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The KGM Bismarck

Discussion in 'Surface and Air Forces' started by Flying Tiger, Feb 14, 2007.

  1. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    Of course, but do you really think that it was going to win the war on its own?
     
  2. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    That's very true. But the problem was that the numbers of U-boats were insufficient to be decisive at a time when Britain might have been forced to the negotiating table. By the time Germany was able to produce large numbers of U-Boats, the United States was building ships literally faster than the U-Boats could sink them.
     
  3. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    No. Guerre de Courses rarely are successful. Instead, they are spoilers. They are the strategy of choice at sea when you don't have the sea power to overcome your opponet. What you are doing is making the war as expensive as possible in the hopes of breaking the bank.

    The bottom line for the Germans is that they cannot be both a sea power and a land power. If they choose to try and be both it is likely they will fail at both. At sea their best course of action was simply to defend their coasts and conduct a vicious commerce war against Britain. On land Britain would be incapable of winning and in the long run a stalemate would ensue. Due to the higher cost of the commerce war Germany could hope to eventually negotiate a peace on favorable terms.
    For the British their only hope lay in gaining allies that could supply the necessary land power to overcome Germany. Russia and the US did this nicely for them. In addition, the British got the US as another seapower on top of their capacity as a land power.
    Now, Japan and Germany might have complemented each other in a war had the two been more co-located than they were.
     
    Kai-Petri likes this.
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    ...after Adolf Hitler declared war on them both......;)
     
  5. mavfin

    mavfin Member

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    Not on its own, but if you need a look at what submarines could do to shipping lanes if not effectively countered, just look to the Pacific, to what the US Navy's submarines, faulty torpedoes and all, did to the Japanese supply chain.

    Then think about where Britain would have been had the Germans been properly set up to do it right.
     
  6. kingthreehead

    kingthreehead Member

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    interesting topic sure to keep my eye on this one
     
  7. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    ... thereby earning the 1941 Darwin Award.
     
  8. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    the failure was due to the complete ineptness of both the KM and the LW not working together, the U-booten arm really did have a chance to really inflict terrible damage but without effective eyes from 43 onward...........0
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    It also helps if your surface fleet is bigger than the other guys and keep them busy as well.

    It should also be noted that by the time the US submarine campaign really got going the torpedo problem was fixed.
     
  10. OpanaPointer

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

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    This from Battle Damage to Surface Ships During World War II, by I. M. Korotkin, Leningrad, 1960, (translated from the Russian) for the Voyenno-Morshoy Flot. (The images may not come through, they'll be online RSN.)

    20. LOSS OF GERMAN BATTLESHIP BISMARCK. 27 MAY 1941
    Basic Ship Data. Bismarck (sister ship of Tirpitz; see Item 17) was laid down in 1936, launched in 1939, and commissioned in 1941.
    Damage to and Circumstances of the Loss of the Ship. The circumstances of the loss of BISMARCK were entirely different from those in which her sister ship Admiral Tirpitzwas sunk. The operation to destroy the TIRPITZ lasted more than a year; the sinking of Bismarck required only a few days, although the British Admiralty was forced to concentrate considerable naval power to achieve this.
    On 19 May 1941, Bismarck together with Prinz Eugen was ordered into the Atlantic to mount attacks on British communication lines. According to her operating-tactical elements, Bismarck excelled any of the British ships of the line. However, the operations planned by the German command for the two raiders, which opposed the powerful and numerous units of the British fleet deployed in Atlantic waters to protect communications, took on the character of an adventure. It should be noted that up to the middle of May 1941, Bismarck and Prinz Eugen had not participated in any operations.
    [176]​
    Having been warned of the sortie of two German ships, British intelligence worked diligently to discover them. At 1922, on 23 May, the British cruiser Suffolk established the position of Bismarck in the northern sector of the Danish Strait. At that time the British had at their disposal in the North Atlantic area: three battleships (King George V, Prince Of Wales, and Ramilles), two battle cruisers (Hood and Renown), three aircraft carriers (Illustrious, Victorious, and Ark Royal), four cruisers, and five destroyers.
    On 24 May Bismarck entered into action with the battle cruiser Hood and sank her within a few minutes. During the very first salvos, Hood suffered a hit from a German 15-inch shell in the after projectile magazine; she exploded and sank so quickly that only three of the crew were saved. The sinking of Hood made a very strong impression on the British; therefore other British ships, afraid to share her fate, decided not to engage Bismarck on that day. So, from that time, the pursuit of Bismarck began to be organized and strengthened by the main forces of the British fleet.
    [177]​
    Bismarck was attacked by torpedo planes from Victorious on 25 May and from Ark Royal on 26 May. The attacks by the torpedo planes were successful; the ship sustained three direct hits from aerial torpedoes and suffered serious damage. On the following day, the battleship again underwent an attack, this time from British destroyers, Cossack and Maori, and suffered two more torpedo hits. After five torpedo hits, the battleship was considerably damaged but was still in condition to engage in a gun fight with the British battleships Rodney and King George V and the cruiser Dorsetshire on 27 May. As a result of the engagement, Bismarck guns went out of commission; the ship lost way and found herself in a difficult condition. Finally the German battleship was sunk by torpedoes from the cruiser Dorsetshire .
    Let us review the character and the consequences of the damage suffered by Bismarck from the action of torpedoes and enemy shells in the various steps of its destruction.
    The first torpedo hit suffered by the battleship (in the midships section of the hull starboard side on 25 May 1941 at 0025) was from an aerial torpedo launched from an aircraft of Victorious. As a result the Bismarck was forced to reduce speed to 22 knots. Escaping from pursuit, the battleship began to change course and at 0300 hid from the enemy.
    The second and third torpedo hits that Bismarck received (at 1730 on 25 May) occurred during an attack by aircraft from Ark Royal which had discovered the battleship a few hours earlier. The second torpedo hit amidships portside, and the third in the stern starboard side. The hull of the ship was damaged in the vicinity of the explosion; the rudder and the screws appeared to have been damaged, and the ship lost control and described two complete circles. Speed was decreased to 14 knots.
    [178] ​
    The fourth and fifth hits were suffered by the battleship on 27 May at 0130 during the attack by destroyers. Torpedoes hit the bow section of the battleship, one in the starboard side and another in the portside. The bow section of the ship was seriously damaged from the explosions and was enveloped in flames. This occurred 400 miles from Brest. The battleship at first stopped, then proceeded at 8 knots, and again began to engage in a gun duel with the British ships which lasted from 0900 to 1015. The engagement began from a distance of 10 miles, but toward the end of the battle, the British ships had shortened the distance to 2 1/2 to 3 miles. Most of the damage caused by shelling was in the above-water section of the battleship.
    As a result of the gunfight, the following damage to the battleship occurred (basically in the above-water section of the ship): First the forward main battery turret was put out of action as were the forward and after fire-control stations. Then, after a direct hit which caused an internal explosion, Turret No. 4 was damaged. An hour after the engagement began, i.e., at 1000, all of the main battery guns of the battleship were put out of action and only the anti-mine guns continued to fire for another 10 minutes.
    [179]​
    At 1015 Bismarck guns went completely out of commission, and the gun battle ceased.
    The sixth, seventh, and eighth torpedo hits the battleship suffered were from the cruiser Dorsetshire , which also fired her guns at the same time. Two torpedoes hit the portside and one the starboard side of the battleship (according to other information, one of the three final torpedoes was launched by Rodney).
    These last torpedo hits finished Bismarck; the battleship, which was settling by the stern and rising at the bow, rolled over on her port-side and sank at 1100.
    In all, more than 90 torpedoes were launched at the ship (35 were ship-type and more than 55 were aerial). A diagram of torpedo hits is shown in Figure 90.
    In the shelling of Bismarck on 27 May, in which battleships, cruisers, and destroyers participated, about 2900 shells were shot at the ship including 700 14- and 16-inch shells.
    From the entire crew of the battleship, only about 100 men were saved; more than 2000 military and civilians aboard were lost.
    Conclusions. Bismarck was sunk as a result of the combined effects of eight contact torpedo explosions and a great number of shells.
    [180]​
    [​IMG]
    Figure 90 - Bismarck.
    Diagram of Torpedo Hits ​
    Three of the torpedoes that hit were aviation-type (210 kilograms of explosive substance) and five were ship-type (340 kilograms of explosive substance). The aerial torpedoes hit the midsection and the after section of the ship; the ship-type hit the bow and midsection. On the whole, the ship suffered the effects of about 3500 kilograms of explosive substance (in TNT equivalent) from torpedo hits alone.
    In all the steps of the battle, torpedoes played the basic role in lowering watertight integrity, decreasing speed and, losing control. They were also the reason for the incapacitation of the electrical equipment and the flooding of heavy-caliber ammunition magazines which decreased the striking power of the ship.
    The shell hits destroyed and put conning stations and main battery and antiaircraft directors out of commission. Shell hits on the side of the ship in the vicinity of the waterline also lowered her watertight integrity. However, despite the great number of shell hits, the ship remained afloat, and additional torpedoes were required to sink her.
    [181]​
    The role played by the armored plating in the case of BISMARCK was to significantly increase survivability of the ship against the action of the shells. The armor system adopted by the German fleet with a main armored deck sloping to the side appeared to have been extremely effective against British 14-inch projectiles, despite the comparatively small thickness of the side armor used (320 mm).
    The structural underwater protection of Bismarck was designed and tested (in the longitudinal center) to a resistance of 300 to 350 kilograms of TNT/RDX/AL explosive substance; i.e., it was at the limit of resistance against British ship torpedoes. At the extremities, it was significantly weaker. Thus, the effect of torpedoes, possessing great destructive force, would be most dangerous. Furthermore, they hit in the vicinity of the region where the structural underwater protection was the weakest.
    According to her displacement and dimensions, Bismarck could have had a significantly stronger underwater protection, and consequently a much higher survivability (her structural underwater protection was equivalent in resistance to the structural underwater protection of Scharnhorst, which had significantly less displacement and beam).*
    * In 1949, while discussing the reasons and the circumstances of the damage and the loss of Bismarck, British shipbuilders ascribed the ability to obtain a strong underwater protection on Bismarck to the adoption of a great beam for the ship (36.0 meters), but it should be noted that, within the limits of available space (5.4 meters) and weight, with correct construction of the underwater protection, the battleship could have been significantly less vulnerable.
    [182]​
    The underwater protection for the ship had several major deficiencies which lowered her survivability. The weak point of the structural underwater protection was the absence of an inboard void compartment. In the protective system with a single and flat armored bulkhead (see Figure G2 for midship section of the sister ship TIRPITZ), each of her structural deficiencies appeared to have been fatal and, in case of destruction of her watertightness, the water flooded the most vital parts of the ship. Later, this circumstance was taken into account and, in subsequent plans for battleships (the "N"), the Germans provided for the presence of inboard void compartments.
    Thus, on a whole, the underwater protection of the battleship was weak (against the guns of World War II). It could serve (and, actually, during circumstances complicated by damage, did serve) only to limit the amount of damage and flooding of the ship in the presence of torpedo explosions.
    Moreover, it should be pointed out that Bismarck shared the fate of a majority of the battleships lost in World War II; she also sank while rolling over. The destructive lists were her weak point.
    Being in good working order, the fire-control system on Bismarck operated very accurately and accounts for the rapid ranging and destruction of Hood. But even during a minor disturbance in the central [183] fire-control system — which was inescapable because of the damage to the superstructure where it was located (like that, for instance, which occurred during the engagement on 27 May) — Bismarck could not shoot successfully even at close range. This attests to the great vulnerability, of the superstructures of modern heavy ships even to medium-caliber gunfire.
    On Bismarck, as on other warships, projecting parts of the ship appeared to be very vulnerable. During explosions of torpedoes even of small caliber, the rudder, propellers, and shafts went out of commission and led to a loss of way and control.
    Circumstances which contributed to the sustained resistance of the ship against the action of enemy ammunition include the strong sides which provided for the survival of the ship, the well-organized damage-control procedures used by the crew, the protracted time of the action, and the equal distribution of torpedo hits on the sides.
    The ship could withstand a comparatively great number of torpedo and shell hits and, in this regard, not only remained afloat with a small list but continued underway and continued firing.
    The ship possessed a comparatively great stability (its initial metacentric height was about 4.0 meters); in addition to the underwater protection, which limited the amount of damage and flooding, there was a powerful system to restore zero list; watertightness of the hull was sufficiently well provided for.
    [184]​
    It is quite possible that the height of maximum flooding of compartments was limited by the low location of the main armored deck (at the level of the waterline), which remained intact during explosions. In the presence of such a low location of the deck for completely flooded compartments, there were no free-surface effects on the stability of the ship; the center of gravity of the flooded compartments was lowered and could have improved ship stability somewhat.
    Damage suffered by the battleship was not all inflicted immediately, but occurred gradually over a period of 3 days. This permitted the crew to use every means to save the ship, including anti-list systems and jettisoning of equipment.
    The equal distribution of torpedo hits (four torpedoes each in the starboard side and portside) led to an automatic righting of the ship. There should be no doubt that if BISMARCK had received all of the hits on one side (as was the case with several Japanese and British battleships) and, moreover, received them in the space of a short time, she could have sustained a significantly smaller number of torpedo and shell hits.
    It should be noted that those torpedoes which hit the extremities of the battleship caused considerable damage but did not cause great lists.

    Larry J
     
  11. bobddude

    bobddude Member

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    Why do you think the Prinz sank Hood?
     
  12. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    No. The Prinz Eugen was incapable of penetrating any of the armor of the Hood at the range of engagement. In fact, the Prinz Eugen's 8" guns were not even capable of doing significant damage at the engagement range to Hood. It has been rather conclusively proved Bismarck fired the fatal round.
     
  13. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    One of the sources I read, stated that perhaps the Prinz Eugen had the range and degree of plunging fire to penetrate the Hood's secondary armour amidships, thus touching off her AAA magazines and perhaps causing a chain reactions of explosions throughout the ship, before breaking her into three pieces.
     
  14. OpanaPointer

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

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    I doubt the weight of explosives in the AA mags would have been enough to penetrate the main deck armor. Also, considering the location of the mags, it doesn't seem likely that an explosion would be efficacious. Take note of the "blow out" panels on the modern M1A1 tanks, designed to allow an explosion to expend to the outside of the tank's hull rather than be contained inside the armor.

    However, I'd like to read your source if you would be so kind as to provide a reference?
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    That theory dates back to the 70's I believe. Possibly the 80's it's generally not given much weight today. Check out the kbismark forum and I'm sure you can find a fair amount of discussion on it.
     
  16. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

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    one question i have to forumers is why some of them maintan that the bismark was primarily designed as a commerce raider and not for open engagement with enemy battleships. i tried looking at the german design program for their schlackshiffe (H-series) and can find no mention of this, besides possible application. all the features built into the series (h-38 for the bismark) shows a priority for firepower, transverse stability, small and tight compartments, high angle armor slope, all of which imply survivability when engaging enemy battleships, particularly at close range.
     
  17. namvet

    namvet Member

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  18. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Member

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    The thing that has always fascinated me about the Hood/Bismarck saga was the two incredible pieces of luck involved.

    The first of course is the shell in the Hood magazine, and the second is the torpedo in the Bismarck rudder.

    I believe that the battleship encounter at Jutland had a hit ratio of about 2% or a fraction more.

    By WW2, that ratio had improved to about 4%.

    A hit almost anywhere else on the Hood would not have been fatal but this one was. And the torpedo could have struck 5 feet away and not hurt the Bismarck.

    And about 3000 men died.


    OJ
     
  19. namvet

    namvet Member

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    same with the Arizona at pearl harbor. 1 lucky bomb right into the mag.
     
  20. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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