Class was'nt badly armoured, similar or better than the QEs. And Warspite showed at Jutland, that she could take many hits. Admiral Lütjens would have attacked them, when escorting a precious convoy but not, when they are on their own. Bismarck was a merchant raider.
     
  8. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    A missed fact. The Bismarck had been holed in the bow by PoW, and was down by the bow with a lot of extra weight from flooding. She couldn't make top speed, and I would wager her manoeuverability would have been somewhat affected as well. If the Ramillies had come across her, I think even odds.
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Ramillies could sprint at, what, 20 knots, while the Bismarck, even with her shell damage, could sprint at 27 knots. So, the advantage would lie with Bismarck. However, the reason for the Bismarck's restricted speed was the 1,000 some tons of fuel that could not be accessed due to the shell damage.

    As with a naval battle the odds favor the side that can get in the first telling hit, which in this case, might slightly favor the Bismarck.
     
  10. Triton

    Triton New Member

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    Warspite hat identical 38cm turrets und scored a hit at very longe range against an italian battleship. So these old turtles were still dangerous. Bismarck would never attack an old R-Class "just for fun".
    During their convoy duties, the Kriegsmarine hoped to damage or sink these ships with submarines and then attack the convoy with a battleship. HMS Malaya was torpedoed during convoy duties.
     
  11. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    The 15" remained a potent weapon, but we should note that Warspite's reconstruction in the late 1930s included increasing the gun elevation from 20 to 30 degrees, fitting them to fire the more ballistically efficient 1938lb projectile, and new gunnery controls comparable to the King George V class. The Rs still had their original equipment. Their maximum range was approximately 23,700 yards, although as you mentioned it was rare for even modern ships to score hits outside that range.

    Starting in late 1941, the unmodernized ships were given improved projectiles, and a super charge was developed which increased their range, but according to navweaps it was never used in action.

    The modernized 15" was considered good enough to be used in the last British battleship, the ironically named Vanguard. She had four turrets which had originally been installed in the "light battle cruisers" Glorious and Courageous.
     
  12. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I don't see that Ramillies could avoid an engagement or force one if she found Bismarck (unless the latter were hemed in by other ships).

    It was a bit more complicated than that though. For one thing I'm pretty sure the damaged RN battleships were back in service faster than the KM ones. The Britts also put several new battleships into service not long after Jutland and a year and a half latter a USN battlesquadron was added althouogh had it been needed that might have been done earlier.

    But Bismarck isn't exactly "in service" at that point either, even with just the historical damage inflicted by PoW. There's also an even greater question of whether she makes port. Fighting Revenge localizes her, risks additional damage, and depletes her ammo supply.

    For a short period of time perhaps. But the older Italian battleships aren't very impressive even compared to the British WWI battleships. During much of this period not all the Axis battleships were in service either then of course the equation changes again pretty drastically in Dec of 41.

    Not quite right. The USN had battleships escorting convoys in the exclusion zone and there was the "shoot on sight" order. Indeed I think I recall Texas was escorting one that wasn't all that far from Bismarck when she tried to break out.
     
  13. Thoddy

    Thoddy Member

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    Revenge class wasnt better protected then Hood.

    recommendations for optimum distance for Bismarck
    seek for range between 12 - 18 km and own target angle in the order of 20-30 degrees

    only own barbettes endangered
     

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