How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

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williamjpellas
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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by williamjpellas » 16 Oct 2015 01:50

LWD wrote:I'm not sure I'd call the 150mm guns useless. Didn't they play some role in driving of the DD attacks for instance? DP secondaries may have been better but that's not quite the same.

You can indeed view the Bismarcks as improved Badens or not. Just like the US fast battleships can be viewed as improved standards or not. Without going into the details of what the improvements were it doesn't really mean all that much.

This is very much in line with my own thoughts about the Bismarck. I don't think it was quite a truly modern battleship by height-of-WWII (1943 to the end of the war) standards, but it was a very good, very stable gun platform---no doubt in part because the ship's beam was wider than most of her contemporaries---and it obviously acquitted itself quite well against the Royal Navy. I think I read something somewhere about the 150mm batteries being at least somewhat effective against the British light forces, ie, the cruisers and destroyers that were tailing the Bismarck and darting in and out to attack her.


Remember, too, that this German ship took the most terrific bombardment the British could offer, including the heaviest guns in their entire fleet aboard the HMS Rodney, and yet was still afloat after (I have read---) something like 400 hits from all calibers of heavy artillery, some of which were the numerous 16 inch salvoes from Rodney. Which in turn means that it would seem the British didn't learn all of their lessons from the First World War, either, namely that their shell designs were very poor, tended to burst on impact rather than penetrate and then explode, etc. So, I think this sort of revisionism only goes so far. The Bismarck and /or her consort, Prinz Eugen, sank the flagship of the Royal Navy and then drove off its newest battleship with its tail between its legs. Pretty good for a lone battleship and cruiser against a battlecruiser and battleship. The German vessel was then sunk by an overwhelmingly more powerful and far more numerous British fleet. No battleship in the world could have survived that and it is doubtful that many would have given a better accounting of themselves in the same or similar circumstances. So, was the Bismarck a super-ship? No. Was it state of the art? Close, though probably not quite. Was it nevertheless a very powerful capital ship on par with the best the Allies had to offer at the start of the war, and not far below par compared with the best the Allies had to offer in their later-war designs? Looks that way to me.

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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by Don71 » 16 Oct 2015 19:01

Terry Duncan wrote:
SpicyJuan wrote:I have heard several times now from revisionist hidtorians and other forumites that the Bismarck really wasn't that great of a ship, especially compared to the equivalents of its time. Since the Kriegsmarine, and navies in general aren't really my expertise, I was wondering what your thoughts are on this. Does the Bismark live up to its "hype", or was it really not all that great?
Rather late to the topic, but I agree with what has been said above. Bismarck was a good WWI battleship, not dissimilar to the L20 Alpha design from 1918, well suited to close to medium range engagements in the North Sea. The armour layout was far from efficient for modern warfare, and she was very much overweight for her actual combat efficiency. She was the product of the lack of knowledge from the end of the WWI naval developments, as whilst Britain had the benefit of testing her own and German ships as targets, the Germans did not get the same information, so were working with the benefit of the latest combat experiences they had. As a raider she was a dismal waste of tonnage and manpower, battleships are poor raiders, easily identified, and too valuable to expose to great risks. One of the main problems with the design is that the design really doesnt suit the duties Bismarck was called upon to undertake.
Salve,

this is after the new found primary sources especially from GB nothing more then absolute wrong.

After british post war tests on BS spaced array armour layout, the british naval engineers came to the conclusion, that her spaced deck armour (50mm weather deck and 80mm main armour deck), was equal to a 6 inch single plate of british WWII homogeneous steel.
Also after the german Lilienthal report from 1943, where german naval engineers did a very sophisticated comparison between the BS class and the Richelieu class, the design goals of the BS class were described at detail, after the freshest findings of gun and penetration performance of 1934/35.

After the development of the new german gun family from 1934 (40,6cm SK34, 38cm SK34, 28cm SK34 and 20,3cm SK34) with the new APC L 4.4 shell, the german naval engineers came to the conclusion to include parts of the deck armour (horizontal), to the vertical armour, because after their own shooting tests and calculations with the new guns and shells, was that a workable (thickness) main belt wasn't strong enough against the new guns and shells, without any backup (Slopes; horizontal armour). BS guns were able to punch through 430mm KC nA steel at 20000yards, same number for british face hardened WWII steel. Against US class A WWII steel, it was 460mm at 20000yards
So BS was designed after the freshest possible knowledge of shell design, penetration power and armour design and it's design has nothing to do with the Baden class, or any other WWI project.
According to the Llienthal report, which is a primary source, the BS class was the direct german answer to the Richelieu class and was never designed as a raider.

Also I would like to know where BS was very much overweight?
According to Norman Friedman, the South Dakota was at 38800ts standard at it's commissioning, but was 3 kn slower then BS and didn't had the range at cruising at 20kn and above. BS had 42300ts standard

Sources:

german
Vorgänge beim Beschuß von Panzerplatten ; Bericht 166 Lilienthalgesellschaft Berlin 1943 GKdos
Waffenjournal Die Fertigung von Panzergeschossen Heft 5/6 1977

british
ADM 213-951 German steel Armour piercing ammunition and theory of penetration_1946
DEFE 15-490 High Obliquity Attack of Deck Targets. Part III
High Obliquity Attack of Deck Targets. Part I appears as the primary test report regarding the german horicontal protection registration unknown
SUPP 6-481 Underwater performance of shells (written shortly after High obliquity attack of deck targets ; this report consider the german horizontal protection as beeing 6 inches single plate (equivalent)
SUPP 22-68 SPACED ARMOUR
SUPP 22-43 SPACED ARMOUR ASSEMBLIES DEPENDING FOR EFFECTIVENESS on THE BREAK UP OF SHOT
DEFE 15-1041 STEEL PROJECTILES FOR THE DEFEAT OF ARMOUR AT LARGE ANGLES OF ATTACK INVESTIGATIONS RELATING TO HEADSHAPE AND PENETRATIVE CAP
DEFE 15-474 The variation in penetrative performance of A.P. projectile of varying head shape
DEFE 15-452 A Fundamental Investigation into the Optimum Hardness for a Capped Armour Piercing Shot
DEFE 15-410 Investigation into suitability of plastic Cements for pentrative Caps
ADM 281-31 THE BALLISTIK PERFORMANCE OF SPACED ARMOUR ASSEMBLIES AND THE EFFECT OF VARYING THE ARRANGEMENT OF PLATE THICKNESSES
ADM 281-37 The ballistic performance of Non-Cemented, Cemented and Face Hardened Deck Armour (200+240 lbssqft) under attack by decapped APC

SUPP 6-910 THE PENETRATION OF ARMOUR PLATE (confined summary of british ballistic knowledg including the pieces above at the end of the 40s

US
AD 221586 Effekts of impact and explosion
ADA 953 368 and 369 Handbook of Ballistic and Engineering Data for Ammunition
ADA 021833 Terminal Ballistics
ADA 954-865 Spaced Armor

Book THE MECHANICS OF PENETRATION ; M. Backman-W. Goldsmith 1977

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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by Terry Duncan » 17 Oct 2015 14:36

Don71 wrote:this is after the new found primary sources especially from GB nothing more then absolute wrong.
Given the 'new found primary sources' you list seem to be from books or articles written 1976 and 1977 I am not sure how you arrive at the conclusion that they are newly found?
Don71 wrote:After british post war tests on BS spaced array armour layout, the british naval engineers came to the conclusion, that her spaced deck armour (50mm weather deck and 80mm main armour deck), was equal to a 6 inch single plate of british WWII homogeneous steel.
I dont think you fully understand the subject matter at hand, as a single plate always offers greater resistance than two of the same thickness or less against AP shells, and this test is about 'High Obliquity Attack of Deck Targets' which means estimating the total thickness of armour (in terms of resistance) that the shell will have to penetrate. For example: A shell incoming to the deck is plunging and strikes the deck at an angle of 30 degrees (60 degrees to the perpendicular) has to penetrate twice the actual thickness of deck armour, so a 6" deck actually has the resistance of 12" in this example. Using the same shell details, but striking two identical 3" thicknesses of spaced armour, the result is slightly different, as the first thickness is still doubled, but after striking that plate, the shell will be deflected at an increased angle towards the next plate, so the second plate will be struck at a higher angle to the perpendicular (depending on distance between plates and shell velocity), but also at a slightly reduced velocity, meaning that the second plate offers slightly less resistance than the first despite them being of equal thickness. In the example I have given, the single deck would be 152mm x 2 = 304mm total resistance, whilst the 50mm + 80mm of Bismarck will offer 50mm x 2 = 100mm + 80mm x 1.5 = 120mm (or even x 1.8 = 144mm) for a total of 220mm (244mm). I hope this is clear, I may not do the best job of explaining it, but there is a moderator/contributor on the NavWeaps site called Nathan Okun who does this work professionally (for the US Defence Dept iirc) who is usually happy to explain things. The following is his article there explaining things in greater detail, including the variations caused by the shell itself;

http://www.navweaps.com/index_nathan/Hstfrmla.htm
Don71 wrote:Also after the german Lilienthal report from 1943, where german naval engineers did a very sophisticated comparison between the BS class and the Richelieu class, the design goals of the BS class were described at detail, after the freshest findings of gun and penetration performance of 1934/35.
I am not too sure what you mean by this? Were the German shells advanced? Yes. Was the armour layout? No.
Don71 wrote:After the development of the new german gun family from 1934 (40,6cm SK34, 38cm SK34, 28cm SK34 and 20,3cm SK34) with the new APC L 4.4 shell, the german naval engineers came to the conclusion to include parts of the deck armour (horizontal), to the vertical armour, because after their own shooting tests and calculations with the new guns and shells, was that a workable (thickness) main belt wasn't strong enough against the new guns and shells, without any backup (Slopes; horizontal armour).
Yes, this is why the armoured deck is carried so low in the structure in Bismarck, and why the armoured raft ended up being very hard to sink, but also very easy to disable. It is also a product of the Germans opting for high velocity guns and relatively light shells (they were the lightest of all the 15" shells from WWII) where the shells will strike belt armour at close to the perpendicular but strike decks at very high angles to the perpedicular there. In short, Bismarck was optimised for short to medium ranges usually common in the North Sea.
Don71 wrote:BS guns were able to punch through 430mm KC nA steel at 20000yards, same number for british face hardened WWII steel. Against US class A WWII steel, it was 460mm at 20000yards
This has little to do with how well armoured Bismarck was to face the challenges of WWII. The figures for the British 14", 15" and 16" are similarly impressive. Armour mattered little once ranges of between 18,000 and 20,000 yards had been reached. It is one of the reasons why Holland was trying to get to below these ranges so fast, the armour of both sides would be negated, Hood didnt actually have any real immune zone vs Bismarck, but Bismarck did have a narrow band against Hood.
Don71 wrote:So BS was designed after the freshest possible knowledge of shell design, penetration power and armour design and it's design has nothing to do with the Baden class, or any other WWI project.
Bismarck was designed with the most up to date knowledge the Germans possessed, I never said otherwise, it is just that the German naval architects were not as advanced as their Allied counterparts, having had no chance to conduct so many tests on surrendered enemy warships after WWI. I never mentioned the Baden class so really cannot say why you want to perpetuate the myth the Bismarck is a direct follow on to that design? The Saschen and L20 Alpha followed Baden in design terms, as did the Mackensen and Erzatz Yorck designs. In the 1930's the Germans took up from these last Imperial designs, and the result was the Scharnhorst design, which in turn was analysed to produce the Bismarck design (and why both had the inefficient straight bow as designed, only to be changed later for the 'Atlantic Bow' we know so well.
Don71 wrote:According to the Llienthal report, which is a primary source, the BS class was the direct german answer to the Richelieu class and was never designed as a raider.
I never said she was designed purely as a raider, just that she was a waste of tonnage, manpower, and resources as a raider as battleships do not make good raiders, the only real roles either Bismarck or Tirpitz were ever assigned. They were not designed as raiders, but it is exactly what Bismarck was used for, and such use had been intended from the design stage, hence the diesel cruising engines.
Don71 wrote:Also I would like to know where BS was very much overweight?
They were supposedly 35,000 tons, so a design that turned out over 7,000 tons above this was very much overweight. The same combat effectiveness, or even greater, was quite possible on a lower tonnage, so yes, they wasted a lot of weight. The only real advantage they had over other WWII battleships was speed, and that came at a high cost.
Don71 wrote:According to Norman Friedman, the South Dakota was at 38800ts standard at it's commissioning, but was 3 kn slower then BS and didn't had the range at cruising at 20kn and above. BS had 42300ts standard
So the better armoured, better armed, and longer ranged at standard cruising speed South Dakota, is 3kts slower than Bismarck at the very high cruising speeds only really useful to a ship used as a raider, which you say Bismarck was not, and all on 3,500 tons less standard displacement - itself hardly a universal measure as intended, as all nations found ways to cheat it by one method or another, from carrying fewer shells as 'standard' than the ships ever carried (Britain used this method) to just outright cheating and making no real attempt to fit into the limits imposed (Italian and Japanese notably). The full load tonnage is a far better measure of how effective all round a design will be, as even fuel does give its own advantages to war operations. South Dakota was also designed after the 'Escalator Clause' had come into effect, so still below the 40,000 ton limit that clause allowed for, whilst Bismarck was still 2,300 over that later limit!

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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by Don71 » 17 Oct 2015 17:50

Terry Duncan wrote:
Don71 wrote:this is after the new found primary sources especially from GB nothing more then absolute wrong.
Given the 'new found primary sources' you list seem to be from books or articles written 1976 and 1977 I am not sure how you arrive at the conclusion that they are newly found?
Don71 wrote:After british post war tests on BS spaced array armour layout, the british naval engineers came to the conclusion, that her spaced deck armour (50mm weather deck and 80mm main armour deck), was equal to a 6 inch single plate of british WWII homogeneous steel.
I dont think you fully understand the subject matter at hand, as a single plate always offers greater resistance than two of the same thickness or less against AP shells, and this test is about 'High Obliquity Attack of Deck Targets' which means estimating the total thickness of armour (in terms of resistance) that the shell will have to penetrate. For example: A shell incoming to the deck is plunging and strikes the deck at an angle of 30 degrees (60 degrees to the perpendicular) has to penetrate twice the actual thickness of deck armour, so a 6" deck actually has the resistance of 12" in this example. Using the same shell details, but striking two identical 3" thicknesses of spaced armour, the result is slightly different, as the first thickness is still doubled, but after striking that plate, the shell will be deflected at an increased angle towards the next plate, so the second plate will be struck at a higher angle to the perpendicular (depending on distance between plates and shell velocity), but also at a slightly reduced velocity, meaning that the second plate offers slightly less resistance than the first despite them being of equal thickness. In the example I have given, the single deck would be 152mm x 2 = 304mm total resistance, whilst the 50mm + 80mm of Bismarck will offer 50mm x 2 = 100mm + 80mm x 1.5 = 120mm (or even x 1.8 = 144mm) for a total of 220mm (244mm). I hope this is clear, I may not do the best job of explaining it, but there is a moderator/contributor on the NavWeaps site called Nathan Okun who does this work professionally (for the US Defence Dept iirc) who is usually happy to explain things. The following is his article there explaining things in greater detail, including the variations caused by the shell itself;

http://www.navweaps.com/index_nathan/Hstfrmla.htm
Hello Terry Duncan,

please don't do personal insults of my understanding, because I have read parts of the above sources, especially from your own country naval engineers.
s a single plate always offers greater resistance than two of the same thickness or less against AP shells, and this test is about 'High Obliquity Attack of Deck Targets' which means estimating the total thickness of armour (in terms of resistance) that the shell will have to penetrate.

This is wrong after your own country naval engineers. The claim is correct for 0-45 obliquity impacts, but wrong for obliquity impacts from 50-75, which is the obliquity impacts for deck penetrations.
In this primary sources from GB, the british naval engineers described at detail, how the german spaced array armour layout with 50mm weather deck and 80mm main armour deck has a higher ballistic resistance at high obliquity attackas then 130mm (80+50mm) through decapping (50mm weather deck) the shell, producing yawn (shell ist not stable anymore without cap) and setting the fuse (important the space bewtween the two decks).
All three points are important to the effect after the GB primary sources.

The british naval engineers came to the conclusion after their post war shooting tests on the german spaced array armour layout, that the 50mm german weather deck was strong enough to decapp every WWII shell, which was in service at obliquity impacts from 50-75 and setting their fuse. Also that the space between the two decks was enough, that most shells, especially british shells with a fuse delay of 0,025sec, were exploding before they could reach the main armour deck. Also after this GB tests most shells didn't came to the main armour deck with their nose in front (yawn), but with their back or side and so without much penetration power to have any chance to punch through the 80mm main armour deck.

After the british primary sources the german spaced array deck armour layout was equivalent to a 6 inch single plate at obliquity impacts from 50-75, through the decapping effect of the 50mm weather deck, producing yawn at shells without caps and the the wide space beween the two armoured decks.

Mr. Okun is clearly disproved after this primary sources from GB, Mr. Bill Jurens also from the NavWaps side is convinced that Mr.Okiuns analyse is wrong and the british post war tests are correct.

More to come later.

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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by Terry Duncan » 17 Oct 2015 19:26

Don71 wrote:Hello Terry Duncan,

please don't do personal insults of my understanding, because I have read parts of the above sources, especially from your own country naval engineers.
I am not insulting you by not being sure you understand a quite technical subject, and I am still not too sure you understand it even now, it is very easy to read technical papers and not really fully grasp what is being said. Naval engineers can reach all sorts of conclusions, DK Brown would seem to have not agreed that two belts of lesser total thickness have greater resistance than a single thickness, nor did Stuart Slade, another naval architect whos work you may be familiar with from NavWeaps? You seem to equate resitance with effectiveness, which is not always the same thing, it is possible to resist well in an ineffective location.
Don71 wrote:This is wrong after your own country naval engineers. The claim is correct for 0-45 obliquity impacts, but wrong for obliquity impacts from 50-75, which is the obliquity impacts for deck penetrations.
The claim is correct for all manner of angles, deck hits range from almost 90 degrees to the perpendicular for shells that effectively skim the deck to 0 degrees to the perpendicular in the case of bombs or shells fired at high elevation landing at maximum ranges, they are not limited by an artificial 'shells arrive at X' statement. Given a ship will roll 3-5 degrees in most seas, and a 10 degree roll is far from unknown, you are suggesting an improved performance over a very narrow band indeed. The deck is supposedly armoured against all threats, not only threats arriving within a very narrow angle.
Don71 wrote:In this primary sources from GB, the british naval engineers described at detail, how the german spaced array armour layout with 50mm weather deck and 80mm main armour deck has a higher ballistic resistance at high obliquity attackas then 130mm (80+50mm) through decapping (50mm weather deck) the shell, producing yawn (shell ist not stable anymore without cap) and setting the fuse (important the space bewtween the two decks).
All three points are important to the effect after the GB primary sources.

The british naval engineers came to the conclusion after their post war shooting tests on the german spaced array armour layout, that the 50mm german weather deck was strong enough to decapp every WWII shell, which was in service at obliquity impacts from 50-75 and setting their fuse. Also that the space between the two decks was enough, that most shells, especially british shells with a fuse delay of 0,025sec, were exploding before they could reach the main armour deck. Also after this GB tests most shells didn't came to the main armour deck with their nose in front (yawn), but with their back or side and so without much penetration power to have any chance to punch through the 80mm main armour deck.
It is possible that any impact on significant plates can decap a shell, the British ships also had splinter plating (working without access to any books at the moment, but recall it was 10-25mm) above their 6" decks, and all shells will distort and change direction from that point onwards. This is why the British rejected the longer shells adopted by the US, because 'base slap' or 'hammer action' from the base of the shell could lead to non-penetration at even moderate angles of impact - and this distortion of shells is still subject to debate over how likely it is to happen even now. The delay imposed by a thin deck can in theory set off a shell, if there is sufficient gap between layers of armour, but shells can also be delayed, or even detonated by the single thickness, and therefore explode outside the armour. Shells can also fail to explode due to the fuse breaking on impact, there are a lot of variables in all, a ship is designed to include the best overall protection against the widest range of threats. What you seem to be saying is that the engineers felt there was a 25 degree zone where the German system performed better, leaving a 55 degree zone where it was worse (any impact below 10 degrees is going to bounce against both decks). Another problem is that you have not made clear what shells were involved in these reports, armouring against British shells is different to armouring against German shells, the mass of the shells will lead to different results. By this I mean Bismarck will have greater resistance to her own shells, than to the 200lbs heavier British shells, partly due to the mass, but also due to the lower trajectory of the German shell.
Don71 wrote:After the british primary sources the german spaced array deck armour layout was equivalent to a 6 inch single plate at obliquity impacts from 50-75, through the decapping effect of the 50mm weather deck, producing yawn at shells without caps and the the wide space beween the two armoured decks.
So it enjoys a 25 degree angle of superiority, and 55 degree angle of inferiority, even if I do not bother to dispute the claims in the report. The problem with the 'wide space between the two armoured decks' is that it was full of crew, ships communications, and systems, with the engines and magazines only being below it. This is why Bismarck was hard to sink but easy to put out of action, the shells were exploding inside the hull, maybe only doing spliner damage below the second deck, but destroying everything nearby in the space contained between the two decks. This is why other navies moved away from layered decks after WWI, it was better to detonate the shell outside the vitals or not at all. Look at where the relative ships carried their armoured decks in WWII, the higher up, the more of the ship it protected. If a shell is to expolde at all, the higher up in the ship the better, so a thicker decks will still slow the shell more and set it off higher up, whilst the thiner first deck will slow it less and allow it to explode deeper into the ship because of this.
Don71 wrote:Mr. Okun is clearly disproved after this primary sources from GB, Mr. Bill Jurens also from the NavWaps side is convinced that Mr.Okiuns analyse is wrong and the british post war tests are correct.

More to come later.
Saying 'my expert is better than your expert' really doesnt impress me, you have a report from some engineers giving a small range of possible improved performace, plus Bill Jurens (from memory when we used to converse, Bill is not a balistics or armour expert, but a forensic engineer) who is convinced another expert (Okun is an expert in balistics at least) is wrong. I can offer you all naval designers from the 1920's and 1930's (outside Germany it seems) who believed their reports showed a single deck carried high in the ship was the best way to protect it (the Japanese went to great lengths to improve their ships along these lines between the wars, so were obviously convinced a single thick deck was the best defence), with Nathan Okun and Stuart Slade from the same site as Bill Jurens. At best you have a disagreement, not uncommon, where your side seems to be the minority especially with regards to the people who designed and built the warships in the 1930's. The German designers of the 1930's (and post Jutland) also came to the conclusion that armouring the ends of a ship was important to do where possible due to the loss of Lutzow at Jutland due to the bow becoming riddled with holes from shell hits, which is why Bismarck has a 60mm strake right to the bow! The other nations came to exactly the opposite conclusion.

You asked the question 'how good was Bismarck' and the answer is 'not very for the tonnage involved'. The armour deck is too low, the secondary plus tertiary batteries are a waste of space and tonnage, the rudder arrangement is very vulnerable (as noted by the designers at the time of her trials), with the result she proved too easy to disable in action for a ship of her size. Staying afloat as a blazing wreck is of little combat value!

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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by Don71 » 18 Oct 2015 00:34

Salve,

I'm coming back to your claims tommorow, but I must answer to a very very unsubstained claim, which is clearly from secondary literature, where the authors have no clue, what they are writing about.

BS communication lines were ALL under the main armour deck, and at the armoured conning tower, also the two centrals with the complete FC were under the main belt. I don't know from which sources you got your information, but after the original drawing and primary sources they are completely wrong
This are the communication lines after the original drawings from primary sources.
Above the main armour deck were only cables and communications to power the light
Kesselraum.jpg
BS was silenced from a 16 inch gun belowr the range of 15000yards as a hulk, which could only manage 9kn against the sea.
Your claim is absolute unsubstained and wrong from primary sources.
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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by Terry Duncan » 18 Oct 2015 02:11

Don71 wrote:Salve,

I'm coming back to your claims tommorow, but I must answer to a very very unsubstained claim, which is clearly from secondary literature, where the authors have no clue, what they are writing about.

BS communication lines were ALL under the main armour deck, and at the armoured conning tower, also the two centrals with the complete FC were under the main belt. I don't know from which sources you got your information, but after the original drawing and primary sources they are completely wrong
This are the communication lines after the original drawings from primary sources.
Above the main armour deck were only cables and communications to power the light
Kesselraum.jpg
BS was silenced from a 16 inch gun belowr the range of 15000yards as a hulk, which could only manage 9kn against the sea.
Your claim is absolute unsubstained and wrong from primary sources.
So tell me, why was one end of the ship unable to communicate with the other after a short action where it is almost impossible the ship took any hits that penetrated inside the armoured citadel? How did some areas lose power? The main fire control center, forward, was knocked out by an 8" shell when supposedly armoured against 15" and 16" shells? Why, when the order to scuttle was given, did some areas not hear it? The Bismarck was 'silenced' by several hits, the first from Rodney that took out the forward turrets, aided by at least one turret dismantled by KGV where the shell blew the back out of the turret!

Managing 9kts against the sea is hardly the most interesting or critical factor that is often ovelooked (I thought it was 7kts for the majority of the battle but am happy to take your figure), probably the most critical information overlooked is what actually reduced Bismarck to this state? The critical hit to the stern disabled the rudders, but did not impact the speed that much, and as no further torpedo hits are admitted during the night, despite a claim of one or two possible, we see Bismarck wallowing very low in the water with speed greatly reduced by the time Rodney and KGV open fire. The hits from Prince of Wales did not cause a progressive flooding problem, and neither did the critical hit to the rudders, so why was the ship in such a state before the final battle? Why could she not circle at the maximum speed her engines could manage? This should have been in the region of 15-20kts with the rudders jammed at 20 degrees. The reduced freeboard on the morning of 27th May indicates a far worse progressive flooding problem than has been noted by most commentators.

Have you noticed that in the picture you provided that the armour deck is at water level at standard displacement, meaning it would have been submerged entirely by the time of the final battle, where Bismarck had taken on several thousand tons of water. Even if we accept that all the piping for voice communications and signals travelled down from the control stations to the armoured deck, they then have to rise up from below the deck to reach the other vital areas, such as turrets and control towers, leaving them exposed to damage from shells that do not need to penetrate the final armoured deck, only the weather deck, and that this exposed area comprises everything above sea level, exactly where the British ships shells were hitting. From memory, the areas indicated in the drawing are the crew communication passages, walkways from one end of the ship to the other, not quite the communications I was meaning. Bismarck may have taken 400 major hits, but it was the first dozen that wrecked her as a fighting ship, the vast majority were fired into a defenceless hulk in an attempt to sink it.

There are a lot of unaswered questions from the Bismarck, and that nobody stationed below the armour deck survived to tell their story means most will never be answered with certainty, the main one being the scuttling order, as we know several people heard the order given but some did not, and nobody survived to be able to say if the order was carried out, either in full or in part, just because the people who were in the position to fire the scuttling charges did not live to tell what they knew or did. I would imagine some were set off, but by the time the order was given the ship was sinking anyhow. Bill Jurens and I discussed this in some detail many years ago now, he agrees that it would have taken between 60 and 90 minutes from the scuttling being enacted to sink the ship if the order was followed in full, and she sank well before this, indicating water was entering the armoured raft at a considerable rate from battle damage. We then see documentaries saying there is almost no visible damage other than the main belt being pushed in and the area behind it still intact, which they say means the British didnt manage to inflict any damage to sink the ship, although much of the hull is burried in the silt, which totally ignores progressive flooding, such as sank Lutzow, taking pace as joints distort as just one result from heavy impacts that fail to fully penetrate.

You say Bismarck had good protection, and resistance to damage, I say she was poorly protected for her size. It is all very well offering drawings, or even post war reports, I suggest looking at the actual performance in action to see how good she was, and that indicates the armour failed to protect the ship adequately. From memory, we have three shell hits from Prince of Wales that caused fuel leakage and contamination to the fuel tanks, but did not reduce the ships fighting capacity, then from the air attacks, one torpedo hit in the stern that disabled the steering, and one amidships that supposedly hit the belt and did no noticable damage. Overnight the destroyers conducted several attacks, mostly cited as resulting in no hits. Prior to the stern torpedo hit, Bismarck was supposedly still in good fighting condition, and that hit was by most accounts the last she took other than a few light hits from destroyers before the final battle. At dawn on 27th Bismarck is down to at best 1/3 of her top speed, very low in the water, and unable to control gunfire effectively because of this. What caused this to come about? The torpedo that disabled the rudders struck outside the armoured raft provided by main belt and aft bulkhead so it shouldnt have been just that hit that led to the ship being so low in the water. The evidence of Bismarck in action shows she was put out of action quite easily for her size.

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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by Plain Old Dave » 18 Oct 2015 05:02

I might just have to take a contrarian view on BISMARCK. The Brit shoes shot her to pieces, to no avail. But she was virtually immobilized by air dropped torpedoes, and IMO was scuttled. This was the beginning of the Great Shift in seapower from surface battle groups seeking the single decisive sea battle that Captain Mahan envisioned to carrier battle groups taking the fight to an enemy the Sailors on the battle group's ships will never see.

Was BISMARCK a good design? Given that Taranto was still in the news, the IJN battle group eventually going to Pearl Harbor had yet to even receive a tasker, and the Pacific Theater was well in the future, BISMARCK was probably about as good a battleship as any other afloat in 1939-40.

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genstab
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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by genstab » 04 Jan 2016 02:00

I'd like to say that it was a great waste to expend the Prinz Eugen at the Bikini atom bomb tests. It would have made a great war memorial. The US Navy already had the Japanaese battleship Nagato, US battleships Arkansas, New York, Pennsylvania and Nevada as well as heavy cruisers Salt Lake city and Pensacola to test on.

I thought the Prinz Eugen was a fine, graceful ship and have a book on her (Storyof the Prinz Eugen by Fritz-Otto Busch) as well as a ship model and US Navy photos. True, her new type engines proved to be a dud, probably making the US Navy decide not to keep and operate her, Heck, they had so many surplus cruisers- the new USS Salem with fully automatic 8 inch guns only served about two and a half years before being put in mothballs- but at least she is still in existence as a museum ship at Quincy.,Massachusetts- the only heavy cruiser left in the world, folks.

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Bill in Cleveland

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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by ROLAND1369 » 05 Jan 2016 01:51

The problem is much bigger than simple engine problems. It is about attempting to operate a single ship which has no mechanical or operational in common With the rest of your ships. The prince Eugen was constructed to a metric measurement which means every thing down to screws, nut. and bolts would not be interchangible with any other ship of the american navy. In the relm of replacement parts there would have been little if anything available and once used would have to have been manufactured. In the area of ammunition and guns those carried by PE would have not been interchangible with US weapons necessitating a seperate supply chain. In the area of crew training fire control instruments, and machinery were totally alien to those used by US naval vessels and thus the crewmembers would be "one trick ponies" and could only serve on other US vessels after retraining. This would not be necessary on other ships in the US navy which utilized a standard design which facilitated transfer between ships. in short it it is economicly not feasible to operate a single unique vessel, even if it could have been superior on some points.

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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 06 Jan 2016 02:08

genstab wrote:I'd like to say that it was a great waste to expend the Prinz Eugen at the Bikini atom bomb tests. It would have made a great war memorial. The US Navy already had the Japanaese battleship Nagato, US battleships Arkansas, New York, Pennsylvania and Nevada as well as heavy cruisers Salt Lake city and Pensacola to test on. I thought the Prinz Eugen was a fine, graceful ship and have a book on her (Storyof the Prinz Eugen by Fritz-Otto Busch) as well as a ship model and US Navy photos. True, her new type engines proved to be a dud, probably making the US Navy decide not to keep and operate her, Heck, they had so many surplus cruisers- the new USS Salem with fully automatic 8 inch guns only served about two and a half years before being put in mothballs- but at least she is still in existence as a museum ship at Quincy.,Massachusetts- the only heavy cruiser left in the world, folks. Best,
Bill in Cleveland
Post war, Germany was in no condition at the time to have a museum ship. And here the PrzEng would have made no sense and of little drawing power. It never even fought US naval forces(IIRC)

Besides the obvious that Roland mentioned. You mentioned/answered some factors/reasons as well . For all purposes the PrzEng was a obsolete and a pre-war design. Look at the USS Salem(Des Moines Class), those automatic 8 inch(a gun with really no equal AFAICR) along with US fire control and radar made her the ultimate Hv CA design, besides being probably superior to all pre-war CA's, and BB's, except the USS Iowa BB's/SoDak's, as well. There were no good reasons to operate any of the obsolete earlier gun ships/cruisers especially one which no compatibility at all with US specs and personnel. Besides post war and into the 50-60's the USN developed/perfected anti-ship missiles and was also concentrating solely towards CV centered fleets, with no use for heavy "gun" ships.

As expended , she did represent a "third view" as to cruiser design, besides US and IJN, so it was of some use toward developing the "functionality/use of" of nuclear weapons. Too bad the Biz , or the Triz wasn't parked there as well.

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genstab
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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by genstab » 06 Jan 2016 12:52

Your logic is impeccable but it's still a damn shame. Yeah, Germany wouldn't want to memorialize that war. They're lucky to have a WW2 U-boat as a memorial as fully 60% of U-boat crewmen were killed, the highest percentage of any service and branch of any nation.

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Bill in Cleveland

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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by Urmel » 06 Jan 2016 14:09

genstab wrote: Heck, they had so many surplus cruisers- the new USS Salem with fully automatic 8 inch guns only served about two and a half years before being put in mothballs- but at least she is still in existence as a museum ship at Quincy.,Massachusetts- the only heavy cruiser left in the world, folks.
She served quite a bit more than that, according to this?

http://www.uss-salem.org/museum/history/history.htm
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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genstab
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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by genstab » 06 Jan 2016 14:32

Yeah, you're right- didn't check her history though I've been on her in Quincy, MA. Ten years. She was a 6th Fleet flagship.

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Re: How Good Actually Was the Bismarck?

Post by williamjpellas » 02 Mar 2016 01:22

Christopher Perrien, I loved your comment about the US Des Moines class heavy cruisers, which were surely the ultimate expression and development of that concept. In fact, I honestly consider them to have been much closer to battlecruisers when you consider their 700 foot length and automatic 8 inch guns. Their rate of fire was far greater than any comparably armed vessels, and as you say: add in state of the art radar and fire control, and---if I'm not mistaken---a main battery that also had considerably longer range than earlier marks of that caliber, and these were very powerful warships, indeed.

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