What if Hood hadn't blown up?

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

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miro777
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Post by miro777 » Tue Oct 17, 2006 2:56 pm

hey...
but why would PE ever even THINK about doing so??


adios
miro
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Antonio Bonomi
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Prinz Eugen

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Tue Oct 17, 2006 3:52 pm

Ciao Miro and all,

what RF is trying to tell you is that German Kriegsmarine standard procedures ( but also other fleets ) mandatorely required cruisers NOT to engage enemy battleships on a closed formation, like an exchange of shells in line, just as happened on Denmark Strait battle.

Consequently because of this reason, Prinz Eugen commander ( Kpt zur See Helmut Brinkmann ) should have pulled his cruiser ' out of line ' and on the protected side of the Bismarck ( on her starboard aft ) his cruiser, the Prinz Eugen, early on the assembly of the battle line, as soon as they realized they were facing battleships.

Why he did not execute this procedure was formally asked him when he arrived in Brest by his ' boss' Vize-Adm Schmundt on a formal request letter.

Read yourself here in at point 4 :

http://www.kbismarck.com/archives/pg003.html


The answer was quite obvious, not only he was not ordered to do so by Adm Lutjens, but on the opposite, Adm Lutjens himself clearly ordered him to target Hood first ( 05.54 ) and after the Prince of Wales ( at 05.58 ) and by doing so he clearly did not gave any possibility to Kpt Brinkmann to pull out of the battle line his cruiser.

Vize-Adm Schmundt himself is making this point very clear on his letter as you should have read yourself.

For anybody that is still convinced that Adm Lutjens was not knowing what he was doing, I remind everybody that at 05.53 he sent a radio signal to Berlin - SKL telling them that he was engaged by battleships ( and this was after Hood and PoW opened fire at 05.52 and 30 seconds ).

So a well guessed order by Adm Lutjens sent to Prinz Eugen ( at 05.54 ) to remain in ' line of battle' after he realized he was engaging battleships ( a minute before at 05.53 ), and also confirmed after too by changing his target from Hood to PoW ( at 05.58 ), just before Hood blew up.

This removes any doubt form the fact that Adm Lutjens was not knowing he was engaging battleships and intentionally used a cruiser in line of battle against them, winning that battle.

That was Denmark Strait battle winning order, as it caused Hood to be hit by both German ships 4 times, progressively disabled and than sunk.

By the way, that is exactly what the British would have liked to have happened as it was going to re-establish the situation they thought they were going to face, with Prinz Eugen back of Bismarck and so in position to be attacked by Norfolk and Suffolk during the battle if rested enough time.

Adm Lutjens thougt differently and ordered the Baron Von Mullenheim-Rechberg to look carefully at the Norfolk and the Suffolk back there, but ordered Prinz Eugen to stay ahead of Bismarck and in ' line of battle ' just using Prinz Eugen as it was a battleship, and to target the Hood ( after an initial order to target PoW immediately changed ).

I do not know if Kpt Brinkmann liked the order at all, been up there with a cruiser and not on a battleship, but he executed the order, and the rest is history.

Ciao Antonio :D

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miro777
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Post by miro777 » Tue Oct 17, 2006 5:16 pm

hey....
nice post there....

but i don't really understand one thing....
why would a cruiser pull out?
wats the use?
if there is a situation 1 BB vs 2 BBs....
and then the cruiser pulls out...
the chances of the BB getting sunk is higher than if the cruiser is helpin...
if the BB would be sunk, then the BBs could simply sink the cruiser as well, if the cruiser stayed at the BB's side all the time....

so i see no point really...

enlighten me please :idea:

adios
miro
Die See ruft....

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Antonio Bonomi
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If Hood did not blow up

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Wed Oct 18, 2006 8:36 am

Ciao Miro and all,

Ok, I see your point and maybe that was also the thougth process of Adm Lutjens, but we will never know for sure.

Try now to think for a minute about the possibility of Prinz Eugen been hit earlier on the battle by a Hood shell ( as Hood was firing at her on reality too ); what was going to be the development of that battle after ?

What Bismarck was going to do with Prinz Eugen heavily damaged there and surrounded by 4 enemy ships ?
Bismarck could have absorbed ( as she did 3 times ) a heavy shell hit, Prinz Eugen could not so easily.

That is what Vize-Adm Schmundt was pointing out on his letter.

That is probably why Norfolk and Suffolk initially were more distant waiting for the battle development on British favour before getting into it.

It did not happen to Prinz Eugen, but is easy to understand that it was much more possible been up there closing in the line of battle the distances with the enemy, engaging them as Prinz Eugen did.

If a cruiser lightly armoured was going to be hit by a battleship shell, that was most likely the end of her career right there ( Kpt Brinkmann himself told this at the end of the battle to his Officers during the briefing ).

That is the reason why KM standard procedures asked the lighly armoured ships to pull out of the battle line and stay protected on the ' lee' side of the main ships, so the Bismarck.

But if Adm H. Nelson was going to follow the procedures, he was never going to win the Trafalgar battle.

I personally doubt that following the KM standard procedures Adm Lutjens was going to win the Denmark Strait battle either.


Ciao Antonio :D

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Post by RF » Wed Oct 18, 2006 1:34 pm

I think Lutjens thought that the British wouldn't fire on the PE, that Hood and POW would concentrate on Bismarck. This was indeed the British intention. What upset things was Hollands failure to identify his intended target properly, and were it not for the insubordination of Captain Leach then both British ships would have targeted PE and Bismarck would not even be under fire!

So Lutjens thought processes in this respect as commander ''in the field'' was correct - leave PE in line so both British ships would be under fire, with no risk to his cruiser providing the British did concentrate on Bismarck. Schmundt wasn't on Bismarcks' bridge - if he were I think he would have a different view.

Holland's mistake was of course cancelled by Hood's demise - which gives further justification on PE engaging POW together with Bismarck.

Note that this business of cruisers engaging battleships was not a problem for the British - they did it time and time again, against all enemies.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Antonio Bonomi
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Cruisers engagements

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Wed Oct 18, 2006 6:11 pm

Ciao RF and all,

YES, you are right, for example at Punta Stilo on July 9th, 1940 both Italian and British fleet's engaged cruisers with battleships.

See map's here in :

http://www.regiamarina.net/battles/punt ... aps_it.htm

In my personal opinion the real 'mistake' that caused most of the troubles to the British formation was a combination of the initial course change due to Holland 280-300-280 course change's and the initial lethal precision of the German gunners, since the very beginning of that battle.

That caused all the surprise advantage of the British units, the gun number superiority and initial precision to get lost and soon after the German gunners precision unbalanced the fight in their favour.

I think personally that with the 2 British ships on a stable straight course ( on 280 degrees for example ) even targeting the 2 German ships , they were going to score sooner and better, probably on both German ships.

That meant 4 guns more for Hood ( X and Y turrets) since 05.52 and 30 seconds and 4 guns more for PoW ( the whole Y quadruple turret ) since 05.53, but mostly gunnery accuracy since the beginning for all the guns including the others forward.

..and at that point with this assumption even with Prinz Eugen in line of battle,..with all 4 ships having received hits, .. and Norfolk and Suffolk joining into the battle,.... everything was going to be as the British planned,..and most likely both German ships been sunk or heavily damaged at least.

Ciao Antonio :D

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RF
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Post by RF » Thu Oct 19, 2006 7:06 am

A further thought on this - given Lutjens order to Mullenheim-Rechberg - it is also highly likely Lutjens felt that having PE on either Bismarcks starboard quarter or astern of her would encourage Norfolk/Suffolk to put on a spurt of speed to try to attack PE while Bismarck was fully engaged.

Remember that Lutjens had ordered PE to take station 2 miles ahead of Bismarck, not just to use PE's radar ahead but to protect her from the chasing cruisers and to leave a clear field of fire for the 38 cm guns should the cruisers close.

Also note - per Grenfell and Kennedy - the distance between Bismarck and PE was sufficiently great that the British officers on Hood and POW were unable to view both German ships together with binoculars. This is the main reason for Holland failing to identify correctly which ship was Bismarck.

So PE was not in as close a formation with Bismarck as POW was with Hood, I think POW went into action about 800 yards astern of Hood, thats about one quarter of the total separation distance between Bismarck and PE.
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Antonio Bonomi
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Distances

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Thu Oct 19, 2006 9:27 am

Ciao RF and all,

YES, you can be right about that additional reason for Adm Lutjens to keep Prinz Eugen up there so much ahead of Bismarck.

We analyzed the photo NH69722 ( first Bismarck salvo ) and the distance we were able to evaluate between Prinz Eugen and Bismarck was around 2500 meters more or less, so much greater than the 4 cables ( around 800 meters ) between Hood and PoW.

viewtopic.php?t=273

I read as well that witness report of a PoW spotter that said Bismarck and Prinz Eugen did not fit into his binocular as distant they were.

But PoW correctly identyfied the Bismarck anyway, Hood did not.

I think the Suffok radio reports always reporting Bismarck ahead of Prinz Eugen did play a role there confusing Hood and Adm Holland a lot.

Ciao Antonio :D

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Re: Distances

Post by RF » Thu Oct 19, 2006 1:21 pm

Antonio Bonomi wrote:Ciao RF and all,

But PoW correctly identyfied the Bismarck anyway, Hood did not.

I think the Suffok radio reports always reporting Bismarck ahead of Prinz Eugen did play a role there confusing Hood and Adm Holland a lot.

Ciao Antonio :D
2 points here:

1) Apparently there was a lengthy discussion on POW's bridge as to which ship was Bismarck, which had been triggered by Holland's order to fire on left hand ship. According to Kennedy the officers on POW's bridge initially identified the German pair as Bismarck and Tirpitz, then thought the right hand ship had a larger profile than the left hand ship, and it was that which made up Leach's mind as to which one was Bismarck.

2) The Suffolks report at the time was correct. I believe the Suffolk briefly lost radar contact at the time PE moved ahead of Bismarck.
Remember also Holland's original intention - to engage Bismarck around 2.30 to 3.00 AM when he had a much more favourable approach axis, but the Suffolk lost contact, preventing that interception, so Hood/POW were left running roughly parallel to the German ships.
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Suffolk report

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:07 am

Ciao Rf and all,

your 2 points are very interesting and do deserve a lot of careful analysis:

1) When PoW after the discussion you described realized that Bismarck was second il line, did Capt. Leach made any signal about it to Hood ?
I have never read anything about this, on any report or book.
Seems like nobody asked him about it and how it went on those crucial minutes about this mismatch.
Did they exchanged flag signals ?
Radio messages ?
Same thing do apply also to the Y quadrule turret been 'wooden' after the 300 course order, did PoW signalled that to Hood ??
Was that the reason of the order to go back on course 280 ?


2) No, here it is clear that Suffolk was sending wrong informations to Adm Holland after having re-established the radar contact , it is written on the documents :
At 03:19 the Suffolk transmitted one of her reports on the enemy.

This was very useful for VADM Holland to evaluate the whole scenario.

The Suffolk reported a battleship at 188° (from Suffolk) at a distance of 24,000 yards (21,900 meters) and one heavy cruiser at 185° at a distance 22,500 yards (20,500 meters).

From this message it is clear that Suffolk was still reporting the Bismarck position as ahead of Prinz Eugen by 1,400 meters (1,500 yards), without having realized that the two German ships had changed their own positions a few hours before.
You can read all the events here in :

http://hmshood.com/history/denmarkstrai ... trait1.htm

There is no mention on Suffolk war diary about having made any signal after this to Hood about German ships having exchanged their positions.

So this goes on partial justification on what initially happened on board Hood for the wrong ship identification, they had same PoW doubts probably, and also this radio message, ... that was surely incorrect.

Ciao Antonio :D

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miro777
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Post by miro777 » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:39 pm

hey....
very interesting posts....

to the first point i can just say...
as i read that Hood and PoW were strictly prohibited to send radio messages....

yet i know understand why the cruiser was not suppose to engage...
adios
miro
Die See ruft....

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Post by RNfanDan » Sat Oct 21, 2006 6:37 am

miro777 wrote:... i don't really understand one thing....
why would a cruiser pull out?
wats the use?

enlighten me please :idea:

adios
miro
You already received a fine, lengthy answer to these questions, so please forgive my belated intrusion. However, I was surprised not to see what I feel is a simpler, more obvious reason for PE moving out of line: Preservation!

True, that if Bismarck had thus faced both Hood and PoW alone, and been sunk in the face of superior forces, PE would next be the sole target. But, what seems evident to me, is that PE would be able to use its superior speed to escape. PE:
1) was faster than either British heavy unit;
2) could deftly avoid heavy salvoes (as proven in the actual battle);
3) would not likely be pursued by Holland (but possibly by the shadowing cruisers);
4) could be spared to fight another day.

Bear in mind, please--PE was to raid British trade shipping and, like its bigger companion, was to avoid unnecessary risk of damage. I also feel that the British would not have marshalled the extensive resources they did to find and sink Bismarck. Chasing a swift cruiser about the Atlantic seems quite secondary to far more important British requirements.

The resultant situation (PE joining S&G at Brest) would unlikely have varied much, from that which actually occurred. Hitler would still have been in the same position (the loss of Bismarck), the Channel Dash was still just as likely to have occurred, etc. etc. etc....

The only real variant in this, would be PE attempting to make a run back north after refueling at sea and waiting for the British to go home, but I don't feel that Brinkmann would attempt such a maneuver, alone. After all, he had the same opportunity before him when he parted company with Lütjens, although he was under orders at that time to do otherwise.
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Post by RF » Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:55 am

RNfanDan wrote:
miro777 wrote:... i don't really understand one thing....
why would a cruiser pull out?
wats the use?

enlighten me please :idea:

adios
miro
You already received a fine, lengthy answer to these questions, so please forgive my belated intrusion. However, I was surprised not to see what I feel is a simpler, more obvious reason for PE moving out of line: Preservation!


Would PE actually have been safer hiding behind Bismarck? In fact she would have been more in the line of fire, as both British ships would have to fire on Bismarck because that ship would be the only target in British sights.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Suffolk report

Post by RF » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:00 am

Antonio Bonomi wrote:Ciao Rf and all,

your 2 points are very interesting and do deserve a lot of careful analysis:

1) When PoW after the discussion you described realized that Bismarck was second il line, did Capt. Leach made any signal about it to Hood ?
I have never read anything about this, on any report or book.
Seems like nobody asked him about it and how it went on those crucial minutes about this mismatch.
Did they exchanged flag signals ?
Radio messages ?
Same thing do apply also to the Y quadrule turret been 'wooden' after the 300 course order, did PoW signalled that to Hood ??
Was that the reason of the order to go back on course 280 ?

Ciao Antonio :D
Things were happening very quickly here - did they have time to signal by flag or by blinck-lamp? The signal traffic from Hood was fairly constant, could POW ''butt in'' the way of fleet orders?l
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Post by RF » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:04 am

Hi Antonio,

This business about the incorrect radar reports from Suffolk - this poses one other question, how easy was it for the radar operator to tell the different size echoes from two ships on slightly different bearings?

Were the echoes from the target ship superstructures or the length of stem? The former might give very similar echoes.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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