Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

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Alan Lawrey

Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby Alan Lawrey » Fri Feb 06, 2015 6:45 pm

Could a pocket battleship (PB) have sortied with the Bismarck instead of the Prinz Eugen?

The PBs were designed for long range commerce raiding i.e. they had larger fuel oil capacity than the Prinze Eugen.

I know the Graf Spee was already out of the picture. The Scheer had just returned to Kiel on April 1st, 1941, after her raiding cruise, was in refit and not available to sortie. What about the Lutzow (ex Deutschland)? The Lutzow was returned to service on March 31, 1941 after repairs of damage sustained in the Norway campaign. It was planned for her to go on a raiding cruise in conjunction with the Scheer in June 1941. It appears to me, that the Lutzow was therefore available and could have sortied with the Bismarck in May 941.

Questions:

1.) I know the members of this forum are vastly more knowledgeable on this subject than I. Other than the planned June commerce raiding sortie with the Sheer, is there any other reason(s) that would have prevented the Lutzow from being with the Bismarck instead of the Prinz Eugen?

2.) What would the outcome have been if the Lutzow had been present at the Battle of the Denmark Strait with the Bismarck or as a Bismarck/Lutzow/Prinz Eugen taskforce? Would the Prince of Wales also have been lost along with the Hood?

Thank you.

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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby Dave Saxton » Mon Feb 09, 2015 3:03 am

The main problem is lack of speed to operate in squadron with a fast battleship like the Bismarck. It would limit the squadron to about 25 knots max speed.

11" artillery won't be much more effective than 8" artillery against a well armoured opponant like the Prince of Wales. A panzerschiff also carries the protection of a heavy cruiser. It doesn't offer much better offensive capability than Prinz Eugen against a battleship, is just as vulnerable to damage, and slows down its consort in a Denmark St. type battle.
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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby Christian VII. » Thu Feb 12, 2015 4:56 am

Very interesting thread! Have been wondering the same myself :)

I've always wondered what would've happened had a Scharnhorst class heavy cruiser accompanied the Bismarck instead. At distances of up to 18,000 km I'd imagine that the Scharnhorst's guns would've had little trouble penetrating the PoWs belt.

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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby alecsandros » Thu Feb 12, 2015 12:11 pm

Christian VII. wrote:Very interesting thread! Have been wondering the same myself :)

I've always wondered what would've happened had a Scharnhorst class heavy cruiser accompanied the Bismarck instead. At distances of up to 18,000 km I'd imagine that the Scharnhorst's guns would've had little trouble penetrating the PoWs belt.

...mmm...
the 280mm/L55 gun could theoretically perforate 374mm of armor belt at 15km, but only in excellent conditions, which were almost impossible to attain during combat (a cumulation of factors leading to 0* obliquity)

Moreover, Prince of Wales main belt had a strong wood backing, the total effective protection probably surpassing 385mm of British CA.

===

But what is often left out is that Prince of Wales had thin armor protection in all non-vital volumes. In this scenario, Scharnhorst's artillery could damage any volume above-the-waterline from Prince of Wales, with the notable exception of main turrets, barbettes and ~ 2.5meters of hull protected by the main armor belt. That leaves the con tower, secondary artillery, funnellls, uptakes, the entire bow and stern sections, and all soft systems vulnerable to German gunfire.

Scharnhorst would be an interesting swap for PRinz Eugen. It woudl have much heavier armor than the heavy cruiser, longer range, and superior firepower.

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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby Dave Saxton » Thu Feb 12, 2015 3:08 pm

While 11" HE is more destructive than 8" HE, Scharnhorst was still under armed to take on a KGV. However, at North Cape the artillery officer did order a switch to AP ammuntion. A KGV's turrets and barbets could be defeated inside of about 18,000 yards with 11"/54 AP.

Scharnhorst class heavy cruiser


Although I'm sure you meant battle cruiser, the Scharnhorst, with the exception of under sized guns, was a full on battleship. The level of armour protection was heavy. It was not a traditional battle cruiser at all.
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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby Christian VII. » Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:19 am

alecsandros wrote:
Christian VII. wrote:Very interesting thread! Have been wondering the same myself :)

I've always wondered what would've happened had a Scharnhorst class heavy cruiser accompanied the Bismarck instead. At distances of up to 18,000 km I'd imagine that the Scharnhorst's guns would've had little trouble penetrating the PoWs belt.

...mmm...
the 280mm/L55 gun could theoretically perforate 374mm of armor belt at 15km, but only in excellent conditions, which were almost impossible to attain during combat (a cumulation of factors leading to 0* obliquity)

Moreover, Prince of Wales main belt had a strong wood backing, the total effective protection probably surpassing 385mm of British CA.

===

But what is often left out is that Prince of Wales had thin armor protection in all non-vital volumes. In this scenario, Scharnhorst's artillery could damage any volume above-the-waterline from Prince of Wales, with the notable exception of main turrets, barbettes and ~ 2.5meters of hull protected by the main armor belt. That leaves the con tower, secondary artillery, funnellls, uptakes, the entire bow and stern sections, and all soft systems vulnerable to German gunfire.

Scharnhorst would be an interesting swap for PRinz Eugen. It woudl have much heavier armor than the heavy cruiser, longer range, and superior firepower.



Perhaps Lutjens would've been less hesistant about allowing fire to be opened sooner as well then, knowing he had two battleships, and the British ships might have come under fire starting already at 25+ km. Then considering how accurate the gunnery of the Scharnhorst was when all its FC systems were working, I'd imagine this would've spelled doom for both British battleships.

9x 280mm guns are better than 8x 203mm guns anyday :)

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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby alecsandros » Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:53 am

Christian VII. wrote:
alecsandros wrote:
Christian VII. wrote:Very interesting thread! Have been wondering the same myself :)

I've always wondered what would've happened had a Scharnhorst class heavy cruiser accompanied the Bismarck instead. At distances of up to 18,000 km I'd imagine that the Scharnhorst's guns would've had little trouble penetrating the PoWs belt.

...mmm...
the 280mm/L55 gun could theoretically perforate 374mm of armor belt at 15km, but only in excellent conditions, which were almost impossible to attain during combat (a cumulation of factors leading to 0* obliquity)

Moreover, Prince of Wales main belt had a strong wood backing, the total effective protection probably surpassing 385mm of British CA.

===

But what is often left out is that Prince of Wales had thin armor protection in all non-vital volumes. In this scenario, Scharnhorst's artillery could damage any volume above-the-waterline from Prince of Wales, with the notable exception of main turrets, barbettes and ~ 2.5meters of hull protected by the main armor belt. That leaves the con tower, secondary artillery, funnellls, uptakes, the entire bow and stern sections, and all soft systems vulnerable to German gunfire.

Scharnhorst would be an interesting swap for PRinz Eugen. It woudl have much heavier armor than the heavy cruiser, longer range, and superior firepower.



Perhaps Lutjens would've been less hesistant about allowing fire to be opened sooner as well then, knowing he had two battleships, and the British ships might have come under fire starting already at 25+ km. Then considering how accurate the gunnery of the Scharnhorst was when all its FC systems were working, I'd imagine this would've spelled doom for both British battleships.

9x 280mm guns are better than 8x 203mm guns anyday :)


... Possibly.
Scharnhorst would also have better range, so it wouldn't be needed to separate her from Bismarck to refuel.

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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby RF » Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:02 pm

Alan Lawrey wrote:
Questions:

1.) I know the members of this forum are vastly more knowledgeable on this subject than I. Other than the planned June commerce raiding sortie with the Sheer, is there any other reason(s) that would have prevented the Lutzow from being with the Bismarck instead of the Prinz Eugen?


Speed - could Lutzow match the speed of Bismarck whilst running the Denmark Strait? Not at thirty knots, Bismarck would be constrained to about 26 knots maximum. I find it unlikely that Lutjens would accept such a scenario.

2.) What would the outcome have been if the Lutzow had been present at the Battle of the Denmark Strait with the Bismarck or as a Bismarck/Lutzow/Prinz Eugen taskforce? Would the Prince of Wales also have been lost along with the Hood?


The presence of Lutzow is likely to cause Holland to correctly identify his target, so that Hood opens fire on Bismarck. It is possible in such a scenario that Hood lands the first heavy hits, damaging Bismarck and preventing the fatal hit that finished Hood. That puts the odds more in favour of the RN. With the Germans speed restricted to the top speed of Lutzow it is unlikely Holland would have got out of position with the German squadron such that he was chasing after Lutjens on a parallel cause, facilitating the fatal run in - instead he could do as he intended, meet the Germans head on.

Would a three ship combo help Lutjens? Marginally in firepower yes - but if Hood survives by opening fire on the correct target, the advantage swings toward Holland. Especially if with the Germans speed restriction viz Lutzow, Wake-Walker quickly gets his two cruisers into the action.
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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby Thorsten Wahl » Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:55 pm

The PBs were designed for long range commerce raiding i.e. they had larger fuel oil capacity than the Prinze Eugen.


No, the Panzerschiffe had a smaller fuel oil capacity by about 300 tons compared to Hipper-class cruisers.
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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby RF » Fri Mar 06, 2015 8:24 pm

But they would still have a longer operational cruising range.
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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby Christian VII. » Sun Aug 09, 2015 12:38 am

Dave Saxton wrote:
Although I'm sure you meant battle cruiser, the Scharnhorst, with the exception of under sized guns, was a full on battleship. The level of armour protection was heavy. It was not a traditional battle cruiser at all.


Ah yes, of course :)

This extra armour would no doubt be an important factor had she accompanied BS at the Denmark St. as well.

I believe this might have spelled doom for the PoW as well, as it probably would've prompted Lütjens to allow his ships to open fire earlier, the Scharnhorst no doubt being more confidence inspiring than the Prinz Eugen.

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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby RF » Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:18 pm

Christian VII. wrote:I believe this might have spelled doom for the PoW as well, as it probably would've prompted Lütjens to allow his ships to open fire earlier, the Scharnhorst no doubt being more confidence inspiring than the Prinz Eugen.


This is certainly possible, though of course it was POW that broke off the action immediately after Hood was sunk. A better option might have been to have reversed course and attack the trailing two cruisers, which would have drawn POW back into the action.
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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby Christian VII. » Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:26 am

Do you believe PoW would've come back to help considering her state? I mean she was in pretty bad shape after the hits recieved by Bismarck & Prinz Eugen, and her turrets were malfunctioning pretty badly.

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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby RF » Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:50 pm

But POW's speed was hardly impaired, even with the under water hits, while the actual shell damage above waterline was superficial. The POW's speed and lack of obvious damage was given as Lutjen's reasons for not continuing the action.

POW did drop some speed to join up with Norfolk and Suffolk. Had Lutjens turned round to attack the cruisers the POW would be caught up with it, regardless of how fast it was moving. Leach's duty in breaking off the action until Tovey arrived was to provide heavy ship cover for Wake-Walker, who on the destruction of Hood became Leach's immediate superior officer.
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Re: Pocket Battleship with the Bismarck

Postby Christian VII. » Wed Aug 12, 2015 7:13 am

RF wrote:But POW's speed was hardly impaired, even with the under water hits, while the actual shell damage above waterline was superficial. The POW's speed and lack of obvious damage was given as Lutjen's reasons for not continuing the action.

POW did drop some speed to join up with Norfolk and Suffolk. Had Lutjens turned round to attack the cruisers the POW would be caught up with it, regardless of how fast it was moving. Leach's duty in breaking off the action until Tovey arrived was to provide heavy ship cover for Wake-Walker, who on the destruction of Hood became Leach's immediate superior officer.


I know her speed wasn't impaired, but her fighting capability was, which is what would worry me if I was in charge. Thus don't you think Norfolk & Suffolk would've simply been ordered to retreat if engaged? I mean considering the state of PoW's armament at this point, she probably wouldn't have been of much help.


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