Bismarck refuels and does repairs

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RF
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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by RF » Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:18 am

Jagdboot wrote: Let's not forget That the Bismarck was already crippled by the scoring hit from the Prince of Wales that allowed several thousand tons of fuel pour out into the open sea.
Jagdboot
Bismarck was not crippled by that hit. It remained a fully effective combat battleship. It was dameged, yes, but still capable of escaping. It almost did.
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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by RF » Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:22 am

Jagdboot wrote:That plan would never materialise. Bismarck would probably be tracked again by reconnaissance aircrafts, as earlier. She could disappear for a while and hide from the British, but eventually the battle cruisers and King George and the Rodney would catch up with the Bismarck and force her to respond on fire.Jagdboot
Bismarck would have to be found first. Even with radar and air searches that isn't easy, especially in mid-Atlantic, far away from airfields.
As for the big battleships, they are short ranged and cannot stay at sea for more than two weeks or so because they couldn't be re-fuelled at sea.

In fact the best chance for the RN to locate a disappeared Bismarck is when it attacks a target, which sends out a raider report.
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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by James Finlay » Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:59 pm

scroll back to what happened...Bismarck did NOT refuel in Norway whereas PE did. After POW 142 Bow hit on 24th May 1000tons of fuel could not be accessed...this all seems to build up to a picture of no chice but making for Bres and also this lack of avilable fuel caused speed t be cut to 21 knots...the rest is history.

Note the RN always refuelled ships as first action on returning to port - Lutjens made a fundamental error - mercifully.

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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by Herr Nilsson » Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:21 am

James Finlay wrote:scroll back to what happened...Bismarck did NOT refuel in Norway whereas PE did. After POW 142 Bow hit on 24th May 1000tons of fuel could not be accessed...this all seems to build up to a picture of no chice but making for Bres and also this lack of avilable fuel caused speed t be cut to 21 knots...the rest is history.

Note the RN always refuelled ships as first action on returning to port - Lutjens made a fundamental error - mercifully.
The problem is that there was probably no fuel in the bow at all on May 24th. :?
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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by RF » Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:27 am

Herr Nilsson wrote: The problem is that there was probably no fuel in the bow at all on May 24th. :?
In that case, where would the trailing oil slick that PE had to drop back and report on come from?
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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by Herr Nilsson » Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:55 am

The three hits are well documented.
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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:25 pm

responsible for the oil loss was probably the hit against E-Maschinenraum 4 within Compartment XIV from damage description itfollows that the projectile pierced the side tank and fragments from projectile detonation at or near the torpedobulkhead prbably riddled further side tanks and tanks in the double bottom in the vicinity of the hit.

the trajectory of the hit in the forship probably did not cause fuel leakage as ther are two watertight decks between trajectory and the tanks.

In addition these tanks were reserve/trim tanks, that were usually not filled with fuel oil at a battle mission. If ther was fuel oil in these tanks in the beginning of the mission it was used up first for reasons of safety(mines) an trim(lower speed).
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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by Vic Dale » Tue May 21, 2013 4:58 am

The comparison has been made with Kranke in Scheer, careening and scraping the ship's bottom and repairing her engines. Kranke however was not in command of Germany's greatest naval asset and he had not just sunk the Hood, pride of the British fleet. Churchill's political position was far from secure in 1941and the loss of the Hood without sinking the Bismarck could have brought his government down. Churchill's position did not become secure until after Rommel's defeat at El Alamein a year later.

After Hood's sinking, Churchill ordered his admirals to get the Bismarck at all costs and very quickly the Atlantic was becoming increasingly thick with naval assets, all focused on a single target. So there would be nowhere to hide, much less lay up and repair.

Lutjens had warned of the prestige target Bismarck would provide for the British once she left the Baltic. He warned correctly that they would launch every available asset against her and not stop until she had been knocked out. After his squadron had sunk the Hood, this became even more true and it is a tribute to his tactical genius that the ship nearly made it safely to France.

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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by alecsandros » Tue May 21, 2013 7:26 am

Vic Dale wrote: Lutjens had warned of the prestige target Bismarck would provide for the British once she left the Baltic. He warned correctly that they would launch every available asset against her and not stop until she had been knocked out. After his squadron had sunk the Hood, this became even more true and it is a tribute to his tactical genius that the ship nearly made it safely to France.
The "tactical genius" part is very debatable, as Lutjens made several decisions which drastically diminished Bismarck's chances of survavibility:
- first of all, choosing France as a destination, instead of Norway [and yes, admitting a withdrawal would have been MUCH better than deffying the entire HOme Fleet with a SINGLE, DAMAGED, ship]
- second of all, spliting from Prinz Eugen and thus halfing his squadron's AA defense [yes, even with engine problems, PE could serve remarkably well in AA defense, and in SPLITTING enemy torpedo bombers over 2 targets]
- thirdly, sending a ridiculously long message back to base, and thus allowing British forces to home in on the signal.

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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by Vic Dale » Wed May 22, 2013 7:27 am

To alecsandros.

Many thanks for your contribution, which opens a number of points of further interest and I would like to address some of those points in some detail.

Firstly, although it has been written many times and in most publications about the Bismarck, Lutjens did not send an over long radio message. However many times this distortion of the facts is repeated, it does not make it any more true.

The so called "long signal" which is supposed to have taken 30 minutes to transmit is a myth. The content of the message transmitted to Group West, detailing the action on the morning of the 24th and damage to Bismarck is correct, but it was sent as four separate coded signals, each of which could be transmitted in a couple of minutes with a reasonably trained morse-key operator. So there was no possibility of any ship managing a DF fix on the transmission. Not only that, when making ship to shore transmissions, the German capital ships used teleprinters, whereby the receiving station would receive, number by number, exactly what was being typed, or for rapid transmission what was being fed to the ship-borne machine via a punch-hole tape. This would give a standard transmission speed of 60 words per minute.

In the post operation wash-up, this signal is never mentioned on the German side as a negative or as being consequential to Bismarck's relocation and final sinking, except in some private publications the form of regurgitation of what has been written elsewhere. The ship was not relocated due to any DF fix, but was in fact spotted by a Catalina flying a fixed patrol across the bay of Biscay. The signal was intercepted by British listening stations as were nearly all German signals, but was not finally decoded at Bletchley Park until two weeks later, when the four parts were stitched together into one long message.

The transmission time of the first signal is 0401 according to the Uhrzeit-gruppe (the time of transmission) which was transmitted with the signal and remains attached to it in the Admiralty records office. It should be remembered also that the clocks in Bismarck were an hour behind those in the British ships and the British times are used in all publications, so it transpires that this signal was sent during the time when Bismarck was losing her pursuers, an evolution which began at 0306 and completed about an hour later. Since the ship was circling at the at time, no sense could have been made of a DF fix, even if one could have been made.

There were a number of DF fixes sent to Tovey that morning, but none of them came from Bismarck. They were probably made on U-Boats sending in routine weather reports or sightings.

The option of returning to Norway gave Bismarck such a slim chance of survival that it was not really worth considering. The Denmark Strait route was only workable when there was no alert on and the Strait was unlikely to be patrolled. The Iceland-Faroes route was being routinely patrolled by Coastal Command aircraft - the reason Lutjens chose to go through the Straits - and the Shetland-faroes route would always be suicide. If Bismarck needed a port, it would have to be in France and then a port with heavy air cover to protect her. There was now nowhere to run but to a French port and with the British fleet some way astern, short of a big slice of ill-luck, she could not be caught.

On passing south of Ireland, Lutjens addressed the ship's company where he gave a brief sketch of the tactical situation. Bismarck had been ordered to a French port, so he had detached PG so she could continue commerce raiding on her own. He warned the crew that they would face a very tough fight and that the British would now throw everything they had against the ship. He wasn't very far wrong on that score. If she had successfully evaded the British fleet, she would face heavy attacks from the air and from submarines as she came close to French waters. If he had PG in company she might very well succumb to bombs or torpedo attacks when Bismarck might survive. In dividing his forces he had actually divided the enemy's search and knowing that his own ship was the prime target he made sure that PG was relatively safe to the west.

The Atlantic had become much hotter after Scharnhorst and Gneisenau thumbed their noses at the Admiralty under Lutjens' command earlier that year. He was too wise to let his earlier success go to his head for this operation and now that the British had lost the Hood, a blow to prestige which they could not countenance without a tremendously powerful response, he knew he faced the mother of all naval actions and would come under attack from all directions, hence the warning to the crew to be on the alert. He told them they had done a good job to that point, but would now be called upon for even greater effort, something any British naval commander would have done under similar circumstances.

Historians, journalists, writers and even members of the the crew have blamed Lutjens for losing this beautiful ship. The loss was not the fault of the Fleet Commander, but the SKL who ordered him to take the vessel into the Atlantic against the advice he had given at operational planning conferences. He had a pretty good idea of what he was facing, but fought his squadron as well as any British commander could have done and did far better than many.

To conclude, Bismarck was such a prestige target, she would not be permitted the grace and favour of the smaller surface raiders who would be able to hide, oil and make repairs as is suggested in the topic's title. Her mere presence in the Atlantic would bring British naval and aerial assets from all directions intent on cornering and destroying this beast. Two fleet carriers each of which could cover a search area the size of Ireland, operating in conjunction with land-based Catalinas which could cover a search area of more than 20 degrees longitude, could between them soon locate a lone warship, looking for a lonely space in which to hide. For Scheer, Lutzov, Hipper and Prinz Eugen there might still be a place to hide, but not Bismarck and probably not now for Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. In the event, the SKL ruled that no more heavy surface ships could be risked on operations in the Atlantic.

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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by alecsandros » Wed May 22, 2013 11:26 am

...
According to Bismarck reconstructed war diary, there were several long messages sent from Lutjens long after contact with Prince of Wales and the 2 cruisers had been lost.

The hours according to the log are:
8:55
9:12
9:30
9:35
9:48

May 25th
[and they were intercepted by the British]

===
Detaching Prinz Eugen was a huge gamble, as Bismarck was already damaged, and a lone ship has much fewer chances of survival then when being escorted.

Finaly, the way to France was 2 times longer than that towards Norway, and British forces were considerably weaker in the north [Victorious with 12 Swordfishes, KGV and their escorts]

Choosing a route twice as long and against much heavier opponents which possessed excellent air cover and reconnaissance is simply not admissible.
Yes, the storm which was forming in the North Atlantic could have helped Bismarck in remaining undetected, and yes, returnign to Norway would have meant a semi-failure of Rheinubung (as the German squadron would have been considered "pushed off" by the British), but risking the largest and most powerfull ship in a very small navy , in this way, is not admissible, IMHO.
And that ESPECIALY because Bismarck was a prestige target, and thus likely to be targeted by a very large enemy force.

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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by Guest » Wed May 22, 2013 12:14 pm

Vic Dale wrote: this signal is never mentioned on the German side as a negative or as being consequential to Bismarck's relocation and final sinking, except in some private publications the form of regurgitation of what has been written elsewhere. The ship was not relocated due to any DF fix, but was in fact spotted by a Catalina flying a fixed patrol across the bay of Biscay.
Dave,

according to "The Searchers : Radio intercept in WWII" (Kenneth Mackesy, Cassell, 2003), the Catalina that spotted Bismarck was sent in an area in which Bismarck was known to be, due to DF.

Best,

Francis

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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by Vic Dale » Wed May 22, 2013 1:02 pm

There were no further interceptions of Bismarck's four part message sent to Bletchley Park. Being in code the parts would have had to have been decrypted there before the content could be assessed. In the Admiralty records there is only the one message timed at 0401, so very likely these other signals are secondary transmissions and are internal traffic sent between receiving stations and Group West. They may even have been sent via the "Fish" teleprinters which did not go to sea and employed their own version of the enigma code. Certainly there was no DF fix derived from any of them.

The DF fixes on "Bismarck" gained by the British and very likely with the help of the USA were all errors. One was definitely a U-Boat reporting it's sighting of Victorious at 0852.

Detaching PG was the most sensible thing to do. She could not protect Bismarck. A warship carries a limited number of rounds of ammunition for the guns and that includes flak. On passage towards France, once intercepted, the ship would likely come under ferocious and sustained air attack and her ammunition could very quickly become exhausted. A Ship making such a passage could only hope to survive if she had heavy air cover. With PG in company, the Luftwaffe would be charged with protecting two ships instead of just one. A single bomb, or worse a torpedo, could stop PG dead. Whilst Bismarck might absorb two or three torpedo strikes and a number of bombs, PG being a much lighter ship would be done in no time. She would be a liability. In any case, PG was not damaged, she was fully stored for an operation and her supply ships were on station. She should continue with the operation and play her part in stopping British trade.

The distance to cover to Brest might be twice that of the Northern route to Norway, but the Atlantic is open whereas the northern routes are restricted and what you describe would only get her as far as Norway. Bismarck would need a dockyard, so we must include the whole distance back to Hamburg. I'd say the distance was about the same, but with far less chance of attack from the air, if heading to France, until coming within 1000 miles from the British mainland.

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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by Vic Dale » Wed May 22, 2013 1:12 pm

Dave,

according to "The Searchers : Radio intercept in WWII" (Kenneth Mackesy, Cassell, 2003), the Catalina that spotted Bismarck was sent in an area in which Bismarck was known to be, due to DF.

Best,

Francis

Guest

This is incorrect.

The Catalinas were sent to form a crossover patrol across the Biscay. The operation was set up by a Coastal Command officer who had served in the merchant navy and learning that the ship was damaged and likely heading for a French port he used his own judgement. He knew that the French coast was rocky and assumed that Bismarck would head first for Ferrol in Northern Spain to make her landfall and then head direct for Brest. DF fixes had nothing to do with this.

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Re: Bismarck refuels and does repairs

Post by alecsandros » Wed May 22, 2013 1:26 pm

Vic Dale wrote:
Detaching PG was the most sensible thing to do. She could not protect Bismarck. A warship carries a limited number of rounds of ammunition for the guns and that includes flak. On passage towards France, once intercepted, the ship would likely come under ferocious and sustained air attack and her ammunition could very quickly become exhausted. A Ship making such a passage could only hope to survive if she had heavy air cover. With PG in company, the Luftwaffe would be charged with protecting two ships instead of just one. A single bomb, or worse a torpedo, could stop PG dead. Whilst Bismarck might absorb two or three torpedo strikes and a number of bombs, PG being a much lighter ship would be done in no time. She would be a liability. In any case, PG was not damaged, she was fully stored for an operation and her supply ships were on station. She should continue with the operation and play her part in stopping British trade.
I'm sorry, but I can't understand anything you've written above.

So you're saying that a single battleship, damaged and leaking oil, would survive better in hostile waters than if it were escorted by a heavy cruiser ?
The distance to cover to Brest might be twice that of the Northern route to Norway, but the Atlantic is open whereas the northern routes are restricted and what you describe would only get her as far as Norway. Bismarck would need a dockyard, so we must include the whole distance back to Hamburg. I'd say the distance was about the same, but with far less chance of attack from the air, if heading to France, until coming within 1000 miles from the British mainland.
... what restrictions ?
The only base was Scapa Flow, and the only operating squadron was Victorious+KGV.

On the other hand, steering the ship to the south and then to the east would bring it against the entire Home Fleet, all convoy escorts and all land-based reconaissance and attack planes. Moreover, it would give the British twice the time to find and destroy the battleship.


In short, the danger and length of the southern route was far larger than the danger and length of the northern route.

Lutjens gambled, without any kind of common sense, and, as expected, lost everything. I don't see any genius to it, it was more like utter madness.

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