Hood Gunnery on May 24

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paulcadogan
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by paulcadogan » Sat Feb 20, 2016 6:04 am

Interesting Thomas, but that can't be totally correct.

PG and Bismarck were too far apart to be seen simultaneously in a single optical device. But it does illustrate that Bismarck being 3000 m astern of PG, and if they were partially or fully hull down, would have appeared smaller, adding to the identification difficulty.

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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Sat Feb 20, 2016 9:45 am

Thanks Tommy,
very interesting.
Looking at the image, I'm not surprised someone on Hood misidentified the two ships and I really wonder how PoW observers could have correctly identified Bismarck even earlier...... :clap:

@ all: still I think that Holland, having given order to PoW to switch target right at 5:52, had already realized that BS was following PG, because a PG behind was not posing an immediate threat and could have been left to the British cruisers, or engaged at a later stage.

A PG far ahead of BS, on the other side, could have looked to Holland as an attempt of the cruiser to escape using her superior speed to start an independent cruise in Atlantic, therefore a possible (wrong IMHO only with hindsight) decision to try to stop her with few salvos form Hood (built as a cruiser killer), before concentrating fire on Bismarck..... :think:

Then, possibly, when he realized that both German ships were concentrating on his flagship, and that PG was sailing 3 knots slower than BS (don't forget Lutjens had given order to PG to keep her speed and to BS to catch up speeding to 30 knots, so BS was already closing the gap to PG as we clearly see in the photos/film......), he ordered to switch fire to BS (too late, spotting top was already gone and gunnery possibly disrupted or Dryer table unable to quickly execute the order). :(

Bye, Alberto
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Sat Feb 20, 2016 1:46 pm

Hello everybody,

just another view ...

DS_first_look.jpg
DS_first_look.jpg (32.59 KiB) Viewed 1769 times
Bye Antonio :D
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Sat Feb 20, 2016 1:52 pm

@Antonio:
thanks a lot, very nice image.

The one posted by Tommy seems more in line with the distance (around 13 sm) that should show a Bismarck slightly under the horizon and not with her full hull visible.....

However, looking at this image, who is who is quite evident even to me ( :lol: ) and it seems to confirm PoW feeling that "the first ship was a large one but the second one was larger".....

Bye, Alberto
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by paulcadogan » Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:49 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:Thanks Tommy,
very interesting.
Looking at the image, I'm not surprised someone on Hood misidentified the two ships and I really wonder how PoW observers could have correctly identified Bismarck even earlier...... :clap:

@ all: still I think that Holland, having given order to PoW to switch target right at 5:52, had already realized that BS was following PG, because a PG behind was not posing an immediate threat and could have been left to the British cruisers, or engaged at a later stage.

A PG far ahead of BS, on the other side, could have looked to Holland as an attempt of the cruiser to escape using her superior speed to start an independent cruise in Atlantic, therefore a possible (wrong IMHO only with hindsight) decision to try to stop her with few salvos form Hood (built as a cruiser killer), before concentrating fire on Bismarck..... :think:

Then, possibly, when he realized that both German ships were concentrating on his flagship, and that PG was sailing 3 knots slower than BS (don't forget Lutjens had given order to PG to keep her speed and to BS to catch up speeding to 30 knots, so BS was already closing the gap to PG as we clearly see in the photos/film......), he ordered to switch fire to BS (too late, spotting top was already gone and gunnery possibly disrupted or Dryer table unable to quickly execute the order). :(

Bye, Alberto
But Alberto, that means you are discounting Ted Brigg's eyewitness testimony of the report from the spotting top that they were FIRING at the wrong ship - i.e. AFTER Hood had opened fire, along with the statement that "our shells had been falling near Prinz Eugen". Then Holland calmly orders "Shift target to the right". Note that he is NOT reported to have given any order to inform PoW of the change at THAT time, which he should have given if he believed the latter was also firing at the lead ship according to his original order. He didn't have to, because he had already given that change order to PoW just prior o Hood opening fire at 0552.

If the gunnery department had been ordered to stay on PG despite discovering that Bismarck was on the right, the spotters would not have said anything about the "wrong" ship. Holland would simply have given the order when he was ready.

The illustration given by Antonio though beautifully illustrated, again does not reflect what would have been the scene at 0550, at 0552 or even 0555. The ships are far too close together with full above waterline hull visibility. That might be better illustrative of 0603 before the torpedo alarm I would think....

(Just got back to Jamaica from a long but interesting and enjoyable week in Trinidad - work related, not vacation.)

Paul
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by wadinga » Sat Feb 20, 2016 9:31 pm

Hi All

Paul is undoubtedly right.
PG and Bismarck were too far apart to be seen simultaneously in a single optical device
That is because he remembers reading what witnesses who were there saw, rather than any realisations (even lovely images) that have been created recently.

Geoffrey Brooke says "Shifting my binoculars a little, I picked up a second director a good way to the left and then the performance repeated itself - stalk, lump, tower, pyramid- but on a smaller scale. Surely it must be the Tirpitz, only further off , ie, on the further bow of Bismarck. I swallowed hard. If it was the Tirpitz, we were certainly in for something. But Guns decided it was a cruiser, re-affirming the right hand ship as target."

As for Lutjens cunningly holding his fire until he was in killing range, or cunnningly letting Prinz Eugen soak up enemy fire, this would be out of character. His gunners had misidentified the British ships as cruisers until heavy salvoes started landing. More likely glum Gunter was dumbfounded and did nothing positive at all, whilst Lindemann chafed at the lack of orders from his superior. He didn't send PG to investigate the new interceptors, he didn't send her to the safe side. He did nothing at all. Eventually Lindemann lost patience- "I will not let my ship be shot out from under my Arse!"

PoW's gunners never saw Hood splashes anywhere near Bismarck.

This Lutjens Fan Club stuff is nearly as bad as the internet meme out there where he is re-imagined as a heroic Jewish secret freedom fighter who deliberately wrecked the mission to hurt the Nazi cause. :lol:

All the best

wadinga
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Sat Feb 20, 2016 10:10 pm

Paul Cadogan wrote: "But Alberto, that means you are discounting Ted Brigg's eyewitness testimony of the report from the spotting top that they were FIRING at the wrong ship - i.e. AFTER Hood had opened fire, along with the statement that "our shells had been falling near Prinz Eugen"."
Hi Paul,
no, I'm not discounting Ted Briggs testimony, just I don't think Holland would have explained to the spotting top his decision (to prevent PG from leaving the battlefield), just given an order "fire to the left hand target". Therefore such a "comment" from the spotting top is not impossible at all......

Holland could have decided independently from this comment to switch fire to BS, when he realized that PG was not trying to leave the flagship and to slip into Atlantic. Briggs could have interpreted it as a consequence of the "comment". This would also explain the lack of any surprise in Holland attitude.

Anyway, it's just a speculation of mine, like any other, nobody will ever be able to say what Holland had in mind...... :(

Bye, Alberto
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by RF » Wed Feb 24, 2016 6:11 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
A PG far ahead of BS, on the other side, could have looked to Holland as an attempt of the cruiser to escape using her superior speed to start an independent cruise in Atlantic, therefore a possible (wrong IMHO only with hindsight) decision to try to stop her with few salvos form Hood (built as a cruiser killer), before concentrating fire on Bismarck.....
Bye, Alberto
Given the operational necessity to stop the Bismarck plus the vulnerability of Hood to Bismarck's fire I find this a curious line of thought. With the added scenario also of eight of the heavy guns not bearing on either enemy ship I would have thought that Holland's first priority must be to degrade Bismarck's gunnery and that would mean all available guns fire on Bismarck.... a decision surely obvious at the point Holland's run in started.
I think the misidentification was just that and there was no intent to fire on Prinz Eugen.
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Feb 24, 2016 7:01 pm

RF wrote: "Holland's first priority must be to degrade Bismarck's gunnery and that would mean all available guns fire on Bismarck....I think the misidentification was just that and there was no intent to fire on Prinz Eugen."
Hi RF,
it can be as you say, but then why sending a message to PoW at 5:52 to switch fire on (what he supposed to be) PG ?

At that time Holland had the opportunity to choose the target. Paul's theory of Holland being uncertain between the two is more credible, but if he was sure that BS was ahead, then he would have concentrated fire on her. My theory is just an alternative one.

Unfortunately, we will never know for sure.

Bye; Alberto
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by RF » Thu Feb 25, 2016 10:47 am

Cancel posting error.
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by RF » Thu Feb 25, 2016 10:50 am

Cancel posting error.
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by RF » Thu Feb 25, 2016 10:51 am

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
At that time Holland had the opportunity to choose the target. Paul's theory of Holland being uncertain between the two is more credible,
Bye; Alberto
But the whole point of Holland's mission was to stop Bismarck at all costs - it is Bismarck that is the real menace to the Atlantic convoys, Prinz Eugen being an incidental increment to the German force in comparison to the threat posed by Bismarck. This point has been emphasised by you in criticising Leach in breaking off the action with Bismarck immediately Hood sank...... in essence Holland has no choice of targets, given the tactical situation he has no choice other than to attack Bismarck with all available fire.

If Holland had decided to split his fire, it gives Bismarck an advantage which would allow Lutjens the initiative during Holland's run in, which in the actual battle proved decisive in that Hood was sunk. If Holland had decided to target Prinz Eugen as well as Bismarck at the start of the battle I would wonder whether Holland knew what he was doing, there would be a huge risk to Hood in doing so and increases the risk of Bismarck being loose in the North Atlantic having disposed of or escaped from Holland's force.

In that situation, if Holland had survived the action, I would expect Churchill to call for an enquiry into Holland's actions, and in this instance I think he would be right to do so.
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:09 am

Hi RF,
the only sure fact is that at 5:52, just before opening fire, Holland ordered to PoW to switch target to the right (so to BS).
I don't se any reason why Hood should have Hood firing to the left target (PG) else than:

1) Paul's theory (he was still uncertain who was who and he decided to engage both, not to leave BS unengaged in case of error) or

2) my one (recognizing PG far ahead of BS, and not wanting her to escape due to her superior speed and British cruisers relative position, he tried to stop her with few salvos before the (expected long lasting) duel with BS was at its peak).

In my personal, 2 cents opinion, the decision in both cases can be blamed only with hindsight, but I can see your point.

Bye, Alberto
Last edited by Alberto Virtuani on Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by alecsandros » Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:12 am

There was also the aspect of Hood and Prince of Wales hindering each other's salvo spottings, if firing at the same ship. Allthough they did divide their fire in "time zones", that wasn't enough , as the range was decreasing extremely fast, and thus time of flight of the 15" and 14" shells would be reduced and salvo interference would be unavoidable.

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Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by paulcadogan » Thu Feb 25, 2016 3:52 pm

RF wrote: Given the operational necessity to stop the Bismarck plus the vulnerability of Hood to Bismarck's fire I find this a curious line of thought. With the added scenario also of eight of the heavy guns not bearing on either enemy ship I would have thought that Holland's first priority must be to degrade Bismarck's gunnery and that would mean all available guns fire on Bismarck.... a decision surely obvious at the point Holland's run in started.
I think the misidentification was just that and there was no intent to fire on Prinz Eugen.
RF, I don't believe there was any intent to fire on PG. The problem for Hood was IDing which was which as the range came down and the time to open fire approached. To my mind we have to consider these factors in trying to assess what Holland was doing.

1)At 0550, Holland signalled for concentration of fire on the left hand ship, believing Bismarck to be leading.

2) At 0552, seconds before Hood opened fire, he signalled PoW to shift target right.

3) We know that Hood continued to fire at the left hand target.

4) We have Ted Briggs' account which states that a report came from the spotting top AFTER Hood opened fire that they were shooting at the wrong ship at which point Holland ordered a shift to the right hand target.

5) It has been said (McMullen's letter) that the conditions in Hood's spotting top at speed might have made target observation more difficult than it was for PoW - hence it was harder to distinguish the German ships at long range.

Points 3 and 4 suggest that the order to PoW at 0552 was NOT given to Hood's gunnery department - otherwise they should have switched target prior to the opening of fire and there would have been no need for them to report the error afterwards.

So, this is why I suggest there was uncertainty on Hood's compass platform (and gunnery department for that matter) at 0552 as to which German ship was which. Holland could either have held fire until firm ID was made (which might have been dangerous if the Germans fired on them first) or temporarily spread fire to ensure Bismarck was targeted immediately with the correction being made upon definitive ID. To me this is the most logical explanation.

This is why I always lament the fact that Leach did not immediately signal PoW's misgivings with the 0550 signal from Holland. When the shift signal came at 0552, he would therefore have assumed that the flagship had recognized the error in time.

Paul
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