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What would the implications have been if the Bismarck's rudder had not been hit

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by Winston Churchill, Jul 18, 2009.

  1. Winston Churchill

    Winston Churchill Member

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    ...thus emerging victorious from the battle of the Denmark Strait? How bigger blow would it have been to morale for example if the allies had not avenged the destruction of HMS Hood and the Bismarck had made it back to harbour?

    In addition, how pivotal a moment in the war was this? [The actual events that played out]

    Thanks.
     
  2. JagdtigerI

    JagdtigerI Ace

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    Well to give a brief answer, the sinking of the Bismarck did a couple things.

    First, it clearly eliminated the threat of the Bismarck interfering with Atlantic supply lines and raiding the British coast.

    Second, the loss of the Bismarck turned Hitler against using his capital ships for risky long-range raiding. He also became convinced that the Allies intended to invade Norway and ordered his navy to send all of its big ships there, so that they would be able to attack Allied supply convoys to Russia.
     
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  3. macker33

    macker33 Member

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    Well for one thing it would have cost the british an absolute fortune between extra escorts to protect convoys,maybe the british would have had to scrap the convoy system,
    The RN would also have to spend much more of its time at sea.

    It wouldnt have stopped the convoys from getting through so i'm not sure in the long run how much one battleship can do but if it ever got near a convoy it would have taken them to the cleaners.
     
  4. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    The morale problem would have most likely simply amplified not negated the desire for revenge agaisnt the Bismarck. The events would have likely played out as they did, the opportune strike on the rudder simply "closed the deal". The British would likely have lost a few more ships, but the RN has a tradition of willingness to do so in the quest of victory at sea. This has to be taken into account as well:

    …the Bismarck had been hit on the port side by three heavy shells probably from the Prince of Wales. The first shell hit Bismarck amidships below the waterline in section XIV, passed through the outer hull just below the main belt, and exploded against the 45-mm armoured torpedo bulkhead. This hit caused the flooding of the port electric plant No. 4. The adjacent No. 2 boiler room also took some water, but this was contained by the damage control parties through the use of hammocks. The second shell hit the bow in section XXI, just above the waterline. This projectile entered the port side, passed through the ship above the armoured deck without exploding, and exited the starboard side leaving a hole of 1.5 meters in diameter. Around 1,000 tons of salt water got into the forecastle, and as a consequence of this several hundred tons of fuel oil were blocked down in the lower tanks. The third shell simply passed through a boat without any appreciable damage at all.

    As a result of these hits, the top speed of the Bismarck was reduced to 28 knots. The battleship was 3º down by the bow and had a 9º list to port. …The damage was not especially serious, the Bismarck maintained intact her fighting capability, good speed, and there were no casualties among the crew; only five men had been slightly wounded. However, the loss of fuel was to affect the remaining course of action.

    The fuel situation aboard Bismarck had become serious, and at 2056, Lütjens informed Group West that, due to fuel shortage, he was to proceed directly to Saint-Nazaire. In fact, at this time the Bismarck had less than 3,000 tons of fuel-oil available, and unless some of the 1,000 tons of fuel blocked under the forecastle could be retrieved, the battleship would be forced to slow down in order to reach the French coast. Had Bismarck been refuelled in Bergen on 21 May, now she would have some 1,000 tons more of additional fuel available. That would have given Bismarck more freedom of movement and would have enabled Lütjens to make a diversionary manoeuvre to try shake off his pursuers. But the reality was that the fuel shortage hampered the original idea to drive the pursuing British forces into the western U-boat screen, and it forced Bismarck to follow a steady course to France. As a result of this change of plans, all available U-boats in the Bay of Biscay were now ordered to form a patrol line to cover Bismarck's new expected course.

    From:

    Operation Rheinübung: Bismarck's Atlantic Sortie

    The Bismarck didn't emerger from the first battle unscathed. Now, taking these things into account, some damage to the bow, fuel becoming a critical situation, and even though the Bismarck remained a formidable foe, it was less a foe than it had been before the Battle of The Denmark Straight.
     
  5. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    The Bismarck would have put in to the port of Saint Nazaire for repairs to her battle damage and as long as she remained there, RAF Bomber Command would be engaged in the dropping of hundreds of tons of bombs both day and night, trying to damage her further.
     
  6. macker33

    macker33 Member

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    More money
     
  7. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    How so? And for whom? The RAF would have spent any amount of money and time to make sure the Bismarck's one sortie was its last. They expended a great amount of time and effort in turning the Tirpitz into scrap metal to be salvaged post-war.

    The Kriegsmarine may have spent some money to repair it, but would they keep shoving RMs down that rat-hole without it ever contributing to the war effort again?
     
  8. macker33

    macker33 Member

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    Its was a lot cheaper in the long run to sink the bismarck there and then,i dont think the RN would have followed it into harbour.

    If the bismarck made it to france it would have had no problem making it back out to the atlantic.
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If she had made it to France she would have been pretty much continuosly in a state for repair like the twins until they pulled her back to Germany. Unless of course the Britts got lucky and she suffered a magazine explosion.
     
  10. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    The Bismarck could only be repaired at one place in France (and the British were well aware of where), the giant dry-docks at Saint-Nazaire. If the Bismarck had made it to that spot, then surely Operation Chariot, would NOT have been delayed by bickering in British High Command, and the ship as well as the port would have been under constant attack from both sea and air.

    The Bismarck wasn’t there of course, but the Chariot operation was a success, the dock was so severely damaged it remained unusable until 1947. If this happened in March of 1942, I don’t seeing it NOT happening sooner if the need existed, and the Bismarck being there would have produced the need.

    But, even without the rudder damaged, the ship had been forced to reduce speed to less than 18 knots just to try to conserve remaining fuel oil and extend its range to the French coast. It still might have been discovered while "chugging" along at reduced speed, it couldn't afford to make a full speed dash for the coast, as the tanks would hit "E" for empty short of the coast by miles. And there it sitts again, a target.
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I seem to recall reading somewhere that the British had a line of subs across Bismarck probably path to the French ports as well. Given that she was down to 18 knots the chance that they manage to get a hit or two is up a fair amount over what it would be if she was at full speed.
     
  12. Chesehead121

    Chesehead121 Member

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    Its fate would be as the Musashi's. Repeated air attacks and overwhelming firepower would have made a critical hit eventually. The British might have lost a few ships but not enough to make a difference. It would have been obliterated. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
     
  13. JagdtigerI

    JagdtigerI Ace

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    Thats a little harsh I'd say...
     
  14. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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