PoW readiness for active service

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

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Byron Angel
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PoW readiness for active service

Post by Byron Angel » Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:40 pm

A different spin on the Leach cover-up debate: it is my opinion that Leach succumbed to pressure from higher-ups to prematurely declare PoW ready for active service.

B

HMSVF
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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by HMSVF » Tue Apr 02, 2019 8:19 pm

Byron Angel wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:40 pm
A different spin on the Leach cover-up debate: it is my opinion that Leach succumbed to pressure from higher-ups to prematurely declare PoW ready for active service.

B
Evening,

As I mentioned on the other thread I think the pressures of the time led to her deployment. The cupboard in fast battleships was bare.

As an aside I think that lessons were learnt. Originally Churchill wanted HMS Duke of York to sail to Singapore to form Force Z. Pound felt that she was too new and hadn't had enough shake-down time and was too raw to be sent east (she commissioned in Nov 1941 from memory)

So HMS Prince of Wales was sent instead...


Best wishes


HMSVF

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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by dunmunro » Wed Apr 03, 2019 5:58 am

I think Leach was facing pressure from above, below, and within; He knew the rather dire straits that the RN faced in May 1941 and he must have personally felt compelled to get PoW into service ASAP.

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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by pgollin » Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:32 am

.

One thing that took time then (AND MUCH LONGER NOWADAYS) is the working up period and becoming fully combat ready. ANY ship took time from being nominally completed and commissioned through in service trials, work up and full service. The POW was still doing trials and in a less hectic time would have been doing daily drills and evolutions. The same applied across the navy, people "learned on the job". Modern ideas of working up were being developed by Admiral Gilbert Stephenson at the Anti-Submarine Training School at Tobermory about this time.

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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by paul.mercer » Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:50 am

Gentlemen,
As I posted elsewhere, I do think that Capt Leach knew that PoW was not ready to fight a ship like Bismarck but was given little choice in the matter. I also think that the RN had more confidence in Hood than was really warranted (Pride of the Fleet etc) so they thought that she would compensate for any failings in PoW. I have often wondered that given the problems with KGV (against Bismarck) and Duke of York (against Scharnhorst) that even if PoW had received a full work up over several months whether the problems with her guns would have been resolved even though her crew would have been fully trained, or if the quad turrets were just ongoing trouble that were never really fixed.
Perhaps in hindsight,they were good sound ships with guns that were too complicated for the rough and tumble of battle?
I know this has been discussed elsewhere, but again in hindsight,they would have been better off with the tried and trusted 8x15" in four turrets as it seems that even the 'Nelsons' had some problems with their triple turrets, but I do believe that had Bismarck been caught but still able to steer KGV would have had a hard time without Rodney.

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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by alecsandros » Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:49 pm

Byron Angel wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:40 pm
A different spin on the Leach cover-up debate: it is my opinion that Leach succumbed to pressure from higher-ups to prematurely declare PoW ready for active service.

B
Hello Byron,
For what it's worth, HMS Victorious was even greener then HMS Prince of Wales, and still was deployed to attack the Bismarck on May 22nd . She had only a small aircraft complement on board (far below from her nominal airgroup strength) , and her aircrew training was incomplete at the time of the Bismarck episode (leading to several unfortunate dissapearances).

http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono ... orious.htm

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wadinga
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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by wadinga » Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:04 pm

Fellow Contributors,

“With Gallantry and Determination”
The Story of the Torpedoing of the Bismarck

By Mark E. Horan

in the articles section on this very website kbismarck.com details Victorious' contribution.

Information from Send Her Victorious by Lt Cmdr Michael Apps She commenced sea trials on 16th April, but a further round of remedial work was necessary in dry-dock at Rosyth and she emerged from that on 4th May leaving on the 15th May to join the fleet. Her guns had assisted in the barrage during an air attack on 4th May. She was instructed to commence operations as a ferry carrier carrying RAF Hurricanes to be flown off to Malta and leaving on 22nd May.

Whereas Antonio Bonomi supplied the following information from another source for PoW:
27th April - It was on this day that the last of her three turrets was accepted from Vickers Armstrong and practice drills with all her armament could commence
May 1941

8th - Carried out Full Power Trials.

21st - Ship reported to CinC Home Fleet as ready for Fleet service.

(The PRINCE OF WALES had had less than two months working up, which was completely inadequate considering all the new systems and the fact that 80% of her crew were Hostilities Only and had never been on a ship before. Further she still had major problems with her main armament and 100 Vickers Armstrong staff were embarked attempting to fix the problems. The BISMARCK in contrast had worked up over a period of five months and was fully operational and efficient)
There is no record of teams of builder's personnel sailing into action aboard Victorious to work on malfunctioning systems. The weather when Victorious was operating was appalling and experienced aircrew might have suffered similar casualties. Comparing chalk with cheese it would be very difficult IMHO it is very difficult to decide which ship was "less ready" for action. Needs must when the Devil Drives.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by alecsandros » Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:54 am

@Wadinga
I was thinking about commissioning dates - HMS Prince of Wales was commissioned on Jan 19th 1941, while HMS Victorious was commissioned on March 29th 1941.

https://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chron ... orious.htm
"March
29th Commissioned for service in Home Fleet after work-up.

April Contractors sea trials and passage to Rosyth.
Prepared for operational service.
15th Joined Home Fleet.

May Final Acceptance Trials and worked-up for service.
20th Embarked of aircraft and intended to Join Convoy WS8X escort.
22nd Placed at disposal of CinC Home Fleet and sailed with HM Battleship KING GEORGE V
in search for German battleship BISMARCK which was on passage into Atlantic.
(Note: Aircrew training was incomplete. No other aircraft carrier available).
24th Launched air strike against BISMARCK escorted by HM Cruisers AURORA, KENYA and
HERMIONE. One hit obtained but this ran 'shallow' and did little damage. The
failure of the Aircraft Homing Beacon prejudiced landing of aircraft.
31st Joined escort for convoy WS8X at Clyde with HM Cruisers NEPTUNE.
(Note: HM Cruiser NORFOLK is also recorded in one source.)
"

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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by alecsandros » Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:57 am

wadinga wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:04 pm
The weather when Victorious was operating was appalling and experienced aircrew might have suffered similar casualties.
That is unknowable.
What is known is that her airgroup emabarked on May20th (two days before steaming out of Scapa), therefore it had no time to train on board the carrier. It is also known that her airgroup on May22nd was far below her nominal strength (of 48 to 54 machines).
As a side note, HMS Ark Royal operated her airgroup in the same weather (if not somewhat worse then HMS Victorious did.

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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by dunmunro » Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:21 am

alecsandros wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:57 am
wadinga wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:04 pm
The weather when Victorious was operating was appalling and experienced aircrew might have suffered similar casualties.
That is unknowable.
What is known is that her airgroup emabarked on May20th (two days before steaming out of Scapa), therefore it had no time to train on board the carrier. It is also known that her airgroup on May22nd was far below her nominal strength (of 48 to 54 machines).
As a side note, HMS Ark Royal operated her airgroup in the same weather (if not somewhat worse then HMS Victorious did.
Victorious was to have embarked a squadron of Albacores but she had to depart Scapa before they could arrive - she probably missed them by hours.

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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by paul.mercer » Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:20 am

Gentlemen,
We seem to have gone 'off topic' rather quickly, the original question was about PoW's readiness for battle, not Victorious!

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wadinga
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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by wadinga » Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:53 am

Fellow Contributors,

It has been said:
I was thinking about commissioning dates - HMS Prince of Wales was commissioned on Jan 19th 1941, while HMS Victorious was commissioned on March 29th 1941.
During his extended sabbatical the otherwise very well-informed contributor may have missed the extensive discussion which established that PoW "commissioned" in only a partially-completed state in order to avoid further air raid damage in Cammell Laird's yard in Birkenhead, and sailed north as a King's ship with two propellers sitting on deck and a host of other systems uninstalled. With her Y turret only accepted as delivered from the builders on April 27th a commissioning date in January is of no significance.

In no way do I downplay the heroic effort of Victorious' flight crews. Several had never even landed on a carrier until they were deployed to the ship. Apps records 32ft seas (nearly 10 metres) and although the Swordfish and Fulmar are often derided in performance terms their low speed handling was probably an advantage in such trying conditions. One Swordfish had her cockpit filled by a wave that broke over the flight deck. Luckily Bismarck had shot away the cockpit floor so the water drained out. Two Fulmars became lost navigationally and ran out of fuel, but they were operating at night with no radio navigational aids at a time when all other carrier forces ceased operations at dusk. One crew was saved by a passing merchantman.

Ark Royal's operations, aside from their outstanding success in crippling the Behemoth, were marked most notably by attacking HMS Sheffield, their chummy Force H ship, in what would be described as a Rookie's mistake were they not so extremely experienced. S--t happens in war. The weather conditions were every bit as bad as Victorious had experienced, and a Swordfish was wrecked when the flight deck rose and smacked into it as it attempted to land. During the last action, as a strike was launched to help with Bismarck's destruction, 50 knot winds were experienced, aircraft were blown across the deck sideways as the Ark turned into wind, and the ship actually slowed down to launch her aircraft as the wind over the deck was so strong. This is the weather which affected British (and German) gunnery so badly (insert excel table showing irrelevant RoF here) and hampered Dorsetshire's rescue efforts.

Prince of Wales was barely commissioned when she went out to fight Bismarck and attempts to prove otherwise are futile. Recently I have accessed the Vickers report confirming that only one practice main armament firing took place during which each gun fired six rounds. That was the extent of her preparation. Undoubtedly there was pressure to get PoW operational as quickly as possible. Unlike KG V starting her career on diplomatic trips to the US, PoW's seventh rounds from her main armament were fired at Bismarck.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by alecsandros » Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:27 am

I see the atmosphere of the forum hasn't changed a bit...

What I was mentioning above was that war conditions forced even greener ships and crews into combat... Two days on board a carrier is nothing.

By comparison, at least (most of) Prince of Wales' crew got on board between mid-January and mid-March, giving them some time (between 2 to 3 months) to familiarise themselves with the ship.

This has been debated numerous time in the past years and the conclusions were - usualy - that PoW was a green ship by most metrics.
My opinion is that many ships involved in the Bismarck episode were green ships with green crews - and that HMS Prince of Wales was one of them.

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wadinga
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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by wadinga » Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:27 pm

Fellow Contributors,
giving them some time (between 2 to 3 months) to familiarise themselves with the ship.
Except, of course, those bits of the ship which hadn't even been installed yet.

If the term "atmosphere" means a healthy obsession with reality, it's got even better since we have an expert Moderator now.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: PoW readiness for active service

Post by alecsandros » Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:34 pm

wadinga wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:27 pm
Except, of course, those bits of the ship which hadn't even been installed yet.
3 months is more then 2 days,
I see you are still not able to make easy comparisons.
If the term "atmosphere" means a healthy obsession with reality, it's got even better since we have an expert Moderator now.
(Commentary redacted wjj) the only true contributors - Antonio and Alberto - are "locked" in a very convenient "cage" - the culprits for this being the Moderator and the Administrator.

I hope everybody will leave this forum in short order.

It is a useless shell of what it once was.

Locked