Bismarck construction flaws

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.
Djoser
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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by Djoser » Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:04 am

I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the 2nd battle of Guadalcanal the book 'Battleship at War: The Epic Story of the USS Washington' by Ivan Musicant. The paperback version is available used on Amazon for 50 cents and 3.99 postage.

While it is not an unbiased view of the battle, it gives a very good description of the Washington's role, and from the point of view of the gunnery officer as well. No doubt about it, Washington's gunnery was very good in this battle.

Of particular interest was the story of the consequent bitterness between the battleships' crews. It got to the point where they could not be allowed liberty at the same time in the same port. The Washington's crew referred to the SD as 'Shitty Dick'; with some justification, given the complete reversal of the respective battleships' respective roles trumpeted forth in the US press. Regardless of whether the press referred to SD as 'Battleship X', it was pretty clear that the SD was meant, and this naturally created incredible resentment among the Washington's crew.

Hard to blame the SD's crew so much as Gatch (the captain). And perhaps the gunnery officer or whoever decided that the sudden disappearance of targets on the radar screen meant that the SD had sunk them.

The book doesn't really go into this, but I have seen a number of sources crediting Washington with a good many more hits on Kirishima than the official account lists. The survivors' accounts and study of the wreck would tend to corroborate this, with one source giving an estimate of 22 heavy shell hits. The Kirishimas' may have been relatively lightly armored, but 9 hits (even by the super heavy 16" shells) would not seem to have been enough to sink one of them.

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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by yellowtail3 » Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:05 am

Djoser wrote:The book doesn't really go into this, but I have seen a number of sources crediting Washington with a good many more hits on Kirishima than the official account lists. The survivors' accounts and study of the wreck would tend to corroborate this, with one source giving an estimate of 22 heavy shell hits. The Kirishimas' may have been relatively lightly armored, but 9 hits (even by the super heavy 16" shells) would not seem to have been enough to sink one of them.
That's my understanding, on the number of hits. I think Kirishima did just fine; 20 or so hits by 2700 pound shells at the distance that battle was fought, would have put any ship in a bad way.
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Karl Heidenreich
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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:51 am

:?:
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

Djoser
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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by Djoser » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:44 am

yellowtail3 wrote:
Djoser wrote:The book doesn't really go into this, but I have seen a number of sources crediting Washington with a good many more hits on Kirishima than the official account lists. The survivors' accounts and study of the wreck would tend to corroborate this, with one source giving an estimate of 22 heavy shell hits. The Kirishimas' may have been relatively lightly armored, but 9 hits (even by the super heavy 16" shells) would not seem to have been enough to sink one of them.
That's my understanding, on the number of hits. I think Kirishima did just fine; 20 or so hits by 2700 pound shells at the distance that battle was fought, would have put any ship in a bad way.
Yeah compare the ability of the Seydlitz or Derfflinger to absorb damage at Jutland. About 20 major calibre hits each, and the fact they made it home at all was considered impressive. And rightfully so...

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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by alecsandros » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:03 am

yellowtail3 wrote:
That's my understanding, on the number of hits. I think Kirishima did just fine; 20 or so hits by 2700 pound shells at the distance that battle was fought, would have put any ship in a bad way.
This has been discussed several times on the forum...

It is unlikely - the battle report of Washington mentions 8 or 9 heavy hits.

What is likely though is that the 16" AP shells, travelling at 600m/s and with 0.033s fuze delays actualy passed through Kirishima, holing her twice.
Thus, a 15+ number of holes is likely, but they were coming from 8-9 shell hits, that completely perforated Kriishima from one side to the other.

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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by Byron Angel » Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:19 pm

alecsandros wrote:
yellowtail3 wrote:
That's my understanding, on the number of hits. I think Kirishima did just fine; 20 or so hits by 2700 pound shells at the distance that battle was fought, would have put any ship in a bad way.
This has been discussed several times on the forum...

It is unlikely - the battle report of Washington mentions 8 or 9 heavy hits.

What is likely though is that the 16" AP shells, travelling at 600m/s and with 0.033s fuze delays actualy passed through Kirishima, holing her twice.
Thus, a 15+ number of holes is likely, but they were coming from 8-9 shell hits, that completely perforated Kriishima from one side to the other.

..... Read Lundgren's article for full details. He drew his data from surviving Japanese damage control records.

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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by alecsandros » Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:27 pm

Byron Angel wrote: ..... Read Lundgren's article for full details. He drew his data from surviving Japanese damage control records.

B
I know Byron; I read his article.

There is a rather long discusion on this on the navweapons forum. Bill Jurens amongst others was quite skeptical about the conclusions and the damage drawings of the paper.

And I am skeptical myself...

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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by Byron Angel » Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:16 pm

alecsandros wrote:
Byron Angel wrote: ..... Read Lundgren's article for full details. He drew his data from surviving Japanese damage control records.

B
I know Byron; I read his article.

There is a rather long discusion on this on the navweapons forum. Bill Jurens amongst others was quite skeptical about the conclusions and the damage drawings of the paper.

And I am skeptical myself...

Alecs,

...... I took the trouble of going back and reading Bill's comments in detail. He questions certain conclusions and inferences drawn by Lundgren concerning the cause of the port rudder being dramatically skewed 80deg to the keel line, the process of flooding, and the precise cause of the destruction of the forward part of the hull. And he parenthetically wonders whether the wreck might not perhaps be that of HIEI, which sank in the same general vicinity.

One point he did not dispute was the number of hits indicated by the reports of surviving Japanese officers of KIRISHIMA.


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yellowtail3
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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by yellowtail3 » Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:56 pm

Djoser wrote: Yeah compare the ability of the Seydlitz or Derfflinger to absorb damage at Jutland. About 20 major calibre hits each, and the fact they made it home at all was considered impressive. And rightfully so...
They were tough ships, those two... But i think that If they were hit with like number of 16/45 shells, they likely would not have made it home.
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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by alecsandros » Sun Jun 10, 2012 6:02 pm

Byron Angel wrote: And he parenthetically wonders whether the wreck might not perhaps be that of HIEI, which sank in the same general vicinity.
Exactly...
Thus there is some difficulty in confirming the damage based on the wreck.

---

My own remarks are that AP shells do not explode on contact with the decks, as the Japanese testimonies indicate. Most likely they saw 2 or more 127mm shells exploding in close vecinity, and interpreted it as being larger shell hits.
At 9 km, the 16" shell would travel at about 600m/s. The thickest part of Kirishima which was perforated by them appears to be the upper 145mm belt. This is a joke against such attack. The exit velocity would be at least 570m/s, and with a 0.033s delay, the shell would travel ~ 19 meters before exploding. And of course, most of the heavy hits indicated in the paper are located in non-armord sections of the ship, which would not have activated the fuze. [like Prince of Wales' hit in Bismarck's bow...]. This, together with the favorable target-angle, makes complete through-and-through trajectories very likely.

If you look at the drawings in Lundgren's paper, you'll see a small number of 127mm hits, about 25, and a large number of 406mm shell hits, about 22, for a total of ~ 50.
It is exactly the opposite of Washington's battle report, which mentions 9 heavy hits and 40+ 5" hits, again ~ 50 total hits.

At the given range, the 10 x 127mm mounts which fired on the Kirishima would have good ballistics and high rate of fire [at least 4 shots/minute/gun], making numerous hits probable. The 9x 406mm guns, which fired 73 shells, for an average of 1.55 rpmpg are less likely, statistically, to score such a large number of hits.

My opinion...
Alex

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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by Byron Angel » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:26 am

alecsandros wrote:
Byron Angel wrote: And he parenthetically wonders whether the wreck might not perhaps be that of HIEI, which sank in the same general vicinity.
Exactly...
Thus there is some difficulty in confirming the damage based on the wreck.

..... Please note my earlier comment that Bill did not at all dispute the number of hits reported by the surviving Japanese officers of KIRISHIMA. Whether or not Ballard's film was of HIEI or KIRISHIMA is immaterial to that point.

My own remarks are that AP shells do not explode on contact with the decks, as the Japanese testimonies indicate. Most likely they saw 2 or more 127mm shells exploding in close vecinity, and interpreted it as being larger shell hits.

..... I would suggest that they may well do so when striking at only 7deg AoF against +/- 50mm of laminated steel deck. I cannot see how a 5in common AA round (which was known to explode low-order half the time) or even two such shells striking together could produce the sort of damage decribed in the Japanese report.

At 9 km, the 16" shell would travel at about 600m/s. The thickest part of Kirishima which was perforated by them appears to be the upper 145mm belt. This is a joke against such attack. The exit velocity would be at least 570m/s, and with a 0.033s delay, the shell would travel ~ 19 meters before exploding. And of course, most of the heavy hits indicated in the paper are located in non-armord sections of the ship, which would not have activated the fuze. [like Prince of Wales' hit in Bismarck's bow...]. This, together with the favorable target-angle, makes complete through-and-through trajectories very likely.

If you look at the drawings in Lundgren's paper, you'll see a small number of 127mm hits, about 25, and a large number of 406mm shell hits, about 22, for a total of ~ 50.
It is exactly the opposite of Washington's battle report, which mentions 9 heavy hits and 40+ 5" hits, again ~ 50 total hits.

At the given range, the 10 x 127mm mounts which fired on the Kirishima would have good ballistics and high rate of fire [at least 4 shots/minute/gun], making numerous hits probable. The 9x 406mm guns, which fired 73 shells, for an average of 1.55 rpmpg are less likely, statistically, to score such a large number of hits.

..... Only two 5in mounts (4 guns) fired at KIRISHIMA. Two other mounts were firing at ATAGO and other ships which revealed themselves by illuminating their searchlights. The fifth mount was providing star shell support throughout the engagement. According to WASHINGTON's action report IIRC, only 109 x 5in shells were fired at KIRISHIMA. In addition, when taking into account angle of fall, target ship beam + danger space for the 16in projectiles at 7deg angle of fall was about twice that for the 5in at 20deg angle of fall. When viewed from those perspectives, the hit numbers do seem quite plausible to me. I also consider that visual estimates of hits at night from a distance of 4 to 6 miles should not necessarily be considered superior to data collected by physical inspection of damage aboard the stricken ship itself. Historically, hits by AP projectiles have been notoriously difficult to observe from a distance because they commonly do not deliver satisfying evidence of their strike on the exterior of the target ship.

On the "through-and-through" issue, I'm not so convinced that this is all that common with capital ship targets; however, lacking practical supporting evidence, I will leave it as an open issue. Suffice it to say, however, that a hit is a hit, whether the fuze initiated or not.

Once again, strictly my opinion.

B

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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by alecsandros » Mon Jun 11, 2012 12:27 pm

Hi Byron,
I took another look at Wasington's battle summary (action report):
http://usswashington.com/1stbatt.htm
Byron Angel wrote: ..... I would suggest that they may well do so when striking at only 7deg AoF against +/- 50mm of laminated steel deck. I cannot see how a 5in common AA round (which was known to explode low-order half the time) or even two such shells striking together could produce the sort of damage decribed in the Japanese report.
I doubt it.
If obliquity was that unfavorable, the shell would most likely not function at all, with the tip of the shell burrowing in the deck, decelerating rapidly, and the backside of the shell continuing to move faster. The fuze chamber would most likely not work at all, being distorted by the rapid movement. The type of filler employed was also particularly unlikely to explode on contact, as the British shell filler was proned to do.

And only a few shells are noted as striking the deck.
The vast majority are depicted as hitting the pagoda and the side of the ship.
The entire picture is painted by one single survivor - the Chief damage control officer. Other survivors mentioned 9 x 406mm hits, just like Washington's lookouts did.
Indeed, the CDCO should have been the most well informed as to these matters.

HOwever, the way in which the article is written, and internal diagrams drawn, suggests that he knew nothing about the way the 2700pds AP shell functioned. [and raising questions about his accuracy of assessing the damage]
Compare the diagrams in Lundgren's paper pg 9,10,12, 18, with the damage suffered by Jean Bart only 1 day earlier, while udner attack by the exact same type of shell. It is obvious that at Casablanca, the 16" AP shells burrowed deep inside the enemy ship before exploding (20-25 meters, I can't say for sure from my drawings in G&D). In the paper we're discussing however, the shells appear to explode 2-3 meters inside the ship! How ?

---
I also find difficult to explain the explosions on the decks, but battle psychology is always a tricky matter.
FOr example, I would rely much more on shell hits reported by the British against Bismark than on post-traumatic reports of the German crew.
..... Only two 5in mounts (4 guns) fired at KIRISHIMA.


4 guns fired 107 shells were definetily fired at Kirishima between 1:00 - 1:07, on full RPC.
350 other x 5" shells were fired on various targets, at various points in the battle. The targets were not clearly identified. Example: "From 0100 to 0107, fired 120 rounds 5", at ranges from 7,400 to 9,500 yards, in succession at three enemy cruisers illuminating and engaging SOUTH DAKOTA." What 3 cruisers ? There were 2 cruisers + Kirishima engaging South Dakota at that point. There were also some destroyers attacking her, but it's not clear.
Last edited by alecsandros on Mon Jun 11, 2012 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by alecsandros » Mon Jun 11, 2012 12:58 pm

@Byron:
Re-reading Bill's post here:
http://warships1discussionboards.yuku.c ... 9XSZXlMs60

I don't feel at all that he "accepted" the proposed version of damage-and-sinking:

"With regard to the damage drawings, I wonder if it might be possible to post the 'original' of the Hayashi/Ikeda sketches directly. Although I do not for a moment accuse Mr. Lundgren of doing so -- and certainly not deliberately -- my experience in the past with such items is that sometimes when such drawings are redrawn for publication, important features are sometimes deleted, and extra detail more or less subconsiously 'added', particularly when a particular thesis is being pursued. A good example in Mr. Lundgren's own paper revolves around an artists misinterpretation of the position of some armor plating."

[...]

"I have not yet investigated the feasibility of the underwater hits on Kirishima proposed by Mr. Lundgren; doing so would require reconstructing the profile of the ship's practical waterline during the engagement which would take several man-hours of computation. This profile, which typically shows a depression amidships, might well explain how shells could come aboard below the nominal 'at rest' waterline without first striking the water surface, which would almost certainly cause a very shallow ricochet at the ranges shown on the charts.

It is also worth noting that much of the damage described by Mr. Lundgren is, in fact, more or less conjectural insofar as many of the relevant portions of the wreck are buried in the mud, and the underwater survey of the parts of the wreck still above the mudline seems to have been far less than comprehensive. Although my readings in this area have been brief, I wonder if the wreck is actually that of Hiei, which apparently sank very close to Kirishima and which suffered quite similar damage to Kirishima, particularly aft, before she sank. In that regard I wonder if it is possible that the damage aft to the rudder(s) was due to a torpedo hit (Hiei suffered several) and that the loss of the bow was due to a forward magazine explosion that took place before Hiei sank, as her last hours appear to remain more or less entirely unrecorded. Although the wreck survey apparently did not observe any torpedo holes in the hull (and Hiei was apparently torpedoed several times) it is in fact, quite easy to miss these -- In a sort of reverse situation, I clearly saw one where one was not aboard Bismarck -- and it is also possible that they were located in forward areas of the hull subsequently destroyed.

Mr. Lundgren concludes his paper with the statement "This wreck is without doubt Kirishima". I wonder if he might be able to provide some additional details to support this statement so that we may be absolutely sure that we are not actually looking at Hiei instead
."

[...]

"My reading of the manuscript seems to suggest that the identification of the wreck as Kirishima is primarily based upon the location of four hits, Nos 7, 15, 16, and 20, but in reality these hits do not appear overall to have been imaged in much detail. The report itself states:"...not all hit locations were caught on tape and two hits are only partially filmed as the camera moves right past them, including one which was hidden by the anchor chain over her stern.", further noting "More importantly, three 16-inch shell hits were either fully or partially caught on film in the exact locations Ikeda said they would be."

I would begin by point out that assessing the caliber of a projectile hit even after close inspection above water would appear to be quite difficult. In that regard, it's worth noting that Mr. Lundgren's own analysis of the damage to South Dakota largely hinges upon the U.S. Navy's alleged inability to discriminate 14" from 8" projectile hits, which could (and probably were) inspected in some detail after action. If the U.S.N could not reliably tell 8" from 14" hits above water in 1942, how might Mr. Lundgren reliably discriminate 16" from 8" hits undewater in poor visibility sixty years later? Considering that Hiei also suffered gunfire damage aft before sinking, though admittedly not from 16" shells, one would have to rule out that these might actually be 8" hits on Hiei coincidentally falling in similar locations to those discribed by Ikeda.
"

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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by Byron Angel » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:21 am

Alecs,

I read Bill's posts in detail. My point is not whether the shells did or did not detonate, and it is not about whether Mr Lundgren's analyses and speculations about damage effects and ultimate causes of sinking are correct or not. The only point I'm making is that the new Japanese data turned up by Mr Lundgren indicate a substantially greater number of 16in hits upon KIRISHIMA than has hitherto been believed. Once again, permit me to repeat that nowhere in his posts does Mr Jurens dispute these new hit data - presumably because the difference between the effects of a 5in AA common and a 16in AP round is indisputably obvious..

As far as what caused those great holes in the battery deck, we will have to agree to disagree.

B

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Re: Bismarck construction flaws

Post by alecsandros » Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:42 am

Hello Byron,
Re-reading my posts today they seem different from what I intended to say.
As you know, English is not my native language, and maybe words don't come out as proper as they should.

In short, I consider Mr Lundgren's article a hypothesis. It is possible, and he has some arguments.
However, the way in which damaged is presented does not make sense for me. Maybe he's right, but I don't understand how those hits could have occured the way he says. And without understanding those explosions close to the hull/armored belt, I can't understand why the ship took on so much water and had to be scuttled...

Anyway, great talking to you Byron,
Hope you're ok...

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