Bismarck against BB-57 South Dakota

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
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Post by lwd » Tue Aug 21, 2007 5:41 pm

But we are hardly talking about a confused night battle in restrictive waters. If we were then the odds become pretty even. If we are talking open waters then SoDaks radar fire control give her a big advantage. If this is combined with a good search radar and stable center she has a huge advantage and can make use of it in ways Bismark has a hard time countering.

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Gary
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Post by Gary » Fri Aug 24, 2007 5:08 pm

The problem for SoDak was that one of her crewmen chose to "cure" the problem of tripping circuit breakers by tying the circuit breakers down so they couldn't trip. It apparently didn't occur to him that they're designed to trip when there's a reason for them to do so. That's what caused the crisis off Guadalcanal.


Did the crewman get into trouble? (although his intentions were good, it did cause a rather large calamity for the ship!)
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Post by lwd » Fri Aug 24, 2007 5:36 pm

I don't ever remember seeing anything about a court martial on the otherhand I suspect his popularity among the officers and crew was less than optimal for a while. Depends on how you define "getting in trouble". It did pretty much guarantee that mistake wouldn't be made again on SoDak.

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Gary
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Post by Gary » Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:28 pm

On the other hand it did prove the worth of the armour scheme.............and it enhanced SoDaks reputation. :wink:
(Washingtons crew were rather upset that SoDak got the public recognition for Guadalcanal)
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_Derfflinger_
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Post by _Derfflinger_ » Fri Aug 24, 2007 11:20 pm

These kind of "what if" discussions are always subjective by definition, and often come down to personal bias as much as to objective analysis, IMO.

In the real world, should Bismarck and SoDak have met, SoDak would win - because of the simple reason that it would be most likely that SoDak would not be alone - but would be with a North Carolina/Washington or another South Dakota class sister. Then, it is no contest.

If a one-on-one were to occur, I'd rate it a draw. The USN radar fire control and heavier firepower would be a match against the Bismarck's better armor, higher speed and optical fire control. Like many of you said, it would really come down to the early hits - who scores first, and how serious is the early damage.

I certainly agree with the comments noted that it would not be pleasant to be aboard either ship in this engagement. A lot of fine, young sailors would be lost.

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Post by _Derfflinger_ » Fri Aug 24, 2007 11:24 pm

Gary wrote:(Washingtons crew were rather upset that SoDak got the public recognition for Guadalcanal)
They were really pissed with the SoDak's skipper, who took credit for the victory.

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Post by Bgile » Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:34 am

I think the Navy learned early on not to schedule both ships for R&R in the same place at the same time. Things got broken and sailors got hurt.

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Post by lwd » Sun Aug 26, 2007 3:21 am

SoDak also had a rather dubious claim regarding the number of planes shot down in at least one battle. I think the Enterprise crew were a bit upset with that one (could).

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Post by WestPhilly » Mon Aug 27, 2007 1:27 am

I'm new, be gentle. SoDak- roughly equal in protection. SoDak- 16" guns firing a shell weighing nearly 1,000 pounds more than Bismarck's 15". I appreciate there are many more variables involved, but I think it comes down to basically this.

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Post by Tiornu » Mon Aug 27, 2007 4:13 am

SoDak has an immense advantage in firepower, and her armor is more likely to keep her weaponry in action after battle damage.
The foul-up by the SoDak crewman was effectively masked by Capt Gatch. No reference to the incident appeared in the official action report.

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Gary
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Post by Gary » Mon Aug 27, 2007 11:20 am

The foul-up by the SoDak crewman was effectively masked by Capt Gatch.


Cant say I blame him :wink:
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Post by Tiornu » Mon Aug 27, 2007 9:11 pm

Capt Gatch was probably a joy to serve under, as he went to some lengths to benefit his people. Cynicism naturally leads us to think "It wouldn't exactly have helped his own career if it got out that his man had sabotaged the ship," but I'm not so sure about that. His ship did poorly, and he could have used this guy as a scapegoat.

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Karl Heidenreich
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Aug 27, 2007 9:21 pm

And is such an ocassion, South Dak doing poorly, I imagine that still Bismarck doesn´t have a chance...? :?:
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Gary
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Post by Gary » Mon Aug 27, 2007 9:27 pm

Guadalcanal is probably a bad example because it was a confused night action.

Kinda like a bar room brawl with the lights turned off.

If these 2 ships met in a daytime encounter then SoDak would have to be the odds on favourite but hey..............nothing is guaranteed and Bismarck certainly shouldnt be considered a helpless opponent.
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Karl Heidenreich
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Aug 27, 2007 11:18 pm

Gary:
If these 2 ships met in a daytime encounter then SoDak would have to be the odds on favourite but hey..............nothing is guaranteed and Bismarck certainly shouldnt be considered a helpless opponent.
Gary, I don´t consider Bismarck a helpless opponent. The last man that, I pressume, did something like that rests in the bottom of the North Atlantic with the wreck of Hood (no offense considered in this comment).
Which makes me think that more than one in this forum, being given the command of an allied BB and given their "common wisdom" could end the same way if encountered Bismarck.
The odds that an allied warship could have a "bad day" are quite big and the odds that the Germans could do their work properly is, also, big.
If we see WWII history is relevant to note that the allies never aproached and engaged an equivalent enemy ship on a one to one basis but only with disproporcionate numerical superiority. And being the opportunity, as the sinking of Yamato plainly demostrate, the allies would never risk their own "unvulnerable" BB but used aircraft.
That´s plain that the allied commanders, who knew better than a theoretical naval penetration formulae, considered a great risk to engage their foes on an one vs. one basis, which would make us think what would happened if these commanders would have been in Nelson shoes at Trafalgar: being the British outnumbered 33 to 27?
Well, that why Nelson was Nelson and Admiral Nobody never showed up in the History books...
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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