RNfanDan wrote:I think Thorsten's point is being missed here. His response seems directed toward the original poster's emphasis on "an obsolescent Swordfish", as if the Swordfish (the delivery system) was the actual weapon that felled the mighty Bismarck.
In effect, Paul's rebuttal only further strengthens Thorsten's case. Once the torpedo was released --i.e., separated from its delivery system-- the issue of whether or not the Swordfish was obsolescent, IMHO, became rather academic.
If a more modern, faster aircraft, or a submarine, or an MTB had delivered the torpedo to its launching point, it really didn't matter much.
My point was, Dan, that the modern Bismarck with her host of defensive AA, free to maneuver on a wind-tossed sea, could be approached and successfully torpedoed by Swordfish (OK Wadinga, rugged and capable, but still a metal frame covered in fabric!) - three times.
But I do see what you're saying regarding Thorsten's point....yes, Hood was destroyed by a single 15-inch shell, as Bismarck was crippled by a single torpedo, as PoW was a few months later. And it is understood that the rudder and screws are vulnerable on any ship.
But here's a "What if" that I don't think anyone has considered....What if KGV and Rodney had to turn back for lack of fuel - could Ark Royal's Swordfish have eventually sunk the crippled Bismarck on 27 May? Or should I say...could 18-inch aerial toredoes have inflicted sufficient underwater damage to do this?
Nevertheless the order was given in an explicit way. We also have PoW actions after DS when shadowing Bismarck with the two cruisers, always avoiding a surface action with Bismarck: closing a bit, firing a bit, and as soon Bismarck answered it went out of range. Obviously in waiting for reinforcements to approach and attack with numerical superiority. I doubt that a battleship captain would act that way without any orders.
Yes Karl, PoW was waiting on Tovey, but this was based on Wake-Walker's orders. The latter was put under some pressure by the Admiralty which asked what his intentions were with regard to PoW re-engaging. He pondered his response for some time, eventually telling them he did not consider she should unless other heavy ships were in contact or if interception failed. Tovey was not happy with the Admiralty signal either. Wake-Walker then put together a plan to try to lure Bismarck towards Tovey by engaging her from the port quarter with Norfolk & PoW then turning to the east, hoping she would accept battle and follow! (Reference: Grenfell) This was just before Lutjens ordered the maneuver to release the Prinz.
BUT during the resulting engagement it was Bismarck that turned away not PoW. When Bismarck attacked Suffolk, PoW opened fire in support of Suffolk and kept firing until Bismarck, the Prinz safely detached, turned away and headed west - away from Tovey. This is what would have likely happened if Wake-Walker had executed his plan. In the second there was just an exchange of two salvoes in the gathering darkness some time after the Victorious' Swordfish attack. No turning away on either side.