Bgile wrote:I think it's almost certain that a lot of that damage was done to the already weakened rudders when the ship hit the bottom. For example, the stern didn't fall off while the ship was on the surface, either.
Indeed.And there are witnesses, Antonio could report it, that said that while sinking Bismarck capsized showing her aft and the hull, including the two rudders, was practically intact, apart the torpedo dent.
The blockage of the rudder was due to the malfunction of the complex automatic steering gear with which Bismarck was equipped, which got really jammed by the torpedo detonation.
In the newer editions of the Baron's book there's a chapter (Appendix D) included which describes well the situation.
Oh please – let’s try and keep the big old ship within the range of it’s contemporaries. She (or if you prefer: he) was not an Überschlachtschiff.
The heavy Kriegsmarine units had an issue with the structural strength of their stern. In the descriptions survivors of Bismarck gave of the repair attempts there is ample evidence for massive flooding of stern compartments. That you do not just get from a “dent”. Ok? She was truly and well hit. Her stern did not just fall of at the seabed. She must have suffered considerate structural failure right from the torpedo hit.
The claim from the survivors that her bottom looked nice and fine always pops out like a jack-in-the-box when it comes to her resistance to torpedo hits. I do doubt that swimming in the water five hundred yard from a capsizing battleship you can recognize if a hull plate is lose, a seem cracked or splinter holes all over a plate. Ok – we do know that she did not have holes like barn doors in her belly – but if she leaked like a sieve or was a tight as on her commissioning day, we only can guess from survivors reports and from extrapolation of damage done to other vessels in similar conditions. And that does suggest considerate flooding.
And – just for the record – no – USS South Dakota would have feared better under a similar torpedo hit because of her tail fins. Though build in for hydrodynamic reasons they would have done well in protecting her inner propellers and she would have probably kept reasonable steering abilities under such a blow.
That does not necessarily say one design is better and the other worse. Warships are compromises, full of trade offs. One design may look much better here, subsequently much worse there.
Tirpitz’ stern was strengthened after the experiences with Bismarck. Let’s just assume they did that not just for fun.
Hypothesis what damage Bismarck’s stern took at what stages can be found in the article:
“A Marine Forensic Analysis of HMS Hood and DKM Bismarck” by William Jurens, William H. Garzke, Jr., Robert O. Dulin, Jr., John Roberts and Richard Fiske
These guys do that not just for fun – they do these kind of analysis for a living. So that is well-researched stuff there. In their article: “Bismarck's Final Battle” the authors William H. Garzke, Jr. and Robert O. Dulin, Jr. even suggest that parts of Bismarck’s stern structure may have broken down onto the rudders blocking them.
OK – that is just a hypothesis but these guys are not amateurs and what they suggest is not just a “dent” in the hull.
Bismarck was a fine ship but she could not fly!
Sorry if I came over a bit rough but I think we should keep this board firm on the ground.