bismark-after torpedo hit

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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by Bill Jurens » Fri Apr 09, 2021 5:23 pm

deleted duplicate post from myself

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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by Bill Jurens » Fri Apr 09, 2021 5:24 pm

As a general rule, ships of that era were simply not designed to steam astern at any significant speed at for any significant time, so it's simply not a 'design case'. Basically, why would anybody want to do that? Even tugs, which spent a lot of time under astern power, never used that as any sort of regular steaming maneuver.

Most astern work was (and still in) done when maneuvering in port, where there is little need (or desire) to build up significant speed, and the distances to be traversed astern are really quite small. With new variable-pitch propellers and azipods, this sort of lengthy astern work is probably more practical -- if it were required -- but none of this was available during the 1940s, when astern work even in port often required tugs alongside.

Basically, if it could have been done, lengthy high-power astern work it would have been employed somewhere somehow on a fairly regular basis, or at least mentioned in various manuals of seamanship, etc., but it wasn't. Usually, these deal only with the loss of a rudder or propeller, and even then few seem to suggest that travelling astern for any distance or at any significant speed is something to even be considered in solving the problems. It was, more-or-less, always 'call a seagoing salvage tug'.

Not practicable for Bismarck.

The idea that the Luftwaffe could have somehow protected Bismarck seems, at least to me, rather far-fetched as well. Operating near their maximum range, German aircraft would have very little 'loiter time' over Bismarck, which is what is needed to intercept attackers who have the great advantage of being able to get in at a time of their choice, and get out afterwards. In other words, attackers don't have to 'loiter' at all. In any case, the British probably had enough resources in the form of submarines, torpedo-boats, destroyers, and cruisers to have kept up torpedo attacks all the way to the coast of France, and Bismarck almost certainly would have been hit again (and again) during this process. The main problem was that no matter what Bismarck could (or could not) do, she really only represented one ship faced with coming to terms with a substantial portion of the entire Royal Navy, who had more than enough resources to expend to destroy her, including taking fairly significant losses to gain the prize.

I think, overall, Bismarck was doomed before she even engaged Hood and Prince of Wales. Once she got into the Atlantic, operating alone or nearly so, the British would have tracked her down and destroyed her in one way or another anyhow.

Just my opinion(s)

Bill Jurens

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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by wadinga » Fri Apr 09, 2021 5:51 pm

Hello RF,

If the bulkheads had been watertight as they were in the American ships, the flooded bow dropping off HMAS Sydney would have been a good thing for the survival of the rest of the ship. More likely is the rest of the shot-riddled ship sank, tragically taking the entire crew with her, and the bow tore off as she went down, since the segments are so close together on the bottom. Although wind and sea were apparently pretty calm there is no indication Sydney could have beneficially "backed towards" anywhere.

There are quite a few photos on the web of the US ships underway travelling forwards with no bows. Travelling astern anywhere is a non-starter even if the front of the ship is missing. New Orleans' damage report is at

https://www.history.navy.mil/research/l ... tno38.html

All the best

wadinga
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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by Bill Jurens » Fri Apr 09, 2021 8:21 pm

Actually, now that I think about it more, there was one set of cases where ships were expected (rarely) to operate astern. Some early U.S. Navy aircraft carriers were, for a brief time, equipped with arresting gear forward as well as aft, the idea being that if damage to the flight deck occurred aft, they could steam astern and land aircraft over the bow.

This was, apparently tried, and worked, several times, but insofar as the idea seems to have been rapidly abandoned thereafter (along with hangar-deck catapults), it apparently didn't work too well.

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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by wadinga » Sat Apr 10, 2021 9:53 am

Hello Bill and all,

I'm sure I've seen a photo of a reversing US carrier, but as you point out it's an emergency conditions technique. Also we are talking about a four shaft installation and a fully operational rudder set fore and aft to increase "deadwood" , not to mention minimised windage as the carrier would be steaming stern into wind to recover aircraft.

Lutjens had kept out of trouble for a lengthy period just a couple of months earlier with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, but getting spotted and shadowed so early made continuing the mission questionable, and hindsight really says "cutting the losses" and aborting early would have been the best idea. Even so, after the navigation blunder which effectively put Tovey out of the game, the pure luck of a terminal disabling of Bismarck's steering is the only thing that stopped her getting away to comparative safety. She might have shrugged off a hit elsewhere on her hull.

An alternate history of three German battleships in France belongs elsewhere , I think.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by HMSVF » Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:55 pm

wadinga wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 9:53 am
Hello Bill and all,

I'm sure I've seen a photo of a reversing US carrier, but as you point out it's an emergency conditions technique. Also we are talking about a four shaft installation and a fully operational rudder set fore and aft to increase "deadwood" , not to mention minimised windage as the carrier would be steaming stern into wind to recover aircraft.

Lutjens had kept out of trouble for a lengthy period just a couple of months earlier with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, but getting spotted and shadowed so early made continuing the mission questionable, and hindsight really says "cutting the losses" and aborting early would have been the best idea. Even so, after the navigation blunder which effectively put Tovey out of the game, the pure luck of a terminal disabling of Bismarck's steering is the only thing that stopped her getting away to comparative safety. She might have shrugged off a hit elsewhere on her hull.

An alternate history of three German battleships in France belongs elsewhere , I think.

All the best

wadinga

With the benefit of hindsight perhaps...

But the whole idea of sending a battleship out to support a commerce raid is seriously flawed. Yes Lutjens pulled it off with the twins,but he was under instructions not to get involved with RN capital ships. As a result the near misses were nothing more than that. It was 1941 not 1914. The 3 dimensional war of the 40's was completely different to the 2 (but mostly 1) dimensional conflict of WW1.

Even if she had come up against an "R" there was always the risk that she would take a hit that effectively missioned killed her or worse impeded her being able to get home. I am not for one minute saying that an "R" class BB could defeat Bismarck - it would be a murder, however any damage Bismarck receives is far more critical when you a hundreds of miles from home.

Perhaps Bismarck could have reversed at a snails pace towards France...

She wasn't designed to reverse for hundreds of miles. I cannot imagine that it would have been anything but detrimental to her machinery. It wasn't designed to do that. Warped blades? lack of feed water, condensenteritis ?

She possibly could have made Luftwaffe range . Then what ? say you can get 109's over the Bismarck.


For how long? 5 mins? 10 mins ? In the Battle of Britain the fighters had an inordinately short time over England.


The bombers? Well they have to locate the RN,survive, bomb and give a reliable position to any further strikes. Again,this relies entirely on a benign Britain not coming up with equally desperate measures. The RAF had a pretty poor record of hitting ships at sea. Would they miss an already damaged ship steaming backwards at anywhere between 4 and 7 knots? Id suggest that the probability is against.

And even if she could steam in reverse for a prolonged time with a damaged rudder...


Would it be linear? I doubt it. More likely a haphazard zig zag at a snails pace.


Just my musings.



Best wishes HMSVF

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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by hans zurbriggen » Sun Apr 11, 2021 7:53 am

Hello Mr. Jurens,
I see your point but "loiter time" depends on Bismarck distance from France. Under 300 sm (where Bismarck would have been sailing astern at 7-9 knots during the night), Bf110 fighters would have 1 hour loiter time over Bismarck (even without extra fuel tanks), under 150 sm even Bf109 would have the same.
Possibly a new attack from Ark Royal was feasible at dawn, but could Bismarck withstand another couple small Swordfish torpedoes ?
The matter is how many fighters Göring would have made available for her protection.

Hello HMSVF,
A-S-H explicitly mentions experts stating Bismarck plant was designed to sustain 9 knots astern motion for long time.
In case his thoery worked, RN could still try to prevent Bismarck to reach France, but only sacrificing the battleships making them sitting ducks under U-boot and bombers attacks (Churchill would have done so, Tovey I am unsure). No way to cripple in daylight a ship whose heavy armament is fully operational with "light" forces only (see destroyers in the night), under menace of Luftwaffe attacks. RAF was out of game once Bismarck was under Luftwaffe umbrella (at least until fighters are in flight continuously, please consider we are in 1941, not in 1944, no matter how many resources RN and RAF were ready to sacrify) and would have to wait for a "surprise" attack (when Bismarck is in St.Nazaire dock).

I agree with Mr.Wadinga: the rudder hit sealed Bismarck fate, there were not many other chances to slow or stop her (Tovey concluded the same).

The key point is still whether A-S-H theory for keeping astern 110° course stable could work or not.

hans

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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by paul.mercer » Sun Apr 11, 2021 9:34 am

Hi Hans,
You stated: A-S-H explicitly mentions experts stating Bismarck plant was designed to sustain 9 knots astern motion for long time.
That's as maybe, but not in a gale and a heavy sea with her rudder jammed.
As I and several others have said before, once she was hit in the rudder she was doomed, there was no way that the RN were going to let her go anywhere but down and all the theories put forward to get her steaming in a straight line (including tugs and the supposed cover from the Luftwaffe) were never going to save her

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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by wadinga » Sun Apr 11, 2021 10:21 am

Hello Hans,

Paul's point is unanswerable:
You stated: A-S-H explicitly mentions experts stating Bismarck plant was designed to sustain 9 knots astern motion for long time.
That's as maybe, but not in a gale and a heavy sea with her rudder jammed.
Her turbines may indeed have been capable of operating astern for some hours, but they were surely not designed to support such an operating mode, because as Bill has pointed out at length with extensive explanation, ships do not sail astern for any distance and almost always only at slow speed when manoeuvring in a sheltered harbour location.

There are apparently no examples where such a technique has been used, even with undamaged steering, whereas the instances of ships with destroyed bows proceeding forwards, despite the risks of catastrophic bulkhead collapse and thus rapid loss of the vessel are common. Such an option would only be chosen because the "sailing home astern option" was a known non-starter, even with operational steering.

You have observed:
Has anyone seen any published reaction/counter-study to this article ?
Well I would say observations here, by a qualified marine engineer who has visited and documented the wreck site and recently co-authored a landmark study on Bismarck, pretty much dismisses it. Is that not good enough? It would be interesting to find out if there was a response in the professional journal where A S-H published his theory. Maybe potential commenters at that time were "diplomatic" enough to let this pipe dream concept dissipate in the breeze.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Sun Apr 11, 2021 2:37 pm

The astern turbines on board Bismarck were rated for 190 shaft RPM at the cost of full power steam consumption.

270 shaft RPM forward were good for ~30kn.
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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Sun Apr 11, 2021 2:37 pm

The astern turbines on board Bismarck were rated for 190 shaft RPM at the cost of full power steam consumption.

270 shaft RPM forward were good for ~30kn.
Meine Herren, es kann ein siebenjähriger, es kann ein dreißigjähriger Krieg werden – und wehe dem, der zuerst die Lunte in das Pulverfaß schleudert!

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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by wadinga » Sun Apr 11, 2021 2:52 pm

Hello Thorsten,

You are always an excellent source of original material. Is there any indication of what speed astern Bismarck achieved during trials by deploying 190 RPM on her props, which were designed around forward motion?

All the best

wadinga
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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Sun Apr 11, 2021 5:40 pm

double post
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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by paul.mercer » Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:25 am

Gentlemen,
Out of interest as Bismarck's rudders were jammed and she could only steam in a large circle, if she had tried to steam in reverse would she not just go around in the opposite direction and not in a straight line?
Also, if tugs had got to her surely she would have constantly been tying to veer off to one side, putting an enormous strain on one of the tugs which would have also been battling heavy sea conditions?

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Re: bismark-after torpedo hit

Post by RF » Mon Apr 12, 2021 1:04 pm

I believe that the Robert Ballard expedition which found Bismarck established that the rudder was not merely ''jammed'' but had been blown back by the force of the torpedo detonation to the attaching keel plate, and was wrapped around it, which was why it couldn't be freed.

I am not a naval engineer but that would sound more like a ship without a rudder rather than one that was jammed - so the only opportunity to steer that could be possible would lie with the propellers, which we are told Bismarck would be unable to do even in calm waters?
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