Range of Bismarck's guns

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kevin32422
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Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by kevin32422 »

I was curious of the range of the Bismarck's main guns and secondary guns in miles
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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by Bill Jurens »

Maximum ranges can be somewhat tricky to define, as they can vary depending upon atmospheric conditions, the direction the gun is fired (due to earth rotation effects), and gun wear, which slowly reduces initial velocity. Also, the range in miles can be measured in both statute miles (5280 feet) or nautical miles (around 6080 feet).

Very quickly, and using nominal figures, Bismarck's main battery as mounted could probably reach around 19.5 nautical miles, or 22.5 statute miles. (Range for this gun was larger when mounted in coastal defense mountings, as the angle of departure was increased. For coastal guns, the ranges would typically be around 22.66 nautical miles and 26.1 statute miles.)

The secondary battery as mounted could typically reach around 12.4 nautical miles or 14.3 statute miles.

Hope I did the math right...

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José M. Rico
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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by José M. Rico »

To be more precise, at 30º maximum elevation the range of the 38cm guns was 35,550 meters = 19.19 nautical miles.
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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by Kev D »

Gents, rather than intrude here I have posted a question elswhere on a specific gun range -http://www.kbismarck.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=9160

I wonder if any of you experts here would be kind enough to take a look please. :clap:
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A review of the situation at about 1100 was not encouraging.” Capt. Gordon, HMS Exeter. 1 March 1942
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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by spicmart »

Bismarck had guns with comparably small maximum range, Was that a disadvantage? What was the thought behind it?
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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by Thorsten Wahl »

Early in development of the 38 cm gun/turret they had to choose between a L/56 Gun with 865 m/s initial Velocity and 35 degrees elevation and the known gun.
Range 41 km.
Extra weight per turret required: 128 t.

Flight time for 820 m/s at maximum elevation 30 degrees was ~71 seconds.

Its no more a matter of firecontrol to hit anything that moves freely at this distance.
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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by José M. Rico »

spicmart wrote: Thu Nov 04, 2021 3:42 am Bismarck had guns with comparably small maximum range, Was that a disadvantage? What was the thought behind it?
No disadvantage at all.
Scharnhorst guns had a maximum range of 40,930 meters at 40º elevation, and the longest hit ever obtained against a moving target at sea was from 24,000 meters.
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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by hans zurbriggen »

Hello all,
I agree. Even with an unfavorable 10° list of the whole ship, the actual gun had a max range of around 28 km, more than enough to fight.

hans
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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by José M. Rico »

Keep in mind that the German 38cm shells followed very low trajectories and there was really no need to increase the maximun elevation of the guns; that would have required larger openings in the turrets. For comparison purposes, the British 14-inch gun needed a +40º elevation to reach the same distance as the German 38cm at 30º.
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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by HMSVF »

Isn't a better question "what was Bismarck's effective gunnery range"? I mean hell yeah, you can elevate up to maximum elevation and fire 40000 yards or so but are you going to hit anything?

Seeing as the guns are part of a system doesn't it come down to how far the whole system could track and effectively range a target? The guns of 1900 could probably shoot 12'000 -15'000 yards +. They wouldn't have hit anything though as they lacked the complex fire control to do so.

And that's before you take into account the weather, temperature etc?
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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by RF »

José M. Rico wrote: Fri Nov 05, 2021 2:34 am
No disadvantage at all.
Scharnhorst guns had a maximum range of 40,930 meters at 40º elevation, and the longest hit ever obtained against a moving target at sea was from 24,000 meters.
Was that the hit on the flight deck of HMS Glorious?
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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by hans zurbriggen »

Hello Mr. RF,
there are two hits very close (also for their date) in this 'competition':
1) Scharnhorst's 28 cm hit on June 8, 1940 against HMS Glorious
2) HMS Warspite 15" hit on July 9, 1940 against Giulio Cesare
both were obtained from around 24,200 meters, in perfect visibility conditions, during a stern chase with almost constant range.

hans
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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by Bill Jurens »

I'll take these figures as written, thought it's worth noting that it's generally quite difficult to hit an end-on target in a stern chase, much easier to hit a broadside target at the same range. So, had targets been broadside, hits at longer ranges might have been expected.

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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by hans zurbriggen »

Hello Mr. Jurens,
you are right in theory: in paractice, it is unlikely that a broadside battle is fought from 24 km distance (time of flight from 40 to 55 sec), due to approach or disengagement courses from at least one of opponents and common tactics. Range changes are seriously diminishing probability of hits.

hans
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Re: Range of Bismarck's guns

Post by Bill Jurens »

Tactical issues indeed. So long as the firing ship is engaging off the beam or nearly so, getting a good solution on a target ship on any approaching constant course and speed -- which is the most likely case -- should be relatively straightforward. (the target ship usually remains on a steady course and speed because he's trying to set up a fire control solution, too. This is less likely the case with smaller units like destroyers, which would not likely be trying to shoot back anyway.) In any case, it's always the ship firing over the bow or stern, or nearly so, that's at a disadvantage. The number of guns engaging tends to be smaller, which makes patterns more difficult to spot, and the fire control system usually has to deal with trunnion tilt as well.

I suspect, but only suspect, that in a 'one-on-one' engagement with capital ships -- fairly rare tactically in any case -- if the enemy were approaching, I'd maneuver to keep him on my beam -- crossing one's own T in a single ship engagement represents no disadvantage -- and fire away. If the enemy were disengaging, I'd probably consider doing the same, i.e. keep him on my beam and engage until he ran out of range, as my chances of hitting for a short time while firing abeam might be better than firing for a long time while over the bow. Unless I were faster, and could overhaul the target fairly quickly. In that sort of case, it might be better to close range and proceed on parallel courses beam-to-beam.

If the enemy is 'running' -- i.e. proceeding directly away, in most cases it would take him some time to haul out of effective range anyway. If he disengages at (say) 20000 yards at 30 knots, it would still take him ten minutes to get out to 30,000 yards. During that interval, assuming two salvos per minute, I could -- at least in theory -- put out twenty full salvos. With a fairly good chance of hitting him at least once or twice.

But, of course, it's a stochastic process, and an awful lot depends on what amounts to purely statistical variations, i.e. luck.

Bill Jurens
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