Prinz Eugen's Performance at DS Battle

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Patrick McWilliams
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Prinz Eugen's Performance at DS Battle

Post by Patrick McWilliams » Thu Jun 01, 2006 1:11 pm

Hi All,

On another, less dedicated, website I was criticised for writing that "PE fought magnificently alongside Bismarck on 24 May 1941".

It was the use of "magnificently" that someone objected to. He felt that PE had been in no great danger that day and contradicted my assertion that hitting *two capital ships with at least three salvoes was not that special!

Even if one accepts that several hits on larger, much more heavily armoured and armed capital ships was nothing to write home about (and I don't accept this, naturally!), I feel that PE, at the very least, deflected or distracted the British ships' attention away from Bismarck and contributed substantially to the German victory that day.

What do others think? In WWII, how often did a cruiser hit and damage a battleship or battlecruiser? I know that lighter British ships hit/damaged heavier German units at the River Plate and North Cape, where Scharnhorst was the target, but are these valid comparisons? North Cape is possibly more valid as Scharn. was a "battlecruiser" but the British were't fighting two capital ships on that particular day.

Patrick

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jun 01, 2006 3:58 pm

Patrick,

Of course Prinz Eugen did great! No doubt about that: she hit the Hood before Bismarck did. She engaged both enemy ships. She did a magnificent job. And we have to take into consideration that she was the lesser of the ships engaged (Norfolf and Suffolk didn´t engage while the heat was on).
The only sad thing was the fact that her torpedo officer didn´t launch when the PoW was in range.

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Prinz Eugen on DS

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Thu Jun 01, 2006 5:09 pm

Ciao all,

I think that before any evaluation everybody must read what Kriegsmarine senior officers had to say about Prinz Eugen battle conduct as that was well scrutinized while back due to several problems occurred.

Vize-Adm Schmundt ( Cruisers HQ ) as well as Adm Carls and even Adm Schniewind wrote about it and asked Brinkmann more detailed reports.

We are lucky as those documents are all available here in.

http://www.kbismarck.com/archives/index.html

Open the Prinz Eugen war diary on pg-ktb.zip ( ref 2.4.8 ) and read the final letters for more infos, page 78 after on position statements.

My personal opinion is that Prinz Eugen as a ship did great because forced by Adm Lutjens orders to do so.

On this situation the ship performed overall great !

The first artillery Officer Kpt Ltnt Paulus Jasper did a SUPERB job, comparable to his collegue Schneider of Bismarck.

The Torpedo Officer E. Reimann did a very poor job, and did not executed 2 commander issued orders ( ? ) to launch torpedoes.

The ship commander, Kpt H. Brinkmann did so so according to me, ... he was not able to have his Torpedo Officer executing his orders twice ( ? ), ... he did well with the depth charges ( when one is a lot afraid thinks all sort of tricks ) confusing Hood spotters, .... he did terrible with his GHG and the torpedo ALAM confirmation when he went out and saw the 2 torpedo lanes,.. there were NONE !
He did not realized till the end that after Hood blew up PoW never fired to his ship and was still confused at the end, .. while turning with his ship all over the places and even in front of Bismarck bow.
He had a very good first artillery officer (P. Jasper ) but surely he did not helped him too much with his battle conduct.
But again, he was a cruiser commander under battleships main guns fire ( as he was convinced to be under fire up until the end of the engagement as distances were very close) so I am not surprised he was very sensitive to that, .. very sensitive to his ship been hit and as soon as he found a reason not to be still sailing in line of battle closing in with suicidal distances closure rate to main guns fire,.. he issued the TORPEDO ALARM and started turning wildly all over the places,.. and Lindemann had no choice but follow his ALARM and turn teh Bismarck away as well,.... because that is what he did and caused, ... and it is well proved.

If you read carefully the KM Admirals reports and positions that is more or less what they say as well,.. and I agree.

But he was a good officer I suppose ( Papa' Brinkmann ) and Adm Reader did not depicted on his briefing to A. Hitler on June 6th, 1941 all the occurrences during the battle.
That was sufficient to save his career I suppose, ..... as the first question Hitler asked Adm E. Reader to respond was : Why Bismarck did not sink the damaged PoW after the Hood was sunk ?

In Adm Reader shoes ... what would have you done, ... provide Hitler full details about it ???? He did not do it,.... a very generic response,... Brinkmann was safe.

Same things happend on the other side,..as Churchill was mad about Leach, Wake-Walker and all happened ,.. and Adm Tovey did exactly what his collegue Adm Reader did with Brinkmann,.. saving them as well.

Difference was that Churchill understood everything and Adm Tovey had to play his cards well ..... and strongly,.. face to face with him after he sunk the Bismarck,.. with his own initial dismission after he called back.

Hitler simply did not fully understand what happened ,... very low skilled of sea warfare, .. and Adm Reader had an easier job.

Just my personal opinions and my 2 cents.... please verify yourself.

Ciao Antonio :D

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Post by Gary » Thu Jun 01, 2006 10:09 pm

Its Ironic that the weakest armoured ship was the only one not to recieve any hits :angel:
God created the world in 6 days.........and on the 7th day he built the Scharnhorst

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Prinz Eugen at DS

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Sun Jun 04, 2006 12:40 pm

Ciao Gary and all,

I agre with you,... and with Kpt H. Brinkmann I suppose .....

Prinz Eugen was surely the weakest ship of the one's that did participate on the main engagement that day ( even if both Norfolk and Suffolk fired some salvoes from far away and were as weak as Prinz Eugen ).

But to fully understand that was not only luck, .. but also within the possible percentages ... one should evaluate the numbers of shells she received, from who and in what conditions.

In fact Prinz Eugen was targeted ONLY by HMS Hood for some like 10 salvoes ( 40 shells ?? ) fired under very difficult situation for Hood as the British battlecruiser was changing course frequently ( 3 times ) and probably lost completely the main fire control direction ( hit on the spotting top ) pretty soon.
So Hood went in local control with both forward and aft turrets, but aft turrets cannot be used due to fire and smoke on the area,.. while the forward were a lot disturbed by the water spreads on the local turrets rangefinders.

So it does not have to surprise much that Prinz Eugen was not hit at all by Hood, .. as the Hood was immediately initally more concentrated on the defense than on the offense, .. they surely did not think that the battle was only going to rest for such a small amount of time,.. and had immediate urgent needs to face.

Prinz Eugen fired the most shells ( 157 - to Hood and than PoW ) was the less disturbed ship and was targeted only by the ship running into most difficulties immediately ( Hood ), with the lowest amount of imprecise shells ( 40 ? ).

Luck only ?? ... I do not think so,.. within reasonable percentages due to the circumstances, .... surely ironic against 2 battleships.

Ciao Antonio :D

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Gary
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Post by Gary » Sun Jun 04, 2006 2:35 pm

Did the Prinz Eugen ever come under fire from the POW's 5.25 inch guns?
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Prinz Eugen at DS

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:22 pm

Ciao Gary and all,

NO !

HMS Prince of Wales secondary guns 133 mm ( or 5.25 inches ) did only fire to Bismarck ( ref. HMS PoW Gunnery report ).

But Kpt zur See Helmut Brinkmann did not realize apparently ( ref. F.O. Busch books reported Brinkmann statements ) that HMS Prince of Wales never fired with any guns to Prinz Eugen.

Consequently even with Hood sunk, Brinkmann was still a lot afraid that some of those 356 mm or 133mm shells were fired against Prinz Eugen, till the end of the battle.


That is due to the fact that the shells were falling between Prinz Eugen and Bismarck that was behind the German cruiser,.. so it was not so clear to be understood that PoW fire was only directed to Bismarck as the shells were falling in between the 2 German ships or very short of Prinz Eugen too ( see various photos of PoW last 3 salvoes in local control and the PG Film ).

Ciao Antonio :D

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Gary
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Post by Gary » Sun Jun 04, 2006 9:59 pm

Hi Antonio.

In a funny sort of way that may have worked to Prinz Eugen's advantage. :wink:

Prince of Wales was obviously using AP ammo.
Had any AP 14 inch shells hit the Prinz then they would (in all likelyhood) pass right through the ship and be half way to Timbuctoo before exploding.
This was not without danger though as even unexploding shells passing through cause nasty damage but not as much as shells that explode inside the ship.
Splinters could still end up in a Magazine though.
But you see what I am trying to say.
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Post by Bgile » Mon Jun 05, 2006 6:42 am

Hi Gary,

USS San Francisco (a heavy cruiser) was hit by a number of 14" HE shells during the first battle of Guadalcanal. They thanked their lucky stars they were not AP because they mostly did only superficial damage. The topsides were badly damaged, but the internal parts of the ship which were protected by armor were not destroyed.

I think you want AP vs a heavy cruiser.

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APo shells

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:37 am

Ciao BGile, Gary and all,

YES, I agree !

Using Armour Piercing ( AP ) shells, if PoW was firing and scoring a hit on Prinz Eugen, that was going to pass from one side to the other of the German lightly armoured cruiser.

Referencing Kpt Brinkmann words from F.O. Busch book ' The story of the Prince Eugen ' ...... he said just after the battle on the German Officer briefing on board Prinz Eugen while looking at a piece of shell he did not know was either from Hood or PoW : ... '' if one of those shells was entering one of our boilers we were not going to be here now talking each others ! ''.
One of his Officers told him the shell piece was surely from Hood as PoW never fired at them ( and there is when Kpt H. Brinkmann realized HMS PoW never fired to Prinz Eugen ).

The above statement and overall discussion do confirm that Hood fired at Prinz Eugen, .. that POW never fired at Prinz Eugen and on board Prinz Eugen some officers knew that immediately ( as we knew from PoW reports as well ) and that Kpt Brinkmann was still a lot worried at the end of the battle about the overall occurrences ( as it is quite obvious looking at what happened to his cruiser ).

A very interesting reading will be the PoW damage reports, .. and German shells performance evaluations made by British artillery experts on the shells found on PoW on teh drydock.

You will be surprised to see how poorly German shells worked on PoW.

Ciao Antonio :D

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Post by Gary » Mon Jun 05, 2006 6:27 pm

Hi Bgile and Antonio :cool:

Courtesy of the Hood website.....


Prince of Wales damage photos
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Post by joea » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:39 pm

Guys, I understood that it may have been a shell from Prinz Eugen that started a fire midships on Hood, the 5 inch ready ammo or AA can't recall. That gave Bismarck a good aiming point so even if PE could not hurt Hood significantly she helped her bigger "brother" :wink: out.

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PoW damages

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Tue Jun 06, 2006 9:57 am

Ciao Gary and all,

Thanks !

@ Gary,

I knew those photos as I am a lucky guy and I have all that report available now, including all the writings.

It is very interesting as I said about German shells poor performances evaluation made by British artillery experts.


@ Joea,

YES, that was the first of 2 Prinz Eugen hits on Hood.
It started a vivid fire on the mainmast area mainly due to the UPS rockets ( a very dangerous A/A weapon they had on board ) that were exploding all over the places like a Chinese carnival.
After this occurrence all those weapons were removed from any Royal Navy warship.


Ciao Antonio :D

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Post by Gary » Tue Jun 06, 2006 10:15 pm

Hi Antonio.

Yes, Prince of Wales was not that badly damaged after all.................but if that unexploded shell that found its way into a boiler room had exploded......
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Post by Bgile » Wed Jun 07, 2006 12:12 am

Gary wrote:Hi Antonio.

Yes, Prince of Wales was not that badly damaged after all.................but if that unexploded shell that found its way into a boiler room had exploded......
No shell penetrated a boiler room. I assume you are referring the shell which lodged in the compartment outboard of her torpedo holding bulkhead. If that had gone off, presumably the effect would be similar to her corresponding hit on Bismarck – the loss of a few knots of maximum speed due to loss of a boiler room.

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