Bismarck: Scuttled or Sunk?

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.

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Tiornu
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Post by Tiornu » Sun Nov 28, 2004 8:35 am

The cavity magnetron was invented four or five different times, entirely independently. At around the time the Tizard mission was protecting their prize with armed guards, some Soviet guy was publishing his version in a trade journal.

Larue
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Post by Larue » Mon Nov 29, 2004 1:18 pm

i dare say you are right, as a lot of inventions were invented independantly by various people, but i meant to use the example to show that the british 'invented' the cavity magnetron and used it to produce an effective centimetric radar as an example of their technical prowess. i wish i'd never mentioned it now. :wink:

regards

larue 8)

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Scuttling / Sinking Bismarck

Post by SteveCampbell » Mon Nov 29, 2004 3:11 pm

I have to strongly disagree that the scuttling is "bs". nothing in war is, every battle, campaign and engagement wether successful or not has relavance in military decison making and strategy. Taking the scuttling information or sinking announcement can be played politically to gain support, render fear, or provide relief in the momentum of war.

As I continue to plow through the research, the proclaimation that the Bismarck was sunk was a huge propaganda shot in the arm the allied forces needed.

In order to appeal to the common people and citizens under attack and siege, hope had to come from somewhere/anywhere and the destruction of this Axis threat was monumental.

Can anyone point me in the direction or tell me how and where scuttling charges are set on a ship? and the procedure, (such as opening compartment)? Did I read along the way that some of the placed charges did not explode?

Thanks for all the input on this forum, your feedback has been very helpful to me.

Steve

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Post by Tiornu » Mon Nov 29, 2004 10:21 pm

Larue wrote:i wish i'd never mentioned it now.
Hee! I understood the point you were making. I just find that cavity magnetron factoid pretty interesting. Another thing the British brought with them was a circuit diagram which was developed into a component for the VT fuze. The British actually had a proximity fuze somewhat before that, but it was photo-electric and not very useful.
SteveCampbell wrote:Can anyone point me in the direction or tell me how and where scuttling charges are set on a ship?
While scuttling is a common procedure, the use of scuttling charges is not. The Germans carried scuttling charges on many of their raiding missions for use aboard captured merchantmen. I believe the Garzke & Dulin book includes a description of where the charges were placed on Bismarck. The easiest way to scuttle a ship may be to torpedo it from another ship. At the other end of the scale, when the crewmen aboard USS Johnston were directed to scuttle their ship, she was in such sad shape, there was nothing to do but make sure the watertight doors were open.

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Post by ingura » Fri Dec 03, 2004 12:43 am

@ Tiornu

I know it is not BISMARCK, but I do have in my files the general wartime instruction for scuttling SMS HINDENBURG. I think the procedures are almost the same. If requested I would try my hand on a translation...

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Post by Tiornu » Fri Dec 03, 2004 12:45 am

That would be interesting, if it's not a long document.

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Javier L.
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Post by Javier L. » Fri Dec 03, 2004 1:15 am

What do we know of the mass scuttling of German warships in Scapa Flow at the end of World War I? Did they use explosives or just opened the sea valves? Perhaps both things just like in Bismarck? I think the scuttling method used then won't be much different than that used during World War II.

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HSF scuttling

Post by iankw » Sun Dec 05, 2004 6:16 pm

I think it highly unlikely the Germans would have been allowed to carry explosives on their ships after the internment. However, as an armistice was in place, and Scapa was being used as a neutral port, inspections were not allowed by the British "guards". On balance I think it opening to the sea was the method used, which would also explain the long delay in noticing anything was wrong (in excess of an hour).

Hope this helps.

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Scuttled or Sunk?

Post by SteveCampbell » Mon Dec 20, 2004 6:47 am

I am finalizing my research paper and still stuck.

Before me I have a copy of the Destruction of the Bismarck by Bercuson and Herwig, on the back cover it states, "confirmed many of their assertions, including that the Bismarck was sunk by British fire, not scuttled by the German Navy."

But reading the book, scrutinizing the last of the book and the epilogue, they repeatedly document "scuttling order" references with appropriate endnotes.

I thought Cameron's expedtion supported the scuttling operatons, because there was not enough significant damage to sink the battleship.

Can anyone confirm Cameron's finding and cite the specifics. Or are we going on the assumption that since we cannot finding anything conclusive to validate sinkable damage, so in the absence of that evidence we conclude that the crew opened the compartment and valves which allow the seawater to enter."

Honestly, I cannot find a sinlge quote to support the claim that the British sunk the Bismarck in this book anywhere or evidence that the present.

Steve

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Re: Scuttled or Sunk?

Post by Tiornu » Mon Dec 20, 2004 6:07 pm

At the Battle off Samar, the destroyer Johnston was hit by 40+ shells (I don't know if anyone has a precise count) including 14in rounds from Japanese battleships. When it was clear the ship was finished, her skipper issued a scuttle order, and the crew opened her remaining watertight doors.
Are we to think that, because the crew scuttled her, the Japanese did not sink Johnston?
As presented in his documentary, Cameron's theory about scuttling is not very compelling. While I agree with him that the ship was scuttled, I disagree with the route by which he arrived at his conclusion. And as you may have gathered, I disagree also that the topic is worth the time it wastes.
Bismarck had plenty of water in her hull below the waterline. This came from three aerial torpedo hits, some shells, and the flooding of the magazines that probably followed the disabling of the guns.
Of course the British sank her. And yes, she was scuttled.

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Javier L.
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Post by Javier L. » Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:44 pm

That's exactly the point, the Bismarck was finished and the scuttle order only accelerated the sinking. Whether she could have remained afloat longer had the ship not being scuttled is not important.

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Post by Jack B. » Tue Dec 21, 2004 3:19 am

The Bismarck was finished the minute she (or he) left the safety of the Bergen fjords after being photographed. The British were determined to sink the Bismarck no matter what it took. If the Bismarck would have made France, they would have got her (he) there.

In the Baron's book page 223 (mine copy) he describes how charges were set in the engineering spaces. These were the largest compartments on the ship, they also had several pipes extending to the outside of the ship to supply water for cooling and for the boilers. With these pipes blown, I'm sure the engineering spaces would fill rapidly.

One has to remember that before the ship was scuttled, it was just a floating flaming wreck, and would have sunk sooner or later. As mentioned by others, this was not the first time the Germans sank their own ship, when all hope was lost.

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Post by FW_Allen » Tue Dec 21, 2004 11:37 pm

Here's my two cents/pence worth (for what its worth):

First, to Steve C- I recommend ignoring the Bercuson and Herwig book. Simply put, there are better volumes available. I wasn't impressed with much of the work (especially information covering the two battles). I can't recall specifics as I long ago dispatched that book to the landfill.

As for who sank the ship-
To me, it just doesn't matter. Cameron saw quite a bit, but he could still not see what damage may have been below the mud or in the bottom of the hull. Supposedly the ship was already settling notably when the charges were detonated. This implies that water must have already been entering. Ergo, it seems likely that the ship was already slowly going down and the charges only hastened the end.

Even if the ship weren't already sinking, and the Bismarck crew sank her by themselves, it still doesn't matter. The ship was defeated. The British had no plans on boarding or towing her. The British goal that morning was two-fold: have Bismarck sent to the bottom & exact some revenge for Hood. At the end of the day, that is exactly what happened. Nothing against Bismarck's designers, builders or crew...all did their jobs exceedingly well. Either way, the end result was the same.

So, the answer, as Tiornu said, is yes, both sides sank the ship, but the added caveat is that it just doesn't matter in the large scheme of things.

Frank
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Why worry

Post by phil gollin » Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:04 am

If I might ask, what does the claim for "scuttling" add to the people who claim that it occured ?

Is it just trying to get the facts "right" ?

Is it a claim that the ship would not have sunk unless scuttled ?

Is it some sort of "honour" thing ?

Likewise, is it something to do with tradition ?

Is it trying to say that she wasn't sunk by others ?

and, most importantly, is it of any importance ?

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scuttled or not scuttled

Post by PM Collins » Sun Jun 12, 2005 5:08 am

Having been a member of this site on and off for the last couple of years it still amazes me that there is such in interest in the ship I have loved and admired for 25years. It is a great testament to his beauty and awe.
If I might just say, it doesn't really matter weather he was scuttled or not. While James Cameron's expection of the wreck proved that the Dorteshire's torpedoes did not penetrate the Bismarck's inner hull, the fact remains he still would have sunk. The damage to Bismarck was, in affect enough to cause him to sink eventually. It is with a heavy heart that I say this. Because he was in my opinion the greatest naval vessel ever constructed. No offense to the Yamoto or the Missouri, but the Bismarck was a revolution in battle construction. A testament to the Third Reich's ability to design and build everything bigger and better. The problem was they could not, in the long run out produce the allies.
The Bismarck, if used as orginally intended would have caused sufficent damage to Britian's ability to wage war. Unfortuantley, or maybe not, depending on your point of view, the great ship went down without obtaining his desired objective, which was to destroy allied shipping in the North Atlantic. He was never supposed to engage the British capital ships.
I have been doing extensive reasearch on the Bismarck for 20 years in the hope of bring his story to the big screen, and I am proud to say the my screenplay based on his incrediable nine day sortie onto the North Atlantic is almost done. At nearly 200 pages it will be an incrediable 3 hour epic to hope rival my favorite movie of all time Das Boot.
I hope to have it sold soon and be ready for release in May 2006 to celebrate the 65 anniversary of the sinking of the Bismarck. Long live her valiant crew and long live the Bismarck, the greatest naval vessel ever built. :D :D :D

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