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 pasoleati » Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:03 pm

Does the book discuss why Germans adopted 3-shaft propulsion? In detail discussing prod and cons.

I think the way to accommodate everyone's wishes would have been a two-volume set. One volume concentrating on the design and engineering while the other on operations. Those not interested in machinery etc. could have chosen the second volume only.

BTW, I have the book on order...

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by marcelo_malara » Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:17 pm

To be fair, the only instance I know of warship machinery described in absolute detail is an article of WI, Vol 41 Issue 4, 2004, titled "The machinery arrangement of USS Massachusetss", about 60 pages of description, diagrams, plans and photos, etc...For the technically minded and with knowledge of physics and thermodynamics.


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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by RobertsonN » Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:07 pm

My main criticism of this book so far in reading it has been the lack of German evaluations of the ship, particularly in relation to foreign ships.

I have now come across some comment on this subject, although it is brief and made in passing in the operational history sections. The authors make no comment or evaluation of this German assessment. It is stated that both Raedar and Lutjens considered the Bismarck was superior to any British ship in both firepower and staying power.

This assessment might seem odd in relation to Nelson which had a nominally heavier main armament and near identical secondary armament. However, in the comparison of Bismarck with Nelson in Gkdos100 for a given MPI on-target assumption the Bismarck was thought to achieve about 20% more hits with its main armament than Nelson. The Germans thought the muzzle velocity of the British 16 in gun was 840 m/s. This would have given it a bigger danger space than the actual weapon but likely a greater dispersion. Consequently, the faulty information about muzzle velocity did not necessarily invalidate this comparison.

Santarini in his book about Bismarck and Hood gives a definition of initial staying power as

SP = speed(knts) x sq rt(full load displacement(t) x weight of armor (t)).

This might apply to ships of a given vintage. More generally, staying power might be considered to consist of firepower, F/C capacity, ammunition, speed, range, electric generating capacity, stores/food, buoyancy, stability, list and trim. Some of these quantities would inevitably fall during the course of a cruise without any effects of enemy action and others might be reduced by enemy action. In fact, Lutjen's orders gave priority to maintaining as far as possible sea worthiness and in conserving ammunition (by sinking merchant ships at close range using mainly 5.9 and 4.1 in guns). A factor in the scutling of Graf Spee was her limited remaining amount of ammunition. The German heavy cruisers were considered wanting in both range and ammunition capacity.

Many of the factors listed above for staying power would increase with displacement, which forms some justification for the inclusion of full load displacement in the formula for staying power given above by Santarini.

The lack of any real discussion in the book about staying power and its particular importance is perhaps a missed opportunity by the authors,

Neil Robertson

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by Bill Jurens » Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:25 pm

There have been, over the years, a large number of attempts to in some way calculate or quantify things like the 'staying power' of a ship. Some attempts concentrate on offensive capabilities, others on defensive capabilities, i.e. essentially resistance to damage, and others on some combination of the two, often with other characteristics added. Usually, these are rather informally known as 'fighting strength' calculations, i.e. attempts to quantify the relationship(s) between one's own real or proposed designs and those of one's potential adversaries.

I know of none of these which are entirely satisfactory. Some issues, e.g. the offensive capabilities of the ordnance installed are fairly easily quantified, whilst others, e.g. the precise relationship -- assuming that one exists in the first place -- between hits received and the associated degradation in performance are, at best, somewhat problematical, and can at worst be seen to be essentially intractable.

Further, there is often no way to determine exactly what combination of characteristics -- usually broken down rather simplistically into 'speed', 'armament', and 'armor' represents the ideal. Each nation will, depending upon strategical and tactical circumstance, weight these somewhat differently. Further, this sort of 'iron triangle' analysis intentionally or otherwise tends to omit a variety of other issues -- range, machinery reliability, and habitability, for example -- which are also very important. In many cases the algorithms presented have been created or doctored in order to demonstrate the superiority of a previously-derived (and somewhat arbitrary) determined model.

The main difficulty in attempting comparisons between various battleships built by different nations revolves around determining which choices were tactically i.e. 'client' driven (e.g. number of guns) vs choices that were made based on purely engineering considerations (e.g. the manufacturer of the main circulating pumps), whilst at the same time not ending up writing a textbook on naval architecture, which would tend to under-emphasize the more political aspects of the design problem.

There remains a broad 'grey area' between problem-solving textbooks on naval architecture, which tend to be filled with what are to most somewhat intimidating equations, and more generalized accounts which deal with political and tactical issues whilst ignoring most technical design issues (e.g. propeller design) almost entirely. It's a tough middle-ground to identify, and an even tougher ground to occupy as an author. In that regard, for readers wishing a general and not-to-intimidating treatment of the battleship design process as a whole, I'd recommend Norman Friedman's 'Battleship Design and Development 1905-1945'. A slim volume, but one which should be in every enthusiast's library.

Bill Jurens.

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by RobertsonN » Sun Aug 11, 2019 4:05 pm

I am now close to the end of this book, having started on June 25.

The authors remark that there was difficulty in damaging Bismarck at very close range because of the sea state. Waves were six to eight meters high. This would have meant that under a range of 5000 m, the last 100+ m of the shell trajectory would have been below wave height. The greater resistance of passing through water would have slowed shells down, perhaps appreciably.

One of the features of the wreck is the low number of penetrations of the upper belt. This contrasts with the side of Graf Spee after the Battle of the River Plate, which was holed mainly by splinters in many places. The authors do not say this but it seems likely that the Bismarck would have capsized and sank much earlier, possibly soon after 09.30 when the port list had brought the upper deck level with the sea surface, had it not been for the upper belt. Otherwise, the side of the hull here would have been shredded under the impact of penetrating 8 in, 6 in and even 5.25 in hits,

Neil Robertson

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:27 am

Hello everybody,
I have just got the book yesterday (it has been unfortunately delivered with a certain delay in Italy, during August, while I was on vacation).

A wonderful volume from graphical viewpoint, with (most probably) quite detailed information especially related to operational rather than technical aspects. It will take however quite some time to go through all the chapters and the related notes, especially because I have to agree with Mr.RobertsonN who wrote
"The authors writing style is such that there is considerable repetition and even contradiction."
as I could already verify quickly reading about the BC1's approaching maneuvers at the end of chapter 9 and the beginning of chapter 10, where some confusion and errors arise about the turns ordered by BC1 and the course of the British squadron.



By a very quick look to the Denmark Strait battlemap (page 211) ONLY, I have to congratulate the authors for their wise adoption of the best published battlemap widely available today (as it was the case with Patrick Toussaint in "Bismarck - Le geant de l'Atlantique": viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5752&start=795#p80577):
anyone (who has the book in his hands) can easily verify that the battlemap at page 211 is fully "adopting" (e.g. re. German tracks, BC1 track and even the Norfolk track) Antonio Bonomi's 2005 tracks (published on "Storia Militare" n.147 December 2005) here below (based on official maps and mostly on PG photos and film analysis):

2005map.gif
2005map.gif (74.16 KiB) Viewed 378 times
Also available online here http://www.hmshood.com/history/denmarks ... trait2.htm and here http://www.kbismarck.com/ds-barticle.pdf.

Of course, I'm sure that, unlike Mr.Toussaint, the authors have preventively obtained Antonio's permission to use his material, even if I have been a bit disappointed for being unable to find myself any (well due) explicit acknowledgement to his 2005 map, at least at first glance....




So said, the map is (obviously) fairly correct in relation to the German squadron's and BC1's tracks, as it was Antonio's original one (still "unaccepted" by someone here, even recently, while apparently it is widely accepted everywhere else as THE only existing reference, worth of being published in a book...):
a) no turn of BS to around 270° at 05:55 (totally impossible due to the closure rate of the squadrons as per PoW Salvo Plot...) as recently speculated by a "fellow contributor" of this forum,
b) no German open fire at 05:53 based on British accounts as per another member who considered those (mostly un-timed and generic) statements as "overwhelming evidences",
c) no strange conjectures to "adapt" the precise PoW maps, reports and salvo plot to one's own "agenda").



However three major errors/omissions are present in the map, the first two of them being present (up to a certain extent) already in Antonio's 2005 map (and mostly corrected already in our 2017 article on Storia Militare n.281 viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8222&p=75767&hilit= ... are#p75767 , before a definitive ultra-detailed and precise battlemap will be made available in our next publication):

1) The distance from BS to Hood at 06:00 is marked (incorrectly) as 16850 meters (when it was around 15000 meters: in Rowell map it is marked as 16300 yards = 14900 meters, as per PoW Salvo Plot too, from PoW to BS). All distances in page 211 map look too great to be correct (BS open fire is reported by Lutjens at 20800 meters while is 21500 in the map at pag.211 at 05:55 and even the cease fire was 18000 meters for Lutjens but 19000 for the authors).
The discussion has been recently re-opened here (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8335&start=360#p81866) but it was left without any logical final acknowledgement, preferring an "indeterminateness" instead (when the ineluctability of Antonio's reconstruction was emerging once again)...

2) The Norfolk track was wrongly positioned in Antonio's 2005 map (at that time he was not interested in the exact positioning of the British heavy cruisers). This has been corrected already in our 2017 publication and further refined recently. It has however been adopted by the authors "in toto" at page 211 from his 2005 work, despite the lengthy discussions on this forum. This positioning of Norfolk track is not respecting the available bearings of NF to BS (280° at 05:41 as per NF "enemy in sight" report, 272° at 06:12 and 280° at 06:36 as per Pinchin's Plot). I would suggest to read again here (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8231&start=195#p79486).
Due to the choice to use Antonio's 2005 track, in page 211 map, Norfolk results at 14300 meters distance from Hood and 21.000 meters from BS at 06:00: too close and making Wake-Walker position extremely "inconvenient" in in case of an Inquiry...

3) The omission of Suffolk track is really the unforgivable shortcoming of such a map, even taking into account any consideration related to the space available on the page: she was the British closest ship to the German squadron until at least 05:42. In 2019, after Antonio's demonstration of the SF position through the available cross-bearings, after F.O.Busch statement (the "mast" on bearing 15°) and after Captain Ellis autobiography discovery, it's really disappointing that no attempt to position the cruiser track has been done by the authors.
The choice of cutting the map before 05:40 looks as supporting the extremely "misleading" interpretation that Suffolk was not there at all (even if she was the only British cruiser that opened fire at 06:19...) in those crucial minutes. Antonio's 2005 map was wrong re. Suffolk distances as well, but at least it was showing the cruiser at the end of the battle.



More will follow, as soon as I will have had time to carefully read through the text, where I expect to find full correspondence with the map graphical content plus the related explanations for all the maneuvers and the correct interpretation of the photos/film from which the map is derived.


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

"There's always a danger running in the enemy at close range" (Adm.W.F.Wake-Walker)

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by pgollin » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:16 am

.

Alberto,

PLEASE, very politely, please do not try to start another argument here.

.

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:57 am

Pgollin,
very politely, PLEASE let’s speak about the book and the map, in case you have any “argument”.....
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

"There's always a danger running in the enemy at close range" (Adm.W.F.Wake-Walker)

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by Byron Angel » Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:37 am

Welcome to "Groundhog Day".

Byron

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:36 am

Any comment to the map at page 211 (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8258&start=30#p84686) ?
My points still wait for a meaningful reply (...possibly coming from someone able to provide such a reply...)

In the meantime, enjoy the Groundhog Day and mostly the maps !
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

"There's always a danger running in the enemy at close range" (Adm.W.F.Wake-Walker)

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by Byron Angel » Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:17 am

RobertsonN wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 4:05 pm
I am now close to the end of this book, having started on June 25.

The authors remark that there was difficulty in damaging Bismarck at very close range because of the sea state. Waves were six to eight meters high. This would have meant that under a range of 5000 m, the last 100+ m of the shell trajectory would have been below wave height. The greater resistance of passing through water would have slowed shells down, perhaps appreciably.

One of the features of the wreck is the low number of penetrations of the upper belt. This contrasts with the side of Graf Spee after the Battle of the River Plate, which was holed mainly by splinters in many places. The authors do not say this but it seems likely that the Bismarck would have capsized and sank much earlier, possibly soon after 09.30 when the port list had brought the upper deck level with the sea surface, had it not been for the upper belt. Otherwise, the side of the hull here would have been shredded under the impact of penetrating 8 in, 6 in and even 5.25 in hits,

Neil Robertson
This wave height issue can get a bit sticky. A lot would depend upon Bismarck's heading relative to the wave front relative to the line of fire. If Bismarck were heading directly into the approaching waves and the line of fire was directly abeam of her (i.e. parallel to the waves), the likelihood of a strike in a trough area between successive waves would be fairly great. Same if Bismarck had a following sea; arguably a similar result if the line of fire were simply perpendicular to the path of the waves (i.e. parallel to the waves themselves) irrespective of Bismarck's heading.

FWIW.

Byron

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by marcelo_malara » Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:23 am

What was the wind direction and speed that day?


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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by Herr Nilsson » Fri Aug 23, 2019 8:03 am

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:27 am
....
Of course, I'm sure that, unlike Mr.Toussaint, the authors have preventively obtained Antonio's permission to use his material, even if I have been a bit disappointed for being unable to find myself any (well due) explicit acknowledgement to his 2005 map, at least at first glance....
...
Antonio's article is listed in "Selected Bibliography".

Edit:
...and Antonio is also mentioned in "Interviews and Correspondence with Authors" in the same chapter.
Regards

Marc

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by paul.mercer » Fri Aug 23, 2019 9:22 am

Bill Jurens wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:25 pm
There have been, over the years, a large number of attempts to in some way calculate or quantify things like the 'staying power' of a ship. Some attempts concentrate on offensive capabilities, others on defensive capabilities, i.e. essentially resistance to damage, and others on some combination of the two, often with other characteristics added. Usually, these are rather informally known as 'fighting strength' calculations, i.e. attempts to quantify the relationship(s) between one's own real or proposed designs and those of one's potential adversaries.

I know of none of these which are entirely satisfactory. Some issues, e.g. the offensive capabilities of the ordnance installed are fairly easily quantified, whilst others, e.g. the precise relationship -- assuming that one exists in the first place -- between hits received and the associated degradation in performance are, at best, somewhat problematical, and can at worst be seen to be essentially intractable.

Further, there is often no way to determine exactly what combination of characteristics -- usually broken down rather simplistically into 'speed', 'armament', and 'armor' represents the ideal. Each nation will, depending upon strategical and tactical circumstance, weight these somewhat differently. Further, this sort of 'iron triangle' analysis intentionally or otherwise tends to omit a variety of other issues -- range, machinery reliability, and habitability, for example -- which are also very important. In many cases the algorithms presented have been created or doctored in order to demonstrate the superiority of a previously-derived (and somewhat arbitrary) determined model.

The main difficulty in attempting comparisons between various battleships built by different nations revolves around determining which choices were tactically i.e. 'client' driven (e.g. number of guns) vs choices that were made based on purely engineering considerations (e.g. the manufacturer of the main circulating pumps), whilst at the same time not ending up writing a textbook on naval architecture, which would tend to under-emphasize the more political aspects of the design problem.

There remains a broad 'grey area' between problem-solving textbooks on naval architecture, which tend to be filled with what are to most somewhat intimidating equations, and more generalized accounts which deal with political and tactical issues whilst ignoring most technical design issues (e.g. propeller design) almost entirely. It's a tough middle-ground to identify, and an even tougher ground to occupy as an author. In that regard, for readers wishing a general and not-to-intimidating treatment of the battleship design process as a whole, I'd recommend Norman Friedman's 'Battleship Design and Development 1905-1945'. A slim volume, but one which should be in every enthusiast's library.

Bill Jurens.
Hi Bill,
Thanks for your reasoned argument above, I regret i am rather naive on the subject of armour v shell, but surely 'staying power' of any ship depends on where it is hit and by what for instance I presume one could fire 6" shells at a battleship all day without doing much except scratch the paintwork and put a few holes in an un-armoured bit of the ship, but do the same with a 16" and the result would obviously be rather different.
But presumably this is what Naval architects have been pondering for hundreds of years, even with cannons!

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Re: Battleship Bismarck: A Design and Operational History

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:16 am

Hello everybody,
Herr Nilsson wrote: "Antonio's article is listed in "Selected Bibliography"....and Antonio is also mentioned in "Interviews and Correspondence with Authors" in the same chapter."
Thanks. As I said, I have looked very quickly at the map and I have no doubt that the authors have corresponded with Antonio and got the formal permission from him to use his map. He may confirm, as soon he is back from vacation.

However, printing a map that (I'm sure you will agree on the factual point: an easy verification can be done by anyone superimposing the tracks of the 2 maps) is fully adopting Antonio's 2005 tracks (including the errors later corrected in our 2017 reconstruction viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8258&start=30#p84686), I would have expected to see within the map caption at page 211 an explicit acknowledgement that the published map and tracks reconstruction are (to be kind) a re-work of Antonio's 2005 map.
The signature at the bottom right corner of the map is quite "misleading".... :think:


Bye, Alberto
Last edited by Alberto Virtuani on Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:23 am, edited 4 times in total.
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

"There's always a danger running in the enemy at close range" (Adm.W.F.Wake-Walker)

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