Bismarck vs. HMS Warspite + HMS Exeter

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
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RF
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Re: Bismarck vs. HMS Warspite + HMS Exeter

Postby RF » Wed May 14, 2008 12:55 pm

Relooking at this thread, one aspect not considered is the context in which this action can take place. For example, if Warspite and Exeter were convoy escorts, and in reality these two ships would be a credible combination, then we have an engagement as part of a Rheinubung type operation in which the German captain is the aggressor, ie. no breaking off by Bismarck. If other German forces, such as Prinz Eugen attack the merchant ships, so that the British destroyers have to deal with that threat, I can imagine the Bismarck despatching both British ships. The one key question here is what damage Bismarck suffers, and would it imperil a run for home if that was necessary.... Very much a Denmark Strait type scenario...
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Re: Bismarck vs. HMS Warspite + HMS Exeter

Postby Tiornu » Wed May 14, 2008 9:04 pm

If Bismarck is superior to Warspite (which no one should doubt), adding an inferior CA to the mix is not likely to make a difference.

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Re: Bismarck vs. HMS Warspite + HMS Exeter

Postby David89 » Wed May 14, 2008 9:52 pm

I know Warspite is no match for the Bismarck but I don't think that it would be as clear cut as all that. After all, short of the Warspite blowing up she is going to be able to inflict damage on the Bismarck and a hit on Bismarcks fire control or turrets could swing the battle in Warspites favour. This could of course happen the other way round, but I don't think the Bismarck is going to escape undamaged and Warspite has a reputation as an extremely good shot. However, I don't think Bismarck would be sunk as her superior speed and damage control would enable a getaway in the event of major damage being inflicted on her turrets or FC.

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Re: Bismarck vs. HMS Warspite + HMS Exeter

Postby tommy303 » Wed May 14, 2008 11:45 pm

Bismarck's operational orders, her rules of engagement as it were, for Operation Rhein, specified that she would be allowed to engage an enemy battleship escorting a convoy in order to give Prinz Eugen a chance to attack the merchant ships with guns and torpedoes. Bismarck was not expected to waste time and ammunition sinking a battleship escort, but to engage in a spoiling action until Prinz Eugen had accomplished her mission. In such a scenario, it is likely that Warspite would engage Bismarck while Exeter attempted to head off the Prinz Eugen. It is unlikely that defence of the convoy would be left to its ASW vessels and might in any event have not been destroyers but corvettes like the Flower-Class. As these had no torpedo armament, and were slow, they posed little threat to the heavy cruiser, so I should imagine that Exeter would have had to face the Prinz Eugen.

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Re: Bismarck vs. HMS Warspite + HMS Exeter

Postby RF » Thu May 15, 2008 12:44 pm

These orders were sufficiently vague to give some intiative to the Fleet Commander - most commanders would presumably interepret the orders as to include finishing off the battleship if there was no torpedo risk to Bismarck. No doubt Lutjens would be an exception to this.
Logically the only other reason to break off would be to attack merchant ships which PE cannot target.
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Re: Bismarck vs. HMS Warspite + HMS Exeter

Postby lwd » Thu May 15, 2008 1:44 pm

Well there's also the problem that it takes a lot of gunfire to actually sink a BB unless you get lucky. How much of her ammo would Bismark be willing to use up on one British BB. Then there's the strategic situation. In Warspite and Exeter vs Bismark and Eugen the former could get sunk and still "win". We're back to the fact that raiders can't take much damage and continue their mission especially in an Ocean controlled by the opposition. Indeed sustain much damage and neither of the raiders may make it home. Take away the strategic situation and Bismark is going to win quite a few more of these type encoutners than she'd loose. Situate it in anything like the real WWII and it's not as clear.

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Re: Bismarck vs. HMS Warspite + HMS Exeter

Postby RF » Fri May 16, 2008 12:30 pm

I think this is a fair analysis, one aspect is of how much effective support is available to Bismarck from U-boats and aircraft, together with the availability of Atlantic ports in Biscay and ports controlled by countries friendly to Germany, such as Spain and Vichy France.
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Re: Bismarck vs. HMS Warspite + HMS Exeter

Postby Captain_Jazki » Wed Dec 02, 2015 2:44 am

I think Warspite+Exeter would win, as the HMS Warspite has better range, so the warspite could take out Bismarck's radar, rangefinding equipment and communications array, and then the Exeter could slow her down with torpedoes, and both Warspite and Exeter could use their joint fire to turn Bismarck into a wreck.


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