Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

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Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby Djoser » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:13 am

At the time, it probably seemed that releasing PE was the only way to save the ship. But isn't it also possible that keeping them together would have altered circumstances such that both ships escaped sinking?

I looked for a similar thread but didn't see one. My apologies if this has already been suggested in another thread...

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Re: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby Paul L » Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:32 am

On another forum the effectiveness of German naval flak was evaluated, albeit with limited samples...When they were on their game - the twin 4" flak in numbers was very effective at driving off enemy air attacks and some times very effective at shooting such attacks down. If the PE avoids the same problems of the Bismarck with poor training and mixed flak ; it can only boost the groups air defense to the point where no torpedo attacks are likely to succeed. But that would require much more training and time - pushing Operation Rheinübung months back into the Summer months.

http://forum.worldofwarships.eu/index.p ... ntry110778
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Re: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby alecsandros » Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:03 am

Paul L wrote:On another forum the effectiveness of German naval flak was evaluated, albeit with limited samples...When they were on their game - the twin 4" flak in numbers was very effective at driving off enemy air attacks and some times very effective at shooting such attacks down. If the PE avoids the same problems of the Bismarck with poor training and mixed flak ; it can only boost the groups air defense to the point where no torpedo attacks are likely to succeed. But that would require much more training and time - pushing Operation Rheinübung months back into the Summer months.

http://forum.worldofwarships.eu/index.p ... ntry110778

... separating the 2 ships was one of the catastrophic mistakes Lutjens made during the mission.

Prinz Eugen's presence would have made the torpedo attacks MUCH harder, because the 2 ships were very similar in appearance (thus causing confusion over which was the true Bismarck, much in the way Hood experienced on May 24th), and the PRinz added 12 x 105mm, 8x37mm guns and 12x20mm AA guns.

a lengthy discussion:
http://www.kbismarck.org/forum/viewtopi ... beb42f05fc

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Re: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby Francis Marliere » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:47 am

I don't think that separating Prinz Eugen would make "the torpedo attacks MUCH harder". The cruiser would not add so much flak IMHO : the 20 mm guns are too short-ranged, the 37 mm are useless, and the 105 mm ones would have very little engagement time due to the low visibility and would not shoot accurately because the ship is rolling in bad weather.
The probability that the Sworfishes attack the cruiser instead of the battleship are IMHO low, because the pilots see both ships at short range and see that one of them is longer and wider. Anyway, a torpedo hit on Prinz Eugen would be a very bad thing for the Germans.

Best,

Francis

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Re: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby Thorsten Wahl » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:45 am

Prinz Eugen AA artillery deals comparatively effective with aircraft attacks comparable to the attacks on Bismarck

The part of the squadron of Lt Cmdr Esmonde, that hit Bismarck, was completely shot down( three swordfish) by Prinz Eugen during the channel dash within a single attack using about fifty 10,5 cm shells at distances between 90 - 50 hm according war diary of Prinz Eugen. The comment on the performance of the AA firecontroleqipment was very short: FC equipment functioned well - as usual.

Additionally most people forget that Bismarck had incomplete AA firecontrolequipment, different AA mountings, that not completely fit the firecontrolequipment, and lacks of AA training.

So one has to conclude that Bismarck was the exception from the rule.
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Re: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby alecsandros » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:08 am

Thorsten Wahl wrote:Prinz Eugen AA artillery deals comparatively effective with aircraft attacks comparable to the attacks on Bismarck

The part of the squadron of Lt Cmdr Esmonde, that hit Bismarck, was completely shot down( three swordfish) by Prinz Eugen during the channel dash within a single attack using about fifty 10,5 cm shells at distances between 90 - 50 hm according war diary of Prinz Eugen. The comment on the performance of the AA firecontroleqipment was very short: FC equipment functioned well - as usual.

Additionally most people forget that Bismarck had incomplete AA firecontrolequipment, different AA mountings, that not completely fit the firecontrolequipment, and lacks of AA training.

So one has to conclude that Bismarck was the exception from the rule.


... Prinz Eugen also demonstrated effective AA fire on May 1942, at night, against formations of Blenheim torpedo bombers. Several were shot down by 105mm and 20mm gunfire.

... Scharnhorst, with armament comparable to Prinz Eugen, proved good shooting against incoming Swordfish, shooting down 3 (of a formation of 6) in June 1940.

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Re: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby alecsandros » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:10 am

Francis Marliere wrote:The probability that the Sworfishes attack the cruiser instead of the battleship are IMHO low, because the pilots see both ships at short range and see that one of them is longer and wider.

... in that visibility and under concentrated flak gunfire, a 212m ship and a 248m ship, with similar superstructres, are not that easily discernable, especialy at high speed and heavy manouvreing.

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Re: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby Francis Marliere » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:08 am

Gentlemen,

I would like to point out a few things.

First, AA fire is by definition umpredictable. There are sometimes 'average' results, but sometimes ships or fleets get unexpected good or bad results (such as the massacre of Betties attacking admiral Turner's ships off Guadalcanal in August 1942). IMHO, luck is an important part of AA fire.

Second, I doubt that Prinz Eugen light flak could be very effective. 20 mm guns had a very short effective range and were good for self defense, but not for the protection of other ships. German naval 37 mm guns were semi-automatic, and hence had a slow rate of fire (30 rpm) which made them almost useless. Please consider that ships not engaged by planes are notoriously bad shooters (according to Friedman, their effectiveness is reduced by 2/3) because their targets are far away and present a high deflection.

Then, as far as I understand things, the effectiveness of flak depends on the ship 'firepower' (number and quality of guns and directors), but also on the circumstances of the attack (sea state, visibility, axis of advance and speed of the attacking planes, etc.). In other words, I do not criticize the effectiveness of German naval flak in general, but just note that the circumstances of the attack on Bismarck were difficult. The low visibility limited the engagement time and sea state limited the accuracy of fire (because of the roll of the ship).

Best regards,

Francis Marliere

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Re: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby alecsandros » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:17 am

Francis Marliere wrote: The low visibility limited the engagement time and sea state limited the accuracy of fire (because of the roll of the ship).

Visibility during the Channel Dash was also very bad,
and during the night attack on May 1942 it was also bad.

German heavy ship AA gunfire (especialy 20mm and 105mm) was usualy effective. See also Tirpitz March 1942 battle with 18 Fairey Albacores (6 recon + 12 torpedo attack)

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Re: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby alecsandros » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:01 pm

"This time, however, the defence of the ship proved far less effective. The north-westerly wind had been increasing all day and was now blowing at Force 8; a considerable sea was running, with a heavy north-westerly swell, and the ship had begun to roll making gunlaying difficult. In addition the guns crews, who had been on almost continuous watch since “Bismarck” left Bergen, were becoming exhausted.

It has been stated by one prisoner, that one gun-layer operating a 10.5 cm. A/A gun suffered a sudden nervous collapse and temporarily lost his mind. Practically all remaining A/A ammunition was used up during this action
. The method of attack employed by the aircraft in approaching simultaneously from a number of points was most deadly. "

N.B.: It was the 4th attack that Bismarck suffered, and the 3rd suffered while alone (1st - Short Sunderland, 2nd - Swordfish from Victorious, 3rd - Catalina recon, 4th - Swordfish from Ark Royal)

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Re: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby Dave Saxton » Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:14 pm

Francis Marliere wrote: 20 mm guns had a very short effective range and were good for self defense, but not for the protection of other ships.


The German 20mm, particularly in the vierling, was more effective than corresponding Oerlikon 20mm weapons, or some 25mm-27mm weapons, and had a greater effective range. Not saying it was as greatly effective compared to significantly larger caliber weapons though.
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: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby Francis Marliere » Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:50 pm

alecsandros wrote:Visibility during the Channel Dash was also very bad,
and during the night attack on May 1942 it was also bad.


Visibility is only a part of the problem. Sea state and, as you wrote in another post, crew fatigue matter.
May 1942 is one year after the Bismarck raid. I guess that ships may have more experience and better gunnery radars.

alecsandros wrote:German heavy ship AA gunfire (especialy 20mm and 105mm) was usualy effective. See also Tirpitz March 1942 battle with 18 Fairey Albacores (6 recon + 12 torpedo attack)


I recall that Mark Horan once wrote something about the attack. If my memory is good, he pointed out that the Albacore were detected far away and the Tipitz ran away from them. Due to the low speed of the TB and the strong wing they faced, their progression toward their target was dramatically slow, giving a lot of time to the gunners to aim and shoot.

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Re: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby alecsandros » Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:13 pm

Francis Marliere wrote:
alecsandros wrote:Visibility during the Channel Dash was also very bad,
and during the night attack on May 1942 it was also bad.


Visibility is only a part of the problem. Sea state and, as you wrote in another post, crew fatigue matter.
May 1942 is one year after the Bismarck raid. I guess that ships may have more experience and better gunnery radars.


Sea state - yes, but crew fatigue and particularly ammo supply would be better off with the Prinz nearby. Because some targets would be dealt with by the cruiser, instead of draining all the attention and guns and ammo of the battleship...

It would also bring the possibility that the 1 torpedo hit from Victorious wouldn't have happened (owing to 2 targets instead of 1 and better available AA for the Germans), thus giving the Bismarck larger speed during the final Ark Royal attack (27kts instead of the 24kts achieved)
===
May 1942 - 1 year after Rheinubung
Fev 1942 - 9 months after Rheinubung.

I'm not trying to say that PRinz Eugen would have disposed of 3-4 Swordfishes by AA gunfire, but that the ship had good AA capability, and may have made a difference. Perhaps not as effective as 1 year later, but nonetheless, more effective then a single ship with 52 AA guns of 5 different configurations, with incomplete AA directors and non-existent torpedo-bomber training.

alecsandros wrote:German heavy ship AA gunfire (especialy 20mm and 105mm) was usualy effective. See also Tirpitz March 1942 battle with 18 Fairey Albacores (6 recon + 12 torpedo attack)


I recall that Mark Horan once wrote something about the attack. If my memory is good, he pointed out that the Albacore were detected far away and the Tipitz ran away from them. Due to the low speed of the TB and the strong wing they faced, their progression toward their target was dramatically slow, giving a lot of time to the gunners to aim and shoot.[/quote]
NOt only that, but the Tirpitz catapulted 2 x Arado 196 floatplanes, that engaged the Albacores. 3 Albacores were badly damaged by the Arados.

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Re: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby Dave Saxton » Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:18 pm

Francis Marliere wrote:
I recall that Mark Horan once wrote something about the attack. If my memory is good, he pointed out that the Albacore were detected far away and the Tipitz ran away from them. Due to the low speed of the TB and the strong wing they faced, their progression toward their target was dramatically slow, giving a lot of time to the gunners to aim and shoot.


What is over looked is that the torpedo aircraft approached hidden by low level clouds using ASV radar. Tirpitz did not have a long time to aim and shoot. It could locate the aircraft for range and bearing with radar, but not for height, so it could not shoot at them until they popped out of the clouds no more 1,000 meters away. The aircraft were able to use the weather gauge to obtain attack position without being shot at by Flak gunners at all. It essentially took TP's heavy and medium Flak out of the equation.
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: Prinz Eugen stays with Bismarck

Postby Paul L » Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:44 pm

If every one agrees that the German flak effectiveness would have been notably better [but maybe not enough to prevent all Swordfish attacks] , we can certainly agree that- At least- the lucky rudder hit on the Bismarck would be extremely unlikely with PE also providing flak fire.

So end result is PE and BS limp into Brest heavily damaged but more relieved than triumphant. Hitler will grudgingly admit the limited value of these missions and not divert the balance of the fleet to Norway for the duration of the war....at least not until next failure.
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