What if Hood hadn't blown up?

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

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Antonio Bonomi
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Radar and messages

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:08 am

Ciao Rf and all,

I think you got exactly my 2 points :wink:

Suffolk radar could not tell the difference between the 2 German ships obviously, and since they lost the opportunity to 'observe' the change of positions they simply asssumed that the 2 German ships were still on the positions they left them before loosing the radar contact, so when they saw them with optics the night before.

So there are no ' direct' responsibilities to be assigned here to Suffolk, as they transmitted to Hood/Holland what they thought was the real situation, but unfortunately it was not anymore as accurate as they thougth.

But on board Hood, Adm Holland could only ' trust' what were the messages he was receiving, so one cannot blame him either for that.

As I have tryied to explain here everything happened so unexpectedly and un-noticed like a destiny already written.

A bit different between PoW and Hood, in that case I personally suppose that they went for the ' hunt and interception ' very well coordinated, with trasmissions between them well established as it must have been.

There are many good references to prove it, just as I was expecting been that the Royal Navy.

So, you are rigth, there was a very intense communication traffic on that crucial moment between the 2 British battleships, both ways, with radio, light signals and flags.

What I found 'strange' is that once PoW realized that on 300 course their Y turret was 'wooden' there is no mention of that been transmitted to Hood.
But it is a fact, that soon after the 300 course was ordered by Adm Holland and the 2 British battleships opened fire, they went back on course 280, so something must have happened, as this is not surely the best approach one can give to his artillery officers :wink: .

Similarly I find very unusual that on a crucial moment like that one, once a ship commander had realized that a target was wrongly assigned he did not communicate back the mistake and that he was doing something different, ..... but here reports are clear as Capt. Leach told that Hood itself communicate to him to switch target to the right hand ship even BEFORE opening fire, ..... so he is justified apparently by this, .. but still Hood was not hit yet and in full control of his gunnery, .. and even after they communicate this to PoW before 05.52, .... just as Capt Leach reported, ... they still opened fire to Prinz Eugen and kept on firing only to the German heavy cruiser all the way thru the engagement :shock: .

So it seems that Hood/Holland did realize that Bismarck was second in line before opening fire, ... on their own too.

But in this case something doesn't match here,.. very obviously, .. but nobody asked for an explanation and for many years the readers have been left on the wrong beleive that Hood could have fired or switched fire to Bismarck, .. while it was very easy to realize that never happened by photos and witness reports, .. like the PoW spotters for example.

I am sure your realize I am just putting togeter 'puzzle' pieces and highlight the mismatches and the things that to me do have some sort of logic explanations, .... hoping one day maybe new evidences will surface.

I suppose you have noticed also the fact that PoW tryied to take a lead position just before the engagement started.
Was that ordered ? Was it a Capt. Leach initiative ?
We will never know probably.

Very good discussion,... I like it.

Ciao Antonio :D

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RF
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Re: Radar and messages

Post by RF » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:09 pm

Antonio Bonomi wrote:Ciao Rf and all,


So it seems that Hood/Holland did realize that Bismarck was second in line before opening fire, ... on their own too.

But in this case something doesn't match here,.. very obviously, .. but nobody asked for an explanation and for many years the readers have been left on the wrong beleive that Hood could have fired or switched fire to Bismarck, .. while it was very easy to realize that never happened by photos and witness reports, .. like the PoW spotters for example.

I am sure your realize I am just putting togeter 'puzzle' pieces and highlight the mismatches and the things that to me do have some sort of logic explanations, .... hoping one day maybe new evidences will surface.



Ciao Antonio :D
According to Kennedy Holland after opening fire aadid order POW ''to switch fire one target right.''

If you look in the posts for the topic ''What if Hood hadn't blown up'' a post by RNFanDan explains why Hood itself couldn't switch fire: her DCT had been KO'd.
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Re: Radar and messages

Post by RF » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:12 pm

Antonio Bonomi wrote:Ciao Rf and all,

I suppose you have noticed also the fact that PoW tryied to take a lead position just before the engagement started.
Was that ordered ? Was it a Capt. Leach initiative ?
We will never know probably.

Very good discussion,... I like it.

Ciao Antonio :D
What is the source for this claim? I haven't seen or heard of this before.
According to Kennedy POW was under orders to stay in line and report Hood's fall of shot.
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Pow on the lead...

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Mon Oct 23, 2006 3:56 pm

Ciao RF and all,

I wrote on my article :
At 04:50 the Prince of Wales passed ahead of the British formation, on the Hood’s starboard side, and kept that position until 05:05 when the Hood resumed the lead position, again to port of Prince of Wales. Meanwhile VADM Holland ordered preparation for the upcoming battle. At 05:10 ‘’Action Station’’ was ordered aboard the British warships and everybody assumed their battle stations.
and
It has been reported that on board the Hood they noticed the error just before opening fire and that VADM Holland ordered a target switch to the second ship in the line (“G.I.C. and G.O.B. 1” = shift target one ship right ). But even if VADM Holland’s order was really issued, apparently it was never executed and consequently the Hood fired only on the Prinz Eugen all the way thru the engagement (Reference 22).

(22) References:

a) ADM 116-4352 Narrative J.C. Leach – Saturday May 24, 1941.
b) Lieutenant Commander Colin Mc Mullen letter ( First Artillery Officer H.M.S. Prince of Wales ) to Sir L. Kennedy regarding the H.M.S. Prince of Wales opening fire at Denmark Strait.
c) The Hood survivors reported that their ship fired at least two salvoes to the Prinz Eugen before the order was issued from the Hood command platform to change target to the Bismarck; while J.C. Leach (Prince of Wales) reported that the order to switch target to the right ship was received before both Hood and Prince of Wales opened fire. From the German side, veterans from Prinz Eugen reported that the Hood only fired at them, while the Bismarck survivors reported that Hood fired only on them. The fact remains that the hits the Bismarck received were always associated with the Prince of Wales by their radio reports.
d) Lieutenant Commander A.G. Skipwith H.M.S. Prince of Wales spotting Officer reported no Hood shells ever falling in the vicinity of the Bismarck – D.Mearns R.White book ‘ Hood and Bismarck ‘ Channel 4 books 2001, London pages 99 and 100 – R. Grenfell book ‘ The Bismarck episode ‘ Phanter book 1948 London, pages 41 and 42.
and here it is the official source by Capt Leach narrative :
Meanwhile at 0450 "Prince of Wales" was made guide of the fleet while "Hood" stationed herself on a bearing of 230 degs., resuming guide of the fleet at 0505. B.C.1 ordered first degree of readiness at 0510. There was a long wait while the horizon became gradually more distinct and at last at 0535 a suspicious object was sighted and an enemy report made at 0537. "Hood's" report followed immediately. Enemy bore 335 degs. And was on an approx course of 240 degs., "Bismarck" astern of a lighter ship. Course was altered 40 degs. By blue pendant at 0537 and at 0541 "Prince of Wales" was stationed on a bearing of 080 degs. At 0549 B.C.1 signalled:-

"G.S.B. 337 L.1" and a further blue two making to course 300 degs. Was executed.

During the approach "Hood" made - "G.I.C." - followed by - "G.O.B.1" - just before opening fire at 0552 1/2. Range approx. 25,000 yards. "Prince of Wales" opened fire at 0553.
You can read it into Capt. Leach narrative here in, at May 24th, 1941 - ADM 116 - 4352 document :

http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/off ... #P391Leach

and the McMullen letter too :

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


Ciao Antonio :D

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Post by RF » Tue Oct 24, 2006 7:12 am

I think that POW only took the lead as a scout for the flasgship in much the same way Lutjens put PE ahead of Bismarck, albeit Holland only did it temporarily. It doesn't appear that Leach intended to take permanent station against Hood.
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PoW on the lead

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:30 am

Ciao RF and all,

YES, that could be, but still it is very strange and unusual :think: .

Probably we will never know the real reasons for that 'strange' manoeuvre :think: .

Hope all the references and material was useful for you to understand the mismatches on how it went about the Hood opening fire moments.

Ciao Antonio :D

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Post by RF » Tue Oct 24, 2006 1:12 pm

It would have been interesting if the two British ships had sighted Bismarck while POW was in the lead, as I would imagine Holland would have engaged immediately with POW not only ahead of Hood but also out of line as well, which would make German gunnery more difficult.

I wonder how that would have developed?
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Post by Patrick McWilliams » Tue Oct 24, 2006 1:53 pm

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.
I imagine that had PE been withdrawn from the line of battle, she would have been stationed quite some distance starboard of Bismarck but either well in front of or behind the BB and not in the same line of fire from the British capital ships?

Maybe Antonio knows the exact "standing orders" for this contingency?

Patrick

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Post by tommy303 » Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:06 pm

I think there is a misunderstanding about the term guide of fleet. It has nothing to do with PoW taking the lead. Holland's ships were moving in echelon with PoW astern and slightly to starboard. Normally the flagship is guide when steaming in a straight line and the other ship or ships are expected to maintain position and distance. When Holland ordered a turn to port, Hood would have been on the inside of the turn and it would require either Hood to slow down so PoW can maintain position, or PoW to speed up to maintain if Hood did not slow down.

Since both ships were pretty much at their maximum speed it was out of the question for PoW to maintain position on Hood by increasing speed, if the flagship remained guide of fleet. As a result, it was Hood which had to slow to allow PoW to keep in formation during the turn, thus Hood adjusted her speed to maintain position on PoW--and it is this that made PoW temporary guide of fleet. Once on the new course, Hood would increase speed to the ordered fleet speed and resume guide of fleet status.

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:32 pm

What if Hood haven´t blown?

I believe that if everything else was the same then:
1. Bismarck would have hammered Hood so much that she would have disengaged or sunk, anyway, after heavy punishment.
2. PoW would have been damaged as well because she wouldn´t be able to disengage as fast as she originally did in order to help Hood to get out of the combat. In the process with her problems in the quad mounts then she´ll be exposed either to Bismarck or PE precise and lethal fire. It´s obvious that she would have scored more hits on Bismarck than the original ones... maybe a shot that went underwater and hit the port rudder? :think:
3. Suffolk and Norfolk. If they decided to charge then Bismarck aft 15" would have blown them out of the water (as the character in "Sink the Bismarck" said she could do); and if they decided to just see and later pick up the survivors and shadow the German Squadron they´ll have a much greyish participation in the battle than her original one.

My two cents...
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Post by RF » Fri Oct 27, 2006 1:17 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:What if Hood haven´t blown?

I believe that if everything else was the same then:

3. Suffolk and Norfolk. If they decided to charge then Bismarck aft 15" would have blown them out of the water (as the character in "Sink the Bismarck" said she could do); and if they decided to just see and later pick up the survivors and shadow the German Squadron they´ll have a much greyish participation in the battle than her original one.

My two cents...
Don't forget the six British destroyers with Holland. At the conclusion of a very long action the destroyers could launch torpedo attacks in conjuction with Norfolk and Suffolk, giving Bismarck eight targets to shoot at rather than just the two cruisers.
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Oct 27, 2006 1:48 pm

RF:
Don't forget the six British destroyers with Holland. At the conclusion of a very long action the destroyers could launch torpedo attacks in conjuction with Norfolk and Suffolk, giving Bismarck eight targets to shoot at rather than just the two cruisers.
When the destroyers got near the battlefield I doubt that Bismarck or/and PE would let them get near enough to use the torpedoes. By that time Bismarck could very well do 28 knots and can manouver freely. I´m sorry for the destroyers.
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Post by RF » Mon Oct 30, 2006 7:42 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
When the destroyers got near the battlefield I doubt that Bismarck or/and PE would let them get near enough to use the torpedoes. By that time Bismarck could very well do 28 knots and can manouver freely. I´m sorry for the destroyers.
If Bismarck was slowed, as it was in reality due to the forward hit in the oil tanks, then with a long action the other eight ships would have time to co-ordinate their actions, and the destroyers protect the cruisers if Lutjens were to go after them. Also they would block any immediate about turn by the German ships, in that in doing so the Germans would become exposed to co-ordinated torpedo attack.
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Oct 30, 2006 3:30 pm

RF:
If Bismarck was slowed, as it was in reality due to the forward hit in the oil tanks, then with a long action the other eight ships would have time to co-ordinate their actions, and the destroyers protect the cruisers if Lutjens were to go after them. Also they would block any immediate about turn by the German ships, in that in doing so the Germans would become exposed to co-ordinated torpedo attack.
Bismarck was doing good 27-28 knots after the bow hit. She was faster than many of the ships hunting her.
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Post by Bgile » Mon Oct 30, 2006 3:43 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote: When the destroyers got near the battlefield I doubt that Bismarck or/and PE would let them get near enough to use the torpedoes. By that time Bismarck could very well do 28 knots and can manouver freely. I´m sorry for the destroyers.
Just one British destroyer managed to torpedo Scharnhorst during a daylight engagement, right? Destroyers are hard to hit, and six would be very hard to stop.

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