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Bismarck vs USS Iowa

Discussion in 'Ships & Shipborne Weaponry' started by JimboHarrigan2010, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. JimboHarrigan2010

    JimboHarrigan2010 Member

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    Hows this for a battleship duel?
     
  2. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Short. No offense, but you should look up the basic statistics. The only aspect of Bismarck which is comparable to Iowa is side armor, 12.6" to 12". Every other aspect of Iowa's armor is superior - deck armor, internal volume protected by armor, turret faces, etc. Iowa's shells weigh 2700lb to Bismarck's 1760lb. That's most of your answer already.

    Iowa is three knots faster, although speed is not as significant in a single-ship duel as people sometimes seem to think. Her four-shaft, unit propulsion plant is less vulnerable than Bismarck's.
     
  3. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    To add to the above reply, I think this has been discussed here before but perhaps lost in the transfer to this new format or something. I do remember finding this in the past on a site specifically devoted to them.

    "We are often asked how Bismarck or Tirpitz would fare against an Iowa-class battleship. Generally speaking, this question is easy to answer as follows:

    "Not very well!"

    "The American Iowa-class battleships were armed with powerful, long-ranged 16-inch guns which fired a heavy 2,700-pound armor-piercing shell and benefited from a superior gunfire control system. Furthermore, the Iowas were capable of 33-35 knots maximum speed. Their higher speed and superior horizontal armor protection would have given the Iowas an immense tactical advantage in a long-range gunnery engagement. Their high speed would have granted the Americans choice of engagement and they would have been able to dictate the range at which to do battle.

    At long ranges, the American 16-inch guns could penetrate Bismarck virtually at will, while the German 380mm gun could only hope for combat system kills against the always vulnerable superstructure of any battleship. U.S. Navy doctrine in the period leading up to World War II was to attain great gun accuracy at long range, for that is where American admirals wanted American battleships to engage a potential foe. By 1944, with their clear advantage in radar technology and superior fire-control systems, the advantage in gunnery engagements would have been conferred even more markedly on the U.S. ships.


    "…Overall, although one can never predict the outcome of a one-on-one engagement with certitude, it is clear that the odds in any such a confrontation would have substantially favored the American ship."


    Goto:


    Bismarck's Final Battle - Part 3

    There is an answer, like it or not.
     
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  4. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Interesting question and good facts from lint. But you forgot about the nice little aspects of humans( a smarter skipper, a better gun crew...), luck and strategy. It weren´t the first time that a better armed or a much moderner tool of war failed against a weaker one! It would be very interesting to see a PC animation of the duell with different variants. Although a victory of the Bismarck is not so possible it wouldn´t be a easy going for the USS Iowa.
     
  5. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Another contributing factor in the "proposed" duel is that there wasn't a "political officer" on board of American ships, the differences between the two "powers" aboard Bismarck also cannot be ignored. And much to the disadvantage of the Bismarck or other Nazi-era warships in my opinion.
     
  6. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Good point, but the "political officers" hadn´t the power of the russian Commisar´s. Also did they knew about the fact that the skipper knows how to do the job. And facing such a target and having a small possibilty to sink that ship would have given a godd propaganda no matter how the duell has anded. If they had sinked the USS Iowa it would have been a great victory of the superior german technic and if they were sunk, it would have been a heroic way to die for the brave german soldiers in the face of a muuuuuuch more powerful ship! Not to bad for Goebbels!
     
  7. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I still believe that the Captain of the ship itself; Ernst Lindemann and the Admiral of the Fleet; Günther Lütjens assigned to the mission were at odds as to the best way to use the ship itself.

    This dichotomy in command of the ship itself simply couldn’t have been a "good thing". With this weak a "task force" two personalities simply couldn’t be advantageous to the fate of the Bismarck.

    While neither were strictly "party officials" each had different objectives as to the use of the ship itself. Too many "cooks" spoiled the broth in the ship’s only foray on its short maiden voyage.

    This of course ignores the fact that facing off "toe to toe" in a surface battle wasn't ever going to be the fight the RN or the USN would take on. That "machismo" was foolish, and only taken on by the imagination of those navies which held a weak position in both numbers and logistics.
     
  8. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    There was a discussion about this in another forum, a few years back.

    Don't rush to judgement about the Bismark. The poster in that thread had some very convincing arguments that the German armor was quit efficient in decapping US 16" AP shells. He used readily available formulas used in armor plate effectiveness, and AP data to prove his points.

    The match up would have been unusually equal. Never underestimate the quality of German armor and the effectiveness of their own AP shells.
     
  9. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    I am of the opinion that the Battle would have been very one sided; considering that the Bismark was sitting on the bottom of the Atlantic when the Iowa first hit the water.
     
  10. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Iowa is some 10.000t bigger and beneffits from 5 years of technological advance (not much in peacetime but at accellerated wartime evolution it's a lot) , a fairer comparison would be either Washington on the US side or the never completed Z-Plan 16" Battleships on the German one.
     
  11. freebird

    freebird Member

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    I was thinking the same thing.
    Bismarck was laid down in 1936, North Carolina in 1937.
    The Iowas weren't commissioned until 1943, and had the advantage of using advancements based on wartime experience.
     
  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    freebird,

    The Iowa was laid down on June 27, 1940, at that time the US had absolutely zero "wartime experience" with which to design it's ships.

    TiredOldSoldier,

    The weight difference between the Bismarck & Iowa is more like 6,000 - 6,500 metric tons at "standard" displacement. This is reversed with the Bismarck & North Carolina, with the Bismarck being some 6,000 - 7,000 tons heavier than the North Carolina (based on "standard" displacement).

    The North Carolina and South Dakota classes made every attempt to adhere to the 35,000 ton "standard" displacement limitation of the Naval Treaties then in effect, although the did use the "escalator" clause to go to 16-inch guns. Both, the Iowa and Bismarck were never designed to adhere to the 35,000 ton limitation.

    So the comparison is a fair one.
     
  13. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The change from South Dakota to Iowa was that the treaty-imposed tonnage limit changed from 35,000 to 45,000. The extra tonnage went almost entirely into increasing speed (10,000 tons for 5-6 lknots, an excellent illustration of the cost of speed). The 16" guns were changed from 45 to 50 caliber; armor was essentially the same. So the matchup for SoDak and Bismarck is practically the same as Iowa; the couple of knots speed difference is unlikely to be very significant in either case.

    North Carolina was not as well protected as SoDak, but her 12" belt and all or nothing armor scheme made her protection overall superior to Bismarck, and of course she too fires shells 53% heavier.
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I've seen the decapping argument over on the KBismarck forum. While the argument about decapping the US 2700 lb projectile and producing yaw before it impacts the armored deck looks fairly valid there's no convincing argument that the shell wouldn't still penetrate and even if it doesn't it would inflict considerable damage. Note also that it was apparently one of Rodney's smaller shells that silenced Bismarck's forward battery in her final engagement.

    Against any of the US fast battleships I think the US ships would have a distinct advantage over a Bismarck class vessel. At short range things even up quite a bit.
     
  15. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Iowa 1 - Bismarck 0
    North Carolina 1 - Bismarck 0
    Indiana 1 - Bismarck 0

    Talking about x-factor lucky shots works both ways, so that's a wash.

    Bismarck broadside weight (AP) - 14,400 pounds
    Iowa broadside weight (AP) - 24,300 pounds.

    Buh-bye Bismarck
     
  16. ptimms

    ptimms Member

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    Lets face it Rodney and KGV shot her to pieces so what chance would she have had against Iowa.
     
  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Two on ones are difficult at the best of times and Bismarck was already damaged enough to significantly degrade her firing.
    I think you've taken a rather extreme view on this. Except for the small German and French battleships any of the post WW1 battleships were a threat to any other. I'd probably rate the US BBs at 60:40 over the German ones but that's a pretty soft number.
    In any particular battle it may not be though. Hood and POW had an edge over Bismarck but the German ship got lucky and won that one. The luck evened out with the torpedo that took out Bismarck's steering but that didn't help Hood.
    ]
     
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  18. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    In any comparison of combatants, it must be done with both at the top of their game. An Iowa would be firing before the Bismarck, and more accurately. Iowa has better radar, fire control, and a heavier punch, not to mention faster. If it had been a night engagement, the first clue the Bismarck would have had of the Iowa's presence, would be outgoing flashes on the horizon.

    In the daytime, even if Bismarck had sighted Iowa, the combination of radar and fire control on the Iowa would have had shells falling around the Bismarck while the Bismarck tried to get into range.
     
  19. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    And if the Bismark had radar emission detectors, they would have known about the Iowa sooner. Firing at extreme ranges was always a crap shoot, even in perfect conditions.

    For night fighting, the Germans were at the top when it came to optics.
     
  20. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    You have forgot about the fact, that you compare a US Battleship with a technic standart of the last years in war to a German Battleship with the first year standart. I´m sure if both had met up at the end of war they were very similar in technics, like radar controlled guns and very modern fire control technics. So please don´t compare apples with pears.
     

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