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Rescue the Bismarck!

Discussion in 'Atlantic Naval Conflict' started by UncleJoe, Mar 26, 2015.

  1. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Member

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    Has anyone cheered, "Rescue the Bismarck!" instead of sinking it? :cool:

    Günther Lütjens last radio message about fighting to the last shell indicates they didn't have any hope of being rescued.
    According to his Wikipedia biography, it says a few days before, he could've requested several U-boats to attack the cruisers shadowing him. But they weren't summoned. Why?

    Was it because the Germans still didn't know what they were up against? It seems the point of doom was when her rudder got jammed on the night before she sank. How far were the nearest U-boats at that time? "[such] a large concentration of ships was a very attractive set of targets"

    Did the Luftwaffe or Kriegsmarine have any torpedo or dive bombers that could travel 470 miles from bases in Brest?

    If they couldn't rescue her, why not avenge her?

    Apparently, there was one U-boat (U-74) that was at the final battle. It says, the captain "tried to maneuver into an attack position, but the weather was too bad and the seas too high to remain at periscope depth or to fire a torpedo." Was that reality or was it a lack of effort?

    I'm just trying erase my impression that not much effort was done to save Bismarck. Who wouldn't feel terrible about abandoning their buddies to their fate.
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The U-boats likely couldn't get there in time. Combat vessels operating at speed weren't particularly easy targets for U-boats either.
     
  3. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    Whether they had U-Boats or planes or anything else to save them, the damage already done to the Bismarck, with its rudder stuck in a position that would have it going in circles, it would have been either very hard or even impossible to save it. They had sent men in diving gear to fix the rudder, but because water was pouring in so fast they couldn't get to it. Also with practically almost every major Royal Navy vessel of the Atlantic on the hunt for the Bismarck, and since the Geman navy wasn't near as strong or large as the Royal Navy, they would have been almost outmatched.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I agree it isn't a matter of rescueing the Bismarck. Lacking the ridder jaming hit she may or may not have made it to port but it probably still not a matter of being rescued.
     
  5. Triton

    Triton New Member

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    Lütjens tried to pass the area with the german subs, but has to abandon this plan because Bismarck had lost more fuel than expected or they couldn't use some capacity.

    Lütjens couldn't even rescue his reports for the Kriegsmarine via the Arado.

    Everybody in the Kriegsmarine tried everything possible, Bismarck was such an important ship, essential for the Atlantik warfare.
     
  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    They were summoned...A few days before, on May 24th.

    The intended meeting place was grid square AJ 68(well south of Greenland). The Western Group, submarines U-43, U-46, U-66, U-94, and U-557 were to form a line running northwest to southeast through AJ 68. Two more U-boats, U-73 & U-93 were the further away and were giving positions northeast of the U-Boat line. Additionally, there was the Biscay Group, submarines U-48, U-97, U-98(out of torpedoes), and U-138 were to take up station in grid square BE 64(southwest of Ireland). However, due to mechanical difficulties, U-138 was unable to take it's station. Finally, U-556 returning from patrol, low on fuel and out of torpedoes, was to join the Biscay Group. U-108 was ordered to leave Lorient, and U-552 was ordered to sail from St. Nazaire to assist the Biscay Group.

    As such, all available U-boats that were capable of "rescuing" the Bismarck were mobilized...

    Now, the plot thickened the next day, May 25th, the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen had dispersed. As such, the Western Group was ordered to reform a patrol line from grid squares AJ 61 to AK 72. U-73 was detached from the Western Group to join the Biscay Group, as was U-74 which was returning from patrol due to depth charge damage. The Biscay Group was now tasked to form a patrol line from BE 61 to BF 71, with the damaged U-74 to head to grid square BE 53.

    on May 26th, U-556 would spot King George V and Ark Royal, but being out of torpedoes, all she could was maintain contact and give position reports. But eventually U-556 lost contact, before any U-Boats could join her.

    On very early on May 27th, at 00:15, U-73 reported sighting Bismarck and enemy forces in grid square BE 61. U-73's last contact was around 02:31 and reported a gunnery action between 3 units in grid square BE 61. The last U-Boat to get close was U-74.


    The Germans knew what they were up against. However, the changing tactical situation kept working against them. They also tended to be working with old position as to the Bismarck's location, and several times the Kriegsmarine only had a general idea of her location.


    Reality.

    The U-Boats were reporting wind speeds varying on the Beaufort Scale between 7 - 9. Which roughly translates into waves between 4 - 7 meters high.
     
  7. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    The rudder didnt jam...How do you do that? The Steering room was hit and it flooded...all hands out of the room and sealed. They would need to have fixed the leaks/hole and pump the water out before being able to move the rudders again.
     
  8. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    After being found, the Bismarck came under attack by obsolete torpedoe planes. One of them flying at a very low altitude dropped its torpedoe that managed to find its port rudder as well as the starboard rudder. The crew managed to repair the starboard rudder but they couldn't fix the port rudder. Once it hit that, the ship was stuck going in circles.
     
  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Skipper Wohlfarth identified the ship with Ark Royal as KGV, but it was Renown which was in Force H along with the carrier. Renown had been reconstructed including a new superstructure similar to the KGV class, two blocks separated by a space for the aircraft catapult. She also had two turrets forward and one aft, so it was an understandable mistake looking through a periscope in heavy weather.
     
  10. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Worse than that - what "progress" she was able to make was in the wrong direction, towards the approaching British ships. This was due to the hit forward from Prince of Wales, which caused Bismarck to trim down by the bow; this is quite noticeable in the last photo of Bismarck taken by Prinz Eugen. Von Mullenheim-Rechberg describes how they tried various combinations of power on the screws, only to have the wind and sea force them back to a NW heading.

    In normal trim, Bismarck, like most warships, would have more "sail area" forward. The bow was higher than the stern, and the forward superstructure much more massive than the after, so the same effects of wind and sea might have forced her onto the SE course she wanted to maintain towards France. Instead of being forced to crawl towards her opponents, she would make slow progress away, and even with a speed advantage they would have more distance to cover. Perhaps she would have made it to within air cover or beyond their ability to pursue.

    So it appears that PofW should get a considerable share of the credit. Her hit forced Lutjens to abandon his raiding mission and head for France, and it contributed to Bismarck's inability to escape her pursuers.
     
  11. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Member

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    Even with all screws destroyed (not just the rudders), Bismarck could be rescued! Just hold off the British long enough until another ship can tow her back to Brest.

    I didn't realize U-boats were so slow - < 15 knots on the surface, which would seriously hurt their ability to act like a destroyer screen (I remember in the battle of Surigao Strait, the Japanese battleships were devastated by a torpedo attack from the forward deployed destroyer screen before they could even engage the American capital ships)

    Takao,
    Wow, it sounds almost like you were there. I was about to ask where you got all this info, but it seems it's available on this site: http://www.kbismarck.com/bismarck-chase.html

    What would happen if you fire torpedos in Beaufort Scale 7 waves? Can you increase the travel depth below the surface? It seems the weather was pretty bad because according to http://www.german-navy.de/kriegsmarine/articles/feature1.html, Rodney open fired only after closing to within 16,000 yards, while I remember in the hypothetical Bismarck vs Prince Wales engagement from Great Naval Battles: North Atlantic, the starting range was 30,000 yards in calm weather.

    Does anyone know if those analog fire control computers could correct for the heaving/swaying? The Abrams tank definitely can (you should see it firing while traveling 40mph over hilly terrain)

    How unfair. In a fair fight, Bismarck would best Rodney easily. She's 7 knots slower so all Bismarck needs to do is to get behind her where Rodney wouldn't even be able to fire back since her triple turrets all in the front!
     
  12. Triton

    Triton New Member

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    Historical research has proven you wrong: Rodney was equipped with a rudder.
    Rodney/Nelson were the worst ships in the Atlantic, you could meet in a gunfight. Heavily armoured, the biggest guns and 9 of them.

    Lütjens headed for Brest after he realised the actual damage inflicted by PoW. Given his orders (merchant warfare) and regarding the character of Lütjens, it was PoW which sent him back to port.
     
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The rudder is "jammed" if it doesn't respond to the helm. I used to be on the "Emergency Steering Team", meaning I got to help trying moving the rudder by manually powering the hydraulic pumps to drive the rams. Exhausting work in narrow seas.
     
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  14. Thoddy

    Thoddy Member

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    If a torpedo detonates against the hull it creates a hole at least about 5 m in diameter. Additional any light structural material was removed in the vicinity of detonation.


    If this happens beneath the rudder compartment there is no chance to seal up such a hole at sea as this work requires shipyard capabilities.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The holing damage in the bow by projectile was welded shut by the crew. Oblt. z.S. Richter was the one if memory serves

    German ships had a master stable element. Ship movements around A-B-C axis went into calculation for firing solution. I suspect all major navies posses stabilisation
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    A bit OT but it's an item that tends to bug me for some reason. The "string bags" were not obsolete at that time. Obsolesent perhaps but in the early part of the war their performance as torpedo and ASW planes wasn't bad at all.

    Look up Rodneys turning circle then do the math. You will find that the only way Bismark can stay out of Rodneys fields of fire is if she closes to rediculously close range and even then it's questionable. The extra 7 knots might allow Bismarck to control the range at least to some extent and allow her to escape. Of course after the encounter with PoW she wasn't capable of her full speed anymore either. In addition to having heavier guns and more of them Rodney is extremely well armored. In some respects Bismarck is as well it being very difficult to get a shell into anything beneath her turtle deck. Of course that doesn't mean her main armament and fire control can't be takne out as happened historically. Other areas were vulnerable as well. If both ships were undamaged and started out of range I would likely give Bismarck a slight edge of winning a one on one. Of course in doing so it's still likely to be a British strategic victory.
     
  16. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    The stringbags were replaced with Albacores...then replaced back with the stringbags...
     
  17. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The Barracuda replaced the Albacore.
     
  18. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    eventually...the Albacores were found wanting and the stringbags re-introduced.
     
  19. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Not on any of the British fleet carriers that I am aware of. Although, AFAIK, the HMS Illustrious was the only fleet carrier not to embark any Albacores. IIRC, she went from Swordfish to Barracudas.
     
  20. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    one of only a handful (only?) aircraft to replace its replacement.
     

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