Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

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Karl Heidenreich
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Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:26 pm

Hi!

It´s been sometime since I brought something new for Hypothetical Scenarios so...

...This scenario is not so new, but I believe we can add new things to it.

First: The Swordfish attack on Bismarck fails to hit the rudder so the German BB runs away to occupied France and to safety while PE joins later. Raeder recognized Lindemann´s a the true hand that destroyed Hood so is given the command of the Squadron. Lutjens is given a politically correct hero welcome for Hood´s sinking and then is "promoted" as Chief Inspector for all Kriegmarine Cooks. The problem is that GB wants Bismarck sunk whatever the costs. Churchill is sending the RAF every night to bomb and destroy Bismarck. So Germany decides to send it to the Pacific, where it can be at relative safe and protected by the Japanese "pals".
Second: Somehow this idea is achieved. Maybe something like the Channel Dash. To catch the allies by surprise is no big deal as is later tested.
Third: Bismarck and PE joins IJN in home waters.
Fourth: Japans takes by surprise the USN at Pearl Harbor.
Fifth: Hitler consumates his most stupid move ever and declares war on USA.
Sixth: Orders are given to Lindemann to help the Japanese.
Seventh: Then cames Guadalcanal.

So we can have some various hypothetical scenarios:

1. So, when Willis Lee is assembling his scratch force Bismarck and PE got South Dakota approaching Savo Island. Maybe it´s November 14th before dusk. Lindemann has been sitting out of the war a year and a half after Rheinubung so he wants to kick ass. South Dak cames with the company destroyers Walke, Preston and Benham. Bismarck intercepts @ 27 knots. Lee accepted the challenge. There is a problem, though, daylight is good for Bismarck and when night cames the electrical system of South Dak fails as historically happens.
2. At dusk Bismarck with PE, Atago, Sendai and Takao clash with South Dak and Washington plus the destroyers. Lee accepted battle. No electrical failure this time.
3. As historical, South Dak and Washington pass Savo Island at night and clash with Bismarck, PE and the Japanese cruisers. This time South Dak electrical systems fails as expected.

Outcomes?

:think:
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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by Ramius » Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:47 pm

:think: Bismarck runs out of fuel in the middle of the Pacific and becomes a sitting target for any allied war machine...

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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:41 pm

As a matter of fact Bismarck is a survivor from DS and many things have been improved for 1942. The radar problems are fixed so it will be working OK for the action.
The Germans (or Japanese) did fixed the hole at her bow and the lessons learned...
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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by Ramius » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:49 pm

:think: Yes, but still... Bismarck's range was good compared to most British battleships, but was not up to the task of patroling the vast reaches of the Pacific along with the Japanese and American BBs :think:

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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:45 pm

Neither PoW or Repulse or Hood. And all of them were at Pacific or Indic waters some time or another. The idea is to deal with the engagement at hands, not with a logistic that, I presume, any good suply officer can solve.
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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by Ramius » Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:46 pm

If Lindeman had played his cards right with the Bismarck he could have won, but in a more capabilities based scenario:

SD's has better armament- 9-16in vs 8-15in
SD's has better armor- Her armor was generally about two inches thicker that Bismarck's
SD's has better Radar- SD's 3in wavelength 50 kilowatt radar gave blindfire capabilities vs Bismarck's 82cm at 8kilowatts
Bismarck had better high speed- 30.1 vs 27.8 knots

This is not including USS Washngton, which was about the same if not a little slower.
So, two American BB's with heavier armor and armament and radar, verses one German BB with higher rates of fire, slightly faster speed, and her little sister-in-law Prinz Eugen plus some of her Japanese friends...

Not looking good tactically for the Germans...

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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by RF » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:53 pm

How do you get Bismarck to the Pacific?

Bismarck would need constant refuelling, the Allies would go for the supply ships and leave Bismarck short of fuel two thirds of the way there.
The only alternative is Channel Dash, go up the coast of Norway and through the North-East passage (but unlike Komet, with a hostile Soviet Union) but is still vulnerable to being caught in the Bering Strait.

I propose an alternative scenario.

February 1942 - Bismarck breaks out of Biscay with Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen. Fleet Commander Admiral Ciliax is under orders from the Fuhrer himself to give direct surface support to ''Pauckenschlag'' the U-boat assault on America's east coast. Off the coast of North Carolina Bismarck sights a US battleship of your choice, Ciliax attacks whilst the other three German ships attack coastal shipping.

Over to you Karl.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:54 pm

RF:

It was plain clear that how Bismarck got into the Pacific was not relevant. A lot of supply ships, including raiders, did evade any allied screen and got wherever they need to go. But, it´s OK, let´s go for a new North or South Altantic battle. ´
And let´s make it easier: no PE nor other ships fooling around.
For the sake of the combat needed this MUST happen at mid-1942: so to have South Dakota fully operational. Then we have this battle between South Dakota and Bismarck.

And of course, the winning ticket is on ...

The nominal superior South Dak lacks the figthing experience Lindemann and his crew had as the confidence the German sailors had in their commander and the fire director officer Schneider (Clausewitz´ moral ascendency) . Moreover after DS the Germans repaired the damages on Bismarck and learned their lessons well improving various elements as a strong radar array and better AA and AAFC. Lindemann also knew that even 14" from a willfull enemy can be deadly. He learned it the hard way.

South Dak goes to combat with confidence in nominal superior RDFC but, as in Guadalcanal, it´s not what´s expected. Let´s remember that at Guadalcanal Admiral Lee first ordered both his BBs to stop firing on Sendai battlegroup after only five minutes of barrage because their targets disappeared from the radar scope, but they were still there and undamaged; after that Washington was unable to locate nor South Dak nor Kirishima. As a matter of fact South Dak was at the blind spot of Washington´s radar.
And South Carolina electrical system failed in the middle of combat. These two elements put South Dakota in harms way and it was lucky enough to get through only because the ships firing at her were just cruisers and an almost blind aged Japanese BC.
But now there is no Kirishima but a fast stgrongly armoured Bismarck´s with an stronger radar array, Schneider directing the FC and 8x 15" guns with an experienced crew and high rate of firing.
Let the combat be at daylight or at night, let them come, no matter. The US skipper, following the doctrine and engagement rules tries to shorten the range. Bismarck has faced that before and knows how to deal with it pretty well. Let them come: the US RD crew began firing trying to hit early with no sucess at first but some 16" did hit the main belt after a while. One US shell did land amidships. But that´s it. The Germans, under Lindemann, are answering early with all it´s guns. Schneider fires alternate salvoes and as year an a half before one shell destroy not Hood´s spotting top but the american radar array: depriving it´s enemy of it´s only tactical superiority. Then, having the optical fix before the US crew did, Bismarck began pounding South Dak as it did with Hood. Shells began to fall over the decks of South DaK while the american optical try to find it´s target again. The main US FD got hit as the bridge; they are blind and with no con. The US capital ship is in flames, the speed reduced. Bismarck is also wounded but not as hard as SD. The combat is decided, if no help comes fast Bismarcl would turn it´s enemy in a wreck.

Well, that´s it. Now, let them come... :pray:
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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by Bgile » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:42 pm

Karl,

Anything can happen in a close range night fight. You assume a lot of things stacking the deck against SD, and of course Bismarck has a significant advantage when you do that. For one thing if you are really talking 8kyds as in the actual battle, Bismarck's rate of fire is a big deal. You also assume SD is getting pummeled and has no fire control, so of course Bismarck leaves her a floating wreck. She is helpless, what would you expect?

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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:56 pm

Bgile:

your points are quite good but my scenario is not completely free. The US doctrine for surface combat pushed the commanders to close the range. To be realistic very few real combats actually happened at extreme ranges, commanders look to close them.
The technical problems that South Dak suffered by 1942 are not my invention but they actually happened. South Dak performed poorly at Guadalcanal and she got herself hammered. There is no reason that these problems would not flood her when confronted with a worse enemy than Kirishima.
To be sincere the chances of Bismarck destroying South Dak are not so great as I stated before, I admitt, and there are quite a good chance that some shells from a 6 x 16" partial salvo can hit Bismarck dead cold... but I dont´think it´s likely. The US armed forces need real time to get into gear as Kasserine Pass, Coral Sea and Midway demostrated. And a major surface BB action in the second half of 1942 will, most likely, be in that category. Germans, on the other hand, had experience and had been solving glitches for the last year.
On that scenario Bismarck has the edge...

Kind regards
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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by dougieo » Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:02 pm

are you assuming that the same daftass american sailer is onboard to cause the exact same problem that the South Dakota suffered at Guadalcanal?

is the US Navy not allowed to learn from there mistakes unlike the Kriegsmarine?

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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:25 pm

dougie:

The US Navy began fightining in 1942. Kriegsmarine was figthing since 1939. An hypothetical Bismarck by 1942 is a survivor of Denmarck Straits and the hunt organized against it by the bulk of the RN. Is a ship severely damaged by PE.

South Dak was brand new. Now, just see her accomplishment at Guadalcanal at November 1942. They will learn, the hard way, but not before the action comes.

Best regards.
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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by dougieo » Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:15 am

fair enough Karl

does the South Dakota have the super heavy 16in APC shells or did they come later?

Bismarck being in the Pacific would make things a bit easier on the RN

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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:29 am

Good question: I don´t have the slightest idea. :oops:
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Re: Bismarck vs. South Dakota @ 1942

Post by tommy303 » Wed Apr 16, 2008 1:01 am

the 2700-lbs MK 8 became standard in 1939/40 for the new 16-inch battleships.

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