Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by Bill Jurens » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:51 pm

insofar as I don't actually see any shell casings, my first answer would probably be 'no'.

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by wadinga » Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:31 pm

Hello Bill,

It has been suggested the three objects in the scuppers on the starboard side just short of the bollards are brass cordite casings.

Yes it would appear both Bismarck and PG are firing.

On the other question it is yes because of the KTB and the Gefechtskizze. It is surprising the second salvo is recorded in the KTB at 05:57.

For everybody's reference all the ship's navigational chronometers would be very closely synchronised (because that is how sunsight navigation works), however individual clocks and watches around the ship would vary in accuracy and the manual logging of precise times of activities would depend on circumstances. Even fire control systems were only concerned with elapsed times and were not automatically synchronised to master chronometer time. The objective was to fight a naval battle not generate a second by second record of activities. The KTB may precise on some matters and lax on others.

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by José M. Rico » Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:29 am

Thanks for your replies Wadinga.

Bill, here is a close up with the three shell casings.

Image

and here is another photo of how the afterdeck of the cruiser looked like AFTER the battle (lots of casings there!).

Image

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by dunmunro » Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:06 am

José M. Rico wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:29 am
Thanks for your replies Wadinga.

Bill, here is a close up with the three shell casings.

Image

and here is another photo of how the afterdeck of the cruiser looked like AFTER the battle (lots of casings there!).

Image
At the end of the action PE had fired ~80 rnds from her after turrets and yet we only see about a dozen cases on deck. The turrets still appear to be aimed forward of the beam, which is odd. No evidence of gun smoke.

Regarding the question as to whether PE has fired, based upon the original photo, I suppose the answer is yes, but there is a lot about that photo that seems out of place. The northern horizon is extremely bright, given that the sun is in the south-east, when we would suppose that it would be quite dark, given the location of the sun, and the shadows don't seem quite right either as they appear as though the northern horizon is bright almost as if it were sunset.

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by Byron Angel » Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:19 am

I recall reading (it may actually have been in the new Dulin/Garzke/Jurens book) that, by the time action had commenced on the 24th, the sun had been up for about 2.5 hours and was four degrees above the horizon.

When and at what distance were Prinz Eugen and Bismarck first visually detected by Prince of Wales?

FWIW.

B

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by Bill Jurens » Wed Jul 03, 2019 5:57 am

O.K. If we assume that the objects in question ARE actually shell casings, it would seem reasonable to assume that Prinz Eugen had opened fire before the photo was taken.

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by alecsandros » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:00 am

dunmunro wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:06 am
At the end of the action PE had fired ~80 rnds from her after turrets and yet we only see about a dozen cases on deck. The turrets still appear to be aimed forward of the beam, which is odd. No evidence of gun smoke.
As a side note,
I think many shell casings were rolled over board by hand, or simply fell over when the ship heeled.

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by Herr Nilsson » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:48 am

Besides the fact that the picture is heavily censored/retouched, I tend to yes.

Edit: There were small fences to prevent that the cartridges rolled over board, because brass was a very scarce material. After a battle they were collected and stored in their cases in the cartridge chambers.
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Marc

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by dunmunro » Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:25 am

In my post above I stated that the sun was in the south-east but in fact it was in the north-east and at 0553GMT the sun was at azimuth 52.3d and altitude 5.4 degrees. At 0615 the sun was at az 57.1d and alt 7.4d. at 0635 the sun was at az 61.3d and alt 9.5d

The shadows in the first photo appear to have the sun over the starboard quarter of the stern when the sun should be over the port quarter as per the 2nd photo.

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by paul.mercer » Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:04 am

Gentlemen,
Re the 'shell casings, were 8" shells complete with brass cases (like a bullet) or were they a shell plus cordite bags? If they are the latter, would the 'casings' be what I believe were sometimes referred to as 'Clarkson cases'?

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by dunmunro » Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:29 am

paul.mercer wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:04 am
Gentlemen,
Re the 'shell casings, were 8" shells complete with brass cases (like a bullet) or were they a shell plus cordite bags? If they are the latter, would the 'casings' be what I believe were sometimes referred to as 'Clarkson cases'?
The KM used a brass case for the main propellant charge but the shell and propellant cartridge were separate, rather like the RN 5.25in or the USN 6in/47. The propellant was loaded in two charges but I'm not sure if the fore charge was in a brass case.

Clarkson cases were a true case, intended only to protect the bagged cordite whereas the main charge for the 20.3cm gun was an actual brass cartridge that was rammed into the breech.

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by wadinga » Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:35 am

Fellow Contributors,

Not wishing to derail the question/answer format, two brief responses.
There were small fences to prevent that the cartridges rolled over board
I believe these are just the deck edge stanchions and chains folded down out of the way for action stations. There does not seem to have been much effort to save the cases from going overboard, as they could roll around freely all over the decks, but those which were still aboard when things had calmed down could indeed be collected and recycled.
[/quote]

German propellent charges were in two parts, fore charge in a cloth bag, main after charge in a substantial brass casing which had to be removed from the breech after firing, and dumped out on deck through the rear turret overhang. The fore charge in the cloth bag, vulnerable to damage in handling was kept in a protective container in the magazine. In British ships the entire charge was bagged and the substantial container required was named the Clarkson.

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by Herr Nilsson » Thu Jul 04, 2019 10:07 am

Maybe fence is the wrong word, but...
PG cartridges.jpg
PG cartridges.jpg (36.47 KiB) Viewed 711 times
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Marc

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by wadinga » Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:48 pm

Fellow Contributors,

Hi Marc, you could be right, but maybe those bars are just a crewman's last hope as he is washed overboard when the rails are down. How high are the bars to stop a 380mm case? They are also convenient tying-off point for securing fenders alongside or a painting party's staging.

BTW nice picture for Mr Mercer.

All the best

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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by Herr Nilsson » Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:31 am

Hello Sean,

I'm sure that I'm right, unfortunately I can't find the document where I've read it. Anyway, the bars are only alongside the main artillery and in case of Bismarck also in the vicinity of the secondary artillery (height is about 35-40 cm). There are pictures of Bismarck with fenders and/or painting party stagings and in every case they used other attachment features...and that's no wonder, because the wire netting doesn't make it easier to secure a rope.
Regards

Marc

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