Bismarck´s un ending arguments

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.
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Karl Heidenreich
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Postby Karl Heidenreich » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:57 pm

Have we reached some conclusion? :?:
Which theory applies to the reality? One or Two? Or just a part of One mixed with Two? Or neither?
After reading José´s book and re reading the Baron´s in the light of fragments of information from this forum and of other sources I almost have my mind set.
And it is not what Combined Fleet say...
But neither it is what the Bismarck mythology sustain.

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Postby ufo » Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:20 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:...

And it is not what Combined Fleet say...
But neither it is what the Bismarck mythology sustain.


For Combined Fleet you must accept that he falls into a very common trap.

In comparing vessels within a certain class you have to apply some sort of filter to judge. By doing so you assume a certain tactical situation and look if or if not a ship lives up to it.
The set-up in the Combined Fleet comparison is the Pacific war in 1944. You want long range, fast BBs with massive heavy and light AA and considerable firepower for supporting landings.
Well – are we surprised that two BBs from the Pacific theatre win the trophy?

On a Battleship standing up and down between Iceland and Spitzbergen waiting for a German raider to venture out you would not have wanted all the light AA clutter your decks for fear of shrapnel and secondary fires by light AA ammunition in case you are hit.
In the Pacific it was life insurance!

Range is a question in the Pacific … it is not an issue for a Mediterranean design.
The same is true for the lifetime of barrels. The Italians bought the massive punch of their main artillery by short lived barrels. Good for a ship that is back at base in three days time. A nightmare in the vastness of the Pacific!
Now to say the Italian rifles were better is wrong! They were better suited for the Mediterranean but they were not a possible solution for the requirements in Pacific warfare!

Planes? Good for a lone raider! Useless for a carrier escort! Now the question if having planes makes a better or a worse battleship is meaningless! It depends on the job!

All or nothing versus gradual … we had that one already – it depends on the job!

Speed? Better the economical speed of a convoy escort or the fast speed of a fleet carrier escort? Which one is better? Again – depends on the job!

Machinery …



All I want to say is: do not do battleship rankings. :negative: They do not mean very much! (I mind to remember seeing one where Scharnhorst outdid Yamato! :lol: )



I think if you really want to compare ships of one class you have mainly two options:

You can go along and judge on the possible outcome of tactical situations that might have been possible. That leaves you with a classic one on one. Like: would USS Texas have been able to stand up even to a Tirpitz long enough for a convoy of fast liners to disperse? Yes or no? If ‘yes’ she was a very good design proving her value well into old (for a BB) age leaving Tirpitz a bit of an underachiever.


Or – the approach I do like better – you look at the tactical situation a ship was designed for. And judge by percentage of achievement.
USS Iowa: a fast Carrier Escort, a landing operations sledgehammer and a long, long lasting multi purpose weapons platform. Yes! Worked very, very well!
Scharnhorst: a dual role: either home water defence or long range raid unit. Did not work out! Undergunned and unreliability problems with the machinery.
Bismarck: … hahaha :D – you did not really think I would dare to judge without carefully, carefully thinking this through. I think there is a tarred and feathered smily out somewhere. :angel:

So I think one has to say that on Combined Fleet there are most wonderful and well thought through articles about the war. The BB ranking though is … ahm … well … surplus to requirements. But it keeps the community amused since years and it never fails in heating up the blood. :evil:



For the Bismarck mythology … did you know that when she went astern very fast and then did half a turn in the longitudinal to get her screws out of the water, that she could get airborne and fly using her bilge keels as wings. That was why her hull had these striking resemblances of a zeppelin!
So she could bear down on Portsmouth like a hawk! :cool:

Hang on … her turrets would have fallen out, would they not? Hm … I did not think this through … :stubborn:

Ufo

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Postby Bgile » Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:21 pm

Excellent points, ufo. And funny too! :)

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Matthias
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Re: Rudder Hit

Postby Matthias » Wed Apr 12, 2006 5:06 pm

WGarzke wrote:On the rudders - The starboard rudder was not bent into the race of the center propeller by the torpedo hit. One has to carefully study the testimony of Gerhard Junack who I had some written correspondence with before his death. He claimed that he left the middle engine room with the shaft slowly turning. He made that statement in 1948 in an article in the Royal Institution of Naval Architects on the Bismarck by Dr. Oscar Parkes. If the rudder structure had been jammed into the center propeller as some have said, that shaft would not be turning at all after the torpedo hit. The torpedo hit the starboard rudder. Some debris from that rudder did enter the race of the centerline propeller, chipping its blades. This accounts for the raising of floor plates in the middle engine room. If you read the Baron's book on actions taken to steer the ship using the propellers, he does mention that the center shaft was used in that effort. I am convinced that when the ship hit bottom or slid down the slope of the seamount that rudder structure was bent into the propeller race. I have made this point to James Cameron. The nagging question is how did the port rudder become free and in doing so leave a clean hole that is not marred by any bending action as the rudder and its shaft left the ship. It is not clear just what was done in the damage control efforts after this hit. In talking with the Baron, he was not aware to the degree of the activities done to regain the steering ability. The Baron did have an opportunity to discuss this with Gerhard Junack, but one must understand that the Baron was not a technical man like Junack. His book was written from the perspective of an officer, not an engineer. I do believe that the options that he described in his book were some of the ideas advanced by desperate individuals wanting to see some sort of steering function restored. The use, for example, of a submarine to steer the ship is not possible - a 750-ton submarine providing the steering for a 50,000-ton battleship?

Speed of the Bismarck after the rudder damage. For a brief time (circa 0700) Junack was in the main propulsion control station on 27 May. He asked Captain Lindemann on what should be done with the propulsive power. Lindemann responded, "Ach, do what you like!" Junack was concerned over the turbines and ordered slow ahead. Now it is rather doubtful if the speed was more than 7 knots in that storm. That speed likely was less as the ship could not maneuver and was taking various headings due to wave action. In fact, the ship motions from yaw were very significant. Added to the roll and pitch, this would have made many persons seasick. Those motions would also play an important part in the gunnery battle.


I agree with Mr Gartzke about this question, if I'm not mistaken what I wrote is quite similar to his intervention.

About the Baron's book, in the 1987 newer edition of "Battleship Bismarck", page 438, appendix D, the Baron reported the witnessing of Junack about the rudder damages and the attempts were made to overcome them.Are you referring to this when you speak about the discusison between the Baron and Junack about what happened in the damage control center?
"Wir kämpfen bis zur letzten Granate."

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Postby Djoser » Sun Apr 16, 2006 3:53 am

Getting back to the AA effectiveness...

Obviously, as pretty much resolved in this thread, the AA was unsatisfactory in the situations it was to be tested by--and obviously this was the case with pretty much all the AA in all the navies' battleships at that time.

But what about the very slow flight speed of the Swordfish? I have heard that this, ironically enough, made it much harder for them to be hit, since the AA on the Bismarck was designed to shoot down faster, more modern aircraft. It does seem surprising that not a single plane was shot down, even if the AA left something to be desired, it was still better than the AA on the older US battleships at Pearl Harbor, which did shoot down some planes, after all.

It is interesting to see the contrasting claims of the Bismarck's detractors and propagandists. The first claiming it was nothing special, a mere improvement of the Baden class, with many glaring defects--oh sure!

I have an otherwise very excellent and very well illustrated book on warships, published in England, which goes on at great length about all the things that were wrong with the ship. Which, of course, was why the British weren't at all worried about 'his' sortie, and were quite relaxed when they took measures to stop 'him', right?

Another otherwise excellent book from England also classifies the German 11" shell hits at Jutland as "medium calibre" hits in a comparative table--thus granting the British a much greater number of "major calibre" hits than their opponents, hahaha.

But then you often see the propaganda put out by popular TV documentaries and such, which ought to concern themselves with reading a few more documents, perhaps. This is where you see the 'Bismarck as Death Star' approach, which of course is ludicrous.

Well sorry if I have restated the obvious a bit here, but I did want to ask if anyone knew anything about the AA being designed to shoot down modern planes instead of antiquated biplanes...

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Postby Bgile » Mon Apr 17, 2006 4:37 pm

Djoser wrote:Getting back to the AA effectiveness...

Obviously, as pretty much resolved in this thread, the AA was unsatisfactory in the situations it was to be tested by--and obviously this was the case with pretty much all the AA in all the navies' battleships at that time.

But what about the very slow flight speed of the Swordfish? I have heard that this, ironically enough, made it much harder for them to be hit, since the AA on the Bismarck was designed to shoot down faster, more modern aircraft. It does seem surprising that not a single plane was shot down, even if the AA left something to be desired, it was still better than the AA on the older US battleships at Pearl Harbor, which did shoot down some planes, after all.

It is interesting to see the contrasting claims of the Bismarck's detractors and propagandists. The first claiming it was nothing special, a mere improvement of the Baden class, with many glaring defects--oh sure!

I have an otherwise very excellent and very well illustrated book on warships, published in England, which goes on at great length about all the things that were wrong with the ship. Which, of course, was why the British weren't at all worried about 'his' sortie, and were quite relaxed when they took measures to stop 'him', right?

Another otherwise excellent book from England also classifies the German 11" shell hits at Jutland as "medium calibre" hits in a comparative table--thus granting the British a much greater number of "major calibre" hits than their opponents, hahaha.

But then you often see the propaganda put out by popular TV documentaries and such, which ought to concern themselves with reading a few more documents, perhaps. This is where you see the 'Bismarck as Death Star' approach, which of course is ludicrous.

Well sorry if I have restated the obvious a bit here, but I did want to ask if anyone knew anything about the AA being designed to shoot down modern planes instead of antiquated biplanes...


I've not seen anything concrete to document this "swordfish too slow" argument. To me, it seems ridiculous. The Swordfish was a large airplane, with a large cross section on approach. The engine was a large target in itself. It's slow speed made it an easy target compared to Japanese torpedo bombers. What the Bismarck lacked was a high rate of fire AAA weapon - even the 2lb pompom with its low muzzle velocity and unreliability was far superior to anything on Bismarck.

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Postby Ulrich Rudofsky » Mon Apr 17, 2006 4:52 pm

I've not seen anything concrete to document this "swordfish too slow" argument


I think the only thing that is documented is that the Bismarck (and Tirpitz) had a severe antiaircraft problem. This shortcoming is documented by the artillery testing command report of the Bismarck (see AVKS http://kbismarck.com/archives/barmament.html ) and the fact that not a single aircraft was downed. I don't buy that slow swordfish excuse either. The AVKS was very critical of the Flak and the tests were not completed due to lack of time and inadequate targets. The Bismarck sailed unprepared according to the AVKS report.
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Postby Karl Heidenreich » Tue Apr 18, 2006 8:48 pm

UFO wrote:
I think if you really want to compare ships of one class you have mainly two options:

You can go along and judge on the possible outcome of tactical situations that might have been possible. That leaves you with a classic one on one. Like: would USS Texas have been able to stand up even to a Tirpitz long enough for a convoy of fast liners to disperse? Yes or no? If ‘yes’ she was a very good design proving her value well into old (for a BB) age leaving Tirpitz a bit of an underachiever.


Or – the approach I do like better – you look at the tactical situation a ship was designed for. And judge by percentage of achievement.
USS Iowa: a fast Carrier Escort, a landing operations sledgehammer and a long, long lasting multi purpose weapons platform. Yes! Worked very, very well!
Scharnhorst: a dual role: either home water defence or long range raid unit. Did not work out! Undergunned and unreliability problems with the machinery.
Bismarck: … hahaha – you did not really think I would dare to judge without carefully, carefully thinking this through. I think there is a tarred and feathered smily out somewhere.


As a matter of fact I wrote to Jon Parshall pointing an argument very much like yours. He just said he didn´t have the time to modify the rating taking into account the tactical situations.
What makes me unconfortable is the fact the nowadays the historical ignorance of general public is... uhm, quite great. Not like the public around the seventies or eighties (Cold War) when education was a lot better and people discuss very much about the Twentieth Century and WWII (in general terms, there is a lot of informed people nowadays. I´m talking about "general" public opinion and James Cameron). And if they read something like Combined Fleet BB ratings they take it for granted as sacred biblical word :!: :!:

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Postby ufo » Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:16 pm

Oh, yes! And it’s not only that! Along comes Physics: A force induces a counterforce … if you (over)do a bit of Bismarck bashing up pop the statements like my Zeppelin model. If you ridicule a subject you must expect the counterarguments to be of the ridiculous type.
And – whoops – filled are seventeen pages of a thread with what in the end are exaggerations in two directions without ever hitting dead centre.

Pouring cold water over the heads of the contestants in a “We all love/hate Bismarck” thread usually does good!

Speaking of Battleship rankings – two more come to mind:

This one gives you a very fine idea of what designers of a battleship have to achieve and I like the “triangle of requirements” as an idea of a balanced design.
http://www.battleship.org/html/Articles ... Better.htm

But then – this is also the one where Scharnhorst outdid Yamato on firepower, which is – well – surprising!
Again – like combinedfleet – a very fine web page (spare the ranking) with lots of information! Fine line drawings. The quiz is fun! Good information on the US battlewagons.

Another one well worth reading are Chuck Hawks essays:
http://www.chuckhawks.com/index3.naval_ ... istory.htm

This approach I like better. He refrains from even trying a point system but he presents weaknesses and strengths of different ships and then gives his personal opinion on a ranking.
I think he does a quite good job.

One might or might not disagree on some points but his essays are well worth reading!



For a conclusion on your points – well – I’ve given my view which like yours tends to land somewhere in the middle; except that is that Bismarck’s AA armament was on the poor side.

Ufo

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Postby Bgile » Thu Apr 20, 2006 6:51 pm

ufo,

Thanks for the links. :)

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Postby RNfanDan » Mon Apr 24, 2006 4:23 pm

pdfox99 wrote:The Port rudder was actually lodged into the center screw. Whether it happend during the torpedo explosion, or during impact onto the ocean floor we don't know for sure.


There is no evidence that the shaft of any of her propellers was affected by the hit. If the rudder had fouled the screw as a result of the hit, it would certainly have been shut down. In fact, much has been written of the crew's efforts to steer the ship by attempting different combinations of thrust and direction, to counteract the effect of the rudders. This would not have been possible with a fouled screw.
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Postby Djoser » Fri Apr 28, 2006 12:24 pm

Missed coming to the forum for a while, which is my loss...

Speaking of losing--I am happy to see the 'Swordfish too slow' argument in favor of the Bismarck's AA gunnery shot down in flames, so to speak. Not that I was advocating the idea--I just wanted to see what some truly well-informed people thought of it. And I saw, lol.

Thanks to all for an enlightening conversation!


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