What if Hood hadn't blown up?

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What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by RF » Thu Sep 21, 2006 1:25 pm

All the discussions on the Denmark Strait battle have taken the sinking of Hood as read.

But how would the battle have developed if Hood hadn't blown up?

Could Hood and POW eventually use their two to one superiority in capital ships to sink Bismarck?

Remember that Admiral Holland also had a destroyer escort of six destroyers that were available for torpedo attack at the climax of the action, not to mention the 8 inch guns and torpedoes of Norfolk and Suffolk that could come into play if Bismarck lost speed.

And if Bismarck could have been sunk, what fate would there be for Prinz Eugen?

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu Sep 21, 2006 3:56 pm

Lutjens had shown that, when in such a situation, he will turn away. Earlier that year he did exactly that with the Twins: he´ll refuse combat... he almost refused it in the real situation and, when already winning, he didn´t pursue PoW after blowing Hood and having the British dreadnought cornered. No, he will not fight. :?
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Post by RNfanDan » Thu Sep 21, 2006 4:27 pm

Short answer--NO.

This topic has been discussed from countless angles and hypotheses, but if one is willing to accept some reality i.e., that the battle proceeds in a historically-accurate fashion up to the point of "two blue" (Holland's signal to Prince of Wales to turn to port), even taking away the fatal magazine hit could not have allowed Hood and PoW to sink Bismarck.

I'll explain my opinion as succinctly as I can:

1) Hood was firing at the wrong ship. From the opening salvo of the battle, Hood's shells were of absolutely no threat to Bismarck, no matter how accurate the British gunnery.

2) While the Bismarck itself could arguably be accused of firing at the "wrong" ship---from the standpoint of #1, above---Hood was already in a bad way, even before the magazine explosion. From the evidence presented in many posts to this forum over the past year or so, especially it would seem that Hood never actually shifted targets. I think this would have continued, at least for several more critical minutes, until someone realized the targeting error and effected a change in fire control procedure.

Even without the fatal hit, the ship was afire, had lost a key gunnery-control function (the hit on the upper control facility), and would have been delayed in re-acquiring a target after the turn to port was executed. With then two additional turrets requiring target information from a disabled control system, changes would have to be made very quickly to bring these turrets to bear. Once Holland's turn had been completed, Hood's fire control may well have been forced into a divided, fore-and-aft local configuration. In any case, Hood's effect is only to allow PoW more time to range her guns.

3) Based on these circumstances, it is safe to assume that German gunnery would have boarded numerous additional shellhits on Hood, while the latter was still getting its own rapidly-deteriorating affairs sorted-out. Had Hood not been destroyed by that point, she may well have been forced to disengage (as PoW later did) or could have suffered other crippling blows sufficient to compel her to alter course away temporarily, leaving PoW to hold the line until clarity had been restored.

4) None of this affects Bismarck thus far, except that PoW would now be much more effective, having enjoyed the luxury of German fixation upon Hood even longer, and without the detriment to her gunnery of having to wildly manuever to avoid Hood's wreckage. Historical accuracy has already established, even before the magazine hit on the flagship, that PoW had found the range and scored three hits. Given additional time, even with Hood's problems, the Germans could easily have suffered more serious hits from PoW.

5). With this in mind, even a withering fire from PoW's guns would likely not have sunk the Bismarck. The German ship was simply immune from sinking by shellfire, alone--as was PoW, I believe--and, despite the likelihood that she would have suffered the effects of accurate fire from both German ships, possibly even being forced to disengage (as she later was, anyway), there is no reason to believe that Hood's presence would either cause Bismarck's sinking, or save PoW from still having to disengage.

Conclusion: The battle would have turned out much differently, had Hood not exploded. However, there is no possibility of gunfire, in any combination, that would alone have sunk Bismarck. Hood's survival would likely have created only two alternative possibilities, the first being that the battle would have been prolonged and taken place in possibly two separate "actions"; the second being, that the Germans would have drastically altered their plans, possibly even abandoning the operation and reversing course, as Lütjens had done earlier with S&G.

Beyond this point, a whole range of possibilities exists, and I won't go further with these. But, in the scenario I just described, Bismarck floats---and as long as it stays afloat, the ship has a very hard time of things from an alert, determined Royal Navy, already gathering its forces together. Little else would have immediately resulted from a surviving but battered Hood, and neither side would have sufficient strength to overcome the other, at least not until the British were able to gain a more favorable position than a "running stalemate".
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Post by Bgile » Thu Sep 21, 2006 5:41 pm

I agree with RNfanDan. In fact, if Bismarck was more seriously damaged, she might have turned around and made it back to port with no rudder damage.

I think Hood would have been very seriously damaged and PoW was in no shape to fight Bismarck one v one because of her weapon problems. If Hood hadn't blown up, the hit would most likely have disabled one of her engine rooms in any case.

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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by Tiornu » Thu Sep 21, 2006 8:55 pm

They certainly could have destroyed Bismarck--that was their mission, after all. In fact, I think that's the most probable outcome of the fight.

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Post by Gary » Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:10 pm

Hood and POW would have crippled Bismarck with gunfire and then called in Norfolk + Suffolk to use their torpedo's.
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Post by Tiornu » Thu Sep 21, 2006 11:29 pm

Hood actually had her own torpedoes...if they still worked.

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Sep 22, 2006 3:25 pm

Tiornu:
They certainly could have destroyed Bismarck--that was their mission, after all. In fact, I think that's the most probable outcome of the fight.
There are people that still believe in globlins and fairies. :!:
If Bismarck was such a floating piece of junk, as sometimes it appears to be the sincere opinion of them, why don´t subscribe to another forum that is NOT dedicated to Bismarck? Maybe Barham Forum, or Royal Oak Forum, or Glorious Forum, or Titanic Forum. I´m not putting there the HMS Hood Forum because it´s members don´t regard Bismarck as low as another people do.
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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by RNfanDan » Fri Sep 22, 2006 5:17 pm

Tiornu wrote:They certainly could have destroyed Bismarck--that was their mission, after all. In fact, I think that's the most probable outcome of the fight.
I don't believe that it's possible for Bismarck to have been destroyed at DS, even if we take away the early loss of Hood. My whole point is this--the Hood was already in a bad state of affairs, and would no doubt have continued to take a pounding sufficient to either force her out of the action, or to allow Bismarck to escape.

At the outset, the British had every advantage. But, with no help from Wake-Walker's cruisers, half his big guns wooded, and the other half divided between two targets, Holland was defeated by a combination of fate and incompetence, alone. Had he been able to employ all his advantages, he still had a hard fight against unfavorable seas, a ship plagued with technical problems, and a lethal German initiative.

As to Karl's comment, I do not regard Bismarck as a lowly ship, by any means.
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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by Bgile » Fri Sep 22, 2006 5:44 pm

RNfanDan wrote: I don't believe that it's possible for Bismarck to have been destroyed at DS, even if we take away the early loss of Hood. My whole point is this--the Hood was already in a bad state of affairs, and would no doubt have continued to take a pounding sufficient to either force her out of the action, or to allow Bismarck to escape.

At the outset, the British had every advantage. But, with no help from Wake-Walker's cruisers, half his big guns wooded, and the other half divided between two targets, Holland was defeated by a combination of fate and incompetence, alone. Had he been able to employ all his advantages, he still had a hard fight against unfavorable seas, a ship plagued with technical problems, and a lethal German initiative.

As to Karl's comment, I do not regard Bismarck as a lowly ship, by any means.
I agree 100%.

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Sep 22, 2006 6:02 pm

RNfanDan and Bgile:
RNfanDan wrote:

I don't believe that it's possible for Bismarck to have been destroyed at DS, even if we take away the early loss of Hood. My whole point is this--the Hood was already in a bad state of affairs, and would no doubt have continued to take a pounding sufficient to either force her out of the action, or to allow Bismarck to escape.

At the outset, the British had every advantage. But, with no help from Wake-Walker's cruisers, half his big guns wooded, and the other half divided between two targets, Holland was defeated by a combination of fate and incompetence, alone. Had he been able to employ all his advantages, he still had a hard fight against unfavorable seas, a ship plagued with technical problems, and a lethal German initiative.

As to Karl's comment, I do not regard Bismarck as a lowly ship, by any means.


I agree 100%.
Sorry, I wasn´t refering to any of you, I regard both of you highly.
About RNfanDan post I find something very curious:
Holland was defeated by a combination of fate and incompetence, alone.
This week I was reading an article posted in the HMS Hood website about VADM Holland´s tactics at DS. In less than a week I found the word "incompetence" a.k.a. "blunder" in regard to Holland twice. Never I had found that Holland commit a "blunder" in the strict meaning of the word: how could he had known that PE was leading the German formation? How would he had known that PoW´s artillery would became so handicapped? How could he had forecast that Bismarck´s artillery would straddle his vessel at the very beggining of the combat whilst his own would be unable to hit any of both enemy ships with so many salvoes fired? He was inside what Clausewitz called "the misdt of war", or General Lee "in God´s hands". He approached the German formation the best way he could, trying to avoid the deadly plungging fire of his adversaries and, in the process, falling victim of it.

Best regards.
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Post by Bgile » Fri Sep 22, 2006 7:56 pm

My beef with Holland is very simple. He should have turned to port enough to open PoW’s “A” arcs before opening fire. It’s very simple. You have over twice the number of guns of your opponent and you shouldn’t hadicap yourself from the beginning.

The fact that he turned to port an insufficient amount the first time and then started another turn indicates to me that he didn't have a good handle on the tactical situation wrt his ship's firing arcs.

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Post by Gary » Fri Sep 22, 2006 8:28 pm

Hi all :cool:

I dont regard Bismarck as a heap of junk either.

I just think that despite Hoods age and whatever flaws she had, it is still 2 battleships against one.

I guess Bismarck is comparable to a Black Mamba (African snake).

Some of the stories and myths about her are over hyped but she is still a very dangerous customer. :clap:
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Post by Tiornu » Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:06 pm

I think we can be assured that Holland knew his aft guns weren't firing.
Remember that the stated RN preference was for combat at 12-16,000 yards. One of the reasons for this was the fact that it decreased the danger of plunging hits; coincidentally, 16,000 yards is also the range at which Bismarck's shells also start to get a good "bite" into decks. It may be that Holland was doing his best to get his ship into decisive range before her age began to show--in the form of a catastrophic hit that reminds everyone of the battlecruisers at Jutland. He very nearly succeeded.
If I had to pick one facet of his plan to change, I'd put PoW in the lead to play the shell sponge.
Karl, who called Bismarck a floating piece of junk?

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:27 pm

Gary:
I guess Bismarck is comparable to a Black Mamba (African snake).
Hi! :wink:
Have you seen the movie "Kill Bill". Black Mamba is the codename of the very lethal character portraited by Uma Thurman. Outstanding movie, by the way!
I know that you never called the Bismarck and his proud crew anything unfair.

Tiornu:
Karl, who called Bismarck a floating piece of junk?
Not with those words, but I can assure you that if someone cames with an scenario in which Bismarck fights PT-109 you´ll find a way in which one of the infinite design and construction flaws of Bismarck gives the wooden PT a chance or a victory.
Man, let´s face it. The moment Hood stood in the way of Bismarck the way she did there was no other outcome. Which is sad because Hood is one, if not among Bismarck, of my favorite warships.
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