Supposed inefficiently in the Bismarck-class vs their contemporaries in design

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Texas Jäger
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Supposed inefficiently in the Bismarck-class vs their contemporaries in design

Post by Texas Jäger » 27 Jul 2020 08:42

It’s often said it was an “inefficient” and “archaic” design but how? My impression from the research I’ve done is that their armor revolved around shattering shells either through their main belt de-capping them outright or making them hit the next belt at an extremely unfavorable angle, hence why Bismarck and Tirpitz had both the main armor belt and the sloped inner belt behind that, which combined incidentally gave them a greater combined vertical armor thickness compared to any other battleship until Yamato.
https://www.kbismarck.com/proteccioni.html
Claiming this is a rehash of traditional dreadnought designs simply isn’t true: the last German dreadnoughts like Bayern usually had thicker main belts but a glorified splinter deck or reinforced bulkhead at best rather than the internal 4” armor grade belt Bismarck had, and the later H class were to go even further down this route!
https://i.imgur.com/NrV27yn.gifv
In fact, a lot of judgment on Bismarck and Tirpitz seems to be passed on erroneously comparing them with ships that nominally have the same characteristics, minus the speed, but on a much lower displacement. Like for example the Revenge class, just over half the size yet they had a thicker belt and also had 15” guns, therefor what possible justification could the Germans have for making such “oh-so-obese” ships? Well, even leaving aside that the machinery needed for high speed on a major warship balloons displacement quite a lot in itself and that it was a necessity for German warships given their numerical inferiority, the usual explanation generally falls to the greater length of the main belt rather than the more significant internal armor that in fact made them better protected in their vital areas than the vaunted All-or-Nothing armor scheme! I’ve heard the same arguments against the Admiral Hipper class too, larger displacement compared to the County or New Orleans class without justification while conveniently ignoring the internal armor.

As for the guns, they were actually more powerful than both the British 15” and 16”, and more comparable to the American 16”
used in the South Dakota and North Carolina classes in penetrating vertical armor.

The AP charts speak for themselves.

German 38 cm SK C/34
http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNGER_1 ... on_with_AP

British 16”/45 Mark I
http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNGER_1 ... on_with_AP

American 16”/45 Mark 6
http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNBR_16 ... h_AP_Shell

Based off of this information Bismarck or Tirpitz should be more than a match for a South Dakota or North Carolina, given their armament isn’t that far removed (their shells having smaller bursting charges and they had one less gun but they also were rated as having a much higher rate of fire) whilst being better armored in every area except for the turrets and barbettes. There are constant claims on forums that you have to compare the Bismarck class to the Iowa’s since they weren’t treaty ships but the tonnage gap between an Iowa and a Bismarck is bigger than between a Bismarck and a King George V! The warships similar to Bismarcks in size were the other modern 15” armed battleships like Richilieu and Littorio classes, which were also similar in capability. The Littorios even the same style armor that revolved around de-capping shells just with a thinner 3” belt on the outside and the 11” belt being internal with your typical reinforced bulkheads behind that.

So how were the Bismarcks inefficient? The Germans accepted more displacement to get a ship that ticks all three marks of the speed, armor, and firepower triangle with the slight exception of being less than optimal in longer ranged fights (which were rare anyways); I’m still a relative beginner on this subject so what am I missing?

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Re: Supposed inefficiently in the Bismarck-class vs their contemporaries in design

Post by Felix C » 28 Jul 2020 21:50

The issues I read were the 5.9s-4.1 mix added weight instead using of true DP as USN and RN heavies did. Also the powerplant was much larger in terms of volume occupied for the performance.

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Texas Jäger
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Re: Supposed inefficiently in the Bismarck-class vs their contemporaries in design

Post by Texas Jäger » 30 Jul 2020 02:18

Felix C wrote:
28 Jul 2020 21:50
The issues I read were the 5.9s-4.1 mix added weight instead using of true DP as USN and RN heavies did. Also the powerplant was much larger in terms of volume occupied for the performance.
I’d heard about how not having a dual purpose secondary armament was less than advantageous. But never about the powerplants performance but lower for its size, was this the case for other German warships?

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Re: Supposed inefficiently in the Bismarck-class vs their contemporaries in design

Post by EwenS » 30 Jul 2020 07:18

You will maybe find some of the answers to your questions over on this site. Or perhaps just more questions.
http://www.combinedfleet.com/baddest.htm

This is a subject that is argued over incessantly on various boards on the web but there is no simple answer with many personal / national prejudices / preferences coming to the fore. It is also complicated. Quality of guns (the French and Italians had problems with the spread of shells in a salvo), shells (for example Richelieu’s shells had faults leading to premature detonations) and armour (British armour was of better quality than US so provided more protection inch for inch) seems to have varied between countries. All the designs are a trade off between speed, armour and guns on what were ships that in theory until 1937 were all supposed to be based on the same 35,000 ton displacement. Some nations “cheated” on the Treaty rules to a greater or lesser extent. And ships designed later were not limited by Treaty, Iowa and Vanguard, or had the benefit of early war experience to produce “better” ships.

My advice, read widely from the best authors like Friedman and Burt for US and British ships. There is a book on the Littorios. Not sure who to recommend on Bismarck.

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Re: Supposed inefficiently in the Bismarck-class vs their contemporaries in design

Post by Thoddy » 02 Aug 2020 19:20

Bismarck Hull Construction.jpg
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Felix C
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Re: Supposed inefficiently in the Bismarck-class vs their contemporaries in design

Post by Felix C » 03 Aug 2020 18:25

9 or more torpedo hits?

Thoddy
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Re: Supposed inefficiently in the Bismarck-class vs their contemporaries in design

Post by Thoddy » 04 Aug 2020 07:57

Knowledge as per 1946
"Meine Herren, es kann ein siebenjähriger, es kann ein dreißigjähriger Krieg werden – und wehe dem, der zuerst die Lunte in das Pulverfaß schleudert!"

Thoddy
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Re: Supposed inefficiently in the Bismarck-class vs their contemporaries in design

Post by Thoddy » 04 Aug 2020 13:43

Dual purpose vs specialised (heavy) AA + somewhat heavier secondary artillery.

Dual purpose had the advantage that u can use all(secondary) guns against air targets aswell as against smaller ships. So DP guns can produce a increased volume (number of shells) fired against air targets.

The same number of smaller AA guns may be better against Air targets. On the other side these guns appeared as useless versus ground targets.

It is known from USN reports that AA from 7,5 cm upwards typically require about the same number of shells to kill a aircraft.

a 7,5 cm cartridge including projectile weights only about 9 kg compared to
~25 kg shell + ~7,5 kg propellant charge + ~5 kg cartridge of the 5"/38 gun.

Usable range versus aircraft is the same for both guns.
So the DP gun possibly wastes a lot of weight in the AA role.

The 15 cm single purpose gun has (in theory) much more (stopping power per shell) versus smaller ships.

But Depending on the circumstances a DP gun outfit appears as the better choice. In military terms the generalist appears often as the better choice.

The United States outproduced all other nations at sea in terms of carriers, battleships, cruisers...support ships....weapons.
Their ships operated in tremendous fleets. They had the means - they used it - bigger is better.

German capital ships contrary to US-ships typically were not actively employed in cases of enemy air supremacy or if there was considerable danger from the air, because of their small numbers. Capitalships were irreplaceble. And they had no available capacities to replace losses.
"Meine Herren, es kann ein siebenjähriger, es kann ein dreißigjähriger Krieg werden – und wehe dem, der zuerst die Lunte in das Pulverfaß schleudert!"

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