Bismarck's fate.

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.
Saltheart
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Bismarck's fate.

Postby Saltheart » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:29 pm

We all know the torpedoe hit on the rudder was the end of the road for the Bismarck. It's ability to carry on fleeing was removed as completely as if it was a man who had been shot in the legs.
But out of interest, if it were a situation where the British would not now be closing in and there would be no more attacks could the Bismarck's crew have done something to get their ship to port. In this hypothetical situation I'm saying not only no more action from the British but no help from friendly forces either. It's simply a question of whether with the equipment on board and the fuel available the Bismarck could ultimately have made it to port on it's own.
Would it have been possible?

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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby Pandora » Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:24 pm

may have taken some time to figure things out but without the British I think they would have eventually made it to France. unfortunalety for them time is something they didnt have.
without enemy harassing fuel wouldnt be a problem either as long as they steam at low speeds 10-15 kntos.

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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby Saltheart » Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:58 pm

Pandora wrote:may have taken some time to figure things out but without the British I think they would have eventually made it to France. unfortunalety for them time is something they didnt have.
without enemy harassing fuel wouldnt be a problem either as long as they steam at low speeds 10-15 kntos.


I think they had a top speed of 7 knots and no way to properly steer. The fuel consumption was so high they didn't have enough to reach France travelling like that.
I was thinking they would have had to wait till a period of calm weather and then tried to deal with the rudder.

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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby alecsandros » Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:35 pm

From what I've read, Bismarck could do 10-12kts after the fatal torpedo hit. 7-8kts was the speed the next morning, because of the heavy seas...

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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby Pandora » Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:18 pm

Bismarck machinery could still do 20 knots after the torpedo hit . they choose to steam at 7 knots becasue there was no point of going faster since they were heading west away from France.
at 7-10 knots the fuel comsuption is very low. if they had fixed the steering, I think they could make it to France at 10-15 knots.

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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby Rick Rather » Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:49 am

Pandora wrote:Bismarck machinery could still do 20 knots after the torpedo hit . they choose to steam at 7 knots becasue there was no point of going faster since they were heading west away from France.


:?:

This is something that has always confused me: If the rudder was jammed, why would they be steadily moving west? Wouldn't they circle in place? Or was the circle being pushed west because of the prevailing wind and/or current?
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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby Djoser » Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:58 am

I don't have it handy, but I recall reading in the Baron's book that divers sent down into the steering compartment could not work (or maybe couldn't even get into the compartment?) due to the extremely heavy seas pushing water up into the compartment through the hole. If they could have gotten down into the compartment, maybe they could have uncoupled the rudder. Of course on the wreck, it appears that the rudder was jammed right into the hull and that might not have been enough. Still, with calm seas allowing divers to get at the rudders and work on them, perhaps something could have been done.

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Dave Saxton
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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby Dave Saxton » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:28 pm

Bismarck's hull shook noticeably as Lindemann tried various speeds and combinations of propellers in an attemp to bring us back on course. His orders came from the bridge in rapid succession............Lindemann desperately tried other combinations of speeds and propellers. Nothing did any good. When he did succeed in deflecting the ship from her course to the northwest her jammed rudders brough her back into the wind. Increasing winds and rising seas made our useless rudders an even more critical factor.....The wind! (von Muelenheim pg-212-213)


The problem appears to have been the fact that ship wanted to swing around into the wind and seas regardless. Without the high wind and seas Lindemann may have been more successful and Bismarck may have been able to progress toward France.

Naturally there was no point in using full power of which our engines were still capable. High speed would have only led the more quickly to the unwelcome enccounter with the enemy. Therefore we maintained only enough speed to keep us from being blown about, between 5 and 7 knots.


And in the Appendix recapping the rudder damage options in greater detail:

Retired Kapitan zur See Alfred Schulze-Hinrichs appears to me to have the most plausible ex post facto theories on what the Bismarck might have done. This recognized expert in the field of seamanship wonders whether the Bismarck should not have tried by, contrarotating her propellers to reach St Nazaire by backing...In retrospect I think the explantion for not trying a maneuver such as he suggests must lie in the circumstances that existed that night, the presence of the enemy, and the weather, as well as our general experience of Bismarck's steering characteristics.....*In addition to the preceding reservations it is doubtful if it would have been technically possible to back the ship all the way to the coast of France........


Torpedo damaged rudders have historically been impossible to over come in most cases. The Hiei progressed only about 20 miles in 20 hours despite an aborted tow from Kirishima, in calm seas, and never did solve the problem. The Japanese finally decided to abandon and scuttle Hiei. Portland required 23 hours to progress 11 miles to Tulagi with the help of a tug in calm seas. If not for the close proximity of Tulagi, Portland would have had to have been abandoned and scuttled as well.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby RF » Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:16 pm

Saltheart wrote:We all know the torpedoe hit on the rudder was the end of the road for the Bismarck. It's ability to carry on fleeing was removed as completely as if it was a man who had been shot in the legs.
But out of interest, if it were a situation where the British would not now be closing in and there would be no more attacks could the Bismarck's crew have done something to get their ship to port. In this hypothetical situation I'm saying not only no more action from the British but no help from friendly forces either. It's simply a question of whether with the equipment on board and the fuel available the Bismarck could ultimately have made it to port on it's own.
Would it have been possible?


I have only just come across this thread and it certainly poses an interesting question.

The central problem is that the ship is heading in the wrong direction, primarily because of the rough seas.

But for the Germans there were two other problems as well. Firstly the exhausted state of the crew and the exhausted mindset of the senior officers. Secondly there was the problem of not knowing exactly the state of the rudder, upon which an engineering solution ccould then be determined.

In other threads quite a while ago I did postulate that Lindemann could have come up with a sequence of telegraph orders that would enable the ship to point in the right direction using the screws to steer and counteracting the actions of the rudder, and then keep facing Bismarck towards France. The consensus of opinion then was that this couldn't be done in the rough seas.
If the Germans were given the respite proposed here then the solution is to rest the crew, wait for calmer seas and a clearer mindset, then head for home. But even here assistance from France in the form of ocean going tugs would still be essential.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby RF » Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:22 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:
And in the Appendix recapping the rudder damage options in greater detail:

Retired Kapitan zur See Alfred Schulze-Hinrichs appears to me to have the most plausible ex post facto theories on what the Bismarck might have done. This recognized expert in the field of seamanship wonders whether the Bismarck should not have tried by, contrarotating her propellers to reach St Nazaire by backing...In retrospect I think the explantion for not trying a maneuver such as he suggests must lie in the circumstances that existed that night, the presence of the enemy, and the weather, as well as our general experience of Bismarck's steering characteristics.....*In addition to the preceding reservations it is doubtful if it would have been technically possible to back the ship all the way to the coast of France........

.


Again I had wondered whether going slow astern would be a temporary solution, if only to get the ship closer to France and safety. It isn't clear whether Lindemann or Lutjens and his staff considered it; maybe their state of mind caused them not to.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby Saltheart » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:29 pm

RF wrote:
Saltheart wrote:We all know the torpedoe hit on the rudder was the end of the road for the Bismarck. It's ability to carry on fleeing was removed as completely as if it was a man who had been shot in the legs.
But out of interest, if it were a situation where the British would not now be closing in and there would be no more attacks could the Bismarck's crew have done something to get their ship to port. In this hypothetical situation I'm saying not only no more action from the British but no help from friendly forces either. It's simply a question of whether with the equipment on board and the fuel available the Bismarck could ultimately have made it to port on it's own.
Would it have been possible?


I have only just come across this thread and it certainly poses an interesting question.

The central problem is that the ship is heading in the wrong direction, primarily because of the rough seas.

But for the Germans there were two other problems as well. Firstly the exhausted state of the crew and the exhausted mindset of the senior officers. Secondly there was the problem of not knowing exactly the state of the rudder, upon which an engineering solution ccould then be determined.

In other threads quite a while ago I did postulate that Lindemann could have come up with a sequence of telegraph orders that would enable the ship to point in the right direction using the screws to steer and counteracting the actions of the rudder, and then keep facing Bismarck towards France. The consensus of opinion then was that this couldn't be done in the rough seas.
If the Germans were given the respite proposed here then the solution is to rest the crew, wait for calmer seas and a clearer mindset, then head for home. But even here assistance from France in the form of ocean going tugs would still be essential.


I think in the end they would have needed a repair ship along side to deal with the rudder. I don't think they could have got home any other way.
Just an unbelievably lucky hit for the FAA, like the shell on Hood's magazine was for the Kriegsmarine.

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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby srgt rock » Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:15 pm

Given time, I have thought of the possibility of rigging one or more of the Ar 196s as far forward as possible and align them perpendicular to the center line of the ship. Could the plane or planes run at full throttle mimic a bow thruster and added to helm commands kept Bismarck headed towards France?

The two elements in the German naval arsenal that gave me this idea are the original Sabel ferries and Graf Zeppelin's bow thruster.

I have never taken time to do the math but has anyone else?

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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby tommy303 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:06 am

Not enough power in the Arado engines for that and run at high speed for long the engines would seize up in short order. I seriously doubt the engines would even act as a thruster, which is normally submerged.

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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby Thorsten Wahl » Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:42 am

Bismarck jammed rudder at 15 degrees cause a turning circle of about 1075 m. The rudder effect of counter-rotating screws is only a fraction of that effect - in best case the turning radius is several miles. To steer with screws you have to remove the rudder effect of the jammed rudder first. You can do this if you increase the drag of the hull on the the opposite hull side. or if you remove the complete ruder.
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Re: Bismarck's fate.

Postby RobertsonN » Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:08 am

If the ship steadied with the bows pointing north west, perhaps it was worth trying going astern. Unfortunately, with turbines reverse power is small. Perhaps if the original plan to have turboelectric drive had been implemented, with full power possible astern, the Bismarck might have managed to move in the general direction of France. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.


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