Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.
paul.mercer
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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by paul.mercer » Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:19 pm

Gentlemen,
I have been following this debate as best I can, but regrettably do not have the depth of knowledge and experience of most of the participants to keep up with the technical bits, therefore I would be grateful if you would not savage me too much!
What puzzles me over the whole matter of whether the cruisers should have engaged and whether they and PoW should have re-engaged later is this. From what I understand Bismarck was behind PE when Hood and PoW attacked, so if the cruisers had been in range for their 8" guns they most certainly would have been in range of Bismarck's 15" so it would surely be in the realms of possibility that once Hood had been sunk she could have turned one or both of her rear turrets on them and, given her known accuracy might well have seriously damaged or sunk them ( I don't know how many 15" hits it would take to sink a large cruiser, but I'd guess not many) whereas the cruisers 8" are not going to seriously inconvenience Bismarck. Likewise, the same would apply to PoW and the cruisers re engaging, particularly as it would appear that PoW was in no real fit state to take on Bismarck on her own without further heavy support from other battleships, which does pose an interesting question as to what might have happened if Bismarck had turned and re engaged,however, given that battleships appear to be hard to sink by gunfire alone I would think that there would be the distinct possibility of both cruisers sunk and PoW left battered and almost helpless with Bismarck heading for Brest with some more serious damage but still able to fight.

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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:50 pm

@Paul Mercer:
Hi Paul,
all your considerations are absolutely correct.

However, in the morning action, Bismarck was facing 2 battleships and she would have never turned her main guns against the cruisers. Even after Hood explosion, PoW would have remained as Bismarck main target, until she retreated. At the same time, the 2 cruisers could have turned and disappeared under smoke, having Bismarck to find the range from scratch against them (we know with hindsight that Bismarck would have never followed them as she did not follow PoW).

Prinz Eugen was in a much worse situation, because she was as vulnerable to British heavy shells as NF and SF were to Bismarck ones, she was the leading ship and she was even actually targeted by one of the British battleships (Hood). However she did not leave the line, fired at the enemy and hit Hood and PoW, causing both severe damages (albeit not vital).

NF and SF HE 8" could as well have caused damage to Bismarck (on May 27, it looks like a 8" shell destroyed Bismarck main fire control in the early stage of the battle) if taken in action. I think the British cruiser "problem" at Denmark Strait was the uneasy comparison with Prinz Eugen....


Re. re-engagement, Wake-Walker had the time during May 24 to maneuver his ships in order to engage Bismarck with PoW and Prinz Eugen with both cruisers (coordination would have been possible not having to keep radio silence anymore). Once (and if) disposed of the PG, he could have supported PoW against Bismarck. Again with hindsight it was the right decision not to re-engage, but at the time, I think an attempt should have been done a ssoon as possible, from westward, also to push Bismarck toward Tovey.


Bye, Alberto
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

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RF
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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by RF » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:35 pm

Antonio Bonomi wrote:

@ RF,

now you are taking it personally vs me and accusing me to personally had intentions to denigrate those Officers just because maybe I do not like them ?
I am not taking it personally. I have no personal stake in this. I have an open view on the actions of Tovey and Wake-Walker, I do not judge them one way or the other.

All I am doing is asking a question. All I seek is a direct answer - why do you denigrate these officers?

If this is your idea you are absolutely wrong and thinking in the wrong direction as I already told you.

I arrived to those analysis following the tracks of their ships and you know it very well.
But I don't have any issue at all with the revision of the battle that you have made. It is clear historical fact.

Where I am raising a question is in your conclusions that these officers deliberately, malicously falsified accounts of the battle.

It is not the detail of the action that I am challenging you on, it is the conclusions you draw from it which I see as opinion and biased interpretation - why judge them so harshly? What proof do you have to the motivation of these officers that they acted dishonestly?

After you can ask yourself why they incorrectly declared those data, ... as I did for historical reasons to support my explanations,...
Could you not concede that it might be due to human error and not deliberate deceit? That they simply got it wrong, without having any ulterior motive?
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Antonio Bonomi
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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:39 pm

Hello everybody,

@ RF,

I am glad to have read your post above, ... at least now we can cool down the tones and clarify some concepts.

I do not denigrate those Officers from a personal stand point and I will never do it, as I wrote above at the end I consider them being victims of the situations and the events they lived thru.

My evaluations were only done in the Military terms and only from a Military conduct stand point, and given the very strong rules and methods to conduct the discipline in the RN still during WW2, ... that maybe went on terms that were maybe better to be avoided because they are a bit shocking when pronounced, ... but sometimes you have to explain what you mean in a clear way, ... still and only from a Military stand point.

It is not my fault the fact that Royal Navy had very high standards and pretended so much from every Officer.

The discipline is normally very strong in every Military organization, ... but when one reads the Articles of War and realize how often an inquiry was called on them, ... then one realize what that meant on WW2 for them, ... and they knew it very well.

Thanks for having recognized that my work is correct and it is just and only an historical fact.

You should have also clearly realized by now that some Officers did modify reports and records in order to be in line with the new needs for the Admiralty reports and the recognition.

They had no choice in my personal opinion, ... they could simply not refuse to do it anymore given the situation that has been created when Tovey countered Pound Court martial attempt.
The new reports must have been clean and acceptable by the Admiralty to enable the recognition later, just like for all the other Officers involved on the Bismarck chase.

The tones among us raised up because I found a stubborn opposition to the obvious that honestly I was not expecting from persons that I rated fair and knowledgeable until later, ... some I even met personally and have considered friends.

This has become really a very sad situation, ... but there is nothing I can do about it, ... but just ignore them now.

If they will beg pardon and clarify with me, ... then I will forget what happened lately.


I have not understood your last point completely, ... what has been done is there and clear now, ... again I do not want to judge anybody and everybody can have his own opinion on why that occurred, ... and the way to read it.

What I cannot accept at all, ... being so evident into the Official records, ... is the fact that has been done and really occurred, ... and that someone is still trying to put it in discussion, ... despite the overwhelming evidences I have found and shared here in lately.

Bottom line, ... the tracks are done for all warships, ... the reason of the mismatches have been fully explained and now we have a map and a new set of evidences that can drive historical analysis on a very different way.

Let me surprise you and put it now in a positive way for a Royal Navy Officer, ... namely Vice Admiral Lancelot Holland.

The new set of evidences I have now will enable me to help on writing a biography of him with a British friend and I hope to change completely the way many judge him historically.

He was a British Royal Navy Officer, ... and I will do my best for his book, ... you can be sure about it.

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by dunmunro » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:14 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:@Paul Mercer:
Hi Paul,
all your considerations are absolutely correct.

However, in the morning action, Bismarck was facing 2 battleships and she would have never turned her main guns against the cruisers. Even after Hood explosion, PoW would have remained as Bismarck main target, until she retreated. At the same time, the 2 cruisers could have turned and disappeared under smoke, having Bismarck to find the range from scratch against them (we know with hindsight that Bismarck would have never followed them as she did not follow PoW).

Prinz Eugen was in a much worse situation, because she was as vulnerable to British heavy shells as NF and SF were to Bismarck ones, she was the leading ship and she was even actually targeted by one of the British battleships (Hood). However she did not leave the line, fired at the enemy and hit Hood and PoW, causing both severe damages (albeit not vital).

NF and SF HE 8" could as well have caused damage to Bismarck (on May 27, it looks like a 8" shell destroyed Bismarck main fire control in the early stage of the battle) if taken in action. I think the British cruiser "problem" at Denmark Strait was the uneasy comparison with Prinz Eugen....


Re. re-engagement, Wake-Walker had the time during May 24 to maneuver his ships in order to engage Bismarck with PoW and Prinz Eugen with both cruisers (coordination would have been possible not having to keep radio silence anymore). Once (and if) disposed of the PG, he could have supported PoW against Bismarck. Again with hindsight it was the right decision not to re-engage, but at the time, I think an attempt should have been done a ssoon as possible, from westward, also to push Bismarck toward Tovey.


Bye, Alberto
Brinkmann came under severe criticism from the KM for risking PE and not retiring behind Bismarck.

You and Antonio claim that Bismarck didn't open fire til ~0555/24 and until then Bismarck's intentions as to whether she would fight or flee were unknown. The Baron states that Bismarck's after RF was kept trained on W-W's cruisers and so their range fwould have been continually recorded.

Bismarck suffered her fatal torpedo hit at ~2125/26 causing Bismarck to go out of control which undoubtedly reduced her gunnery efficiency. ~At 2140 Bismarck fired ~6 (half?) salvos at Sheffield at a range of 9nm, according to Sheffield, and she also reported that all salvos straddled, causing 14 casualties and knocking out Sheffield's vital radar. Despite this, we are being asked to believe that W-W could boldly display his cruisers to Bismarck, which were much more lightly armoured than Sheffield, on a steady course at ~10nm without risk, and this is without the additional consideration of PE's 20.3cm guns.

I would submit that W-W did exactly the right thing and was correct to not begin to close the range until Bismarck's intentions were known.

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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:10 am

@Dunmunro:
again, how could Bismarck fire her main armament to the cruisers having to face battleships ? :negative:

In any case, had Lutjens turned mad (such a Lutjens decision would have anyway helped Holland a lot....), they could have retreated under smoke , risking..... splinters, most probably (as Sheffield on 26 and Norfolk on 23) or nothing at all (as Suffolk on 24 evening). I guess this is an acceptable risk in wartime. :oops:


The engagement of the cruisers, well possible as demonstrated by Antonio reconstruction, without the timid maneuvers of both of them at 05:41, was implying very limited risks..... The problem is that the cruisers just intended to take no risk, having only in mind their shadowing and flank marking role, correct if blindly following the fighting instructions, absolutely wrong in such a short and decisive battle, as demonstrated by the result.....


Bye, Alberto
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by dunmunro » Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:56 am

Alberto Virtuani wrote:@Dunmunro:
again, how could Bismarck fire her main armament to the cruisers having to face battleships ? :negative:

In any case, had Lutjens turned mad (such a Lutjens decision would have helped Holland a lot....), they could have retreated under smoke , risking..... splinters, most probably (as Sheffield on 26 and Norfolk on 23) or nothing at all as Suffolk on 24 evening. I guess this is an acceptable risk in wartime. :oops:


The engagement of the cruisers, well possible as demonstrated by Antonio reconstruction, without the timid maneuvers of both of them at 05:41, was implying very limited risks..... The problem is that the cruisers just intended to take no risk, having only in mind their shadowing and flank marking role, correct if blindly following the fighting instructions, absolutely wrong in such a short and decisive battle.


Bye, Alberto
I gave you an example of the accuracy of Bismarck's fire at 9nm at a time when Bismarck could not steer a steady course which would have seriously degraded her ability to form a correct FC solution. It seems that you do not understand the implications of that and the risk that a cruiser would run by steering a steady course whilst within effective range of Bismarck's 38cm guns, not to mention PE's 20.3 guns.

When did Bismarck open fire? Before Bismarck opened fire how could NF and SF determine who Bismarck would fire at and what Lutjens would do upon identifying BC1's battle squadron? Suppose he decided to turn north and run down NF or SF using the combined firepower of Bismarck and PE, especially given that PE was faster than either of W-W's cruisers and more powerful than either one, W-W would then lose a valuble unit of the RN with very little prospect of inflicting any damage in return.

It is an absurd idea that NF and SF could steam at a steady course, well inside the range that Bismarck might be expected to score a first or 2nd salvo 38cm hit, in daylight/excellent visibility as they strove to overtake Bismarck to bring PE into effective range of their 8in guns.
I

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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:05 am

Hi Duncan,
again, I'm not aware of any ship hit at first or second salvo when maneuvering and covered by smoke .... :negative:

Had Bismarck fired against the cruisers (again, a great opportunity for Holland indeed !), they had time to maneuver and make smoke. Of course there was a risk, but I do think that in such a decisive battle a limited risk has to be taken.

You showed me examples (and I added a couple more) when Bismarck fire, albeit accurate, was unable to severely damage the cruisers she was targeting. Bismarck was unable to hit PoW (of which she had already the range) anymore after PoW maneuvered under smoke in 7 minutes fire (4 being on steady course herself) at distances much shorter.
The risk taken by Prinz Eugen was immensely more high, but she escaped it and contributed to the battle.


Bye, Alberto
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by dunmunro » Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:35 am

Alberto Virtuani wrote:Hi Duncan,
again, I'm not aware of any ship hit at first or second salvo when maneuvering and covered by smoke .... :negative:

Had Bismarck fired against the cruisers (again, a great opportunity for Holland indeed !), they had time to maneuver and make smoke. Of course there was a risk, but I do think that in such a decisive battle a limited risk has to be taken.

You showed me examples (and I added a couple more) when Bismarck fire, albeit accurate, was unable to severely damage the cruisers she was targeting. Bismarck was unable to hit PoW (of which she had already the range) anymore after PoW maneuvered under smoke in 7 minutes fire (4 being on steady course herself) at distances much shorter.
The risk taken by Prinz Eugen was immensely more high, but she escaped it and contributed to the battle.


Bye, Alberto
Both Bismarck and PoW were turning away at ~0601/24.

By definition the cruisers would not be manoeuvring, before Bismarck opened fire, as they would have to maintain a steady course, under conditions of excellent visibility to close the range.

We've had extensive discussions about Bismarck's maximum speed and Antonio claims that it is greater than 30 knots. If Lutjens had turned northward at 30+ knots, ran down and destroyed one or more of W-W's cruisers, how would that benefit Holland, whose ships were slower than 30 knots?

The risk taken by PE was immense and she was roundly criticized by the KM for it. Santorini's analysis clearly shows that the most probable outcome of repeated simulations of the battle is Lutjens' destruction and it was considered probable by the RN that he would flee rather then fight.

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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:45 am

Dunmunro wrote: "Both Bismarck and PoW were turning away at ~0601/24."
Hi Duncan,
no, Bismarck turned 50° at 06:03 and PG at 06:04. Both were unable to hit PoW under smoke after 6:02 (3 salvos from Bismarck and 5 from PG, with the range already acquired and while still on steady course). :negative:

It's simply not probable that Bismarck could turn 180° at high speed firing with any precision in the meantime. In the meantime, however, the cruisers could have maneuvered more quickly than her (due to their agility compared to a 50,000 tons battleship), made effective smoke and... been safe.

Please give me a single example of a ship hit at first or second salvo while maneuvering to run away under smoke.


Bye, Alberto
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by dunmunro » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:10 am

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
Dunmunro wrote: "Both Bismarck and PoW were turning away at ~0601/24."
Hi Duncan,
no, Bismarck turned 50° at 06:03 and PG at 06:04. Both were unable to hit PoW under smoke after 6:02 (3 salvos from Bismarck and 5 from PG, with the range already acquired and while still on steady course). :negative:

It's simply not probable that Bismarck could turn 180° at high speed firing with any precision in the meantime. In the meantime, however, the cruisers could have maneuvered more quickly than her (due to their agility compared to a 50,000 tons battleship), made effective smoke and... been safe.

Please give me a single example of a ship hit at first or second salvo while maneuvering to run away under smoke.


Bye, Alberto
Why does Bismarck have to turn to open fire on NF, for example?

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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:42 am

Hi Duncan,
it was your scenario, not mine. If not turning, Bismarck fire would take less salvos to find the range, but the cruisers could run away under smoke enlarging range more quickly. In any case, Bismarck opening fire on the cruisers would have been a great opportunity for Holland.


Bye, Alberto
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by dunmunro » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:51 am

Alberto Virtuani wrote:Hi Duncan,
it was your scenario, not mine. If not turning, Bismarck fire would take less salvos to find the range, but the cruisers could run away under smoke enlarging range more quickly. In any case, Bismarck opening fire on the cruisers would have been a great opportunity for Holland.


Bye, Alberto
Alberto, surely there is some minimum range at which Bismarck could be expected to hit a non manoeuvring target in good visibility, with her first or 2nd salvo? Would you care to tell us what range that would be?

If Bismarck hit NF at, say 0550/24 and turned north how would that benefit Holland? If Bismarck hit NF at 0550/24 and then trained his guns round to Hood, how would that benefit Holland, given that you believe that Bismarck didn't open fire until 0555/24 anyway?

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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:39 am

Hi Duncan,
even accepting the very unlikely hypothesis that Bismarck could decide to waste ammunition against Norfolk when having in sight BC1 crossing his course, statistically I don't think that Bismarck could hit a (non-maneuvering but high speed and converging) target before her 6th salvo (counting the vollsalve and the gabelgruppe as the first 4 salvos) from 13.5 sm (distance of Norfolk at 05:41, thus not much less than 12.5 or 13 sm sm at 5:55, had NF kept her course), but this is in the hands of "Lady Luck".

Actually (not statistically), on May 23, she missed Norfolk with the first 3 salvos (while at 6 sm distance), with only splinters coming on board. We might say she hit Hood (a much bigger target) for the first time after 6 or 7 semi-salvos (spotting top hit ???, from around 9 sm distance, NOT before) but Hood was doing nothing to avoid to be hit anyway.

Already after the very first initial salvo, fired with cold guns, Norfolk could maneuver drastically, making smoke, thus reducing immensely Bismarck possibility to hit her.

Had Bismarck trained her guns at any time after 5:53 toward Norfolk, this would have been an enormous advantage for Holland. If Lutjens was reluctant to open fire against BC1, he would surely not have fired against Norfolk before, when he had Suffolk at less than 10 sm at 05:41 since a while.... :negative:


Bye, Alberto
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Re: Wake-Walker : To engage or not to engage ?

Post by dunmunro » Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:57 pm

According to Dave Saxon, Hipper scored two first salvo hits at 16.6k yds and again an hour or so later at 19.4k yds against HMS Achates:

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=6494&p=60822&hilit= ... lvo#p60822

RM Bande Nere hit Cleopatra at ~20K yds with her first 2nd salvo.

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