What if Hood hadn't blown up?

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Bgile
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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by Bgile » Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:33 pm

Djoser wrote:
That's good! And point taken. However...

The Hood wasn't shooting particularly well to begin with, even using the main fire control. This would presumably be where the best trained gunnery experts on the ship were located, using the best vantage point high up in the spotting top. After getting hit there, even if the transition to the secondary director was relatively smooth, there would be at least a slight delay, the gunnery officers would not be the best they had, and meanwhile the ship is getting shot up rapidly by the Bismarck's accurate and rapid salvos. I'd rather not be on the Hood under those circumstances, even if I were assured there would be no magazine explosions.
I wouldn't want to be on any ship being shot at by Bismarck on that day, but I think you might find the opinion of Prinz Eugen's personnel would differ from yours, particularly since they were apparently drenched by one of her salvoes. Prinz Eugen was a smaller target than Bismarck, and Hood was only shooting with half of her guns. Hood should normally outshoot a green PoW, but not without her main top director position.

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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by RF » Mon Apr 12, 2010 9:07 am

alecsandros wrote:
That's another thing; I always said there was no escape for Bismarck... He would have been sunk no matter what.
But only if Bismarck was held by British radar and the British could catch her.

Had Bismarck escaped the shadowers and disappeared into the Atlantic and waited for a few days for the British to have to head for home.....
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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by RF » Mon Apr 12, 2010 9:28 am

hammy wrote:I dont understand this business about Hood having her Fire control "knocked out" . :think:

The capital ships of this time had been designed to use a whole series of back-up systems in the event of combat damage arising in extended combat situations , and the number and quality of the systems fitted was probably the best there has ever been , certainly more there than today .

The foretop director may have been destroyed completely , in which case you would simply shift primary observation taking to the one in front of the bridge , on top of the conning tower , and also take observations from the third unit on top of the aft control tower .

That would be an automatic thing , the control crews having been drilled to do just that again and again .

.
What you describe hammy is the idealised arrangement of what should happen. But DS was not a battle excercise, it was the real thing. We do not know what precisely was happening with Hood's gunnery in the last two minutes before Hood's demise, there was no equivalent of the aviation ''black box'' that could be recovered to tell us.

What we do have is circumstantial evidence. We know that Holland started the action with Hood shooting at Prinz Eugen, due to a mistake in ship recognition. We know that he sought to correct that mistake, it was signalled to POW. One eye witness on Hood gave evidence suggesting the main foretop director was knocked out, or at least impaired. We have evidence from POW that no shell splashes from Hood around Bismarck could be discerned. Put together we have an apparent failure by Hood to switch target and that could be for a whole variety of reasons. The other feature of the DS battle was that Hood's fire was not as accurate as Bismarck's, despite firing first. PE was a smaller target, but Bismarck was hitting again and again.

It strikes me that Hood s' gunnery is curious due to the lack of accuracy and coherency. It may be there was insufficient time at the point of blowing for the switch in target and the bringing into fire the rear turrets to have been completed, particulary if the main director was out. Were any of the backup systems affected by other hits? Were there other hits on Hood that we don't know about because no witnesses survived? How far down the line did Holland's orders to correct target actually get?
These questions go straight into the realms of conjecture - we don't know the answer, probably never will. But the fact that Hood didn't hit anything, while POW with its untried gunnery was able to find and hit target remains to me an unsolved mystery to this battle.
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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by lwd » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:53 pm

From http://www.kbismarck.com/ds-barticle.pdf Hood apparently fired 10 salvoes but many of them appear to have been 4 gun salvos. Some were close enought to Eugen to cause minor splinter damage. It's not clear to me that she was shooting all that bad. Especially given that the first couple would essentially have been cold gun salvoes and then once here rear guns joined in they would be cold when the forward guns were warmed up. Certainly she wasn't lucky that day nor would one call her shooting exceptional but I'm not sure it should be considered poor either.

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Post by Terje Langoy » Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:13 pm

lwd wrote:From http://www.kbismarck.com/ds-barticle.pdf Hood apparently fired 10 salvoes but many of them appear to have been 4 gun salvos.
Four gun salvos (single shot pr turret) and not full salvos were the rule, according to Campbell whom mentioned this in relation to "Lizzie´s" gun trials and campaign at Dardanelles in 1915. Since she shared the very same armament layout (four twin turrets) as Hood it seems to me likely that Hood would also abide to that practice.
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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by lwd » Mon Apr 12, 2010 7:01 pm

But several are reported in the linked document to be front turrets only. Would these be 2 gun "salvos"?

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Terje Langoy
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Post by Terje Langoy » Mon Apr 12, 2010 7:28 pm

Actually I wondered the very same thing - Admiral Holland´s last order would suggest the forward turrets were indeed the active ones - and if that be the case then shell expenditure of the Hood in this battle must have been quite low. The first salvos would be ranging salvos, then add for further consideration a RoF of ... say 1 rpm and maintain this for six minutes (was it not six minutes?) and I would say Hood was extremely unlucky that morning.

Could it be confirmed whether Hood´s gunnery at DS is listed only as salvos or do you have figures on the round expenditure. These figures and a revisit of Hoods approach that morning may be sufficient to establish a general pattern of fire.
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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by Bgile » Mon Apr 12, 2010 9:40 pm

Somehow I've gotten the impression that Hood and PoW each had portions of the minute they were supposed to fire in so they wouldn't interfere with each other's spotting.

If Hood was firing half salvos she would have fired more often than once a minute.

Oh, and generally you want to get on for line and then for range.

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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by tommy303 » Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:19 am

Oh, and generally you want to get on for line and then for range.
Correct! The first salvo from cold barrels is not very useful for ranging as it rarely will achieve the expected range until one or two salvos have been fired. They are, however useful for testing deflection, as the cold barrel state affects range much more than it does line.

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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:17 am

Ciao all,

both Capt Leach, Mc Mullen letter and PoW gunnery report tell us that Hood and PoW were firing into assigned time slots.

So logic would dictate that from open fire at 05.52 and 30 seconds by Hood and 05.53 and 00 seconds by PoW we can associate on a one-on-one salvo fired by PoW a similar initiative from Hood.

This up until the famous "Hood out of action" statement written on PoW battle map at 05.56.

Question is : what did they saw ? What happened on board Hood ? Why such a clear statement written by PoWgunners on their battle map about Hood ??

That statement divide the Hood performances into 2 sections : from 05.52 and 30 seconds until 05.56, so 3 minutes and 30 seconds, or 210 seconds in total .......... and a second period of 4 minutes from 05.56 until 06.00, so other 240 seconds.

To be noted that at 05.56 Hood received the first hit by Prinz Eugen that started the fire aft, and soon after the first hit by Bismarck that disabled the spotting top and put the director out of action.

Now, what was the reason of that statement written on PoW map ? The fire aft ? The spotting top director hit ? Both of them ? :think:

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Post by Terje Langoy » Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:25 pm

Bgile wrote:Somehow I've gotten the impression that Hood and PoW each had portions of the minute they were supposed to fire in so they wouldn't interfere with each other's spotting.

If Hood was firing half salvos she would have fired more often than once a minute.

Oh, and generally you want to get on for line and then for range.
The principle behind the four-gun salvo seems easy to comprehend; increased RoF at the expense of salvo weight (one to fire while the other reload) but naturally this method would rely on the entire battery being able to bear on target. Once you split the battery the salvo pattern ought to change accordingly - from half to full salvos.

Relative bearings on the battle map have me suspecting the rear turrets were `wooded´ for the larger part of the action thus rendering them ineffective. So, if we reckon full turret salvos being fired from Hood´s forward turrets then we have 10 salvos distributed over nearly eight minutes - roughly 1 rpm - and from there I arrive at an estimate of some 30 to 40 shells fired.

If I were to forward any ´a posteriori´ judgement of Hood´s performance, there´s a quote in Taylor´s book which I find to be quite illustrating: “...she charged in like an enraged bull, not fully aware what she was up against”

Maybe Admiral Holland acted too aggressive..?
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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by hammy » Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:25 pm

I dont think he was being too aggressive ,
more a case of reducing the range as fast as possible to get Hood into her "Zone of Immunity" where hostile incoming projectiles are most unlikely to penetrate the Armoured deck(s) due to their flattened trajectory at shorter ranges , yet are equally most unlikely to penetrate the vertical armour because the flattened trajectory is insufficiently flat so as to strike that protection near to "normal" ie at 90degrees .

For Hood up against Bismark that range was about 16,000 yards or so , at which range incidentally the British guns would be expected to make hits on the enemy in worthwhile numbers and with some frequency .

Unfortunately Hood was just swinging round to engage at that distance when she met her end .

As the main armour protection was unlikely to be defeated at that range , the likeliest event is some initial penetration and consequent partial explosion in the 4inch secondary ammunition which was stored aft adjacent to the main magazines there in a less well protected magazine arrangement , and according to some accounts some of this 4 inch ammo was stacked around the main Barbettes ( Hood as built could stow the usual 100 to 150 rounds per secondary gun for shooting at destroyers in a conventional 1917 era engagement , but the quantities required for extended AA defence post Norway in 1941 was far more than that , and it wouldn't fit in the original space provided .)
This explosion rapidly developed by sympathetic detonation to cause the main magazine explosion aft .

OR , following Japanese experiments in the 1920s which discovered that heavy projectiles entering the water do NOT tend to "Nose down" and take up a sharper angle of descent once in the water , ( which even now one would intuitively expect ) , but actually sharply decrease the previous steepening trajectory and can therefore "dive under" vertical armour to penetrate at a shallow angle , it just may be that a near miss by Bismark did just that .

OR , just as at Jutland , someone opened doors or hatches that should have been shut .
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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by Bgile » Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:24 pm

I agree that Holland probably did the right thing and just got unlucky before he could put his plan into place.

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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by hammy » Sun Apr 18, 2010 12:49 pm

Returning to the original post , if Hood hadn't blown up then she completes her turn to port , as does PoW , and with all the main guns able to bear , and the target identification error corrected , there commences an old fashioned gunnery duel .
At 16,000 yards or so there are hits made by both sides , but the German better performance means there are more german hits on British ships than Royal Navy hits on Bismark .
Norfolk and Suffolk take the opportunity of Bismark being heavily engaged elsewhere to come in and attack Prinz Eugen , but as tin-clad ocean patrol designed ships built to washington treaty constrictions , the damage they do on the P E's extra 5000 tons protected hull is superficial , while (as Exeter found against Graf Spee) very few german hits in non-vital spots can soon degrade the big "Counties"

The action proving too hot for the british side , and the destroyer force not yet rejoined , both Hood and PoW turn away , as do Norfolk and Suffolk , to take up the shadowing positions .
In Bismark and in P E there is satisfaction that they have driven off the opposing force , but concern about the damage to their own ships .
The Convoy raiding plan is abandoned , and the two ships head in company toward France .
Other Royal Navy Battle squadrons join the shadowing force in due course and the final action commences a day or two earlier , but with the same result .
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Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by RF » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:35 am

Two points spring to mind here hammy.

Firstly Hoods' effectiveness depends on its ability to not only correct target but also to shoot accurately and at its expected rate of fire. We know there was some apparent degrading of Hoods' fire control and later German hits may degrade it further. We may reach a point where Hood gets so battered that Lutjens orders Lindemann to target POW while Prinz Eugen is ordered to switch fire back to Hood, as the 8 inch shells are likely to be more effective on Hood than POW. Up to this point the main consideration is of how effective POW is whilst not under Bismarck fire, as the fire from Prinz Eugen isn't going to be more than a nuisance. Another factor might be of whether the POW 5.25 inch guns can get the range of Prinz Eugen and damage that ship.

Secondly I am not clear as to how Norfolk and Suffolk are supposed to engage Prinz Eugen. Bismarck is between them and I would have thought that Wake-Walker would initially want to target Bismarck first to take some pressure off Hood. Prinz Eugen only comes within the range of Wake-Walker if it is substantially slowed down, the only chance of that happening is from the POW secondary battery, which I think is unlikely unless it is a very long action.

Incidently in a very long action, another circumstance might be that Hood eventually does blow up, and if POW's speed is substantially impaired and its guns heavily impaired from shell hits as well as the gremlins Lutjens could order Brinckmann to close for torpedo attack, while Bismarck switches fire to Wake-Walker and the destroyers to keep them away.
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