While I believe that the the German system of protection was extremely effective at close range as you describe, there is historic evidence that the Germans themselves were more pessimistic.
Bismarck's draft increased by 1.3 meters at 53000 tonnes (extreme deep) from 45.5k tonnes (design). Given the underwater damage and counterflooding required to correct lists prior to the last battle, it seems reasonable that Bismarck was probably displacing somewhere between 52-55k tonnes at the start of the battle and somewhat more than this by the time Rodney closed the range. At 53k tonnes, only 1.7m of the main belt would be exposed above the waterline, and at 57k tonnes only about 1 metre of the main belt would be exposed, and this only represents a small fraction of average target height. At very close range, shells are unlikely to plunge when striking the water and given the gale force weather, shells with a trajectory that would carry them into the main belt are very likely to strike a wave prior to hitting the belt.The majority of the belt was located above the waterline (3.0/1.8 meters as designed, but 2.6/2.2 meters in practice), with the reasoning that shells are more likely to hit above than below the waterline.
delcyros wrote:How do You come to the conclusion that BISMARCK´s main belt was almost submerged? As far as I understand, it extended rather high above the designed waterline (even higher towards A- and D- turrets) and the flooding sustained more or less equalled the fuel and ammo weights spend before the final battle. Thus, it may be considered really difficult to see the main belt submerging unless more than 15,000ts water are inside the ship, equally distributed around the waterplan.
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