Washington

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alecsandros
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Re: Washington

Post by alecsandros » Wed May 02, 2012 8:30 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:

Although it can never be known, I have long suspected that a similar scenario ocurred in the case of Bismarck with the probable early blow against Bruno or its barbet (not the later hit that reportly blew off Bruno's back plate). This would explain Anton being able to come back on line breifly later on, but who knowns? Of course Anton on Bismarck shooting successfully with local control was hardly likely.
That hit at 9:02 on Bismarck's forward part is a mistery for everyone. The damage was so severe that it's very difficult to explain...
Lookouts on Rodney mentioned a "spectacular hit", very bright...
This makes me wonder if it wasn't an explosion occuring there - either 1-2 x 16" shells exploding on impact with the armored surfaces, or the impact caused something allready onboard the Bismarck to explode violently.

Because the "normal" behavior of heavy AP shells at 20km is insufficient to explain the dramatic turn of events...

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Re: Washington

Post by Dave Saxton » Wed May 02, 2012 9:37 pm

A double hit is possible as Rodney observers only accounted for three shell splashes out of a 5 shot salvo.

There are several possibilities. Another is a glancing blow off one turret and into the adjacent turret. It could have been something along the lines of the South Dakota situation whereby a non penetrating hit still caused shock damage to essential systems, and that Anton was able to shake off later on. Although remember this hit(s) occured inside of 20km battlerange or within the IZ of the turret protection. Its also possible that Anton was little affected but didn't fire anymore with the exception of a few salvoes because of the loss of the forward fire control stations, which occured at virtualy the same time. Anton was largely dependent upon centralized fire control for any shooting. The apparent brightness of the explosion isn't that remarkable in a combat situation. People often see things in dramatic fashion during combat. Also the shell may have shattered or exploded before penetration, giving it a more pyrotechnic effect.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Washington

Post by Saltheart » Wed May 02, 2012 10:37 pm

Rick Rather wrote:
Saltheart wrote: If a turret is out of action then it's not firing and if you're in a fight to the death ... then the fact it's not firing is everything.
Word!

I never liked those quad turrets on Richelieu & Dunkerque. They were big targets, and one reasonably lucky hit and half their firpower is gone.
Saltheart wrote: Against Washington Bismarck would have twice the rate of fire...
That's interesting. What are the hard numbers on that, and why such a huge difference?

-- Rick "Rather be Lucky than Good"
I can't remember my exact numbers but I think Washington could fire every 35 seconds and Bismarck every 18.

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Re: Washington

Post by alecsandros » Thu May 03, 2012 5:32 am

Dave Saxton wrote: was largely dependent upon centralized fire control for any shooting. The apparent brightness of the explosion isn't that remarkable in a combat situation. People often see things in dramatic fashion during combat. Also the shell may have shattered or exploded before penetration, giving it a more pyrotechnic effect.
Well, it is conceivable, but what about the damage suffered by the forward fire control stations ?

Maybe 1 hit stroke both fw turrets, and another the fire control stations ?

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Re: Washington

Post by Djoser » Thu May 03, 2012 11:56 am

Yeah there were two 'lucky' hits, as I see it, on the Bismarck in the early part of the final battle. The fire control being taken out by one hit (which I thought was the one they actually called 'spectacular'), and both forward turrets by another hit (or maybe one hit each).

I doubt Anton would have simply ceased firing because of fire control problems, no matter how severe. If I am in a turret on a ship about to get the hell blown out of it, I'm going to keep shooting back, no matter how lousy the odds of getting a hit. Anything would beat sitting there waiting for another few thousand pounds of steel and explosives moving at extremely high velocity to blow me to bits.

It is interesting how few main battery turret hits there were in WW II, actually. If you read the blow by blow accounts of Jutland, the main battery turret hits are much more frequent.

Also, I'd have to agree that a 'temporarily silenced' turret is as good as destroyed in a close-run duel between evenly matched opponents. Something that always irritated me when reading a couple of the British accounts of Jutland, in which turrets were described as 'temporarily silenced'. But the turrets so described never made any real contribution to the fighting after the damage was repaired. Not that the Germans were paragons of virtue in their assessment of the battle and claims of victory on return to port.

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Re: Washington

Post by alecsandros » Thu May 03, 2012 12:11 pm

IF a ship would have damage to the main turrets, it would withdraw immediately. See PoW at DS.

No sane commander would attempt to fight an adversary with such a handicap.

Since the machinery of the battleships was so well protected, I can only imagine some debilitating waterline damage that would reduce the speed of the ship enough to let it be overrun by it's opponent.

Otherwise, the differences in speed between the principal classes of battleships used were to small to allow stern chases, except some extreme cases (Iowa pursuing Yamato, Richelieu following SOuth Dakota. What is interesting is that in both cases the attack would be very dubious - I doubt Yamato's turrets would be damaged by Iowa's fire, and I doubt Richelieu's captain would decide to take on South Dakota. Maybe if he was drunk... )

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Re: Washington

Post by Dave Saxton » Thu May 03, 2012 5:21 pm

alecsandros wrote:Well, it is conceivable, but what about the damage suffered by the forward fire control stations ?

Maybe 1 hit stroke both fw turrets, and another the fire control stations ?
The hits to the forward fire control satations were independant of the Rodney hits. The hit to the foretop firecontrol station was from Norfolk (the rangefinder hood was also hit later by a 6" from Rodney). The first hit to the navigation bridge was from KGV. It's the results of the combined volume of fire from several enemies at the same time overwhelming the Bismarck.
The first hit to the navigation bridge was from KGV.
According to some accounts this was the first hit scored- before the forecastle hit from Rodney. On the wreck there is a major caliber hit to the navigation bridge, but nearby the conning tower itself has not been fully penetrated. The doors of the conning tower are cranked open. Albrecht (3rd Artillery Officer and at the forward CT firecontrol station) later (very late) came on the guns phones to inform central control that he was evacuating the conning tower because of smoke. So the CT was not destroyed, but apparently the firecontrol station there was not operational. Note also the communications were still functional very late.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Washington

Post by Saltheart » Fri May 04, 2012 3:23 am

I've noticed on the books page there is no mention of "Bismarck the final days of Germany's greatest battleship" by Niklas Zetterling and Michael Tamelander. It goes into great detail of the damage to Bismarck including the shot from Rodney that blew off the back of one of the main turrets.
http://www.amazon.com/BISMARCK-Final-Ge ... 079&sr=8-1
I bought it in hard back a year or more ago and it was really good. I also read the Baron's book in my local library a few years ago and it isn't on the book page either.

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Re: Washington

Post by alecsandros » Fri May 04, 2012 11:29 am

Getting back to the topic, Washington vs Tirpitz, I remember such a confrontation was very plausible during the passage of Arctic Convoy PQ17.

THe covering force had Duke of York, Washington, Victorious, 2 CAs and 9DDs, with possible addition of 4 heavy cruisers from the convoy's escort.

The German force performing Roselsprung was, IIRC, Tirpitz+Lutzow+Scheer+Hipper+9DDs, and the local support by Uboats and land-based bombers / torpedo bombers.

A very interesting scenario - to bad the Admiralty decided to withdraw her forces, and the German command likewise.

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Re: Washington

Post by RF » Fri May 04, 2012 5:14 pm

The British decision to withdraw was diastrous and with hindsight it seems almost unbelievable.

Had the convoy and Allied forces been concentrated then the onus is on the Germans to respond, and given the Germans track record with the surface heavy ships and commanders I think they would have stalled attacking that convoy. Still we can only speculate, and it is unfortunate that so many lives were lost on those merchant ships.
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Re: Washington

Post by alecsandros » Fri May 04, 2012 8:06 pm

Exactly.

And what puzzles me the most is that the heavy escort was there precisely to counter a possible sortie of German heavy units!

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Re: Washington

Post by Dave Saxton » Fri May 04, 2012 10:04 pm

There's a difference between having the forces and having the forces needed at the right place at the right time. Tovey couldn't expose the Home Fleet heavy battle group to possible attack by the Luftwaffe or place it at greater risk of U-boat attack by plodding along with or even near the convoy. This also applied to the force of cruisers. The Home Fleet task groups had to operate indpendently and relatively far away from the convoy. It was only six months since the sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse, and only a couple of months since the loss of Edinburgh and Trinidad caused mainly by operating fleet units with or near the convoys. A Stand Off Policy was mandated. This made it difficult to intercept any quick hit and run strikes by the German battle group.

The tip of the German spear against merchant shipping in the Artic theater was actually their destroyers. The March 9th close call for Tirpitz demonstrated that major warships should not run the risks unless absolutely needed, but the destroyer actions also clearly demonstrated that the destroyers needed cruiser plus back up to be effective in most cases. If the British countered with cruisers then Tirpitz and consorts could be called in to deal with the cruisers.

The British strategy in the case of intervention by German heavy forces was to stand off out of range of the Luftwaffe but close enough to hopefully dash in to within carrier striking range as the Germans approached. The plan was to cripple Tirpitz with airborne torpedo attack and only then to close in and finish her off with the battleships. Therefore Tovey stood off with Duke of York, Washington, and Victorious between Bear Island and Jan Mayen Island. This tactic required of course quality and timely information as to the movements of the German battle groups. This was not obtained.

Weather over the anchorages meant RAF recon missed the initial German sorties completely, and since Schneiwind was practicing complete radio silence before and after sailing to the advance jumping off base (Alten Fjord), the usual Ultra intel was sparse. When RAF recon couldn't find the German heavies in their usual bases and submarine pickets failed to report anything, Pound had to look at the situation from a worse case scenario perspective. At 0200 on July 5th all the evidence indicated that the German destroyers in company with the Tirpitz battle group could fall on the convoy within hours. Duke of York and Washington could not possibly intervene in time. The Germans could easly sweep aside and sink the cruisers closer by. So the cruisers were withdrawn and the convoy scattered.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Washington

Post by tommy303 » Fri May 04, 2012 10:49 pm

If I remember correctly, Ultra intercepts initially caught the order for the Tirpitz group to raise steam for a sortie at short notice then nothing for a spell. Next was an intercept notifying Group North that they were raising anchor. After that very little was received to indicate this was not the main sortie and that raising anchor merely heralded a move to a more forward base of operations. For all Pound knew, Tirpitz and her consorts had proceeded directly to sea. If they had indeed sortied, then Pound's decision would have been basically correct. By the time he made the decision to scatter the convoy and withdraw the close escorts, the Tirpitz battle group would have been only a matter of a few hours away from the convoy and, as Dave says, too close for any meaningful intervention by Tovey's force.

One of the troubling aspects of the whole thing is, to my mind, is why did the Germans not make a connection between the scattering of PQ17 and German plans to sortie Tirpitz and her consorts. Perhaps I am using a bit too much hindsight, but should it not have raised some sort of red flag that Enigma might have been compromised--after, if it was secure, then why would the Admiralty suddenly panic and disperse the convoy unless they had some reason to believe Tirpitz was at sea.

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Re: Washington

Post by alecsandros » Sat May 05, 2012 7:23 am

Dave Saxton wrote:
The tip of the German spear against merchant shipping in the Artic theater was actually their destroyers. The March 9th close call for Tirpitz demonstrated that major warships should not run the risks unless absolutely needed, but the destroyer actions also clearly demonstrated that the destroyers needed cruiser plus back up to be effective in most cases. If the British countered with cruisers then Tirpitz and consorts could be called in to deal with the cruisers.
This only deepens the mistery for me.

You are probably refering to the action against PQ12 and QP8.

PQ-12 and QP-8 sailed in March, covered by KGV, DoY, Victorious, Renown, 1 cruiser, 12 destroyers.

Tirpitz sortied on the 6th of March, after a FW discovered PQ12. Several U-boat observations managed to assess the composition of the covering forces quite good - 2 BBs, 1 CV, 1 CA, 10 DDs. This intel was received on Tirpitz on the 7th of March.

However, despite being well in range of Luftflotte's 5 bombers, the task force (under Adm Tovey) started hunting down Tirpitz immediately.
VIctorious launched 12 Albacores, that managed to find Tirpitz, on the morning of March 9th. They made their attack, but 2 were destroyed and didn't obtain any hits.

By that time though, Tirpitz was allready on route to the fjords, having wasted 3 days in fruitless search of the convoys.
He cast anchor near Narwik on the evening of March 9th.

So, the sortie against PQ12 with Tirpitz+3 destroyers determined a completely different response from a similar strength British squadron, in essentialy the same tactical position as the heavy covering force of PQ17...

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Re: Washington

Post by alecsandros » Sat May 05, 2012 7:32 am

tommy303 wrote:
One of the troubling aspects of the whole thing is, to my mind, is why did the Germans not make a connection between the scattering of PQ17 and German plans to sortie Tirpitz and her consorts. Perhaps I am using a bit too much hindsight, but should it not have raised some sort of red flag that Enigma might have been compromised--after, if it was secure, then why would the Admiralty suddenly panic and disperse the convoy unless they had some reason to believe Tirpitz was at sea.
True, convoy scatter began at ~ 23:00 on the 4th of July, while the Tirpitz squadron sortied at ~ 15:00 on the 5th of July...

On the 4th of July, Lutzow, Scheer and several destroyers were on route from Narvik to Alta. Lutzow and 3 DDs struck rocks and were damaged.
Perhaps Raeder believed the scatter was due to the movement of this squadron ?

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