Bismarck and her contemporaries

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.

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Post by iankw » Thu Feb 08, 2007 12:29 am

Marcelo - according to the book I referred to earlier the Nagato (and Mutsu) were capable of 25 knots (the 26.7 knots was achieved on trials). If you think a two knot difference is significant you are entitled to that opinion, but it is only two ships out of the many available. I hardly call that a good basis for slagging a ship off - again you are entitled to do that. You might take into account the range of Nagato, which was hardly staggering even after reconstruction, at 8600 nm.

I may be misreading your post but it sounds offensive to me - if you can't enter into reasonable discussion it might be better if you didn't take part at all.

regards

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Post by Tiornu » Thu Feb 08, 2007 12:41 am

If I recall, the Nelsons had been intended to be something rather faster and more powerful than they turned out to be upon completion.
You've got the gist of it, but I'll quibble with your wording. The Nelsons, designed for 23 knots, both exceeded this figure; Nelson neared 24 knots, putting her in QE territory.
Part of the instructions for the Nelson design was to make as much use as possible of work done for the G3 battlecruiser design. G3, if not "chopped down" by Washington, would have been much faster (31+ knots) and much larger (48,000+ tons).

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Post by Tiornu » Thu Feb 08, 2007 12:48 am

I may be misreading your post but it sounds offensive to me
I wouldn't be put off. I myself have had some unpleasant things to say about the Nelsons. ("Floating pimples.") I do think the design was lacking, and that is not surprising to me. This came at a time of radical redirection in British warship design, analogous perhaps to the US Omaha and Lexington projects which came after a long absence of cruiser construction in America. What you see in Nelson is the most absolute adoption of All-or-Nothing principles ever in a dreadnought, simultaneous with the first effort to fit a battleship into the arbitrary Washington limit. Even experienced designers may stumble a bit when starting something so new.

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Post by marcelo_malara » Thu Feb 08, 2007 2:39 am

I may be misreading your post but it sounds offensive to me - if you can't enter into reasonable discussion it might be better if you didn't take part at all.
Be sure that that was not my intention. My apologies if you understood that.

Back to the topic, the figures I have are:

Nelson 33300/38000 tons 23 kt
Nagato 32700/38500 tons 26.7 kt

Besides, everyone seems to forget that Nelson had only two propellers, making her more vulnerable to the loss of one of them or to one machinery room. I would think that the Japanese got more for their money, and that if the UK designed this ship in the twenties (knowing what was already available in the Pacific) they underestimated all that was in the way.

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Post by Tiornu » Thu Feb 08, 2007 3:38 am

Nelson's magazines had an armor deck of 156mm NC on 12mm D steel.
Nagato's magazines had an armor deck of HT steel, a lamination of three layers totaling 68mm.

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hits on armor belt, etc.

Post by Bill Jurens » Thu Feb 08, 2007 4:42 am

There has been some discussion here regarding the number of large caliber hits on Bismarck's armor belt(s).

As someone who has spent about sixty hours actually looking at the wreck, often with particular reference to the issues in question, I feel confident in commenting as follows:

1) Someone suggested that Mr. Cameron's presentation was more reliable than that of the previous 2001 ITN expeditions. This is not true. Mr. Cameron's credentials regarding analysis are, if not impeccable, very good indeed. He is bright, knowlegeable, and a very keen observer. His observations are MUCH more reliable and extensive than those presented via the 2001 ITN expedition. He had much better equipment, spent much more time on the wreck, and -- in contrase to some of those on the 2001 expedition -- is really quite technically competent and knowledgeable. Sadly, the results of the 2001 ITN expedition to Hood and Bismarck were severely compromised by post-expedition censorship accompanied by the imposition of imaginative "conclusions" regarding the evidence actually observed, especially regarding Hood. One must, however, remember that the Cameron television productions are not intended to present a highly rigorous scientific analysis. Rather than speculate, Mr. Cameron has sought out (and attended to) the opinions of experts in the marine forensics field.

2) Regarding belt hits on Bismarck: There were a large number of non-penetrating small-caliber hits on the upper belt, and a fair number of non-penetrating small caliber hits on the main belt of Bismarck. There were almost no large caliber hits on the main belt -- three as I recall -- of which two represent clear penetrations, with the third somewhat indeterminate. The main belt was hardly hit by major caliber projectiles, but at least 2/3 of the shells did indeed penetrate, although their post-penetration trajectories are highly speculative.

Bill Jurens.

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Post by iankw » Thu Feb 08, 2007 12:53 pm

Hi Marcelo

Thanks for clearing that up. I must agree two screws is certainly taking a risk. However it seems from Tiornu's words that Nagato took risks too. It's all a balance of risk at the end of the day I suppose.

regards

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Post by marcelo_malara » Thu Feb 08, 2007 2:59 pm

So I must conclude that the weight saving in the horizontal armour in Nagato went to the more powerfull machinery. I can´t find the weight distribution of both ships, but if anyone have the info we can confirm that.
I still think that in the WWII scenario, where usually BB had to stay in company of carriers, speed was more vital than protection.

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Post by Lutscha » Thu Feb 08, 2007 4:01 pm

Thanks for clearing up, Bill.

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu Feb 08, 2007 4:55 pm

Bill Jurens´ post really cleared a lot of things but it´s not proof that Bismarck was mediocre or lousy in her design in comparison with her contemporaries. And the term mediocre is applied as a comparison with another similar elements.
It´s pretty obvious that all the BBs in service in May 1941 offered some flaws (as strong characteristics) in some respect or another. My point in posting all the previous quotes was to offer a more balanced scenario because if we focus only on the so called negative aspects of Bismarck alone without seeing those on her potential adversaries we are loosing the proper perspective.
Can we say that Barham or Royal Oak were mediocre per se for what happened to them? I think not. We can see the problems in Bismarck design because those "flaws" were exposed during actual combat. If Bismarck had survived the war maybe some negative remarks about her would have never taken place.
Who can guarantee that Littorio, KGV, Richelieu or even North Carolina main belts "could" not be penetrated as Bismarck´s under Rodney´s fire? The only real way to be sure of such a thing is that it´s an historical and undeniable fact. If Titanic hadn´t struck the iceberg she would have been really "unsinkable" even to us nowadays.
I repeat and echo those who have posted in this thread: Bismarck IS NOT the greatest BB of WWII, but in May 1941, when operational she was the most modern and powerfull BB in the Atlantic, not mediocre.
Of course, if we compare Bismarck with Yamato then we can find her as an inferior BB (but not mediocre). But if we compare USS Hornet with a modern Nimitz Class CVN (I feel ashamed of writing this) then Hornet is an inferior vessel but not for that is "medriocre" because she wasn´t so when she was operational.
In the las quote I did for the North Carolina Class is mentioned that some wise guys even called that ship "unbalanced" because she wasn´t as armoured as needed to be with her 16" guns. Because she was meant to have 14" guns then she was perfectly "balanced", but, anybody could see that the 16" are the ones that give her the edge over her contemporaries.
If we can find "flaws" or lousiness in Bismarck, then we must be sure to be fair and give the same analysis to Hood, KGVs, Nelsons, Richelieus, Littorios, Nagatos and whatever was afloat in May 1941. And we could be surprised to find that all the nominal advantages could be "balanced" by many hindsight-found disadvantages...
I believe that now I can rest my case, which was not at all the idea when I begin this thread... Ooof!
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
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Post by wadinga » Thu Feb 08, 2007 7:13 pm

Marcelo,

I don't think you quite grasp the importance of the Washington Naval treaty under whose rules the Nelsons were built. If Nagato had been built under those rules she would have had fewer guns and/or less armour and/or less power as well. And 5,000 tons smaller. The British designers built a heavily gunned, heavily armoured dog-ugly battleship but could only put destroyer power in it because they obeyed the Treaty. Pretty much everybody else who signed the Treaty lied about their vessel's displacements.

Even when the last of the Treaty battleships (see excellent research above) were designed over a decade of development later they were still having to compromise on something -guns or armour to get 27 knots out of 35,000 tons. If you lie about displacement and build a 42,000 ton Bismarck 15 years after Nelson you can get a very good ship which compares well with foreign contemporaries.

You really must withdraw unconditionally :negative:
The RN must be ashamed that the only BB named after her most famous Admiral was such a piece of scrap.
Nelson took mine and torpedo damage, fought convoys through to Malta, shredded Panzers in Normandy, and helped destroy the Japanese empire in the Indian Ocean. Her sister Rodney frightened away Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and did the Lion's share in smashing the mighty Bismarck to a pulp. Dog-ugly but deadly.

Here's a thought: could they have built two new stern sections with the G3's 160,000 SHP quad screw layout at the same time and stored them until the Treaty failed? These strap ons aren't ships so the Treaty doesn't apply. They don't even have any guns so they're not warships. A quick trip to dry dock, chop off the twin screw 40,000 shp section and fit the new stern halves and bingo, junkyard dog-ugly to Uberbitch in one.

And by the way there have been several battleships bearing the hallowed name over the years including the last of the RN preDreadnoughts.

All the Best
wadinga
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu Feb 08, 2007 10:02 pm

wadinga:
Nelson took mine and torpedo damage, fought convoys through to Malta, shredded Panzers in Normandy, and helped destroy the Japanese empire in the Indian Ocean. Her sister Rodney frightened away Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and did the Lion's share in smashing the mighty Bismarck to a pulp. Dog-ugly but deadly.
I must believe that here the Nelsons are falling victim of the same "flaw-finding" that´s been cursing the Bismarck in this forum for a while.
As far as I know the Nelsons were a "Plan B" from the RN when the Treaty was signed because the original intention was to build a much heavier and powerfull BBs (the N3 I believe) with 9 x 18" (and some G3 Battlecruisers with 16"). Because the treaty limitations the design become a compromise in every aspect. But if the N3 would have been built we would have seen the real nemesis for Yamato (and with advance Radar Fire Direction). Not even the German H Class would have been a match for such a vessel.
So with her treaty limitations the designers did what they could (with that weird layout). That doesn´t mean that Rodney were free from problems because a lot have been mentioned which I believe were serious enough (see Chuck Hawks quote on them) but, after all, they accomplished a lot of tasks that helped the British won the war.
I still believe that we must all go to the thread in the hipothetical scenario about Bismarck vs. Rodney hand to hand to see what comes out this time. Of course I bet on Bismarck, but it will be a bloody battle.
Best regards.
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Post by marcelo_malara » Thu Feb 08, 2007 10:43 pm

Hi guys
You might take into account the range of Nagato, which was hardly staggering even after reconstruction, at 8600 nm.
Nelson´s extreme range of 14500 nm was achieved at a speed of 10 kt. I can make this speed in a sailboat 40 feet long in a 20 kt wind. Even a Clipper ship of the mid-1800s could average 17 kt. This cruising speed is useless in wartime. The ship would be a sitting duck for any submarine, even one that is not in good position to fire torpedoes can manouvre to find a better one.
I don't think you quite grasp the importance of the Washington Naval treaty under whose rules the Nelsons were built
Yes I know that. But there is not just a system of BB handicap were we can take into account that a ship was designed with constraints. We just compare speed, armour and guns. And which is better is better.
Nelson took mine and torpedo damage, fought convoys through to Malta, shredded Panzers in Normandy, and helped destroy the Japanese empire in the Indian Ocean. Her sister Rodney frightened away Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and did the Lion's share in smashing the mighty Bismarck to a pulp.
I can say too that Tirpitz pinned down a whole fleet at Scapa without even firing her guns. Which one was the most feared?

That brings to my atention that the discussion always goes around the quality of BS armour. Does the damage received and withstood by Tirpitz in Norway add anything to this?

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Post by Tiornu » Fri Feb 09, 2007 12:12 am

The only severe tests of Tirpitz's armor were so severe that no battleship could have withstood them.
Nelson was designed for 7000nm at 16 knots. Nagato was designed for 5500nm at 16 knots; reconstruction upped that to 8650nm. These figures would be tied to specific fuel loads, so it's possible that greater ranges might apply. It appears that Nelson had an advantage initially, if not a huge one.

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Post by marcelo_malara » Fri Feb 09, 2007 1:13 am

Hi Tiornu, thanks for your answer.
The only severe tests of Tirpitz's armor were so severe that no battleship could have withstood them.
Sorry for my ignorance on Tirpitz history. Wasn´t she attacked with 500 and 1000 lb bombs, aside from the monsters dropped later by the Lancasters? If so, how did the damage compare with that received by other BB during air attacks, for example in Pearl Harbour?

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