Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by Byron Angel » Thu Jul 25, 2019 7:11 pm

FWIW, my semi-informed guesstimate is that Dulin and Garzke were responsible for the technical analysis of Bismarck (they had made a previous excursion into this topic some time previously with their publication of "Axis Battleships). Bill, on the other, was most likely responsible for the operational and tactical analyses, both areas where he is well qualified to hold forth.

Also, IIRC, Bill was himself part of the expedition to locate and survey the remains of Bismarck.

B

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by dunmunro » Thu Jul 25, 2019 7:56 pm

pasoleati wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:35 pm
Since Mr. Jurens is a member of this board, I wonder if he could interject here and explain the reasons for the above-mentioned shortcomings? I do find it odd that with authors of such engineering backgrounds the end result is not THE engineering bible on the ship.
I'm not sure it is fair to ask questions of Mr Jurens on this when the book appears to have been a collaborative effort of which he was only part.

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by Bill Jurens » Thu Jul 25, 2019 11:38 pm

Although I do feel a tad uncomfortable discussing my own efforts -- one tends to be seeing things through a somewhat biased lens -- the questions regarding the recent "Design and Operational History" book are reasonable ones, and I will attempt to address them in the best way(s) I can.

One issue to keep in mind is that in the final analysis book sales often count more than book content. This is not to say that content is necessarily the worse for this consideration, but one must remember that publishing is, in the final analysis, a business, and that selling a couple of dozen copies of a very advanced text to extremely advanced readers is often not nearly as effective (and perhaps culturally useful) as selling a couple of thousand of books pitched at a somewhat lower level. So, it's quite common to find that any given text will be found to be somewhat to elementary by very advanced readers and reviewers, and hopelessly confusing and advanced to those with only a light background in the field. One tries to produce a text that will be the most useful to the most people, but this does mean that some individuals will almost necessarily find the content in some ways unsatisfactory for their own individual purposes. As a rule, very advanced work is only published in the periodical academic literature, which is one major reason why that particular niche in publishing still exists.

It is true that in this particular effort more text is spent discussing operational issues than design and construction issues. The former is where most of the 'new' information is. There are already a number of texts of the 'Anatomy of the Ship' type that discuss ship geometry -- and to a lesser extent, ship design -- in detail. As those who have seen a copy know, the book is already very heavy and quite expensive. Adding a good deal of additional design material would have quite quickly pushed it over the edge, making it a two-volume set. So far as design issues are concerned, another issue arises regarding technical detail. It is difficult to find a spot between sufficient technical detail to keep a reader happy, whilst still avoiding the use of equation forms which most readers find off-putting, and many would find to be incomprehensible. So, much of the detailed numerical information about the ship -- e.g. data on the moment of inertia of the waterplane area and a detailed discussion regarding the optimum longitudinal position of the center of buoyancy, etc. -- which would have probably been only comprehensible to naval architects anyway -- was deliberately omitted (The proper place for this sort of publication is in a technical periodical, such as Warship International.) Further, insofar as a good deal of this sort of material has, in any case, already been published in other books -- including Dulin and Garzke's 'Axis Battleships' -- it did not seem desirable, or necessary, to repeat it.

In that regard, the writers and editors face a fair conundrum. If too much purely technical information is provided, then readers will be 'scared-off' by the equations etc. and/or may complain that all of this has simply been 'lifted' from other publications. If too little purely technical information is provided, then readers may complain that a good deal of really useful information has been left out.

There is some redundancy. While some of this is certainly accidental, a fair amount is deliberate insofar as keeping the narrative straight does sometimes require telling the same part of the story more than once. If a given piece of information is provided in only one place, then it is often difficult -- especially in a large volume -- for the reader to actually find it. If it appears in a number of places, it is indeed redundant in a technical sense, but much more easily accessible to a reader, particularly a fairly casual one.

The important thing to realize is that any book of this nature represents a highly collaborative effort, where the final product, at least in this case, represented a consensus (sometimes arrived at only with difficulty) between Mssrs. Dulin, Garzke, Cameron, myself, the editors, and the publisher(s). It's always a compromise...

I am reminded of the old Mark Twain aphorism "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can never fool all of the people all of the time". That's true in publishing, too. "You can satisfy all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but ... well you get the idea.

So the book will not satisfy all of the people all of the time. I think it will satisfy (perhaps only in conjunction with other texts) most of the people, most of the time. I hope most purchasers find it useful and even interesting. We did the best we could.

Bill Jurens

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by pasoleati » Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:49 am

Thank you Bill Jurens for the interjection. A couple of points are still due. For example, Jurens mentions "Anatomy of the Ship" -type texts in existence. May I ask which texts he refers to? As far as I know, the AotS-series has/has had two Bismarck titles so far published by the different authors (Jack Brower and Stefan Draminski). I have not seen the one by Brower (I never purchased it after reading reviews that its coverage on internal details was seriously lacking), but I have seen the one by Draminski.

For the Anatomy of the Ship -series my benchmark is the volume on the Dreadnought by John Roberts. And as far as constructional and machinery details, Draminski's Bismarck is far, far less detailed. Given this, may I ask Bill Jurens as to which book (in English!) contains detailed treatment of constructional details of the ship interiors and machinery to the level of the above Dreadnought book?

I must also disagree with the idea that detailed engineering analysis and description must have plenty of equation forms. E.g. the machinery section of the "Titanic The Ship Magnificent" (by Bruce Beveridge et al) runs to over 60 pages and I don't recall seeing many equations within the very detailed text. Besides, I wonder does Jurens have too low expectations for the abilities of those potential Bismarck book readers who actually buy 600-page books...

As for the sales, one must bear in mind that the topic is the Bismarck, i.e. a WW2 German topic. I am also an aircraft, tank and general military history enthusiast and if there is one major issue that I have discovered over the years is that books covering a WW2 German topic are far easier to sell that books dealing with any other specialist topic in military history. In other words, I for one would have gladly accepted the necessity of committing exta money for the two-volume treatment if that was required to get a really thorough design and technical treatment.

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by RobertsonN » Fri Jul 26, 2019 10:24 am

I did have a look in my copy of Axis Battleships again and can confirm that this is the more complete book as far as the design of the ship is concerned. Mind you, I did notice one glaring contradiction in it. It says the armor was intended to provide protection between 20000 and 30000 m. Later on, it says the ship showed a heavy emphasis on fighting close range actions in the North Sea. But there is actually evidence for both these statements. For instance, in Gkdos100 Bismarck v Nelson, the immunity zone of the Bismarck against the Nelson (the Germans believed the 16 in gun had a muzzle velocity of 840 m/s) was between 27200 and 29700 m, improving to 19400 to 29700 m at 20 deg obliquity for the magazines (upper limit only 23800 m for the machinery). [This was a 'quick and dirty' armor penetration calculation omitting the effects of plugs thrown and the degraded armor penetration capabilities of decapped shells.] What these figures show is that, contrary to common perception, the protection problem, especially against high velocity guns, was more acute at closer ranges rather than higher ones. On the other hand, the general layout of armor featuring an outer burster layer and an inner splinter layer worked better at closer ranges. Mind you, this example shows that even with a book that goes into relatively great detail, the reader may need to know even more to reconcile some of the apparent discrepancies.

The point about some repetition easing the task of the reader is very true. I have often found myself looking for a particular diagram or piece of text.

The book by Brouwer is exceptionally good on the details of armor joints; better than any other book I have on this or any other ship. Otherwise, most of the information in it can be found in other books.

Neil Robertson

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by HMSVF » Fri Jul 26, 2019 1:41 pm

RobertsonN wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 10:24 am
I did have a look in my copy of Axis Battleships again and can confirm that this is the more complete book as far as the design of the ship is concerned. Mind you, I did notice one glaring contradiction in it. It says the armor was intended to provide protection between 20000 and 30000 m. Later on, it says the ship showed a heavy emphasis on fighting close range actions in the North Sea. But there is actually evidence for both these statements. For instance, in Gkdos100 Bismarck v Nelson, the immunity zone of the Bismarck against the Nelson (the Germans believed the 16 in gun had a muzzle velocity of 840 m/s) was between 27200 and 29700 m, improving to 19400 to 29700 m at 20 deg obliquity for the magazines (upper limit only 23800 m for the machinery). [This was a 'quick and dirty' armor penetration calculation omitting the effects of plugs thrown and the degraded armor penetration capabilities of decapped shells.] What these figures show is that, contrary to common perception, the protection problem, especially against high velocity guns, was more acute at closer ranges rather than higher ones. On the other hand, the general layout of armor featuring an outer burster layer and an inner splinter layer worked better at closer ranges. Mind you, this example shows that even with a book that goes into relatively great detail, the reader may need to know even more to reconcile some of the apparent discrepancies.

The point about some repetition easing the task of the reader is very true. I have often found myself looking for a particular diagram or piece of text.

The book by Brouwer is exceptionally good on the details of armor joints; better than any other book I have on this or any other ship. Otherwise, most of the information in it can be found in other books.

Neil Robertson

Have you thought about writing yourself Neil? You seem to "know your stuff"?



Best wishes HMSVF

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by marcelo_malara » Sat Jul 27, 2019 2:17 am

Are original plans of Bismarck´s machinery still extant?

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by Bill Jurens » Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:42 am

Paseolati wrote:

"... may I ask Bill Jurens as to which book (in English!) contains detailed treatment of constructional details of the ship interiors and machinery to the level of the above Dreadnought book?"

So far as I know, none. For some reason, detailed engineering plant information has really not been published anywhere. For example, neither of the 'Anatomy of the Ship' books contains a plan of the ship's inner bottom, with coverage stopping at the Unteres Platform level. Both tend to emphasize exterior detail over interior detail, probably as this is the sort of information of primary interest to modelers.

For highly detailed information regarding internal arrangements and details of armor distribution, etc., one must really go to the original primary-source plan sets. For other than very serious researchers, where getting details right is critical, this is likely to be prohibitively expensive.

marcelo_malara wrote"

"Are original plans of Bismarck's machinery still extant?"

Yes. Quite a bit still remains in primary-source archives. Most of this is not easy to access though, unless one has fairly deep pockets to cover reproduction costs. For whatever reasons, not very much of this material has, as yet, made it into secondary sources.

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by pasoleati » Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:40 am

Mr. Jurens, why would delving into primary sources be prohibitely expensive? Are the archives possessing the blueprints some sort of robber barons or extortionists?

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by Bill Jurens » Sat Jul 27, 2019 2:37 pm

Pasoleati wrote:

"Mr. Jurens, why would delving into primary sources be prohibitely expensive? Are the archives possessing the blueprints some sort of robber barons or extortionists?"

No, but -- insofar as most nations now seem to feel that various archives should be somewhat self-supporting -- reproduction costs can, in many cases, be very high. Single sheets of ship plans from most archives seem to be average around 50 Euros now, with a battleship deck plan at scale 1:100 or so now often over 100. That adds up fast -- 10 deck plans (which would probably be fairly typical) might run around 750 euros in total. The revenue from these activities helps in effect to 'keep the lights on' in the archives.

Further, copyright restrictions are often fairly severe, usually not permitting further duplication or distribution.

Things can get even worse if one is fairly distant from the relevant archive, where everything must be done via correspondence, and one cannot even see what the ordered plan looks like in terms of condition and content. If one can visit, of course, this procedure becomes much easier, but -- again to do serious work -- one must usually make copies. Some archives allow this to be done fairly cheaply 'on-site', but copies made this way, e.g. by photographing the drawing with a digital hand-held camera, are usually only useful for fairly rough reference purposes.

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by pasoleati » Sat Jul 27, 2019 2:49 pm

But isn't 3rd Reich era official state materials public domain ever since the end of the war?

I my opinion, for 3 authors with decades worth of not-minimum-wages job 750 euros is peanuts. I have spent over 10,000 € on my book and comics collection.

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by marcelo_malara » Sat Jul 27, 2019 4:17 pm

The three volumes that most detailed machinery in the AOTS series are Dreadnought, Hood and Warspite, that were authored by John Roberts and Ross Watton, both fine draftsman, May be that is what is needed, a draftsman with a keen interest in naval history to simplify and reproduce original plans.

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by pasoleati » Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:01 pm

Marcel, also Agassiz, Bartolomeo Colleoni, Intrepid, Alliance and Fairmile D have good machinery coverage.

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by marcelo_malara » Sat Jul 27, 2019 6:37 pm

Sorry, I meant battleships´AOTS.

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by Bill Jurens » Sat Jul 27, 2019 7:05 pm

Pasoliati wrote:

But isn't 3rd Reich era official state materials public domain ever since the end of the war?

As I understand it, the materials themselves have no copyright, and -- at least for 3rd Reich items -- are indeed in the public domain. What you are paying for primarily are storage, reproduction, research, and shipping charges.

One problem is that you can't really do any meaningful analysis in isolation, i.e. in order to understand Bismarck, and evaluate the design in a comparative sense, one has to have equivalent material for other contemporary battleship designs as well. You, as an individual, may have your own particular set of priorities regarding what is worth publishing and what is not, but in a secondary source, one must usually pitch oneself 'at the middle of the class', which is where most of the real learning occurs. This means that some of the slower or less knowledgeable readers will be left behind, i.e. will find the material too advanced, while some of the higher-level readers with specific areas of interest will find the treatment elementary or inadequate. Books, except perhaps in the so-called 'Vanity Press' tend to be aimed at a general group of potential readers; if the concentration were higher on machinery issues, then other readers would -- at least in their eyes -- find the treatment excessively mechanical.

Regarding research sources, we -- or at least I -- have copies of much of the material already. It's no real problem to redraw it -- in somewhat edited form to be sure -- but the page count in a commercial publication is not infinite. Speaking for myself, I had never been made aware that the publication of intricate machinery plans represented a very high priority. As the literature demonstrates, the vast majority of information seems to revolve around exterior details, which are -- presumably -- of primary interest to modelers. The omission of the double bottom plans of Bismarck in the AOTS series, for example, was noted by myself in an review written many years ago, but did not seem to arouse much interest.

One can't make all of the people happy all of the time...

Bill Jurens.

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