POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
User avatar
Wordy
Member
Posts: 50
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:43 am
Location: Rotherham, England

POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by Wordy » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:50 am

The battle of The Denmark Strait happens as it did, HMS Hood blows up and HMS Prince of Wales withdraws under a smokescreen, but after 5-10 minutes manages(don't ask me how) to get it's turrets and all guns working with no further faults. I 'm fairly certain Leach would turn straight back around and engage, but what would Lutjens do? Order PE to drop back and launch a torpedo attack to shake off POW while BS breaks off to carry on its orders, or turn and fight with both BS & PE?

Another question, if the Germans did stick around what would happen? I'm guessing both POW & BS give each other pounding, but Norfolk & Suffolk would have been signalled and joined the fight, also the escorting destroyers might've caught up and engaged as well.
In the Highest Tradition of the Royal Navy - Captain John Leach MVO DSO

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by alecsandros » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:27 am

Wordy wrote:The battle of The Denmark Strait happens as it did, HMS Hood blows up and HMS Prince of Wales withdraws under a smokescreen, but after 5-10 minutes manages(don't ask me how) to get it's turrets and all guns working with no further faults. I 'm fairly certain Leach would turn straight back around and engage, but what would Lutjens do? Order PE to drop back and launch a torpedo attack to shake off POW while BS breaks off to carry on its orders, or turn and fight with both BS & PE?

Another question, if the Germans did stick around what would happen? I'm guessing both POW & BS give each other pounding, but Norfolk & Suffolk would have been signalled and joined the fight, also the escorting destroyers might've caught up and engaged as well.
Excellent question,

Fact is this actualy happened, but not 10 minutes after Hood's demise, but a good 11 hours after.

I'm thinking about the second engagement between PoW and Bismarck, at long range (27km+).

IN that action, Norfolk, Suffolk and PoW attacked Bismarck + Prinz Eugen and exchaged several salvos.

Suffolk was targeted directly by Bismarck, at 20km, and forced to withdrew under a smoke screen by accurate German salvos.

However, after about 12 salvos fired, Prince of Wales lagged behind the German force, and as the distance increased, firing stopped.

===

My questions would be:
- What was the BRitish tactic during this battle: just ot harass the enemy, or to engage and cripple him ?
- Why did PoW lagged behind ? Was it that it's speed was slower than the damaged Bismarck, or was it a deliberate tactic to track the adversary just on radar range ?

User avatar
Wordy
Member
Posts: 50
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:43 am
Location: Rotherham, England

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by Wordy » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:33 pm

To answer your 1st question I would think that if POW got her turrets back working again within 10 minutes then the ships would still be engaged and given Holland's (and leach's) orders I'd imagine Leach would turn straight back round and fight with the intention of crippling/sinking the Bismarck.

Bismarck and PE would obviously be concentrating their main guns on POW which would enable Norfolk & Suffolk to close and engage, also barring the luckiest of lucky hits POW would still be afloat and fighting by the time the destroyers caught up and they would engage as well.

The variable in this scenario for me would that given that the battle was not over and BS & PE were still facing a fully operational POW would Lutjens decide that fighting on would put his mission in unacceptable jeopardy and withdraw himself?

Your 2nd question as to what actually happened then if it took 11 hours to fix the turrets maybe Leach (and the engineers) didn't have much confidence that the turrets were in a reliable state to engage in a 2nd battle and decided to shadow? ( I don't know if there is any evidence of this, however and am just thinking out loud, so to speak).
In the Highest Tradition of the Royal Navy - Captain John Leach MVO DSO

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by alecsandros » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:42 pm

Wordy wrote:To answer your 1st question I would think that if POW got her turrets back working again within 10 minutes then the ships would still be engaged Your 2nd question as to what actually happened then if it took 11 hours to fix the turrets maybe Leach (and the engineers) didn't have much confidence that the turrets were in a reliable state to engage in a 2nd battle and decided to shadow? ( I don't know if there is any evidence of this, however and am just thinking out loud, so to speak).
It's not hypothetical,

It's the second battle...

see here:
http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/off ... 09guns.htm

"C - Events during Second Action

24th May. - Fire was opened at Bismarck at 1846 at a range of 30,300 yards. The table was tuned to ranges obtained from the fore D.C.T. rangefinder and "fine inclination spotting rules" were adopted, each double salvo being spread one unit apart. Salvoes 1 and 2 both fell right; salvoes 3 and 4 were fired as a further line bracket and both fell in line and short. UP 800 was ordered and salvoes 5 and 6 were fired spread one unit apart. Both these appeared in line and over; the range was then 33,000 yards and check fire was ordered. Prince of Wales then turned towards and opened fire again at 1853.5, with salvoes 7 and 8 fired as a deflection double with the table re-tuned to the fire D.C.T. rangefinder. "Y" turret was not bearing after salvo 6. Again, both these appeared right, and salvoes 9 and 10 were fired as a further line bracket. Both appeared in line and short; UP 800 was ordered and salvoes 11 and 12 were fired spread one unit apart; 11 was observed right and 12 over. Fire was then ordered to be checked by C.S.1 as the enemy turned away and there was a danger of forcing him westward.

It is understood that one of these salvoes was observed to "straddle" by Norfolk."


and here:

http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/off ... 09suff.htm

"Since 1803 the enemy had made good 235° (10 miles), apparently attempting, in the mist, to waylay Suffolk approaching from a clear direction.

23. 1839 (B). Sighted Bismarck bearing 190°, 10 miles, course 240°.

1841 (B). Bismarck opened fire.

1842 (B) - 1846 (B) and 1851 (B) - 1855 (B). Manoeuvred and made smoke as necessary to avoid gunfire and then to comply with C.S. One's 1823 (B), the nearest enemy salvo falling 100 yards short and right with one or two shots close enough to start rivets in an after W.T. compartment by under-water concussion.

Fired 9 broadsides in return- three to starboard, three to port and three to starboard, all spread for line ; the third of which straddled at G.R. 21,125 yards (Type 284, range 20,700 yards).

Page 162

Blast from "B" turret shattered all the glass and blew away parts of the flimsy covering fitted to the bridge in 1940 in lieu of the previous windscreens, so that the wind and spray now drive straight in over the coaming.

1856 (B). Prinz Eugen opened fire, which was returned with three broadsides at G.R. 27,500 - 28,900 yards.

24. 1900 (B). Continued shadowing enemy, who had resumes course 180° during the above engagement, while conformingly generally to C.S. One's movements, Bismarck being only occasionally visible, beyond the cruiser.

Suffolk was now on the enemy's port quarter, in consequence of the enemy's westward movement from 1805-1835 and of own subsequent manoeuvres.

2015 (B). Adjusted plot to 2000 reference position received at 2013 (B) from C.S. One. Transfer 193°, 11 miles.

2312 (B). From Type 279 contact (showing I.F.F.) reported to C.S. One Victorious' striking force approaching from 124° as friendly. (Distance 14 miles, aircraft flying low).
"

User avatar
Wordy
Member
Posts: 50
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:43 am
Location: Rotherham, England

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by Wordy » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:00 pm

Thanks for that info.
Don't know if I've made myself clear with what I've typed. What I'm suggesting and the timeframes is a hypothetical scenario in that while withdrawing POW gets her turrets back working well enough to fight, and re-engages and what would the outcome be?
In the Highest Tradition of the Royal Navy - Captain John Leach MVO DSO

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by alecsandros » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:04 pm

Wordy wrote:Thanks for that info.
Don't know if I've made myself clear with what I've typed. What I'm suggesting and the timeframes is a hypothetical scenario in that while withdrawing POW gets her turrets back working well enough to fight, and re-engages and what would the outcome be?
I understood your scenario,

and this scenario actualy happened in reality: PoW got her turrets back online, regrouped with NOrfolk + Suffolk, and intercepted the German force at 18:40 in the evening of May 24th. The battle was inconclusive...

My bet is that something similar would have happened at 6:30, presuming your hypothetical scenario would have become manifest.

User avatar
paulcadogan
Senior Member
Posts: 1100
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 4:03 am
Location: Kingston, Jamaica

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by paulcadogan » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:52 pm

alecsandros wrote:I'm thinking about the second engagement between PoW and Bismarck, at long range (27km+).

IN that action, Norfolk, Suffolk and PoW attacked Bismarck + Prinz Eugen and exchaged several salvos.
Hi Alec,

Just for the sake of accuracy, that statement is a bit misleading - it was Bismarck which launched the attack - on Suffolk in an effort to cover Prinz Eugen's separation and escape. Prince of Wales then opened fire on Bismarck at 30,000 yards range in defense of Suffolk and turned to close the range. Bismarck was unable to effectively reply to PoW because of the glare from the sun which made spotting dificult. Bismarck then turned away and withdrew westwards causing Admiral Wake-Walker to order a cease fire simply because driving Bismarck west was not desirable with Tovey approaching from the east.

Now for Wordy's scenario - first. PoW's turret malfunctions during the Denmark Strait battle were not necessarily as debilitating as has generally been made out. For the most part, apart from 1 gun in A-turret that only fired one salvo - the others missed salvoes here and there and the problems were being remedied as they occured. The major problem occured in the hard turn away in which the shell ring of Y-turret jammed during the ship's roll depriving the turret of new shells from below. It took 2 hours to remedy that.

Had it been quickly remedied, I doubt very much that Captain Leach would have renewed the fight. When she turned away, PoW had 7 14-inch guns fully functional, and though Leach could not have known it, had been hitting Bismarck. The jamming of the ring reduced the functional guns to 5 in her forward turrets (2 in her aft turret had problems before the shell ring jammed). Leach's turnaway was less about the gun issues than about the other factors involved - the hits his ship was taking, the lack of any evidence of damage to the enemy, the trauma of the loss of Hood, and quite possibly lack of confidence in the overall functionality of his ship to fight effectively on her own given her newness. Tovey was a day away and it was the best decision to wait for him.

For a detailed look at PoW's salvo output - based on her Gunnery Aspects Report linked by Alec, see here:

http://www.hmshood.org.uk/forum/phpBB3/ ... f15a5eb5c4

PoW continuing the fight in the DS has been discussed before. She could have done so without turning away as she was firing only one gun less than Bismarck. But it would have been inevitable that she would have taken several more hits in quick sucession, even if she had been able to get back on target after careening around the sinking Hood. In actuality she did turn and fire a salvo a few minutes after the battle ended, which did not fall anywhere near the Germans. Though she could conceivably have damaged Bismarck further - chances are she would have taken a pounding herself and been forced out of action again. Had that happened and the shadowing been left to S&N alone, the chances of Bismarck escaping once she cleared the Strait would have increased (in that PoW provided security for the shadowing cruisers against attack by Bismarck, demonstrated in the second action that evening).

Paul
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by alecsandros » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:02 pm

paulcadogan wrote:
alecsandros wrote: Just for the sake of accuracy, that statement is a bit misleading - it was Bismarck which launched the attack - on Suffolk in an effort to cover Prinz Eugen's separation and escape.
True :)

Had it been quickly remedied, I doubt very much that Captain Leach would have renewed the fight. When she turned away, PoW had 7 14-inch guns fully functional, and though Leach could not have known it, had been hitting Bismarck. The jamming of the ring reduced the functional guns to 5 in her forward turrets (2 in her aft turret had problems before the shell ring jammed).
Well, perhaps, but very shortly after turning away, the shell ring of turret Y became jammed, so the total number of guns available had decreased to 5...

It was a stroke of luck that PoW retreated at about the same time Bismarck was turning away because of the imaginary torpedoes - that way the range opened very quickly, and the British battleship had several good minutes to put some distance from the German ships, which were already straddling her consistently.

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 3093
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by Dave Saxton » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:13 pm

paulcadogan wrote:PoW continuing the fight in the DS has been discussed before. She could have done so without turning away as she was firing only one gun less than Bismarck. But it would have been inevitable that she would have taken several more hits in quick sucession, even if she had been able to get back on target after careening around the sinking Hood. In actuality she did turn and fire a salvo a few minutes after the battle ended, which did not fall anywhere near the Germans. Though she could conceivably have damaged Bismarck further - chances are she would have taken a pounding herself and been forced out of action again. Had that happened and the shadowing been left to S&N alone, the chances of Bismarck escaping once she cleared the Strait would have increased (in that PoW provided security for the shadowing cruisers against attack by Bismarck, demonstrated in the second action that evening).

Paul
Alex wrote:It was a stroke of luck that PoW retreated at about the same time Bismarck was turning away because of the imaginary torpedoes - that way the range opened very quickly, and the British battleship had several good minutes to put some distance from the German ships, which were already straddling her consistently.
A re-engagement only shortly after the initial turn away was likely to be a long range affair, and the British cruisers would still be out of range. A long range battle at that in point in time means that the Bismarck holds almost all the cards. Its firecontrol is working efficiently and the POW's is not. I agree with Paul, POW is likely to take several more hits from the Germans, while POW is likely to score no hits in return.
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.

User avatar
paulcadogan
Senior Member
Posts: 1100
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 4:03 am
Location: Kingston, Jamaica

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by paulcadogan » Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:04 pm

alecsandros wrote: paulcadogan wrote:


Had it been quickly remedied, I doubt very much that Captain Leach would have renewed the fight. When she turned away, PoW had 7 14-inch guns fully functional, and though Leach could not have known it, had been hitting Bismarck. The jamming of the ring reduced the functional guns to 5 in her forward turrets (2 in her aft turret had problems before the shell ring jammed).

Well, perhaps, but very shortly after turning away, the shell ring of turret Y became jammed, so the total number of guns available had decreased to 5...
But that's what I said Alec.... :D
Dave Saxton wrote: A long range battle at that in point in time means that the Bismarck holds almost all the cards. Its firecontrol is working efficiently and the POW's is not.
PoW's central fire control for her main armament (fore and aft DCT's) was still OK after the battle - the starboard directors for her secondary guns had been knocked out by hits. But this still put her at a disadvantage when confronting B & PG alone.
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

paul.mercer
Senior Member
Posts: 904
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by paul.mercer » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:25 pm

Gentlemen,
An interesting senario. If Pow had got all her guns fully fuctional after a few minutes I really cannot see a British battleship refusing to re-engage to have done so would almost certainly have ended in a court martial for her captain. Churchill wanted to do this even after knowing about the problems with the guns, to run away with all guns available would have been unthinkable and totally out of keeping with RN tradition.

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by alecsandros » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:30 am

paul.mercer wrote:Gentlemen,
An interesting senario. If Pow had got all her guns fully fuctional after a few minutes I really cannot see a British battleship refusing to re-engage to have done so would almost certainly have ended in a court martial for her captain. Churchill wanted to do this even after knowing about the problems with the guns, to run away with all guns available would have been unthinkable and totally out of keeping with RN tradition.
Why didn't capt Leech press harder in the evening then ? He had 9/10 guns operational and 2 CA escorts...
My guess is that following Hood's demise, the PoW was ordered to shadow the Germans, without risking direct attack... But it's just an assumption....

User avatar
paulcadogan
Senior Member
Posts: 1100
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 4:03 am
Location: Kingston, Jamaica

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by paulcadogan » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:00 pm

Not just an assumption - that is what Tovey wanted - regardless of what Churchill AND the Admiralty thought. (Recall that the Admiralty signalled Wake-Walker as to his "intentions regarding Prince of Wales re-engaging". Tovey was not too pleased by that "intrusion".

The interception of Bismarck by Tovey's force - which, once combined with Wake-Walker's force should have the capability to overwhelm the Germans - was heavily dependent on Suffolk's shadowing. Another engagement could result in damage which might eliminate that capability and result in the Germans escaping.

In the actual second engagement Leach could not have "pressed harder" than he did. He brought his ship into action at extreme range and then turned to close the range, wooding his aft turret in the process. The result was Bismarck, with shells falling nearby or even straddling (if Norfolk's observation was correct) and unable to effectively reply because of the reflection of the sun's glare on the water (and with the Prinz successfully on her way), turned away and withdrew westward - precisely what the British did not want. So why drive her further west, away from the approaching Tovey, by continuing to engage? Wake-Walker naturally ordered PoW to cease fire.

Norfolk was, at the time, on PoW's starboard quarter and there is a photo (below) taken from her showing PoW firing a salvo (this was initially erroneously thought to be Hood taken from PoW - so ignore the incorrect captions). It's published in Iain Ballantyne's "Killing the Bismarck".

Image
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by alecsandros » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:41 pm

paulcadogan wrote:Not just an assumption - that is what Tovey wanted - regardless of what Churchill AND the Admiralty thought. (Recall that the Admiralty signalled Wake-Walker as to his "intentions regarding Prince of Wales re-engaging". Tovey was not too pleased by that "intrusion".

The interception of Bismarck by Tovey's force - which, once combined with Wake-Walker's force should have the capability to overwhelm the Germans - was heavily dependent on Suffolk's shadowing. Another engagement could result in damage which might eliminate that capability and result in the Germans escaping.
Perhaps necessities changed between the 2 engagements...
Initialy, PoW and Hood should have sunk Bismarck, but after the unfortunate turn of events, the more rational decision was to shadow the enemy while waiting for stronger forces to tighten the loop...

User avatar
paulcadogan
Senior Member
Posts: 1100
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 4:03 am
Location: Kingston, Jamaica

Re: POW Gets Her Turrets Working Again

Post by paulcadogan » Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:45 pm

Yup...British hopes and expectations were dashed....

For those who haven't seen the photo before, just to give the correct captions -

From left to right on top:

"Break in superstructure" (wrong) = stern of PoW
"Aft gunnery director" (wrong) = Y-turret (with UP launchers clearly visible) trained on a forward starboard bearing
Mainmast (correct)
Jet of fire" (wrong) = smoke plume from aft funnel
"Smoke from earlier salvo of A & B guns" (wrong) = smoke from Y-turret firing
" Smoke from salvo of A & B guns (basically correct - may be just from one of them)

From left to right, bottom:

"X-turret" (wrong! They were really stretching it!!) - wave adjacent to wake
"Break in superstructure" ( correct - bulk of the tower bridge )
"Stem" (correct)

Here's a reconstruction to show that all that makes sense!
Attachments
PoW model - shooting at Bismarck.jpg
Reconstruction of photo using a 1/700 scale PoW model and Paint
PoW model - shooting at Bismarck.jpg (138.2 KiB) Viewed 2117 times
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

Post Reply