Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

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Karl Heidenreich
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Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Dec 06, 2008 4:39 am

Because there has been a free interpretation of Historical Facts, lately, I´m going to write this summary of DS battle (the combat properly). The idea is to refer to it when some ideas got entangled or things are, somehow, forgotten. OK?

ORDER OF BATTLE
BRITISH:
1 BC: Hood
1 BB: PoW
2 CA: Norffolk and Suffolk

8x15" + 10x14" + 16x 8"

GERMAN:
1 BB: Bismarck
1 CA: PE

8 x 15" + 8 x 8"

During the HIstorical engagement the real combat was between (be carefull with this, don´t misquote me):
8 x 15" + 10 x 14" vs. 8 x 15" + 8 x 8"

The German bear 2 guns less and half of the available were 6" less than those of the British. The heavier broadside was British.

OTHER BRITISH ADVANTAGES
Norfolk and Suffolk were shadowing the Germans since the day before, using a type 284 radar.

OVERAL NUMERICAL AND TACTICAL SUPERIORITY: British. They could set a trap.

COMBAT FACTS:

5:35 am PoW signalled smoke
5:47 am battlestations called at Bismarck
5:49 am Holland order 20° starboard @ 300°
5:49 am Holland order to attack first ship on the left of enemy formation, bearing 337°
PoW´s artillery officer Colin W. McMullen identified Bismarck and aimed at her. (nobody noticed and told Holland?)
5:52:30 am Hood fires
5:53am PoW fires
5:54 am(1:30 minutes after Hood´s started firing) Holland orders another 20° turn @280°
Hood had fired three (3) salvoes. No hits whatsoever. PoW had fired 3 salvoes.
5:54am Lutjens has not given the order to fire yet. Schneider is asking permission to fire.
5:55am PE opens fire after the Jot Dora order given by Lindemann (not Lutjens)
The British noticed that the Germans are alternating salvoes with forward and aft turrets in order to spot and correct faster.
5:55am PoW´s turrets began malfunctioning. Only 4 forward guns out of 6 firing.
5:56am PoW hits Bismarck which is engaging Hood as is PE. PoW´s fire is uncontested.
5:56am PE hits Hood detonating the UP rockets storages (please refer to Tilburn memories)

Now. At that momento the British have been firing a lot: Hood was in it´s 5th salvoe and PoW in it´s 7th salvoe. The Germans didn´t have half as much, yet.

5:57am Both, Hood and Bismarck are hit.
Hood is hit twice: the spotting top is destroyed by Bismarck, PE hits the base of the conning tower killing 200 sailors there (Tilburn memories)
5:57am PoW fires it´s 9th salvoe. Bismarck has not fired yet it´s fourth.
PE fires and hits PoW
PoW fires 10th salvoe!
Hood fires 8th salvoe! No hits!
5:59am PoW fires with 3 out of 6 guns it´s 12th salvoe (and Bismarck has not yet fired the 5th)
6:00am Bismarck hits and sinks Hood. 1415 men died.

PoW´s 14th salvoe with 3 guns and all fell short. She never hits Bismarck again.

6:02am Bismarck hits PoW compass platform
6:03am Bismarck hits PoW two times PoW sets off smoke screen and run away
6:04am PoW was still in range but the Germans are breaking off combat (Of course Lutjens, who else?)
Nevertheless PoW´s with smoke screen and the Germans increasing the range Bismarck hits again PoW. It hit it after the increasing of range began and whilst PoW´s using the smoke screen.
6:04am PE ( a CA) hits PoW whilst it still increasing distance with smoke screen.
6:04am PoW has only 1 out of 4 bow guns functioning. Both, bow and aft turrets failed.
6:07am PoW still sails away
6:09am Lindemann asks permission to hunt down PoW. Lutjens denied permission.
6:18am Suffolk opens fire against PE. But the British cruiser is ranging wrong PE so the German CA is never in danger
6:24am Until then the British realizes their aiming is defective and stop shooting

CONCLUSION:

German salvoes before hitting: 3-4
German hits: 4 on Hood (2 PE + 2 BS)
7 on PoW (3 PE + 4 BS) the last of them when PoW was running away under smoke screen
German units damaged: 1 BB (Bismarck) She could steam to Norway or to France at 27 knots. Still in combat capability. No casualties.

British salvoes before hitting: 6th from PoW. Hood never found target.
British hits: 3 on Bismarck (none of them after Bismarck trained her guns upon her)
British units destroyed: 1 BC (Hood) 1,415 dead and only 3 survivors
British units damaged: 1BB (PoW). Casualties 13 fatal + 9 wounded ( a lot considering it was "just a few holes in the bridge", ah?)

Victory awarded to: German Squadron

Ratio of hits: Germans scored 367% more hits than the British. They scored earlier since they began firing (3rd, 4th and 5th salvoes) whilst PoW hit on 6th and Hood never did.

All these can be verifyied with any source: José Rico´s book; Antonio Bonomi´s article, wikipedia, any decent enciclopedia or naval history of WWII, Mullenheim Rechberg´s book, etc. etc.

ALL ARE HISTORICAL FACTS. NO USE IN DENYING THE FACTS LISTED ABOVE.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by dunmunro » Sat Dec 06, 2008 5:54 am

This "fact" has been reversed. There was only 3 hits by Bismarck on PoW.
7 on PoW (3 PE + 4 BS) the last of them when PoW was running away under smoke screen

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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by Vic Dale » Sat Dec 06, 2008 6:59 am

To Karl.

When you state facts so loudly, it is essential to get them right.

Firstly In PoW's report Captain Leach observed Bismarck firing a salvo after Hood and Before PoW.

Secondly it is the Captain of a ship who controls the guns and if a target is in range he will open fire when he thinks the tactical time is right. He will inform his admiral of his intentions but the admiral will not interfere in the defence of the ship. That was demonstrated when Adm. Cilliax tried to give a helm order in Tirpitz. Captain Topp respectfully informed him that he and not the admiral gave orders in the ship and he ordered the helmsman to obey his orders only. Ciliax knew he was right and apologised.

So Lutjens would not give the order to Bismarck's guns. That was the responsibility of the captain. That someone may or may not have over heard the captain muttering under his breath means nothing. He may have addressed himself to a subordinate who was sucking his teeth meaningfully, because he was agitated that his captain had not opened fire yet. He may well have been addressing Schneider himself who kept reporting that the guns were cleared for action and that target parameters had been set - AND that the enemy had opened fire AND that his salvoes were well placed, all of which Lindemann would have been well aware. I would have told him the same thing if he pestered me like that when I was trying to concentrate.

This piece of tittle tattle has no known source of origin and is likely as not the result of a Chinese whisper. It cannot be refered to as a fact.

Tactical control of Bismarck rested in the hands of Captain Lindemann and the decision to turn towards the enemy was his decision as was the decision to turn away. It was his decision to turn again towards the enemy at 0608 and it was Lutjens' decision to call off the engagement. So the way the battle was actually fought was down to the command in each ship. Lutjens had overall command, but with his ships already in a battle he would only make adjustments and then only via the ship's command. It has to be noted that PG waited for the order to open fire, but considering that his ship was already under fire Brinkmann did not need to wait. It may have been felt that since SKLs orders said that a cruiser should find a place to the lee of the battleship the position of his ship and the part he might play in the battle may not have been clear to him.

Vic Dale

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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by dunmunro » Sat Dec 06, 2008 8:17 am

6:04am PoW has only 1 out of 4 bow guns functioning. Both, bow and aft turrets failed.
Only one gun in A turret was out of action. The other 5 guns were fully functional. One gun in Y turret was out of action. Y Turret shell ring was jammed which impaired loading, but may or may not have put the turret out of action.
British salvoes before hitting: 6th from PoW.
5 before hitting, hit on 6th Salvo.
6:09am Lindemann asks permission to hunt down PoW. Lutjens denied permission.
This is speculation. No one survived who could have been witness to this.

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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Dec 06, 2008 12:36 pm

Still, every important issue is there, isn´t it:

1. Germans fired AFTER the British
2. British had numerical superiority and a heavier broadside
3. One British ship NEVER actually hit the enemy
4. The other ship hit Bismarck 3 times
5. The British got hit 11 times
6. The Germans sunk a British capital ship
7. The other ship has more than a half of her guns malfunctioning, her bridge leveled
8. The Germans won a victory

Further questions?
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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Dec 06, 2008 12:38 pm

dunmuro:
This "fact" has been reversed. There was only 3 hits by Bismarck on PoW.
Yeah, all my sources at hand, including those at this website said different. Who reversed?
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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Dec 06, 2008 12:46 pm

Vic Dale:
When you state facts so loudly, it is essential to get them right.
And you MUST be carefull with the way you want things written. That sentence quoted above looks alike I posted historical facts in a wrong way. Which I didn´t: all is documented and properly supported.

Your post is the one that cames from an interpretation, not a relation of cronologic events.

Just to put things in perspective and further readers not be deceived.

Best regards
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by dunmunro » Sat Dec 06, 2008 1:37 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:dunmuro:
This "fact" has been reversed. There was only 3 hits by Bismarck on PoW.
Yeah, all my sources at hand, including those at this website said different. Who reversed?
http://hmshood.com/history/denmarkstrait/powdamage.gif

the 15" hit locations are in orange.

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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by Vic Dale » Sat Dec 06, 2008 2:55 pm

Another flaw.

Quote;

"7 on PoW (3 PE + 4 BS) the last of them when PoW was running away under smoke screen."

All hits registered on PoW came in forward of the beam, so PoW was advancing still.

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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by Vic Dale » Sat Dec 06, 2008 3:01 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:Vic Dale:
When you state facts so loudly, it is essential to get them right.
And you MUST be carefull with the way you want things written. That sentence quoted above looks alike I posted historical facts in a wrong way. Which I didn´t: all is documented and properly supported.

Your post is the one that cames from an interpretation, not a relation of cronologic events.

Just to put things in perspective and further readers not be deceived.

Best regards
There is no documentary evidence of a dispute between Lindemann and Lutjens at open fire. This story came to the Baron second-hand and is of dubious validity. Such an outburst under fire would most certainly be a courtmartial offence especially if committed in the presence of subordinates of middle and lower rank. Why did that story not circulate?

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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by Vic Dale » Sat Dec 06, 2008 3:04 pm

Quote;

"3. One British ship NEVER actually hit the enemy."

This is far from clear. There was no opportunity to examine the shell which struck below the waterline in Bismarck and the one which went through the bow was never seen again as was the case with the shell which wrecked the ship's boat.

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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by Bgile » Sat Dec 06, 2008 3:57 pm

Vic Dale wrote:Quote;

"3. One British ship NEVER actually hit the enemy."

This is far from clear. There was no opportunity to examine the shell which struck below the waterline in Bismarck and the one which went through the bow was never seen again as was the case with the shell which wrecked the ship's boat.

Vic Dale
The timing of the hits and the fact that hood only fired one or two salvoes at Bismarck at the most (if that) makes those hits almost certain to have come from PoW.

Also, neither German ship was ever to port of Hood or PoW, as far as I can tell from the plot.

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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Dec 06, 2008 11:33 pm

Vic and dunmuro seems to me a little confused, again. The fact that a hit goes on the bow doesn´t beam it was fired by a ship on front of it. Shells fly.

In order to get things straight a very important document that is pertinent to this very discussion can be found here, at this same website. Another one is from the Baron himself. But with the website document is enough. Have you ever read it?

http://www.kbismarck.com/ds-barticle.pdf

Suit yourself.
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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by Vic Dale » Sun Dec 07, 2008 3:07 am

There is testimony from PoW which says Hood fired on Bismarck in the later stages of the battle and Ted Briggs did hear Admiral Holland order a shift of target "One ship right." When exactly this happened is not clear, but in Bismarck they recognised that Hood was firing at them and that she would likely gain hits very soon. Probably they were impressed by the greater height of the shell splashes.

In PG they registered near misses to port and forward missing by just 150m and after that they report shells landing in the wake. This to me indicates a shift of target, because PG was holding a steady course and speed, so there would be little variation in the gunnery solution for line.

I am not sure that PoW's fire alone would have turned Bismarck away, but with both ships firing on her she would have to turn or suffer. It should be remembered that the Baron although a gunnery officer himself, was not involved in the action against PoW and Hood, instead his position was tasked to keep watching Suffolk on the starboard quarter and he only managed to snatch quick glimpses of the action to port.

Those shells which PG's Gunnery Officer reported landing in the ship's wake were from Hood and if they were correct for line on Bismarck would have passed very close to her superstructure and one may have accounted for the boat.

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Re: Denmarck Straits Historical Facts

Post by dunmunro » Sun Dec 07, 2008 4:16 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:Vic and dunmuro seems to me a little confused, again. The fact that a hit goes on the bow doesn´t beam it was fired by a ship on front of it. Shells fly.

In order to get things straight a very important document that is pertinent to this very discussion can be found here, at this same website. Another one is from the Baron himself. But with the website document is enough. Have you ever read it?
Suit yourself.
In general this is an excellent article.

A few corrections/clarifications:
On the top of page 9: "...Hood fired her 17th salvo..." should read: "...PoW fired her 17th Salvo..."
The hit which Bonomi ascribes to Bismarck on page 9 of that article: "The Bismarck fired her 9th complete salvo..." states that the hit on the secondary director came from Bismarck, but this has been disputed, since the angle of the hit and the fact that the shell was deflected by very light plating, while doing comparatively little damage makes it unlikely to have been a 15" hit. (Allied BBs page 185)

We must also note the use of full salvos by the Bismarck, during the majority of her firing. This means that each salvo from Bismarck was equivalent to two salvos from PoW or Hood. Bonomi states that Bismarck scored her first hit on Hood on the 3rd full salvo, equivalent (as least in number of rounds fired) to 6 salvos from PoW. And, again I have to state that Bonomi has no proof regarding a dispute between Lindemann and Lutjens as to whether or not to pursue PoW.

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