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anemone
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Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 4/29/2016 4:56:50 AM
Following the battle of the Denmark Strait and the sinking of HMS Hood-Admiral Lutjens, the German commander, detached the undamaged Prinz Eugen to operate independently; while Bismarck raced towards safety.

The remaining battleships of the Home Fleet–King George V and Repulse–were still far from Bismarck and the prospects of an immediate rematch seemed slim. In an effort to slow Bismarck even further, Admiral Tovey ordered the aircraft carrier Victorious to launch an air strike. Then, to prevent Bismarck from escaping to the south, the Admiralty directed ‘Force H’, consisting of the battle-cruiser Renown, the cruiser Sheffield and the Ark Royal, to set a course north from Gibraltar.

In response to Admiral Tovey’s orders, Victorious launched her planes at about 10 pm. Like Ark Royal, Victorious’ squadron flew antiquated Swordfish bombers. Since the carrier was loaded with 48 crated Hurricane fighters that she had been ready to ship to North Africa when the emergency arose, there was room on board for only nine operational torpedo bombers and five fighters. This meagre force located Bismarck at about midnight and pressed home an attack. Squadron leader Eugene Esmonde scored a direct hit against Bismarck, but the torpedo caused no damage to the battleship’s massive armour plate

Having shrugged off the air attack, Bismarck next succeeded in outfoxing Suffolk and breaking the radar contact that the cruiser had maintained throughout the night. Guessing that the Bismarck would head west into the Atlantic, Admiral Tovey concentrated his search in that direction.

On board the German ship, however, Admiral Gunther Lutjens had decided to head toward occupied France for refueling and repairs. Throughout the next day he drew farther away from the British vessels, and Tovey’s hopes of finding and attacking her faded.



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Jim
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wombat1417
New York City, NY, USA
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 4/29/2016 6:42:33 AM
Once you're unmanueverable, low on fuel and surrounded? Well, yes.
Up until the torpedo hit on the rudders, maybe not so much.
Best book ever written on the subject: "Pursuit" by Ludovic Kennedy.
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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 4/29/2016 7:11:12 AM
Hi wombat-I too have Kennedy's "Pursuit" among others. Hereunder a quote from "Pursuit" :-

"It was the lack of fuel that was the most direct cause of Lutjen's defeat (and very nearly Tovey's withdrawal).Had Bismarck sailed from Norway with full tanks as should have been the case,Lutjen's might still,despite PoW's hit,have turned west into the Atlantic to shake off his shadowers,then replenished his tanks from one of the waiting tankers- before turning for home.Alternately he could have steered directly for Brest at a much higher speed-one that would have outdistanced Force H.Undoubtedly- luck on this occasion- was with the British.
The hit on the rudders by Ark Royal's Swordfish was,as the Germans said-one in a hundred thousand." This,IMO argues against the inevitability of Bismarck sinking

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Jim
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Michigan Dave
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 4/29/2016 4:24:19 PM

Quote:
Hi wombat-I too have Kennedy's "Pursuit" among others. Hereunder a quote from "Pursuit" :-

"It was the lack of fuel that was the most direct cause of Lutjen's defeat (and very nearly Tovey's withdrawal).Had Bismarck sailed from Norway with full tanks as should have been the case,Lutjen's might still,despite PoW's hit,have turned west into the Atlantic to shake off his shadowers,then replenished his tanks from one of the waiting tankers- before turning for home.Alternately he could have steered directly for Brest at a much higher speed-one that would have outdistanced Force H.Undoubtedly- luck on this occasion- was with the British.
The hit on the rudders by Ark Royal's Swordfish was,as the Germans said-one in a hundred thousand." This,IMO argues against the inevitability of Bismarck sinking

Regards
Jim
--anemone



Jim,

And what would be the odds of Bismarck sinking Hood from 7 miles away with one shot in mere minutes!?

MD
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richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 4/29/2016 5:03:20 PM

Quote:
And what would be the odds of Bismarck sinking Hood from 7 miles away with one shot in mere minutes!?


Twenty shots. She was hit the second and fatal time by the fifth four-gun salvo Bismarck fired.

lennox
Victoria, BC, Canada
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 4/30/2016 12:07:13 AM
In my opinion yes. Once the FAA's Swordfish had d amaged the rudders &/ or propellers she was in deep trouble. The the Home fleet gets in contac6b and the whole thing is a shooting match especially after Bismarck's main guns are disabled .
Now Bismarck had got a few more miles eastward then the Luftwaffe could have , maybe covered her and maybe more U boasts could have made contact with Home fleet. Of course that is not how it happened .
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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 4/30/2016 3:23:59 AM
I cannot but agree the facts-Bismarck was sunk; but I was looking at the probabilities and possibilities of her escaping a watery grave.

After the failed attack by Victorious's Swordfish -there followed a series of blunders on both sides.

Admiral Lutjens, having finally avoided all pursuit, broadcast a 30-minute message to Berlin describing the battle against Hood. Long before the message was concluded, British radio direction-finders had pinpointed Bismarck’s position-which was fatal Now had he not made that signal ?????

On the British side, misunderstandings and faulty plotting led to a pursuit in the wrong direction and it was late in the day before Admiral Tovey’s ships actually turned in the direction of Bismarck.

Regards
Jim
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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 4/30/2016 9:00:14 AM
Fuel shortage was becoming critical in the British fleet. Repulse, Prince of Wales, and several smaller ships had to give up the chase in order to refuel. To partially offset these losses, the 16" gunned battleship Rodney was released from convoy duty to join in the hunt for Bismarck.

On the morning of 26th May, long-range patrol planes sighted Bismarck 130 miles ahead of Admiral Tovey’s battleships. The distance was too far to cover before the German ship would reach safety. Only Force H stood between Bismarck and France.

Force H did not appear to be a formidable obstacle. Renown was a sister-ship of Hood, with the same fatally weak armour, and Tovey ordered her captain not to close within range of Bismarck. The cruiser Sheffield was fast and agile enough to shadow the enemy and keep Tovey appraised of Bismarck’s location, but was no match for the battleship.

The third ship of Force H, Ark Royal, offered the only hope of engaging the enemy successfully.

Regards
Jim
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brian grafton
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 4/30/2016 11:34:58 PM
Hmmm...

God knows that the sinking of the Bismarck came at a good time for the British. At the risk of having every lover of "Heart of Oak" come after me with a club, might I ask exactly how many ships and/or aircraft did it take to sink Bismarck? Or exactly where Prinz Eugen ended up? Or how effective the Home Fleet was during six long years of war?

IIUC, Hood and Prince of Wales were probably silhouetted for Bismarck's main guns. And, like nearly every other major British warship since WW1, Hood was vulnerable to plunging fire. Prince of Wales was perhaps a match for Bismarck, but no commander is advised to engage with light favouring the enemy (we're talking 05:00 in March, so SSE is a bad location in even a midshipman's book of tables). By the same token, no commander is advised to subject his ship to plunging fire when he knows this is a major and well-known vulnerability.

So it all really came down to some "antiquated" Swordfish, by all accounts both obsolete and amongst the most effective of the RNAS a/c. Without them, all the King's ships were useless. Again.

I'm not quite certain what the Home Fleet was supposed to do during the war, to be honest. The argument was that it was in place at Scapa to contain German navel elements which, if vastly inferior in number to the British Fleet, were sufficiently threatening to keep a huge number of vessels at anchor for a large number of months. It was there to keep the Channel open (which, arguably, it couldn't do between July 1940 and at least February 1942). And when two German ships finally sailed from Germany, the RN neither picked up on the sailing nor was able to engage them effectively. Some Home Fleet; some strategy!

Okay, so eventually the combined power of Scapa and Gibraltar were able to damage a single German man of war, and - eventually - to sink her. I think, after Bismarck's rudder mechanism was damaged she was an all but inevitable loss. But I can't actually suggest it was because of the tactics, planning or superiority of RN planning, execution or seamanship.

It wasn't be the first time the British made a victory out of a near run thing, and it wouldn't be the last. Had Graf Spee decided to sail out of Montevideo in late 1939, there is nothing suggesting RN forces on hand could have stopped her. IMHO, it might be possible to argue that with the Graf Spee, the Germans did what the RN/NZN force could not

Sure, by the time the RN had crippled Bismarck, had disabled her, had been able to surround her with ships from at least two major stations, and had already given up on Prinz Eugen, I think Bismarck was toast. But I don't think the sinking of the Bismarck is a tribute to the RN.

Just to carry this a bit further, it is worth looking at the "Channel Dash" of February, 1942. Fiasco is too kind a word.

Cheers
Brian G

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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/1/2016 4:25:31 AM
Thank you Brian for your considered critique re the hnt and sinking of Bismarck.
Quote

"might I ask exactly how many ships and/or aircraft did it take to sink Bismarck?"

After the sinking of Hood and the withdrawal of HMS Prince of Wales, many squadrons of the Royal Navy were diverted to hunt for Bismark, including Force H based in Gibraltar.

All in all, the ships involved were:
4 Battleships: Prince of Wales, King George V, Ramillies.Revenge and Rodney
2 Battlecruisers: Repulse and Renown
2 Aircraft Carriers: Ark Royal and Victorious
3 Heavy Cruisers: Suffolk, Norfolk and Dorsetshire
7 light cruisers
14 Destroyers
3 submarines
3 Royal Canadian Navy Destroyers
1 Polish Navy destroyer

So if you count Hood, you have 41 ships involved in hunting Bismark.

Aircraft involved-A Sunderland and about 24 Swordfish torpedo bombers.

I agree wholeheartedly with your mention of the Hood Force's approach to action with Bismarck. VADM Holland's plan was to cross the enemy's T at dawn on a westerly course-fair enough.However-because Suffolk lost contact with bismarck at midnight-Holland decided 10 minutes later to abandon his original course and sailed north for two hours trying to contact Bismarck himself-after those two hours he swung back onto a southerly diverging course and could have turned west and crossed Bismarck's at about 05.00-he didn't and wound up approaching Bismarck at 05.30,silhouetted by the rising sun and his ships after turrets unable to bear.


The Home Fleet was the Royal Navy's main battle force in European waters during the Second World War. On 3 September 1939, under Admiral Forbes flying his flag in Nelson at Scapa Flow, it consisted of the 2nd Battle Squadron, the Battle Cruiser Squadron, 18th Cruiser Squadron, Rear-Admiral, Destroyers, Rear-Admiral, Submarines (2nd Submarine Flotilla, Dundee, 6th Submarine Flotilla, Blyth, Northumberland), Vice-Admiral, Aircraft Carriers (Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, with Ark Royal, Furious, and Pegasus), and the Orkney and Shetlands force.

Its chief responsibility was to keep Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine from breaking out of the North Sea. For this purpose, the First World War base at Scapa Flow was reactivated as it was well placed for interceptions of ships trying to run the blockade.

The two most surprising losses of the Home Fleet during the early part of the war were the sinking of the old battleship Royal Oak by the German submarine U-47 while supposedly safe in Scapa Flow, and the loss of the pride of the Navy, the battlecruiser Hood, to the German battleship Bismarck.

The operational areas of the Home Fleet were not circumscribed, and units were detached to other zones quite freely. However, the southern parts of the North Sea and the English Channel were made separate commands for light forces, and the growing intensity of the Battle of the Atlantic led to the creation of Western Approaches Command.

Only with the destruction of the German battleship Tirpitz in 1944 did the Home Fleet assume a lower priority, and most of its heavy units were withdrawn to be sent to the Far East as the unwanted,unnecessary,British Pacific Fleet.

Commanders-in-Chief during the Second World War were:[8]

Admiral Sir Charles Forbes (1939–1940)
Admiral Sir John Tovey (1940–1942)
Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser (1942–1944)
Admiral Sir Henry Moore (14 June 1944 – 24 November 1945)

Re.Prinz Eugen-Source-Wikipedia
With the weather worsening, Lütjens attempted to detach Prinz Eugen at 16:40. The squall was not heavy enough to cover her withdrawal from Wake-Walker's cruisers, which continued to maintain radar contact. Prinz Eugen was therefore recalled temporarily.

The heavy cruiser was successfully detached at 18:14. Bismarck turned around to face the Wake-Walker's formation, forcing Suffolk to turn away at high speed. Prince of Wales fired twelve salvos at Bismarck, which responded with nine salvos, none of which hit. The action diverted British attention and permitted Prinz Eugen to slip away.

On 26 May, Prinz Eugen rendezvoused with the supply ship Spichern to refill her nearly empty fuel tanks. She had by then only some 160 tons fuel left, enough for a day. Afterwards the ship continued further south on a mission against shipping lines. However, before any merchant ship was found, defects in her engines showed and on 27 May she was ordered to give up her mission and make for a port in occupied France.

On 28 May Prinz Eugen refuelled from the tanker Esso Hamburg. The same day more engine problems showed up, including trouble with the port engine turbine, the cooling of the middle engine and problems with the starboard screw, reducing her speed to maximum 28 knots. The screw problems could only be checked and repaired in a dock and thus Brest, with its large docks and repair facilities, was chosen as destination.

Despite the many British warships and several convoys in the area, at least 104 units were identified on the 29th by the ship's radio crew, Prinz Eugen reached the Bay of Biscay undiscovered, and on 1 June the ship was joined by German destroyers and aircraft off the coast of France south of Brest; and escorted to Brest, which she reached late on 1 June where she immediately entered dock.

Regards
Jim
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Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/1/2016 8:24:02 AM
Jim,

To answer your question after Bismarck sank Hood, she was a marked ship! With a posse of HMS ships that you just

listed, tracking this mighty German Battleship down! I would say Bismarck's demise was in evitable at that point!

Although Bismarck almost did escape?

What was it Churchill said??
MD
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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/1/2016 8:43:08 AM
Quote MD

"Although Bismarck almost did escape" Yes it did -Lutjens fateful message to the Fuhrer put paid to that and sealed his doom.


MD
Churchill said something like that shown below :-
"Sink the Bismarck at all costs- even if you to tow the KGV home"-this last bit is preposterous !!!

Regards
Jim
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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/1/2016 12:24:11 PM
Quote BG

"It wasn't be the first time the British made a victory out of a near run thing, and it wouldn't be the last."

Yes indeed-Home fleet going the wrong way and Bismarck escaping.So what does Lutjens do-he signals to his Naval HQ and the British cryptanalysts pick up the message AND Bismarck's position; and the Home Fleet's "bacon is saved" and Bismarck is now in a parlous situation- with carrier Ark Royal relatively close by.

Regards
Jim
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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/2/2016 1:43:44 PM
Correction

For reasons that are still unclear, Admiral Günther Lütjens transmitted a 30-minute radio message to HQ, which was intercepted, thereby giving the British time to work out roughly where he was heading.

However, a plotting error made on board King George V, now in pursuit of the Germans, incorrectly calculated Bismarck's position and caused the chase to veer too far to the north.

Bismarck was therefore able to make good time on 25/26 May in her unhindered passage towards France and protective air cover and destroyer escort. By now, though, fuel was becoming a major concern to both sides.

The British had another stroke of luck on 26 May. In mid-morning a Coastal Command Catalina reconnaissance aircraft from 209 Squadron RAF, which had flown over the Atlantic from its base on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland across the Donegal Corridor, a small corridor secretly provided by the Irish government, piloted by US Navy observer Ensign Leonard B. Smith, USNR,[10] spotted Bismarck (via a trailing oil slick from the ship's damaged fuel tank) and reported her position to the Admiralty.

Source-Grenfell's Bismarck Episode


Regards
Jim
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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/3/2016 4:36:59 AM
More luck was on the British side

The third ship of Force H, Ark Royal, offered the only hope of engaging the enemy successfully.

Though Ark Royal was capable of operating 60 aircraft, she, like Victorious, had an incomplete complement of Swordfish bombers. On the more promising side, these planes were flown by some of the most experienced airmen in the Royal Navy. At 2.30 pm, 14 planes took off after Bismarck.

The attack was nearly disastrous, for the air crews were unaware that Sheffield was near the intended target and when the pilots spotted the cruiser first they attacked her by mistake. Sheffield successfully avoided 11 torpedoes and escaped the ‘battle’ unscathed.

By shortly after 7 pm, crews had rearmed the Swordfish and readied them for another mission. The bombers, 15 this time, were guided to the target by signals from Sheffield. It was nearly 9 pm before the Swordfish finally located Bismarck and launched an attack.

Heavy anti-aircraft fire shredded the bombers’ canvas skins, but failed to bring down any of the attackers, who enjoyed somewhat better results than they had against Sheffield, hitting the battleship twice. The first hit demonstrated once again the apparent inability of the British torpedoes to inflict any serious damage against Bismarck’s armour. The next torpedo, however, hit the ship’s stern, and while it too failed to penetrate the armour, it jammed her rudder. The battleship slowed to a crawl and, unable to alter course, headed straight toward the British Home Fleet.

Admiral Tovey initially dismissed reports from observation planes that Bismarck had turned away from France, believing the inexperienced pilots were confusing the bow of the German vessel with the stern.

But as time went by and the reports went uncorrected, he began to realize that a showdown between the Home Fleet and Bismarck would be fought after all.

Regards
Jim
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Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/3/2016 6:40:00 AM
Jim,

Experience pilots? they attacked HMS Sheffield? BTW I wasn't aware of this mistaken attack, thanks for that juicy tidbit! Just a lucky shot on the pride of the Kriegsmarine, that led to Bismarcks demise? The light outer shell led to no Swordfish being shot gown? Some probably returned to Ark Royal as flying frames!

Interesting post!
MD
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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/3/2016 7:35:28 AM

Quote:
Jim,

Experience pilots? they attacked HMS Sheffield? BTW I wasn't aware of this mistaken attack, thanks for that juicy tidbit! Just a lucky shot on the pride of the Kriegsmarine, that led to Bismarcks demise? The light outer shell led to no Swordfish being shot gown? Some probably returned to Ark Royal as flying frames!

Interesting post!
MD
--Michigan Dave


All Swordfish air craft returned to Ark royal safely-their damage to Bismaeck ,though slight;was deadly-she was helpless-now turning towards the Home Fleet via her damaged rudder.She had had lots of breaks but now her luck was gone.

NB. The Swordfish on the second sortie signalled Sheffield "Sorry about the kipper". Sheffield managed to avoid the torpedo; but it did have faulty magnetic detonator which were changed for the second sortie.

Regards
Jim
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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/3/2016 11:52:13 AM
The morning of Tuesday, 27 May 1941 brought a heavy grey sky, a rising sea and a tearing wind from the northwest. Because of this northwesterly gale, Admiral Tovey concluded an attack on Bismarck from windward was undesirable. He decided to approach on a northwesterly bearing.

Provided the enemy continued steering northward, he would deploy to the south on an opposite course at a range of approximately 15,000 yd (14,000 m). Bismarck was sighted bearing 118° at a distance of 25,000 yd (23,000 m).

Rodney firing on Bismarck, which can be seen burning in the distance
Rodney and King George V drew closer to Bismarck in line abreast, their enemy well illuminated by the morning sun in the background. Rodney steered to the east so that her gunfire would work the length of Bismarck, while King George V took the side.

They opened fire at 08:47. Bismarck returned fire, but her inability to steer and her list to port severely affected her shooting accuracy. Her low speed of 11 kn (13 mph; 20 km/h) also made her an easy target and she was soon hit several times by the large guns of the British battleships, with the heavy cruisers Norfolk and Dorsetshire adding their firepower later, after Bismarck's heavy guns had all been put out of action.

One 16-inch (406 mm) salvo from Rodney destroyed the forward control post, killing most of the senior officers, while other salvoes destroyed all four gun turrets. Within 30 minutes, Bismarck's guns had all been silenced, and the ship was even lower in the water.

Rodney now closed to point-blank range (approximately 3 km (1.9 mi)) to fire into the superstructure while King George V fired from further out; so her fire would strike Bismarck from a more vertical angle and be more likely to penetrate the decks.The end was inevitably nigh.

Source-History Learning Site

Regards
Jim
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redcoat
Stockport, UK
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/4/2016 5:30:38 PM

Quote:
Jim,

Just a lucky shot on the pride of the Kriegsmarine, that led to Bismarcks demise?

Interesting post!
MD
--Michigan Dave
3 Major German warships were crippled by single torpedo hits on their sterns during WW2.

Michigan Dave
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/6/2016 2:16:05 PM

Quote:
Quote BG

"It wasn't be the first time the British made a victory out of a near run thing, and it wouldn't be the last."

Yes indeed-Home fleet going the wrong way and Bismarck escaping.So what does Lutjens do-he signals to his Naval HQ and the British cryptanalysts pick up the message AND Bismarck's position; and the Home Fleet's "bacon is saved" and Bismarck is now in a parlous situation- with carrier Ark Royal relatively close by.

Regards
Jim
--anemone




Jim,

The same Ark Royal the the German's later sank!?
---------------
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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/6/2016 2:22:22 PM
Bismarck continued to fly its ensign. The battleship's upper works were almost completely destroyed and although her engines were still functioning, Bismarck was slowly settling by the stern from uncontrolled flooding with a 20 degree list to port. She no longer had any functioning guns, therefore First Officer Hans Oels ordered the men below decks to abandon ship; he instructed the engine room crews to open the ship's watertight doors and prepare scuttling charges.

Gerhard Junack, the chief engineering officer, primed the charges and ordered the crew to abandon the ship.[5] Junack and his comrades heard the demolition charges detonate as they made their way up through the various levels. Most of the crew went into the water, but few sailors from the lower engine spaces got out alive.

With no sign of surrender, despite the unequal struggle, the British were loath to leave Bismarck. Their fuel and shell supplies were low—a demonstration of how difficult it was for a battleship to sink a similar unit even in an unbalanced engagement.

However, when it became obvious that their enemy could not reach port, Rodney, King George V and the destroyers were sent home. Norfolk had used her last torpedoes; therefore,

Dorsetshire launched three torpedoes at comparatively short range, at least one of which impacted on the super-structure as Bismarck was already largely underwater. Bismarck went under the waves at 10:39 that morning.

Dorsetshire and Maori attempted to rescue survivors, but a U-boat alarm caused them to leave the scene after having rescued only 110 Bismarck sailors, abandoning the majority of Bismarck's 2,200-man crew to the mercy of the water.

The next morning, U-74, dispatched to try to rescue Bismarck’s logbook (and which heard sinking noises from a distance), picked up three survivors and the German weather ship Sachsenwald picked up two survivors.

Source-Wikipedia

Regards
Jim
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James W.
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/19/2016 4:24:52 AM

Quote:


The two most surprising losses of the Home Fleet during the early part of the war were the sinking of the old battleship Royal Oak by the German submarine U-47 while supposedly safe in Scapa Flow, and the loss of the pride of the Navy, the battlecruiser Hood, to the German battleship Bismarck.


Regards
Jim

--anemone


"The two most surprising losses..." Jim?

How about the losses of two more useful RN capital ships in that period ( & both also stupidly needless losses) the carriers, Courageous & Glorious?

My take from the Bismarck debacle is the folly of allowing an incompetent Admiral to run a ship's tactics..
PoW's company was to find that out, ~1/2 a year later, too..

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/19/2016 5:00:23 AM
Well Yes James-no one in the Admiralty really expected a Uboat to penetrate Scapa Flo,but as we now know one did-hence surprise at the time

Hood was a mistake I admit, BUT again in hindsight-she was known to the Admiralty as being vulnerable to plunging shellfire; but Holland after making a fearful hash of his final approach-moved to within 6-7 miles of his enemy-fired at the wrong ship and was sunk by a Bismarck 15" shell- with a relatively flat trajectory- which tore into Hood's side aft; and she blew up- which in turn broke off the stern- and thence to Davy's Locker

Courageous was a WSC gaffe-deploying a valuable fleet carrier on ASW work-left by her escorts-which were haring about the sea looking for a Uboat-she was torpedoed by a Uboat near her and lost.Appalling loss.

Glorious was even worse- if that is possible-she was deployed in the ill fated Norwegian Campaign.Her captain-an obnoxious character-wanted and got to leave station to attend the curt martial of his Commander (Air) for dereliction of duty-which was BS.But off he went with a covering destroyer.Glorious was caught by the sisters who quickly sank her and her gallant destroyer.Staggering!!!

regards
Jim
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74 PA
Woodbridge, VA, USA
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/19/2016 1:13:02 PM
An interesting scenario is if the Germans had delayed Operation Rheinübung until July when both the Tirpitz and Scharnhorst would be ready. In that case, Bismarck, Tirpitz and Prinz Eugen could have sortied, possibly accompanied by the Scheer, from Norway and the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau from Brest. Such an undertaking could have stretched the RN to the breaking point. It's interesting to imagine what kind of fleet action could have occurred in this scenario.
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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/19/2016 1:29:03 PM
Two new battleships and three new battle cruisers and possibly a pocket battleship on the German side.Scattered all over the place the RN had two new battleships KGV and PoW,two Washington Treaty battleships Rodney and Nelson,five QE Class (WW1) battleships,three old R class battleships and three battle cruisers-Hood ,Renown and Repulse. Given time to collect them- the RN would have given good account of themselves IMO.Time-of course-would of the essence.

Regards
Jim

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James W.
Ballina, Australia
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/20/2016 3:51:43 AM
Ultra allowed for the interception of the German supply vessels, & between that & increasing air coverage, both in berths & over the Atlantic,
its fair to state that the day of the German surface raider was nearly done by mid `41..

The Kriegsmarine could not always rely on British incompetence such with the 'Channel Dash', look at 'Barents Sea' & 'North Cape' sea battles..

anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/20/2016 4:38:41 AM
I agree James; but not so sure about North Cape-Scharnhorst was sunk despite omissions by the naval command on the spot eg Fraser ignoring Enigma decrypts.

Regards
Jim

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James W.
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/20/2016 4:53:06 AM
True Jim, 'Lady Luck' is a fickle mistress, & Scharnhorst had successfully run away in heavy weather, from British heavy guns once before, but not this time..

wombat1417
New York City, NY, USA
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/30/2016 9:02:45 AM
This incident was described in Ludovic Kennedy's "Pursuit" years and years ago.
It's good that her part was finally acknowledged.

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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 5/30/2016 9:09:51 AM
Thanks wombat for the somewhat faded newspaper cutting; but is fitting that her part in the action is remembered in this thread too.

Regards
Jim
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James W.
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 6/2/2016 6:57:48 AM
What about Bismarck's lucky feline crew-member 'Oscar', who was reputedly rescued from the sinking by HMS Cossack & then transferred to HMS Ark Royal,
& having survived the loss of all 3 warships - was then put ashore by superstitious sailors, lest he prove again to be a 'Jinx'..

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 6/2/2016 10:59:28 AM

Quote:

Quote:
Jim,

Experience pilots? they attacked HMS Sheffield? BTW I wasn't aware of this mistaken attack, thanks for that juicy tidbit! Just a lucky shot on the pride of the Kriegsmarine, that led to Bismarcks demise? The light outer shell led to no Swordfish being shot gown? Some probably returned to Ark Royal as flying frames!

Interesting post!
MD
--Michigan Dave


All Swordfish air craft returned to Ark royal safely-their damage to Bismaeck ,though slight;was deadly-she was helpless-now turning towards the Home Fleet via her damaged rudder.She had had lots of breaks but now her luck was gone.

NB. The Swordfish on the second sortie signalled Sheffield "Sorry about the kipper". Sheffield managed to avoid the torpedo; but it did have faulty magnetic detonator which were changed for the second sortie.

Regards
Jim
--anemone




Bismarck, Must have had a chuckle at first, with WWI vintage Swordfish Bi Planes, coming at them!?

last laugh for UK Fly boys!
MD
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redcoat
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 6/2/2016 2:31:49 PM

Quote:
What about Bismarck's lucky feline crew-member 'Oscar', who was reputedly rescued from the sinking by HMS Cossack & then transferred to HMS Ark Royal,
& having survived the loss of all 3 warships - was then put ashore by superstitious sailors, lest he prove again to be a 'Jinx'..
--James W.
This story is disputed, as none of the crew members of the Bismarck who survived ever remembered the ship having a cat on board.

redcoat
Stockport, UK
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 6/2/2016 2:38:07 PM

Quote:




Bismarck, Must have had a chuckle at first, with WWI vintage Swordfish Bi Planes, coming at them!?

last laugh for UK Fly boys!
MD

--Michigan Dave

They were too busy worrying about the torpedo it carried to find time to chuckle.

anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 3/30/2017 1:23:16 PM
On the morning of 27 May Bismarck was attacked by the British battleships King George V and Rodney- supported by cruisers. After about 100 minutes of fighting she was battered to a standstill. Bismarck was sunk by the combined effects of heavy shell fire, torpedo hits and deliberate scuttling

Regards

Jim
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OpanaPointer
St. Louis, MO, USA
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 3/30/2017 1:31:31 PM
Scuttling her at that point was rather like hitting the "DOWN" button in a free-falling elevator.

anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 3/30/2017 1:43:09 PM
Germanic(Teutonic) pride dictated that the manner of her sinking should be questionable-I suppose Opana; but thanks for the amusing post.

Regards

jim
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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 3/31/2017 3:13:14 AM
Extract from Admiral Tovey's Official Dispatch


Quote:
Further gunfire would do little to hasten the Bismarck's end. I therefore decided to break off the action with King George V and Rodney, and instructed any ships still with torpedoes to use them on the Bismarck.

The Dorsetshire anticipated my order and torpedoed the Bismarck at close range on both sides; she sank at 1037 at position 48° 09'N ., 16° 07'W.

Although her sinking had been seen from the after director control tower in the King George V, the fact did not become known to me until 1100 and I informed the Flag Officer Commanding, Force "H", that I could not sink the Bismarck with gunfire; this signal (1045/27th May), which was perhaps unfortunately phrased, was addressed only to him and was intended to ensure that he should take any steps which might help to hasten her sinking; when intercepted by others, it may have caused some misunderstanding.


NB.It was intercepted by WSC and misinterpretted.

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 3/31/2017 3:48:34 AM
Postscript


Quote:
At 1137 hours the Admiralty signalled the CinC Home Fleet; 'We cannot visualise the situation from your signals, BISMARCK must be sunk at all costs and if to do this it is necessary for KING GEORGE V to remain on the scene, then she must do so, even if it subsequently means towing KING GEORGE V'.

This extraordinary signal had been sent at the behest of Churchill. Tovey considered it the stupidest and most ill-considered signal ever made.


Source- History of HMS King George V

PS this signal was sent 1 hour after Bismarck had sunk

Regards

Jim
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Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Re: Was Bismarck's sinking inevitable ???
Posted on: 3/31/2017 5:02:08 PM
Down, down, goes the Bismarck!

[Read More]

[Read More]

kiss that pocket battleship good bye!
MD
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

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