Stern section of the Bismarck - question

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Stern section of the Bismarck - question

Post by George Roumbos » Tue Dec 28, 2004 1:55 am

Hello all,

I was reading an article in a Greek magazine about the Bismarck and some conclusions the author made about the stern section cutting off the hull. According to the author, the stern broke away because of the fatal torpedo hit on the rudders and because the ship was poorly built, poor welding techniques and because of the German design of three prop shafts instead of two or four, resulting to a very awkward, shallow position of the shafts, props and rudders. One more reason is that the entire ship (armor and all) was laid out and constructed more like a WWI battleship, alas the North Carolina, Yamato and KGV classes were more modern designs. Any opinions on the matter would be welcomed.

Best regards and a Happy New Year

George Roumbos
"Ich lasse mir doch mein Schiff nicht unter dem Arsch wegschiessen. Feuererlaubnis !"

George "tango-echo" Roumbos, Hellas

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Bismarck stern damage.

Post by Bill Jurens » Tue Dec 28, 2004 3:55 am

Sounds interesting. Who was the author?

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See Dave Saxton on German Welding techniques...

Post by George Elder » Tue Dec 28, 2004 4:50 pm

... which we now know were about as advanced as those being used elsewhere. Indeed, is some areas they were ahead of the norm. Of course, this does not mean that sound welding concepts were used in all aspects of the Bismarck's contruction because they most assuredly were not. That being said, the same was true of the USN, RN, and everyone else that employed welding during WWII.
The real problem here was a lack of hull girder depth at the extreme distal end of the ship, which was inevitable in light of the hull form the German's preferred. They gained a bit in propulsive efficiency, but only at a cost of some structural weakness at the aft extremity. It was not a fatal flaw, however, and I know of no German warship that was lost due to a collapsed distal stern section. Indeed, the Bismarck's stern remained attached and uncollapsed for some time after the fateful torpedo hit. THere are some reports of large sections of the stern being blown away during the final battle, but I have no way of knowing if this contributed to the failure of what was a modular stern. Incidently, the stern was attached by both rivets and welding, although the break appears to run adjacent to the weld seam -- or so I am advised.
As for this story about the Bismarck being a rehashed WWI design, that is a very simplistic notion that few serious researchers now subscribe to. In terms of metelurgy, the materials differ a great deal from WWI designs -- as is evident in the face hardened and homogeneous armor compositions. In terms of armor layout, the distribution is markedly different from most WWI designs, with thinner upper armor strakes and much thicker slopes being employed. The torpedo protection system is radically different.
The main similarity is the continued use of a multi-layered armor protection scheme, as in a raft within a raft. Some designers came to the conclusion that it was impossible to keep heavy shells out altogether, and thus it was folly to pretend that any system could be "all-or-nothing." Indeed, "all" was a dubious proposition given the power of modern naval shells and a battle range that could, and did, become less than 20,000 yards. It thus stood to reason that defeating the shell could be accomplished by:

1. Initiating its fuze, and abosorbing the subsequent shell splinters via the internal armor layers.

2 Damage and degrade the shell as it penetrates the outter layer, which in the Bismarck's case was robust enough to decap, slow, and yaw attacking projectiles. And lest anyone feel these are modest effects, please note that the cap on a shall can constitute over 10% of its mass. This makes the inner armor layer relatively more effective than would otherwise be the case.

There are also issues related to stability that are inherent in the design of the armor system that was selected, and it is noteworthy here that Britain began to regret the limited citidel protection accorded by the happy AoN system -- and made moves to extend hull armor in later designs. One could go on and on here, but most of these points are fairly well known.

George

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Post by Javier L. » Wed Dec 29, 2004 3:09 pm

I don't know if the stern was lost due to a design failure or not, but in any case the stern broke away after (or when) the Bismarck sank about 12 hours after the torpedo hit the rudders. Even if the stern had been lost right after the torpedo hit the night before, I don't think the ship would have been in danger of sinking. There was an armor bulkhead aft that almost certain had its watertight doors closed at the time of the aerial attack, and this bulkhead is still intact today in the wreck as seen in photos. I think that if the rudders had not been jammed, even if the stern was lost, the Bismarck would have arrived to Brest (this is my opinion of course). So what is the problem losing a small piece stern? It would be much more dangerous to lose 10 meters of the bow. I think this debate comdemning the design because Bismarck lost the stern could enter in the category of another so-called "Bismarck myth".
Last edited by Javier L. on Wed Dec 29, 2004 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Some details about the book

Post by George Roumbos » Thu Dec 30, 2004 11:07 am

Hello to all,
The book is a soft cover, (80 pages) and is called: Battleship Bismarck, the nine day epic, ISBN 9771109077002. It is part of war monographies of the Greek magazine War & History.
The author is called Evaggelos A. Pagotsis.
If you are inerested, I can post some parts here on the forum, especially the conlusions of the author under the title "Bismarck's Myth" and if interested the bibliography used.
One thing though I noticed, among the sources he used is this site as well but no mention of James Cameron's Expedition Bismarck and it's findings.

Wishing a Happy New Year to all,

George Roumbos
"Ich lasse mir doch mein Schiff nicht unter dem Arsch wegschiessen. Feuererlaubnis !"

George "tango-echo" Roumbos, Hellas

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Article

Post by Bill Jurens » Thu Dec 30, 2004 9:23 pm

I have never heard of the author before, which suggests that the treatment is based entirely on secondary sources, i.e. simply a rewrite and re-interpretation of other secondary sources. This would render it a tertiary source, making it interesting but not-very-valuable reading. Check the bibliography. At this late stage, if no primary sources are listed, it's conclusions (though perhaps correct) can really not be taken seriously.

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Stern

Post by George Roumbos » Sat Jan 01, 2005 4:48 pm

Hello Bill,

The bibliography the author used for his book is:

Primary sources:

1. Fuehrer conferences on Naval Affairs 1939-1945, 1948 Naval Institute Press, 1990
2. Naval Warfare Directorship, Kriegsmarine: Directives for future surface operations, April 2nd 1941 - Included in Battleship Bismarck, a survivor's story by Muellenheim Rechberg
3. Appendix 1 from the Operations orders of Erich Raeder about the Atlantic Operation of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen - Rheinuebung, April 22 1941 - Included in Battleship Bismarck, a survivor's story by Muellenheim Rechberg
4. Prinz Eugen's war diary, May 20th - May 26th 1941, http://www.kbismarck.com
5. Bismarck's reconstructed war diary, May 14th - May 27th 1941, based on Prinz Eugen's war diary and Group North and West diaries and signal and information archives of B-Dienst, http://www.kbismarck.com
6. PRO-ADM 234-509: Admiral Tovey's report, Gunnery appendix on Captain Leech's of HMS Prince of Wales account. Gunnery report and RDF of HMS Norfolk from Vice Admiral Wake-Walker. Captain Ellis' report of HMS Suffolk, http://www.hmshood.com
7. PRO-ADM 116-4351: The Loss of HMS Hood - Report od the first investigation commitee, reports and records of the second commitee, account of HMS Prince of Wales' Captain Leech about the operation against the Bismarck, http://www.hmshood.com
8. Received signals archive from the Catalina aircraft by HMS Renown on May 26th 1941, HMS Ark Royal's Swordfish attack report of May 26th 1941, Battlefront: Sinking of the Bismarck, Public Record Office

Secondary sources:

1. John Roberts: Anatomy of the Ship - The Battlecruiser HOOD, Conway Maritime Press, Revised Edition, 2002
2. Timothy P. Mulligan: Bismarck - Not Ready for Action? Naval History, February 2001
3. Graham Rhys-Jones: The Loss of the Bismarck - An Avoidable Disaster, Naval Institute Press, 1999
4. Robert J. Winklareth: The Bismarck Chase - New Light on a Famous Engagement, 1998, Naval Institute Press, 1999
5. William H. Garzke Jr, Robert O. Dullin Jr: Bismarck's Final Battle, Warship International No. 2, 1994
6. Gerhard Koop, Klaus-Peter Schmolke: Battleships of the Bismarck class, 1990, Naval Institute Press, 1998
7. Gerhard Koop. Klaus-Peter Schmolke: Heavy Cruisers of the Abmiral Hipper class, 1992, Naval Institute Press, 2001
8. Baron Burkard von Muellenheim-Rechberg: Battleship Bismarck - A Survivor's Story, 1987, Naval Institute Press, 1990
9. William J. Jurens: The Loss of HMS HOOD - a Re-Examination, Warship International No. 2, 1987
10. John Campbell: Naval Weapons of World War Two, 1985, Conway Maritime Press, 2002
11. Conway's Fighting Ships 1906-1921 & 1922-1946, Conway Maritime Press, 1985 & 1980
12. Ulrich Elfarth, Bodo Herzog: The Battleship Bismarck - A Documentary in Words and Pictures, 1975, Schiffer Publishing, 1989
13. Ludovic Kennedy: Pursuit - The Sinking of the Bismarck, 1974, Cassell & Co, 2001
14. Erich Raeder: My Life, United States Naval Institute, 1960
15. Stephen W. Roskill: The War at Sea, 1939-45, Vol. I: The Defensive, 1954, HMSO, 1961
16. Russel Grenfell: The Bismarck Episode, 1948, Peter Smith, 1972

The bibliography the same author used for his article in the War & History magazine is:

1. Antony Preston: The World's Worst Warships, Conway Maritime Press, 2002
2. Baron Burkard von Muellenheim-Rechberg: Battleship Bismarck - A Survivor's Story, 1987, Naval Institute Press, 1990
3. Ludovic Kennedy: Pursuit - The Sinking of the Bismarck, 1974, Cassel & Co, 2001
4. Fuehrer Conferences on Naval Affairs 1939 - 1945, 1948, Naval Insitute Press
5. Graham Rhys-Jones: The Loss of the Bismarck - An Avoidable Disaster, Naval Institute Press, 1999
6. William J. Jurens: The Loss of HMS Hood - A Re-Examination, Warship International No. 2, 1987
7. Robert J. Winklareth: The Bismarck Chase - New Light on a Famous Engagement, 1998, Naval Institute Press, 1999
8. Demetrios B. Stavropoulos: Battleship Bismarck: The Epic Chase and Sinking, Greek Magazine Military History, June 2003
9. Richard Hough: The Longest Battle - The War at Sea 1939-45, 1986, Cassel 2003
10. William H. Garzke Jr, Robert O. Dulin Jr: Bismarck's Final Battle, Warship International No. 2, 1994
11. Timothy P. Mulligan: Bismarck - Not Ready For Action? Naval History, February 2001
12. Stephen W. Roskill: The War at Sea, 1939-45, Vol. I, The Defensive, 1954, HMSO, 1961

That's about it !!!

Happy and prosperous 2005!!!

George
"Ich lasse mir doch mein Schiff nicht unter dem Arsch wegschiessen. Feuererlaubnis !"

George "tango-echo" Roumbos, Hellas

www.emioannina.gr

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Bibliography

Post by Bill Jurens » Sat Jan 01, 2005 10:33 pm

Well. Perhaps I spoke too soon. This certainly seems to represent an impressive reading list, and suggests that the author did indeed do a good deal of homework.

Unfortunately, as you noted, he did miss out on any of the James Cameron material -- I have not really commented on that very extensively in print myself yet -- and also missed out the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers Marine Forensic Panel paper on Hood/Bismarck. That being said, no bibliography is perfect, and and he certainly seems to have caught most of the most important material. This would seem to have been better researched than many book-length treatments.

To follow up on your questions directly...

"According to the author, the stern broke away because of the fatal torpedo hit on the rudders and because the ship was poorly built, poor welding techniques and because of the German design of three prop shafts instead of two or four, resulting to a very awkward, shallow position of the shafts, props and rudders."

I think this is more or less true.

"The entire ship (armor and all) was laid out and constructed more like a WWI battleship, alas the North Carolina, Yamato and KGV classes were more modern designs. Any opinions on the matter would be welcomed. "

There has been much debate, some informed and some not-so-informed, regarding the degree to which Bismarck and Tirpitz were really 'warmed over' World War I designs, i.e. essentially updated Badens.

The armor suite of Bismarck appears to have been laid out to give maximum protection against rather short ranged, i.e. flat trajectory, gunfire; by the time of World War II, most other nations were designing systems intended to be more resistant to long range heavy gunfire. It's tempting to claim that this was because the designers of Bismarck didn't really know any better, but in reality the decision to armor Bismarck just the way she was might have been much more rational. Particularly in pre-radar days, it's quite possible that the designers deliberately nominalized the protection to be most effective in short range engagements because they felt that these sorts of engagments were tactically most probable. It has long been my feeling, based on nothing more than instinct, that Bismarck was never really intended to 'duke it out' with enemy battleships, i.e. she was designed more to sequentially (or simultaneously) destroy smaller targets such as cruisers. We (or at least I) just don't know.

The similarities to Baden etc. are largely a matter of interpretation. In reality, almost all new ships are in some way copies or extensions of others -- often called 'parent designs', so the fact that Bismarck more-or-less closely resembled Baden is not necessarily bad, nor even unexpected. A lot of this stems from the initial British and American analyses of the Bismarck design which were completed from captured plans shortly after Bismarck was sunk in 1941. The American report -- done by U.S. Navy naval architects -- spent a fair amount of time comparing the design of Bismarck to Baden. This may just reflect the fact that Baden was the last design they were familiar with, and it made a good baseline for comparison. It may also mean that they knew -- from experience -- that the Germans probably used the Baden design as some sort of a 'jumping-off-point' as well. Anyhow, Baden is mentioned quite often in the text. The British report, which I have not seen, but has been officially stated to contain similar conclusions, with Royal Navy designers purportedly remarking how 'familiar' Bismarck's layout seemed to be when the plans were first reviewed.

It is difficult (and often dangerous) for a designer to make large changes in configuration -- i.e. to extend too far into unexplored territory. This is why most designs can be seen to be more evolutionary than revolutionary in form, with the designer(s) changing perhaps 20% from 'step to step' in a sequence of designs. That suggests, for example, that a design bureau may have to go through five successive designs before the 'new' design can be seen as being more or less completely different than the one one started with five designs ago.

So far as the Bismarck design is concerned, one might argue that the Scharnhorst/Gneisenau layout constituted an intermediate step in the process, but there wouldn't have been many others. If the designers were willing and able to push the process a bit, i.e. to play a somewhat risky game of 'catch-up', one might expect a change of 30% from step to step instead of 20%. That might make Bismarck a 60% different design than Baden, instead of 40%. But, in the absence of intermediate stages, it is probably quite true to say that Bismarck and Baden were indeed quite closely related.

I have plan sets of both of these designs here, and perhaps should redraw the Baden design so that one can see exactly how different (or similar) they were. They don't look that similar to me, except regarding the protective scheme.

Hope this helps.

If the book is well written and the author has been able to interpret the information knowledgeably (in that regard we must remember that compiling a bibliography and understanding the contents of the bibliography are actually two different things...) this sounds like it could be quite a good, though somewhat brief, general treatment.

Bill Jurens.

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Stern

Post by George Roumbos » Sun Jan 02, 2005 2:05 am

Hi Bill,
Very nice of you to write all that analysis.

Bacause of my "general" approach on the torpedo hit, in the book (and the magazine aswell) it writes:

"...the use of a triple screw system instead of a double or quadrable screw system had it's flaws. Because of the increased power output (SHP), they had to use larger diameter screws.
In order to avoid vibrations, they had to assure enough strenght between the hull and the central screw blades, resulting to a redused draft of the stern and redused bouyoncy of the same section.
This flaw showed it's catastrophic results after a torpedo hit on the Pocket Battleship Luetzow on June 12th to 13th 1941, followed by the spectacular collapse of Prinz Eugen's stern from a single torpedo hit on February 23rd 1942.
Dr Robert Ballard discovered the wreck of the Bismarck on June 8th 1989, stern missing aft of the armored rudder mechanism section. It seems that the torpedo hit of May 26th 1941 caused the collapse of this section, imobillizing Bismarck's rudders.
The ship sunk before the stern broke away, which was also caused due to additional hits on the area, combined with low quality welding and structural planning of not expanding the hull-long torpedo bulkheads aft of the rudder compartment..."

"...some of the retrogressive characteristics of the Bismarck are visible indications of lack of contact with modern planning methods - tendencies found on most first row ships.
The main horizontal armor was much lower compared with the Battleships of the KGV class, decreasing seriously the protected volume of the ship. In general the horizontal armor didn't respond to the modern protection demands, against long range gunfire and AP aircraft bombs, threats of major priority to the RN and USN.
On the other hand, the armor layout was promissing a more effective protection against short range gunfire, proven on the final battle against HMS Rodney and HMS KGV.
Also retrogressive was the installing of secondary 15cm guns with a low elevation range for engaging surfice targets, in addition to the 10,5cm AA guns with a serious cost in weight. On the other hand, the RN and USN were using dual purpose guns, 5,25 inch and 5 inch respectivelly..."

"...more obvious were the technical problems of the Bismarck, such as the damage on the fore radar from the salvos fired against HMS Norfolk on the Denmark Straights and the ineffective function of the aft radar, restricting Admiral Luetjens' tactical and formation alternatives. The rudder jamming on the night of May 23rd 1941 almost resulted to a collission with Prinz Eugen, plus, neverending problems in receiving and transmiting radio signals.
The appearance of so many technical problems, during the first operational mission of the ship and not during it's sea trials, were a result of the limited and redused time spend on sea trials, just to serve Admiral Raeder's priorities.
Equally, the training of the crew was also not long enough, timewise, affecting upon the various technical problems experienced, especially on the telecomunications..."

There are also quotes on the wrong positioning of AA guns, range finders and lack of enough AA coverage of the ship.

Finally:

"...a lot of eye witnesses confirm that the ship was doomed due to extensive water flooding in it's compartments, before the order to scuttle the ship was given, the later just speeding things up..."

Regards, George
"Ich lasse mir doch mein Schiff nicht unter dem Arsch wegschiessen. Feuererlaubnis !"

George "tango-echo" Roumbos, Hellas

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Post by Javier L. » Sun Jan 02, 2005 2:50 am

Hello Geroge,

Here are a couple of comments:

The case of the Lützow is not relevant because this ship did not have 3 screws, only 2.

As for "not expanding the hull-long torpedo bulkheads aft of the rudder compartment" I think the author is wrong here if he based his conclusions in this fact, because no battleship could be designed with the torpedo bulkheads reaching that far aft, and in this matter the Bismarck design had the longest citadel of all battleships = 70% ship's length.

Javier

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Javier

Post by George Roumbos » Sun Jan 02, 2005 3:17 am

Hello Javier,

Good point about the Luetzow, never thought to look it up and see how many screws it had, obviously the author didn't aswell.
You're right about the torpedo bulkhead, but, could he mean the armored bulkheads across to the ship's hull?
Maybe the last armored bulkhead instead of were the stern broke off, would be positioned further to the aft.
Still, though, he quotes "...not expanding the hull-long torpedo bulkheads aft of the rudder compartment...", so, even if he means the across bulkheads, he's wrong again, 'cause the last across armored bulkhead IS aft of the rudder compartment, which is right behind it, it's the bulkhead visible today, after the loss of the stern, if I'm not mistaken.
I agree with you about the lost stern section, even if it would brake off right after the torpedo hit but would not harm the screws and rudders, this wouldn't have any serious eefect on the ships manouverbility and most likely the ship would make it to Brest.

All the best, George
"Ich lasse mir doch mein Schiff nicht unter dem Arsch wegschiessen. Feuererlaubnis !"

George "tango-echo" Roumbos, Hellas

www.emioannina.gr

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Stern of Bismarck

Post by Bill Jurens » Sun Jan 02, 2005 6:17 am

The welded joint design securing the stern of Bismarck was, if not poorly executed, certainly poorly designed, almost sophmoric. Bill Garzke and I dealt with this issue in some detail in a paper delivered to the Chesapeake section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers a couple of years ago. (It's not been published elsewhere.) Either the engineer(s) did not understand the problems that typically occur at structural discontinuities (unlikely), they were trying too hard to save weight (possibly), they didn't quite know how to work up modular construction (likely), or they were over-confident regarding the actual efficiency of welded joints (also likely, considering the state of welding technology at that time.) I'd chalk it up to lack of experience, perhaps coupled with the inability of the shipyard to physically produce a proper design.

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Re: Stern

Post by Tiornu » Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:39 am

The only significant relationship I can see among all the "weak stern" incidents is that the failures occurred at an armored transverse bulkhead. However, Bismarck's experience was quite different in that for her the bulkhead was the small one for the armored box protecting the steering gear. I believe the other ships had their failures at the bulkhead closing off the main citadel armor. I don't see any necessary connection to the triple screws, none at all, but maybe I'm missing something.
The author attributes the jammed rudder to the failure of Bismarck's stern structure. Is there any support for this claim?
I also disagree that the single-purpose secondary was retrogressive. How many battleships were in service with DP secondaries in 1936 when Bismarck began construction? How many in 1940 when Bismarck commissioned? The Dunkerques entered service 1937-38 with DP guns that proved rather poor. Renown and Valiant emerged from modernization with good 4.5in DP guns in 1939. And is that it? Why single out Bismarck as behind the times? I do think a DP secondary battery was preferable, but it wasn't a "gimme." This was demanding technology, and the great American success with the 5in/38 should not serve as a standard by which to judge--in that case, all other navies would fall short.

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On "Sophmoric" terminology.

Post by George Elder » Sun Jan 02, 2005 9:33 pm

Bill:

It was less than 2 years ago that we secured the actual plans of the Bismarck's modular stern and we still do not have the framing diagrams. Ergo, please tell me how this information was worked into an article that Garzke wrote 2 years ago on the modular nature of the Bismarck's stern? Does the work include the plans that we forwarded to you and others? Were the aft framing plans included? Moreover, why don't we find and examine the actual German rational for the use of the hull form and construction methods they selected? We can speculate to beat the high heavens, but I seldom hear any of the voices of the designers above the yowls of revisionists of all natures -- pro and con.
And when you use terms like sophmoric, I cringe. Would you describe the designers responcible for the Washington Class's vibration problems as sophmoric? Or would you say that the USN used a sophmoric approach to welding when it designed the joint where the Iowa's TBD joins the top of the ship's triple bottom? It some case, I hear you offer favourable rationals and in the other cases I hear terms like sophmoric. So tell me, how am I judge your judgments? Are you a scholar who lets the cards fall where they may, or do you have a bias that might make us take what you say in the same spirit as we would the views of an advocate?
To be honest, I have never quite gotten over your review of the Iowa turret disaster, nor your discription of the Sandi Lab report as being nuetral on the subject of the causality. I have the report right in front of me, and for the life of me I cannot understand how you could interpret this document in the light that you have. Indeed, I still cannot understand how you could subscribe to a bomb theory based on such tenuous evidence -- and especially without having interviewed the men who were there. I did so, and the story they describe is different than the tale you told -- which sure went along with the Navy's party line at the time.
I do not find fault with your expertise, but I am beginning to have serious questions regarding its application. In short, why describe things as black and white, sophmoric or brilliant, etc., when the universe is filled with a much wider variety of hues and characterizations? I wish you would lose that word sophmoric and negative connotations it elicits. Man, it is so disheartening to see this approach.

George

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Answers...

Post by Bill Jurens » Mon Jan 03, 2005 1:04 am

I feel like I am being cross-examined.

Since you asked direct questions, I will provide direct answers, preceeded by asterisks ***.

Bill:

It was less than 2 years ago that we secured the actual plans of the Bismarck's modular stern and we still do not have the framing diagrams. Ergo, please tell me how this information was worked into an article that Garzke wrote 2 years ago on the modular nature of the Bismarck's stern?

*** I took a rough guess at the dates. Is it important? Bill Garzke didn't write it. We both contributed parts, i.e. he contributed some material from his areas of expertise and experience and I contributed some material from mine. Bill presented the paper, as it was inconvenient for me to fly all the way down to Maryland. As before, this material was not intended for publication, and has not yet been published. Probably it never will be.

Does the work include the plans that we forwarded to you and others?

***Yes. These were useful, and I thank you for them.

Were the aft framing plans included?

***Not in the form you are probably picturing them. I doubt if they exist in the form you imagine. There is, however, in my opinion, enough information already available to make a pretty clear judgement without them. The "aft framing plans", though probably interesting to look at, would probably not contain any significant new information. I've looked at a lot of Bismarck plans over the years, and might well have seen them.

Moreover, why don't we find and examine the actual German rational for the use of the hull form and construction methods they selected?

***Many of the designers spoke to the Americans and British after the war. (Naval architects do like to talk to one another.) Some of these discussions were recorded for the record, but the vast majority were not. Often the questions we would like to answer now are not the questions people actually talked about then, as many of these thing were things "that all men knew..." I'm confident that we've been able to piece together a fairly reasonable picture of the German designer's approaches to at least the broad issues of the design. As memories fade, and naval architects of the period die, the detail supporting some of these conclusions disappears. But the conclusions do not.

We can speculate to beat the high heavens, but I seldom hear any of the voices of the designers above the yowls of revisionists of all natures -- pro and con.

***As above. You better not be suggesting that I'm a revisionist. To me, those are 'fighting words'. If anything, I'm strongly ANTI-revisionist. You must remember that this material (which you often catagorize as "new discoveries" or some such) has always been available. It's not, for instance, as though the "aft framing plans" of Bismarck were stored on Mars and recently just rediscovered. They always were in one archive or another. For some time they were security classified, and that meant that only a few people could see them. But that does not mean that they didn't exist. And that didn't mean that the right people didn't see them. Later, when classifications were removed, it meant that ANYONE could see them. But "New to you" is not the same as "New". Most of the 'revisionism' comes from people who began studying these subjects only a few years ago. I've been working on these issues for more than 40 years now.

***The only really "new" material regarding Bismarck etc., has come from our recent examinations of the wreck. I'm very familiar with most or all of that material. The separation of the stern was, when first discovered, (rightly) looked upon as being unusual and worth further investigation, but until the most recent expeditions these areas could not be investigated in detail. These investigations indicate that the welding in certain areas of Bismarck was -- or at least appears to have been -- poorly designed and executed. And when you use terms like sophmoric, I cringe. Would you describe the designers responcible for the Washington Class's vibration problems as sophmoric?

***No. Some things, like vibrations of large structures under irregular oscillating loads, are very difficult to predict even today. "Making a mistake" in the prediction of the vibration mode of a large warship with an unusual hull design and making a mistake in the design of a simple welded joint are, however, two different things.

Or would you say that the USN used a sophmoric approach to welding when it designed the joint where the Iowa's TBD joins the top of the ship's triple bottom?

***No. It wasn't sophmoric. It worked. Who could ask for anything more?

It some case, I hear you offer favourable rationals and in the other cases I hear terms like sophmoric. So tell me, how am I judge your judgments? Are you a scholar who lets the cards fall where they may, or do you have a bias that might make us take what you say in the same spirit as we would the views of an advocate?

***We all have biases and opinions. In and of themselves, these are not bad, when based upon sound judgement. The sum of accumulated biases are what we often call 'experience'.


To be honest, I have never quite gotten over your review of the Iowa turret disaster, nor your discription of the Sandi Lab report as being nuetral on the subject of the causality. I have the report right in front of me, and for the life of me I cannot understand how you could interpret this document in the light that you have. Indeed, I still cannot understand how you could subscribe to a bomb theory based on such tenuous evidence -- and especially without having interviewed the men who were there.

*** What makes you think I haven't actually talked to people who were there? I've talked to, and corresponded with, many of them. I still talk to some of them now. The group I dealt with was primarily composed of engineers and ordnance experts ashore, many of whom were involved in the actual investigation itself. They weren't morons, you know.


I did so, and the story they describe is different than the tale you told -- which sure went along with the Navy's party line at the time.

***A lot depends upon who you talk to, and who you believe. The 'tale I told', to use your words was written quite soon after the accident and a lot of material was, at that time, either incomplete or had to be left out. I planned -- still plan, actually -- to do a follow-up called 'The Ring Of Truth Part II', but have not yet done so. It wouldn't change the findings or conclusions of Part I dramatically, which is one reason I never bothered to write the thing.

I do not find fault with your expertise, but I am beginning to have serious questions regarding its application. In short, why describe things as black and white, sophmoric or brilliant, etc., when the universe is filled with a much wider variety of hues and characterizations? I wish you would lose that word sophmoric and negative connotations it elicits. Man, it is so disheartening to see this approach.

***I have a lot of material on my plate, and often find it necessary -- or perhaps just desirable -- in short memos to write briefly and in that regard perhaps even overstate the case a little to make a point. A brief answer, with some over-simplifications is, in my opinion, better than no answer at all. I can't write a book-length response to every question -- even this has taken me more than an hour. Nor, in most cases, would much longer answers be desirable.

***Bill Jurens

George

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