Bismarck heading west..

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alecsandros
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Bismarck heading west..

Post by alecsandros » Sat Jun 07, 2014 1:24 pm

Gentlemen,
The previous days I re-read the final chapters of Bismarck's mission, from the time of Prinz Eugen's separation until her final demise.

Amongst the many misteries that still surround Bismarck's fate, is this one:
When did Luetjens finaly realised that he realy was NOT under surveillance anymore, and why did he kept a straight course to the east ?

Allow me elaborate:
1) We know Luetjens still considered himself shadowed at 7:00 on May 25th, from his long message sent to Group West.
2) We also know that during the day of the 25th of May, Suffolk, Prince of Wales and Norfolk gradualy fell behind the Bismarck, with distance increasing over 100km at 12:00 on May 25th.
3) Could it be that at noon on May 25th, Luetjens finaly understood that he escaped his pursuers ?
4) If so, wouldn't it have been more prudent of him to turn south, for about 6 hours (200km traveled), and then reverse course to the west at reduced speed of 12-14kts ? That way, he would leave out his opponents, and simply return on a different path 2-3 days later, when all the hunter-killer groups would have lost fuel.
5) As it was, with Bismarck heading directly to Brest, he was passing EXACTLY along British main bases, with little hope of remaining un-detected.

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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by dunmunro » Sat Jun 07, 2014 10:53 pm

alecsandros wrote:Gentlemen,
The previous days I re-read the final chapters of Bismarck's mission, from the time of Prinz Eugen's separation until her final demise.

Amongst the many misteries that still surround Bismarck's fate, is this one:
When did Luetjens finaly realised that he realy was NOT under surveillance anymore, and why did he kept a straight course to the east ?

Allow me elaborate:
1) We know Luetjens still considered himself shadowed at 7:00 on May 25th, from his long message sent to Group West.
2) We also know that during the day of the 25th of May, Suffolk, Prince of Wales and Norfolk gradualy fell behind the Bismarck, with distance increasing over 100km at 12:00 on May 25th.
3) Could it be that at noon on May 25th, Luetjens finaly understood that he escaped his pursuers ?
4) If so, wouldn't it have been more prudent of him to turn south, for about 6 hours (200km traveled), and then reverse course to the west at reduced speed of 12-14kts ? That way, he would leave out his opponents, and simply return on a different path 2-3 days later, when all the hunter-killer groups would have lost fuel.
5) As it was, with Bismarck heading directly to Brest, he was passing EXACTLY along British main bases, with little hope of remaining un-detected.
Lutjen's actions suggest that Bismarck's fuel crisis was much more severe than many now think. Bismarck's actions suggest that her fuel consumption was higher than we think and/or that she lost more fuel to action damage than we think.

Bismarck's fuel consumption may have been very adversely effected by her increased displacement, especially a trim by the bow and the need to force her remaining boilers to make up for those lost to damage.

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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by alecsandros » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:19 am

dunmunro wrote:
Lutjen's actions suggest that Bismarck's fuel crisis was much more severe than many now think. Bismarck's actions suggest that her fuel consumption was higher than we think and/or that she lost more fuel to action damage than we think.

Bismarck's fuel consumption may have been very adversely effected by her increased displacement, especially a trim by the bow and the need to force her remaining boilers to make up for those lost to damage.
Quite possible...

This would match well with Luetjens 19:03, 26th of May message "Fuel situation urgen. When can I expect replenishment ?", which probably reffered to a rendez-vous with a tanker.

P.S.: Group West calculated that Bismarck could be in Brest at "evening of the 26th at the earliest".
So, if the ship would not have suffered damage in the Denmark Strait, she could have escaped Tovey and Sommerville's forces ...

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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by José M. Rico » Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:39 pm

Admiral Lütjens initially wanted to head West. In fact, in the afternoon of 24 May, he urged Dönitz on a radio telegram to assemble his U-boats in quadrant AJ 68 (54º 09' North, 42º 15' East), so the Bismarck would be able to lead the British pursuing ships into a trap the next day. However, at 2056 hours that evening, Lütjens informed Group West that due to fuel shortage, he was to proceed directly to Saint-Nazaire. Therefore cancelling his previous intentions. The fuel situation aboard Bismarck had become so serious that any diversionary manoeuvres were ruled out.

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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by alecsandros » Tue Jun 10, 2014 6:43 pm

Mui interesante...

Dear Jose, do you suppose the damage to the forecastle and hull (compartment XIV) could have created an increase in drag, which in turn lead to a higher fuel consumption than in normal conditions ? This, along with the bow trim of 1* and rising tides, could have seriously affected the fuel consumption of the Bismarck ?

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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by northcape » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:55 pm

alecsandros wrote:Mui interesante...

Dear Jose, do you suppose the damage to the forecastle and hull (compartment XIV) could have created an increase in drag, which in turn lead to a higher fuel consumption than in normal conditions ? This, along with the bow trim of 1* and rising tides, could have seriously affected the fuel consumption of the Bismarck ?
As G&D suggest, high-speed manoeuvring during the Swordfish attack at the 24th also significantly increased Bismarck's fuel consumption.

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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by RF » Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:21 pm

dunmunro wrote: Bismarck's fuel consumption may have been very adversely effected by her increased displacement, especially a trim by the bow and the need to force her remaining boilers to make up for those lost to damage.
This may well be the case, however it may be that other considerations not specifically relating to fuel were coming into play - the effectiveness of British radar, the degrading effects on crew morale and fitness of constantly being at action stations, joining forces with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau which was part of the original German plan.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by alecsandros » Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:23 am

RF wrote:
dunmunro wrote: Bismarck's fuel consumption may have been very adversely effected by her increased displacement, especially a trim by the bow and the need to force her remaining boilers to make up for those lost to damage.
This may well be the case, however it may be that other considerations not specifically relating to fuel were coming into play - the effectiveness of British radar, the degrading effects on crew morale and fitness of constantly being at action stations, joining forces with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau which was part of the original German plan.
True.. I never thought about that.. Could it be that Luetjens was asking for a relief force... ? He certainly needed it...

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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by wadinga » Sat Jun 21, 2014 8:53 pm

Hi Alecsandros,

Despite some misguided people imaging they know what what Bismarck's fuel consumption was, we know Lutjens sent messages saying he was short of fuel. Despite ludricrous suggestions made that Lutjens was trying to deliberately mislead his enemies, that is not the case. The bow was down, the stern was up and the props were in near surface aerated water. Consumption would be higher than expected or was estimated by Group West.

There were no rescue forces to help Lutjens. He had detached the only major operational warship at his disposal. Scharnhorst's engines were broken down and Gneisenau had been torpedoed, a few destroyers was all there was in the west of France.

The luckless crew of the oiler Ermland were readied for a suicide mission.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by alecsandros » Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:16 am

Hi Sean,

I know there weren't any ships available to help the Bismarck. But perhaps Luetjens hoped to be sent some help ?

P.S.: after repairs, the bow trim was 1*, so the propellers would not be out of the water anymore.

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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by RF » Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:24 am

alecsandros wrote: I know there weren't any ships available to help the Bismarck. But perhaps Luetjens hoped to be sent some help ?
U-boats and aircraft would be the obvious candidates for support, although the submarines available were low on torpedoes.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by wadinga » Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:30 pm

Hello All,

The U boats available were fairly scattered, the weather was too bad for them to operate effectively on the surface and run enough speed to rendezvous, and co-operation was so difficult anyway, Bismarck had to hoist a black flag to identify herself so they didn't torpedo her :shock:

Aircraft: They were barely in range of the French based Ju88s when the final action occurred. There were a few FW200 Condors with very limited bomb loads available which might have reached out further, and would have made excellent targets for the Ark's Fulmars if intercepted being one of the few aircraft they might catch. :cool:

We do not know (as I have said for years) whether a proto-Metox radar detector aboard Bismarck was convincing Lutjens he was still under radar surveillance (of some kind). Coastal Command and FAA search aircraft were spraying a large area with transmissions.

He ran for home because he had to run for home, and if there was any help to be had it was close to France, not out in the middle of the Atlantic. He knew his own fuel problems and couldn't know the British were in a worse state.

All the best

wadinga
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alecsandros
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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by alecsandros » Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:45 pm

true,
but let's remember the Bismarck was mortaly torpedoed when it was at ~ 1100km from Brest, so not in the middle of the Atlantic anymore... Theoreticaly, it woudl be a 20-hour journey from Brest, assuming a destroyer screen would be racing at 30kts towards her.

That they didn't do that, and they didn't have any kind of heavy ship whatsoever that could be sent on at least a diversionary raid, that would possibly divert some British attention, shows just how weak the Kriegsmarine was... Not to be able to send A SINGLE SHIP to assist her biggest, most powerfull battleship......

IF the Schnarhorst or Gneisenau were ready... With 3-5 destroyers, they could have threatened Sommerville's force... And who knows...

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wadinga
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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by wadinga » Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:18 pm

Hi All,

Alecsandros has said
IF the Schnarhorst or Gneisenau were ready... With 3-5 destroyers, they could have threatened Sommerville's force... And who knows...
Luckily they weren't........... and so we don't have to all speak german and revere the Fuhrer's memory :dance:

I bet you secretly wish sometimes Luke Skywalker had missed :shock:

Has everybody read Paul Cadogan's excellent new DS article, much closer to reality than the fantastical stuff we have seen recently :clap: :clap: :clap: .


All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

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Re: Bismarck heading west..

Post by dunmunro » Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:13 pm

wadinga wrote:Hi All,

Alecsandros has said
IF the Schnarhorst or Gneisenau were ready... With 3-5 destroyers, they could have threatened Sommerville's force... And who knows...
Luckily they weren't........... and so we don't have to all speak german and revere the Fuhrer's memory :dance:

I bet you secretly wish sometimes Luke Skywalker had missed :shock:

Has everybody read Paul Cadogan's excellent new DS article, much closer to reality than the fantastical stuff we have seen recently :clap: :clap: :clap: .


All the best

Yes, and it's excellent! Way to go Paul!!!

wadinga

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