How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.
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RF
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How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby RF » Mon May 12, 2008 8:12 am

Having been a member of this forum now for well over a year I have noticed that this question has not been posed on the forum so perhaps now is an opportune moment to do so.

I became interested in Bismarck more than 30 years ago, when as a child of about ten I read about the Swordfish attacks on Bismarck, and from then on the ship seemed to have some mistique about it - an intangible feeling, something that is difficult to put into words, that for me has lasted since then.
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Karl Heidenreich
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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Mon May 12, 2008 3:14 pm

RF:

Interesting post!

Well, I became interested with Bismarck some thirty eight years ago when I was a little boy. My dad came home one day with, I believe, was a Lindberg model of Bismark. The box art was very interesting with Bismarck firing all her forward guns against a gray, stormy, almost mythical, sky. I was hipnotized by the image. The model was motorized and we put to sail at a little lake in a park some five blocks from home. Later I was told the story of the blowing of Hood and the epic hunt of all the RN against a single German ship.

After that I have read everything and buy and built almost all comercial models of Bismarck. Then I find this web page.

Kind regards...
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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby Bgile » Mon May 12, 2008 5:24 pm

I think my interest in naval warfare began when I saw "Run Silent, Run Deep" at a theatre in 1958 when I was ten years old. Some of my friends and I started building WWII ship models and having naval battles in our back yards, using 50' tapes to measure range and speed. We weren't very realistic, but it was my start with combat sims. In 1960 came "Sink the Bismarck", and after that I was aware of that ship and built a model of it to add to my collection. That must have been my first awareness of the Bismarck saga.

I still consider "Run Silent, Run Deep" to be one of the all time best naval combat movies.

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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Mon May 12, 2008 5:32 pm

Hi Bgile:

What´s your opinion of "The Enemy Below", which is my favorite sub movie...

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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby Bgile » Mon May 12, 2008 5:42 pm

I liked it a lot, but the ending wasn't very realistic. IMO if a DE is hit by a submarine torpedo you wouldn't have to try to look wounded because most likely the ship's keel would be broken, with the ends of the ship not in alignment. In any case, a sub isn't going to want to surface in gun range of even a crippled DE.

Up to that point I really liked the movie, and IIRC they used a real WWII DE.

Have you seen "Run Silent, Run Deep"? "Torpedo Run" from the same era was also pretty good. Where I live you can still rent them on DVD.

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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Mon May 12, 2008 8:26 pm

No, in Costa Rica you´ll have to order and to buy them. Both of them are from Commander Beach´s books, isn´t it?
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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby Bgile » Mon May 12, 2008 8:41 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:No, in Costa Rica you´ll have to order and to buy them. Both of them are from Commander Beach´s books, isn´t it?


Sorry Karl, I don't know. I only saw the movies (six times in the case of RSRD), and I don't know the authors.

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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby paulcadogan » Mon May 12, 2008 8:42 pm

Well for me it started when I was about five or six when my brother, who is 14 years older would play his guitar and sing songs for me - one of which was Johnny Horton's "Sink the Bismarck". I remember being very sad and asking why the British wanted to sink her! Next he built me a model of the ship and I would stage the DS battle on the living room floor with other toys representing Hood and Prince of Wales. That imprint would last a lifetime...

I can remember my father - a strict Methodist Minister - not being too amused with my language, when I described the battle to him and said "the Prince of Wales ran like HELL!!"

Later however, my fascination turned more to Hood. In the mid 1970's my family was living in Antigua in the Eastern Caribbean and I started building model warships - Airfix of course, starting with the West German destroyer Rommel, then HMS Manxman, Tiger, Ajax, Graf Spee, Suffolk. Then one day I spied out of reach, up on the top shelf of the store, a dusty box with the words HMS Hood on the end. The whole store soon knew it, because I let out such a yell! My father then got me a copy of Ernle Bradford's "The Mighty Hood" and an Airfix Bismarck model from England. It was around that time that I saw the movie "Sink the Bismarck" for the first time. I recall my school mates the next day talking about it saying that the Bismarck sank the Hood with just one shot. "No! It took FIVE!!" I said indignantly, ever protective of my favourite ship!

In the 1980's when in Canada studying veterinary medicine, I started accumulating books on warships and the World Wars and in my spare time would go to the University library and look up every scrap of info I could find on Bismarck, Hood and those tragic 9 days in May 1941.

Since then, my attention has waxed and waned, but has always remained, brought to the fore again by this website and HMSHood.com where thanks to all you great folk I have learned so much more than I could imagine.

So I thank you all for the information, the debates, and everything. And thanks RF for this thread.

Paul
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby RF » Tue May 13, 2008 8:09 am

Bgile wrote:I liked it a lot, but the ending wasn't very realistic. IMO if a DE is hit by a submarine torpedo you wouldn't have to try to look wounded because most likely the ship's keel would be broken, with the ends of the ship not in alignment. In any case, a sub isn't going to want to surface in gun range of even a crippled DE.



This was the sort of tactic used by British Q-ships in WW1 although obviously they were not arrayed as destroyers. This was of course a film for public entertainment so it will depart from naval reality.

For sub films I don't think you can beat Das Boot.

Anyway this is going off-thread, there are some interesting answers on this as interest in Bismarck seems to be deep seated for most people and not a ''five minute flavour of the moment.''
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Tue May 13, 2008 3:46 pm

RF:

About this very interesting thread I can guarantee you this: Bismarck and her story as well as that of Hood generate some strong feelings more than ideas, reasons; it´s like a Greek myth. Were Bismarck and Hood the most powerfull BB and BC? Nope; but people insist on claiming that on TV shows, magazines, books. And it´s because the particular story, the mythology around it.
Which ship of WWII have such a story, such an ordeal? Maybe Yamato but without the DS battle interlude.

Very good thread...

Best regards.
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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby José M. Rico » Tue May 13, 2008 5:12 pm

My story is not very different from yours. I must have been 9 or 10 years old when I first heard of the ship. Back then I was living with my family in Mallorca, a small island in the Mediterranean. I used to play with miniature soldiers and models on a esplanade down in the street, and I remember one of my neighbor friends talking about how many warships the great Bismarck sank before she was sunk herself. So, I went to my local store looking for a model of the ship but instead I bought a small KGV (1/1250, I think) because it had more guns and I though it would beat anything my friends had. :D

A few years later, I was in 8th grade, I began reading about World War II, and the story of the Bismarck became one of my favorite episodes. I built a couple of models until I finally got the Spanish version of Mülleheim-Rechberg's book.

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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby paulcadogan » Tue May 13, 2008 6:21 pm

Karl is so right! But I think it goes further. There are so many things about the whole episode that capture the imagination....and they all spring from one factor - the destruction of the Mighty Hood in that cataclysmic stroke.

Here we have the newest, largest German warship whose size just eclipsed Britain's largest warship for the title of world's largest, with similar speed and main armament. Then add that the very first battle for this new ship is against the very ship she eclipsed (what are the odds?). Then add that she demolishes her opponent in minutes - shocking the world. The world famous Hood - still reputed (then)to be the largest warship afloat - the symbol of the supremacy of the Royal Navy - gone!

The add the desperate chase, with the twists and turns of fortune culminating in defeat for the great Bismarck in the last harrowing cannonade at the last possible minute.

Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Tirpitz, Graf Spee - all famous in their own right - but nowhere close to the fame and regard of Bismarck. Her vanquishing of Hood put her over the top - WAY over the top!

The stuff of LEGEND!
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Tue May 13, 2008 6:24 pm

José:

So, I went to my local store looking for a model of the ship but instead I bought a small KGV (1/1250, I think) because it had more guns and I though it would beat anything my friends had.


Yeah, when I saw pictures of KGV class BB I always believed they were a lot more powerfull than Bismarck because of having so many guns. It was years later that I learned that PoW was a KGV class and got beaten at DS.
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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Tue May 13, 2008 6:37 pm

Paul:

Here we have the newest, largest German warship whose size just eclipsed Britain's largest warship for the title of world's largest, with similar speed and main armament. Then add that the very first battle for this new ship is against the very ship she eclipsed (what are the odds?). Then add that she demolishes her opponent in minutes - shocking the world. The world famous Hood - still reputed (then)to be the largest warship afloat - the symbol of the supremacy of the Royal Navy - gone!

The add the desperate chase, with the twists and turns of fortune culminating in defeat for the great Bismarck in the last harrowing cannonade at the last possible minute.


Incredible stuff, indeed. Hood, such a beautifull ship, slender and magnificent with the impressive spotting top, a veteran speeding with RN´s newest BB to cut the advance of Bismarck, emerging from the fog, with just a single cruiser, like Moby Dick asking Ahab to hunt her and then defeat him! And Churchill´s command, the whole British fleet looking for a single ship... which is, I believe, the point: all what the RN had against a single ship. That fact grabs you and puts Bismarck in Mount Olimpus were earthly creatures as South Daks, Iowas or KGVs would never be allowed. It´s story, not History what makes Bismarck such a legend, a myth. And pals, that myth is greater every year: people who see those TV "not so good" documentaries got trapped in the beauty of the tale. You just have to hear Cameron´s comment at the begining of his documentary "... it was the Death Star of it´s age..." and you can image Darth Vader commanding the vessel ready to blew Hood in pieces with a single stroke of lightining....
And every day more models, magazine articles and internet pages dedicate to Bismarck and Hood: one cannot exist without the other, the nemesis...

Best regards...
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
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Re: How did you come to be interested in Bismarck?

Postby RF » Wed May 14, 2008 12:38 pm

I think that it is a very significant point that today - and over the last twenty years - interest in Bismarck is increasing and continuing to increase, helped not least by the location of the wreck and all of the other additional evidence that has come to light, and isn't waning through passage of time, or through the persons involved at the time no longer being alive.

Another factor, evidenced in other threads, is that other WW2 naval events are the cause of more interest and controversy today than at the immediate aftermath of these events. One such case was the fate of HMAS Sydney - the persistent and growing controversy over the events of 19 November 1941 ultimately led to the funding of an expedition to find the wreck of that ship, and its finding generated far more publicity - including the official announcement by the Australian Prime Minister - than at any time in the past, and seems now to be a major event in Australian naval history of far greater significance than it was at the time, particulary when you consider that against the general course of WW2 the actual loss of one light cruiser was of no significance at all.

Bismarck of course was of much greater significance. If Bismarck had not suffered that shell hit in the bow from POW and Lutjens had broken contact with the pursuing cruisers and attacked convoys as per his original mission, then it could have altered the course of the war altogether, with a legend enhanced by being part of a German victory in the West.

One irony in this - if Germany had won the legend would be seen in a different way and quite possibly over time in a more totalitarian world there might be a lesser affection in those countries opposed to Hitler to the legend of the ship in respect of its crew, the human element, as opposed to the propaganda element of German national prestige and a closer current identification of Bismarck to what would be even more vile crimes commited by the Nazis.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.


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