What if Hood hadn't blown up?

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

Moderator: Bill Jurens

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7603
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Post by RF » Tue Oct 31, 2006 7:46 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
Bismarck was doing good 27-28 knots after the bow hit. She was faster than many of the ships hunting her.
NO.

Speed was reduced to 21 knots to allow installation of the collision mats. Thereafter Bismarck was only doing about 21 knots, the maximum for which the mats would remain effective.

Bismarcks continued reduction in speed later caused Suffolk to have to turn 360 degrees suddenly because the range had gradually reduced.
The reduced speed also suited POW as she continued to cover the cruisers shadowing Bismarck, as POW had also received below the waterline hits.
The lower overall speed of all ships also aided greatly the detachment of PE from Bismarck, as PE was able to do the 27 knots.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue Oct 31, 2006 7:39 pm

From José Rico´s book about Bismarck:

" As a result of those hits the top speed of the Bismarck was reduced to 28 knots. The battleship was 3 degrees down by the bow and had 9 degrees list to port...."
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Post by Bgile » Wed Nov 01, 2006 3:18 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:From José Rico´s book about Bismarck:

" As a result of those hits the top speed of the Bismarck was reduced to 28 knots. The battleship was 3 degrees down by the bow and had 9 degrees list to port...."
I've always thought this strange in comparison to a smaller ship's performance. USS North Carolina was hit by a type 92 torpedo in way of her number one turret. Her initial list was 5 degrees and this was eliminated within 5 minutes by counterflooding. Part of the counterflooded space was pumped out within an hour.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7603
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Post by RF » Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:37 am

A hit against the turret would preumably be different from a hit right on the bow? The turret level hit would be more amenable to counterflooding?
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Post by Bgile » Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:12 pm

RF wrote:A hit against the turret would preumably be different from a hit right on the bow? The turret level hit would be more amenable to counterflooding?
I believe most of the list was caused by the hit amidships.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7603
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re:

Post by RF » Mon Feb 09, 2009 2:51 pm

RNfanDan wrote:Short answer--NO.

This topic has been discussed from countless angles and hypotheses, but if one is willing to accept some reality i.e., that the battle proceeds in a historically-accurate fashion up to the point of "two blue" (Holland's signal to Prince of Wales to turn to port), even taking away the fatal magazine hit could not have allowed Hood and PoW to sink Bismarck.

I'll explain my opinion as succinctly as I can:

1) Hood was firing at the wrong ship. From the opening salvo of the battle, Hood's shells were of absolutely no threat to Bismarck, no matter how accurate the British gunnery.

2) While the Bismarck itself could arguably be accused of firing at the "wrong" ship---from the standpoint of #1, above---Hood was already in a bad way, even before the magazine explosion. From the evidence presented in many posts to this forum over the past year or so, especially it would seem that Hood never actually shifted targets. I think this would have continued, at least for several more critical minutes, until someone realized the targeting error and effected a change in fire control procedure.

Even without the fatal hit, the ship was afire, had lost a key gunnery-control function (the hit on the upper control facility), and would have been delayed in re-acquiring a target after the turn to port was executed. With then two additional turrets requiring target information from a disabled control system, changes would have to be made very quickly to bring these turrets to bear. Once Holland's turn had been completed, Hood's fire control may well have been forced into a divided, fore-and-aft local configuration. In any case, Hood's effect is only to allow PoW more time to range her guns.

3) Based on these circumstances, it is safe to assume that German gunnery would have boarded numerous additional shellhits on Hood, while the latter was still getting its own rapidly-deteriorating affairs sorted-out. Had Hood not been destroyed by that point, she may well have been forced to disengage (as PoW later did) or could have suffered other crippling blows sufficient to compel her to alter course away temporarily, leaving PoW to hold the line until clarity had been restored.

4) None of this affects Bismarck thus far, except that PoW would now be much more effective, having enjoyed the luxury of German fixation upon Hood even longer, and without the detriment to her gunnery of having to wildly manuever to avoid Hood's wreckage. Historical accuracy has already established, even before the magazine hit on the flagship, that PoW had found the range and scored three hits. Given additional time, even with Hood's problems, the Germans could easily have suffered more serious hits from PoW.

5). With this in mind, even a withering fire from PoW's guns would likely not have sunk the Bismarck. The German ship was simply immune from sinking by shellfire, alone--as was PoW, I believe--and, despite the likelihood that she would have suffered the effects of accurate fire from both German ships, possibly even being forced to disengage (as she later was, anyway), there is no reason to believe that Hood's presence would either cause Bismarck's sinking, or save PoW from still having to disengage.

Conclusion: The battle would have turned out much differently, had Hood not exploded. However, there is no possibility of gunfire, in any combination, that would alone have sunk Bismarck. Hood's survival would likely have created only two alternative possibilities, the first being that the battle would have been prolonged and taken place in possibly two separate "actions"; the second being, that the Germans would have drastically altered their plans, possibly even abandoning the operation and reversing course, as Lütjens had done earlier with S&G.

Beyond this point, a whole range of possibilities exists, and I won't go further with these. But, in the scenario I just described, Bismarck floats---and as long as it stays afloat, the ship has a very hard time of things from an alert, determined Royal Navy, already gathering its forces together. Little else would have immediately resulted from a surviving but battered Hood, and neither side would have sufficient strength to overcome the other, at least not until the British were able to gain a more favorable position than a "running stalemate".
Vic,

Please read this post and tell me whether you disagree with the second paragraph of point 2) above.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

Vic Dale
Senior Member
Posts: 903
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:53 pm

Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by Vic Dale » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:03 pm

To RF.

I have read your post and though there is much with which I agree I cannot accept that Hood did not shift fire very early on;

1. Ted Briggs recounts Hood opening fire on the leading ship and having counting out the seconds watched as the shot fell around the target. If he could see it, then it is likely that Holland saw it too.

2. Briggs' account of the "mistake" and the resulting shift of fire comes immediately after the observation of that first fall of shot and though it is hard - impossible even - to work out a timeline from such accounts, there is a chronology there. The order to shift fire was definitely given according to Briggs and before the hit on the boatdeck. In PG they observed fire which had sought and found them very early on, falling in the wake, I don't recall reading anywhere that shot fell close to the stern.

There is a photo of shell splashes falling to starbaord of PG. I wonder if anyone can make a snap judgement on their distance from the ship. Or the distance in yards/metres of the spell splashes falling in the battle film. Significantly detail os given on the initial fall of shot in metres ahead and in meters from the centre line yet nothing other than "falling astern in the wake" is attached to obervations of other shot.

3. There is no suggestion in PG's reports, that Hood's firing was poor and although no mention is made of it, those in the ship's command would have known where Bismarck stood in relation to their own ship, so lack of comment may indicate that fire falling astern came as no surprise. It might be wondered at, as to why PG was being targeted anyway since the prize was Bismarck - surely Hood would engage her as her priority.

As PG's output was not considered anything other than auxilliary to the main protagonists, if she came under heavy concentration she could pull out of the line and steer defensively. If any ship did this she would become relatively safe, but would not be able to reply effectively, so tackling the cruiser whose fire would not penetrate would, I think, be considered a waste of time.

It might be thought that an immediate shift of fire would be ordered, but Holland would first have to ascertain which ship had fired that salvo. The next salvo would be ready to fire whilst the first was still in the air and on spotting the fall, then factoring in the correction the next would be away. Holland has opportunity to see the fall for himself if he missed the first salvo and can now tell the spotting top that the ship is firing at the wrong target. Perhaps the next salvo is fired by the TS before the SGO can order the shift of tartget.

Fragments of shell came aboard PG and without a shift of target she would have been forced to take evasive action or risk severe damage. Her track was straight right through from open fire to 0604.

The impact observations on Hood's fire which are correct for line are limited to just three salvoes in PG and that is extremely odd, because Hood was a crack gunnery ship - best in the fleet - and she had battle experience too. If Hood's gunnery had really been so poor it would be remarkable and all that the Admiralty could conclude is that observation from PoW was poor due possibly to lack of exerience.

Vic Dale

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7603
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by RF » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:31 pm

I think the question at issue here is ''did Hood actually shift fire onto Bismarck and hit Bismarck?''

I can follow what you say about Holland spotting the fall of shot. However he ordered fire to be concentrated on the left hand ship, so the shells were falling where expected. As I understand it, the mistake in identity of the German ships was made apparent when the Germans opened fire, the Bismarck with the larger gun flashes was on the right. Holland would now know Hood was firing on the wrong ship, so logically would react by ordering Captain Kerr to shift ''one target right'' and then repeating that order to POW.
I am not clear on the need to continue to wait to see the fall of shot on Prinz Eugen, if the task for the gunners was now to fire on the line of Bismarck. I would have expected a far greater switch in Hood's fire on to Bismarck, away from Prinz Eugen, so that shells no longer fall in that ships wake, namely closer to Prinz Eugen than to Bismarck.
It could indeed be that with the length of time of shells in flight that the switch was made in time to fire on Bismarck before the fatal detonation, with shells from the previous targetting still falling in the wake of Prinz Eugen, but insufficient time for anybody to see Hood straddling Bismarck.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

Vic Dale
Senior Member
Posts: 903
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:53 pm

Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by Vic Dale » Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:09 am

To RF.

Have a look at the signals form the flagship to PoW (they can be found either here or on the Hood Site) the visual signal; 0550 - GSB 337 L1 gives the target bearing as 337 deg. and the target is Left. A quick look at the salovo Plot in PoW shows that 337 degrees applies to the rightward ship at that time(the German ships being separated by 3200 yards - according to Brinkmann in PG)

The radio signals sent at 0551 are ;

"2 GIC" (Our 2 are to concentrate)
"2 v 1 GIC" (Policy is CIG 2v 1 concentrate on one tgt)
Vs 2 R (The two targets are to the right)

And;

0552; "2 v 1 GOB - 1" (Two versus one, Shift target one ship right.)

It is very clear that Holland intended the Battle Squadron to concentrate fire on the righthand ship and Hood firing on the lefthand ship an was an error in Hood's own gunnery department. Ambiguity was sewn with the Visual signal to PoW stating that the squadron's target bore 337 degrees and was to the left whe that bearign applied to the right hand target. PoW could range on the target indicated by bearing as 337 deg. and reducing to 335-4 deg, whilst seeking clarity from Flag, having correctly identified Bismarck.

Vic Dale

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by Bgile » Wed Feb 11, 2009 6:36 am

"At 0550, Holland gave the order 'G.S.B. 337 L1' directing Hood and Prince of Wales to both engage the left hand German ship bearing 337º, which was presumed to be Bismarck."

A slightly different interpretation from yours, Vic.

Vic Dale
Senior Member
Posts: 903
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:53 pm

Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by Vic Dale » Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:07 pm

Bgile wrote:"At 0550, Holland gave the order 'G.S.B. 337 L1' directing Hood and Prince of Wales to both engage the left hand German ship bearing 337º, which was presumed to be Bismarck."

A slightly different interpretation from yours, Vic.
The target at 0550 which bore 337 degrees was Bismarck, NOT PG. PG was far out ahead of Bismarck by 3000m (3200 yards) on a bearing of 327 degrees, so the ambiguity is clear.

Correct bearing for Bismarck but wrong target designation (left or right).

If PoW is given a target Bearing which she knows is Bismarck, she can safely range on that and ascertain from the Flagship what exactly is meant by (L1) the leftward and leading target - hence the stream of radio signals GIC, 2 v 1, v 2 r and GOB- 1.

"Group is to concentrate" (GIC) plus, "Shift target Right" (GOB -1) are a clear indicator of the admiral's intentions at 0551

Vic Dale

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by Bgile » Wed Feb 11, 2009 6:28 pm

"Shift Target Right" is a clear indication that Holland realized he had made a mistake and ordered his ships to fire at the wrong ship.

Vic Dale
Senior Member
Posts: 903
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:53 pm

Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by Vic Dale » Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:46 pm

Bismarck was astern of PG and therefore the right-hand target.

"Shift target right" (GOB - 1) was sent at 0551. 90 seconds before Hood opened fire.

Given that Holland had instructed that his battle squadron was to concentrate fire on one ship, it is clear the Bismarck had been identified in Hood by that time and that it must have been an error in Hood's gunnery department which caused Hood to fire on PG.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7603
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by RF » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:02 pm

Vic,

I completely agree with you on Holland's intentions. Where we differ is not on whether Holland intended to shift fire onto the right hand target, not on whether orders to shift target were given in Hood, but on whether Hood carried out the shift of fire. I referred to this thread because evidence had been offered that Hood was physically unable to do so because of battle damage.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

Vic Dale
Senior Member
Posts: 903
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:53 pm

Re: What if Hood hadn't blown up?

Post by Vic Dale » Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:13 pm

To RF

Take a look at the charts produced in PoW showing Bismarck's movements. You will see that the Slavo Plot shows three straddles which position Bismarck to within 300 yards. Between the last two straddles fired at 0557:50 and 0558:10 respectively (slavoes 9 and 13) salvo 11 fell short of the target but beyond the line between 9 and 13, indicating that Bismarck made a small alteration away and then back toward, as a defense to thow out the enemy gunners. It represents an opening of the range by about 200 yards and then closing it again, to resume the battle.

At about 0600, Bismarck is seen to turn away and this is confirmed in the battle film showing the flagship heading west on 270 degrees - a turn of 60 degrees away form the enemy.

It is significant that prior to open fire, Bismarck was closing the range on a heading of 212 degrees and she altered 10 degrees toward the enemy as she was straddled for the first time. Lindemann's actions are characterised as aggressive pusuit of battle during the first 7 minutes of the action. Suddenly Linemann changes his mind and heads away placing the enemy almost directly astern at about 0600.

It has to be asked; would Lindemann have so dramatically turned away under the fire of a ship who was not only struggling to maintain output but was reduced to 50% of her potential output at times?

I believe that Lindemann turned away in the face of much heavier opposition - the combined fire of Hood and PoW.

It seems very clear to me that as concentration of fire on Bismarck was Holland's intention from the start and that clarification of the target was comminucated to PoW at 0550 prior to Hood opening fire, that a communication breakdown had occurred in Hood and the TS was directing fire initially at the wrong (ie Left hand) target. The spotters would have seen the results and reported the fall of shot to the compass platform where the SGO was stationed. Clarification as which of the two British ships had fired on the wrong target might cause further delay, but Ted Briggs clearly recalls Holland ordering a shift of target "One ship Right."

Three salvoes fired at PG, securing line and range. Two fired at Bismarck on the same range as PG (assuming the enemy formation was in line ahead). Line is found and ranging fire form Hood now brings Bismarck under combined and accurate fire from both British ships. If the straddle at salvo No. 9 is matched by a similar straddle from Hood, Lindemann will, be expecting broadsides during the next few minutes which could reduce his ship to a blazing wreck in short order. He must abandon his aggressive tactics and open the range as rapidly as possible and be ready to zig zag to avoid those killing broadsides.

At 0600 Hood blew up, but her last salvo would still be in the air. We can pin point Bismarck for bearing here and as PoW's shot falls in line and then slightly to the left at her last salvo, it is clear that Bismarck is maintaining her heading of 270 degrees, a course which is picked up in the battle film at 0606:30 to 0607.

It would take more than the raw and under-gunned PoW to turn Bismarck away when a small alteration would keep her safe. It has to be combined fire and for that Hood must have shifted target.

Vic Dale

Post Reply