Bismarck Wreck: Main Gun Barrels

Anything concerning the wreck. Expeditions, submersibles, photos, etc.
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30knots
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Bismarck Wreck: Main Gun Barrels

Post by 30knots » Sat Dec 22, 2007 11:41 pm

Apologies if this has been posted before, but is there any evidence of the actual gun barrels of the main arnament (sp?). i means the actual barrels not the turret itself.

I've seen i think two different photos/video stills of the main turrets, both upside down

Have all 4 turrets been found ?

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Bill Jurens
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Gun Barrels

Post by Bill Jurens » Sun Dec 23, 2007 4:34 pm

The lower portions of some of the gun tubes close to the turret proper can be seen above the mudline on one or two of the turrets. All four turrets have been found.

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Post by 30knots » Mon Dec 24, 2007 5:06 pm

Thanks Bill.

Are you able to post any links to the images of the gun tubes ?

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Post by Bgile » Thu Dec 27, 2007 3:19 am

Were you able to indentify any shell damage to any of the turrets, or identify which ones they are?

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Gun turrets and gun tubes

Post by Bill Jurens » Thu Dec 27, 2007 5:06 am

I don't have any good images of the gun tubes at hand, although I could probably find something by plowing through five or six hours of videotape. Honestly, there is nothing much to be seen; one sees at best perhaps the upper (actually lower) quarter of the tube for a distance of perhaps six to ten feet out from the faceplate. The gun tube itself in this area just represents a lump in the sediment, partially uncovered. In one case the turret itself landed directly on a big sheet of shell plating, which wrapped itself around the front of the turret upon impact.

There are few situations that I can recall where one can see any remarkable damage to the turrets. One (or perhaps two) of the turrets had the tail hatches open, presumably opened by crewmembers evacuating. But exactly which turrets these are is somewhat doubtful. When and how the hatches were opened is somewhat doubtful, too.

The turrets have been tentatively identified by their positions on the bottom, where they form a more-or-less straight line (less one, which was apparently hit and pushed somewhat out of line by Bismarck while the main hull was sliding down the slope on the bottom). So one assumes the farthest forward in the line was Anton, etc.

Basically, though interesting enough to look at, the turrets themselves, all upside down and buried in bottom mud up to the base of the gunhous, are forensically unremarkable. One sees an awful lot of junk on the bottom around such wrecks, but few pieces -- perhaps 0.25% -- are of any significance historically or forensically. I doubt if any further significant discoveries are to be made even in the so-called "unexplored" debris fields. The lower rotating structures sometimes show interesting damage, but it's usually impossible to relate this to anything in particular as much of this damage was done when the turrets slid out of the barbettes.

Bill Jurens

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Post by hellomartin » Thu Dec 27, 2007 1:20 pm

Hi Bill,

do you know if there is a detailed survey of the debris field in existance? I have a number of photos of some fairly major pieces of debris which I am trying to identify.

best,

Martin French

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Post by Bgile » Thu Dec 27, 2007 4:36 pm

Bill,

At least one British account describes the back of one of the forward turrets being blown off. I believe this would have been a single large piece of steel and would have served as the counterweight to the guns, possibly causing the turret to tilt forward. Can you reject that claim, or is it impossible to see any part of the back of one of the forward turrets?

Steve

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Debris fields and Turret Backs

Post by Bill Jurens » Thu Dec 27, 2007 5:04 pm

There has been, so far as I know, no real attempt to map the debris fields. I don't think that such a survey would reveal anything of real value; even if one could identify and locate each piece in the debris field individually, it remains unclear -- at least to me -- exactly what useful information might be gleaned from that.

The ship was pounded on the surface for quite a while, and a fair amount of material was no doubt blown overboard (and scattered all over the place) during this phase, from both projectile and torpedo explosions. Later, as the ship capsized and sank, a very great deal of additional material detached itself and marked an area on the bottom which is probably directly under the actual sinking point. Later, as the ship struck the bottom and slid down the slope, a great deal of material -- mostly from the shell sides and bottom -- was detached. This, plus bottom impact damage, unfortunately erased or obscured much of the evidence regarding earlier torpedo hits.

I have not, in general, found debris field mapping to be very useful. The debris fields from Titanic, for example, reveal lots of interesting internal artifacts from the ship, but give only the broadest picture regarding her structural breakup. Someday, I would like to go over Hood's twin debris fields to see if I can determine -- confirm actually -- that one was due to the after magazine explosion, and the other was due to hull breakup as the ship plunged.

I do recall finding what appeared to be a complete turret back during the 2001 expedition, though I don't know if it has been relocated since. I have a vague recollection that one of the turrets we found on the bottom is missing a back as well, which would confirm eye-witness descriptions. Whether or not the loss of the backing plate would cause the turret to tip forward is problematical, the rotating structure goes down quite far inside the barbette, and would probably jam against the inside surface of same before much exterior tilt was evident. I'd have to check the engineering drawings of the turrets to see, and even then it would be very difficult or impossible to do more than a rough estimate of exactly what would end up bringing the tilt up short. If the turret tilted at all.

Hope this helps...

Bill Jurens

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To Martin French

Post by Bill Jurens » Thu Dec 27, 2007 5:14 pm

Hello Martin:

My general views on debris field analysis -- or attempts at same -- are given in the previous memo. That being said, if you would like to send me pictures of the items you are trying to identify, I might be able to help.
The ROVs give you a lot more bottom time than the MIRs do, which has allowed me, one way or another, to spend about 24 hours wandering -- sometimes more or less aimlessly -- around the wreck site.

My direct e-mail address is bjurens@shaw.ca

Bill Jurens

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Post by 30knots » Sat Dec 29, 2007 8:34 pm

Hello to all,

As the original poster, i must thank everyone and in particular Bill Jurens for some fascinating replies.
one sees at best perhaps the upper (actually lower) quarter of the tube for a distance of perhaps six to ten feet out from the faceplate.
Bill, i don't mean to be troublesome, but i've never seen an image of a main gun barrel, let alone one six to ten feet long. It would be wonderful if you could find what you describle again.

Martin, many thanks to you also. Is it possible for you to share the photos you have with us ?

Thanks for any replies

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No trouble at all...

Post by Bill Jurens » Sat Dec 29, 2007 10:23 pm

I think you may have misunderstood (which means that I did not write clearly enough...)

One does not see a gun barrel six to ten feet long, one sees a 'hump' in the mud -- and sometimes the actual exterior of the gun tube -- extending outward from six to ten feet from the faceplate. The rest of the tube is there (probably), it's just buried in the sediment.

We tended to circle around each barbette at least once or twice, looking for projectile damage. Most of the time, little or nothing was evident because the turret sides and roof were buried in the mud, and the rotating structure below was protected by the barbette itself until the ship turned over. I was looking for hits on the faceplates, but these are buried as well.

Bill Jurens

Bill Jurens.

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Post by 30knots » Sat Dec 29, 2007 10:55 pm

Bill,

Many thanks for your reply.

I think i understand now you have actually been there. Absolutely awesome.

Forgive me for using this quote thing but
one sees a 'hump' in the mud -- and sometimes the actual exterior of the gun tube -- extending outward from six to ten feet from the faceplate.
Do you have or can direct me to any images ?

Thanks for any replies

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hump in mud

Post by Bill Jurens » Sun Dec 30, 2007 2:44 am

I can try to find a couple of turret images, but it may take a while. The forward part of the turret was usually not very visually interesting, and so was passed over quite a bit.

Bill Jurens

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Post by hellomartin » Wed Jan 02, 2008 2:15 pm

Hi Bill,

Thanks for your comments. I can see that mapping the debris field probably has little historical use although, having been roaming around down there, I can imagine it would be helpful for future expeditions. I'm new to this site, what was your function during the 2001 expedition? Are you still involved in this work?

nb to you and 30 Knots, I will have to dig out my debris shots which are stored on another hard drive in another country. Will post them in a few weeks when I can get them.

best,

M

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My job in 2001

Post by Bill Jurens » Wed Jan 02, 2008 4:15 pm

I visited the wrecks of both Hood and Bismarck as part of the 2001 ITN expedtion to locate the wreck of Hood. I had, some years before, written and published a fairly long paper analyzing the loss of Hood, and in addition had edited and illustrated several paper on the loss of Bismarck. My status as a member Panel SD-7 (Marine Forensics) of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers helped as well. So, briefly speaking, I was the "Technical Expert" regarding construction and weapons effects. Eric Grove was the historical expert.

Bill Jurens

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