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After sinking HMS Hood, Bismark finishes off PoW, and returns to Germany?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by Shadow Master, Feb 7, 2009.

  1. Kevin Kenneally

    Kevin Kenneally Member

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    I believe if the Germans were able to sink the PoW after the Hood, the British Admiralty would have forced the RAF to find and bomb the Bismarck at whatever port she was in. The Admiralty would of taken BBs from the Med to compensate for the loss of these two vessels. The convoy coverage and routes would definitely be directed further to the south, and take much longer to reach the British Islands.
     
  2. Flamer88100

    Flamer88100 Dishonorably Discharged

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    the bismark was sunk by the HMS Rodney and the HMS King George V after a Catalina flying boat spotted it less than eight hundred miles from the french coast. the rest of the british fleet headed home because they were running low on fuel. fairey Swordfish biplanes torpedoed the bismark but it was the two brave navy ships which sunk it.

    I hope this helped.
    Flamer88100:fire1:
     
  3. Laurie Krause

    Laurie Krause recruit

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    I doubt that Bismarck (with a c in the spelling) could have dealt with POW. History shows that German Naval Shells were prone to fail to explode. During the action with POW Bismarck struck her with 4 shells of which only 1 partially detonated as it exited the bridge structure. Prinz Eugen put an 8" shell into one of POW's 5.25" shell handling rooms. It bounced around until it came to rest on the floor. A poor return for 7 hits. POW withdrew because of turret breakdowns.

    In the final action Bismarck fought she hit KGV with a 5.9" shell which failed to detonate. It was thrown overboard.

    In Scharnhorst's last action with the Duke of York she hit the british battleship twice, both shells failing to detonate.

    Has anyone any thoughts on this problem? Faulty fuses maybe.

    Scharnhorst.
     
  4. Hilts

    Hilts Member

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    That's a relief! What a horrible thought, The German navy finishing off a prisoner of war................:eek: :eek: :eek:

    Some people eh..........? :rolleyes:
     
  5. ULITHI

    ULITHI Ace

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    It would be interesting to see how the Germans would have used Bismarck if this happened.

    If it was successfully repaired at Brest or another French port, I think her fate would have probably sooner or later ended up the same, as evident of the Kriegsmarines other "big guns".

    What if the Kriegsmarine decided to use the Bismarck as a destraction or decoy as they kind of used the Tirpitz?

    Where might be a good place to keep her? Imagine the trouble the Royal Navy would have trying to guard Bismarck somewhere in the Baltic, Tirpitz in Norway, and Scharnhorst, Geneisenau, and Prinz Eugen in Brest (asuming they did not make the channel dask).

    Looking back now, would it be worth the Germans using the capital ships in this way?
     
  6. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Only about one in ten German heavy naval shells detonated right from what evidence we have. The reason for this most likely lies in two areas:

    1. The design and testing of the fuze was inadequite. The Germans lack a naval artillery range on land like the US or British had where shells could be fired at full velocity under near actual engagement conditions and subsequently recovered to see if they worked.

    2. Poor choices in explosive filler materials that led to partial detonations rather than a full detonation.

    The KM was simply saddled with being the step-child of the German military. That is, they didn't get the kind of attention the Heer did in terms of materials testing and facilities. Much of their equipment, including alot of their ordinance, was simply navalized Heer weapons.
     
  7. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I expect the Germans would be tempted to try further battleship operations in the Atlantic. Thus far they would have done two: Scharnhorst and Gneisenau roaming the seas for two months and getting safely into port, and Bismarck sinking two capital ships, although she would have abandoned her mission for the moment. She might be ready for action again about the time Tirpitz became operational.

    It also seems likely that Bismarck might have returned to Germany. Historically Lutjens continued west from the Denmark Strait for two reasons. It was his assigned mission, and he was breaking away from not just PofW but two heavy cruisers, four destroyers, and whatever might be over the horizon. It took time to appreciate that the damage Bismarck had suffered required her to run for port. If she stayed around to finish off PofW, probably taking a few more hits in the process, heading straight home might be attractive. Gneisenau had already been both torpedoed and bombed in Brest, and would be under repair for the rest of the year, so the French ports were not necessarily a safe haven.

    Hopefully they would appreciate just how lucky they had been, with the hit on Hood and with Prince of Wales being not fully ready for combat.

    Presumably the British would still sweep up most of the German supply ships in the following month or so. Ironically, the viability of battleship operations might depend upon the humble tankers.

    As mentioned earlier, the British would keep up their bombing efforts. German or Baltic ports were at the limit of Bomber Command's capabilities in 1941, but they could at least keep the Brest prong of the German offensive suppressed. In the event that Bismarck ended up in France, there would be a massive effort directed against her.

    While the Royal Navy would be short on fast modern capital ships, they had several older ones that could stand up to Bismarck or Tirpitz: Nelson, Rodney, and the reconstructed Warspite, Valiant, and Queen Elizabeth. I would expect several of these to be concentrated in Home Fleet where they could try to intercept a German sortie. The latter two might be replaced by older ships in the Med; fortunately the Italian fleet was not very enterprising. One odd consequence is that the frogmen who penetrated Alexandria harbor in November 1941 might find themselves sinking a couple of old Rs.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    One has to be careful extrapolating from such a small data set. For one thing duds were fairly common across all navies. In the case of Bismarcks main artillery if we look at the hits on POW the underwater hit could not have occured had the shell gone high order. Furthermore fuze failures are fairly common when shells impact water. The one that went through her bridge may indeed have gone high order but the delay time simply did not allow it to detonate within the bridge area. Furthermore it may not have hit enough of substance to initiate the fise in any case. According to:
    H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood–The History of H.M.S. Hood: The Battle of the Denmark Strait Documentation Resource, Battle Damage Sustained by H.M.S. Prince of Wales, 24 May 1941
    one of the others (the one that hit the crane) detonated. So of the 4 hits. 1 should not have been expected to detonate, 1 clearly detonated, and another probably detonated, and one failed to detonate. Not strong evidence for the Germans having unusual problems with these shells.
     
  9. judge death

    judge death Member

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    Interesting thread^^ About one of my all time fave battleships. RIP Bismarck and her crew and to the ones on Hood.

    If we say it is the 24 May 1941 and the hood sinks and Lutjens decides to abort the raid into the Atlantic and goes after the Prince of wales when she is trying to escape: Bismarck with its higher speed and long range guns could easily had catched up with her and sink her and even Prince Eugen could had done some damage. Prince of Wales guns was disabled and malfunctioned and couldn't fight back, could use some smoke screens but Bismarck would easily find her with the higher speed. Although Bismarck got 3 hits from Prince of wales and her speed is reduced with one or two knots. So I presume Prince of wales get sunk very easily by the Bismarck and they enter radio silence after they report what they plan to the Kreigsmarine.

    After the battle the British navy lose the contact with her and since they had already sent out their ships to the areas of north of the British isles below island and to the Greenland straight the waters of Norway is empty of battleships. Plus the British must find the Bismarck and guess what her move is:
    1: go into the Atlantic or south Atlantic.
    2: Go to France and the ports there which the British thought is most likely
    3: The ship returns to Germany or Norway but way does she take then?

    Since the British believes the ship takes the closest route to France they send the ships that way and most scout planes that way. While Bismarck takes the route south of Iceland and avoids the small cruisers which Had followed her in the Greenland way without being spotted and after refueling go along the coast with luftwaffe doing air support, returns to the German port in the Baltic sea. The british Tirpitz and the ships in France: Send bombers to damage the or sink it(at least try) ship. But as with scharnhorst and the other ships in France it accomplice very little damage. Royal navy wouldnt try to attack the port since the luftwaffe is superior here and have domination of the air. Maybe some special u boat luftwaffeut Bismarck is protected from torpedoes and wont be sunk by that or demolition charges but damaged and have to repair it for a longer time.

    But what shall Bismarck do then?
    The kriegsmarine have two options:
    1: Send the Bismarck and Tirpitz and Prinz Eugen with a pocket battleship and some cruisers to the Atlantic again and thegoal would be to reach France. With that firepower they posses and many ships not many ships in the royal navy can compete with them and would take a big fleet to take them on. Plus This time the radar of the Bismarck and air cannons is fixed and the radar will work and withstand the shell shock from Bismarck's own cannons. Plus making it even better at getting hits on the enemies. If they get to France they will have Scharnhorst and Gneisenau as well and then it will take the british an enormous fleetScharnhorstve a Gneisenau winning a battle against them. Thebritish cannons and fire control etc was superior tot he british which admiral graf spee showed in her battle with 3 cruisers in 1939. But on a strategic level the fate of the surface fleet would had been the same as it went in reality: Bomb raids and out numbered they would had been sunk or been at a port the rest of the war and they would not be able to stop the convoys.

    2: Repair the ship and send it with the tirpitz to the Russian front and destroy the Russian fleet of Leningrad and give fire support to the army group north and maybe even help them take the city in 1941. And then be in German ports the rest of the war. Would had been the best option I think.

    Whatever happened: the surface ships of Germany would not be able to stop the allied fleets and get lost to the sea, if they choose as Hitler did or they go out with all ships in 1943 and gives the allied fleet a big masHitlerore getting sunk since they knew the ships wont do anything good and will probably be sunk by british and American bombers in 1944 or 45.
     
  10. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    Bismarck didn't have any speed advantage over PoW, who had already scored two underwater hits on Bismarck.
    Battleships do not get sunk easily. Bismarck herself proved that.
    I have often wondered how things might have gone differently if the KM had focused its strength in the Baltic, which was the one sector where the Germans could dominate in a Mahanian sort of way. Could the push toward Leningrad have been accelerated? Take Kronshtadt?
     
  11. judge death

    judge death Member

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    According to the facts from some books the top speeds of the ships is:
    Prince of wales: 28 knots but some of the people on board said it was 29 knots.
    Bismarck: 30 Knots but the crew claimed they reached 31,1 under the voyge to the atlantic.
    But that is what I have heard, can be wrong but from what most sources claim is that Bismarck was fastest ship, but due to the damage they had to slow down with 2 knots so her speed should been 29 knots then. Prince of wales was damaged as well so I doubt she could reach her top speed either plus her main arnament isnt working. But you are welcomed to tell me other vice if I´m wrong. :)

    But since Prince of wales was in reach of the cannons of the Bismarck when they decided to lay a smoke screen, Bismarck and Prince eugen would just have to follow and still be able to hit the ship with the forward cannons.
    Isn´t sure how well designed and protected the Georg V class battleship was but I doubt the ship would had survived against a following Bismarck and Eugen and cant fight back either.

    Although it is interesting to discuss what if. :p

    I agree on the plan with the baltic, I think it is very likely that they could had taken leningrad then, Army group north needed heavy guns to bring the town down under the siege and bismarck and tirpitz would had been perfect for it since the rail guns in the south in the crimea didnt ever got sent to leningrad by some strange decision not to.
     
  12. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    As new, Bismarck probably had a couple knots more than PoW, but after PoW damaged her with two underwater hits, the realities changed.
    The armor for PoW's hull was very good. Her main battery armor was okay, much better than Bismarck's. The armor for PoW's steering gear was a bit sub-par. Ironically, Bismarck had some of the best steering gear protection among all European battleships.
    Bismarck and PoW traded a few shots after the main battle, firing at extremely long range (~30,000 yards). The Germans gave up quickly, but PoW managed to land a straddle or two.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    There have been extensive discussions on both this topic as a whole and the speed issue over on the Kbismarck forum. I believe Bismarck had to reduce speed well under max for damage control shortly after the battle and then was somewhat limited as to her full speed after that. Fuel was also a factor as one of POW hits cut off a significant amount of fuel and running at high speed tends to burn a lot. There's also the fact that if Bismarck tries to overtake POW she'll only be able to use her forward batteries and then firing directly forward is not the best of situations.
     
  14. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    "Trunnion tilt" is the term referring to what happened when a ship fires ahead or astern. The ship's side-to-side roll causes a see-saw effect on the axis that the guns elevate on. This greatly complicates the gunnery-control challenge. If you remember in World War I, British battlecruisers at the Falklands battle fired many shots at the German armored cruisers they were chasing but scored only a few hits. Trunnion tilt was an important factor there.
     
  15. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Sunk very easily?
    Sunk - perhaps. I doubt it would be "easy"

    Huh? RAF bombers did very little damage?
    You need to do a little more reading on this. :rolleyes:


    Let's review:
    Gneisenau
    22 Mar 1941, The 2 battlecruisers arrive in Brest.
    6 April 1941 -hit by an RAF torpedo, heavily damaged.
    10/11 April 1941 -struck by 4 bombs, 88 killed, out of action until Dec 1941

    Scharnhorst
    Jan/Feb 1941 - Persistant engine troubles, in need of refit
    22 Mar 1941, The 2 battlecruisers arrive in Brest.
    July - Completed refit at Brest, sailed 21 July 1941 down to La Pallice (near Rochelle) for training & trials
    24 July 1941 - Hit by 5 bombs, extensive flooding, damage to bulkheads & ammo hoists.
    (2 of the 1,000 lb AP bombs failed to detonate, but passed completely through the ship and out the bottom, was flooded by 3,000 tons of water)
    25 July 1941 - ship limped back to Brest, and out of action until Jan 1942

    11 Feb 1942 - Gneisenau left Brest on the "Channel Dash". Due to poor weather & heavy Luftwaffe cover RAF failed to damage the ships, but
    Gneisenau hit a mine with minor damage.
    26 Feb 1942 - While in drydock at Kiel, RAF launches major attack on the Gneisenau , a bomb detonates in the magazine, "A" turret destroyed, 116 killed, bow blown off. Gneisenau's wartime maritime carrer is over

    11 Feb 1942 - Scharnhorst left Brest on the "Channel Dash". Due to poor weather & heavy Luftwaffe cover RAF failed to damage the ships, but
    Scharnhorst hit 2 (air dropped) mines with major damage, flooding, turrets & turbines damaged, 2 shafts inoperable. Out of action until Aug 1942


    So far from "very little damage" from bombing, Scharnhorst was continuously out of action from Mar 1941 - Aug 1942 due to RAF air attacks, with the Gneisenau out of action as well and gone for good by Feb 1942.
    So even if the Bismarck does make it to France they wont "have Scharnhorst and Gneisenau", as these ships are not seaworthy, and the Bismarck would likely share the same fate.
     
  16. judge death

    judge death Member

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    Tiornu: Thanks for the facts. Hmm would need to find some data of how much slower Bismarck became after the battle. According to James camerons documentary they slowed down the ship with ca:2-3 knots due to the water filled compartments the Prince of wales hit and also leaks fuel which the british follows after the battle. But if we go after your version then Bismarck wouldnt had been able to fight the prince of wales anymore after its get out of the cannons reach. So yes, you are correct thewn I think. :) Yes, much harder to hit then as well when going full speed and only use the forwards cannons as the ship roles side to side. But prince of wales and hood showed they can be somewhat very accurate anyway with the fire. But a crossed T is always better.

    lwd: I agree.

    freebird: In my view a ship which cant shot back is relative easy. According to the books and documentaries I have seen Prince of wales cannons didnt work after the battle but was later fixed but it would take some hours to fix and in battle that is an eternity.

    Thanks for the info. :) No need to be sarcastic ;)
    Have heard most of those damages but most of them I rank as light or medium, but this one:
    26 Feb 1942 - While in drydock at Kiel, RAF launches major attack on the Gneisenau , a bomb detonates in the magazine, "A" turret destroyed, 116 killed, bow blown off. Gneisenau's wartime maritime carrer is over
    I would rank this damage to it as major damage, something which takes out a ship for a year at least. As the grand slam bombs did on the Tirpitz which damaged her severly but was later hit by one more and that grand slam bomb sank her and she rolled over and sank in Norway.
    Interesting is that they planned to restore her and set in 38 cm 16 inch guns on her, the same as Bismarck and Tirpitz had but halfway in 1943 they abandoned the plans to make her battle ready again and the guns was sent to Norway and made into bunkers.
    But yes your point is correct: Bismarck would as well had been damaged much in the ports in France and sunk probably sooner or later. Only safe place to her kind of ships would had been in the baltics untill the russians start to go forwards to Germany will say. Airpower showed during ww2 that the battleships time was over as well as for the diesel uboats.
     
  17. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    I wonder, if the Germans hadn't thought to rearm Gneisenau with 38cm guns, was it possible to repair her 28cm mount? In other words, did they have a choice, or were 38cm guns the only possibility?
     
  18. judge death

    judge death Member

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    They could. When they launched the two sister ships they put on the 28 cm guns due to the weight limit they have to follow a bit, they broke it with the two ships of scharnhorst class. But already then under the Z plan they had designed the ship to be able to be up gunned to 38 cm guns. But due to the out break of war and history went it never happened. Gneisenau was closest to become up gunned but Hitler decided not to since they were junk to the German war effort. I can only wonder how history would had looked if they had 38 cm guns instead of the 28cm. Maybe scharnhorst wouldn't had been sunk in 1943 then?
     
  19. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    The switch to 38cm guns involved a lot of changes in the ships, even necessitating a 10m increase in their length.
    I doubt the guns would have made any difference at the Battle of North Cape. Scharnhorst wasn't sunk because she had small guns; she was sunk because she was surrounded by a powerful British force.
     
  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Indeed wouldn't the extra weight and length have slowed her down a bit more? Might have made her handling in rough weather a bit worse as well.
     

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