Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

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paul.mercer
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Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby paul.mercer » Mon Jan 16, 2017 12:44 pm

Gentlemen,
Re the discussion on Bismarck's immunity zone, I'm afraid that most of the technical stuff is way beyond me, but I took the opportunity to re read a book by Ian Ballantyne which has the rather dramatic title 'Killing the Bismarck'. As Mr Ballantyne is also the author of other naval books including ones on Warspite and Rodney I presume that he knows his subject well and at the end of his book he sums up the result of the battle together with a verdict on Bismarck under 'The myth of the invincible Bismarck' and quotes another naval historian the late Anthony Preston whom he describes as a 'globally respected authority on naval matters' as saying in his book 'The worlds worst warships' that Bismarck was ordered very quickly after the Nazis came to power and her design was actually based on the Bayern class of 1917 and in common with other WWI designs y Bismarck had a low armoured deck leaving a lot of vital areas including all the communications and electrical systems outside the armoured citadel and concluded that the RN ships shredded everything except her main machinery and that while she could just about maintain momentum all of her vital systems were quickly destroyed. Further on in his book Ballantyne discusses whether shells, torpedoes or scuttling charges eventually sank the ship, he appears to be sceptical over whether scuttling charges were actually used and hints that there is a possibility of the Germans claiming that she was scuttled in order to save the honour of the ship and prove that shells could not sink her. From a personal view (and I consider myself ignorant in the face of the expert views expressed in these forums) I would think that it would be very difficult to distinguish a charge going from a shell (or possibly a torpedo from Rodney) especially when she is being pounded from all directions, also, it would surely take some very brave men to go back below to open the sea cocks and fire the charges when the ship is filling with water. Ballantyne also goes into the findings of Ballard, Mearns, Cameron and Mc Dowell when they explored Bismarck which makes very interesting reading. Finally – and this is the really controversial bit, Ballantyne says, 'It is ironic that for decades so many people have been in thrall to Bismarck, making great efforts to show that she sank herself via scuttling rather that British shells and torpedoes doing the job. The reality was that while Bismarck was an outwardly modern looking ship, under the skin she was of a less advanced design than even Rodney and that is why when she met capital ships more modern than Hood Germany's fleet flagship was so utterly destroyed. After the loss of her steering the night before during her final battle she soon lost her communications, command and control and with her guns being gradually silenced the choice was surrender or death'
Gentlemen, I realise that much of this has been discussed under different topics before which is why I have entered it under a new name, but I would grateful for your comments on Mr Ballantynes opinions.

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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby alecsandros » Mon Jan 16, 2017 12:56 pm

The views presented in the text above are inaccurate, but who would buy another book praising Bismarcks' design (or aspects of it ) ? There are so many of them out there... Thus the need to bash the design thoroughly, to give "another" opinion - possibly a controversial one, possibly one that sells better then the old ones.

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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby Alberto Virtuani » Mon Jan 16, 2017 1:07 pm

..... The reality was that while Bismarck was an outwardly modern looking ship, under the skin she was of a less advanced design than even Rodney and that is why when she met capital ships more modern than Hood Germany's fleet flagship was so utterly destroyed.....

Hi all,
mmmmh :think: I think the author forgot about the encounter with the Prince of Wales...... :lol:


Bye, Alberto
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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby paul.mercer » Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:00 pm

alecsandros wrote:The views presented in the text above are inaccurate, who would buy another book praising Bismarcks' design (or aspects of it ) ? There are so many of them out there... Thus the need to bash the design thoroughly, to give "another" opinion - possibly a controversial one, possibly one that sells better then the old ones.


That's a very good point which I had not considered, also, Ballantyne goes through the whole battle, the run up, the battle itself and the aftermath, including the damage to PoW, so it is surprising that he doesn't realise that PoW is even more modern than Rodney in his statement. As I said in my post, that having got two of his other books (on Warspite and Rodney) I presumed he knew what he was talking about. Any further comments on my post would be welcome, but please don't blow me out of the water as I was only quoting from his book!!

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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby frontkampfer » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:08 am

Paul,

I appreciate your posting and perspective on this book. I long ago determined that this author had an ax to grind and I chose not to give him any of my money. Thanks for confirming my decision.

Larry
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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby dunmunro » Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:19 am

paul.mercer wrote:
alecsandros wrote:The views presented in the text above are inaccurate, who would buy another book praising Bismarcks' design (or aspects of it ) ? There are so many of them out there... Thus the need to bash the design thoroughly, to give "another" opinion - possibly a controversial one, possibly one that sells better then the old ones.


That's a very good point which I had not considered, also, Ballantyne goes through the whole battle, the run up, the battle itself and the aftermath, including the damage to PoW, so it is surprising that he doesn't realise that PoW is even more modern than Rodney in his statement. As I said in my post, that having got two of his other books (on Warspite and Rodney) I presumed he knew what he was talking about. Any further comments on my post would be welcome, but please don't blow me out of the water as I was only quoting from his book!!


Ballantyne states legitimate criticisms of Bismarck's design. An RN design ( Lion for example) with the same tonnage would have been faster, with more firepower, and a much larger protected volume. We've certainly discussed the pros and cons of Bismarck's design and while it has some desirable features it also is very wasteful in terms of weight utilization. The 4 x twin 38cm turrets, non-DP secondary armament and a heavy, inefficient, power plant despite using a triple shaft layout and very high pressure, high temperature steam, are cases in point.

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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby alecsandros » Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:55 am

dunmunro wrote:
paul.mercer wrote:
alecsandros wrote:The views presented in the text above are inaccurate, who would buy another book praising Bismarcks' design (or aspects of it ) ? There are so many of them out there... Thus the need to bash the design thoroughly, to give "another" opinion - possibly a controversial one, possibly one that sells better then the old ones.


That's a very good point which I had not considered, also, Ballantyne goes through the whole battle, the run up, the battle itself and the aftermath, including the damage to PoW, so it is surprising that he doesn't realise that PoW is even more modern than Rodney in his statement. As I said in my post, that having got two of his other books (on Warspite and Rodney) I presumed he knew what he was talking about. Any further comments on my post would be welcome, but please don't blow me out of the water as I was only quoting from his book!!


Ballantyne states legitimate criticisms of Bismarck's design. An RN design ( Lion for example) with the same tonnage would have been faster, with more firepower, and a much larger protected volume. We've certainly discussed the pros and cons of Bismarck's design and while it has some desirable features it also is very wasteful in terms of weight utilization. The 4 x twin 38cm turrets, non-DP secondary armament and a heavy, inefficient, power plant despite using a triple shaft layout and very high pressure, high temperature steam, are cases in point.

Dear Duncan,
The criticism of Bismarck's design posted in the first post of this thread is incorrect.
The arguments that you posted are not correct either.

Best,

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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby RF » Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:34 pm

I have avoided commenting on this to see what the general view of members was.

My observation is that if the Bismarck class battleship was so flawed then why did it take so much effort to destroy them?
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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby Alberto Virtuani » Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:53 pm

Hi all,
RF wrote: "if the Bismarck class battleship was so flawed then why did it take so much effort to destroy them?"

I would pose the same identical question as RF.

It is a fact that both Bismarck and Tirpitz were subject to the worst treatment (among all battleship from any country in WWII at least) in order to have them destroyed and they both demonstrated an outstanding resilience.


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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby Thorsten Wahl » Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:11 am

even this is from Preston
"All the communications, electical power, telemotor leads and boiler uptakes were above the low-armored deck, and enemy gunfire had shredded everything except the main machinery within minutes."

The power supply of the ship was made from 4 independent main circuits, the main supply lines are located underneath the armored deck, the communication networks are also located under the main deck. By default, two of the four independent E-Werks provide supply for each of the main circuits. In ´case of emergency, however, each E-Werk could be connected to each other main circuit.

Redundancy of the E supply 100%.
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The important communication devices / cables above the armored deck are located in armored canals that go up to the armor deck, the duct below the main command post / main bridge is even armored with 22 cm KC. Electrical cables and communications equipment were also additionally doubled (telephone in general, artillery telephone, Flak telephone), and in addition to the electrical communications equipment, voice tube facilities were also available.

Redundancy of command transmission systems 100%

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All main artillery systems were connected to two of the main E-circuits, 2 adjacent guns always on the other two.

Telemotor leads for the weapons / required control devices were always mounted below the armored deck or within the barbets.


Even the excessive redundancy doesnt help against repeated direct hits of main gun caliber shells against sensors or command stations and turrets.


In the assessment of the similar fire control system of the Prinz Eugen, the following comparative assessment was made: "... two main battery plotting rooms, two AA battery plotting rooms, two master stable element rooms, four main battery directors, four AA directors ... are more then British and Americans have on battleships .... "Letter Report No 175-45 (o) General comments on Ordnance Equipment on the Cruiser Prinz Eugen.

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there is a possibility of the Germans claiming that she was scuttled

scuttling means also the completly watertight state of the ship was canceled - internal doors has been opened to let the water ingress spread through the ship.

Even Titanic with much less subdivision requires about 2,5 h to sink
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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby jabeque » Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:50 pm

Unfortunately a recent book by Friedman repeats some of these topics.

The armour deck was the communications deck: vital wiring and
piping were installed atop it, where they were vulnerable to plunging fire
and also to fragments knocked out of the main belt. Presumably that was
done to clear the overheads of the machinery spaces below armour

The British Battleship 1906-1946 - Norman Friedman

It is a flaw in an otherwise excellent book. Friedman, in my humble opinion, seems to have no interest in the reasons behind German designs.

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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby RF » Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:11 am

Thorsten Wahl wrote:even this is from Preston
"All the communications, electical power, telemotor leads and boiler uptakes were above the low-armored deck, and enemy gunfire had shredded everything except the main machinery within minutes."


Well - how did Mullenheim -Rechberg manage to continue with return fire from turrets Caeser and Dora on KGV if there was apparently no power supply?
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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby RF » Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:21 am

Thorsten Wahl wrote:
Even Titanic with much less subdivision requires about 2,5 h to sink


This is particulary interesting.

When the Titanics' designer Phillips told Captain Smith around 23.55 on 14 April that the ship was mortally damaged and would founder (15 minutes after iceberg strike) Captain Smith replied by asking how long Titanic would last. Phillips said that Titanic would last an hour, maybe an hour and a half. That would make the final plunge at before 1.30 AM at the very latest.

Titanic actually went down at 2.23 AM which was 2 hours 43 minutes after the iceberg strike The ship lasted about twice as long as Phillips predicted, even with the boiler room 6 bulkhead severely weakened by a coal bunker combustion fire.
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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby tommy303 » Sat Apr 08, 2017 3:32 am

Was not Titanic's designer Thomas Andrews?

As to the late Anthony Preston, he was often wrong and at times self contradictory.

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Re: Ian Ballantyne's views on Bismarcks distruction

Postby Bill Jurens » Sat Apr 08, 2017 10:35 pm

I would characterize 'Killing the Bismarck" as a well-written but technically superficial treatment of the subject, basically only one of the latest in what seems to be a perennial crop of "Bismarck books". It's by no means definitive, just light reading. Whether that suits one or not largely depends upon what one is actually looking for.

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